Have you ever tried to figure out what might go wrong before a meeting? That might be one of the smartest things you could do to win more sales.

Rather than waiting till the end to find out that you lost – and why – you can think about it way ahead of time when you can still make a difference.

When I think about all the business I've lost over the years, 3 main themes come to mind.

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At Dreamforce last week, Bob Perkins of the AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals) interviewed me and Trish Bertuzzi on key learnings and takeaways. (Trish is the CEO & Chief Strategist of The Bridge Group, a leading inside sales consultancy.)

In it, I share a key question every sales manager should ask their interviewees. It's a topic I'll be speaking more about at the INSIDE SALES 2014 Conference November 6th in Minneapolis.

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Have you ever heard the phrase "detach from the outcome"? It’s a tenet of Eastern religions. For many years it was a concept that I found totally unfathomable. After all, sales itself is about outcomes. Our income is at risk. We need to get the business.

But over the years, I’ve learned the wisdom of that message. In fact, the more I wanted to close a sale (or should I say – needed to close a sale) the less likely I was to get it.

Why? Because my focus was on me, not my prospect. And, whenever you need something that much, you push too hard for it. You short-circuit the process and go for the close before the time is right and your prospect is ready.

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It’s so easy for us to get stuck in our ways and only think of incremental changes to what we’re currently doing. But to be effective today, we need fresh sales strategies – and those only come when you start asking yourself different questions.

Here’s a challenge to get you to expand your thinking: What would you do if your company decided to raise prices across the board – by 20%? You’ve got six months before this goes into affect, and you don’t have an option to quit your job.

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Looking for a new sales job right now? According to research by Glassdoor, 45% of salespeople plan to start their search in the next three months and 68% want to switch in the upcoming year. 

Wowza! That's a whopping number of you who are open to new opportunities. It also means you'll probably have tons of competition for any good position you find. 

How do you stand out from the crowd?  

Sales leaders are looking to hire self-starters. Of course, every salesperson describes him/herself that way ... but very few demonstrate it during the interview process. If you can, there's a high likelihood you'll move yourself into the front runner position. 

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Salespeople spend an inordinate amount of time developing cold call emails, hoping they'll create the perfect message that will get prospects to say, "Yes! I want to meet with you immediately."

That would be great, but it takes a lot of practice to find the best way to pique your prospects' interest. Here are 3 ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your prospecting email: 

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Last year I spoke at Dreamforce with my client DiscoverOrg.com. (If you sell into the IT area, check them out.) Over 130,000 Salesforce.com customers, developers and partners were there.

After our talk, I went to DiscoverOrg’s booth for a book signing. The exhibit hall was a zoo.

When all my books were gone, I spent time observing their salespeople in action. It was fascinating.

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Last Friday, I was on the edge. Literally. I was speaking to a group of sales professionals. Some were new to sales; most were experienced pros.

I was doing a totally new keynote on AGILE SELLING, sharing strategies on how to quickly learn new things so you could stay at the top of your game – or to get there.

Now, you probably don't think of me being nervous about doing new things, but I am. I want my keynotes and workshops to be awesome experiences for everyone who's there. 

It took me a long time to prepare.

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This article contains an excerpt from my new book, AGILE SELLING.

Sales has now officially become a thinking-intensive profession. We're constantly bombarded with new information: new products, services, bosses, priorities, processes, technology...the list goes on and on.

It’s impossible to stay on top of it all. So much to learn in so little time. And it just keeps coming at you. As soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out -- BAM! -- more change and you’re scrambling again.

Successful sellers need to learn a lot fast, and figure out how to best integrate that new knowledge into customer interactions. 

Developing your learning agility enables you to be resourceful, adaptable and proactive, ready to tackle your customers’ biggest challenges and help them succeed. It means you’re a skilled communicator because you’ve learned to think from other peoples' perspectives. You’re fast and flexible in the ideas you generate, and are able to come up with lots of ways to achieve your goals.

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I should be jumping up and down with joy right now. After all, my new book, AGILE SELLING, is coming out next week.

But instead of busily rolling out my well-planned book launch campaign, I’m sitting in a hospital room watching my husband sleep.

Ten days ago he had quadruple bypass surgery - which went well. I expected a quick recovery because he was healthy going into it, and built my plans around it.

Then complications set in. I immediately canceled everything; family is more important than a book. After a couple of scary days, the downhill spiral stopped. Thankfully, my husband is getting better little by little every day.

But even though I'm in the midst of a family crisis, the world doesn't stop. I can’t delay the book launch date; that’s set by the publisher months in advance. Plan A is totally shot.

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