Inbound Marketing & Sales Development Inspiration

Top Three Sales Articles in 2014

Posted January 5, 2014
6 minute read

Welcome to the New Year – a time when we all think about how we can do and be better. I did some research and found the 3 most popular blog posts from 2013. This article is a condensed version of the three - Best B2B Selling Behaviors, Managing Your Sales Funnel, and Improving Your Closing Ratio.

#1 - Best B2B selling behaviors

The world of B2B selling has changed dramatically since the Great Recession, and the “Challenger Study” (the quantitative foundation for the book The Challenger Sale) identified which B2B sales styles and behaviors were most effective.

The “Challenge Study” grouped salespeople into 5 types

  1. Hard Workers – success through sheer will, long hours and dedication
  2. Challengers – researches the customer and its competition, and pushes the customer out of his comfort zone
  3. Relationship Builders – creates and nurtures strong personal relationships
  4. Lone Wolf – breaks most of the rules, and achieves success through unconventional, individualized efforts
  5. Reactive Problem Solver – focuses energy on identifying the customer’s current problem and how his product or service can solve it

A summary and some noteworthy items from the study are as follows:

Sales Style

% Elite – Those performing in top 20% in their respective firms

% Core – Those performing in the middle 60% in their respective firms

Hard Worker






Relationship Builder



Lone Wolf



Reactive Problem Solver



  • Only 8% of B2B salespeople practicing the “Relationship Builder” style were performing in the top 20% of their firm – the lowest among all the sales types.
  • 39% of B2B salespeople practicing the “Challenger” style were performing in the top 20%.

What do “Challengers” do and how to they behave? Here’s a quick snapshot:

  • Does extensive research into the customer and his competition
  • Understands the customer’s economic and value drivers
  • Understands how the customer conducts business
  • Acts as a business consultant from the very beginning
  • Creates constructive tension by pushing customer out of his comfort zone
  • Offers unique and innovative perspectives
  • Skilled and comfortable discussing the customer’s sales, profits, etc.

See the full article at -

#2 - Managing your sales funnel

A sale generally occurs when the need intersects with awareness. So, managing your sales funnel and staying in contact with qualified prospects are critical behaviors.

Guidelines for managing your sales funnel…

  1. Only qualified prospects go into your sales funnel. Each prospect may not meet all your criteria, but if you believe at some point they might, include them.
  2. Assess each prospect with an A, B, C or D based on when you think the right time will be. “A” prospects will likely purchase within 30 days - “B” prospects within 90 days and “C” prospects within 6 months, and “D” prospects sometime beyond 6 months. Even though this timing may be different for what you sell, it’s important that you categorize your prospects based on timing.
  3. Include pertinent information about the prospect like type of business, previous interactions, appropriate products/services, etc.
  4. Document every interaction you have with each prospect in your funnel

Here are some ideas for managing your sales funnel…

  1. Email marketing is a great way to stay in front of your prospects. A monthly email is recommended.
  2. For “A” prospects, “touch” them once a week. More about “touches” later.
  3. For “B” prospects, “touch” them once every 2-4 weeks.
  4. For “C” prospects, “touch” them once every 4-6 weeks.
  5. For “D” prospects, use your email marketing campaign to stay in touch.

What’s a “Touch”?

“Touches” represent any type of interaction with a prospect - an email, phone call, written note, stop-in to say hello, an article, etc. Make your “touches” value-add. Don’t just call up and say “are you ready to buy yet?” A better call would be “I thought about (one of your objections) and figured a way to solve it.” Send articles that are pertinent to the business or to a personal interest of the prospect. Whatever you do, be credible and don’t waste the prospect’s time.

See the full article at -

#3 - How to significantly improve your sales closing results – Trial Closing

The single most important thing you can do to improve your sales closing performance is master “trial closing” techniques. Trial closing achieves two things:

  1. It tells you where you are in the sales process
  2. It tells you when to ask for the sale

Here’s the difference between trial closing and asking for the sale:

  • Asking for the sale – “If I can get you the payment terms you are seeking, will you decide to buy?” Clearly this is asking for the ultimate buying decision.
  • Trial Closing – “How do you feel about the payment terms?” You are not asking for the sale but rather asking how the prospect feels about terms.

Many salespeople don’t know where they are in the sales process, and when they ask for the sale, the buyer has too many unanswered questions - the buyer says “no”. That’s why trial closings are so important. Here are examples of trial closing questions…

  • How do you feel about what we have discussed so far?
  • What do you think about the solution I’ve shared with you?
  • How does what we’ve talked about sound to you?
  • Based on what you’ve heard so far, what are your questions?
  • If you had your way, what changes would you make to the proposal?

Ask a trial closing question that will get the prospect talking so you can learn about where you are in the sales process and when is the right time to ask for the sale.

See full article at

Topics Sales

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