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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

 

7 Benefits of a Prescriptive Sales Process

April 6th, 2015

7 Benefits of a Prescriptive Sales Process

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

By taking the time to document what each salesperson should at each step of the sales process you will ensure higher levels of performance.

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

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

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

  1. In forcing the process of thinking through the logical progression and the actual actions the salesperson should take at each step, we altered an early step and changed what the salesperson was supposed to say and sell during that stage. This was important because the sales team was generally inexperienced. Because of the technical aspect of the team’s offering, introducing a more mature person into the early stages allowed quicker credibility and better insights into the prospective client’s needs.
  2. Additional products and services cropped up. We created one additional professional service product that could also be sold. As we stepped through each of the various stages, we kept looking at what we were doing currently and how we could add additional levels of value.
  3. The sales manager began to fully understand not only what the steps in the sales process were, but why each salesperson needed to execute on them. This provided the sales manager a better platform for coaching, mentoring and monitoring opportunities in the pipeline. The 90-day sales training schedule began to include training on each step of the sales process, in which the sales manager would not only train the sales team on how to perform each step but also explain why.
  4. Improved forecasting occurred, because specific definitions of each action within each stage were defined. For example, let’s assume there’s a demonstration stage in your sales cycle. When do your salespeople move the prospect to the demo stage? Is it when the demo is scheduled or after it’s completed?
  5. You will separate yourself from the competition. During the sales process your company’s value proposition must be proven. It’s easy to print your messaging on brochures and your Web site, but letting your prospect feel it is critical to building “belief.” You must build a step or an action that takes place at the appropriate stage that can validate your messaging.
  6. One of the most important aspects of creating a prescriptive sales process is changing the sales process. If you and your competitors use the basic sales stages in the same sequence and say and do the same things during your prospect conversations, no one will stand out and prospects will become confused. When there’s confusion, there’s no decision. Change your sales process to stand out, be different and do something to make the customer remember you.
  7. We added a last step to the sales process: a customer follow-up at 90 days post-implementation to validate the customer’s satisfaction and to ask for a reference letter. These will now be hung in the office lobby and used in future sales calls.

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

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

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

Ken Thoreson, President of Acumen Management Group LTD.

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

Time for Salesperson Evaluations

March 30th, 2015

Time for Salesperson Evaluations

Last week one of my client’s and I were discussing the end of the first quarter, salesperson performance and next steps in their business strategy.  The conversation lead me to suggest the following steps for my client as well as all of my readers.

Step One: Evaluate your team, place each of your team members into one of the following categories:

  • Stars: How do we keep them?
  • Learners: High potentials, do we have a plan to train?
  • Solid Performers: How do we maintain?
  • Followers: Good for now, but what about next year?
  • Deadwood: Can we do better?

Step Two: Once you have classified your team, the next step is to develop a plan to review each person and set a learning path for them.  We recommend that this becomes a formal procedure between the Sales Manager and each salesperson, at least twice a year.    Weuse a Salesperson Development Tool from our Sales Managers Tool Kit.  (The Tool Kit is a library of 40+ robust sales management tools we have developed during our consulting practice.)

The Salesperson Development tool includes a revenue vs quota section, but just as important it includes a section for the Sales Managers evaluation regarding:

  • Skills/Strengths: what needs work, what items are good
  • Development Plan, What actions are to be taken, Target Date/Completion Date
  • Obstacles and plans to reduce obstacles

This session allows both individuals an opportunity to honestly discuss career aspirations, personal goals and skill development.  Using this approach along with the Salesperson’s Business Plan the manager can fully coach the salesperson to the next level.

Now let’s provide you a few examples of possible recommendations based upon the five sales categories from the above list:

Stars: Provide them added responsibility; let them plan/run a few sales training meetings.  Ask them to coach new hire salespeople.

Learners: Schedule them for a sales training: book them into a sales class or assign them sales books to read and report on to the entire sales team or provide a technical resource to coach them on the various product/service solutions you sell.

Solid Performers: Focus them: have them build a 6 month plan with metrics that they would share with the team, this will help the underperformers to see what these salespeople do to achieve their goals.

Followers: Monitor them closely: Schedule a bi-weekly team meeting of the “followers” and discuss activities and assist them in developing sales strategies on new opportunities. Observe who responds, who does not.

Deadwood: Spend very little time with them; many sales managers waste time/brain power on trying to “save” these individuals.  Start recruiting.

Building a regular cadence of “inspecting what you expect” of your team will increase the professionalism of your team and will drive performance.   What are your thoughts on improving the performance of your sales teams?

Building a regular cadence of “inspecting what you expect” of your team will increase the professionalism of your team and will drive performance.   What are your thoughts on improving the performance of your sales teams?

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

10 Traits Buyers Seek in Salespeople

March 24th, 2015

The 10 Traits Buyers Seek in Sales Superstars

Selling yourself is the first step.

What really separates the best salespeople from the rest of the pack? Our research shows that top performers not only understand each customer company — they understand the person making the buying decisions as well.

Most sales training courses emphasize the importance of addressing the customer’s needs. They teach salespeople to explain how, “your product or service”,  can help achieve key business goals. Those discussions are critical for making sales.

But few training programs address how buyers view salespeople as they’re presenting that information — knowledge that can be an equally powerful sales tool.

Our research indicates that, from the buyer’s point of view, the best salespeople:

1. Listen. Buyers want to deal with professionals who ask the right questions and truly listen to the answers, people who can take what they’ve heard and translate it into appropriate solutions. Want to boost your listening skills to top-performer level? Take notes, summarize and restate what buyers tell you and — just as important — listen when they confirm whether you’ve gotten it right.

2. Tell the truth. I cringe when I hear salespeople tell customers or prospects, “Let me be honest with you,” as if they haven’t been honest so far. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up. If you aren’t professional enough to sell without lying, find a new profession.

3. Do more than push products. Of course, it’s vitally important for salespeople to know about the products they represent, but talking only about features and functions went out in the ’70s. Top performers focus on helping buyers achieve their business goals. One way to do that: Videotape and watch your own sales presentation to see from the buyer’s point of view. Are you helping or just selling?

4. Know the customer’s business. Going after vertical markets has become a major emphasis for many organizations. Stay abreast of developments in your customers’ worlds. When prospects see that you’re familiar with their businesses and industries that generates trust and confidence — key ingredients in any successful sales formula.

5. Know what the customer’s clients need. See No. 4.  Why do their customers buy from them? Knowing their customers will help you sell them.

6. Address pain points. Top performers outdo the competition by personalizing their presentations, showing how their solutions help customers resolve specific business problems, achieve important goals and generate impressive ROI.

7. Keep promises. Buyers keep track of what you say you’ll do and whether you actually do it. If you offer to send a white paper or list of references, follow through. And get it there when promised; never request an extension.

8. Avoid wasting time. As a salesperson, you’ve got the right to be persistent and to be respected, but not to be a pest. Dropping in unannounced because you were “in the neighborhood” falls into the latter category; it’s also the mark of an amateur. Instead, schedule your calls, have a stated objective for each meeting and be sure the time spent results in value for the customer.

9. Serve as an information resource. Top-performing salespeople often provide customers with useful background materials, typically from reputable outside sources. Consider giving your buyers relevant information from The Wall Street Journal, local business journals,  industry magazines and newsletters.

10. Make the buyer a hero. Top performers know what personal factors drive each buyer’s behavior, whether it’s ego, desire for a bonus, the potential for promotion or some other factor. Do what’s necessary to make sure an important buyer regards a particular sale as a personal win. Do you know their personality style?

Long ago, someone told me the three key factors in sales are: Emotion, emotion, emotion. No question about it: If you recognize your buyers’ emotions, you’ll accelerate your sales.

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

 

If It Isn’t Fun, It isn’t Selling!!!

March 16th, 2015

If It Isn’t Fun, It isn’t Selling!!!

Last week I was in Arizona speaking at a conference, during my program I used the phrase: If it isn’t fun, it isn’t selling!, and the reaction I received was interesting.  Most of the comments seemed surprised or somewhat taken aback as I discussed the topic, others were curious as to how to have fun during the sales cycle.

I have to confess,  I have somewhat borrowed  that phrase from Sam Hagerman, Camp Director at my old Boy Scout camp, Camp Decorah; his mantra was: “if it isn’t fun, it isn’t scouting”. I did tell Sam I changed his statement to fit my audiences.

My message last week was more about emotion, selling, managing and building an environment of high performance.  There were two aspects around this topic that are important to understand in creating great culture.  First, in every organization that I have been with or have consulted in that had great cultures, those sales teams not only worked hard, were professional in their approach they also had a culture of fun.  Sales Managers that created a culture of high performance always made sure they   brought an approach to managing that included accountability and high expectations, but also one where the team had fun together.   A few ideas to focus on:

  • Build Belief: make sure your sales teams believe in your company, products/services and each other. This is the emotional work for sales leadership.
  •  Make sure your sales contests are sales games!  They need to be fun, with exciting themes and creative. An annual sales trip for spouses/sales teams is a must, these kinds of sales incentives build camaraderie, memories and teamwork.
  •  Create opportunities to socialize with your team; organize pizza nights to breakfast meetings. These kinds of events allow everyone to talk, laugh and build respect between team mates.

The second aspect of creating fun and selling is with prospects and clients during the sales process.  In my program I stressed that I don’t mean you need to be a jokester during the sales process or less of a professional, but a more relaxed approach can separate you from your competition.   Many years ago someone told me there are 3 rules in selling:  Emotion, Emotion and Emotion. You must have it, you must transfer it to your prospect and they must take action based upon emotion.

As a friend of mine Jeb Blount, the founder of Sales Gravy likes to suggest to his training clients, ask yourself about your prospects: Do they like you? Are they listening to you? Are you listening to them?  What kind of sales environment are your creating?

As a salesperson your interaction with your clients or prospects will always create an emotion-positive or negative. Focusing on a positive, fun and interactive approach will lead to a connection with that person(s).  That connection is critical to building the trust and confidence you need to win the opportunity. Several idea’s to improve the power of connecting:

  • Identify the Personality Style of the person you are speaking with, based upon their style, work with them on their communication mode. But bring your personality.
  •  During any meeting, bring a lighter touch to your conversations, while having an agenda for your meeting, being prepared with a Pre-Call Strategy tool is great, make sure you add a sparkle in your eye and smile on your face to your approach.  It’s ok to be yourself!
  •  Make the experience memorable. This is the power of creativity, ask yourself: “What can I do break through the traditional sales process and make the relationship unique?”   If you use social activities in your sales process, can I align an activity that fits your prospect; i.e. a wine tasting? Sports events?  Or if you are selling in a formal sales process can you bring something else to the table during a sales call; a best-selling book autographed by the author, or an invitation to your Rotary Club meeting?

 

Having fun and taking a lighter personal approach can separate you from your competition and that pays off with greater commissions.  You will also enjoy the sales process and that emotion and approach will be felt by your prospects.  What are your ideas around having fun and selling more?
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

 

Enhancing Your Executive Edge

February 23rd, 2015

Enhancing Your EXECUTIVE EDGE

How to Develop the Skills to Lead and Succeed

It’s time for another book review!  Last week I was on vacation and I had the time to read three books, one of them written by Kim Zoller/Kerry Preston was on Enhancing Your Executive Edge. Published by McGraw Hill, it is a terrific read for all executives and any manager.

In defining Executive Edge the authors quickly hook you in the Introduction, they set the stage showing their methodology by providing the reader an experience in self development and growth by providing an Online Assessment to first determine your current “Edge”.  I would suggest you take this assessment after reading this blog. www.whatismyexecutiveedge.com  The reader will immediately begin to understand their current environment.

As you read through the Introduction Kim/Kerry describe their plan of breaking the book into five major buckets with 18 distinct chapters:

  1. Self-management and social awareness
  2. Personal branding
  3. Communication and presence
  4. Business protocol-the details of Executive Edge
  5. Motivation, perseverance, and excellence

Throughout the book they make you work through various scenarios and check lists to assess your current status and your desired outcomes. In addition throughout the book they offer strategies to help the executive handle various situations, for example:

  • Strategies for Not Being and Looking Arrogant
  • Strategies for Working with Arrogant People
  • Strategies for Not Posturing and Avoiding Extreme On-Upmanship
  • Strategies for Working with Others who are Posturing

The chapter on “Knowing How to Read People” is outstanding!  Their check lists and 10 tips are critical in enhancing your ability to manage people, this chapter alone can assist any person in becoming a more effective leader.

One of the aspects that I always stress with my clients is to build “business Eco-System Partners”, or a network of people that can help you grow your business as well as your personal level of professionalism. In Chapter 6 the authors hit this topic head on and they show you how to Strategically Build Relationships and Influence.  As in every chapter they provide useful tips and at the end of each chapter they summarize their key points. The following chapter then moves on to showing the reader how increase your effectiveness by learning to Network and Business Socializing by helping you build a BLT.  This focus on creating “believability, likeability, and trust” in your business environment and in any situation. The authors walk you through their checklist in preparing for an event, how to work the event and how to appropriately follow up after the event. If your salespeople network this chapter would make a great sales training meeting, if you managers work events, this chapter is worth a discussion at your managers meeting.

Standing out is part of the concept of having an Executive Edge.  Kerry/Kim focus on Personal Branding extensively and how to build it; the entire section provides a great level of insight into how individuals can create a real presence.   Their helpful tips will provide you an action plan to increase your ability to increase your position; starting with “Appearance, Behavior to determining your Value.

This book is a great read for the first time manager and it would make a terrific book for an organizations management team to read and discuss. HINT: add this book to each managers Executive Development Plan.

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