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Selling to the Point

June 27th, 2016

Selling to the Point

  –a book review-

This book should be scheduled for your next Acumen Sales Book Club.

Selling to the Point by Jeffrey Lipsius is a unique sales training book and I have read many. What makes this book valuable is the author uses a story to drive home his key learning points.  The story revolves around the quest to cut the costs of selling by dropping the in-house sales trainer,  the  CFO uncovers what is separating their company from the competition is the unique sales philosophy of the Rick, the sales trainer. When he understands how  the salespeople are trained and sees firsthand the changed relationships they have with their clients he begins to believe-so much that he uses the sales training idea’s to improve his own “social dating opportunity”!.

What’s the magic learning points of this book?  Rick, the sales trainer breaks his ideas into 10 Law’s, here are just a few:

  • Salespeople will be successful when they understand that the point of selling isn’t selling. The point of selling is buying.
  • A salesperson’s job is to help his or her customer make a better buying decision. Salespeople are decision coaches.
  • The less a salesperson’s persuasion was involved in a buying decisions, the more internalized that customers buying decision will be.
  • It’s better for salespeople to be learners than to be teachers.

What I really thought was special in this book was a not only did Mr. Lipsius discuss these selling concepts, but by using the story line and introducing various salespeople, sales situations and prospective customers throughout the book; he shows the reader how each of the 10 laws can be used to improve the selling relationship. He even helped the CFO understand selling by helping to fix the CFO’s daughters  softball team’s top pitcher!  This not only made the book highly entertaining but the learning points were clearly described from the salesperson’s view point. I felt that a senior salesperson and especially a younger sales team will sit back and reassess their sales approach after reading this book.

HINT: In your sales training program, discuss the chapter, how the “Law” worked in the story and then discuss how the law can be applied to at least two prospects in each salesperson’s funnel. (For those that have read my past blogs or if you have not, I recommend to my clients that at least twice a year that your entire sales team reads the same sales book and discuss one chapter a week.  (Acumen book club)

For more insights on this very special book:

www.sellingtothepoint.com and Jeffrey’s blog: http://blog.sellingtothepoint.com

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 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. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!

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 and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

When are Sales Won or Lost?

June 14th, 2016

When are Sales Won or Lost?

A notable function a sales manager must master is understanding why sales are won or lost. This is particularly true for large, complex sales opportunities where there may never be another opportunity or, if so, it may be years in the future. In all likelihood this opportunity had a high profile within the company and there will be more than passing curiosity about why the company lost or why the company won! The proximate reasons may not make sense (too much money, missing capability) when these apparent issues were known and dismissed during the sales cycle (“we know your offering costs more, but it is worth more” or “we will never need that capability so it doesn’t matter to us”).

WHY is this important to discover?  The sales manager can determine if there are salesperson deficiencies, salesperson effectiveness, Competitor strategies, product limitations, etc.

When the decision between two vendors is extremely close, small differences maybe be the stated reason for selecting one vendor over another. However, these are unlikely to be actual reasons, just the rationale.

In most cases the sale is won or lost much earlier in the sales cycle. The most common reasons are: (1) failure to differentiate your offering from the competition and/or (2) failure to differentiate the buying experience from the competition.

Let us dig deeper into each of these. For many sales people, meeting the prospect’s stated requirements are what they believe is their sales function. This is particularly true for newer sales people who do not understand why the prospect needs what they state they need or are incapable of expanding what the customer’s requirements should be.

An expert sales person will not simply accept what the prospect thinks they want but will engage with the prospect to understand the context of the requirements and attempt to explore unstated additional requirements the prospect did not consider, but should. The sales person who can do this effectively elevates the prospect’s trust and credibility in the salesperson and their company. Even should another vendor be able to demonstrate similar functionality, the initiator has already “won”.

For the majority of sales opportunities this differentiation occurred weeks or months before the decision during the discovery and presentation phase.

Differentiation of the buying cycle can have multiple elements:

  • How responsive was marketing and/or the sales person to initial requests?
  • If the prospect did not have a clear decision process (true in many cases) how did the sales person help them to understand why they should have one and what it should include.
  • How did the sales person/company help the prospect with their internal selling challenges?

As an example, a sales person who recognizes a justification is likely required by the prospect, helps the prospect think through what is needed and can provide supporting materials (PowerPoint template, justification calculators, pro/con tables of options) will be perceived as a partner instead of an adversary.

Again, in many sales cycles the presentation of options to an internal capital approval committee or an informal management group will occur before the final vendor decision. A sales person who can assist a prospect through this process will yield increased confidence that this vendor can help them succeed once the project begins.

Successful selling organizations understand these points and invest a significant amount of training, role playing and account strategizing during these phases of the sales cycle.

Actions

In the regular sales strategy sessions with your salesperson:

(1)  Focus on the stated reasons the prospect is buying and what else they should considering

(2)  Who the likely competitors could be and how they will respond

(3)  What and how your salesperson can expand the requirements and who else it impacts within the prospect’s company

(4)  How your capabilities can differentiate your offering from the competition

(5)  Whether the prospect knows how to buy and what advice & aids your salesperson can provide

(6)  Institute a formal Win/Loss analysis, ideally with a trained non-salesperson conducting the interview within a week of a decision.

Summary

An effective sales leader will build a culture that embraces the need for constant, regular opportunity reviews and helps their sales team members answer, for each opportunity, the key questions of “Why do anything and Why do it with us”. They will also recognize the value of understanding wins and losses when they occur and establish a routine process to learn why.

If you would like a copy of the Acumen Won/Lost Template just send me a request!

John Moroney is an energetic operations and sales management consultant with over 30 years of experience in high technology products and services with a particular passion for sales process design, deployment and improvement. Increasing productivity, driving revenues with a focus on execution, John brings his clients practical and creative solutions that are designed to impact. He is an Associate Partner with Acumen Management Group, a business and strategic sales management consulting firm focused on a world-wide audience.

 

You can reach him at JohnM@AcumenMgmt.com or LinkedIn: John J Moroney     651-402-4342

www.AcumenManagement.com

 

 

 

How to Get a Meeting with Anyone

June 6th, 2016

How to Get a Meeting with Anyone

_a book review-

This book had 32 page fold overs!  If you are a regular reader of my book reviews you know that when I find something of value, I will turn the corner of the page after underlining the key learning point.  32 is one of the highest number of page turners I have ever done!  This book, How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, by Stu Heinecke, is a must read for Executives, Sales and Marketing people on your team.

First, as a Hall of Fame nominated marketer and Wall Street Journal cartoonist, Stu’s approach in getting to the CEO/Top Person in any organization is creative yet logical.  Running his own marketing company, Stu is both the rainmaker, marketer and executive and using what Stu has titled Contact Marketing: is the discipline of using micro-focused campaigns to break through to specific people of strategic importance, often against impossible odds, to produce a critical sale, partnership or connection, he has built a successful firm.  Using his approach himself, his first two clients were Rolling Stone and Bon Appetit.

Second, why this book has been so popular is the author does not simply discuss concepts or theories, but Stu shares with the reader 20 potential campaigns that includes tactics and actual resources/URL’s where you can access additional information to actually execute the selected campaign. As an example under Category #1: Art, Humor and Film, Stu estimated the cost/contact to be between $1-$500, as you progress you read about various real world examples that Stu or others have implemented to achieve amazing results rates. In Category #1 there are six resources listed ranging from the Cartoonlink to Office Depot! Each of the 20 categories provides thought provoking ideas along with a re-examination of what you are currently doing to drive lead generation.  Taking this micro-view vs mass marketing can lead to amazing cost/actual high level lead generation results.  Stu has even experienced 100% response rates.

If you are selling B2B larger ticket items or selling at Executive levels and you have not read this book you are making a major mistake. I promise you find multiple levels of value for this investment. When you read how Sandler Sales used the concept to drive huge returns or even how Paul McCord wanted to attract local builders to his business generated $1.1M for a total investment of $175 (including postage) you will quickly become focused on what Stu is focused on with this book.

Stu’s straight forward writing style with a combination of examples, along with interviewing over  40 major sales and marketing super star’s on their approach and reaction to Contact Marketing makes the book easy to follow yet blends in the credibility of the concept of Contact Marketing.

In Chapter 20: Social Media’s Expanding Role in Contact Campaigns, Stu admits he was slow to use social media but then moves through how to utilize social media in “breaking through”. Essentially using social media effecting a person or organization can become a thought leader, a resource to their market, building their own level awareness to potential clients.

What made this book for me was it was thought provoking, fresh and yet there was game plan with tactics to help the reader not only think about a concept but actually put it into play.  This book will change your mind, your game plan and generate new levels of sales for your organization.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 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. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!

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 and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Why Product Managers & Salespeople Should be Friends

May 31st, 2016

Why product managers and salespeople should be friends

In most companies, the product/service managers have limited interaction with the sale’s team except for the introduction of a new offering or at an annual customer summit. At Acumen Management, we believe that is unfortunate as there a great opportunity being missed.

Generally, the product/service manager (PM) is responsible for determining what the future offering should have from a feature/function capability . They will gather customer feedback, listen to the market thought leaders, consider competitor products and try to foresee future needs. The missed opportunity is the sales team’s immediate understanding of the current market and what prospects are seeking.

Typically the sales organization is concerned about the now – what is missing from your company’s offering versus the competition. That is why any organization relying on sales as the primary input to the product/service development cycle either wants to be a market follower or will be one.

However, the distinctive value sales can provide the PM can be:

(1)  Insight to how the marketplace reacts to the competitor’s alleged differentiators

(2)  What might be a better capability than that offering

(3)  Testing receptivity to new capabilities your company is considering

(4)  Soliciting from prospects what all vendors are currently missing

(5)  Access to certain customers and their insights

Certainly an effective PM is striving to gain this insight through other means (surveys, interviews, industry pundits) but what an active sales cycle provides is a snap shot of the current state of the market.

For example, Competitor A has been touting a service no one else offers and it seems very compelling. What the PM may learn through the sales team is for the customer to really benefit, they must purchase another offering as well – and that is a turnoff. The opportunity may be to create an all-inclusive offering and although it may not be as complete, it is good enough and easier to acquire. As another example, sales may discover that the prospect investigated the new offering and found it is not as effective as touted. In this case, creating a comparable capability will not be enough – it will need to be demonstrably effective. Herein lies the opportunity.

As a PM, the challenge is to find the right people on the sales team to become friendly. These will be the most experienced, top sales people. Not the most experienced or the top sales people – it is the combination. These salespeople are very knowledgeable about what their prospects want and what they need. They can act as both a sounding board and a source of current market and competitive insight.

What’s next?

As a PM, you can do three things:

  1. Make it easy. Don’t wait for sales to contact you – reach out to your key sales contacts periodically, say monthly, with a simple request for any insights.
  2. Formalize.  With sales management approval, schedule a quarterly meeting of less than an hour with the key sales contacts. It is also an opportunity for sales feedback on future the plans and schemes as well. A dinner meeting on you outside of selling time may work best
  3. Acknowledge. You should know by now that sales people love recognition – give it when the product/service has been announced.

As the Sales leader consider:

  1. Status. Selecting the sales people for this role can be looked upon as a burden or a recognition of status. Celebrate the latter and you will have another way to praise.
  2. Your role. As a key manager, this is an opportunity to help the company and your team. Better product/services released quicker helps everyone.
  3. Customers. Engaging key customers as part of the process is both a chance to sell and to appreciate your key customers.

If you wish to explore further, we always welcome opportunities to speak about your specific situation.

 

John Moroney is an energetic operations and sales management consultant with over 30 years of experience in high technology products and services with a particular passion for sales process design, deployment and improvement. Increasing productivity, driving revenues with a focus on execution, John brings his clients practical and creative solutions that are designed to impact. He is an Associate Partner with Acumen Management Group, a business and strategic sales management consulting firm focused on a world-wide audience.

 

You can reach him at JohnM@AcumenMgmt.com or LinkedIn: John J Moroney     651-402-4342

www.AcumenManagement.com

 

 

Sales Contests: Building a Culture of High Performance

May 23rd, 2016

Building a Culture of High Performance: Sales Games

At this time of year sales management must be looking at pipeline levels and goals for the 4th quarter and determining if there is the necessary level of activity to ensure targets will be exceeded. Organizations need to focus certainly on the short term-30 days sales cycle and end of year, but they also need to have a longer term perspective.  As an executive you must also focus on creating an atmosphere of fun, high performance and teamwork.

In this blog I wanted to share a few ideas from my books on sales management: Leading High Performance Sales Teams and Creating Sales Compensation Plans for High Performance.  In both books I share ideas for sales contests/games as well as how to properly roll them out and manage them.  In many cases I have seen great sales contest ideas poorly executed, it is critical you  think through what your objectives are and what you want the results to be and then CLEARLY write down the objectives, rules and incentives. The first rule, remember cash is not what you want to use during sales games-that is what your commission plan is designed to achieve.  The second rule is that creating fun in your sales culture is the main outcome-surely you may wish to add “net new client’s” or sell certain products/services and increase sales-but it is sales leaderships objective to make the sales contest is a fun experience. “If it isn’t fun, it isn’t selling”.

You might enjoy this video on Building a High Performance Culture:

Different types of contests will help you achieve different goals. Some should be held annually to address sales objectives, company business strategies and potential seasonal fluctuations. Others can be scheduled as needed to help launch new products or services, promote new releases or upgrades or tie into your customers’ larger campaigns. Still others can consist of short-term incentive games designed to motivate sales personnel to accomplish specific objectives by a specific deadline.

A Contest Sampler

Following are a few typical goals, along with ideas for contests that may help achieve them:

  • Increasing sales volume. Consider adding a cash      bounty for each additional new seat, new customer, or revenue sold beyond      a certain target value. Set a quarter-to-date objective above your sales      goal; that way, everyone on the team can win.
  • Improving customer service. Periodically survey your      entire customer base. If satisfaction reaches a certain goal—for instance,      when 95 percent of your clients say they’re “highly      satisfied”—and if your company is profitable, everyone gets a cash bonus.      Keep a visible scorecard of your goals and results so that everyone      maintains a constant awareness of your objectives.
  • Acquiring new clients.      To boost the number of new clients you add each      quarter, consider creating a “bounty bonus” plan. For example,      salespeople could earn a bounty bonus—either in cash or in points that can      be redeemed for rewards—for each new client or each competitive      replacement of a specific vendor’s customer. In addition, you could offer      bounty bonuses for salespeople who exceed their quarterly or annual quotas      for new accounts or net new revenues. You might even create and post      “Most Wanted” posters with the bounties prominently displayed to      help keep salespeople focused on contest objectives.
  • Overcoming seasonal slumps. If your sales typically      slow down over the summer, try launching a prospecting activity contest in      March, April and May. For instance, award sales team members points for      each new face-to-face call or sales demonstrations that they make during      those months, with accumulated points eventually eligible for prizes. Such      an effort can go a long way toward increasing the number of opportunities      in the pipeline from June through August.

Competition Considerations

Following are some issues to consider and questions to answer as you plan sales contests:

  • Determine what you want the contest to accomplish
  • Set the ground rules. Are all sales executives on an equal basis for the contest?  Be sure to put the rules in writing, making provisions for those and other situations that could arise.
  • Make the contest length the same as the      sales cycle.
  • Set specific goals that can be measured weekly or monthly.
  • Incorporate an exciting theme.
  • Consider making rewards gifts, rather than cash.
  • Boost team members’ motivation by getting their families involved.
  • Never run contests to the last day of the month or sales period.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 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. His blog has been rated as one of the top sales blogs in the world!

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 and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

7 Steps to Success for Sales Managers

May 16th, 2016

7 Steps to Success for Sales Managers

-A book review-

After being a VP of Sales, consulting on sales management for 19 years and after writing four books on sales management, Max Cates, author of 7 Steps caught my attention in the first five pages.

Those of you that have read my reviews before know that I score a book by the number of pages that I fold over the corners that include something I found of value; this book scored 24 folded pages!

Recently I have written a lot about the emotional aspects of sales leadership, Max starts off in the first chapter on First Step: Manage Yourself, with a heading “Self-Management Question Number One: Are you a trusted leader? This emotional connection can only come first when the sales manager is under personal control. The author makes the reader evaluate themselves and understanding that without trust the emotional bond that allows a manager to coach does not exist. Without trust the relationship becomes dysfunctional. Max’s style is to pose a question and then provide the reader the opportunity consider the issue with the examples/case studies and definitions, he focused on “Adaptability, Mental Toughness, Bad-Boss, Ego and EQ”. And that is all in the first 40 pages!

After that Max takes you into what is necessary to build an effective sales culture by giving the sales manager the specific framework on what someone needs to do to actually make it happen. His five steps with real world examples is terrific.

After setting the stage, he moves into Chapter Two, High Performance Teams Begin with Hiring. This is the number one hardest part of being a sales manager and the most important. In the book Max provides the foundation for any sales manager to create the “systems” necessary to hire the right person.  In my book on Recruiting I used the phrase “Hire the Best, Not the Best Available”, Max does an excellent job describing how to do it!  A few of his sub-titles justify this book easily:

  • The Science of Selection
  • Hire for Traits, not Skills
  • The Sixth Dimension
  • Body Language
  • Seven Tiebreakers
  • Red Flags

After we have our teams, as Sales Manager needs to Build a Winning Team, Become a Successful Servant Leader-two more chapters that gave me additional insights into what many sales managers fail to achieve.  Based upon Max’s past experience, he uses TQM as a cornerstone of this total sales management approach and specifically provides the reader 9 main components  of “Flow”. I kept circling and noting the various points throughout chapter four.

In Chapter Five, the author will open your eyes/brain into the power of generating higher levels of performance by creating: Sales Empowerment: Beginning with Ownership. Again he takes a step by step approach to help the reader understand the issues as well as the specifics on how to-do each action:

  1. Give Control to Get Control
  2. Develop By-In
  3. Empowering Your Team to Success
  4. Developing a Self-Managed Sales Team

Max then closes the book on chapters six on: Success Through Performance Measurement and chapter seven on Continuous Improvement, maintaining Success.

What I really liked that many books tend not to do is provide a Conclusion. He summarizes many of his key points with five critical needs of salespeople:

  1. Structure
  2. Challenge
  3. Respect
  4. Involvement
  5. Support

Are you providing these to your team? I hope you are thinking about your sales management performance and what needs updating, I know I was after reading this book.

I highly recommend any sales manager or executive is also their organizations sales manager to buy this book and READ it.  It offers insights into the psychology of sales management as well as tactical actions to take to create a high performance sales organization.

 

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 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. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!

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 and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Sales Management Shouldn’t be a Horse Race

May 3rd, 2016

Sales Management Shouldn’t be a Horse Race

First of all I don’t enjoy gambling and second, I really don’t know how to read a horse racing program. When it comes to betting on a horse race I tend to look at the color of the Jockey’s silks or the name of the horse.

Last weekend a group of East Tennessee friends and I attended Keenland horse racing track near Lexington KY for an afternoon “at the races”. With a lot of laughs, good food and a few beverages we netted out with a loss of $26-overall a good day.  It occurred to me later on the drive home that our random decisions of determining which horse to choose and how much to bet, simply showed our ignorance and certainly a casual attitude to our investments.  (To be truthful the biggest bet we made on any race was only $10.)

During the past 18 years of consulting with hundreds of firms and certainly talking to thousands of people I have witnessed the same ignorance and casual attitudes in managing sales teams. That happens because of many reasons; lack of good pure sales management training programs, lack of previous exposure to sales leadership mentors or poor management styles.

It happens in so many aspects of the job of sales leadership. I have often written about the many aspects of how to build a high performance sales team and the many challenges that any sales manager faces on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. You can find my white paper on the 40 Actions Sales Managers Must Take to Build Predictable Revenue.

The challenge is to keep it simple with a focus on: inspecting what your expect and building on accountability.  What do I mean?

Unlike reading a jammed packed statistical Racing Program-that does not make sense to me and acting randomly, sales leaders must follow the Acumen Recipe.

  1. What is your vision for the next 24 months? What are your goals?
  2. Do I have a quality recruiting and interview/selection process for new salespeople?
  3. Is there a new hire on-boarding program designed to ensure the new people are ready to sell?
  4. Do you have a quarterly plan to train your sales team on: products/services, sales skills, company operations?
  5. What are the 5 metrics you are using to predict future revenues and sales performance?
  6. Does your company have a strong value proposition and can your sales team articulate it?
  7. How are you creating an emotional buy-in by of your sales team to your organization?
  8. Is your sales compensation plan achieving the strategic goals of your organization?
  9. Are you following up on the details? Inspecting that your salespeople can sell, can discuss your products/services the way you want them to? Are you holding them accountable for results-is a real world way?
  10. Is everyone having fun? (This is a major focus most sales managers miss.)

Step by step you can logically and systematically become a high performing sales organization. If you have a challenge understanding this 10 step sales management “race program”, then let me know. It is our goal at Acumen to improve your odds of winning.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 18 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. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!

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 and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Life Enrichment: Is your campsite in better shape than before you arrived?

April 26th, 2016

Life Enrichment: Is your campsite in better shape than before you arrived?

 

If you are not familiar with the question posed above it’s a mantra from my Boy Scout days and training. Whether you are a Sales Manager that regularly reads this blog or any other job role I wanted to raise this topic as I see this as a major question in our world today.  During my keynote programs I sometimes use this question to make a point and if there are Boy Scouts in the audience they get it immediately.

First let me explain the question, under the Boy Scout understanding, when you ever arrive at a campsite it should be in good condition but what is the most important is you leave the campsite in better condition that when you arrived. Is it cleaner? Is the campfire/rocks appropriate? Is there firewood set aside for the next campers? Etc.

Second, what does that question mean for you?  In my connotation I would ask you:  are you leaving this world in a better shape than before you arrived?  Obviously, individually we might not have an impact on the world stage, but we have the opportunity to impact the lives of an individual, the community we live in or the people we interact with on daily-weekly basis. It does not have to be something huge or widely recognized. It becomes an attitude with action.

Life Enrichment is about you creating an environment where you feel fulfilled. In my keynote program I often talk about this as a Gourmet Life. For example; last week I had the privilege of interviewing nine high school students for our church scholarship program, during the interview several students spoke about their lives outside of school.  Two spoke openly about their church program where they raised money (washing cars/selling donuts) and then randomly they would walk into a grocery store and pay for someone’s groceries, lunch for the car behind in a drive-in or a shopper at the local Walmart. These teen agers were learning the inner feeling of what it is like to focus on giving back and making their campsite/community a better place.

This past weekend, I helped organize a golf tournament and community fund raiser for our volunteer fire department. We had 100 people golfing, a live auction and other fun ideas to help our fire dept. sustain itself and to help protect our lives.  We had over 55 people working on the committee to help pull off the event, all had differing levels of responsibilities, and everyone pitched in with a smile.  After the event I had a lot of comments about how positive the fund raiser was and while we raised a lot of money the real winners became the people who participated. Lots of laughs, handshakes, new relationships and a higher level of communication between everyone, but also a good personal feeling about making something positive and giving back to the community.

To me that is an enriched life is all about and our campsite/community became a little bit better.

What is your plan this quarter to make your campsite a little bit better? I would enjoy your comments on what everyone is doing to make this world a better place.

  

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 18 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 and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

What is all this talk about a Sales Process?

April 20th, 2016

What is all this talk about a Sales Process?

It occurs almost every time I speak at an event or every initial client visit. Whether your organization is using CRM or not I find that most organizations have not taken the time to define, write out and train their sales team on how to use prescriptive a sales process.  Why is this important enough to write about? The Results!

The more prescriptive process you create, the greater success your sales team will experience.  Salespeople tend to lose opportunities when they execute poorly, this is due to lack of training but it is also because they missed something during the sales process. They missed it because they simply forgot to execute at some point or they didn’t have a pathway to follow.  Remember, A level salespeople probably don’t need this kind of sales mapping, but you can move a C level salesperson to a B level by providing tools, guidance and process to follow.

I always use the example of Subway sandwiches and how their counter people are trained to simply walk down the counter by asking your certain questions as you sandwich is built. If your sales teams execute that well you get the production Subway does!

How you define a sales process is important.  Just yesterday I was speaking with a small business who mentioned they had a good sales process defined, in going deeper in our conversation I learned they had no tools, nothing documented and nothing reinforced.  Recently in working with an Acumen client we spent about two hours simply documenting what a salesperson should do on each of the various steps of their sales process, it enlightened the existing sales manager and created the beginning of a new sales driven culture for the company.  What happened?

  1. In forcing the process of “thinking through’ the logical progression and the actual actions the salesperson should take, we altered the second step and changed “what “the salesperson was to say and sell during that stage.
  2. We created one additional professional service product that could be re-sold.
  3. The Sales Manager began to fully understand not only what the steps in the sales process were, but more importantly WHY the salesperson needs to execute on them.
  4. Actual definitions of each action within each stage were specifically defined.  Why is this important?  Pipeline values become more accurate. Let me describe this in more detail.  Let’s assume there is a “demonstration” stage in your sales cycle, next ask yourself, when do your salespeople move the prospect to the demo stage: When it is scheduled? Or after it is completed? This is an example of the kinds of detail that will come out during the process.

This is an example of a Discovery Stage:

Discovery (Opportunity) Stage 3                                                                                                      

  1. Discovery Meeting(s)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (KEY STEP – this is how we differentiate ourselves.)

Salesperson Responsibility:

  • Lead the Discovery Questioning  with a Focus on landscape of the opportunity & Document Current Process
  • Identify Critical Business Issues
  • Identify Roles of prospects Team
  • Goals for Future Business Solution

o   Identify people attending the demo

  • Establish Success Factors
  • Take Good Notes , attached to CRM
  1. Summarized Findings Document
  • Create Findings Document in CRM
  • Review Findings Document for Final Version
  • Contribute Notes to Findings Document
  • Submit Findings to prospect along with appropriate  Case Study
  • Modify sales Pathway and discuss with Prospect
  • Determine if Tech/Support Team support is required
  • Coordinate Additional XXX company  resources, if required
  • Send  Letter from  President   
  • Update CRM

 

  1. During the sales process your companies Value Proposition must be proven. You can build a step or an action that takes place at the appropriate stage that can validate your messaging.  We created what we expect to be a unique idea for the client to prove theirs.
  2. One of the most important aspects of creating a prescriptive sales process is changing the sales process!  What I mean is; if you and your competitors use the basic sales stages in the same sequence and say and do the same things no one stands out and prospect becomes confused. When there is confusion, generally there is no decision.  Change your sales process to stand out, be different and make the customer remember you. Refer to my previous blog on the End of Solution Sales.
  3. We added a last step: a follow up at 90 days post implementation/installation to validate customer satisfaction and ask for a reference letter.

The next step is for the sales manager to roll you the process, teach the salespeople how to execute and then “inspect what you expect” that the sales team is using the process as it is defined. HINT: As a Sales Manager, work through what you think the sales process should look like, then hold a sales meeting to “brain storm” with your salespeople as to what they think the prescriptive process should contain. This will help build a buy-in by the sales team.

Set a 90 day plan in place to implement and evaluate the results;  create four or five metrics to measure its effectiveness, validate it is being used and to listen to your team. If it needs to be altered to increase effectiveness that is ok, but before you change-make sure you are fully understand the impacts.

Let me know your thoughts on creating a sales process. What has worked for you? What hasn’t?
Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 18 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 and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

 

If it is too good to be true, it is! Sales Managers protect yourself…

April 12th, 2016

If it is too good to be true, it is!

KEN: Today I want to introduce John Moroney to you! He is more than a guest blogger, John has worked for Acumen Management Group for many years and is re-joining our organization after a long permanent engagement with a former client. He provides great insights into the challenges all sales organizations face.

Do you remember early on in your career getting really excited when you got a call that went something like this, “Hey John, we are on a fast track to select a vendor this week for our mega project and we hear your company is really good. We need your best proposal by tomorrow so we can present to our CEO to make a decision Friday. Call me right away!”.

Oh boy, were you drooling or what! This would be the quickest sale in your life – you already were thinking about what that commission check would buy. Except – it was too good to be true.

What was happening here and what should our starry eyed sales person have done?

There are at least three possibilities:

  1. The prospect is really going to make a decision and you have a real opportunity
  2. The person who contacted you thinks they are going to make a decision
  3. The prospect is really going to make a decision and you have no opportunity

Let’s take these possibilities in order and explore.

Situation #1 is extremely rare and is almost certainly because the person contacting you has a previous relationship with your company or someone else has directed them to contact you. There may be a real opportunity but before you jump and send the requested sales proposal, why not back up the prospect a bit and schedule a call or visit with the key people? You may be able to give them a more intelligent response including some options. Just to stay realistic, this situation occurs less than 5% of the time.

Situation #2 is a fairly common and often is prompted by a change in the organization. For example, a new VP or Director has joined the prospect company and quickly realizes there is a need for your product or service. The subordinate who is given the task to get the proposals may think there is a decision about to be made, but an experienced sales person will know that is unlikely. The good news – there may be a real opportunity for your company but the somewhat bad news – it Is not happening in the next week. Treat this as a qualified sales prospect and stop salivating. One approach would be to trade the proposal for a meeting with the requester or better to schedule a call with the boss before going too far. Of the three situations, this is by far the most common.

Situation #3 is sometimes known as “becoming column fodder”. The team tasked with selecting a vendor has already decided on who they want (see #1 above) but the executive committee/CEO pushed back on the team. The committee/CEO were expecting to see three choices (i.e. three columns A, B & C), particularly for cost comparison purposes. Hence, the panicked need for your proposal by Friday. There is almost no chance you will ever hear from the prospect again after sending the proposal. You will need to change the game to have any opportunity to win this business. In this situation, you do have some leverage. The prospect needs something from you but you need access and opportunity to extend the decision process. There are two tactics you must employ: (1) Make your offering comparable in price to the competitor and (2) uncover what the prospect is uncomfortable about the preferred choice. Get agreement to make a presentation to the team as the “cost” of the proposal. Go above and around the team if necessary – remember, you have very little to lose. Focus your presentation intensely upon how your company is superior to the competitor in the area of discomfort but equal in every other way. Typically, the anxiety the prospect has for the competitor is not about the product or deliverables but more about reliability, quality, responsiveness, etc. Avoidance of risk is the predominant concern at this point in the sales cycle, so a calm, smooth, confident approach is vital. This situation is fairly rare, less than 10% of all sales opportunities fall into this category.

For many of us, experiencing these sales opportunities has taught us to slow down and step back. So although, we may recognize something is too good to be true, it still takes skill and patience to work the opportunity particularly when the prospect could be inexperienced and reluctant to engage. Good selling!

What are your thoughts?

 

John Moroney is an energetic operations and sales leadership executive with over 30 years of experience in high technology products and services with a particular passion for sales process design, deployment and improvement. You can reach him directly at:  JohnM@AcumenMgmt.com

Acumen Management Group, www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com