John is attending the Selling Power 3.0 Conference in San Francisco on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The purpose for spending 2 full days out of the field is to gather information that will help Flannery Sales Systems’ customers to drive revenue.

As a great Sales Manager once said “If you are coasting (in your career), you are usually going downhill.” Don’t let that happen to you!  We are committed to learning and sharing important new information from Sales 3.0 with individuals in all customer facing roles, not just sales.




Here are two thought provoking concepts from the conference:

  • Relationship sellers are 63% less likely to ask tough questions of customers and prospects because they have an overriding need to be liked
  • Growth and comfort never co-exist

If you’re attending this conference, or in the Bay Area and would like to speak to John about how to improve your revenue generation, give him a text or call at 858-518-7039    #salestraining #salesconference #salesleadership #S30C

Flannery Sales Systems to attend PITTCON Conference

We are  pleased to be participating in PITTCON,  the world’s leading annual conference and exposition on laboratory science. Pittcon attracts attendees from industry, academia and government from over 90 countries worldwide. We will be attending the conference this Tuesday and Wednesday, March 19 and 20 in Philadelphia. John E. Flannery, President of FSS will be on hand to speak with Sales and Marketing leaders about fine-tuning their efforts to drive revenue.

“We help all individuals in customer facing roles with the tactical execution of their GoTo Market strategy, which equates to one effective customer conversation at a time” says Flannery, who has worked for customers within the laboratory science sector. The inclusion of Sales, Marketing, Customer Service and Technical Expertise in the execution of sales process has proven invaluable in meeting and exceeding revenue objectives.

For an individual conversation with John, contact him at 858 518-7039 or

Why You Should Use Those Buyer Personas You’ve Been Avoiding


Sometimes marketing just doesn’t get it. In my own experience, I’ve worked with companies in which the marketing team gave me one pitch while the sales team gave me a totally different one. Which one did I believe? The sales team’s pitch, because they were the ones on the front lines, and they knew the lingo to use and the angle to take.


But when marketing is dialed in, sales can get content that really resonates with prospects and leads. And that content might include buyer personas. If your organization has handed you buyer personas, and you’ve been reluctant to rely on them, read on…


The Case for Buyer Personas

Does your organization suffer from a distrust of marketing? Have you had marketing qualified leads handed over only to discover they’re not sales qualified leads? OK, that happens. But don’t distrust everything that comes from the marketing side. If marketing hands you buyer personas, and you’re skeptical, consider these two important reasons for using them:


  1. You can be more targeted in your approach when you have a better understanding of someone’s situation and pain points—which is what a buyer persona is designed to help you figure out.
  2. You can approach different audiences in different ways. Your prospects might include decision makers vs. end users, or a business decision maker (BDM) vs. a technical decision maker (TDM). The pain points will vary between each, and you want to hit on the right ones for each—or else they won’t listen.


What Should a Buyer Persona Include?

Buyer personas can be quite detailed, and some organizations even use a photograph to try and make the persona that much more real. What, exactly, the buyer personas you’re offered include is up to the team that creates them, but, in general, a persona should help you understand a prospect’s:


  • Role
  • Responsibilities
  • Current solution
  • Goals
  • Challenges


Other information might include budget, education, industry, years of experience and more.


Give Marketing the Feedback They Need

And what if you’ve tried the buyer personas and been frustrated? If you put these buyer personas to work and discover a disconnect, give marketing feedback on what is or is not working. After all, you’re the one out there with boots on the ground. You might have insight they need to refine these buyer personas to better describe your organization’s ideal prospects. And marketing is approaching these buyer personas from their own perspective. They need the information to improve upon the content they’re creating. You need the information to make more sales. So speak up. Don’t put the personas aside. Just ask for better versions.


Making Your Own Buyer Personas

And what if your marketing team doesn’t offer you buyer personas to work from? You can create your own. HubSpot offers a free template that you can find here. If you’re doing this on your own, you won’t need to get into too much detail, and you can refine these as you go. But at least you’ll benefit from a more targeted approach with your sales process.



Do Simple BetterThe quote on a t shirt worn by Joe Maddon, the Manager of the Chicago Cubs (an American baseball team) inspired me. It said “Do Simple Better”. Professional athletes focusing on how to do the simple things, better.

Hmmm, Do Simple Better. What does that mean to your team? In Sales, this is what the focus should be on, and as fundamental as it sounds, doesn’t always happen in the heat of identifying, developing and closing a healthy Sales Pipeline filled with qualified Opportunities.

  1. Understand the Prospect/Customer’s Primary Business Objectives (PBOs): what is the Decision Maker hoping to accomplish if they purchase your product or service?
  1. Identify the Challenges: what is happening in their business today that inhibits them from reaching the PBO? And what is the impact, financial and otherwise, if they don’t make a change?
  1. Align Your Capabilities: how do your capabilities help the Decision Maker to address the Challenges? Be specific in matching the capability, and make sure the prospect identifies the VALUE they could obtain through the use of your capabilities. If they can’t, you should be able to help paint the picture on value.
  1. Agree on a Clear Next Step: what is the next step that the prospect and you are taking to move forward?  My colleague John Golden calls this an advance, as opposed to a continuation. Are we advancing this opportunity to the next step, or in a stall with one of the above mentioned items incomplete?

Items # 1 through 4 are the SIMPLE, or The Basics for sellers in early Opportunity development. They should all be discussed, documented and agreed to with the Decision Maker BEFORE sellers create a quote, write a proposal, ask for technical support or Marketing resources, build a presentation or respond to a tender/RFP.


Sales Leaders, it’s time to Coach your sellers to get the Simple right. Right now.

Prospecting Spotlight: 3 Trigger Events to Watch For

Artist Jenny Holzer says in her piece Truisms, “A sense of timing is the mark of a genius.” This couldn’t be more accurate within the world of prospecting.

When you’re cold calling and someone picks up the phone, the first question on their mind is often “Why are you contacting me?”

A well-researched answer providing your prospect with a potential benefit is the key to unlocking access from the gatekeeper. This step is critical for reaching your decision maker as soon as possible.

We spoke with a woman who was a Business Development Representative at NetSuite, responsible for setting introductory meetings for Account Executives. This series discusses the top three trigger events she had the most success with and why they work:  they are Leadership Changes, Expansion and Awards & Accomplishments.

1.     Leadership Changes

Reviewing press releases, company blogs, and other news sources like corporate LinkedIn pages are the best ways to learn of any changes in executive leadership. Setting up some sort of news alert feed that summarizes from these sources is an easy, time-efficient way to stay on top of your target accounts.

Executive promotions often go hand in hand with some sort of bigger strategic agenda. Understanding why this person has a new role could ultimately lead to a new opportunity. Start with a congratulatory note or call and see where that takes you.

If your congratulatory email gets a nibble – congratulations to you! How you respond sets the stage for the course of your relationship with this individual.

The key to success here is establishing yourself as someone who is genuine, can provide value, and who has their best interests first. Even though we all know you’re here in hopes of closing a deal, one must remember the old proverb “The best archer never reveals his target until it’s been hit”. In this case, your target is the deal.

Sometimes you will luck out and there is an immediate need for the products or services that you are offering. If not, patience is required (see our previous post, Building Patience into the Sales Process).

Illustrate how your company is an industry expert in their field. Thoughtful whitepapers, articles on industry trends, and any other resources you come across are helpful tools you can share with your decision maker to keep you on the top of their mind.  The secret is not to overwhelm.

When the buying time arrives, you’ll be far ahead of the competition because you already have a relationship with the decision maker. You are the one informing them of best practices, the tough questions to ask, and will be the one they’re comparing everyone else to. In a sense, they are deciding why not to go with you – pretty amazing position to be in all from a little “Congratulations on the new gig!”

Sales can be a numbers game and prospecting is a key success factor we must not underestimate. Effectively tailoring your prospecting strategy enables a sales force to work smarter, not harder. Analyzing and addressing the right trigger events will distinguish you and provides a head start against the competition.

Check in on our next post elaborating on how to leverage a prospect’s news of expansion into closing a new deal.


We just concluded the fourth of four SKO meetings with our customers over a five-week period, and we ready for a nap. The cities included Sedona, AZ, Tampa, FL, Cleveland (Aurora), OH and Kingsport, TN. How much knowledge, excitement, reflection, presentations, awards, conversation, redundancy, partying and planning can be packed into a 3- or 4-day session? Well, it turns out that A LOT is the answer. 

There was your regular run of the mill events at each of the four, but also tremendous highlights as it pertains to new team members, capital infusions, product launches and laser like focus on customers and emerging markets.  Our part was to contribute to the continual learning for the Sales teams, and other individuals in customer facing roles. While all companies embraced their own “theme” for the meeting, we intertwined and reinforced the fundamentals on the tactical execution of sales success as it relates to our customers’ commercial strategy.  

Many of our competitors are working on the next, new shiny object in selling; not us. In the sales training business, some are looking to offer the silver bullet, or latest trend on what can appear to be a fashion industry-like approach. The leaders of the companies we work for are focused on executing the basics well, then taking it to the next level. But we have to get the fundamentals right, and we help them to do that in all skill set capacities.  

To the teams we recently trained: now that you’ve let all that information you received at your SKO settle in, and got back into your regular routine, pick up your Sales Tool Kit, review the on-line modules of your sales process and get ready to have better conversations with customers and prospects. And Managers, it is your job to make sure your sellers are improving their selling skills, one opportunity at a time. Let’s get going! 

Businessman pressing multimedia type of modern buttons with virtual background

We’ve all experienced a lot of technology-driven change in our lives. Just how much change depends on how old you are.  People in their 50s can remember a time before the Internet.  People in their 30s can remember life before Uber. And twenty-somethings just might remember when their parents carried flip phones, not iPhones.

If it seems like technology only evolves faster and faster, that’s not your imagination. It’s true—meaning we can expect more disruption and change in the near future, even in the field of sales. But when you work in sales, you have to make sure you’re looking at those changes through the right lens. There’s how technology has changed sales, and then there’s how technology has changed how we sell.

How Technology Has Changed How We Sell

Technology will keep changing sales. Vendors will develop new apps we can’t even imagine yet. Software will automate sales processes. Artificial Intelligence will score leads. Chatbots will handle online queries…and so on. All of us in sales will be on a constant learning curve to keep up. But if we’re not also thinking through how we must change our approach to sales, that tech might not do us all that much good. So here’s a look at three ways technology has changed how we sell—and how we must adapt…

  1. Buyers go looking for information on their own.

These days, when buyers have a need, they go looking for answers on their own—and they’re not calling a sales rep to get those answers. According to Forrester:

  • 68% of prospects prefer to research on their own online
  • 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep as their primary source of information
  • 62% say they can develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based on digital content

What does this mean for you and how you approach sales? You need to understand where the buyer is in the sales journey, and you need to be ready to offer them help and content appropriate to where they are in the process.

  1. The channels we use have changed.

By 2020, 46% of the workforce will be Millennials, and Millennials do not like to use the phone. OK, they like to use their mobile phones, but not for phone calls. They use their mobile devices as communications tools, but for them that means texting, messaging and emailing.

What does this mean for you and how you approach sales? You need to know more about your prospect so your efforts are targeted, and you need to know how your prospect wants to be approached. Is email better than a phone call? What about a LinkedIn message? Do you have a mutual connection who can make an introduction?

  1. Social media is commonplace.

Salespeople used to build relationships in real life. Now we build them online as part of “social selling.” We network on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter and build relationships that way. In addition, customers are also turning to social media when they’re researching possible solutions to their problems—and the vendors that sell them.

What does this mean for you and how you approach sales? You need to be where your customers are. Research shows that salespeople who use social media outperform their competitors. Get active on the social platforms used by your prospects and build a presence—and relationships—there.

Technology will continue to transform how we live our lives, both personally and professionally. The upside is, we have more time to sell when processes can be automated and data drives our sales efforts. So let’s take that extra time we’re getting back to make sure our approach to sales is keeping pace with the technology—and equal to our customers’ expectations of us.

Reflecting on the past is a common occurrence.  Did results meet expectations, what improvements can be targeted for the future, what learning took place in the past?  These are all common questions that managers and leaders should be asking themselves.

More precise metrics are also available to judge past performance.  Were margins and profits sacrificed to meet sales quotas?  Quarter end and year end discounting are not uncommon but they do tend to diminish the margins that had been targeted in the profit plan.  We believe that this is an avoidable trap that can be addressed with advance planning, discipline and training.

The time to protect your margins is now.  By reviewing the opportunities in your pipeline you can determine the following:

  1. Do you have enough opportunities to provide you the revenue that you will be targeting at quarter end or year end?
  2. What is the confidence that those opportunities will close on the targeted timetable without needing to offer a steep discount?
  3. Do you have enough bandwidth to focus on all the potential opportunities or are you better served by grading them and focusing on the highest margin opportunities?  Let your competitors dissipate their resources chasing the low margin deals.
  4. Do you need to dial up business development to get more opportunities in the pipeline?

During a phone conversation with a VP of Sales, he told me that his team was busy “cutting deals” to hit their annual revenue plan. This is not selling, and the words chosen made my skin crawl. If your team seems to rely on discounting to get orders, maybe you need to focus more attention on your sales process and developing your team to sell value.  The value the customer will receive by using your product or service, not the discount they will get from price list.   Building the discipline to ask the customers the right questions to qualify them as a high or low margin opportunity is a learned skill.  It takes restraint for sales people who have been conditioned to close, close, close.  We know that margins can be improved with well trained sales teams and we’ve seen that happen hundreds of times.

Maximizing your profit margin doesn’t happen by accident.  It won’t happen by sending out a memo targeting desired margins for the coming reporting period either.  It is a result of leadership identifying the development plans needed for the sales team, providing the training, giving feedback on performance and ongoing coaching to reinforce the process that has been identified to close deals without needing to resort to deep discounts.

Revenue is important and sales quotas are an important part of a business plan.  Discounting adds risk as it increases the amount of products to manufacture or services that need to be delivered to achieve a given profit goal.  Start today to protect your margins in future quarters.  Having regular deal reviews will open your eyes to the reliability and quality of the opportunities in your pipeline.  Want to buy some margin insurance?  The time is now.

Flannery Sales Systems helps organizations develop and implement a repeatable sales process.  Improving the effectiveness of your sales organization is the key outcome we provide to clients.  We would welcome an opportunity to explore your needs and understand where your team could benefit from improved skills and sales processes.  Flannery Sales Systems works with a broad cross section of industries and we are confident we can enhance your results.




You did your due diligence in providing a fantastic Sales Training event for your team, expecting them to turn it on and kick off record sales! Right?


A couple of months after the training, you find your reps are still talking about the “great training”, but the effects of the event have faded while you were trying to wrap up numbers.  They don’t remember what was covered; they feel unprepared to start using new tools they were given; they haven’t practiced since the training; and after-all, they survived last year without changing anything, so why should they rock the boat now?

Your training investment is just the first step in the Adult Cycle of Learning.  Your initial investment can lose momentum as everyone settles back into the way they’ve always done things.  You may find that you aren’t getting the behavioral changes required to increase the long-term performance results you were looking for because the learning didn’t stick.

Adult Learning Theory states that repetition and reinforcement are the next necessary steps which internalize learning to the point of behavioral change.  While a training event can cause a short-term bump in performance, long-term success depends on underscoring process and best practices with repetition.  Research shows that learning improves with repetition for two reasons:

  1. Our short-term memories are just that: short-term. We can forget something like a person’s name in less than a second.  Repetition moves things from our short-term memory into the longer-term memory, and hence is a key method for learning.  Just like when we learned our multiplication tables in school, we need to repeat things more than once for them to finally sink into our memories.
  1. Repetition leads to understanding. It gives time for the “penny to drop”.  What at first may feel uncomfortable, after repeated exposure becomes clear.  Understanding provides context and relevance, providing a reason for performing new tasks, or changing behaviors.

While repetition teaches a skill, reinforcement is defined as anything that strengthens or increases a behavior once a skill is learned.  Behaviorist B. F. Skinner observed that the rate at which a behavior was reinforced had a direct impact on the frequency and strength of the skill because reinforcement increases the likelihood that the behavior will continue to occur.

Methods of reinforcement of learned behavior can include the following:

  • Live in-person training – Just like any skill, one lesson won’t do it. Continued lessons and practice will build capabilities over time.
  • Online learning webinars – Programs on specific topics offer opportunities for retention and to deepen understanding of basic concepts.
  • Coaching –A person dedicated to supporting continued learning, performance and success of sales people, coaching around specific goals and expectations of actions, and then holding the team accountable has the best chance of inspiring change.

Sales Training is not enough.  The adult cycle of learning follows this progression:

Training > Repetition > Reinforcement > Real-world Application > Measurable Results > Repeat.

 So don’t sell yourself short by stopping after the initial training.  Provide repetition and reinforcement to enable your team to drive revenue results!