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Sales Reinvented

We at Sales Reinvented are on a mission to change the negative perception of sales people. Each week we will be interviewing experts in the field of sales and sharing their knowledge, ideas and expertise with our listeners. They share with us in our vision of a world where selling is a profession to be proud of. The aim of our formatted show is to provide ‘snackable’ episodes that are short enough to listen to in one sitting but long enough to provide real value that will help you in your sales career. Welcome to the Sales Reinvented Podcast.
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At Sales Reinvented, we are on a mission to change the negative perception of selling. Welcome to the Sales Reinvented Podcast.

Jun 29, 2022
Storytelling is the way to connect with clients and exchange information in the easiest format for humans. Unfortunately, most business conversations are so abstract that people can’t understand what you mean. But when you tell stories, clients understand you. As soon as someone tells a story, the other person wants to tell a story back. It’s the fastest way to get to a “sharing” conversation. It’s not about making assertions and claims about products. It’s such an important skill because salespeople have to get into problem-solving in-depth conversations to understand what’s going on. Stories are the path to understanding. 

They lay the foundation and propel prospects to a buying decision. Mike Adams shares how in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:53] The importance of storytelling in sales
  • [2:43] Everyone can become brilliant storytellers
  • [4:50] Relevance is key to a great story
  • [6:31] Curiosity is the #1 trait salespeople need
  • [8:10] The 3 fundamental problems salespeople have 
  • [10:27] Mike shares some storytelling resources
  • [12:09] Mike’s top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [17:44] Stories have the power to influence

Everyone can become brilliant storytellers

Mike echoes what many other guests have iterated: We’re all storytellers. It’s the way we learn and the way we talk. But business conversations have become abstract. When Mike teaches storytelling to salespeople, they’re taught how to share little anecdotes about things that happen. It takes practice and it takes courage. But everyone can do it.

One of Mike’s partners in Germany was teaching a group of CTOs (specialists). They were the most technical dry people you’ll ever talk to. The “worst offender” was always asking questions in a cynical manner. They were convinced he’d never understand the power of storytelling. At the end of every program, they run a story competition. This particular gentleman told a brilliant story. 

Relevance is key to a great story

Stories must have a surprise; a turning point where the listener doesn’t know what’s happening next. Great stories have to be relevant to the situation your client finds themselves in. If it’s not relevant, it wastes their time. People push back and say that CEOs and other c-level executives don’t like stories. Mike notes that isn’t true, they just don’t like their time being wasted, which is why relevance is key. 

Mike teaches salespeople to overcome the three fundamental problems they have with story: forming connections, selling a change agenda, and getting clients to act.

If you can’t make a trusting connection with a client, you won’t get anywhere. If Mike tells a connection story about himself—such as how he got into sales—he’ll ask them a question. If they tell a story back, it’s a huge clue that the relationship can move forward. When they tell you a story, you can imagine yourself as them and better understand their decision-making. Stories lead to understanding and help answer the question: should you be doing business together?

Mike’s top storytelling dos and don’ts

Mike shares that it’s critical to know what a story is—and what a story isn’t. If you don’t connect a time and place to a character, it’s not a story. One of Mike’s clients sent him a white paper from a well-known global consulting research company. It was titled something like “The importance of storytelling in technology sales.” There wasn’t a single story in it. 

Secondly, you have to make sure that your story is relevant. It must be directly related to the situation that you’re in. Telling a story about yourself when you’re just meeting someone is highly relevant because you’re the most interesting thing in their field of view. 

Lastly, tell stories to get stories. It’s an art. A simple way to get a story is to share one, then pass it over to your prospect. If they’ve just heard a story, you’re likely to get a story in response. Some clients are dedicated to talking abstractly. They may say something “grand” sounding like “Good sustainability management is very important to us.” 

That’s when you need to ask a “story listening” question, such as: “That’s interesting. Could you give me an example of good sustainability management from your perspective?” Any question that takes you to a moment in time will get you a story (story triggering). The questions that salespeople ask that can get them a story gives them an advantage. 

Stories have the power to influence

Mike runs invitation courses for sales leaders to come and experience their program. Mike had been chasing a particular company he wanted to do business with. But every time he’d get close to someone in management, they would switch that person out. Finally, a head of sales training came to his course. 

When they got to the 3rd workshop, Mike was teaching how to manage objections with an “influence story.” Mike refers to objections as anti-stories. When a client has an incorrect belief about your products or services, you can’t fight it with facts. You have to find a better story. Mike teaches his students to acknowledge the anti-story and then share another story from a different perspective. They reframe it.

Mike’s student, Diego, wanted to share an influence story to explain to his boss why they need storytelling as part of their training program. This is what he crafted: 

“I acknowledge that our sales training program is brilliant. It’s finely tuned. I also acknowledged that our budget is less than it was last year. But thinking about being happy with what we have reminds me of my wife. We like to go mountain biking. I’ve been telling her for years to upgrade her bike. But she loves her bike and always refuses. But last week, we were out cycling and the frame of her bike broke. So I let her take my bike back and pushed her bike back to the car. When I arrived, she exclaimed that my bike was so much better than hers. She can’t believe she went that long without proper suspension. You can be perfectly happy with something but it doesn’t mean there isn't something much better out there to consider.” Because of that story, Mike was hired to train this company's global account directors.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mike Adams

Connect With Paul Watts 

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Jun 22, 2022
Storytelling is what sets you apart. If you are selling any sort of product or service, you’re not alone in the market—you will have competition. What makes you unique? What helps you connect with people is the ability to tell stories. Why? Because stories resonate. The ability to connect through storytelling improves sales and puts your business on a pedestal. It might just save lives. Shain Bernstein shares how in this episode of Sales Reinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Storytelling #Story #StoryBrand 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:47] Why is storytelling so important in sales? 
  • [1:44] Can you become a gifted storyteller?
  • [3:04] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [5:01] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [7:47] How Shaun approaches storytelling
  • [8:53] Storytelling from the lens of a lawyer
  • [10:57] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [14:42] Storytelling raises money and saves lives

Can you become a gifted storyteller?

Storytelling is prolific in our lives. Everything we do is storytelling. When you apply for a job, you’re telling a story. If you propose marriage, you’re telling a story. You constantly tell stories when you sell yourself. Some people are more natural storytellers but everyone knows how to tell stories. Shaun notes that we are all storytellers at heart, we just have to practice to get more comfortable and trust that the stories we have to offer matter. 

The ingredients of a great story that sells

Shaun received a newsletter from someone that was a casual contact but it had landed in his spam folder. The subject line was “This couple made a huge mistake.” Shaun took the bait and opened the email. The first two lines said, “This couple made a huge mistake, and here is how I helped them.” Shaun stood up and applauded in front of the computer.

A story should be simple and straightforward. A potential customer should see themself in the story. They should be able to say, “This sounds like me and the problem I’m facing. I should call this person. I need to buy…” Simplicity and connection drive sales. 

You have to be able to connect with an audience and an individual. Find a uniquely human element. Shaun emphasizes that you can’t get caught up in the minutiae but must focus on simplicity. Find common ground that demystifies the complexity of your business. People need to know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Shaun shares some simple, helpful storytelling tips: 

  • Keep your simple and accessible and something your listeners can connect to. 
  • Tell a story that has a point. People are busy when they’re reading, listening, watching, etc. 
  • Have a call to action at the end of every story. It should connect to why your business can help and why someone needs your product or service. 
  • Don’t make it all about you. As a business owner, your story is a huge part of how your business ticks. But it’s not a vanity project. Remember why you’re speaking to your audience.
  • Don’t go too far into the weeds. Don’t wax poetic and go too far into the minutiae of a topic.
  • Avoid jargon speak. As a previous lawyer, Shaun notes that they have their own lingo. They often forget that those outside of their world don’t have that same vocabulary. Take the time to explain and simplify what you’re talking about and you’ll be better received. 

Storytelling saves lives

Shaun worked on a project for a children’s hospital that was trying to fundraise for a new pediatric intensive care unit. They throw an annual fundraising event with a different goal each year. This year, they wanted to take a new approach.

Shaun spoke with some families and helped them tell their stories—stories of hope, survival, and care. He told stories about things the hospital had been able to accomplish because of the work they do so well. His stories became the core material for their campaign, during which they raised over $500,000

Shaun never thought he could have that impact as a storyteller. He emphasizes that you hold pure power in your words. Don't minimize the stories that you’re telling. Don’t minimize the impact of people’s stories. You don’t know the impact you’ll have on your listener, reader, or audience.

Connect with Shaun Bernstein

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Jun 15, 2022

The #1 hurdle that all salespeople face when they meet a new prospect is discovery resistance. 99.9% of the population dislike encounters with salespeople—they feel pressured, manipulated, and pushed into doing something they didn’t want to do. Storytelling is the key to breaking down discovery resistance in buyers. They won’t open up until they feel connected to you and trust you. Mike Bosworth shares what makes a great story—that breaks down barriers—in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:47] The importance of storytelling in sales
  • [2:26] Can storytelling be learned?
  • [3:33] Mike’s ideal storytelling structure 
  • [5:35] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [9:32] Get some free resources from Mike
  • [10:40] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:27] Mike’s customer hero story

Can storytelling be learned?

Mike notes that most people are better storytellers than they think. When he runs workshops, he asks everyone to “Share a story they tell in their personal life.” People are more comfortable telling stories in their personal lives than in their professional lives. Even naturally gifted storytellers become better when they learn a storytelling structure.

Mike’s ideal storytelling structure 

A good story requires a story arc and a hero. The arc must include a setting, a struggle, a turning point, a resolution, and a moral. If someone tells a story about a business peer, the turning point would be the solution. The resolution would be using the product/service and how it made an impact (resolution).

There are three key stories that salespeople need:

  • Their personal story (why they do what they do)
  • Why they work where they work
  • Stories about customers they’ve helped

When salespeople tell their company story, they start using “we.” But the pronoun “we” doesn’t get an emotional following. Instead, a salesperson needs to say “our” when talking about the company. You have to make their story about a person, not yourself. 

What are the attributes of a great storyteller? Listen to hear Mike’s thoughts!

Mike’s storytelling strategy to overcome discovery resistance

Mike was a rookie salesperson in 1974, at the young age of 28. The marketplace knew nothing about his company’s technology because it was new. He was given a list of manufacturing companies in Orange County, CA. Management asked him to get them interested in the new product. 

He would walk into a manufacturer and go to the receptionist and ask to speak with the materials manager. 80% of the time, the manager would come to the lobby. Why? The only way they could learn about new products was to meet with salespeople. They’d see them just to see what they could learn and apply to their world. 

As soon as a manager looked at Mike, they’d look at their watch. They wrote him off because he was young and they thought he wouldn’t know anything about manufacturing. Mike would look them in the eye, introduce himself, and say “Can I share a quick story with you about another materials manager less than a mile from here that I’ve been working with for the last 18 months?” He never had a single person say no. 

He shared how he met this materials manager. That manager had two c-level people who were always angry with him. One was angry because he was carrying too much inventory. The other was angry because he was missing his shipping schedule. 18 months ago, he discovered Xerox technology that allowed him to replan his production plant. He was their pioneer customer. He went from $8 million in inventory to $2.8 million. His backlog dropped from 28% to 3%.

Then Mike would say, “Enough about me. What’s going on here?” They invited him in for a conversation. The story broke down the discovery resistance and led sales managers to the emotional conclusion that Mike understood them. They’d want to learn more. That one story allowed Mike to sell his pipeline. In 5 months, he sold more than anyone in the company did in an entire year. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mike Bosworth

Connect With Paul Watts 

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Jun 8, 2022

Technology products and services can be complex. They also solve complex and complicated problems. Storytelling can better explain complex ideas while also allowing the salesperson to create an empathetic and emotional bond with their audience. It builds trust with your audience quickly. So how do you build a great story? Edith Crnkovich shares the 6 basic elements of a great sales story in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:43] Why is storytelling an important skill?
  • [1:28] You’re actually a natural storyteller
  • [5:01] The ingredients of a great story 
  • [6:42] Become a good collector of stories
  • [8:05] Embrace these resources to improve your storytelling
  • [10:16] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [14:27] Why do stories need to be concise?
  • [15:20] Don’t downplay the power of storytelling

You’re actually a natural storyteller (here’s how to perfect the craft) 

Edith believes that everyone is gifted at storytelling—they’re just not used to telling stories in a business environment. You meet with friends and share stories about your day. You share stories about your day with your spouse and children. Every human being knows how to tell stories—it’s an innate skill. The problem is that people think they can’t tell stories in a business environment, especially in the tech world. People forget that they’re natural storytellers. But you can always learn how to tell stories better. 

The 6 basic elements of a great sales story

There are six basic elements inside any business story:

  • What is the major theme that you want to talk about? Is it aligned with your audience?
  • What is special about the setting, time, and place? Time can be important when it comes to being competitive in business.
  • What is the plot of the story? What series of events are connected to the central theme? 
  • Who are the characters in your business drama? What are their aspirations, agendas, and fears?
  • Who or what is in conflict? Conflict is central to telling a really good story.
  • How do the characters change or transform through a challenge? 

This is how Edith teaches businesspeople to unpack storytelling. But what makes a great story? Edith believes it comes down to three elements:

  • Surprise: You want to surprise your audience so they don’t know where you’re going with the story.
  • Tension: You want tension and excitement, usually by introducing conflict. Conflict usually reveals a deeper meaning and highlights values, weaknesses, motivations, etc.
  • Relatability: The audience must relate to the story emotionally and intellectually. 

What are the attributes of a great storyteller? Listen to hear Edith’s thoughts!

Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Edith shared some savvy storytelling dos and don’ts:

  • Start with a story and end with a story. When you have to present a proposal to decision-makers, many salespeople start by sharing an agenda. Throw that out. Make the first slide an interesting story that will hint at the customer's problem, the solution, and create an empathetic bond. Ending with a story allows you to choose one point of value to deliver to the customer—making them the hero of the story. 
  • How you craft your story is important. It needs to be emotional, but concise. Make it no more than three minutes. A crisp story holds attention. You need to hold tension without losing the attention of your audience.
  • While you want to surprise your audience, you must quickly show how it connects to the business solution that you’re offering. 
  • Don’t tell a random story to warm up your audience. Business people don’t want a random story. They want to hear a story that leads to how you’ll solve their problem.
  • Don’t tell your story in a monotonous tone. Put some life into it. 
  • If you’re going to share a feel-good story—and aren’t prepared to share the bad and the ugly—don’t bother with the story. Conflict and resolution are key. 

Don’t downplay the power of storytelling

Edith worked on a health technology product that hospitals in Europe had been using (it was fairly new). They were trying to bring the product into Australia. However, Australians don’t like to consider products that haven’t yet been proven effective in Australia. Hospital budgets are quite tight, often given to them by the government. Because of this, they are very careful about decisions with technology projects. 

So the sales team put together a proposal for a prospect. They called Edith in to help them. Edith advised them to start their presentation with a story that would emotionally resonate. So they shared how many people who suffer from a stroke die. Sadly, strokes are highly preventable and far too many people are dying from them. If these people had access to their medical technology, they could have survived. She helped them craft the story in about 350 words. 

They continued to weave storytelling throughout the proposal. When the sales team turned up to give this unsolicited proposal, it hit on an emotional level. They created curiosity. The decision-makers felt understood. What happened next? Listen to the whole episode to learn more!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Edith Crnkovich

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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Jun 1, 2022

Purposeful storytelling is the key ingredient to developing a sales strategy. You have a product or service that you want to sell to customers. People love a good story. So how do you craft what people want to hear that connects to you and your business? 

How was the company started? Who are some of the customers? What heartwarming and inspiring stories can you associate with the business? Purposeful storytelling can help you sell yourself. Learn more about Jim DeLorenzo’s storytelling process in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess? 
  • [2:21] The key to becoming a great storyteller
  • [4:07] Craft stories that stay “top of heart”
  • [5:56] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [8:20] A unique way to improve storytelling
  • [10:43] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:43] Creativity is key to purposeful stories

Can you become a gifted storyteller?

Storytelling is something that must be practiced over and over. Jim works with numerous entrepreneurs in startup businesses. As an owner or operator, you are laser-focused on building your business. You work hard on a skillset to make sure your business reflects what you want it to. Jim helps entrepreneurs tell their stories.

So how did he master purposeful storytelling? He reads as much as he can about an industry or subject to see different storytelling techniques. He watches newscasts and listens to podcasts to see and hear how stories are being told. Jim writes something every day. He practices his skills every day and brings them to his clients who do the same. 

Craft stories that stay “top of heart”

Startups are often selling interesting and compelling products or services. How will it change someone’s life for the better? How will it change an industry? How will it change an experience for the better? To tell those purposeful stories for startups, Jim investigates what the client is doing. He’ll interview their customers and the people behind the scenes. Jim looks for a heartwarming story that will stay “top of heart.” Once you impact someone on the heart level, the head follows. So he advises salespeople to look for compelling, interesting, and heartwarming stories—stories with a purpose.

A unique way to improve purposeful storytelling

When Jim is conducting media or public speaking training, he has his clients watch interviews. How do people present themselves? How do they tell their stories? Find the people who tell stories well and emulate them—and learn from those who don’t. You can see if people are comfortable and to the point.

Jim also recommends reading stories, articles, and books to see how different people tell their stories. Jim drew inspiration from Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show. Carson was always comfortable on camera and people reacted positively to him. Jim incorporated that into his career. 

What are Jim’s storytelling dos and don’ts? Listen to find out!

Creativity is key to purposeful stories

When Jim was the Sports Information Director at Villanova University, the football team was gearing up for a media day. Jim sent notices out to local media about the date. No one showed up. Jim couldn't figure out why. So Jim started calling different outlets to gather information. Sadly, he found out that the Eagles had scheduled a press conference at the same time. Naturally, everyone went there. 

But Jim still needed someone to run a story about the Villanova football team. So he spoke to the Sports Director at Channel 6 and asked what he could do to get him out to run a story. It hit Jim: What if he had the Sports Director run plays with the team as the quarterback? The Sports Director thought it was a spectacular idea and agreed to do it the following week. 

The Sports Director ran plays with the football team and aired the whole segment on all four of their newscasts. It garnered a lot of attention. The next day, the rest of the local media called Jim, clamoring to run a story. 

You have to be creative to tell a story with purpose. You have to question what you need to do to get someone to listen to your story. 

Connect with Jim DeLorenzo

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May 25, 2022

Everyone has a filter and when they know they’re being sold to, they shut down. However, storytelling bypasses that filter and connects directly with the emotional brain. It helps your brain determine if you trust that person. Stories are the oldest form of communication. If it works so well as a method of communication, why wouldn’t it work in selling? 

That’s why—in his book “The Ultimate Selling Story”—Roy shares how to “Cut through the marketing clutter, forge a powerful bond with your market, and set up the sale using the hero’s journey of story selling.” Learn more of his methods in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:54] Why is storytelling important in sales?
  • [2:08] Can anyone learn the art of storytelling? 
  • [3:48] The great storytelling formula: PAISA
  • [6:47] What are the attributes of a great story seller?
  • [9:41] Resources to improve story selling
  • [11:07] Roy’s top 3 story selling dos and don’ts
  • [15:23] The Titans of Direct Response

Can anyone learn the art of storytelling?

Some people are naturally gifted at storytelling. If you aren't one of them, you can learn how. Everyone’s heard of the hero’s journey. There are equivalent templates in storytelling and story selling. There are common structures and common purposes. If you want to get better, you have to practice. You can also do things to get out of your own head. For example, Roy joined an improv comedy class. 

The great storytelling formula: PAISA

Roy notes that the story itself is important but telling a good story doesn’t make you a great story seller. You need to build a character that shows a relationship with the prospect. Then you need to nail the story context.

Then you have to implement the great storytelling formula: PAISA

  • Problem: You start by connecting with someone in the context of their problem—an actual problem or an unfulfilled desire. 
  • Agitate: You have to agitate the emotions that make them want to take action.
  • Invalidate: You have to invalidate the other options they’ve considered (i.e. a competitor)
  • Solution: What is an effective solution to the problem that you started with? 
  • Action: What action do you take in the end? What does it take to close the deal? 

You can use these two strategies to craft and tell great stories. 

The attributes of a great story seller

Roy believes that a great story seller needs three main attributes:

  • The ability to actively listen: You may think that sales is one-way communication and putting yourself out there. But you have to pay attention to what your prospect cares about and is interested in. It will improve your ability to sell because you can cater your stories to the prospect. 
  • The desire to gather stories: If you have your own great PAISA stories, client stories, etc. you need to gather them so you have a story available when you need to use one. 
  • The knowledge that you need to understand your audience: What matters to them? Are you curious enough to set your ego aside and pay attention to what your audience is engaged with? 

One of the best things that can happen when you tell stories is when you imagine the story you’re telling. If Roy is telling a story about what someone is facing at work, he starts by imagining what their office environment is like. Imagining the three-dimensional space makes the story more compelling because you’ll include details instead of just outlining points. 

Roy’s top 3 story selling dos and don’ts

  • Don’t think just because you tell a story that someone will buy. You still need a great offer that matches your audience. If your story doesn't build trust and serve the selling message, they won’t buy.
  • Don’t forget that your job is to move the sale forward. An individual story may not close the deal but it may take the customer further toward making a decision. Maybe the goal of a story is to get their attention, book the next phone call, or get them to believe in your product. 
  • Don’t tell a story without a purpose. If your story doesn’t have a sales purpose, it’s not doing its job—and may make the prospect question why they’re listening to you. 
  • Start in the middle of the action instead of at the beginning. You don’t need the backstory. Start in the context of what’s going on in the moment that’s closest to the point of decision or peak excitement. Eugene Schwartz once said, “Every good sales message should open like an action movie.” 
  • How does the story serve the buying decision process? The prospect needs to make a sequence of decisions to propel them toward a purchase. Your prospect needs a pathway.
  • Include conflict in the story to make it interesting. A level of animosity, conflict, etc. makes the story more compelling. 

Listen to the whole episode to hear Roy tell a compelling story that sells.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Roy Furr

Connect With Paul Watts 

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May 18, 2022

Storytelling helps people make decisions. How? Cognitive science helps us understand that as humans, we don’t make decisions the way that we like to think we do. We aren’t always rational logical creatures who assess the data and come to the most logical conclusions. Most of the time, our subconscious emotional brain makes a decision. A few nanoseconds later, our logical brain justifies and rationalizes that decision. If you want to influence people’s decisions, you need to speak to both parts of the brain. Storytelling is a spectacular way to do this. Paul Smith shares the key ingredients necessary to craft stories that sell in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess in sales?
  • [2:18] Is storytelling something that can be learned?
  • [3:27] The 3 key ingredients of great storytelling
  • [5:18] A great storyteller needs stories to tell
  • [6:40] Improve your storytelling abilities with these resources
  • [7:47] Top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:16] A tale of swimming pigs

The 3 key ingredients of great storytelling

Most great storytellers—movie directors, screenwriters, novelists—will typically tell you that you need three key elements to build a great story:

  • A hero people care about
  • A villain they’re afraid of
  • An epic battle between the two

The hero people care about is a relatable main character that the buyer can relate to. Tell a story about another client who faced the same challenge they are. The villain is a relevant challenge that your audience is likely to run into themselves. The “epic battle” is a worthy lesson learned through struggle. If you translate those into a sales story it becomes a relatable character facing a relevant challenge who learns a worthy lesson. Simple, yet compelling.

A great storyteller needs stories to tell

It’s helpful for a salesperson to have an outgoing personality and the ability to talk to strangers. But most importantly, Paul emphasizes that you need stories to tell. Paul believes having stories to tell is more important than being a great storyteller. Why? Most salespeople aren’t professional performance artists, actors, public speakers, etc. No one expects you to be. But no one wants their time wasted with a boring or irrelevant story. So you must be intentional about cultivating stories. The story is more important than the delivery.

Top storytelling dos and don’ts

Never apologize or ask permission to tell a sales story. If you’re in a sales meeting with a potential client, don’t say, “Sorry to interrupt—can I tell a quick story? I promise it'll only take a minute!” That communicates that what you have to say isn’t important. If you don’t think it’s important, don’t tell it. 

Secondly, don’t announce that you’re telling a story. Doing so is neither exciting nor captivating. It turns most people off. They’ll automatically think that it’ll be boring and irrelevant. If you tell a great story, they’ll be fascinated and learn from it.

Lastly, Paul recommends that you keep your stories to two minutes or less—they shouldn’t be long epics. Leadership stories can be 3–5 minutes long because they can command an audience. You don’t have that luxury in sales. 

Need help with crafting compelling stories? Get Paul’s “25 Stories Salespeople Need” in the resources below. 

A tale of swimming pigs

Paul was at an art fair in Cincinnati with his wife, who was looking for some art to hang in their kids’ bathroom. They walked up to a booth selling mesmerizing underwater photography. One of the photos struck Paul—it was a photo of a pig swimming in the ocean. So he asked the photographer about it. That’s when the magic started. 

He said, “That picture was taken off the coast of an island in the Bahamas called “Big Major Cay.” A local entrepreneur decided to raise a pig farm on an uninhabited island. But there was no vegetation growing on the beach other than cacti. The pigs had nothing to eat. So a local restaurant owner on a neighboring island boated his kitchen refuse and dumped it just offshore. 

While pigs don’t normally swim, slowly but surely they all learned to swim so they could get to the good. Three generations later, all of the pigs on the island can swim. When the photographer got to the island to photograph the pigs, he didn’t even have to get out of the boat. The pigs swam to him immediately. Paul paid cash for the photo immediately—he HAD to have it. 

Two minutes earlier, that was just a stupid photo. After hearing the photographer’s story, he had to have it. The story is what made the art interesting. And that’s why it’s hanging in Paul’s bathroom. 

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May 11, 2022
Storytelling is the best way to help someone learn and understand the value of a new concept, product, or service. Mary Jane Copps also believes that it’s a great way to build rapport. In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Mary Jane shares how a good story is crafted, what makes a great storyteller, and even tells one of her favorite stories. Don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:46] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess?
  • [1:35] Is storytelling something that can be learned?
  • [2:08] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [3:26] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [5:03] Improve your storytelling abilities with these resources
  • [6:38] Top 3 storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts
  • [10:37] The importance of follow up in sales

The ingredients of a great story that sells

What makes for a great story that sells? According to Mary Jane Copps, you need to start with a challenge that is customized to the audience you’re speaking to. The story must include some sort of lesson or challenge that you overcome. Mary Jane points out that there needs to be a hero. The hero may be the product or service—or even you. But storytelling is also a great way for people to get to know you. You can make them laugh. It allows you to build trust. A good story can help someone go, “I should work with this person.” 

The attributes of a great storyteller

When you’re telling a story, you need to pace yourself. You need a good tone of voice and delivery to build excitement and trust. You have to customize it to the audience you're speaking to. You must also be empathetic. It tells the prospect you’ll have empathy and compassion with them. If you’re telling a story about yourself, you must be humble. 

Want to improve your storytelling abilities? Be sure to check out the resources below!

Top 3 storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts

What does Mary Jane live by when it comes to storytelling? 

  • Humor is key. Once people are laughing, you know you have their full attention and that they're enjoying themselves. 
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable as a storyteller. Tell your story truthfully—share successes and the failures you had to overcome. Vulnerability allows you to build a strong foundation of trust.
  • Match the story to the audience. You shouldn’t tell a story for the sake of telling a story. Instead, it should match what is important to the prospect or customer.
  • Don’t be boastful. When you’re selling, you have to share the success you’ve realized with other clients. It’s an important aspect of growing a business and creating revenue. However, do it humbly.
  • Don’t make your story a novel. When you go to networking events or cocktail parties, no one wants to get stuck with the person who is telling stories and never stops. Make them pithy, easy to listen to, and don’t take over the entire conversation.
  • Don’t go off-topic. Don’t throw in a story that you enjoy but has nothing to do with the conversation at hand.

The importance of follow up in sales

Mary Jane met an entrepreneur with three young children who also owned three franchises. One day, she happened to be home and a young person with a lawn maintenance company knocked on her door to give her a quote on maintaining her lawn. As a busy young Mom, she would delegate anything she could. He left the quote in her mailbox—and she never heard from him again. They never followed up.

When she shared the story with Mary Jane, she said “If you want my business, you call me. It doesn’t matter how much I need the help…if they didn't have the time to follow up with me, they weren’t going to get my business.”

Don’t confuse persistence with pestering. You want to follow up to show your prospects you want their business. You understand they’re busy and you’re taking responsibility for making the relationship happen.

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May 4, 2022

Too many sales reps treat territory sales planning reactively. Many sales reps get a call from clients, jump in the car, and drive off. They aren’t managing their territory. How can they reduce reactivity? By time blocking. Block in different areas of your territory to visit on different days to help yourself stay organized. You can also time-block different segments to look at different verticals or disciplines. Rick Denley believes the key to success is proactive planning. Because if you don’t have a good plan, success will become further out of reach. Hear more of his thoughts on territory sales management in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:48] Why is territory sales planning underrated? 
  • [1:31] Reduce reactivity in territory management by time-blocking
  • [2:40] Rick’s ideal territory sales territory plan
  • [3:35] The attributes of a great territory sales manager 
  • [5:17] Tools, tactics, and strategies, to improve sales planning skills
  • [6:30] Top territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [9:00] Align knowledge and expertise in your territory

Rick’s ideal territory sales plan

Rick notes that you need to start by analyzing the market and your segment of customers. Then you need to identify the business environment that you’re working with. You likely have different verticals and different types of customers. 

Rick also suggests performing a SWOT analysis of the market. What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? What is your position in the marketplace? Where do you want to spend more time? Where should you spend less time? How you use your time is vital. 

How are you organizing your time and efforts throughout your territory to make sure that you’re focusing where you need to? If you’re looking to grow and find new business, that dictates a different territory management approach than if you’re maintaining existing accounts. 

With very few exceptions, the 80/20 rule applies—you get 80% of your business from 20% of your clients. So you have to cover that 20% so you don’t lose business. It takes far more effort to get new customers. 

Rick’s favorite territory management tool: SmartDraw

Rick suggests utilizing SmartDraw to map out your territory. It’s software that helps you build a visual representation of your territory. This allows you to focus on where you’re spending time and where your business is coming from geographically. You can also color-code it to see what verticals the business is coming from. When account reps move things around or the organization changes, it’s easy to make any edits in this software tool. 

Top territory sales planning dos and don’ts

Rick shares his favorite territory management tips:

  • Time block: Time block a month ahead so you know where your focus will be each day. You will look professional and organized.
  • Set growth goals and establish targets within your territory. You want to drive more sales but need to do that by setting realistic goals. Maybe a portion of your territory isn’t well covered. Plan to go there one day a week for the next three months.
  • Develop a strategy map with your sales territory, targets, and goals. Create a strategy and use software to visually map it out. 
  • Review and track your results so you can measure success in your territory and categories. Create a visual map to show where business is coming from and growing.

Align territories with a sales rep’s knowledge and expertise

When Rick was in sales leadership, he was working closely with 12 sales reps. They were in the process of shifting them to different territories. Rick acknowledges that it was painful. People don’t like change. 

They had to map out each of their accounts. Back in the day, that meant physically mapping them out on a map of Canada. They had different stick pins for different organizations and industry verticals. 

They understood that aligning sales reps with knowledge and expertise in a specific industry with the clients who were the best match was key. Too many sales reps are given territories that they can’t handle. So they assigned food and beverage to one rep, pharmaceutical to another, and so forth. They saw tremendous results from aligning specialties with client needs.

You have to be open and flexible to change within territories—don’t act like you own it. Things will change on an ongoing basis. The customer needs to be first. Secondly, it can be good to get others involved in your territory to maximize the amount of revenue you can generate from it. 

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Apr 27, 2022
Leadership and sales management need to be bought into the process of territory management and the thoughtfulness it takes to do it well. If they embrace it, the mindset cascades down to the individual contributor that’s managing the territory. 

Santino Pasutto emphasizes that salespeople need to take time to plan out their territory and understand their numbers. If you’re allowed the time to measure twice and cut once, it will expedite the outcomes everyone is looking for. 

Santino shares the unique ways that territory management directs his steps in this episode of Sales Reinvented. Don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:42] Why is territory sales planning underrated?
  • [1:14] How to reduce reactivity with territory planning
  • [2:11] Santino’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [5:15] How to determine penetration rates
  • [6:54] Attributes and characteristics of a great territory sales planner
  • [8:31] Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve territory management
  • [11:01] Top 3 territory management dos and don’ts
  • [14:35] How territory management directs your steps

Santino’s ideal territory sales plan

Santino notes that your plan boils down to the product or service that you’re selling. Some salespeople sell agnostic products whose client base is broad and varied. Others have a very narrow and prescriptive client base. If you’re in the healthcare space, your targets are likely hospitals. It’s easy to determine who to approach. But if you sell a service that a plethora of businesses can benefit from, your ICP is far different. 

Who is going to use your product or service? What is their ICP? You have to determine their firmographic information. How many employees do they have? How do you access them? What industry are they in? Where do you sell well and what do those clients look like? Pinning down the ICP within your geography is key. 

Then you must look at buyer personas. Who are you selling to within the accounts? What problems are you solving for them? Santino looks at his existing territory and the margins and penetration rates within those accounts. He looks for where he gets the most bang for his buck. 

Which accounts are the most growable? Which are the most at risk? This helps him determine where to prioritize his time. He doesn’t want to spend a lot of time focusing on accounts that are transactional or low-margin. It’s all about looking for a mutual fit where you can earn a fair margin.

How to determine penetration rates

If you’re selling to a hospital, you could correlate the revenue to the number of beds they have. What’s the revenue per operating unit of a business? Use that as a rule of thumb. Look at the number of beds with other accounts and look at your revenue as a percentage of that. How does that compare to an account where you believe you have all their work? 

Determining penetration rates helps you establish a benchmark with known accounts where you have a 100% share of wallet. You use that benchmark to compare to similar accounts to estimate your wallet share in them. 

What are the attributes and characteristics of a great territory sales planner? Listen to hear Santino’s thoughts.

Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve territory management

Santino emphasizes that sales professionals need LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Santino uses it to define ICPs and identify buyer personas. Santino also uses job boards to look for buyer personas by their titles. He’ll read their job descriptions to learn how his product or service helps them address their everyday tasks. 

You also need to calculate the opportunity that you have in each account. You have to leverage the data available to you to scale your territory, sell effectively, and have high win rates. To do that, you have to focus on where you sell the easiest and the most. Look back at your accounts and look at the ICP, revenue, and margin in those accounts. You will see a sweet spot—hone in on it. 

How territory management directs your steps

Santino had taken over a territory in the medical device world managed by a top rep. The market penetration within key accounts was solid. Santino had to find somewhere to grow, so he started looking for the easiest accounts to grow into. Leadership felt his time was spent in rural accounts. But Santino realized the effort to sell into those accounts wasn’t the best use of his time. 

So Santino looked at key accounts and how he could double down on growth. They were overly focused on top-line growth and not enough on the quality of that growth, i.e. the margin. Santino would have had to sell 2–3x the amount to rural accounts to achieve the same bottom line he was earning in larger accounts. One deal in one of these accounts was equal to 10–20 deals in the potential rural accounts. 

So he decided to drip campaign smaller rural accounts and hone in on larger city accounts. His risk was higher because the opportunities were fewer but the sales process was the same. He’d rather spend six months on one deal than several smaller deals. How did his plan play out? Santino shares the whole story in this episode. Give it a listen!

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Apr 20, 2022

Tibor Shanto points out that creating a great territory sales plan includes building a blended pipeline. It needs to consist of current customers and revenue as well as up-and-comers in the industry. You must maintain the old and be open to the new. Learn more about how he approaches building his territory sales plan in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:54] Why territory sales planning is underrated
  • [1:37] How territory sales planning can reduce reactivity 
  • [3:30] Tibor’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [6:34] The attributes that make a salesperson successful
  • [9:36] Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning 
  • [11:34] Top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [17:26] Why you have to build a blended pipeline

Tibor’s ideal territory sales plan starts with a simple graph

Tibor Shantolikes to create a simple graph to help him plan his territory. One axis is the likelihood of a deal closing within the next two cycles. The other axis is the total value of the deal. It helps you look at your best opportunities based on reviewing deals you’ve won and deals you’ve lost. The goal is to spend your time where you’re most likely to close a deal. 

Then you drill down further. What factors allowed you to close those deals? You have to understand what it will take to hit your quota and what the addressable opportunities are in your area. Most salespeople want to continuously expand their territory. Why? Because they don’t know how to drill down further into their own territory. 

Secondly, Tibor points out that you must start spending time disqualifying prospects. The right opportunities will help you hit your quota and you need to doggedly ignore anything else. It’s hard to accept but he notes that only 56% of B2B sales reps make quota. He emphasizes that you shouldn’t worry about what you’ve missed—worry about what you lost that you were supposed to get. If you can identify the opportunities that make the most sense to you based on data then ignore what doesn’t fit the template. You have to play to your skills and strengths.

Tibor introduces his clients to the concept of the 360 Degree Deal View. It helps them look at why they win or lose deals. When people do deal reviews, it tends to be a lovefest. But you want to go back six months later and ask how you’ve been able to change a customer’s workflow. If you understand how you do this, you can see who's best going to fit your template. Again, you have to ignore what doesn’t fit. You have to be objective and avoid deviating from your plan.

The attributes that make a salesperson successful

It all comes down to attitude. When people ask Tibor why he was successful, he points out that it’s simple—he wanted it more than the next guy. That’s something you can’t teach. Any competitive athlete completely understands the power of mindset, determination, and self-discipline. The general public doesn't necessarily have these characteristics.

A software company in the late 90s recruited college football players who weren’t drafted. Why? They had drive, the ability to follow a playbook, discipline, and the ability to be coached. That software company got acquired. It worked for them because their exit strategy materialized. Tibor doesn’t believe that salespeople with soft shells will survive. There aren’t participation trophies in life. 

Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning 

You must understand what you’re looking for. What’s worked for you in the past with your accounts and territory? A blended pipeline is key. If you focus on different accounts, you can get much more volume done—and as a result—earn higher commissions. So start by plotting out a clear plan on a grid and be disciplined while remembering to adapt as needed. You can’t just double down on territory planning and stop prospecting. If you don’t prospect, you don’t have a territory. 

Tibor also advises salespeople to look for lookalikes similar to your prospects. Why is a lookalike the same? How are they different? Where are the greatest number of interceptions? Go after those. You know the jargon, you know the story, so show up and present how you’ve just succeeded for the last client. Most people tell him they appreciate that he works with a competitor because they don’t have to educate him on the basics of the business—he can hit the ground running. 

Why you have to build a blended pipeline

Tibor looks at the top dozen accounts in his territory. He’ll look at where he’s at with them this year and make projections for the next year. What is the gap in his quota and projections? Doing this allows him to understand how he needs to service his top customers. Secondly, it allows him to look at the up-and-coming in his territory. 

Tibor set his sights on someone making noise in the business. Many other people ignored them because they were second-tier. This one small company grew and became a dominant player in the industry. That’s why you have to build a blended pipeline. Even if a prospect isn’t the most sought after, it still has value. Don’t ignore less attractive prospects that might save your hide as long as they fit your plan. Tibor points out that you should always leave room for flux and luck. 

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Apr 13, 2022

Joe Girard points out that salespeople don’t actively think about their territory sales plan and tend to be more reactive. But companies get held hostage by the best their salespeople can do. Without a plan, you aspire to be the best and just hope it happens. But a company can’t survive on hope. That’s why creating a territory sales plan and executing that plan is key. Hear more of Joe’s thoughts on the strategy in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:45] Why territory sales planning is an underrated activity
  • [1:17] How can territory sales planning improve reactivity?
  • [2:38] Joe’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [3:56] The attributes of a salesperson
  • [6:22] Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning skills
  • [10:49] Joe’s top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [13:09] Sales success hinges on proper planning 

How can territory sales planning improve reactivity?

Most salespeople are busy getting leads and trying to convert them. But you must take a step back and make a plan. Joe notes that it’s very uncomfortable for salespeople because they feel like they need to be selling. But they need to do more of the right things. How do you spend more time doing the right stuff and less time doing things that won’t make an impact? Focus on high-value activities. 

Joe’s ideal territory sales plan

Joe implores salespeople to use a ranking system. Look at the opportunities you think you should go after (your ICP) and rank who you want to sell to. Then rank the activities you need to do to sell to them. Rank your team's level of ability to do those activities. Then you have to execute that plan. You have to commit to 90 days or six months and see your plan through. Give your team the space to execute the plan and be successful.

But you also have to be adaptable in the trenches. How will everything you do contribute to your plan? You need to make your plan, test it, and come back and revise it as needed. It’s an ever-evolving sales process. You’ll begin to see repeating patterns. Then you can build out best practices and share them with your team. 

Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning skills

Are you serious about your results? Joe always sets a 90-day plan or sprint. Then he breaks it down into activities and holds himself accountable to those activities. Implementing a 90-day sprint helps you focus. 

Secondly, if you’re trying to figure out how to help new customers, talk to old or current customers. How did your service or product help them? Validate your assumptions and build in a feedback loop. Get the customer language into your sales language.

Make the time to plan and review your work. Even something as simple as looking at your daily activities. Did you miss something? Write it down and make a plan for the next day. Then review the week and make sure you didn’t miss anything. If you did, knock it out and close out the week.

Joe notes that there’s no shortage of training and tactics and it can be overwhelming. He emphasizes that it’s not about what you can put into salespeople, it’s about what you can pull out of them. Territory sales planning should be about making the most of each individual and helping them shine. 

Sales success hinges on proper planning 

When Joe started in sales, he wasn’t doing well. His boss told him that if he didn’t pick things up in the next 60 days, he wouldn’t make it. The other rep working with Joe gave up and went to work for the competition. They were sitting at $2.3 million between the two of them. Joe put a plan together—based on him being the sole salesperson—to reach sales of $4 million. Joe was told that if he didn’t hit his target, he wouldn’t get paid. He had to almost double his current sales. 

So he broke down what his activities would need to look like monthly, weekly, and daily. He looked at how many people he needed to have on his list, how many he needed to talk to, and how many appointments he needed to book. You have to break things down to what needs to happen every day to stay on track. You can’t make up for lost weeks and months. By the end of the year, Joe hit his target and surpassed it—landing at $4.1 million. He didn’t work harder but made the most of his time with a clear plan.

Low-level salesmen who make plans can outperform the highest performers if they build a good plan and execute it day after day. It’s all about execution. Don't wait for someone else to tell you how to plan your territory and above all—don’t give up.

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Apr 6, 2022

Wes Schaeffer states that his purpose in life is to rehabilitate salespeople and train their managers. Most managers are hired from within because they were successful. They were successful because they were hungry, aggressive, and impatient—not necessarily because they were the smartest or most detail-oriented salespeople. Those attributes are at odds with the management role. Those skills can harm them because they are aggressive and impatient with their team. 

They’re putting pressure on their salespeople but don’t have the skills to teach them. Salespeople are left on their own to make it or break it. Territory planning isn’t taught. If it is, it’s taught from a book—not from someone who did it successfully. So how do you change that? Find out from Wes in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:08] Why territory sales planning is underrated by salespeople
  • [2:43] How to reduce reactivity with territory sales planning
  • [5:13] Wes’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [8:08] Wes’s version of the ABCs
  • [10:38] Why you need to just start writing
  • [13:50] Top three sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [18:01] How to take control of your territory

How to reduce reactivity with territory sales planning

Most people are reactive to everything in their lives—it’s not even necessarily a sales problem. The type of people that are drawn into sales are outgoing “people’s people.” They’re not engineers or accountants but simply good at making friends. Their personality is not methodical and goal-oriented. They're relationship-oriented. Now, they’re being asked to plan. 

Wes wrote “The Seven Deadly Sins of Selling.” The first sin is shooting from the hip i.e. winging it. Most salespeople have been hired as a cultural fit. A sales manager probably isn’t detail-oriented or has a methodical process for hiring and onboarding. There isn’t a culture built around territory planning. 

Wes’s ideal territory sales plan

Wes instructs managers to manage activities and pay on results. Just like losing weight, closing a sale is a lagging indicator. If you want to lose 10 kilos in 90 days, stepping on the scale at 90 days only proves how diligent you were at following the process. What did you eat for every meal? How did you exercise? Maybe you hired a fitness coach or a dietician. Maybe you have a tracking app, planned your meals, and planned when to exercise and how much. If you’re diligent for 90 days, you’ll hit your goals. 

Sales managers don’t give salespeople the activities to do. Wes tells people to batch phone calls: before breakfast, during lunch, and at the end of the day to get around gatekeepers. He has different scripts for each call. They’re telling a story through multimedia and different steps. Wes gives his community a way to track their time in 15-minute increments. Whatever you measure, you can improve. Break your big plans down into 15-minute increments, i.e. what you have to accomplish to reach your lofty goals. When you are diligent with this, you’re more likely to be successful. 

The characteristics a salesperson should have

Wes emphasizes that the mantra “Always be closing” is crap. This idea was propagated when people the age of our grandfathers were in sales. Yet we still live by the adage. Wes’s version of the ABCs is “Always be curious. Always be courteous. Always be concise.” Ask more questions. Take a step back and ask, “Where are you a product fit? Why do people buy your stuff? What pain do you solve?” Start there. Where do these people congregate? 

Wes was working for a startup in Austin, TX. The technology was beneficial in the healthcare space. Wes looked at technology in healthcare and there was a huge community with state and regional chapters. He joined those chapters and became active in those communities. He went where the fish were. You can’t just go to the local swimming pool and drop a pole in the water because it’s convenient. 

Tools, tactics, and strategies Wes embraces

Wes gives out a free guide called “Process Before Login.” The concept is that you need to document your steps and track your activities before you log in to any tool. Because a tool won’t save you. You know what your territory is. You have to figure out how to get in front of people. Can you knock on their door or go to events where they congregate? Once you plan daily and weekly activities, you can manage them. How many phone calls can you make? How many emails can you send? How many handwritten letters can you write? Do you have scripts for text messages? How are you engaging people on social media? 

If you're in B2B, LinkedIn can be good. But Wes gets more crappy messages on LinkedIn than anywhere else. Why? Because people don’t know how to communicate. People are spending money to get in front of Wes with an awful message. Learn how to communicate. Blog. Write a post for LinkedIn. It can even be a FAQ post. Prepare written answers to objections ahead of time and link it to a blog or LinkedIn post you’ve written. Your prospect will be impressed. They’ll think you know what you’re talking about. If you do anything, Wes implores you to just start writing. Write a daily article for LinkedIn that your prospects would be interested in. Your life will change in 30 days. 

What are Wes’s three sales planning dos and don’ts? Listen to find out—they might really surprise you.

How do you take control of your territory? How do you disqualify a prospect to focus on the important accounts? Listen to hear Wes’s process!

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Mar 30, 2022

Jeff Bajorek believes that salespeople underrate territory sales planning because it’s boring—and they lack a growth mindset. But if you’re a full-cycle sales rep, you need to know where your revenue is coming from. So you need a good grasp of your territory, the players in it, and who’s moving in and out of it. You need a handle on price increases and must know your products inside and out. It’s not all buying dinners and playing golf with prospects. Territory sales planning is where many people could make up ground if they do the work

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:59] Why salespeople underrate territory sales planning
  • [2:08] How territory sales planning can lessen reactivity
  • [3:52] The ingredients for the ideal territory sales plan
  • [7:34] The attributes that make a salesperson successful
  • [9:25] Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve territory sales planning
  • [11:12] Jeff’s top “do”: Embrace the buddy system
  • [15:12] Jeff's simply and effective territory planning strategy

How territory sales planning can lessen reactivity

Do you want to be at the whim of your territory? Or do you want to have an impact and influence on what your territory produces (from a revenue perspective)? If you’re waiting for a customer to wave their arms in the air, you’ll be waiting a long time—and doing activities that won’t move the needle. Can your calendar be used against you in a court of law to convict you of being a salesperson? 

Do you have time blocked to prospect? Do you have time blocked to contact your regular customers? Do you have time blocked to research and develop accounts in your territory? Or are you completely winging it? Are you taking control—or waiting for things to happen? Jeff points out that you know what the right answer is but you’re probably still not doing enough of it. 

The ideal territory sales plan is focused on a growth mindset

Who are the players in your territory? Who is growable? There are a lot of companies talking about fresh opportunities but “new” versus “old” is the wrong paradigm. Growable versus not growable is what you need to focus on and accessibility is the issue. Jeff breaks things down into quadrants: growability and accessibility.

  1. Quadrant one is those that are growable and accessible. These are new or existing accounts with room to pick up wallet share.
  2. Quadrant two is growable but not accessible. These are dream clients you have to work to gain access to.
  3. Quadrant three is not growable but accessible. These are the clients that shake your hand, slap you on the back, and say “It’s good to see ya” but there’s no room to grow.

You feel productive when you gain the attention of quadrant three. If you can’t grow them, they’re the best source for referrals or introductions. Use them for market research to help you gain access to clients in quadrant two.

But people spend so much time in quadrant three. They could spend half the amount of time maintaining business and spend it gaining access to new accounts. Where are you spending your time? Spend it all in quadrant one if you can. Once you fill that demand, you’ll have a void. You need to make inaccessible opportunities in quadrant two more accessible. Then, use your best customers to understand what it takes to gain access—whether introductions or referrals. Now you’re selling. 

Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve territory sales planning

Every year, you start from square one. Your company likely asks for 7%. Every January, Jeff went to a national sales meeting. They’d get information about fee increases, new products, line extensions, etc. Jeff had his notebook open and a pen in his hand. He took diligent notes and knew exactly who he’d call on with new products. By the time he left that weekend, he’d have his territory sales plan sketched out. He knew who to call, who would be a great target, who would buy, who was already using similar products and how much they were using, and the value of each customer. He left those meetings fired up and set appointments for the next week. 

Jeff points out that pen and paper is an under-utilized tool. You don’t need fancy technology to plan your territory—you just need to set aside time to do the work. Opportunities won’t fall in your lap. Where do you have good access and growability? Write it down. Who are your dream clients? Who are a great fit and you just don’t know? Write it down. How do you plan to reach them? Who are your rockstar clients? Write it down. That can translate to introductions and referrals. You need to understand the players in your territory before you can do anything else. 

Jeff’s territory sales planning do: Embrace the buddy system

Find a buddy. Jeff worked with another salesperson and they got together once a quarter. They met in the middle and planned for the next quarter. They held each other accountable. Every quarter, they presented what they accomplished, what their revenue looked like, how they executed against their plan, and how successful they were. It’s tremendously beneficial. If you don’t have leadership that will hold you accountable, find a buddy—in or outside of your organization.

The bottom line is that sales is a verb. You have to act on your plan. You can’t afford to sit and wait for sales to happen. Create opportunities, steward them to close business, and maintain those relationships to earn referrals.

Connect with Jeff Bajorek

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  • Email Jeff at JF(at)JeffBajorek.com

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Mar 23, 2022

Too many salespeople wing it. They just wanna “See what’s out there.” But Mark Hunter emphasizes that planning is the only way you’ll maximize the opportunities in your territory. You can’t react to whatever business is out there. 

Mark loves to say, “Tomorrow begins today.” You have to plan your day, week, and month. Why? It allows you to use your time efficiently. Many salespeople are busy but not as productive as they could be if they had planned how they’d use their time. Listen to this episode of Sales Reinvented to hear Mark share more about his planning process!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Why is territory sales planning underrated? 
  • [1:13] How territory sales planning can reduce reactivity
  • [2:06] The ingredients of the ideal territory sales plan
  • [3:39] Attributes and characteristics that make a salesperson great
  • [6:33] Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve sales planning skills
  • [9:17] Mark’s top territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [12:36] Control your territory—don’t let your territory control you

The ingredients of the ideal territory sales plan

The first question you must ask is who is your ideal customer? No matter the size of your territory, there will always be opportunities. You want to focus your time on the best of the best. If you don’t know your ICP, you’ll waste a tremendous amount of your time on other people.

You have to understand the outcome that you can create. No customer buys anything. They invest. They invest because they want a return on their investment. So what can you help them achieve?

Don't overlook the value of your calendar. Block time to work on projects. Mark follows the “10 am Rule.” By 10 am, he wants to have accomplished something significant. If you can do that, it motivates you. If the day were to fall apart you could still consider it successful. By mid-morning, Mark had already sent out a major proposal to a client. What has it resulted in? He’s accomplished so much more. 

Attributes and characteristics that make a salesperson great

Your head needs to be in the right place. You have to focus on using your time efficiently—while helping customers—and never be satisfied with where you are today. Mark points out that it’s not his job as a sales manager to motivate his salespeople. His goal is to create an environment for them to motivate themselves. There are a few things Mark shares that lead to success:

  • You have to understand the value of time and how you manage it. Everyone is blessed with 24 hours a day. How will you choose to use them?
  • Be customer-focused. Salespeople set a monetary goal not realizing that’s the reward, not the goal. Your goal should be meetings, making customers happy, and helping customers achieve their outcomes.
  • Never be content with where you’re at. Success can only be defined by yourself. Don’t let others define it for you. You can deem yourself successful while never being satisfied. Why? Because you’re always asking what you can do to become better. 

How can you become more proficient? How can you be more productive? The measure of productivity is the results your customers achieve from the outcomes they’re able to achieve based on how you’ve helped them.

Top territory sales planning dos and don’ts

Mark shares some things you should—and shouldn’t do—to achieve your goals:

  • Identify your ICP and develop key questions that focus on each ICP.
  • Manage your time. Break it up into segments. Allocate a percentage of each day to small, medium, and large accounts. 
  • Understand where your greatest opportunities are and manage your pipeline. It doesn’t matter how many leads go into the top of the funnel—it’s what you pull out through the bottom. Identify and qualify prospects quickly to close them faster. 
  • Don’t hang on to customers that aren’t profitable. You can’t afford to keep them. Always look to trim the bottom 10% of your client list.
  • You are not in the customer service game. The sales role is about creating incremental opportunities. Don’t allow yourself to play customer service agent. 
  • Don’t allow yourself to associate with anyone who is not going to be a positive influence on you. You are the sum of the 5 people you associate with the most. Invest your time with really smart people. 

Control your territory—don’t let your territory control you

Mark was young and enthusiastic when he started in sales. He had a large territory assigned to him. He soon realized that territory included demanding customers. He felt he had to step up and deliver them more service. The result? He could leave their office and they’d call 20 minutes later and ask for something else. 

He had been working the territory for 3 months when his boss asked him to meet for breakfast. Mark was an hour and a half late because he was visiting a customer taking care of a problem. He thought his boss would be happy. His boss was actually livid and threatened to fire him on the spot. It wasn’t because he was let. It was because he allowed his priorities to get disrupted. He was allowing problem accounts to control how he operated his territory. It’s one of the worst problems new salespeople have: the desire to want to serve and please everyone out there. 

Mark’s boss told him that he would never be able to satisfy every demanding customer. Instead, the objective is to minimize them. Allow them a small percentage of your time. If not, you’ll never have time to develop customers to create the incremental business you need to meet your numbers. Failure to make your number will get you fired in a quarter. 

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Mar 16, 2022

There are actions, tasks, and disciplines that must be accomplished to create a perpetual business. Tom Ninness points out that it’s important to know what activities drive your business. When Tom first entered the mortgage industry he was assigned to a territory. He knew that to use his time wisely, he needed a plan. So he planned where he would go when. So much so that all of his customers knew which days he was coming to visit. What else does Tom do to support his territory planning? Learn more in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:11] Why is territory sales planning underrated? 
  • [2:39] How territory sales planning can reduce reactivity
  • [4:15] The ingredients of the perfect territory sales plan
  • [5:45] Attributes and characteristics that make a salesperson great
  • [7:57] Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve sales planning skills
  • [10:19] Top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [14:07] Be servant-minded with your approach

The ingredients of the perfect territory sales plan

If you have a plan laid out so you know what you’re doing hour by hour, you’ll get a great ROI. Tom has the loan officers he works with complete an exercise to calculate their hourly rate. If they want to make $250,000 and want a week off every quarter. They have to work 40 effective hours a week. That averages $130 an hour. Are the sales folks completing value-based activities that will earn them $130 an hour? When you place a value on your time it makes the necessity of a plan even more apparent. And, it will help you be more successful.

Attributes and characteristics that make a salesperson great

A salesperson has to be likable and servant-minded. People will want to do business with you. Many salespeople view selling as something they do “to” another person instead of something they do “for” another person. Tom firmly believes that he “gets” because he gives without expectation of anything in return.

Tim Sanders wrote a book, “Love Is the Killer App,” in which he posits that business people are looking for knowledge. Your knowledge is worthless if you don’t share it. Secondly, you have to have a network to share it with. The larger your network, the greater your opportunities. Lastly, give with no strings attached. That’s where the law of reciprocity kicks in. 

Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve sales planning skills 

Salespeople can do business with friends, family, and coworkers. But there are other people in your network. Tom’s end customer has friends, families, and coworkers. They can refer business to him. If he does a great job and a happy customer fills out a survey for him, he believes there are at least four more opportunities for him to do additional business.

So how do you get these names? Tom uses a form where he asks happy clients for a list of professionals in their circle of influence. They gladly provide that to him. He can then share the survey they’ve completed with that list and cultivate appointments. When you delight your customers, they’ll want to refer you to their friends and colleagues.

Be servant-minded with your approach

Tom represents the financing for a builder. Someone else that represents a builder wanted to buy a unit from Tom’s builder but wanted to use his own lender. Tom’s builder flat out told him no—he had to work with Tom or he wouldn’t sell the property to him. The builder warned Tom that the customer was upset and to be mindful of that when they spoke.

Tom gave him a call and asked him to call his lender to see what they’d offer him. He agreed to match it. Tom had Googled him and done some research and really liked this guy. So throughout the next year, he sent him information and resources and gave him ideas. Tom always asks people, “What is the biggest challenge you’re having in your business?” The answer is usually something they’re having problems with. After a year and a half of offering value to this guy, Tom gets a call from him, asking him out to lunch.

After the waiter took their order, he said “Tom, I feel like I’m having an affair.” Dumbfounded, Tom said “What?!” Tom had given him so much value while the lender he had worked with for 20 years wasn’t motivated to help him. This man landed a new builder with 55 townhomes and made Tom his new lender. Tom emphasizes that just because you hear the word “no” doesn’t mean you give up. You can give someone value with no strings attached. Don’t be surprised if it comes back to you tenfold. 

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Mar 9, 2022
Territory sales planning is like building a house. To be successful, you need blueprints. You need a plan to follow so you can build a firm foundation. Lisa firmly believes that you need to create a plan, work your plan, and take responsibility for exceeding your sales goals. Lisa shares her ingredients for the ideal territory sales plan in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] Why is territory sales planning underrated? 
  • [1:33] How territory sales planning can reduce reactivity
  • [3:00] The ingredient of Lisa’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [6:41] The attributes of a great salesperson
  • [8:33] Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve your skills
  • [9:49] Top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [12:09] Forecasting is the key to successful territory sales plans

How territory sales planning can reduce reactivity

At the beginning of a year or quarter, you must take the opportunity to evaluate your territory. How effectively are you using their time? Where are the dollars gonna come from? A simple spreadsheet of your sales reports for the past 2–3 years will help you realize there’s gold within your territory. You don’t have to spend time doing more prospecting. Why? You can fish in your own territory.

The ingredient of Lisa’s ideal territory sales plan

Lisa believes that there’s not a perfect sales territory plan—it must always evolve. This is her general recipe for success:

  1. Run a client analysis: Run a report that shows your clients and all of the sales for the last 2–3 years to see an average. Where are the dollars coming from? How much time are you spending on your different accounts? This will help you create a territory sales plan that will help you achieve your goals. 
  2. Complete a detailed forecast: How many dollars has an account given you in the last five years? Sort your accounts from the highest to the lowest. What dollars do you anticipate you can do with each client? Look at overall revenue and how you can expand it. What services or products are they buying from you? What else could they buy from you? The most effective way to grow your business is cross-selling with current clients. 
  3. Validate information directly with your client: What are their goals, initiatives, and priorities? What could you sell them? Are they expecting the same inventory? What are they anticipating to purchase from you? Get answers directly from your key accounts. 

Most salespeople put together a territory plan and shelve it. To be successful, you must review it monthly and quarterly. Forecast a number and lock it in. Challenge yourself to meet your working forecast. It will help you validate how accurate your forecasts are at the beginning of your territory planning. 

Forecasting is the key to successful territory sales plans

Lisa and her Director of Sales worked together to dive into and conquer their territory sales plan. When they did a thorough forecast—based on the previous 4 years—they realized that 92% of their business would come from existing customers. Some of them didn’t buy from them in 2020 because of COVID. That showed that they could reignite old client relationships. It helped direct their prospecting. 

This exercise also helped the sales team gain clarity on who is responsible for what—especially when dividing up an existing plan. It’s a team effort to get business and create their next best year ever. A sales professional will create and work a plan and reinvent themselves as a trusted advisor because they know the value they can bring to their clients. 

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Mar 2, 2022

The top-performing salespeople understand the importance of territory sales planning. They know that if they create a plan and work the plan they’ll outperform their peers. But John Smibert believes that a strategic plan applying the 80/20 rule is. He fleshes out what that could look like in this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:05] Why planning is an underrated activity
  • [2:25] Stop being reactive and create a plan
  • [3:55] John’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [6:50] The right mindset is key to success
  • [7:53] Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve
  • [9:40] John’s territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [12:42] Match your domain expertise with your ideal customer 

The ideal territory sales plan

It’s no secret that the top salespeople are great planners. They routinely run a SWOT analysis and look at their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s a key strategic planning tool. You also need to identify your target and objective. Your company may give you an objective but you’re the boss of your own business. You certainly need to plan for what your company expects from you but why not shoot for more? 

Put the quota aside. What do you need to do to achieve your objective? Then look at your territory—identify where opportunities are likely to be. What 20% of accounts will get you 80% of the value? Secondly, look at your ICP. Who are they? Do some research, identify them, and focus activity on them alone. If you don’t have a plan you grab onto the first opportunities that come your way. You’ll find that you’ve filled your pipeline with average opportunities at best. 

John’s territory sales planning dos and don’ts

John hears a lot of sales managers complain that they don’t see the right level of activity from their salespeople. But if their salespeople have a plan in place that has been thought through strategically, less activity is sometimes good. But John nails down some dos and don'ts that can help you focus in the right place. 

  • Set aside the time to create a detailed territory plan once a year. The annual plan needs to be broken down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals. You need to wake up every day and say, “What do I need to do to progress my plan?” 
  • Know where you’ll get the best results and focus on them. Focusing on the right 20% will get you 80% of the results. 
  • Review, review, review. How do you stay on plan? What do you need to do?
  • Don’t create a plan and forget about it. You’ve created it to help you stay on track to reach your goals. 
  • Don’t assume every customer is the same. Market segmentation and account targeting around your expertise is important. Everyone has domain expertise, so focus on customers who value what you have to bring to the table.

Learn how to say no. You don’t want to chase every opportunity that comes through the door. The top salespeople say no far more than yes because they know where the value is. 

Match your domain expertise with your ideal customer 

John recently co-authored a book called “The Wentworth Prospect” about a young lady who progressed well in her sales career with the help of a coach. It’s based on a true story about a woman John actually coached. This woman—named Sue—was selling cybersecurity solutions. She had learned the product well and had studied cybersecurity in university, so she had developed some domain expertise. 

John asked her where she wanted to focus her territory. She stated her goal was to approach mid-level organizations but that she didn’t have an industry chosen. So they did some research and landed on a focus in the banking and finance industry. Why? She had a background in banking. She knew she had a unique perspective to bring to the table, her product fit well, and they were an ideal customer. 

In that year, because she eliminated 80% of her territory and focused on the 20%, she blew her quota out of the water. All because she created a plan that she followed diligently. 

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Feb 23, 2022
Carrie Millen jokes that sales territory planning is underrated because it’s spelled “W-O-R-K.” It is “something my boss told me I have to do.” It feels like any time invested in territory sales planning cuts into sales time. Why would they bother doing the work? It seems like busywork over an investment. But that’s exactly what it is—an investment. But the right data-driven sales plan is an investment that will pay off. Carrie explains why in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:44] Why is sales territory planning underrated? 
  • [1:38] How to stop being a solely reactive salesperson
  • [2:30] Carrie’s data-driven sales territory plan
  • [4:31] The attributes that make a salesperson great at sales planning
  • [5:41] The tool, tactics, and strategies Carrie implements to stay on course
  • [8:10] Carrie’s top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [11:45] Where sales territory planning can lead

Carrie’s data-driven sales territory plan

Territory sales planning not only provides a guideline but it helps take the thinking out of sales. How? If you have a plan, know it, and work it, you’ll be able to execute sales efficiently. If you spend 59 minutes planning and one minute executing your plan, you’ll likely have more success (Carrie’s nod to Albert Einstein). 

While your plan does depend on what you’re selling and where you’re selling it, data is key. What is the size of your territory? Size of an average sale? Size of the clients you’re selling to? 

Creating profitability and long-term value with a client is a major factor. If you are investing your time and effort, you want to build a long-term relationship with that client to continue hitting your numbers. You can’t just focus on whales but must balance with some smaller fish. 

The tool, tactics, and strategies Carrie implements to stay on course

Carrie notes that there’s a balance between quick fixes and overall planning. Sales is like being on a dodgeball court—balls are being thrown at you from all angles. You don’t always have time to think and simply have to react. But to react with the proper response, you have to be well-prepared. You need to be intentional about what your day-to-day activity is.

Carrie posts the key things she wants to focus on throughout a quarter as the screensaver of her computer monitor. It makes it easy to quickly refocus her activities and stay on track. She owns the plan that she’s made whenever she veers off track. However you prefer to do it, book intentional time in your day to focus on the plan that you've built. 

Secondly, if you’ve built a plan for the next 12 months, how do you know you’re on track? You need data. You need to test and measure that data. If you estimate that you’ll have a certain number in your pipeline by a certain date, measure it. Where are you at? What activities are driving the people in your pipeline?

Carrie loves the Eisenhower Matrix. What is important? What is urgent? What isn’t important or urgent? A territory plan will allow you to navigate what’s urgent and what isn’t. Your wins need to be meaningful and help you achieve the goals of your plan. 

Carrie’s territory sales planning dos and don’ts

Carrie shares a set of dos and don’ts that she uses to stay on course and organized. 

  • Start small and pick a segment and a plan and consistently evaluate it. Then hone in on one small bite of your plan at a time. 
  • Make friends with someone who is financially minded or analytical and have them in your back pocket. Humans are not meant to do everything by themselves.
  • Use blinders. Stay focused on the territory plan in front of you. Work the plan.
  • To do this, create a simple criteria framework that proves you’re on the plan. When do you know if someone is part of the overall plan? You don’t want to accept a client unless they fit in your plan. 
  • Don’t borrow someone else's plan or use last year’s. You couldn’t cheat in school, why do it now? 
  • Don’t work in a vacuum. Get some feedback. Ask your clients why they chose your product or service. 
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Go after multiple industries and types of clients that fit your product/service. If the travel industry was your only focus, you’d likely have been out of a job in 2020/2021.

Where sales territory planning can lead

Carrie was coaching someone to help her develop her sales skills and territory planning. This person works at a fast-growing SaaS company that was looking to branch into different niches. She wanted to build a plan for herself to grow the new segment. She approached her leadership with the idea to use new assets. She saw a challenge that could be fixed that could lead to exponential growth. 

Her plan caught the eye of the VP. He asked her to implement her plan for every team. Soon after, she was promoted to a role as a Sales Manager. It was all because she applied the skills she’d learned. She looked at the problems in front of her and took ownership. It had a cascading impact on her business.

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Feb 16, 2022
The most successful salespeople have the discipline to do what will deliver success. And territory sales planning is a critical component of that success. Most salespeople don’t see the benefits of sales planning, so they don’t do it. Salespeople underrate territory planning because they’re focused on short-term calendar-focused targets. They’re highly reactive. 

Today’s guest, Wayne Moloney, shares that the average tenure of a B2B salesperson is only 16 months and it’s steadily decreasing. He believes that having the right territory sales plan in place can lead to long-term success, growth, and longevity in the profession. In this episode of Sales Reinvented, Wayne shares how salespeople can transform their plans with some simple questions. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:01] The largest reasons salespeople discount sales planning
  • [3:20] How to overcome reactivity with territory sales planning
  • [5:17] The ingredients for the perfect territory sales plan
  • [7:53] Attributes or characteristics that make a salesperson great 
  • [10:48] A simple territory sales plan is the key to success
  • [14:10] Top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [16:17] How a simple plan led to global sales success

How to overcome reactivity with territory sales planning

If you’re planning a territory, you’re clarifying and articulating where you want to go and what roads will lead to them. If you’re reactive, you’re reacting to suspects, not the right type of customers. Territory planning helps you target the right customers, establish goals for income, and ensures sales growth over time. It also helps you engage with customers early enough in the sales process to have an impact. 

A good sales plan defines the specific industries and sectors that will offer the most opportunity to you—and why. That’s the foundation of any plan. Then you must look at the characteristics of your high-value clients. That helps you identify your ICP. Focus on the organizations you can best help versus those looking for a white paper offered by your marketing teams. A good salesperson also completes a comprehensive competitive analysis (i.e. what your competitors are doing and why they’re doing it). 

Attributes or characteristics that make a salesperson great 

Accountability is critical. After 40+ in sales and business management, Wayne still has a mentor that he shares his goals with who helps hold him accountable. It’s critical to Wayne’s success and will be to yours, too. Accountability means taking responsibility for your plan and the actions you take. Another critical component? Set goals and write them down. Wayne emphasizes that “A plan that’s not written down is just a thought.” You must define and implement actions to make things happen. 

Great salespeople don’t operate as islands. Wayne worked with someone who got a group of people together and asked them to pull apart and critique his plan to strengthen his approach. One of the biggest opportunities for salespeople is achieving domain expertise. Developing this starts by knowing what businesses to focus on. You can’t be all things to all people. You need to understand and know your addressable market. 

A simple territory sales plan is the key to success

Wayne shares some simple yet strategic questions you can ask yourself to build a successful territory sales plan: 

  • Where are you now? Why are you where you are? Walk back through what’s happened with your territory, your best and worst clients, and even those you’ve lost.
  • Where do you want to be and when do you want to be there? This gives you a starting line and a finish line. The middle is the gap that will grow your territory.
  • What resources will you need? What tools do you have available to aid your planning?
  • How will you measure performance? When and how will you review your progress? When are you going to do it? How are you going to do it? Who will you involve in the process? 

Walking through these questions is the easiest way to build a plan that’s simple, easy to understand, and helps drive you to success. 

What are Wayne’s top three territory sales planning dos and don’ts? Listen to find out!

How a simple plan led to global sales success

A man Wayne calls “Jim” used to work for him. Jim was very successful in his sales position but didn’t know why. He was always reluctant to make a plan. Because he was so successful, it was hard for Wayne to argue why he should build a plan. He still taught him the proper framework but never truly enforced it. 

Jim moved on and took a role with a major credit card company. One day, Jim called Wayne and thanked him. Why? Because Jim struggled in the credit card industry. So he sat back and went through Wayne’s planning process. He became the top salesperson in his organization. He closed the two biggest global opportunities because he knew where to focus his territory plan. 

As a sales manager, whatever you teach your team is not wasted if you coach them properly. Wayne’s message to salespeople? Don’t dismiss what you’re taught—it will become useful at some point in your career. 

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Feb 9, 2022
We live in a noisy world where it’s hard to focus. But you can manage your territories better with great territory planning. If you’re a salesperson in the field every day, proper route planning can be a gamechanger. The right tool not only helps you plan the most efficient route but also helps you prioritize your sales calls in any way you see fit—annual spend, important relationships, and more. Steve Benson joins Paul in this episode to talk about his revolutionary route planning too, Badger Maps. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:46] Territory sales planning: underrated by salespeople?
  • [1:27] Sales territory planning can reduce reactive sales activities
  • [2:28] The ingredients of the ideal territory sales plan
  • [3:54] Attributes and characteristics of a great salesperson
  • [5:57] Tools + tactics + strategies to improve sales planning skills
  • [8:20] What Badger mapping offers field-based people
  • [11:32] Top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts 
  • [14:42] The right tool boosts effectiveness enormously

The ingredients of the ideal territory sales plan

It’s important to take your actual territory into account when you make a plan for your territory. You want to figure out how to plan your day in a way that hits the most important customers efficiently. You need to be organized and gather data so you can prioritize in the first place. 

Some people are more organized by nature. Likewise, some people—and cultures—have a better grasp of geography than others. Some people can visualize things and use mapping or routing tools. Those that struggle with geography—and even those that are skilled—can benefit from tools like Badger Maps.

Paul covered the NE part of England when he first started in sales. His trunk was full of maps and he’d use 4–5 every single day. At the time, you had to master driving with one hand and navigating with a map in the other. He wished he had access to a tool like Bader Maps. So what can it do for you?

What Badger mapping offers field-based people

Steve was a geography major in college. He, too, used paper maps. But as mapping tools came out, he realized that sales territory planning was a problem that could be solved with technology and mobile devices. Bader Maps combines the ability to connect their customer’s data (i.e. in their CRM) into a mapping environment. It helps them see their field and determine who to prioritize as a customer (spending can be color-coded, as one example). 

It shows them where appointments are already set and helps them optimize a route based on priority. The app allows you to map out your sales territory in minutes—not hours. The algorithm behind building a route is heavy math that can't be done in your head. Badger takes mapping a territory, prioritization, and route-planning to a whole new level. It also allows you to change your route on the fly and adjust your day to prioritize high-value customers when necessary. 

Top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts 

Steve follows these simple—yet effective—when route planning for a sales territory.

  • Take the time to get organized. 
  • Leverage tools to be efficient; don’t design sales territories by hand.
  • Enjoy the strategizing. If you’re in the right headspace it can be fun! 
  • Don’t do it by hand (using google maps, a calendar, and CRM). 
  • Don’t blow things off.
  • Don’t strategize alone, keep your team (including management) in the loop. They can help you brainstorm and improve. 

Listen to the whole episode for more of Steve’s tricks of the trade. 

The right tool boosts effectiveness

Steve works with a company with 300 sales reps. Each one of them manages 10 partner relationships with dentists. But many of them were competing for the same dentists. Their data was a mess. So Steve helped them connect Badger with their CRM. They organized their customers, guided them in the right direction, and their sales jumped 15%. They calculated their miles and meetings throughout the process. Their miles decreased 20% and weekly meetings increased 25%. When the whole company uses the product, the results can be astounding. 

It’s worth spending your time on route planning for your territory using the right tools. You’ll drive fewer miles and bump your sales in a meaningful way. Learn more about Badger Maps in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Steve Benson

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Feb 2, 2022

The best way to stop being reactive is to ask how you can make your targets while doing as little work as possible. What activities are important? What things can you do to make every minute as useful as possible? It starts by knowing your territory and your plan for your territory. Then you must employ some creative laziness. Learn more about Steve's unique strategy in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:47] Why is territory planning an underrated activity?
  • [2:38] How territory planning can help you be more organized
  • [3:33] Steve’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [4:47] Great salespeople need to be creatively lazy 
  • [7:35] Tools, strategies, and tactics to improve sales planning 
  • [8:30] Top three territory sales planning dos and don’ts 
  • [10:07] Focus on your niche in your geographical area

Steve’s ideal territory sales plan

A territory can mean many things to many people. Usually, it’s a geographic territory. Most salespeople believe the bigger the territory the better. Steve says that’s a lie. A focused territory where you know the customers well is better than a large territory where you’re stretched thin. A broader region leads to more challenges. Why? You may agree to take on a new client without making certain they fit in your plan. 

What do you sell? What problems do you solve? Start there. If you don’t know this, you won’t know the types of companies/people you should have in your territory. Once you define your ICP, which specific companies have problems you can solve? Are your company’s customers in a particular industry or sector? Look for people similar to your existing customers. Then you can categorize companies and plan your approach. 

Great salespeople need to be creatively lazy

Steves’s answer probably isn’t one you’d commonly hear. Great salespeople are lazy. If you want a life outside of work you have to plan and strategize. You need the ability to strategize and learn quickly. You need to be creatively lazy. 

If you get inbound leads, you can't just jump on them. Look at your territory. If the company isn’t part of your ICP, don’t waste your time on them. Refer them to someone else that is a better fit for them. 

Steve worked with a lazy account manager who took long lunch breaks and went to football games during the workday. But he was a planner. He looked at opportunities, how to get them, and who he needed to talk to to get them. Once he had a strategy in place, he followed it. He didn’t have to work that hard because he strategized well. If you’re lazy, you don’t do things because you’re “supposed to.” You only do activities that help you reach your goals. 

What are you trying to achieve? What are your end goals? What’s the best way to achieve your goals? Do nothing that doesn’t fit in your plan. Avoid distractions. You can outsource those things. Ruthlessly focus on what gets you where you want to be. 

Focus on your niche in your geographical area

For one of Steve’s first sales jobs in Australia, he was told to cold-call people and sell his software to expand their clients. He called food distributors, manufacturers, etc. He learned his company’s software wasn’t suitable for them. They could modify it but didn't have the manpower to do so. 

So Steve went back to his manager and asked him to allow them to focus on who they served best. So the two salespeople doubled down on their niche and his company became the top-selling publishing software in the world. You need to have the right piece to the puzzle. Match what you have to offer to the people that need it in your geographical territory. 

Resources & People Mentioned

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Jan 26, 2022

It’s not often that we have the honor of hosting a productivity and systems expert on the podcast, but on this episode we have just that. Liz Heiman is a national sales expert and the Founder and CEO of “Regarding Sales, LLC.” The firm she’s created focuses on building B2B sales operating systems that drive extraordinary growth. Liz and Paul continue the series on the topic of territorial sales planning by focusing on the nuts and bolts of what it takes to build a successful plan for your territorial sales efforts.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:57] Why Liz believes territorial sales planning to be underrated in general
  • [1:38] The challenge of “reactive selling”
  • [2:35] Ingredients of the perfect territorial sales plan
  • [5:08] What makes for a great territorial salesperson
  • [6:03] Characteristics of a great territorial salesperson
  • [9:50] Liz’s top three territorial sales planning DOs and DON’Ts
  • [11:50] A territorial sales story (that happens over and over)

Why is territorial sales planning underestimated (and underutilized)?

It’s clear from a brief look across the sales landscape that the importance of territorial sales planning is not understood. Liz believes that it’s a huge mistake to think sellers can simply begin calling leads and make sales. A plan is needed to be most effective. But why don’t sellers and sales leaders build plans?

  1. They think that a number (sales goal) is a strategy, but it’s not
  2. They don’t know how to structure an effective plan, try it, and it doesn’t work. So they never do it again because it didn’t work
  3. Management pushes them to sell but doesn’t help them accomplish that goal

Reactive selling: an Achilles heel when it comes to territorial sales planning

Liz explains that one of the worst habits a salesperson can fall into is what she refers to as “reactive selling.” What is it? What is urgent, what comes across their desk or email each morning is what absorbs their attention. This sort of focus on what’s coming to them is misleading because what’s coming to them doesn’t necessarily get them where they want to go. To avoid reactive selling, a plan is in order. It’s vital to have an endpoint in mind and therefore be clear about the activities that will get them there. Planning is the only way to prioritize those specific activities, which is what makes the achievement of sales goals a reality.

What goes into the perfect territorial sales plan?

Before moving into the elements of a territorial sales plan, Liz reiterates a foundational principle: You must have a funnel/pipeline and understand what is in it. Understand your sales cycle and its velocity. Understand your qualifying process. Understand how many leads need to go into the top of the pipeline to generate the number of sales you need. Your pipeline is the main tool you use to execute your plan. When you understand it, you can create your plan by doing the following…

  1. Assess what you sold last year, who you sold to, how it happened
  2. Break up your territory into different segments (top clients, undersold clients, referral partners)
  3. Leverage existing relationships for referrals
  4. Uncover the sales activities that fill in the gaps and generate more qualified leads

A successful territorial salesperson looks like this…

A person who is successful at territorial sales is a person who can and does learn from their mistakes. Instead of beating themselves up over their missteps, they learn the lesson it has to teach them so that they never make that mistake again. It’s learning the skill of leveraging the mistake to serve you instead of holding you back. You use it to reach where you want to go.

Liz also points out that consistency is a multiplier. When you have a well-considered plan for your sales territory and implement it every day, regardless of what comes to you, success is going to come. The right behaviors done repeatedly build success.

This episode is full of actionable tips and powerful insights to help you build a territorial sales plan that will win. Listen to get all the details from Liz Heiman.

Resources & People Mentioned

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Jan 19, 2022

Sales superstars who work a territory — be that a geographic area or a particular industry segment — are hard to come by. But great salespeople with no experience in territorial sales can be trained, nurtured, and taught how to create an effective sales plan for their territory that leverages their natural ability into great growth and profitability. This episode features sales coach and trainer, Michael Griego who shares some of the characteristics of sales territory superstars, what goes into a great territorial sales planning process, and more.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:19] Michael Griego:Sales leader, author, speaker
  • [1:02] Why territorial sales planning is overlooked so much
  • [1:50] The fundamental part territorial sales planning plays
  • [2:53] The ingredients of a perfect sales territory plan
  • [6:48] What are the attributes of a territorial salesperson?
  • [10:54] Michael’s tips for building your own territorial sales plan
  • [12:35] Michal's top 3 Sales Territory planning DOs and DON’Ts

Why is territorial sales planning so neglected?

Micheal is quick to agree that territory planning is often overlooked. He says the simple reason for that is that reps are too busy running deals, chasing situations, trying to get deals done, doing the admin side of things, etc. He explains that when there is no clear planning process that guides daily activity those other things take the stage and planning gets pushed to the side. A salesperson without a plan can even be very successful but not necessarily in a strategic or orchestrated manner.

That’s on an individual level, but Michael says the problem exists on an organizational level as well. Often, when he goes in to consult with a company they have some type of planning process in place but it’s many times a legacy process that needs to be revamped. It may also be a sloppy attempt at planning that needs to be tightened up. Michael insists that planning at a hierarchical level (from the territory level down to the daily activity level) is critical.

The components of an ideal territorial sales plan

The good news from Micheal’s perspective is that many things that need to be done to plan effectively are intuitive. Most sales professionals who begin a planning process start with assessment of the current state of the territory — which IS the place to start. Michael explains that a good structure is needed to put a stake in the ground and say “This is what the territory is and this is what I see, currently.“ Next, Michael suggests working out a “Top 10 opportunities” list and a “Top 10 prospects” list. Doing this forces sales reps to clarify what they are really dealing with and helps make the distinction between targeted prospects and active deals.

Beyond this is the need for a development plan. The question to be answered is “What are you doing to develop the pipeline?” Webinars? Mailing campaigns? Launches? Cold calling? Once implemented the development plan needs to be reviewed and updated on a 30-60-90 day basis. Listen to hear the rest of Michael’s recommended territorial sales planning process.

Attributes of a sales superstar that carry over into a territory planning mindset

In his book, “42 Rules to Increase Sales Effectiveness” Micheal outlines the attributes of sales superstars. He says these same 5 characteristics need to exist for those who excel in territorial sales. What are the 5 attributes?

  1. Be a driver (Be motivated, on top of things, eager to implement and take action)
  2. Be a technician (Become competent with your product/solution/industry through study)
  3. Be a facilitator (Learn to be an excellent communicator)
  4. Be an empathizer (Develop your people skills and learn to be relational)
  5. Be a servant (care for customers)

Michael’s insight into organizing a sales territory is so relevant and applicable you’ll want to listen to this episode a number of times. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mike Griego

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Jan 12, 2022

To you, is territory sales planning as simple as, “I’ve got a territory, so my main goal is grow the client base within my territory”? If so, this episode’s guest, Paula White, says you could be missing the practical details that will enable you to do just that. Paula is a returning guest on this episode of Sales Reinvented and provides a significant bit of insight into how intentional and detailed planning, broken down into bite-sized pieces can help you grow sales volume within your territory.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:19] Paula White: Champion of stand-alone digital sales channels
  • [0:43] The underrated activity of territory sales planning
  • [1:18] How planning fits into day to day activity and the benefits of doing so 
  • [3:28] Intentionality includes a “leave-behind”
  • [5:11] The power of a 30, 60, 90 day plan for every salesperson
  • [6:05] A summary of Paula’s quarterly plan, broken down into 30, 60, 90 day intervals
  • [6:55] Paula’s top 3 territorial planning DOs and DON’Ts
  • [9:22] Lesson-Learned: A favorite territory planning story from Paula 

Paula’s number one ingredient for sales territory planning: Quarterly snapshots

When Paula thinks about her sales territory, she doesn’t allow herself to view it as a huge, nebulous whole that has to be grown over the course of a fiscal year. She breaks it down into possibilities, by quarter. This enables her to work with manageable groupings of existing clients and potential clients without being overwhelmed… and she does this on a quarterly basis. 

When asked what that quarterly plan consists of, Paula says that in her approach she’s identifying who she’s going to target each month within the quarter. The rhythm that works for her is to focus on target customers or prospects during month one, what she calls “bottom customers” during month two (those who perhaps do a lower volume of business or have made minor purchases to date) and then her “middle customers” during month three. One of the things Paula likes about this approach is that it allows her to fit seasonal targets into her planning in a practical manner.

Great territory sales professionals are intentional

As you hear Paula speak about her approach to planning for her sales territory, one thing becomes evident: she’s intentional. She sets goals and integrates the steps she’ll have to take in order to reach those goals into her day to day planning. This plan guides her preparation for appointments and calls and even helps her stay on track during those calls. It also enables her to create what she refers to as a “leave-behind” for each appointment — a review of everything discussed during the call for the prospect or customer to review once the call is over. This kind of intentionality increases your confidence as a seller but more importantly, enables you to serve prospects and customers in a professional manner. 

30, 60, 90-day planning is essential for territorial sales

Paula integrates intentionality with her quarterly planning by breaking each quarter down into further blocks. She creates 30, 60, and 90 day plans for herself, much like a new salesperson may be required to do as they onboard with a sales organization. She says it’s a discipline that serves veteran sellers as well as newcomers. In these smaller plans, Paula writes down who she wants to meet with, what she hopes to accomplish, how she wants to get those things done, in detail, and more. At the end of these 30, 60, 90 day blocks, she evaluates by asking a number of questions...

  • How did she do at hitting her goals?
  • What prevented success?
  • What didn’t go according to plan?
  • How can she optimize her opportunities during the next 30 days?

Paula’s top 3 dos and don’ts for territorial sales planning

To sum up Paula’s perspective on planning for success in territorial sales, she offers three “DOs” and three “DON’Ts”:

DOs

  • Be intentional and specific
  • Create a 30, 60, 90 day plan
  • Keep a smile on your face (positivity empowers your planning and production)

DON’Ts 

  • Waste your time by creating a plan but not following it
  • Assume everything will be fantastic. You have to course-correct as you go
  • Get down on yourself. Sales is tough and requires perseverance and confidence

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