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Increase Your Summer Energy-6 idea’s

July 6th, 2015

Increase Your Summer Energy

6 idea’s

Every salesperson and all sales leaders at this time of year must focus on maintaining or even increasing their levels of energy-especially for the months of July/August.  With vacations, a summer attitude of relaxation and with the first half of the year completed many sales teams take a deep breath and coast.  Just the opposite should be true, this is a great time to accelerate sales during the summer and focus on activities to position the organization for the end of the year.

What can you do when the natural tendency is to take time to enjoy the time of year?

  • Focus on attitude. I have written often that if it isn’t fun-it isn’t selling so include team building activities into your plan. One idea is for the sales team to host and serve lunch for the rest of the employees at the office (as a ways of saying thank you. Plan a fun activity during or after lunch as well. Or if that is not possible, increase the level of celebration of any sales/wins, perhaps having the VP or President of the company reach out to the salesperson to say thank you.
  • Visit your current customers. If possible socialize with them at a Customer Appreciation event or one on one dinners. Some of my clients have rented a boat for the evening with a buffet dinner-taking time to enjoy the summer evening along with seeking a better understanding of how your services benefited the client and keeping an eye out for additional sales opportunities or referrals to other prospects.
  • Put a bounce in your step. When someone asks me: How are you today? Depending upon the day of week: Monday’s I am Marvelous!, Tuesday is Terrific!, Wednesday is Wonderful! Thursday’s are Tremendous! And Friday’s are Fabulous! Your prospects need their energy boosted as well-become the energizer.
  • Increase the levels of activity that will lead to a huge pipeline in September and into the fourth quarter. This could be a sales game or just an increased letter of attention to make 5 additional calls each week.
  • Hold salesperson team strategy meetings. Once a week assign salespeople to work in teams of 2 or 3, encouraging them to coach and challenge each other on individual sales opportunities or sales activity campaigns.
  • Start early. In many companies summer hours start early and you might discover you can talk to prospects earlier in the morning. Best day to prospect BTW is Thursday.

I am certainly not saying you should not enjoy summer and take advantage of golf, boating, hiking, camping or whatever your enjoyment is, but remember, selling is about emotion. You must have it, you must transfer it and orders are signed because of it. What are you idea’s to increase your energy level?

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 2015.

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

 

Trade Shows Can Work!-new idea!

June 22nd, 2015

Trade Shows Can Work-new idea!

NOTE: Several weeks ago I wrote a blog on “Why Trade Shows Don’t Work”, shortly after a good friend, Todd Schnick, wrote me a note to discuss how he makes trade shows work!  I asked Todd to write a blog regarding how he works with organizations in a very unique manner using podcasts.  The blog below is Todd’s.  I hope you enjoy!  Ken

I see the same thing at every trade show: hundreds, if not thousands, of company personnel standing around, wearing their logo shirts and nodding politely to passersby, or worse, staring at their phone.

Shame. They are wasting time, space, and money.

I get the fact that you need people to man the exhibit and walk people through a product demo and answer questions. But if your trade show strategy is built on walk-up traffic, you are better off saving your money. Your efforts will fail.

Instead, I leverage a different strategy (and help my clients with it): leveraging one of the hottest media tactics around: podcasting.

What? Really?

Yes really.

If you go to a trade show hoping to connect with 2,000 of your closest prospects, you will also fail. But if you want to leave the show having spent quality time with 50 to 100 key executives and decision-makers, then a podcasting strategy is your answer.

What I call Trade Show Radio is really quite simple:

  1.  Ask your sales team to identify the fifty to one hundred executives you want to visit with at the show.
  2. Have your sales team invite them several weeks before the show to appear on your “business” radio podcast.
  3. Next ask your sales team, before the show, to ask the prospect for 5-7 talking points about their business. These will be used to during the interview on the air (This is also collecting market intelligence on your prospect). Don’t forget to set a specific date/time with the prospect for the interview.
  4. In your booth, set up the radio/podcast area and then conduct the interview (about THEIR company, not YOURS) at the show. Post the interview on a master site.
  5.  Then post-show, prepare the audio file from the podcast and call your prospects and have your salesperson deliver the mp3 file (your welcomed excuse to contact your prospects post-show).

Done. Simple.

The benefits? You deployed a non-threatening way to set appointments with key prospects. They came to spend time with you, AT YOUR EXHIBIT. Chances are you and your sales team spent quality time with them before and after the interview (this is what you are really after). You created great content (for everyone involved). You generated some wicked cool buzz at your exhibit. And you did something VERY memorable for all of your key prospects.

They’ll forget the beer your competitors poured for them. But they won’t forget their radio interview-ego is a powerful tool in creating relationships.

Win win win for ALL involved.

Execute this strategy once, and you’ll never do your trade shows the same again.

Anyone can execute this idea, but I do it for a living. You can learn more about Trade Show Radio by clicking here!

Todd Schnick is a writer, media and content strategist, and business talk radio host and producer. Through a media company that he co-founded, Todd travels across North America broadcasting LIVE business talk radio from trade shows and association events. He lives with his family in Brookhaven, GA.

http://intrepidnow.com

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 2015.

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

Structure vs Creativity & Flexibilty

June 15th, 2015

Structure vs Creativity and Flexibility

 

Recently I wrote a popular blog that was picked up by a variety of other publications/web site: Sales Management: The Need for Creativity,  it covered why sales managers must develop their levels of creativity to solve the multitude of problems they face and the need to assist their  salespeople in developing better sales strategies.  In the blog I also laid out the 10 actions one can take to improve their personal creativity.  In other blogs I have also discussed the need for a variety of formal structured systems that are reviewed and executed on a regular cadence. i.e.  Account Plans, Training Schedules and Salesperson Business Planning, etc.

Structure vs creativity/flexibility?

This topic hit me over the weekend.  I am reading a terrific book: The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman.  It is about the first month of WW One, a topic I had no real interest in but the book came highly recommended by a friend and it is a great read!  So what does WWI have in common with Sales Leadership?

In the book the author describes how both the German’s and French began planning for WWI in 1870. Both countries had extensive strategies and tactics planned down to minute details; from troop movement, road maps, train schedules and specific plans on day to day operations.  These plans were ready to be executed based upon the right spark!  Both countries expected the war to last just a few months and both were lead by strong minded generals who were focused on executing “their plans”.

The result?  The first month everyone was focused on the wrong objectives or not focused on the right objectives. A war that lasted a very long time that was highly costly to every country in Europe and the USA. Why?  In the beginning the generals stuck to their structured plans vs using creativity and not adapting to a change in tactics by either side.

In the world of sales management we are tossed challenges on a daily basis and it is easy to be distracted and it is easy to lack the time or maintain a focus on achieving the planned activities.

As Sales Managers we must have plans and tools for growing our organizations and achieving our goals but we must adapt to our changing environments; we lose a salesperson unexpectedly, a major opportunity starts to slide or marketing fails to achieve its lead generation objectives. All of these or other disruptions could cause a sales manager in a fixed mode to lose the battle!

It is critical we remain flexible and creative in our approach, but having a foundation, systems or structure can help leverage the busy life of a sales manager.  Don’t get locked in and but use the necessary tools to maintain direction and focus.

One of the reason our Sales Manager on Tool Kit is popular is the 40+ tools can provide the structure that is needed but because they are in a format where they can be modified or changed by the user to fit the changing environments. Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

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

Know When to Say When

June 9th, 2015

Salespeople: Know When to Say When

 Ken: Today we have are offering a guest blog from Adam Honig who is the co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies

 

There are many skills a salesperson needs to perfect to become a legendary seller.  But pushing hard for a sale, no matter the circumstances, isn’t one of them.  Sometimes it’s best to know when to say when. Here are three ways you can show restraint, and still get ahead.

Bite your tongue and stop selling

If you have done your research and talked through solutions with your customer, then you should have a pretty good plan hammered out on how to sell them what they need.  But sometimes, mid-sale negotiations, it starts to feel like a slam dunk sale.  You may get greedy and on the fly rethink your solution.  Instead of selling them the original package for X dollars, you stretch the original concept and propose to sell them a whole new solution that is double the cost.  They get nervous, re-evaluate, drag their heels, and you eventually lose the deal. The whole deal.

C’mon salespeople, show some restraint!  Instead, once you have reached your objective, whether it be in a meeting or on a call, know when to stop selling. Just shut your mouth and know when to say when. To ensure you do this, purposefully make a plan before each interaction with the client. You need to communicate with your team to make sure they’re on the same wavelength with you…. and also keep the client in the loop. Stick to this game plan and before you know it, you will be celebrating the victory of a sale.

It’s already dead and rotting, so bury the opportunity

When you are working a ton of deals, do you sometimes feel like you are spreading yourself too thin?  Juggling with a few too many balls in the air? Perhaps it’s time to drop some of those dead-end opportunities. Knowing when to say enough is enough on pursuing an opp is a necessary skill.

Two strengths salespeople have are passion and confidence, which can also become our weaknesses. We all want to win, and this causes us to hold onto deals longer than we should at times. While confidence is needed in sales, overconfidence can cause an overestimation of our ability to close any and all deals. As a result, we can hold onto deals way too long; fighting for them for that sense of accomplishment. However, when too much energy is focused on a deal that barely closes, how secure is that sale, how happy is that customer, and how many solid deals did you lose in the mean time?

At my last company when we won a deal, it would be active in our CRM system on average for 90 days. Deals we lost? We kept them in our CRM system for on average 200 days!

Deals that aren’t going anywhere not only sap your energy and emotions, but they keep your eye from the deals that matter.   Have you not heard from them in over a month? Are they not a good fit for your product? Yeah, they probably did get your messages, and are just ignoring you for a reason. Take the hint, it may be time to kill the opportunity and move on.

Make them want what they think they can’t have. Or can they?

Imagine being on a call and the prospect seems so uninterested in your product that you just want to throw in the sales towel and say “yeah, maybe YOU aren’t right for OUR product”. Assuming you aren’t fired on the spot, what if then that prospect turns your negative questioning around and starts to convince YOU why THEY are right for your product.  I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes a little push-back can work.

I like to refer to this sales technique where a salesperson basically challenges the prospect to reject an offering as the “negative close”. Examples include questions like “this project will never get funded, right?” or “it’s unlikely you can get approval for this, right?” The idea is to get your prospect to disagree with you.

Part of the challenge in sales is getting your customers to be honest with you about their reservations with your product, or their timing and budget for a purchase. It’s not like they are always trying to hide something from you. Often they themselves don’t even know the answer.

Giving a prospect an easy way to say “no” can help you qualify a deal quicker and move onto other more lucrative opportunities. You’ll find out what your potential client is really looking for and if he/she has the budget to back his/her desires. It’s a time saver for all involved.

As long as your tone is right and you don’t use it too often, you can use negative responses in your favor.

In conclusion

In sales, sometimes showing restraint may be a path to success.  Don’t be afraid to kill already-dead opportunities. Take a chance and push back on a prospect to reject an offering. And  learn when to be happy with reaching your objective in a meeting.  Know when to say when, sales guys!

Bio on author, Adam Honig:

Adam is the co-founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the ‘No Jerks’ hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.

 

Trade Shows Don’t Work

June 1st, 2015

 

 

Trade Shows Don’t Work

I have heard that phrase and similar comments from people about why they don’t include trade shows in their marketing programs, when in reality the reason many organizations do not gain a payback from their trade show investment is “they” don’t work the trade show.

Last week while working with a client we discussed this topic in great detail and when I reviewed our Trade Show Planning tools from our Sales Management Tool Kit they were amazed at what they were not doing in planning and executing at their events.  I speak at many trade shows/conferences, to better understand the audience I normally walk the exhibit hall to listen to conversations and view the exhibits, I have always been amazed when I walk the floor;

  1. Most trade show booths are either confusing or do not clearly show or describe what the company/product/services do or what benefit they provide an attendee. You only have a few seconds as someone walks past your booth to capture their interest or make an impression-does your booth do that? Take the time to look at your booth with fresh eyes or simply ask your sales team to tell you what the booth says…to them.
  2. Most individuals working the booth have never been trained on how to work the booth. There is an art and science to capturing awareness; in most cases several good open ended questions should be created that can be asked as individuals are walking past your booth. Too often I see individuals sitting behind a table or looking embarrassed that they are even in a booth or worse they are reading their phones!
  3. Another sin I see often is that pre-event work has not been performed; no lead goals set, no booth appointments/meetings prearranged and no trade show specials created. This is obvious when there no traffic in the booth.
  4. Just as we see #5 not performed, many times post trade show work is not performed or tracked. No mailings are sent out or every lead is not followed up within 3 days of the event.

One of our recommendations we make is that at the end of each day everyone that worked the booth should meet to discuss each lead, capturing the quality of the lead and any insights they recall about the conversation with the prospect.  This is done as soon as the trade show closes for the day not when everyone gets to the office.

Trade shows can be expensive, exhibit fees, travel expenses, time and marketing costs working a trade show effectively is a must-execution on all phases must be carefully managed and inspected.  If you would like one our Trade Show checklists from our Sales Managers Tool Kit, send me an email, Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

What are you best tips on working a trade show?

 

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

 

 

Are You the Maestro of Your Sales Team?

May 18th, 2015

Are You the Maestro of Your Sales Team?

This was a musical weekend.  Friday evening we went to the Knoxville Symphony, it was the final program by Lucas Richman who has lead the symphony for the past 12 years and Sunday was Music Sunday at our church, with Bell Choirs, guest musicians, the adult and children’s choir and many ensembles it was a festival morning. In both situations there was no doubt as to who was in charge and who knew the details-the Maestro/conductors.

As I listened and felt the music I was intrigued as how two lead their teams; they anticipated the next movement or group to contribute and keep the pace that was required to succeed-always just ahead or anticipating the next phase.  Obviously I am drawing the analogy back to you as the sales leader.  I see many times where the executive or sales manager are caught off guard; missed forecasts, someone leaves the team unexpectedly, marketing programs are unsuccessful or salespeople cannot accurately sell products/services or your company.

The role of sales leadership must incorporate levels of management, strategic vision and tactical programs as well as the emotional aspect of creating an environment for success.  We have covered many of those elements in past blogs and my monthly newsletter; Why Sales Managers Succeed!  In each concert the Maestro/conductor had to assume the same role with the sales responsibilities.

What can you do to become a better conductor or even a Maestro of your sales team?  It is not easy, that is why most sales managers fail in the first 18 months.  I have listed below a few of the actions that we see missing when sales managers are struggling:

  1. Take time to ponder; find your own private time to think about your team, the direction it is heading, what’s working, what’s not and the next six month plan. I use to do this at least once a week or at times when I was flying frequently I would shut down the work and simply take a blank tablet (paper), and write notes to myself as issues popped into my mind. In the concert both conductors discussed why and they picked the music for each concert, they had taken the time to make sure that the music fit the event.
  2. Schedule formal one on ones; these monthly meetings are not about the forecast, they are designed for you to have a conversation with your team members about: How is everything going? A good leader has insights into the personal and professional lives of each person on their team, they learn what motivates them and what doesn’t, this meeting allows for open communication and a building of trust. This level of trust is crucial in high performance sales teams when personality’s and tensions sometimes cause conflict. Learn to read your team. In an orchestra, each group of musicians i.e. violins to horns meet with the conductor to ensure they understand the piece of music and what is expected.
  3. Study and learn accountability; in a research study we did several years ago, we showed that most entrepreneurs failed at holding their direct reports accountable, we see the same with most sales managers. Dashboard and CRM reports are one thing but does your team as individuals and together feel accountable to achieving the organizations goals? This is not micro-management regarding doing the numbers… but rather an understanding that the team must achieve its goals as it is their responsibility to the rest of the members of the organization who are not in sales. The sales leader must reinforce this whenever possible, especially during the monthly company meeting with all the employees. The Maestro I am sure reinforced to each musician their individual contribution and importance to the overall concert.
  4. Focus on continuous training; in the field or in the office. The Maestro congratulated the #1 chair with a handshake but recognized the entire orchestra whenever the audience responded. He made sure that everyone knew their music but set a standard in recognizing those that had taken the time to master their craft. I am sure there were many rehearsals before the main event! It is the sales manager’s job to evaluate each salesperson’s talent and skill level and to develop team and individual sales training programs. Increase the level of professionalism at all times. In June we will be release a 5 set series of online video training for sales managers.
  5. Put systems in place; when we go onsite to consult with organizations it is not unusual to find no New Hire On-Boarding programs in place, limited sales training or sales meeting templates/agendas being used or solid sales process or interviewing/recruiting systems implemented. Struggling organizations thrash back and forth as if they were putting fingers into the dikes to stop the flooding-it’s a continual circus of confusion and frustration-nothing seems to work. This breeds ineffective teams. Leadership must act on a continuous quest for quality improvement. One of the reason our Sales Managers Tool Kit is one of most popular resources is there are over 40 tools/documents and best practices included, take a look at it before you consider re-inventing a process or sales management tool. Each conductor had their music sheets ready, each musician knew when to change chairs, the microphone worked and the lights went down or came up at the appropriate time. There was a system in place. Even the ushers knew when and how to escort us to our seats!

These are just five ideas, what ideas do you have to increase your level of success? I encourage you to share them with our community.  Have a fun time and dance to the music.

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

 

Sales Management Audit Quiz

May 11th, 2015

Acumen Management Group, Ltd

Sales Management Audit Plan

Confidential Property of Acumen Management Group, Ltd All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Authorization

PLEASE SCORE 1-5, 5= HIGH

 

Rate how well do you know the true or real total value of your pipeline?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate how comfortable are you that you know what percentage of the pipeline in the current category is required to ensure the current sales budget is exceeded?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate how comfortable are you that you have enough pipeline potential in the 30, 60, and 90 categories to exceed future monthly quotas?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate how comfortable are you of the projected revenue you need in each sales stage category to ensure you have enough opportunities to exceed the future quota?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Can you visually see all your top 10 potential forecasted accounts, from your desk or my portfolio? Rate how well you strategize on the top 10.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
How well are all key accounts targeted?  Rate your  plan to attack them? Do you have a plan to review your planned targeted account activity Vs actual account activity?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
How would your rate your ongoing recruiting plan that ensures you have qualified candidates available?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate the quality of your interviewing process that ensures the best candidate is selected not the best available candidate is selected?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
How complete is your salesperson Personal Business Plan implemented and is it reviewed each month?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate the quality of your 3-month sales-training program, is it defined and implemented? Do you have a salesperson Development Plan implemented to improve the professionalism of your team?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate the quality of your CRM/SFA system, is it being used effectively?  Is it up to date?  Is it backed-up?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate the quality of your salesperson 6-month Named Account reforecast/strategic/tactical plan process?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate the quality of your 6 month sales/marketing/management plan, is it defined for each month?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Rate how your compensation plan works? Are your company’s goals aligned with the compensation/quota programs?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
How well are your sales leading indictors defined, are they measured, posted-Graphed-Analyzed?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Do you have regular scheduled and unscheduled “Coaching” sessions with each of your salespeople?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5
How would you rate the effectiveness of your sales contests and business games? Are they planned to promote revenue and build teamwork?

1, 2, 3, 4, 5

 

Total Score                                                _________
60-85                                                    Minor Tuning Maybe Required

47-59                                                    Consider Several Projects Are Required

34-46                                                    Will Need Multiple Actions Taken Quickly

0-33                                                      Major Assistance Required NOW
Confidential Property of Acumen Management Group, Ltd All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Authorization

 

 

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

 

 

 

Sales Management: The need for creativity

April 29th, 2015

 

Sales Management: The need for creativity!

This past week I had opportunity to work with a great client at their worldwide sales conference in Miami. During the two days, I spent several hours with their sales management team and four hours with their salespeople, they have a great sales culture and you could feel the attitude in the room.  In the post meeting evaluations several reactions to the programs came out:  1) The importance of understanding the various personality styles, 2) The need to be “greedy with your time/Time Management and 3) the fact that an individual’s creativity can be learned or enhanced.  Past blogs and our monthly newsletters have covered personality styles and time management so this week I thought I would address creativity.

There is no question about it, top performers are more creative that your average salespeople. They seem to come up with unique ideas to prospect, find ways to enhance client relationships and they close more effectively. Sales leadership requires creativity as well, sales managers that are exceeding sales quotas, hiring and developing their teams and building a sales culture require huge levels of a creativity quotient.

The good news? You can enhance your creativity by “working on it”…In my Keynote, No Regret’s, the Do Over Factor, I share three tenets for personal and professional success, creativity is one of those three foundations.  I have listed nine actions you can work on to develop mind patterns that will enhance your creativity power.

  • Track your ideas: keep a notebook and write down all your ideas-about anything, it is amazing what happens when you build an active list.
  • Inquiring minds want to know: be inquisitive, ask questions, increase your levels of interest
  • Learn about different things: study a language, read a book, take a course, get active
  • Avoid set patterns: break your habits, floss your teeth differently, brush your teeth in different sequences, drive to work on a new route
  • Be open: listen to others, try to accept new ideas
  • Be patient in observations: take the time to watch a bird fly, look at the woods more closely, look for new patterns, watch the river flow
  • Engage in hobbies: your mind must dis-engage from normal business stress,
  • Improve sense of humor: learn to laugh, even at yourself
  • Be a risk taker: try something different, the adrenalin will cause a positive impact on your brain.
  • I would like your comments and thoughts about how you enhance your creativity. What was the most creative sales tactic you have used? What were the results?

 

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

Why Can’t I get an accurate forecast?

April 23rd, 2015

Why can’t I get an accurate forecast?

Just last week I heard that comment from a new client and he was the President of the company.  Frankly it is a common phase I have often heard from CFO’s, Presidents and VP of Sales-but what’s the resolution? Many consultants would drag out their “scorecards or methodology” to fix the issue, instead let’s first learn to diagnose the signs and why the problem exists.  This is what I generally see or hear when I begin to poke at the problem:

  1. When you review the pipeline report (CRM/Excel) all the Closing Dates are listed as the end of the month-6/30/15 as an example.
  2. Beyond your current monthly pipeline values future pipeline dollar values are not listed
  3. The velocity of the sale or length of time it has been in the funnel is 90 days longer than the average velocity for your business.
  4. Monthly forecasts by the sales team are always off by a wide margin, when asked, the sales team has no idea as to why they can’t predict accurately.
  5. The salespeople do have not a defined closing plan for active opportunities
  6. The salespeople are closing on topics i.e. price, instead of what the compelling reason is the prospect has for your product/service.

What’s the action plan?

First, as the sales leader there are some obvious actions to take place and some not so obvious. The first action is not to ask for a forecast. WHAT?  Yes, remember forecasts are like the weather person on TV-they have just so so odds of being accurate. We recommend instead to ask for a commitment.   How we recommend to  teach this is: during the first sales meeting of the month when each salesperson “forecasts” their sales for that month say for example, $100,000, the sales leader would say: Great!, you hit $100,000 and I will give you a $500 bonus.  OK?  As expected the salesperson gets excited. The Sales Leader would then say the same phase to each of the salespeople on your team. After all the salespeople have forecasted the sales leader would say: and if you don’t hit your goal of $100,000 each of you will owe me $500!  Now that you have their attention you allow them make a new “commitment” vs a forecast.

Second, we recommend that you begin to track each month’s commitment by salesperson, do this for at least 4 months without the sales team knowing you are tracking their commitments, then record their actual sales for each month.  By comparing those two numbers you can determine the Forecast Accuracy % by each salesperson and for your entire team.  When you have sufficient data, share this information with the entire team and discuss that you will continue to measure this data and it will be added to your Sales Dashboard-assuming you have one!

By tracking this information, your sales team will know that you paying attention to this metric and they will begin to pay attention to the importance of the monthly goal.  In sales management what you pay attention to-on an ongoing basis-will begin to impact what your sales team pays attention to.

Third, it takes training.  This happens during the weekly sales meeting, your monthly one on one business reviews and in all coaching environments, this has to be an ongoing process and not simply discussed from time to time.   What we find is either the Sales Manager is not asking the hard questions of the salesperson or the salesperson is not asking the prospect those pertinent questions. We call them the Magic Questions.  They are part of our Sales Management Online Tool Kit, but I want to share them with you to improve your process.  My recommendation for the Sales Manager to use these-printed out- during the weekly sales meeting and then make sure each salesperson has their own copy for their use.  Each week or each day that any opportunity is discussed it is critical the sales manager continues to use the check list of questions to drive their use into the salesperson’s head!

By using these questions and being tough nosed on making sure your salespeople can answer these questions, both you and the team will have more honest sales discussions.

    • What is their Decision Process? (Do you know every step?)
    • When do they want to be implemented or have our systems ready to go?
    • Who is involved in the Overall Decision?
    • Do they have a Business Need?
    • Are they Listening to you?
    • Do they have Funding?
    • What is the Next 2 Steps?
    • Who or What else are they considering?
    • When is the Next Board Meeting? Or Decision Meeting?
  • What are They Doing for me?
  • Do I know my Strengths?/Do I know my Weakness(s)
  • Do I know Their Decision Criteria?
  • Do I have an Excellent Closing Strategy?

 

 

Make the commitment to get the commitment and your sales forecast (ugh) will become more predictable and accurate.

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

 

 

4 Measures to Find Out if Your Prospecting is Effective

April 13th, 2015

4 Measures To Find Out If Your Prospecting is Effective

By Sean Burke

CEO, KiteDesk

KEN: We have a guest blog this week, during the past year, our research  told us that “prospecting” was the #1 issue  facing sales leaders.  I think you will find this interesting.

Finding prospects and nurturing them into leads is an integral part of any sales cycle. Sometimes traditional marketing efforts are not enough to keep a healthy number of prospects flowing into your pipeline. When email marketing, client referrals, and trade show attendance is not enough, prospecting online provides opportunities to attract new leads to your business.

So, you start using social media and work on creating a following by sharing content. You start creating all sorts of downloadable content – eBooks, white papers, checklists and Infographics. You host and/or participate in webinars and online chats. Sometimes you give away these assets for free, other times, you offer them in exchange for contact information.

You can also use the newly released KiteDesk 2.0 sales productivity tool to quickly identify qualified leads from among millions of potential contacts from cloud-based data providers Fliptop, Netprospex, ZoomInfo and/or Full Contact.  Advanced filtering delivers just the leads that sales reps have mutual connections into, which helps turn cold calls into warm introductions.  KiteDesk collects and scores connections found in employees’ emails, calendars and social networks as well as CRM so they are easily accessible and searchable by anyone in the company.  Get 300 free leads from KiteDesk when you sign up for KiteDesk today.

Once you have these details, prospecting can begin.

There is a lot of time and effort that goes into creating virtual giveaways, and it’s not always easy to determine if your efforts are yielding viable prospects. For the purpose of this discussion, we are going to use hosting a webinar as an example of a prospecting activity, but you can apply the following metrics to any of your prospecting efforts to discover if you will see a return on your investment:

  1. x Number of Leads Created – This is a simple measurement. For example, if you host a webinar, how many people registered? How many attended? If you are investing in hosting webinars that people aren’t attending, perhaps you need to make adjustments to your webinar planning (i.e. inviting a larger list, posting more ads on social media or co-branding the event with another company). If attendance doesn’t improve, you may reach the conclusion that your audience is not interested in attending webinars. Find out what does interest them, and do it better than your competition.
  2. Percentage of Leads Converted to a Sale – all the leads in the world do not matter if they do not translate into closed business at some point. Check out Marketing Sherpa’s Ecommerce Research Chart: Industry benchmark conversion rates for 25 retail categories to get a rough idea on the average conversion rate for your industry and determine how your efforts compare. Start by looking at your average sales cycle (say 60 days). After hosting a webinar, track those new leads at 60 days. Take the number of leads that converted to customers divided by the total number of new leads from the event. That’s your percentage. Are you meeting or exceeding your industry’s average? If so, great! If not, webinars may not be the best source of new leads for your business.
  3. Pipeline Revenue Created – In addition to measuring the number of leads you are creating through your prospecting efforts, it is also important to make sure that these leads eventually turn into new clients/revenue. Measuring the total NEW pipeline revenue will help you determine if you are building enough pipeline to justify the effort you are putting into prospecting.  The way we recommend that you do this is as follows:
    1. Create a campaign in your CRM called = “Prospecting – Webinar Registrants”
    2. Ensure that all leads generated from webinars are associated with this campaign
    3. Make sure that your sales team keeps accurate information in your CRM that includes: Opportunities, revenue value of each new Opportunity created, and if and/or when those opportunities become closed sales
  4. Is Your Cost/Lead Going Up or Down – How much does hosting a webinar cost you? Divide that by the number of leads created, and that gives you your cost/lead. What does that number look like? Is it high? Is it getting higher? Ideally, your cost for acquiring a lead should be a low number to know that you are getting the most value out of your efforts. Here is a link to a report that you can use to determine how you are doing – Lead Generation, Benchmark Report.

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