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It’s a Scary World Out There!

October 27th, 2014

It’s a Scary World Out There

While everyone maybe thinking of their Halloween costume or what tricks or treats they may provide, as sales leaders we must consider the bigger picture. It is a scary world out there and many fears exist; the future of the business cycle, new taxes that will hit in 2015, consumers of to their lively hoods and the fears of your sales team as they face another challenging year. All of these fears impact your planning actions.

Emotion has always been a major element in the sales environment, buyers today are more risk adverse, salespeople are more cautious and less self confident and worse the relationships between buyers and sellers are caught up in cost vs value.   It is evident the Wal-Mart mentality has taken hold.

Wal-Mart for years has pressured vendors for the low cost option. Just today I listened to a prospective client describe how their prospects are treating his sales teams and how his sales teams dread attempting to call on ‘net new” opportunities-“It’s all about low price-vendor relationships vs how we like to work as a consultative partner with our clients” he stated.  The good news is in the technology sector two factors separate us from Wal-Mart mentality.

In selling your solutions, partners we can sell productivity enhancements, business efficiency and you can sell cost effectiveness. And if you do it right you can sell BOTH at the same time!  I challenge you to consider what other industries address these most important business challenges.

The question is: as an owner or sales leader how are you lowering the fear in your sales teams and how are they approaching their prospects or clients to lower their fears?

At the recent conference I lead three back to back breakout sessions, in reading the evaluations and in conversations afterwards I heard: “What should I do….?” What do you recommend…?”  “How should I address…” These fear based questions were being asked?

What are your action steps to reduce fear and finish off 2014?

Create a sales theme. Most would consider this a weak action, however if you spend time creating a mantra or maxim that you believe in and you focus your energies around reinforcing it with your sales team the desired attitude will build.  At the University of TN they display former Coach General Neylands 7 Maxims. His first is: The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. I have used Be Brilliant on the Basics or We will dominate our market and take an assertive sales approach. Each of these is designed build a certain sales mentality.

Focus your sales team on selling to the business challenges of the NON-IT decision makers. This requires sales training that includes adding role play in your sales meetings.  The issues your team must understand are: operational efficiency, cost containment, customer responsiveness, revenue growth and increase market share. What issues do the CEO, COO, CFO, VP of Sales/Marketing, VP HR or VP of Mfg care about? If you make the business case to the COO, they can find the money.  Make your sales team more confident; give them the knowledge to hold their own in tough sales situations.  Mental toughness is critical.

Re-evaluate your marketing and your messaging. To gain attention you need to consider “edgy” and stand out in the market. The important element is to create multiple messaging that addresses the business challenges from #2 above.  Campaigns should be focused to the specific job title you are attempting to address. Most partners use the same messaging  to addressing all job titles or worst they use a technology message expecting business decision makers to understand or translate the technology pitch into valid business benefits. Run your “Business Breakfasts or Executive Forums’ campaigns aimed specifically to a job title with the appropriate message for that title.  “Drive an Increase in Customer Satisfaction and Lower Your Costs” certainly would get the attention of the VP of Marketing or COO.

Don’t be scared; be aware, the important action is to take action. Sales leaders must recognize their environment and build a culture of success with an organized plan of attack.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Do You Know Your A, B, C’s?

October 20th, 2014

Do You Know Your A, B, C’s?

How to dramatically improve revenues & profitability

Depending upon the client’s situation, one of the top five actions we take is to perform an A, B, C analysis of their customer base. If you are unfamiliar with this concept essentially the client generates a list of all their customers showing total combined revenues and margin over a recent 3 or 5 year period.  This exercise can be valuable for many reasons that impact sales, marketing and operations.  After this report is created, the next step is to perform a Life-time value analysis.

First, let’s explore the ABC Analysis. In looking at the report you will generally see the following trend.

    • 15% of clients= make up 65% of sales=A
    • 20% of clients= make up 20% of sales=B
    • 65% of clients= make up 15% of sales=C

NOTE:  35% of your clients make up 85% of your business.

Secondly, the %’s may not be precise but what you are looking for is where to draw the lines where you can see a separation;  once you have these lines drawn we recommend you schedule a meeting with  the sales team and management team to discuss what you have found.  You want to analyze the various segments and look for common demographics of the A’s, B’s and C’s.  Examples might be:

  • What are the total revenues?
  • How many employees?
  • What vertical markets?
  • Number of locations?
  • Types of Services/Products they purchased
  • ?

What you are specifically looking for are the common traits of the A’s and B’s. Then those kinds of prospects with similar demographics become your only targets for marketing and for sales prospecting. If you purchase data bases, those demographics become your criteria, in your CRM system call frequency patterns are set to connect with all the A’s , B’s, six times a year. Your focus becomes to capture more A’s and B’s not C’s. The reason you focus on the A’s and B’s is for whatever reason they are in need of your services, agree to your value proposition and most likely are your best clients.

Third, you look at your C customers and perform a Life-Time Value Calculation. This formula is actually good for all clients, but focus on the C’s first, this analysis is run for the past 3 or 5 years showing the total cost to acquire a client, cost to support the client over the 3 or 5 years and the real profit generated by the client. In many cases we have found that many companies are over supporting a large number of their customers and many C based clients are also the slow pay, unhappy customers that cause the most pain.

Take an analytical approach to understanding your customer base, it will drive better messaging, increase order rates and improve your profitability-sounds like an excellent formula to get started on 2015!

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Life Enrichment: Friends

October 15th, 2014

Life Enrichment: Friends

Those of you who are frequent readers of this blog know that on occasion I write about Life Enrichment a subject that is important to me and a topic of my keynote programs.  This past weekend’s events have caused me to write about this topic again.

A few years ago I made a commitment to reach back and touch past friends and re-engage, this past weekend was another opportunity-the XX year High School class reunion. ( I won’t tell you how many J)   I grew up in a small town with a graduating class of around 88 people so you can expect that everyone knew everyone-mostly.  Certainly there were groups of people that hung together, but Friday and Saturday’s night’s events were special and showed the importance of friendship.

I had a chance to talk to a longtime friend-I attended his 1 year birthday party, we played together, went to college together and certainly share many stories and a few secrets.

There were the guy’s I went to Boy Scout camp with and on hot summer nights we would set up tents in someone’s yard and enjoyed  the evening . Buddies I played summer baseball with, biked and went swimming with and got into some trouble from time to time as well.

My basketball and football teammates were there; we sweated together, won and lost together and showered together-it was great to see them again and laugh about our lives-and in most cases our bodies. There was a common bond.

The girls. The Cheerleaders lead a cheer, and we all fell back into the memories of High School-there were the ones I had danced with in the gym, some I had dated and others were friends.

A class mate had scanned many pictures from our year book that played continuously during the evening reminding us of different times and different looks….a common bond of youth and aging and friends.

Conversations were varied; class members that I didn’t know as well were engaged in deeper discussions, I even invited a few to “stay over” in my home on their way South or heading home in the North. Many have scattered across the US and many of stayed in Wisconsin, but as a class and on Friday/Saturday evening we were back-being friends. The warmth in the room could be felt by all.

Another classmate told a few stories of life in High School and another read a poem on aging-all brought laughs and good feelings.

As I left, I realized that I wished I had more time for more and longer conversations, to explore their lives, past experiences and dreams for the future. Now with our Facebook page we can stay in touch and continue the relationships we started to build– oh many years ago.

My ending message to you would be: are you building relationships and real friends, or simply meeting people? In today’s challenging environment I would push you to increase the deepness of your relationships, listen to people, ask them questions about their lives and thoughts; as I say in my keynote programs: Be Real, Be Warm, Be More.

 

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

2015 Sales Compensation Plans

October 7th, 2014

Creating a Sales Compensation Plans
When it comes to how businesses pay their salespeople, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. That’s especially true for many companies with diverse products and services that include: a mix of products and services. Some pay commission based on sales, while others only pay on margin; still others blend both with incentives and special bonus plans.

No matter which approach you use, success depends on awareness. Your sales management team must understand your company’s overall goals and structure compensation to align with them. In short, sales compensation should be not just a tactical focus for your organization, but a strategic one as well.

Sizing It Up

Compensation plans shouldn’t be developed in a vacuum. You and your sales leaders need a solid grasp of your overall industry and your organization’s place in it. You’ll need to factor in variables such as new product launches and major promotions, as well as consider your personnel structure.

You should also address these questions: Is your company a start-up or an established business? What are sales goals? How long are your delivery cycles? What are your objectives: to secure new clients, incr. ave order size, add margin? Do you want to open a vertical market, new products? Each answer will help you design a compensation plan tailored to your company’s specific needs.

Finally, take a hard look at your sales organization. For instance, do you need to attract new representatives to make C-level sales calls? Do you want to retain employees to build a long-term, client-based sales team, or is rapid turnover acceptable?

Understanding Cost of SalesOf course, you can reduce selling costs and enhance profits by capping sales compensation, but in the long run you get what you pay for. If you hire good salespeople and compensate them poorly, expect high turnover, which comes with costs of its own. A sales plan that compensates strong performance will allow you to attract the best salespeople — and retain them as well.

Calculating the cost of sales (CoS) is an important part of planning a compensation package. For a quick CoS ratio, simply take an individual’s salary plus commissions earned at 100 percent of quota and potential bonus opportunities, then divide by that person’s revenues to obtain the percentage. A more sophisticated approach adds in marketing expenses, corporate overhead, direct expenses paid to the salesperson and expenses related to sales support costs.

 

Examining the OptionsCompensation plans vary widely, but all should include “accelerators,” that is, increased commission rates for employees who achieve target levels.

  • Profit-Based: Commission rates change as margin levels increase. These plans are generally based on invoice, product or monthly averages of margin generation.
  • Revenue/Quota: Compensation is based on sheer volume achieved over the previous sales period or on a percentage of a quota achievement.
  • Balanced: Compensation is based on margin, revenue and a third component, such as quota attainment.
  • Team: Bonuses go to all team members when quarter-to-date (QTD) sales goals are achieved.

There are many variations and we recommend multiple combinations based upon the objectives of the organization.

Tailoring Tips Here are a few final considerations to keep in mind as you customize your compensation plan:

  • In new organizations focused on expanding within existing markets, the compensation plan will differ dramatically from that of an established company in the same industry. A mature, market-dominant company that receives a large percentage of its revenues from a small, loyal customer base can offer lower commissions and, perhaps, lower overall salaries. But a newcomer to an existing market probably needs to offer higher compensation to attract top-performing salespeople who can build a strong customer base.
  • New organizations in new markets need compensation plans reflecting the volatile environment, usually with higher-than- average base pay.
  • Companies in transition or undergoing a turnaround typically experience a higher CoS ratio; they may be best served by flexible plans incorporating morale- and team-building components.
  • Organizations positioned for high growth should develop plans covering brief, six-month periods. This will let management test theories and change direction while allowing the sales team to adjust accordingly.

No question about it: Creating an effective sales compensation plan is hard work, but the effort typically pays off in both improved sales performance and achievement of your corporate goals.

 

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Should Salespeople Prospect Anymore?

September 29th, 2014

Should Salespeople Prospect Anymore?

Last week during a client’s sales meeting we got into a discussion regarding pipeline values, needless to say the number of prospects and dollar values were insufficient to achieve the overall corporate revenue objectives. Several of the salespeople blamed marketing for not generating enough quality leads (ever hear that before?)  and as the discussion of “territory development” evolved several of the salespeople simply didn’t feel it was their responsibility to prospect because of the futility of cold calling/phone calling and event marketing.

In many organizations marketing is expected to develop leads via a well messaged nurturing campaign with a quality data base with an objective to set-up the salesperson with a highly qualified opportunity. In this format there maybe a series of marketing campaigns, tele-sales people and a well-designed CRM reporting system. In other organizations there is limited marketing of this nature with an expectation that sales will build relationships that lead to additional business opportunities. The question is, as a sales manager how should you structure your sales team’s expectations around prospecting?

First, it depends. What is your sales process? Are you selling large accounts with a complex sales cycle or are you more transactional with short sales cycles selling to small business?  Are you territory based or open territories? Your business type will alter what works.

Second, it is my belief that salespeople need to prospect continually, the real question is how.

I have listed below a few ideas with a brief description simply because of space, if you have questions on the specifics just ask!

  • Networking: every salesperson should attend one event a month, this is not negotiable
  • Circles of Influence: develop a list of individuals who can influence your sales opportunities or they can refer business to you. Depending upon your business these could CPA’s, Commercial Real Estate brokers, contractors, architects, etc. Each of these individuals need to be contacted at least once a quarter
  • LinkedIn: read my blog on Acumen Power Networking or ask me for it: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com
  • 20/20 plan: each salesperson sends two (2) distinct direct mail pieces referring to your products/services to 20 suspects; 20 pieces one week, 20 the next week. The third week the salesperson calls the 20 suspects. This process is repeated each week.
  • Thought Leadership events: schedule one breakfast event a month with a topic based upon thought leadership marketing. This event is driven by marketing, but the salesperson is responsible to call/invite individuals to the meeting. This gives the salesperson a reason and message to communicate to their prospects/suspects.
  • Referral: the salesperson should ask their customers for referrals twice a year
  • Bus-ecosystem: each salesperson should develop relationships with 3-5 other salespeople who sell non-competitive, but related products/services into common marketplace.
  • Who you know list: each salesperson should create a list of everyone they know, friends, business associates, professionals. This is a good sales meeting idea to come up with “titles” of individuals your sales team might know. Then make sure they know what you do and what problems you solve using a personal letter.
  • Review calendars: Good thing for this time of year to; review your calendars for the past 12 months, you might find someone you had forgotten to follow up on.

That’s a good starter list, what prospecting ideas are you using-that are working? Care to share? Let’s build up a comprehensive list so that everyone can finish the year strong and be positions to make 2015 your best year ever.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Sales Leadership: 5 Steps to Exceed 2015 Quota

September 22nd, 2014

Sales Leadership: How to Ensure You Exceed Your 2015 Quota

 

The end of the year is rapidly closing in and while everyone in your organization is focused on achieving their targets; as a sales leader it is crucial you are also focused on the new year. At this time of year I am working with each of my clients to begin to position them for success. I have listed the actions most organizations need to consider to exceed next year’s quota.

  1. Begin to recruit. This is the best time of year to recruit as top performers are evaluating their current situation, so you may lose individuals and you can add individuals. Assuming your sales quota will go up, you will need additional salespeople on your team to achieve those higher numbers. Recruiting takes time and training new salespeople takes time, get a jump on your headcount. Also you may have salespeople failing and you may need to let other go, not having enough quality salespeople to achieve your numbers is the number one reason sales managers are let go! Check out my book on Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams, if you do not currently have a recruiting/interviewing process-it also includes a salesperson “On Boarding” process.
  2. Evaluate your compensation plan. Does the plan match your organizations strategic objectives? Is it competitive? Will there be changes to your products/services in the new year that could impact your compensation plan? It takes time to build a new compensation plan, do no leave this till December! You need to test it and plan how to roll it out. There is a free sales compensation assessment on our website: www.AcumenManagement.com
  3. Review Account Planning and Salesperson Business Plans. Depending upon your sales model, review whatever templates you are currently using; are they sophisticated enough, do they achieve what you want them to accomplish? Account Plans should at a minimum include a “strategy” and 5 tactical steps to either open or penetrate the accounts more effectively. Salesperson Business Plans should include more than simple forecasts; they need to include goal setting, training needs, marketing activities and business objectives. If you want a free sample, simply ask: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com
  4. Create annual sales contests. One of the key components in building high performing sales teams is the creation of the annual sales trip. There are many variations to concept and I don’t have room to detail in this blog, but the facts are where we have annual team reward trips, I see great sales organizations. They build pride, team work and drive revenue. In my book; Creating High Performance Sales Compensation Plans I have an entire chapter on incentive compensation.
  5. Plan what major sales training your team requires. Consider the skill level of your general team and what changes there are in your market and then assess various training programs that are available. We are not a sales training organization but we can make recommendations based upon your general needs. Create a budget and insert it into your new year plan!

Each organization is different and requires a unique solution however these 5 basic actions, if acted on, will position you to be ahead of the game!

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout the world.

His latest book is, Ken’s 5th book: SLAMMED!!! For first time sales managers is now available: http://www.acumenmgmt.com/Books

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Pick up the DAMN PHONE!

September 15th, 2014

Pick up the DAMN PHONE!

When I saw the title of this book, by Joanne Black, I knew I would like the book- while I was reading it I loved it! Pick up the DAMN PHONE! , How people, not technology seal the deal is a great read with tons of tips for any salesperson.

As a person who has been in the sales world for 25+ years I appreciated her message and the style of her work. Joanne not only provided her insights into selling in today’s world, but to make her points she used stories and quotes from over 45 professionals. This style increased the credibility of the material but also added to the ease of reading.

I really enjoyed the overall tone of this book, right from the start, Section 1: “Sales 2.0: everything has changed (and nothing) has changed.” The bottom line: sales is still about people selling to people.  Joanne continues… having a personal connection to prospects, understanding what our buyers want from us and delivering results are still the keys to success. As someone that interacts with many salespeople in today’s world, I see way to often their tendency to attempt to sell through email or failing to take the time to build a personal level of trust.

The next sections go on to discuss Buyer 2.0 and how salespeople today must work differently to win, it’s worth the price of the book for that chapter alone.

The message of relationships is a theme throughout the book- not only building them with prospects, but Joanne goes into detail on the power of building personal networks. These maybe personal or professional points of contact and to the title of the book, Joanne makes the point to Pick up the DAMN PHONE to build these relationships and not hide behind email and social media.

Don’t get me wrong, Joanne is a proponent of using technology to increase win ratios and the use of social intelligence. On page 100 she quotes an Aberdeen Group study on the use of social intelligence:

  • 21.4% increase in top-line revenue
  • A 9.5% annual increase in the number of salespeople who make quotaWhy? Using social intelligence salespeople can see the events in people’s lives; they can use that information to make more personal connections.There are over 40 chapters in this book all filled with nuggets for today’s salesperson. I would buy this book for each salesperson and review 2 chapters a week during your sales meeting. For more information from Joanne check out: www.NoMoreColdCalling.com

When I read business related books and find valuable information I will underline key thoughts and fold over a corner of the book, I just counted 18 pages where I folded over the corner!   I am sure you will find key idea’s to improve your level of performance as well. Buy this book.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Sales Leadership: You are the Practice Squad

September 2nd, 2014

Sales Leadership: You are the Practice Squad

On every football team you have the team of starters and you have a practice squad, their job is to represent what the competitions offense or defense game plan or playbook might look like. Each week the starters practice against these players to gain a better perspective of what the real competitor will do during the game with the objective improving their odds of winning.  As a sales leader it is your job to ensure your team is prepared not only for each sales call but for unexpected situations that might arise at any time during the sales process.  You are a critical success factor and to improve the professionalism of your team you must build a practice squad mentality.

I have often stated that I don’t see enough role playing during sales training meetings, role playing must be a cornerstone during your monthly training programs.   One of the best ways to teach:  skill building, strategy development and presentation skills is the use of a Case Study.

The case study allows multiple salespeople to work together on a project basis and compete against other members of your team.   We recently completed a large project for a major technology company where we built a sales framework that changes the approach of the salesperson and alters their traditional relationship with their clients.  One of methodologies we employed to ensure we could validate the understanding of the framework and use of the sales tools was a Case Study exercise.  I want to review the process simply to encourage you to build this kind of learning experience into your training programs.

The following were the components of that case study:

  • A detailed description of the firm and its go to market strategy
  • A description of 7 potential players, titles, years employed
  • A limited description of the existing technology
  • An overview of the Industry this company competed in
  • Limited financial objectives
  • Miscellaneous information, some distracting, some valid

The salesperson or team could make two sales calls, the first with one person, and then a second call with two other members of the company. Each call was between 10-15 minutes, this could vary based upon the number of salespeople in your organization.   There were Pre-Call Planning tools and a set of Sales Discovery Guides and worksheets designed to summarize their findings.

HINT: The individuals who played the roles of the customer had their own case study with additional facts, inside political issues, defined personality styles and hidden agendas.

Once the salespeople finished their second call, and discussed their findings they had the opportunity to ask two additional questions of any person within the company.

The deliverable included a formal presentation by the sales team of:  1) what they uncovered during discovery, 2) perceptions of the firm and 3) formal product/services recommendation including a sales presentation as to why buy from us!

Using this kind of training will allow the sales leadership team to view their salespeople in action, observe their skills and test their creativity.  Even if you don’t go to the effort to create this formal of a process, building more role playing into your sales training programs will improve your team-put them in pressure situations in the office and they will perform as professionals in the field.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout the world.

His book is: Leading High Performance Sales Teams is a best seller, Ken’s 5th book “JAMMED! for New Sales Managers was published this summer.

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

7 Benefits of a Prescriptive Sales Process

August 25th, 2014

7 Benefits of a Prescriptive Sales Process

By spelling out the steps that great sales performers use intuitively, you can develop the rest of your sales staff.

In most sales organizations, the majority of salespeople are B or C performers. There are never enough A performers in any organization, and they’re generally already maximizing their productivity.

One of the best ways to help B and C performers improve is to write out a prescriptive sales process. By spelling out the steps that the A performer often uses intuitively in her sales process, you can develop the rest of your sales staff.

Recently in working with a client we spent about two hours simply documenting what a salesperson should do on each of the various steps of his sales process. Here are seven benefits from that session:

1.       In forcing the process of thinking through the logical progression and the actual actions the salesperson should take at each step, we altered an early step and changed what the salesperson was supposed to say and sell during that stage. This was important because the sales team was generally inexperienced. Because of the technical aspect of the team’s offering, introducing a more mature person into the early stages allowed quicker credibility and better insights into the prospective client’s needs.

2.       Additional products and services cropped up. We created one additional professional service product that could also be sold. As we stepped through each of the various stages, we kept looking at what we were doing currently and how we could add additional levels of value.

3.       The sales manager began to fully understand not only what the steps in the sales process were, but why each salesperson needed to execute on them. This provided the sales manager a better platform for coaching, mentoring and monitoring opportunities in the pipeline. The 90-day sales training schedule began to include training on each step of the sales process, in which the sales manager would not only train the sales team on how to perform each step but also explain why.

4.       Improved forecasting occurred, because specific definitions of each action within each stage were defined. For example, let’s assume there’s a demonstration stage in your sales cycle. When do your salespeople move the prospect to the demo stage? Is it when the demo is scheduled or after it’s completed?

5.       You will separate yourself from the competition. During the sales process your company’s value proposition must be proven. It’s easy to print your messaging on brochures and your Web site, but letting your prospect feel it is critical to building “belief.” You must build a step or an action that takes place at the appropriate stage that can validate your messaging.

6.       One of the most important aspects of creating a prescriptive sales process is changing the sales process. If you and your competitors use the basic sales stages in the same sequence and say and do the same things during your prospect conversations, no one will stand out and prospects will become confused. When there’s confusion, there’s no decision. Change your sales process to stand out, be different and do something to make the customer remember you.

7.       We added a last step to the sales process: a customer follow-up at 90 days post-implementation to validate the customer’s satisfaction and to ask for a reference letter. These will now be hung in the office lobby and used in future sales calls.

The next step is for the sales manager to roll out the process, teach the salespeople how to execute, then inspect that the sales team is using the process as it is defined. Set a 90-day plan to implement and evaluate the results, create four or five metrics to measure its effectiveness, validate it’s being used and listen to your team. If it needs to be altered to increase effectiveness, that’s OK. But before you change, make sure you fully understand the impacts.

Let me know what has worked for you on creating a sales process.

Top 40 Sales Management Actions for Predictable Revenue:                    http://www.acumenmgmt.com./whitepaper.phtml

Ken Thoreson, President of Acumen Management Group LTD.

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 15 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for clients throughout the World. Ken’s latest book is: “Building High Performance Sale Compensation Plans”.

Ken  provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com       www.AcumenManagement.com      www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

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Sales Mgmt: don’t over complicate it….

August 18th, 2014

Sales Leadership: Don’t over complicate it…

Last week I almost lost it.  While I was observing a sales meeting at a client’s site, (they were following our template/agenda for the meeting) when the president who is active in this meeting brought up a topic that took them down the rat hole.

My job was to keep them on topic but in this case I took over; they were discussing an important new program that is a Critical Sales Factor for this year- and the program was not working. As I began to peel back the layers of the issue as to why clients were not adopting the program it became evident.  The client had been focused on creating a complex software application that included multiple pages of screens/sub categories, checklists and mutual responsibilities that they expected their clients to use during this new innovative program.

When I said: you don’t show this to them during the sales process do you?  When the answer was YES!   I cringed… their attention to detail and process management was terrific, the application was designed to ensure a quality solution, but to a non-technology prospective client of theirs, it would scare them to death-way to complex.  I can imagine the prospects eyes glazing over and brains retreating to all the work they had to do without this new initiative. It was way too complex to show in a sales situation.

I was told many years ago, selling is creating Emotion, transferring Emotion, causing Emotion. In this case my client was selling process not the benefits of what the actual program would deliver or a compelling reason to take action.   They got so caught up in their approach that they forgot it’s about the prospective client’s issues and “How are we going to sell it?” We rebuilt the sales presentation with a 4 screen shots and a few PowerPoint slides.

As we sorted out this issue, a second topic came out; they were holding client meetings to explain their new program, but they were not converting those meetings to the actual next step where they had to schedule a meeting between their team and the client. Beside the issue I described above, in reviewing the details of issue number two, it became evident that my client’s internal teams did not consider these kinds of meetings as a priority. The result? Scheduling multiple people from my client’s office and the customers became a challenge to arrange.  Solution: we printed off a monthly calendar, blocked off 2 days a week for each week for the appropriate internal team and trained the sales team to schedule one meeting in the morning, and one in the afternoon for each of those 2 days.  During the sales call the prospective client was simply booked into what dates were available that worked for them!  Everyone could plan more effectively and the prospective client’s closing was on what morning or afternoon works for you?  (Alternative close 101)

As a sales leader we get caught up in implementation and execution of a variety of programs-all good things, but what we must constantly be aware of is methodology that appears to be sales prevention.

Keeping things less complicated makes it easier for a prospective client to understand your approach and their benefits and easier for your sales team to present.

HINT:  if you would like a copy of Acumen’s “Sales Meeting Agenda”, send me an email.
Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 15 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Ken’s latest book: Slammed! for the first time sales manager was released in July.

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.           Ken@AcumenMgmt.com   www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com