Steve Bookbinder

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something, but only 10 minutes to read one of our expert interviews. Pretty sweet, huh?

Digital media is obviously big business these days, and it’s spawned a whole new way of having to approach how we sell. DM Training is at the forefront of where things are going. It delivers training through live workshops as well as virtually, using its proprietary m-learning (e-learning pushed out through mobile devices) platform.

Wanting to know more, we got a hold of Steve Bookbinder from DM Training. Steve has delivered more than 500 keynote speeches at national sales meetings, conducted more than 3,000 training workshops and trained, coached and managed more than 35,000 sellers and managers from leading companies around the world for more than 20 years.

Steve learned and field tested the best-practices of sales and sales management through his experience as president of a global sales training company where he worked with hundreds of leading companies globally, across many industry verticals using every go-to-market strategy. He’s also the author of the book Networking to Win, which explains how to use social media marketing to gain leads and sales

He is also a stand-up comic. No, really. Check it out.

Steve, please tell us more about DM Training and your m-learning solution.

We believe the best training changes behavior and has a measurable ROI. To do that the training needs to be ongoing, focused, supported by coaches (sales managers) and adapted for busy sales professionals.

Our industry leading m-learning solution, called M.O.S.T. (multimedia ongoing skills training), transforms training reinforcement into a sales tool. For sellers, the content is just-in-time. For managers, M.O.S.T. brings added value for their training investment by reinforcing the workshop training while introducing coaching-reinforcement tips. It also serves as a quick-start method of bringing new-hires (who may have missed the workshop) up to speed.

What’s your own background in this sphere?

I have more than 20 years experience selling, managing, coaching and training salespeople and sales managers. I have conducted more than 4,000 workshops and have delivered nearly 500 keynote/motivational speeches at national and international sales meetings.

My digital experience includes managing a new-business sales team for 24/7 Real Media, as well as working as a consultant to many top digital media companies. Additionally, I’ve been a manager and principle at three global search marketing agencies.

But the real experience that has given me the tools I need to deliver training is my background as a stand-up comic and improvisational actor. I see the sales meeting (in-person and on the phone) as a performance that can be studied and improved. And, as an entrepreneur who launched a company during the height of the recession, I have personally (and recently) achieved success using the same techniques I teach. My content is really a collection of best practices which I have observed first hand and have field tested through my own sales. My workshop participants can relate to my successes as well as my failures as a seller. And, the funnier I make the workshops, the more engaged they are.

How has the digital landscape challenged traditional ways of thinking around sales?

From a high level, some things never change — sellers still need to prospect, prepare for meetings ask the right questions, present, negotiate and close. But, today’s sellers need to incorporate social media into both their prospecting and pre-meeting research. The notion of asking the right questions still exists but today’s sellers are expected to be informed through internet research prior to showing up. Today’s sellers need to ask questions in a way that demonstrates they did their homework. Meeting preparation has always been extremely valuable, but today’s sellers are often faced with new competition, not only their traditional peers.

Understanding the offering and value proposition of these players — and being able to sell against a new competitor — is a new skill that challenges some very experienced sellers. Presenting in today’s world often means mastering technologies while still engaging with a person you may not be able to see. Younger sellers seem more comfortable with the technology part, but the more experienced seller tends to be better at the engagement part. Knowing when to use email, the phone, texting, etc. and when to be there in person is a skill all sellers and customers are learning together.

The issue is effective vs. efficient. Younger sellers tend to rely on email regardless of why they are communicating even though 99% of all sellers play to their strength when in person. Emailing in your negotiation almost always favors the customer while face-to-face or at least voice-to-voice negotiations tends to favor the sellers. Most salespeople are hired based on their personality but lose their big advantage when they overly rely on email. In my view most of us are compelled to email but few sellers are good enough email-writers. In a world that everything looks like SPAM, it is amazing to me how many salespeople send out emails that are more like junk mail.

That said, email done correctly can be an extremely effective way to keep in touch with customers. Sellers are always looking for a new way to “stick their foot in the door” and emails that deliver valuable information can be the long-term ticket to success. However, many sellers send those “hey, I’m still out here and ready to sell you – are you ready to buy yet?” emails that bring no value and wonder why they are struggling.

I am currently writing an e-book on how the principles behind successful digital media ad campaigns have improved my own selling. Today’s sellers need to understand how to leverage social media as way to connect with the right people as well as prepare for meetings. They need to avail themselves of the apps and other technologies that increase their productivity and improve their time management. More importantly, they need to use internet advertising’s method of relying on data rather than gut to test new strategies, tactics and sales habits so they can optimize their sales performance and scale their results.

How can businesses use blogs and content marketing to drive their sales?

While I believe in all forms of prospecting, the old notion of cold calling as the primary way to connect with new customers is more frustrating and less rewarding than connecting with opportunities who are already looking for a seller’s solution. Some are looking for exactly what that seller sells, but most are at the top or middle of the consideration funnel and still educating themselves. Blogs and content marketing become the content that those qualified leads discover in their search engine and social media searching efforts.

What’s the most successful piece of content you’ve published on one of your blogs?

Earlier this year, I wrote an e-book called 10 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Sales Training which I was hopeful about but didn’t expect to have a life longer than about a week. Instead, it has been downloaded many, many times for months– easily the most shared content I have ever produced online. Hardly a day goes by without a new person downloading it. The surprising thing is how international the audience is– about 30% outside the US. While my blogs have produced inbound sales leads and blog posts, nothing compares to the success of that e-book. This has caused me to add e-books to my blogging and other social media activities.

How is Google’s new search algorithm changing things?

The Hummingbird Algorithm is a great leap forward. Semantic indexing makes straight-up keyword indexing seem as primitive as a non-smart cell phone. It will change SEO forever. It will likely focus marketers on the creation of great content rather than simply reverse-engineering Google’s index strategy in order to game the system and rise up in the ranks on SERPs.

How do you think Google’s new searching of apps feature will also change things?

Apps have become increasingly valuable to marketers this year as web publishers are finding half (or more) of their audience engaging with their brands via mobile. Apps not only provide a great user experience but engage users in measurable ways that include topping TV and Desktop for brand lift. Users are increasingly seeking out apps to help them simplify virtually every task they do. To both the user and the marketer, Google’s new way of helping Android users find apps will become as important as GPS devices are to drivers.

What are some of the key points, when it comes to sales, that will never change, despite the platform? (Online, email, telephone etc.).

The three most important things sellers do which define their success is and has always been: the words they say in meetings, the way they manage their time, and the sales KPIs they track. While technology may affect how we do these things, self-management is an ancient concept which cannot change.

Very insightful! Thanks Steve. Keep up with DM Training by following them them on Twitter @DM_Training.

Ryan Peter is a ghostwriter, journalist, copywriter and author of amazing books.