Productive Insights


How Do the Best Decision-Makers Think?

They tend to focus on the what and why of a decision, not the how. You can help your prospects—and yourself and your team—by guiding them to see the true value in your product or service. All decision-makers have more opportunities and challenges to address than they have time, money, or other resources to address those issues. What sets great decision-makers apart (and leaders, in general)

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What Do We Do Here? Why Does It Matter?

Our presentations and courses grow out of our fundamental business development mantra: Deliver value in every interaction. They offer practical ways to change behavior, develop processes, and build relationships that bring in business for companies, professional services firms, and not-for-profit organizations. Our goals in this column each month are two. First, and essential to ensuring that you read what we have to

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Are Great Questions Really Selling’s Secret Sauce?

Maybe. But here’s the fundamental question about questions: Why are so many of us so reluctant to ask them? Well, some of us can blame well-meaning mothers and fathers. They discouraged “prying” into other people’s lives as “rude.” But even in selling, whose baseline mantra is “Ask good questions,” we’ve found that salespeople and other business developers actually resist asking questions,

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Are Your Sales and Marketing Aligned for Today’s Multi-Channel World?

Here are a few questions to ask—and what to do about the answers. Good marketing programs define the experience they want customers to have. Superior programs then align sales, customer service, digital channels (including Websites), and operations so that customers can realize that experience. That’s why owners, chief marketing officers, sales vice presidents, and general managers are asking these three

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Offshoring and the Failure of Selling

The good news is that manufacturing is returning to the U.S. The bad news is that much of it should never have left in the first place. [Note: This post was updated March 10, 2020.] During some 20 years as an owner of a manufacturing company and in charge of business development, I became convinced that a large portion of the

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Where Do You Get Your New Business?

The who, what, when, where, why, and how that you need for a banner year. “Where do you get your new business?” is a question we’re asked a lot, especially since we teach business-to-business consultative selling skills and sales process development. People expect us to have a good answer, and we do—”referrals.” Unfortunately, those same people usually aren’t satisfied with

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Want Growth? Think Transition, not Change

Why do so many businesses “drop out”? One always easy answer is that they fail to “change.” But there’s a lot more to it than that.Three things inspired this column: A recent sampling of our readers, America’s high school dropout crisis, and my daughter. First, in a recent sample, a number of our readers told us they want to hear

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The Best Business Gift Ever?

Creating value is perhaps the best gift you can give your customers, prospects, and colleagues. Even better, you can do it all year ’round during the sales process—you can provide value before making the sale. A particular set of communication skills is the key. Do you and your team have them? This time of year, especially, giving and receiving command a

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What Can We All Learn from Top Producers?

Quite a bit, as it turns out—whether you’re selling, fundraising, or just wanting to communicate more effectively. What is a “top producer”? We define top producers as the 20 percent of business developers who bring in 80 percent of all new business in for-profit companies or professional service firms—law, accounting, architecture, engineering, and others. But the term also applies to the

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Where Do New Product Ideas Come From?

Just about anywhere, of course. But here’s one way to generate them nearly every day. A simple, straightforward method that can be applied every day is observation coupled with “seeing what others don’t see.” Here are two examples from Tom Anderson, Jr., CEO of Digital Check Corporation, the world’s leader in producing check-scanning equipment for banks and their business customers in more

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