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Thanksgiving is over and your prospects are back in the office. Now’s the time to focus on closing the year strong, and we’ve got some great reads to help you sharpen your game. 

Closing Strong – Without Losing Friends (or Clients) in the Process (Dun & Bradstreet)

Are you among the 80 percent of salespeople that Dun & Bradstreet say are so aggressive that they turn off prospects? Today’s B2B customer is a lot smarter than they were yesterday, and they expect you to respect both their time and their intelligence. Even if you’re confident that you’re in the minority and customers can’t smell your desperation, there are still a lot of great takeaways here for salespeople looking to close the deal on a high note, including knowing when to recognize buyer signals and making sure your buyer information is as complete and detailed as possible.

What Sales Teams Should Do to Prepare for the Next Recession (Harvard Business Review)

We hate to bring up the R-word—especially when sometimes it feels like we’re still reeling from the last R-word—but at the very least, this article has tips to consider if your business anticipates a leaner-than-usual year ahead. There are lots of things you can do to prepare yourself here, including shifting to an inside sales model for lower profit, higher maintenance customers, and (gasp) raising prices.

Tune Up Your SaaS Sales Pitch With a Focus on Clarity (Intercom)

Did you know that almost two-thirds of tech buyers say they would buy more, if only they could see the value of their investment demonstrated clearly? That’s why a good salesperson doesn’t just rattle off a list of features—they know how to articulate them succinctly. Perhaps the best takeaway here is to think of your sales pitch like a pop song, something that’s short, simple, catchy, and undeniable. This article has tips on how you can do exactly that, turning your next pitch into a chart-topping hit.

37 Sales Apps Every Rep Needs on Their Phone in 2019 (HubSpot)

Though some of these three dozen apps (like LinkedIn and Slack) are obvious choices—and a few more (like Yelp) are a stretch to deem absolutely necessary for salespeople—we’re sure that you’ll find a couple new-to-you helpful apps to incorporate into your digital toolbox. The ones for us are CamCard, which snaps pictures of business cards and saves the details into our phone’s contacts, and Keynote, which lets us edit our pitch decks on the go.

21 Powerful, Open-Ended Sales Questions (RAIN Group)

We’re always thinking of the right questions to ask prospects so we can develop a strong relationship to understand their needs better. The best questions are usually open-ended ones, where your (hopefully talkative) prospect is encouraged to speak at length about their company and its challenges and pain points. This handy list has a lot of great ones—divided in four different categories that can represent different stages of the buying journey—that we’ll be keeping in mind on our next call.

Sales Enablement: 5 Really Good Reasons to Modernize (MindTickle)

How up-to-date is your sales enablement? It’s a great question to ask yourself, especially since, as this article points out, 57 percent of all sales reps missed their quota in 2017. If you count yourself among them, that means it’s probably time to take a long look at what you’ve been doing lately, especially if you’ve noticed that onboarding takes longer than it used to. This story is chock full of useful stats and insights that illustrate just why you need to make sure your sales enablement is prepared for the future.

It’s Time To Start Getting an Uber/Lyft Rating for Sales Reps. And Paying Them Based On It. (SaaStr)

As both salespeople and customers, we can probably all relate to some of the embarrassing incidents retold in this piece—and we can probably all agree that some sort of accountability system would create a higher standard. Whether the answer to that is a kind of star rating system that’s outlined here or something else, but there’s a lot to be said about incentivizing salespeople even further by making sales even more competitive.

How to Sell New Products (Harvard Business Review)

If you’re selling an unestablished product, you’re likely spending almost a third more time face-to-face with customers than those selling established products. That’s huge, and sales leaders need to find ways to offset this disadvantage through proper training and nurturing a supportive culture. Harvard Business Review surveyed 500 salespeople to understand these pain points, and their findings are well worth the read.

3 Signs Your Sales Funnel Is Broken (and How to Fix It) (Entrepreneur)

According to Salesforce, over two-thirds of all companies haven’t even attempted to measure their sales funnel. But even if you’re not in this group, it’s wise to learn how to recognize the signs of a broken funnel—and this story has good stats and tips to help you do just that. 

Salespeople Need Two Kinds of Knowledge and Adaptive Competencies! (CSO Insights)

Following up on last week’s Designing Effective Sales Onboarding Programs, this piece breaks down the importance of both capacity knowledge and situational knowledge—and their impact on your buyers. They’re distinctly different but equally important, and you’ll need both to achieve success in all parts of sales enablement, from content to CRMs to product training.