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The Soft Edge; where great companies find success

January 19th, 2015

The Soft Edge

Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success

This week’s blog is a book review, The Soft Edge by Rich Karlgaard, published by Jossey-Bass.

This is an excellent management book for any level in any company, I recommend to my clients that they need to read a minimum of two business books a year and this book makes my 2015 list!

In the first chapter the author discusses the 3-sided triangle of business; the bottom is the Strategic Base, the left side is the Hard Edge and the right side becomes the Soft Edge. The hard edge is the traditional operations, ratios, measurements and systems of running any effective organization.   He spends just a few pages describing the importance of the Hard Edge and the 5 components that make up that side of the triangle.

Rich then moves on to describing what he means is the Soft Edge; “The Expression of Your Deepest Values”, it is made of 5 components as well.

  • Trust
  • Smarts
  • Teams
  • Taste
  • Story

 

Immediately he begins to build his case for the power of the Soft Edge management and then each of the following chapters takes the five components and breaks them into greater details and explanations.

Trust:  Trust begins with culture and values, as with many management focused books, the author quotes business leaders on the topic to reinforce his points. One quote: Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.  He described both internal and external levels of trust and makes his point by quoting a survey: “For the first time in in history, impressions of openness, sincerity and authenticity are more important to a corporation’s reputation than the quality of products and services”.

The amazing story was, I was reading this book on my way to Las Vegas to speak at a conference, one section of my program was on “building trust”.  During my speech I picked up the book, quoted from it to help me drive home my points!  When I packed my book, I did not know the contents of the chapters of this book, it was a total coincidence.

Smarts: There are two components: 1) the ability to learn new things and solve novel problems, 2) the ability to apply outcomes of learning-call this intelligence as –knowledge.

Teams: This chapter rings the bell, when he described the two pizza rule!  A team should never be larger than what 2 pizzas could feed.  He writes on the need to improve speed and execution, a great chapter on a topic that many others have tried to cover without Rich’s insights and story.

Taste: In this chapter Rich identifies key organizations that have focused on the “experience” of going beyond the aesthetic of the product, but creating the emotional connection.

Story: The point the author makes in this chapter is the power of having a corporate story (s), and the need to craft, share and create stories for both employees, customers and prospects. Building belief is critical in creating a sustaining business model.

In the Conclusion chapter he summaries the prior chapters by using a case study of a situation where companies have focused on the Soft Edges and where they have not-and the results. If you are not by the end of this book a believer in the power of the Soft Edge, this chapter will convince you.

Buy this book for each member of your management team and weekly, discuss one chapter at your management team meetings. It will make a difference in your success.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 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.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Increasing Velocity is a Critical Success Factor

January 13th, 2015

Increasing Your Velocity is a Critical Success Factor

 

It’s normal.  After any keynote presentation members of the audience will approach me to ask further questions on my program or make more in-depth comments on related topics, frankly I truly enjoy these kinds of give and takes.

Last Friday my topic was “Accelerate Your Business in 2015”, during the program I covered a variety of ideas, techniques and tools the audience could  use to drive increased levels of sales pipeline values and revenues.  A portion of what I spoke about was from a recent blog:  The One Must Do Action Step to Ensure a Great 2015!  In this in blog I covered why it is important to meet with your existing clientsat the beginning of every year and 5 potential outcomes you could expect from those meetings.  If you haven’t read it, it is not too late to implement the tactics I covered.

The interesting part of the one on one discussions I had was the tendency of almost every person that spoke to me suggested creating additional or new ideas/tools beyond the ones I had shared.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with creativity, being innovative or trying something new. What continues to amaze me is everyone had great ideas, however taking the time to create new approaches, or tools either delays the end result or in most situations-nothing happens.  Either something comes up or a distraction occurs and the sales/marketing/management programs fail to achieve their goals.

It seems people love to reinvent the wheel.

My recommendation is to use the idea’s/tools of others, certainly refine them to fit your focus, but rather than delay implementation or spending valuable time re-inventing or tweaking the program-simply execute it!   Increasing the velocity of everything you do in business today has become a critical success factor.

On Friday I had suggested the following ideas to accelerate your business;

  • Learn to Partner with other organizations, I call this business-eco system marketing
  • Implement a salesperson 20-20 campaign
  • Focus on a vertical market with in your business
  • Perform Account Plans on your top 30% customers
  • Learn to Cross Sell/Up Sell each of your products/services
  • Build Thought Leadership into your marketing
  • Create customer Power Networking Maps

During the presentation I covered each of these topics in greater detail as to the how to’s and the desired outcomes, if you wish to learn more about these ideas you can find them in  my various blogs on each topic. If you can’t find them reach out to me and I will share my thoughts with you. Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

Need other tools designed to increase your sales and sales management effectiveness? Don’t reinvent the wheel, check out the Online Sales Management Tool Kit

Lastly, what is your one best idea to increase the velocity of your business for 2015?

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 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

The One Must Do Action Step to Ensure a Great 2015

December 29th, 2014

The One Must Do Action Step to Ensure a Great 2015

What is the first action all salespeople must do to begin each year? It’s simple, but many times overlooked. The first action they need to do is reach out to every one of their existing clients, in a physical meeting if possible, and discuss with them their use/satisfaction and impact of the salespersons product/services on their company.  We call it the Annual Client Audit Review.

The objective of this meeting is actually made up of many sub-steps.

  • This will reinforce in the mind of the salesperson the benefits the products/services that were delivered-this builds belief in the company and belief by a salesperson is the most important emotion they must carry with them each day. It’s the inner desire to serve clients that separates the average performer from the top producer. When the salesperson truly believes in their product/services and their impact on their clients business -they will go the extra mile to win the order.

 

  • The second action, during this meeting is to discus with the clients “the client’s strategic objectives over the next 24 months”. This will help the salesperson plan a strategic sales roadmap as to how their products/services can potentially be used to assist the client in achieving their goals.

 

  • The third action with each client is to work them through an Account Plan. One portion of the entire plan is based upon mapping the current utilization of the existing product/services used by the client. Next the salesperson would walk the client through a Cross Sell/Up Sell program, showing them additional benefits of new offerings they have not taken advantage and how these additional products/services will leverage the clients existing products/services and bring new benefits. After the meeting the salesperson can then develop a strategy for the account and then create 5 tactical steps to further penetrate this account.

 

  • Don’t forget to ask for Reference Letter or a quote from your client.

 

  • Lastly, always ask for a referral, who do they know that you can serve?

These five actions will help the salesperson get off to a fast start-by working with and selling existing clients where they have trusted relationships and proven solutions. Immediate revenues, larger pipelines and increased levels of belief along with better customer relationships is a positive way to start the year.

What is your plan to get a jump start on 2015?

HINT: This Action Plan is assuming that in December the salesperson has already completed a 6 month Salesperson Business Planning exercise.

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

 

AMP UP Your Sales

December 15th, 2014

Amp Up Your Sales

Powerful Strategies that Move Customer Fast, Favorable Decisions

By Andy Paul

I kept nodding my head and saying; Yes, Yes, Yes as I turned the pages. Amp Up Your Sales, published by AMACOM, written by Andy Paul is a book you should consider for your 2015 sales training program. Andy has put together 40 chapters of concise, practical and most important the right information that when implemented can drive your sales to the next level.

He has broken his 40 chapters into eight (8) parts that range from;

  • Simplifying your sales
  • Accelerating responsiveness
  • Maximizing value
  • Selling through customer service

The first 9 chapters are focused on sales effectiveness. Right way Andy captures your attention by explaining the truth; how you sell is more important that what you sell.   This concept is explained in detail and frankly defines much of the book and then right away in the next chapter he hits another point. In my 16 years of sales management consulting I have found it to be a key success factor-the concept of a defined-specific sales process map. While many sales leaders believe they have a sales process, Andy’s explanation of changing a Light Bulb as compared to a sales process is exactly correct! As he explained, selling effectively is the power of the process.

His lesson on becoming an interactive salesperson vs a reactive salesperson is an absolute concept that truly professional salespeople must implement. In today’s selling environment too many salespeople are telling not selling their products/services.

In Part II, Accelerating your Responsiveness and Chapter 10, Andy begins to make his point of increasing The Speed of Responsiveness and introduces  Andy Paul’s Uncertainty Principle of Selling,  how by implementing his techniques you can change the prospect’s requirements and buying process and increase your win/lost ratios.

And then POW! , in the next chapter he hits it again with his New Sales Funnel explanation, this chapter is worth the price of the book alone.  He makes the case for why execution in the sales process and acceleration and sales responsiveness are the new buzz words in selling.  His graphs easily make the case for why buyers are more knowledgeable than before and why salespeople today must recognize the old sales process and funnel strategy must change.

Part III then opens the discussion how Maximizing Value-how to standout in the sales process and how to add that extra 1% of value to separate yourself from your competition. This concept is especially important with more product/service commodization. Becoming unique and using time effectively in your sales process are important lessons to learn.

During the last 6 months we have researched what major issues people are facing in their organizations. What was the number the 1 challenge?  Prospecting.  Andy add’s an entire section designed around Amp Up Prospecting.  A critical success factor for 2015.

The section that I really said YES too, was Mastering Stories that Sell. With our clients we discuss “tribal stories” or stories that can sell your services, Andy’s section on this is a home run.

As I stated, I would recommend this book to you, add to your 2015 sales training program. Buy the book for each of your salespeople, everyone should read the book, but assign a different chapter to each salesperson and make that person lead a discussion on the chapter at your weekly sales meeting.  Create your own book club, you will increase the performance of your team and increase the professionalism of your organization.

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

NON STOP SALES BOOM

December 9th, 2014

NONSTOP SALES BOOM

Powerful Strategies to Drive Consistent Growth Year After year

by Colleen Francis

Time for a new book review-that must be added to your sales library! (Ken Thoreson)

I finished this book by Colleen Francis, published by AMACOM on my flight back from San Diego.  I could tell that the person next to me kept looking as I kept underlining various paragraph’s, drawing circles around bullets and folding over the corners of the book.  As I worked my way through the book he finally had to ask the question: “What do you find so interesting?

My answer: This book is the closest to a formal handbook on selling than I have read in a many years and as my clients need sales tips, this will be a great resource. In fact I will recommend it as an internal sales training book club tool as well!

As a sales management consultant for the past 16 years I have seen many business challenges and sales problems. One constantly arises; it has to deal with what I call the Wave Impact on sales pipelines, an organization experiences a large quarter of sales success and the next quarter is a drought, followed by another great quarter.   Colleen’s focus on NonStop Sales Boom brings together sales strategies and tactics designed to level off the boom to bust experience.

Collen consistently kept hitting key point’s chapter after chapter.  Quickly in chapter 2: The Sales Radar concept was introduced;   she captures your attention with her focus on “The 3 Categories of Tunnel Vision” and its impact on sales.  That chapter alone will begin to reset your view of the sales process.

One of great parts of the book are Colleen’s Power Tips. They are positioned throughout the book giving the reader an instant understanding the points she is making i.e. “Sales and marketing must agree on definitions”.  I have screamed that for years and she drives it home with a power tip!

As NonStop Sales Boom continues she explores the “new sales process”, while others have discussed this topic, I really enjoyed how Colleen took the time to explain how the various roles of the buyer and the salesperson must change and why they must change. This connection helps the reader better understand the logic and emotion of the issue.

Her chapters on negotiation are extremely real world, I have read many books and this one clearly and precisely provides tips and tactics as to how the salesperson can  collaborate before negotiation, and the chapter on “Fearless Negotiation” is great and a must read.

The last few chapters are focused on nurturing your current clients and developing leverage points within your client and within their business relationships. Once you have won them, how can you leverage them!  Again, 15 more ideas to improve your sales organization and prevent the sales wave from swamping your boat.

As I mentioned, with many of my clients I recommend they create a quarterly sales training plan that covers; product/service training, operations/CRM training, and sales skills training. I would recommend you buy this book for each of your salespeople and have them read a chapter a week-create your own book club.  Assign each salesperson to discuss a chapter during your Monday sales meeting, how it fits in your sales process, what were key learning points and develop a team discussion on the topic. Improve your skills and bring consistent growth year after year with NONSTOP SALES BOOM.

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 Dominate the Conversation?

December 1st, 2014

Do You Totally Dominate the Conversation?

 This week I have asked a friend of mine to share one of his blog posts, Bob Terson has much to share, this topic is one of the secrets to sales success. Ken Thoreson

Two recent conversations I had—one on the telephone, one face-to-face in a restaurant—influenced me to write today’s blog. Both were with professional sales trainers, who shall remain anonymous; I have no wish to embarrass anyone. Both men have successful businesses, are in their late 40s, early 50s, with lots of experience under their belts—we’re not talking about a couple of rookies here. Both were interesting and likeable, except for their wearisome need to (1) completely dominate the conversation; (2) brag incessantly about how unique and successful their methodologies are, that no one else does what they do; and (3) constantly interrupt and direct the conversation back to themselves, which after a while became annoying to the Nth degree. Really, I couldn’t complete a thought without getting interrupted. It was so blatant it short-circuited my brain and I started looking for it.

  1. Dominating the Conversation: I have no doubt both sales trainers I spoke to, when they’re training people, preach the direct opposite of what they were personally practicing; otherwise they wouldn’t be successful. A true sales professional understands what my late father liked to point out—there’s a good reason we have two ears and only one mouth; he wants to get the other guy talking, so he can ascertain the information necessary to serve the prospect/customer. So, let me ask you, Do you practice what you preach?—personally, as well as professionally?
  2. Brag Incessantly: I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but let me remind you—no one likes a braggart! It’s boring as hell and all it actually does is reveal the depth of the braggart’s insecurities. Deep down he’s trying to convince himself, as well as you, that he’s cool as he’s portraying himself to be. A confident individual, the real McCoy, has no need to tell you how wonderful he is, how successful he is, none at all. He’s Cary Grant in North by Northwest, not Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
  3. Constantly Interrupting: If you consistently interrupt others, you’re showing them that they don’t matter to you, that you have no interest in their thoughts or opinions, not one bit. You’re demonstrating in no uncertain terms that it’s all about you—period, they don’t count a shred. You can tell them you care, but keep in mind what F. Scott Fitzgerald said: “Action is character.” It’s never about what you say; it’s always about what you do.

Let me suggest you monitor yourself at all times when conversing with people—personally, as well as professionally. If you catch yourself dominating the conversation, bragging, interrupting, immediately put a halt to it and say something like, “But enough about me; tell me about yourself—I’m all ears.”

Then listen like your life depended upon it. All the great ones are good listeners.

 

Robert Terson has been a sales professional and entrepreneur his entire adult life. He retired from his advertising company in 2010 after 38 years in business. Today, Bob writes, speaks and generously shares his time with others. Bob also does some LIMITED coaching and training. He lives in suburban Chicago with his wonderful wife Nicki. He blogs regularly at SellingFearlessly.com and you can follow Bob on twitter @RobertTerson and LinkedIn. His book “Selling Fearlessly“, released in October 2012, has received rave reviews and is available at Amazon.com.

 

Put a Little Personality into Selling

November 17th, 2014

Put a Little Personality into Selling

The concept of selling based on your buyer’s personality style has been around for a while, but I’m often surprised at how many sales professionals aren’t familiar with it. Knowing the four basic personality styles in the model can help you communicate and build a relationship with your prospects, increase your sales volume and improve your velocity.

1. The Director is to the point, and focused on the job. Relationships are not important. When dealing with a director, emphasize short-term benefits and appeal to a need to gain advantage. Briefly cover main benefits and isolate dollar-related topics or verifiable benefits. Recognizing signs of impatience will help. In presentations use brief, bottom-line visuals, ask open-ended questions designed to make the prospect talk and allow the director to lead. To speed up closing, provide alternatives, handle objections by taking issue with the facts and not the person, motivate a director to close by using objectives, results and a sense of urgency. Ask for the order — be dramatic and brief, then be quiet.

 

2. A Persuader is outgoing, expressive and wants to be the center of attention. Approach a persuader informally — go with a first name, listen for personal information and use it as you work to develop a relationship. Avoid formal visuals and PowerPoint — use handouts with testimonial information that is woven into an unstructured and interesting discussion. Show personal respect by being open and honest, even about weaknesses of your solution. In closing, provide examples of solutions accepted by others the persuader respects. Offer incentives for a willingness to take a risk, avoid too many details, speak to the persuader’s dreams and make the person a hero. Create a sense of urgency and help the persuader to buy, but don’t make the close too obvious. Focus on next steps and use an assumptive close by providing ideas for implementing action.

3. Analytical personality types are the record keepers, but don’t get them confused with only being the CFO or controller. Many executives can be analytical. During your sales process you will need to emphasize research. Know the client’s situation thoroughly, state facts and prepare alternative choices. Your discussion must be detailed, logical and low key. Emphasize the tested, proven and well-documented aspects of your implementation process and probe for issues that might be barriers. With this group, your presentations should use visuals, charts and statistics that can be left behind for review. These individuals will be skeptical and especially wary of exaggerated claims. During your closing it’s important that you be thorough. If you can’t get a commitment, ask for specific next steps. Restate your summary and those newly provided next steps as a trial close before ending a meeting.

4. In working with Supporters it’s important that you realize your role in their decision process. As a professional you will need to research a client’s growth plans and show how your solution will benefit the client company. During your sales call, ask open-ended questions that reveal future and current plans, then relate how your solution benefits those plans. In conversation, allow some latitude to give the client opportunities to open up. During your presentation, think laterally and invite a supporter’s comments on plans and wishes; use the supporter as a sounding board. Be careful not to push or crowd, you must build trust and convey respect by recognizing their achievement and intelligence. These people prefer cooperation and stability, not confrontation. During your closing, provide examples of others that have accepted the solution, use a low-key, assumptive close to assist them with their goals; avoid hard, “ask for order” selling and help them to make a positive decision. Selling trust and confidence is critical.

People are complicated. Everyone has a portion of each of the four personality structures, but people often have a dominant style and a secondary style. The more you know about them and the more you know about how to professionally work with your prospects, the more money you will make.

There are many excellent books on Personality Style selling ideas, including analyzing the physical elements of their offices, take the time to improve your close ratio’s by remembering that selling is an “emotional art”, use all the available tools you can-pay attention to your prospects personality!

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

 

Are You Ready for 2015 Business Planning?

November 10th, 2014

Are You Ready for 2015 Business Planning?

Last week I did a web cast for a vendor that was designed for their channel resellers. Its purpose was to discuss effective Business Planning and to review a specific process to ensure their plans and more importantly their execution in 2015 will be at higher levels. When people think about a Business Plan, we normally find an Excel spreadsheet with estimated revenues and expenses; we believe it needs to be more comprehensive with specific departmental action plans. The content of the webcast was based upon our ESTEEM Formula, a format we use to work our clients through a process to build their business plans. The program was an effort by the vendor to increase the professionalism and productivity of their partners.  While I can’t obviously share the entire 60 minute program here, I thought I might share a few elements.

First, take the business assessment evaluation from our website. It is a comprehensive tool designed to reflect your maturity level and an organization. It will measure management, sales, HR, marketing and other components of your business, the assessment will grade each section and provide you insights into what to potentially focus on in the new year. http://www.acumenmgmt.com./BusinessManagementAssessment

Second, uses the following questions and pass them out to your management team, they have two weeks to complete them. At your management meeting compare everyone’s thoughts and discuss the findings.  Then you can begin to develop your Business Plan.

  • What went well in the past year?
  • What did not go well?
  • What are the key drivers?
  • What are the key metrics?
  • What are the risks?
  • What are the opportunities?
  • What are some of the specific factors you will be facing in 2015?
  • What assumptions are you making about the market in 2015?
  • What assumptions did you make about your product offerings in 2014? Still true?
  • What assumptions did you make about your company capability in 2014? Still true?

 

Third: use a format that makes sense for your firm. This is Acumen’s ESTEEM format:

  • Environment
  • Strategy
  • Tactical Effect
  • Execution
  • Evaluation
  • Measurement

However you get ready for 2015, it’s critical to establish a vision, strategic objectives and then develop actionable/tactical programs that are designed to achieve the goals. Then as these action plans are detailed, assign responsibility and hold people accountable! We use a tool call the Business Plan Roadmap, it allow the executive to follow each objective and the action tracts and timelines to ensure success. If you want a copy, please send me an email. Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

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 Recruiting: Scoring Your Interviews

November 3rd, 2014

Sales Recruiting: Scoring your Interviews

In every book on sales management, especially those that are focused on recruiting and interviewing salespeople there are always tools, sample questions, salesperson assessments and descriptions on various techniques used during the process. In my book: Your Sales Management Guru’s Guide to Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams I have included a variety of sample questions, interviewing  idea’s and even a 3 week New Hire On-Boarding sample, but one of the tools that seems to be one of the most highly used to improve selection is the Candidate Interview Scorecard. How can you build one?  Take action on the next 2 steps and you will improve the quality of your selection process dramatically.

Fundamentally the two elements that I believe need to be absolutely part of the interview process are:

  1. A clear definition of what your ideal candidate looks like. Simply put, it is critical you define specifically and at a minimum the 5 work experiences/knowledge that you require and the 5 psychological or emotional characteristics the job demands. Examples might include:

 

  • 4 years of sales experience in your industry
  • Worked a regional sales territory vs a local geographic one
  • Has knowledge of a specific vertical market
  • New territory development/Hunter experience
  • Can work independently-home office
  • Competitive
  • Creative

Knowing these elements will help you write your advertisement, job descriptions, determine your interview process, evaluate and scan resumes and begin to narrow down your candidates. The next step is to move to Step 2, taking the emotion out of your hiring process.

2) I mentioned taking the emotion out your of your hiring process for a reason, this is critical, I hear often as managers compare various candidates “I really liked this one. I feel good about her. He seems to be what we are looking for…”  These kinds of comments generally come from the gut and lead to poor selection.

Why we recommend creating a Candidate Interview Scorecard to assist the interview team to accurately assess each candidate. This tool is used during the interview and right after the interview is completed.  The Scorecard contains a list of 10-15 words from the list above #1, with each word listed and ranking of 1-5.  See the sample below.  During the interview the scorecard is upside down and the interviewer simply takes any notes on that document, when the interview is complete, the scorecard is turned around and the candidate is immediately scored simply by selecting the number associated by each word.

All the candidates’ scorecards are then shared with their individual rankings totaled. You will then easily see how each candidate was ranked by each interviewer and you can rank/stack each candidate.  I like to recommend there are at list 3 people on your interview team.

I have included a sample below.

Name of Applicant: ________________________   Date: _________________

Interviewer: ______________________________

Low                                        High 

1          2          3          4          5          Success-Orientated/High Achiever Driven 

1          2          3          4          5          Self Confident/Assertive/Presence 

1          2          3          4          5          Consultative Style/Relationship Style 

1          2          3          4          5          Willingness to Learn/Coachable 

1          2          3          4          5          Enthusiastic/Team Player 

1          2          3          4          5          Sales Training Exposure 

1          2          3          4          5          Cultural Fit  

 

Take the time to define your Candidate Interview Scorecard and dramatically improve your sales candidate selection. HINT: Many of my clients have taken this approach and implemented it in all employee selection process.

What other tools do you use to improve your interviewing and hiring process?

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.

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