Top 5 Sales Blogs to Follow


bloggersSales blogs are a fantastic way for sales professionals to stay current with the latest trends and developments in the industry. Most blogs are written by industry professionals and provide insight from a personal, professional, and well researched perspective. Those who travel on a regular basis will benefit from the auditory information that podcasts provide while driving or flying for work.

As a sales professional, whether you want to brush up on a certain topic, learn something new, or study the thought patterns of industry leaders, here are some of the top blogs and podcasts to follow:

  • This blog is updated regularly by David Meerman Scott, an international bestselling author of Marketing, PR, and Sales books. The blog features posts on everything from best practices to anecdotes and case studies and infographics. Professionals who have their hands in a sales department that overlaps with marketing will benefit from the big picture/comprehensive posts in this blog site. The posts even feature easy to scan keywords under each heading for readers looking for information on a particular topic. Check out the site’s infographic on worst practices for making a sale to get started.
  • Provided by speaker, sales leader, and author Anthony Iannarino, this blog is all about encouraging sales professionals to improve their craft and learn more about the driving principles of sales. Anyone who is interested in building professional relationships, grasping easily digestible sales tips, or finding motivation will enjoy the posts on this blog site. Read his post on new vs. old school thinking in sales and marketing for a taste of his writing style. The daily posts are generally short and to the point, providing exactly what readers need to start or finish a work day with self-improvement. The site also offers podcasts for professionals on the go.
  • Jill Konrath’s Sales Blog. Jill Konrath is a thought leader in sales who works with clients like Wells Fargo and Microsoft to improve sales processes. She is a bestselling sales author and was named 2014 Sales Fellow by HubSpot. Readers will find videos accompanying most of the blog posts and topics that focus primarily on best practices that can be implemented at a personal or team level. Many posts are structured to be educational and provide readers with succinct, practical sales lessons. Browse through the blog or check out her post on whether sales professionals need an innate ability to be successful to see how she approaches sales techniques.
  • The Sales Playbook Podcast. This podcast is free through iTunes, but is also featured on other podcast sites and apps. Information is presented by Paul Castain, a lifelong sales guru. He works as a consultant but also provides the sales playbook in the form of an online course and a weekly podcast. Reviewers like the podcast for the practical knowledge and advice imparted in his sessions. Listen to episode 118 from February 27 to hear a personal story about overcoming failure in sales.
  • Sales Management Matters. This blog is great for anyone currently in sales management or those who are trying to become sales leaders. Provided by The Sales Management Association, the blog covers inter-industry research and proven best practices, as well as strategies for growth and opportunity. Look at the insightful post on why Measuring Doesn’t Always Equal Managing for an example of the information provided. Posts are written by guest authors in the sales industry.

Tips for Measuring Field Representative Success


measureUntil recently, measuring field representative success meant trusting employees and relying on sales data and individual reporting accounts. The advent of mobile technology has improved the way management monitors field representatives and allows companies to measure success in an increasing number of ways that may indirectly impact overall sales.

These new accountability measures make it more difficult for field reps to take advantage of their roles when away from the company, but the measures also benefit representatives who can prove their activities even in the absence of conversion rates. Companies are also changing the indicators they look for to determine success. They no longer rely solely on sales numbers, but on more tangential sales pipeline activity, like points of contact and the quality of interaction.

Consider these tips for measuring the success of field representatives:

  • Define success. Success may include a number of different goals, depending on the industry, product, and/or service. For some, success may be measured by a potential customer’s willingness to listen to a field rep. For other companies, success may rely on getting a prospect to sign up for a newsletter or to receive further communication from the company. Success is rarely ever defined as black and white sales numbers anymore. Come up with the key indicators that demonstrate that field representatives are improving every day. These indicators will influence the success measurement strategies used to gauge field work.
  • Diversify field goals. Since many field representatives are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with both the potential and existing consumer base, sales strategies that include goals beyond making a sale can measure a number of different criteria. Sales pipelines are becoming more complex. The nurturing process means remaining in a customer’s mind when he or she is ready to purchase. By having field reps outline their interactions, companies can maintain accurate information about where consumers are in the buying process and make interaction decisions based on that information.
  • Maintain communication by going mobile. A sales team that encourages constant communication has the benefit of a team approach even when a representative is in the field alone. Keep the channels of communication open while representatives are out in the region so they have access to necessary information to make the most of consumer interactions. Being able to answer questions immediately or provide more information to the consumer with a quick, personalized email can be more impactful than handing over a business card.
  • Use online tools. When management can gauge their field rep activity based on mobile tracking and communication, they have instantaneous access to their field activities. Tools such as Mobile Insight are affordable field rep management applications that measure activities in real time. They are available for Android and IOS devices so individuals can use company or individual phones as needed.These apps/online tools are truly revolutionary for remote workers. Companies can manage employee activity through GPS, shared calendars, and time management features. Analytics on activities are available at the touch of a button, making the programs indispensable to management teams who need to make timely sales pipeline decisions.

Management teams who carefully vet their field representatives for positive work ethic and who implement current technology solutions will see high rates of sales success in their field representatives. Looking at the big picture sales pipeline and addressing sales goals on a regular basis with constant communication allows remote sales teams to work as effectively as any other team setup.

How Shared Services Models Work for Retailers and Brands


boardroomRetail businesses include many moving parts that must work together to meet customer demand and execute the duties of the business on a daily basis. While every business department faces its own share of unique challenges, the sales department has a direct impact on the bottom line every day.

Businesses can approach their sales departments in a couple of different ways. One method is becoming increasingly popular among brands that place their products in several different retail arenas: sales outsourcing with shared services.

Outsourcing sales companies like The Retail Outsource offer a significant, bottom line driving service to retail brands. These companies use industry knowledge and training programs to place sales representatives on the floor of big box stores. The sales representative wears multiple hats and may appear to the consumer as a general store clerk but actually has the training to push certain products or services on the floor.

There are many benefits to retailers who invest in this form of sales outsourcing shared services:

  • Cost effective.  One sales representative shared across brands costs less to employ than a company employed sales person. Two retail brands can share the costs of the sales professional, who will be trained to promote both brands on the floor, creating a streamlined sales process. Developing a highly skilled sales team internally means investing in expert infrastructure to meet and exceed business objectives. By investing in an outsourcing solution, companies can bypass that costly investment completely.
  • External management. The sales service is outsourced, so individual retail companies do not have to manage the representative at a micro-level. Instead, they will interface with a representative from the outsourcing company who will provide relevant sales information and project management for their end client company. Outsourcing companies can also provide consultation and make recommendations regarding a sales environment. They are experts in sales who specialize in promoting growth and increasing revenue for their clients.
  • Efficiency/Timeliness. When a company reaches out to an outsourcing agency that manages shared services programs, they no longer have to worry about the recruiting or training process. The entire sales process is left in the hands of the outsourcing company with the retailer providing insight as needed to personalize a sales program. Turnkey services mean retailers will enjoy the benefits of the shared services model in far less time than traditional recruiting and training processes would take.
  • Expertise. Sales outsourcing companies start every relationship by understanding a retail company inside and out. They use their sales expertise to create strategies that make sense to drive sales and promote growth.
  • Meaningful data analysis. In today’s market, it is nearly impossible for companies to maintain a steady growth pattern without meaningful data analysis. Evaluating data allows companies to remove strategies that are not providing results in favor of effective strategies. Outsourcing companies that employ shared services representatives can help retailers target solutions that work strategically to improve those processes over time.

For many retail companies, the shared services solution can decrease overhead while maximizing sales. This resource effectively allows companies to enter more markets without the costs associated with traditional sales models.

Top 5 Things to Consider When Scouting a Retail Location


Carefully selecting retail locations for your brand is integral to success. Store location largely affects brand accessibility, visibility, and overall ROI. Many companies, startups, and existing retail brands may not realize there are many resources online to expedite the process of finding a valuable retail location.

storefront3From services that do all the legwork to demographic data resources, here are some of the main considerations and resources companies can tap into when searching for great retail locations:

  1. Area demographics. Choosing a site based on appearance and proximity to company management can work occasionally, but the most successful retail locations are chosen based on demographics.A company’s product or service is usually targeted at a specific market. Look for area or location demographics that match up well with the target market for a better chance of sales. The area’s age of shoppers, income ranges, local attractions, and job sectors provide insight into whether an area will be a good candidate for a retail store. Consider these resources to learn more about demographics:
    • This site provides information about people, jobs, and general information about cities and states.
    • Some towns may not be listed through, but can be found on this website which aggregates data from a variety of sources. You’ll find information about weather and area crimes in this resource.
    • Chambers of Commerce. Look on a city’s chamber website to learn more about specific demographics and to get a feeling for the industries and people in the area.
  2. Competition. A rule of thumb for business placement is to locate a storefront in close proximity to competitors. Doing so provides opportunities for crossover marketing and beating out the competition in service, prices, and layout. Look directly at competitor locations on a map and cross reference the information with available real estate.
  3. Accessibility/Traffic. Some stores may have a great layout and sales structure, but lose out on important sales because their storefronts are difficult to access or there isn’t enough traffic through the area. Look at parking, delivery access, and the number of consumers in an area throughout the day. It may be beneficial to scope out the site in person and talk to local consumers before making decisions regarding a location.A company can learn a lot by scanning Google Maps in areas of interest for signs of heavy traffic and street views of an area. Aside from talking to individuals who know an area, the resource provides valuable information to determine the viability of a location.
  4. Regulations. Companies need to be aware of local ordinances, zoning regulations, and other area restrictions. Obstacles are much easier to address when evaluated before choosing a location. Failing to do so can delay a store opening or cause legal challenges in the location startup. Search online for “city of [insert name]” and access the local city site to learn more about local regulations and zoning restrictions.
  5. All-in-one planning services. Many startups and existing retailers are busy completing a variety of tasks from production to management. Choosing a location is a complex process that involves more than finding an attractive storefront. Full service retail outsourcing companies like The Retail Outsource provide integral consultation and launch solutions that can simplify the location startup process.