We’ve all received questionable sales advice at some point during our careers – some from mentors or managers, some from peers, and sadly some even from training experts and consultants who are paid to know better.

We’ve spent some time scouring the web to uncover some of these pearls so we can share them here with you here. Enjoy!

1. “Here is a script, read it…”

Nothing says “I have no clue what you do” more than using a generic sales script. Reading from a script is impersonal and prevents you from having a genuine two-way conversation and building rapport.

2. Sales is just a numbers game

Sales is not just about numbers, and cold calling alone is not going to drive results. If you’re only relying on cold calls alone and not finding genuine leads who are actually interested in your product, you’re wasting your time and their time.

3. “Selling is telling”

This one made us laugh – it’s got a quite a ring to it, you must admit. Unfortunately, it was actually a common theme to training programs during the early 80’s. How wrong it was, yet, unbelievably, so many “sales professionals” thought it was right!

4. Always be closing (ABC)

This one conjures up an image of the stereotypical used car salesman. Unfortunately, as any good sales professional knows, customers hate being pushed and really hate pushy sellers. Customers want you to have their best interests at heart and to help them make the best decision, even if that decision is to buy elsewhere or not to buy at all. That’s impossible when you’re concentrating exclusively on closing the sale.

5. Mirror and matching

This one has to be our favorite – as if sales people don’t have enough to handle building rapport, adding valuable insights, asking the right questions and taking great notes. Do we really expect them to cross their arms when the prospect crosses their arms? Really?

What is the worst sales advice you’ve ever received?  Don’t be shy…chime in! This stuff is too good not to share.

kpiIn a meeting with one of our customers, the CEO used a powerful analogy while discussing KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) with his senior leadership team: “The rear view mirror in a car is 50 times smaller than the windshield.” There is an obvious reason for looking through the windshield while driving a car, but that same focus may not be quite as obvious when the objective is to drive revenue in your organization. What is your focus on; lagging or leading indicators?

Lagging Indicators – What are they?

Lagging Indicators are measures that a company uses to gauge performance by outcomes and results that are measured in the rearview mirror…at quarter-end or at year-end.  In most sales organizations, these indicators get most of the attention because they are captured in reports, which are monitored, by executives and shareholders. Lagging indicators include metrics like:

  • Total Sales Dollars
  • Revenue Growth
  • Margins
  • Market Share
  • New Customers

Leading Indicators – Real Time Data

In contrast, leading indicators are measured as you look through the windshield, navigating how you are tracking toward your destination.  They can be viewed as signposts along the way, warning you of speed limits or detours that may need consideration on route toward the revenue goal. As pipeline is being managed, leading indicators include activities that measure the progress of each person’s revenue journey.  Leading Indicators may include:

  • The number of qualified opportunities in the pipeline with qualification criteria that is clearly defined for each pipeline milestone.
  • Validation of  the customer’s business objectives and corresponding solutions from Decision Makers approval
  • Decision Maker input and agreement on the Value Proposition your product or service can influence
  • Evaluation Plans and Implementation Plans co-drafted with Decision Makers prior to proposals being submitted

How to Tune Up the KPIs in Your Organization

Before you jump in and hit the gas on the KPIs you wish to measure in your organization, make sure that your destination is clear.

  • Identify your goals (personal and organizational destinations).
  • Develop KPIs that indicate a step-by-step approach of how to achieve the business objectives outlined.
  • Validate that your KPIs will appropriately measure progress toward the attainment of the long-term objectives outlined.
  • Determine how the KPIs will be tracked and monitored so that re-routing may occur when necessary.

Connecting Leading and Lagging Indicators

As your team becomes more effective at executing Leading Indicator Activities, the Lagging Indicators will improve. There are other advantages to well-constructed KPIs:

  • KPIs set expectations for sales reps, indicating key activities for time allocation and opportunity prioritization which are tied to their performance and compensation.
  • KPIs improve team communication by putting sales activities into context as a measure toward a common goal:  To Drive Revenue.
  • Appropriate KPIs will give reps and managers real-time “caution signs” about current opportunities and provide them the insight to make educated decisions with regard to any re-routing of opportunities that may be required.
  • KPIs take the guesswork out of evaluation and coaching.  With each KPI tied to a coachable sales skill, Managers can use this data to customize coaching conversations with reps which will address skill gaps and boost performance development.

Evaluate the KPIs you are following now. Make the proper adjustments, and you will reach your destination of increased revenue this quarter!

Flannery Sales Systems recently traveled to Richmond, Virginia. In this video, John discusses what you have to look forward to in our upcoming blog posts and newsletter, including guest posts from sales leaders like Brian Dietmeyer and a straightforward look at how FSS can help you sell more.



We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Tom Martin, former president of Miller Heiman and 20+ year veteran of the sales methodology and training industry. During our time together, we discussed many of the big ideas pervading the space today.

Below, please find an excerpt from our conversation on one of today’s biggest topics – social selling.

: There are a lot of trends affecting B2B salespeople, and one with a huge buzz is social selling.  Can you walk us through what “social selling” means to you?

Tom: You’re right John, social selling has a big buzz about it, and does not seem to be going away.  In most industries, sellers need to adapt to how social selling is impacting their sales process because of how it is affecting their prospect’s buying process.  Sales managers also need to adapt their sales training and reinforcement activities to coach their sellers in this new competency area.

John: Tom, tell us what social selling means to you. How can salespeople utilize social networks to improve their overall results?

Tom: When I think about what social selling means, I look at three different dimensions – three ways sellers can utilize “social” in their selling.

The first is listening. As Stephen Covey wrote in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.

Adapting this to social selling, the advice to sellers is simple: use tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogs to read what your prospects are reading and writing … and then after you understand what is important then, and only then, should you start “talking” in the social world.

Another key for listening is another quote from Covey, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”.

John: Interesting…that ties in nicely with Flannery Sales System’s methodology on how important it is to qualify prospects by listening and uncovering their pain before presenting solutions. You mentioned three dimensions. What are the other two?

Tom: The second is researching. While closely related to listening, I think the use of social tools for research is so critical for sellers it needs to be called out separately.  Typically this means using social to support their sales process, or opportunity and account management methodologies.

Researching also includes “searching & stalking” – and by that I mean searching out your friends (champions and coaches), and stalking your enemies (gathering competitive intel).

Finally, the third is telling. Only after you’ve understood your prospects by listening and researching should you start responding with your own social content.

John: This sounds very similar to how I would advise a seller to approach a sales call or meeting – seeking to listen and understand first and only then to solve the problems they have uncovered. Anything else we should know about social selling?

Tom: Some people start with social selling assuming it is the silver bullet they were looking for, and that all they need to do is post a few blogs and tweet once a week. These people inevitably end up disappointed.

I think about a concept I learned as an Advertising major – “impressions.”  It was said that it takes seven impressions for someone to fully ‘get’ who you are, what you do, and why they might need your services.

Adapting this to social selling means sellers need to consider integrating their social selling and traditional selling efforts to complement each other and achieve more impressions.  They can’t plan on a single tweet magically converting new prospects into opportunities.

One final Covey-ism for today, “Begin with the end in mind.”  To drive revenue and add qualified opportunities to the pipeline, your social sales message needs to be in sync with your overall sales message.

John: Any advice on integrating social selling into your sales process?

Tom: To create a lasting impact, you need to build social selling activities into your normal sales cadence – so set aside time each week to listen, research and tell across multiple platforms.  In business that typically means LinkedIn posts, blog entries, and Twitter, and possibly SlideShare and YouTube channels.

Stay tuned for more from my conversation with industry expert Tom Martin.

Flannery Sales Systems traveled to the East Coast this month. In this video, John talks to us about his travels and what we have to look forward to in the upcoming FSS newsletter, namely an interview with sales thought leader Tom Martin as well as John’s perspective on the Challenger program.


ELIA Riga Apr 25 2014On April 24 and 25, I attended and delivered a Sales Process Workshop at the European Language Industry Association (ELIA) Conference in Riga, Latvia. ELIA is an international organization of professionals in the translation and location industry, bringing multi-lingual content to the world through the web, printed materials and simultaneous interpretations. There were 36 countries represented at the conference, which always makes for great conversation at the event and at cocktail parties and dinners. Here is a summary of the main topics discussed:

Closing the Digital Divide: Facebook Gives Back

The keynote speaker was Iris Oriss, who is in charge of all Internationalization and Translation efforts for Facebook’s multi-lingual platform. Iris’s keynote focused on Facebook’s dedication to closing the global digital divide, as only 2.7 of the 7 billion people worldwide have access to the Internet.  To close this gap, Facebook is supporting an effort called, a consortium of companies who donate time and resources to get the web to the most remote reaches of our population.

The resource-based economy that we grew up with has now been replaced by a knowledge-based environment, and as knowledge spreads to a greater segment of our global population, how will your selling style adapt? Does this open new markets for you? Or perhaps increase the number of competitors in your space? Be prepared to answer the question and react quickly – it is happening now.

“The Who” Said It 1971: “Going Mobile” is the Direction

Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey were prophetic when they wrote and sang the song “Going Mobile” in 1971. Mobile devices have become the desktops of the 80’s. Do you recall the first desktop computer that you had? I felt like I was in the space age. Well today, mobile devices offer us more capabilities than ever before. As a result, our buyers are relying more and more on information that is pushed to them while they are on the go.

Mark Zuckerberg re-iterated Facebook’s commitment to mobile at the recent F8 Conference in San Francisco, saying the company will run mobile promotions on smartphones and tablets as it pushes to drive revenue (we like that phrase/ URL!) from a larger audience. So, as sellers, we must be ready to leverage mobile to deliver key insights and solutions. According to Robert Peck, an industry analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, this market may be worth $3 billion dollars in a few years.

All Customers are Unique (with the Same Challenges and Goals)

The Sales Process Workshop I delivered was attended by 16 professionals representing 7 countries, with at least 10 languages spoken among them (see picture). As you know if you’ve attended one of my programs, the focus is always on the customer. In this workshop, we worked together to determine the best ways to differentiate yourself by the way you sell.

Customers usually claim that they, or their customers/markets, are unique. In our workshop, we determined that business objectives and challenges are actually very similar, regardless of industry. What is not the same is the company’s culture as organizations represent many different countries and languages, and as sellers we must be prepared to address those nuances as we help companies meet their business objectives and improve their bottom line.