Category Archives for Company Culture

Thomas Steenburgh, New Products, Donald C. Kelly

TSE 1197: Effectively Sell New Products To Current Customers


Thomas Steenburgh, New Products, Donald C. KellySalespeople often ask how to effectively sell new products to current customers. Some clients are satisfied with the current service they’re getting and they’re not keen on investing in another one. There is a way through this sales ordeal. 

Thomas Steenburgh teaches business marketing and sales at the Darden School of Business. He’s also an administrator and has stayed with the school for seven years. 

His team did a five-year research project on how to effectively sell new products to customers and what’s so hard about it. 

Looking at the problem when selling new products

Thomas’ team looked at various factors:

  • The different ways people sell
  • The types of people who excel in the process
  • The organization’s structure
  • The culture that the companies/organization create

The combination of these processes which is finding the right process, finding the right people, finding the right organization, and finding the right culture is the key to making this happen. 

Challenges with new products

If given a choice, most sales reps would love to sell new products because it gives them an advantage at the clients’ accounts. The question, however, is if they’d continue to put the same amount of effort from beginning to end. 

Selling new products takes a lot of energy and more time. Thomas and his team found out that selling a new product takes about 30-40% more time as opposed to selling an extension of a line. On top of that, sales reps need to meet with a lot more people in the buying process and develop a different network site to be able to sell. 

It is very resource-intensive. 

On the customers’ side, when you’re selling a new product, everybody wants to talk to you because people naturally want to know what’s going on in the marketplace. 

Sales reps become hyped due to the attention but not for long. 

When the reality sinks in, they’ll realize that there’s a change in the buying organization. It’s actually late in the sales cycle. This is problematic from the seller’s perspective. What felt like traction would suddenly feel like getting stuck in the mud. Sales reps aren’t making any progress beyond the hype, they become discouraged, and eventually stop devoting effort in selling the product. 

When you face resistance, your numbers don’t go down quarter to quarter. What happens is that it becomes harder to figure out how to make that sale and investment. But if you persist, the effort will pay off in the long run. t can be difficult to make that commitment to selling new products when you have numbers to think of but in time, you will get there. 

New products take a while to sell

Thomas’ research on several companies that did well shows that new products take a while to figure out how to sell. There are a couple of different types of mindsets for reps. One is the performance mindset sales reps who think of the quarterly numbers and the one who gets the joy out of learning and solve problems. 

Research shows that the trajectory of sales from these two mindsets is very different. Performance reps don’t invest in learning the product right after launch. The sales go down initially because they failed to learn how to sell the product. For learning-based reps, there’s a big drop early on because they spend that time learning the product instead of selling and marketing the product. 

In the long run, the sales of the performance reps recover but they go up only so much. For the learning-based reps, their sales go up at a rapid pace but it’s very late after the launch. 

Learn how to effectively sell new products to current customers by finding the balance. 

Finding the balance between selling and learning

What this reminds us is the need to find a balance between these two sales reps. Find sales reps who go out and learn how to sell the product at the same time. Sales leaders need to give their sales reps ample time to learn the product, figure out how to work their clients and their pain points, and know the objections that may occur later in the sales cycle. After that, bring them back to the firm and redesign the sales process to sell the new product. 

Most marketing teams throw the product over the wall then disappear. Sales reps are left to figure things out themselves. Somewhere in the sales organization, sales reps are bound to dedicate some time to learn how to sell and anticipate objections later on. Not all sales reps are willing to devote their time to learning, so sales leaders should find the right person who is willing to learn and put in the time. 

Most sales training for new product launch often focuses on features and benefits, not on the marketing trends. The training doesn’t include changes in the buying process. 

Clients’ perception matters

One example is a company moving from old-line media to digital media. Their sales force was asked to sell new digital ads in this new space. They had the knowledge they needed but they were worried about how to interact with the clients because they hadn’t interacted with them before. 

The manager saw this problem and he approached the team differently. He had a two-pronged approach. He invested time in learning and figuring the market trends and where the marketing was going. He tried to look for ways these trends could help his sales reps sell the new product to their clients. Aside from that, he coached his team to figure out exactly what their job was. He asked each of them to write down their roles in the business. 

This taught Thomas how much emotional component there is in sales. Even when sales reps are thick-skinned, they’re still worried about how clients see them. 

They want to look good and they want to be an expert in front of their clients. 

Going back to the example, the sales reps of the company weren’t confident with just the knowledge of the product. They were only able to go out when they had the right type of market knowledge. 

What matters: 

  • Figuring out what’s different about the sales process
  • Knowing what your roles are in the sales process
  • Knowing how to make a difference in your clients’ business
  • Encouraging people that they have all the resources they need

When sales leaders and sales reps consider the factors above is when things can start to take off. 

It’s not always the one on top

Another research result shared by Thomas is that it’s not always the best overall performing rep that becomes the leader in selling the new product. Sometimes it’s someone else from the team. If somebody figures out how to sell the product fast, you need to share the knowledge and the best practices at some point to the rest of the sales team. 

Sales culture is important to be able to effectively sell new products to current customers. Companies need to take a long-term perspective on the sale. Give your sales rep some space to figure out how to sell the new product and let them invest in learning. 

The best performing reps focus deep on the sales process and ask questions about how the new product is beneficial to the clients. 

Best performing reps focus deep on the sales process while average reps focus on the immediate thing. #SalesFacts

Focus on learning first then move on to performance. 

“How To Effectively Sell New Products To Current Customers” episode resources

Stay in touch with Thomas Steenburgh. You can find all of his information on his academic page. Do you have sales concerns and questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Donald via LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook

This episode is brought to you in-part by TSE Certified Sales Training Program. It’s a program designed to help sales reps get from where you are now to where you can be in the future. This course is an aid for salespeople to become better in asking the right questions, presenting solutions, and closing deals. 

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Dan Cook, Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast

TSE 869: Sales From The Street:”Scaling My Sales Team”

Dan Cook, Donald Kelly, The Sales Evangelist Podcast

When it’s time to scale your team, there are dozens of things that can go wrong. How do you make sure you hire the right team members? What if they don’t work out? How can I make sure the people I bring are really good.

On today’s episode of Sales From The Street, we’ll discuss how to scale your team and make sure you can function and perform effectively. Dan Cook of Lucid Software shares how he created a sales team where there wasn’t one previously, and how he overcame the challenges that emerged.

Lucid Software grew from 35 employees in 2014 to almost 400 employees today. At the start of his endeavor, Dan was the only sales rep, and now the team includes almost 100 reps.

Figure out the sales process.

Before Dan could begin to grow the sales program, he had to figure out what it would look like first. He played the role of sales rep, figured out how to build a pipeline, discovered how to close deals, and documented every step of the process.

He got the green light to grow the team, and then he began the process of determining whether his success was repeatable. Could the four reps he hired repeat the same kind of success he had as a sales rep.

When things weren’t working, Dan was left wondering if the problem was the people he had hired or the system he had put in place. He had to figure out how to help them perform better.

Then, as the sales team grew to include more reps and more managers, the challenges of scaling grew in importance and sophistication.

Troubleshoot your system.

In the early stages, Dan’s priority was troubleshooting: finding places in the process that didn’t work and determine what the problem was.

Along the way, he discovered that every person is different. Each has a different level of experience and each “grew up” in a different setting.

As a result, each has a comparative advantage in certain areas.

Dan discovered his advantage was in the process and strategy side of building a sales program. He discovered that he did not have an advantage in software sales and tactically managing the different components of the sales process. So in things like prospecting, pipeline creation, negotiation, and closing, he wasn’t the strongest guy.

He quickly learned the need for self-awareness, and the ability to identify people whose strengths can complement or supplement your own. He recruited people who had experience managing sales teams who could supplement the places he wasn’t strong.

Establish the right culture.

You must recognize that you don’t have all the answers, and that your ego can get in the way of helping the team.

Dan stresses the importance of creating a culture that allows people to ask questions. He seeks a balance between inspiring confidence in his leadership while still acknowledging that he doesn’t know everything.

Dan allows his employees to ask dumb questions, and he has worked to get rid of the competitiveness that prevents people from asking questions. He strives to help his managers be humble instead of defensive.

If you set the right sales culture and build the right sales team, your results will follow.

Be reflective and ask good questions about what you’re good at and where you know you need help when you scale your team. Be willing to hire people who complement you. When you do, you’ll create a culture that leads to positive outcomes.

“Scale Your Team” episode resources

You can connect with Dan on Linked In, or email him at

Lucid Chart is a diagramming application that launched in June. Lucid Chart allows users to build account maps to better understand who they’re selling to. It streamlines collaboration between teams within a company.

On this 4th of July, declare your independence from mediocre selling. The buyer-based ideology presented in Stop Selling & Start Leading: How to Make Extraordinary Sales Happen from our sponsors at Wiley will help your prospects see you as a leader. When they do, people will purchase from you instead of your competition.

Check out the Video Jungle podcast, your source for marketing and selling your brand using video. Plan, create and share your way to better content and strategy. Video Jungle offers top-notch, state-of-the-art advice about video, which is a great way to offer relevant content on LinkedIn.

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The Sales Evangelist, Company Culture, Sales, South Florida Business Journal

TSE 797: Sales or Company Culture-Which is More Important?

It’s Sunday evening, and you’re dreading work tomorrow. You give your time, but not your heart, because you don’t feel like you’re getting the help you need to increase sales. Company culture may be to blame.

Today we’re talking about company culture: why it’s important to create a great company culture and how you do it.

An editor’s note in the South Florida Business Journal pointed out that company culture is the key to growth within any organization. But is company culture more important than sales?

The truth is that you must have a focus on both sales and company culture. If you don’t focus on your employees and your customers, your company will stagnate.

Company culture of empathy

I worked in an organization once that didn’t value my input.

Somewhere along the way, the company lost sight of caring for its employees. Ego took over and it cannibalized the company.

The employees retreated into their own silos and focused solely on themselves. Eventually, the company unexpectedly let go of employees because they were more focused on dollars than on people.

When you have a company culture of empathy, you might still have to cut employees, but you’ll have a plan for it. In turn, your concern for your employees will prompt them to bend over backward for you and the company.

Shared company mission

Once your employees feel like part of your culture, they will care about the shared mission. They will come together for the common good of the mission.

Now you have an amazing product or service and a team that is united behind it. You’re infusing everyone with the drive to become sales professionals.

Here at The Sales Evangelist, our entire team focuses on helping new and struggling sellers close more deals.

All our content centers on that idea. Our whole team centers on that vision.

When you help your employees, your employees will remember it, and they’ll help you.

Ask yourself what you can do to help your employees. Seek first to understand them, and then they’ll seek to understand you and your mission.

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We want you to be successful; to find more leads; to build more value; to close more deals; to do big things.