This is the BEST Sales Training class I have EVER taken... Andrew S. Lang, CPA
(Former) National Director of Nonprofit Services – BDO Seidman

Articles written by Lenann McGookey Gardner are available for print and online publication. To request usage permission, contact 505.828.1788 or email

Do You Have All The Elements of a Solid Sales and Marketing Foundation for Your Business?

The newly promoted executive was uncomfortable. Successfully running one of his company’s local offices was one thing, leading the entire corporation’s business development effort was quite another.

He’d been selling by reading the paper and selected trade press, and having the guts to call those who seemed able to use his company’s services. But would the people he now led, who seemed to stay in their offices waiting for the phone to ring, do the same outreach and selling activity?

Modern sales research indicates the “seller-doer” model – having local management do sales – makes sense and generates revenue. People hate being approached by grinning salespeople who want a contract and have no idea what the work involves; 

Having technically qualified people contact new prospects is often a better idea, if these professionals are prepared for a sales role. Our newly promoted executive needed to get his people up to speed on state-of-the-art selling. 

Four key elements can ensure success: a strong marketing Positioning Statement, up-to-date selling skills, the ability to close business, and making sure new skills are implemented.

Develop a Positioning Statement

The foundation for all marketing efforts is the Positioning Statement. A Positioning Statement contains the most powerful, provocative and short messages you want to implant in your prospects’ minds. (Prospects are the people you want doing business with your company.)

The process of creating a Positioning Statement begins with a clear understanding of WHO you want to reach. What are the specific job titles of potential buyers? How are they evaluated in their jobs? What sorts of problems might they be facing in areas where your company can be helpful?

In a Positioning Brainstorming Session, these questions are examined in detail to fully know our Target Prospects: their likely age, gender, education, experience, income, career path, aspirations, and what they care and worry about.

Once a clear picture emerges of your Target Prospect, consider existing messages. What are prospects hearing from your competitors? What image (if any) do they hold of people in your line of work, or your organization specifically? Any message must be developed with those things firmly in mind. If your message runs counter to an image or idea they already hold, they’re likely to reject the message and hold onto the image!

Most importantly, if you could put only one idea about your company into a prospect’s mind, what would that one idea be?

After several possible ideas are identified, voting and ranking follows. Working with a Positioning expert who prepares a first draft of the Positioning Statement, the document is sent back to all participants. The Statement contains four to six powerful, provocative and short messages that should create interest in the minds of Target Prospects who don’t know your company and who – at least at this moment – don’t care.

These messages are arranged from most to least powerful. Each participant is asked to comment on the draft. The Positioning expert shares comments received and prepares subsequent drafts. The process of draft-and-comment continues until all can agree that the Positioning Statement is optimal.

Once the Positioning Statement is finalized, it is given to sales and marketing people so they can utilize the core messages in all communication and promotional efforts.

Be Sure You Teach State-of-the-Art Selling Skills

Everyone who sells and faces clients needs up-to-date selling skills. The way people buy has changed dramatically in recent years; selling has to change to match that shift. A selling skills workshop with information from recent sales research covers issues such as:

How to maximize the likelihood that new acquaintances like you immediately
Structuring conversations with new prospects
Dealing with multiple prospects – or multiple sellers – in sales meetings
What to listen for in conversations with new prospects
How to listen better than you ever have before
The most powerful questions to ask when you’re selling
Differences in how men and women communicate during selling situations
The components of trust – what it takes for prospects to trust you

Make sure that there’s time during the workshop for practicing these skills in realistic selling conversations. 

Get Updated on State-of-the-Art Closing Skills

Everyone who is responsible for increasing business with new prospects and existing customers needs to know the latest closing skills. These are the elements and issues that research indicates are the most successful ways to help move prospects to the next stage of the selling process:

The optimal way to receive, and deal effectively with, objections
How and when to deal with questions about price or fees
When and how to follow-up, including optimal ways to leave voicemail and email
How to present proposals
The Four Rules of Closing
Fundamentals of effective negotiating
How to ask for the business

Reinforce Learning to Generate New Revenue

New learning always requires reinforcement. Just knowing something intellectually isn’t enough to change sales results. A great way to get people using new skills is a follow-up program. 

First, establish the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are leading indicators of future sales success. If all you are tracking is closed sales, how do you know that your pipeline is healthy? Most companies need several sales KPIs, such as measuring outreach to new prospects, systematic and methodical follow-up, and such metrics as time spent face-to-face or phone-to-phone with prospects, a measurement that directly correlates with success in selling. 

Develop a method for tracking the data, or ask a Sales Coach to help. Report that data in periodic newsletters to participants. A newsletter every 10 business days for a period of 120 business days following new learning is optimal.

Also, every 10 business days, have customer-facing people report, via email, on one interaction in which they used something learned in Sales and Closing Skills training. Have them describe what happened, good or bad, then give them individual coaching – this can also be done via email – on their skill usage and options to improve future outcomes.

These Selling Stories plus the Coaching Advice should be published in an in-house newsletter, so your team learns from each other’s real-world experiences. These newsletters ideally:

Recognize selling successes
Remind everyone of the material learned and challenges them to use it
Expand the understanding of what’s working now in selling beyond what was covered in the sales and closing skills workshop
Motivate continued focus on improving selling results for the next two weeks

During the follow-up period, it’s also useful to email everyone a “Sales Tip of the Day” every business day, to further reinforce new selling and closing habits. 

By teaching people how to reach out to new prospects and clients with additional business potential, follow-up systematically and methodically, and close effectively – our newly promoted executive will have a winning team to drive world-class sales results.

Lenann McGookey Gardner is an international sales expert and the author of Got Sales? The Complete Guide to Today’s Proven Methods for Selling Services, which was nominated for the Axiom Business Book Award as the best sales book of the year. She is a Harvard MBA, a magna cum laude graduate, and winner of the American Marketing Association’s Professional Services “Marketer of the Year” Award for her state. Lenann has been profiled in Who’s Who in America for six years. More information can be obtained at 

Do You Have All The Elements of a Solid Sales and Marketing Foundation for Your Business?