The theatre at the Sundance Film Festival was packed. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that NUTS!, the documentary we were about to see, was probably overrated. I feared I’d be soon be squirming in my seat.

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A few years ago, shortly after launching my new website, I absentmindedly answered the phone when it rang. When the caller announced that he was from Southwest Airlines, I quickly snapped to attention.

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At a recent conference, a sales rep was telling me about a deal he should have won. After hearing his story—I couldn't help, but agree. He should have made the sale.

Even worse, it was clear that someone was ruining his chances. And I knew exactly who it was. (This same person has sunk my own deals too.)

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When I began working in sales, I was on a mission to get up to speed as fast as possible. I read all the sales books, went to seminars and took everything I learned as the gospel truth.

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Recently I was talking to a client about a key sales challenge they’re facing – dislodging long-standing, entrenched competitors who “own” the account.

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Want to win more sales? Then you need to do everything you can to give yourself an unfair advantage over your competitors.

Research shows that one of the best ways to do this is by being an early bird:

  • Forrester Research discovered that the first vendor to reach a prospect and set the buying vision has a 74% close rate. 
  • InsideSales found that 50% of sales opportunities go to the first salesperson to contact a prospect.

Most salespeople spend their time chasing prospects who are actively involved in making a decision. If you join them, your chances of winning are slim. Instead, go where the decision isn’t – yet – but could be. Here's what the early bird does to find those undiscovered opportunities. 

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We were staying at a lovely golf resort in St. George, Utah, but that's not what we were playing. Instead, when checking out the pool area, my husband and I discovered an outdoor ping pong table.

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The other day, I was doing a podcast interview with Mukesh Gupta from India. He floored me with his closing question:  "What's one thing that's obvious to me, but most people are totally blind to?"

No one's ever asked me that before. But I immediately knew the answer. It's a problem that's pervasive in virtually every sales organization I work with.

No one ever thinks or talks about it – yet if salespeople had this information, it could change everything.

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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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What would it take for you to double or even triple your win rates? According to LinkedIn research, you have a significantly better chance of closing sales when you have multiple connections within a single account.

Can it really be that simple?

Not exactly ... Winning isn't simply a function of having lots of LinkedIn connections. It requires a well-thought-out strategy. If you're only well connected to one or two people at a company, you're vulnerable if something happens to them.

Also, since most decisions today involve 4+ people, it's essential to establish relationships with all of them. That way you have a greater likelihood of getting buy-in, working through obstacles and keeping the decision process moving forward.

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