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The 4 Letter Word in Success

August 25th, 2016

The 4 Letter Word in Success

How successful can I really be? People ask me that all the time, my normal response is: Do you know what it takes?

I have worked with thousands of individuals over the many years at Acumen Management Group; a wide variety of salespeople, managers, entrepreneurs and corporate teams.

With all of those contacts you can imagine I have seen many levels of successful and unsuccessful individuals.  I have thought a lot and read a lot about the reasons for why people experience differing levels of either personal or professional success. In my analysis I like to break groups of people into two categories:

  1. A) Those that possessed levels of talent that should have allowed them to take advantage of it to succeed
  2. B) Those that did not have talent but who worked incredibly hard, with long hours and had commitment

However we all know that people with talent can fail and people with hunger or drive and lacking in talent can fail as well.  We also know that talented individuals can experience success as well as those individuals who worked hard to earn success.

As I thought about these two groups (success and non-success) and various levels of failure I had to ask: what is the missing ingredient between those individuals who did not achieve a level of success and those that did?

As many of you know who regularly read my blog and  during my keynote programs I speak often about creating a Menu for Your Life and what recipes are important for success, I breakdown  everything into a recipe.  I believe the missing ingredient in the groups that were not considered successful, and those with talent that were successful and those lacking in talent with a hunger or drive for success and who did succeed is a 4 letter word.  They possessed the will to succeed.

This 4 letter word is a key ingredient not only important to understand but to activate.  As a Sales Manager or in anyone in a leadership position creating this passion to succeed must exist to build a personal or professional success for yourself or any team.

Activating this inter drive or will can be the secret to unlocking your potential. Clearly it can come from a variety of stimulations and experiences based upon a person’s environment.

Taste it.  There maybe exposure to what success “tastes like”, a small dab of emotional success and a will to have more can be generated.  As a manager these are the actions to take to create a sense of reward and the types of reward can either be for each individual experiences or as a team.

Celebrations are important. As an individual there maybe a series of small steps, much like a ladder, that lead to what the person considers success-use each step in your path as a reason to celebrate. Reinforce the emotional connection.

Visualize it.  Much has been written about the power of visualization, I like to believe this consistent mind power can reinforce anyone’s will to succeed.  As a leader, providing a vision to your teams are a Critical Success Factor as well.

Certainly goals are important but an inner will to achieve those goals must be incorporated into your overall plan.   Let me know your thoughts and what has generated your will to win.

 

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

3 Magic Questions a Sales Manager Must Know

August 18th, 2016

Three Magic Questions a Sales Manager Must Know

One of the main roles of a Sales Manager is to help train your salespeople on how to stay on track during a sales cycle. During any sales opportunity coaching sessions consider asking these three questions with any sales opportunity:

  • Why do anything?
  • Why now?
  • Why with us?

Let’s explore these, acknowledging the answers can’t all be known at the beginning of a sales opportunity but focusing on answering them is critical to maintain focus and winning the sale.

Why do anything?

Any person and organization has a myriad of priorities. Going through a buying decision whether for marketing services, new equipment or office space, is a major commitment that may include multiple people and maybe competing with multiple priorities. So how will your prospect justify the effort and invest the time? Often, the buyer has latent pain – they know they need to do something but they may not know what they need to know or how to decide. They almost certainly don’t want to speak with a salesperson without a strong sense of what they need and whether it is affordable. This presents your first challenge – how to help the potential buyer to answer the question – Why do anything?

Therefore, marketing and sales campaigns which provide the prospect with honest content where the buyer can educate themselves is vital.   Your sales team’s prospecting activities (emails, phone calls) should leverage this content and assist in identifying the issues and required capabilities. Blogs, webinars, case studies as all examples of content that may be beneficial to the prospect as long as it is not overtly self-serving.

Once they engage with a prospect, top sales professionals know they can both help the prospect and increase their company’s potential sales success through a deeper discovery phase. Exploring unexpressed potential needs, linking the implications of the current issues with other functions within the enterprise and tying the project to corporate objectives will both help the prospect build momentum internally and differentiate your offering. This is critical to begin to build your “business case” for taking action.

Why now?

Consider again the myriad priorities within the prospect company and the limited availability for executive support and investment capital or expense. To win the business requires more than beating your competition – you need to help your prospect communicate the importance of this initiative and gain internal approval. Perhaps this project is critical to retain a key customer, or comply with upcoming regulations. It may require a formal cost justification and follow a capital approval procedure. If the prospect does not have experience or insight to elevating the importance of your sale within the company and how to navigate the approval cycle, you will either have to help them or accept the consequences. Tools to assist your prospect such as payback models, use cases and template presentations can be both valuable and appreciated.

Timing is important, as knowing when the solution to fix the “pain” must be implemented and begin operation can drive the prospect’s sense of urgency to purchase.

 

Why with us?

Successful salespeople develop a competitive strategy starting at prospect qualification, refining and adjusting through the Discovery stage. What are the issues and capabilities that your company has helped the prospect uncover and how do you prove the ability to deliver? Are they unique and important to the prospect? Can the competition respond?

Often the committee will meet many days or weeks after all the vendor presentations. Summarizing the issues, the capabilities you offered and how these were received by the team and communicating to all of the committee members could be your last opportunity to stand apart. Whenever possible, these documents should be personalized.

As a Sales Manager, is it important to have your team act professionally, staying aligned throughout with the prospect’s buying process and possibly added value as it has progressed? Remember, as the point of vendor selection nears, the buyer’s sense of risk rises. How you understand and respond to this state may be the deciding factor amongst the prospects choices.

Summary

During the life of any complex sales opportunity it is sometimes difficult to for a salesperson to keep their arms around the abundance of information, questions, insights and tactics. Consider these three questions as their guide. Regularly reviewing each opportunity with these questions and honestly facing the answers, will provide the salesperson and sales manager the insights to adjust the opportunity strategy. Training your sales team to crisply communicate opportunity status to executives within your company via these three questions will both be appreciated and demonstrate your team’s competence and professionalism.

If you would like an additional set of “Magic Questions for Sales Managers”,   Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

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

Building a Sustaining Partner Community: a Channel Strategy

August 10th, 2016

Channel Strategy: Building a Sustaining Partner Community

-A Case Study-

After working in a VAR partner organization for 8 years as a Sales Manager,  leading an entire channel focused company for 8 years as a VP of Sales and spending the last 19 years consulting with vendors, distributors and VARs, dealers, resellers, partners all focused on channel based strategies, I believe I can say:  I have seen it all.

What I would like to do in this blog is attempt to document  and tell the story of one Worldwide channel focused software organization that did it the best– at building their channel. As they were a former client of Acumen, I simply wish to document certain steps without sharing confidential or competitive insights. If you have specific questions send me a note: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

BTW: I know from personal experience the steps I am outlining can be executed by small, medium or even large vendor based teams.

First, let me state their market was highly focused, sophisticated but considerably large, and they were not the major player.  This firm in 6 years had a 20% growth rate in an industry that was growing 3% annually, they quadrupled sales and profits margins were double the industry norms.

Do I have your attention YET?

But before I detail their actions, the three things they did not do were:

  • Add more VAR’s into territories creating too much competition
  • Start selling directly to larger customers
  • Constantly invent new sales or partner incentive programs

Second: in a blog I can’t define all the specifics but I will create a checklist of the key initiatives they took with any appropriate notes. Future blogs may go into greater detail.

Phase One

  1. They made a corporate philosophical strategic decision to invest in the channels business competencies and long-term capabilities. Knowing their resellers/partners were small businesses and as small businesses they thrive on consistency and long-term behaviors.
  2. They built a small team focused on this initiative that reported to the VP of Sales.
  3. In Phase 1 they focused on
  4. Business Management: Cash Flow, Sales Capacity
  5. Sales Management: Skills and Forecast Accuracy
  6. They made sure every Partner had strict accounting standards along with actionable business plans. Not simple spreadsheet budgets.
  7. They realized the Channel Partner was only as good as their Sales Manager, as an owner who is the lead salesperson or who has never driven a sales organization the company recognized that most of their Partners could scale for growth. They built market value calculators to convince the owner of the size of the market along with a salesperson allocation model.  They began to build a Sales Management training focus.
  8. They provided full-time recruiting expertise to find, screen and interview candidates
  9. Next the vendor organization created new salesperson and technical development programs.

Phase Two

The Channel Vendor organization added higher levels of commitment within:

  1. Business Management
    1. Financial Planning
    2. Marketing Planning
  2. Sales Management
    1. Multi-product Management
    2. Account Management
  3. Technical Management
    1. CRM, for pipeline standardization
    2. Technical Staffing
    3. Skills Management
    4. Customer Retention
  4. Personal Management
    1. Personnel Review
    2. Benefits Programs
    3. Advancement Programs
    4. Training Programs

Phase Three:

Then the light bulbs starting turning on; the vendor realized they didn’t know it all and they wanted to uncover the true best practices within their Partner community.  We then created a 65 question survey to uncover information in each of the Phase Two categories, each question was scored as well as documented. The company organized and trained interviewing groups into 2-person teams. This process lead to categorizing their existing partner community into four segments:

Legacy Oriented, Farmers, Peak Performers and Rising Stars.

The results of this study paved the way to decide on what to focus on as well as who to focus on and the creation of an almost MBA experience for their VAR channel.

I have experienced, developed and lead many Partner Readiness programs, all are good, under this vendor they were excellent.  I credit the vendor for their long term commitment, Partner communications and continuity of message.

Summary

What I tend to see is many vendors attempt to introduce these concepts on a semi-regular basis or toss funds at some of these actions during a Partner Conference or run a few programs via a web cast, then change consultants, introduce another set of new concepts without ever gaining the execution or increase in performance from the Partner. Partners begin to “tune out” most vendor’s attempts because of their time demands or the lack of real understanding by the vendor of what the partners face in managing their organizations.

This vendor is still investing in these concepts and it’s been 10 plus years of consistent messaging, training and investments.

HINT: For additional channel based information for vendors, Distributors and Partner Readiness check out www.ChannelEQ.co

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

 

 

 

 

 

Life Enrichment: Using your talents to make a difference

August 3rd, 2016

Life Enrichment:  Using Your Talent to Make a Difference

As Sales Leaders or as anyone, creating a positive life for yourself begins by focusing on others; in my keynote programs I describe how during my work on improving the professionalism of sales managers, we actually began to focus impacting their personal lives as well.  This balance of personal and professional life actually ended up being the real difference in the overall levels of success of the individuals we have worked with during the past 20 years.

I have written in my blog and spoken about Life Enrichment often but a recent article in my local newspaper touched me and made me think about a this idea: using your talent to make a difference might be obvious but in my day to day travel schedule I see and talk to hundreds of people who are simply walking through life vs experiencing life to its fullest.

In the newspaper article it detailed the story about a local women that was a professional writer who connected with a local hospice and offered to interview people at the end of their lives and write their story. She would take her notes from the interviews and prepare a document that formally expressed their thoughts, as expected the stories varied from regrets, loves, experiences and philosophical messages to remember them by after they past.  The story described that the women sometimes actually read her story about the person at their funeral services.  The part that I found extremely interesting was how her experiences have now led  her to speak to various groups about her stores but in reality her story is how her exposure to all of these people and their lives have touched her in an unexpected  and positive ways.

As writers we all desire acceptance and awareness regarding our work, in this story the women described that as her outer awareness dropped because of her hospice writing a focus on others lives, the women began to achieve an inner acceptance.   This is a cornerstone in Life Enrichment. Her overall life began to turn to a positive force and all the other pieces of life began to fit together.

So the questions are:

  • What talents do you have?
  • Whose lives can you impact?
  • When will you start?

With all the challenges, problems and general unhappiness and frustration in the world today, I would suggest it’s time for a positive life force changing action to take place.  Agree?  I would enjoy reading your comments regarding this idea.

 

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

 

 

July is Sales Leadership Month

July 6th, 2016

July is Sales Leadership Month

As a sales leader you must always have a vision and action plans for a rolling six months, this is why July is the perfect month for anyone that has sales management responsibility—so why not name it Sales Leadership Month!  Ok, it is not an act of government and it is only Acumen’s opinion, but let’s explore why I feel that way.

July works because it tends to be a slower month in most organizations, individuals take vacations and the summer weather makes thinking and planning better as your activity levels peak generating “fresh air” and new thoughts.  So lean back, put your feet up, put some suntan lotion on and feel the breeze and consider the following ideas.

The first half of the year is over, it’s time to reflect on what has worked? And what has not?

  1. Based upon your Sales Plan where are you against your quota? Where are you against your planned headcount? Were new product/services launched? Were they successful?
  2. Did the quarterly sales training plans work? Are you getting the results you expected? Are you grooming new levels of professionalism or even new sales managers? What are 5 new ideas to coach and train more effectively?
  3. How is the sales compensation plan working? Are the goals of the organization the same as they were when you created it? Is the market/economy or products/services performing as you expected it to perform? Do you need to make an adjustment?
  4. Did the sales contests generate the expected levels of revenue or generate the excitement you wanted? If not, why not?
  5. Did you lose a salesperson unexpectedly? Are there members of the sales team that need to be placed on probation or even let go? What can you do to retain your talent? How can you build higher levels of belief or commitment to your organization?
  6. Are the salespeople using CRM effectively? What else can you do to ensure it is updated and cleansed on a regular basis?
  7. Marketing; did your messaging and campaigns generate the expected results? Were the leads generated moved into the pipeline and can you measure where they came from? Did those leads close and do you know the best lead source? What new ideas could we try to out position us from the competition?
  8. Metrics: does the formula for running the sales organization work? Have you tested new metrics to give you a better idea to pipeline velocity? What leading indicators are business drivers? Were your sales forecasts/commitments accurate? If not why not?

This is just a short list to stimulate your July thinking and to ensure that your second half Sales Plan is on target to exceed your goals. This checklist obviously should be reviewed each month, but with a six month trend and measured results the proactive sales leader can move the dials and alter the course if necessary. Continue to Inspect what you expect and make sure your quarterly reviews are thorough.

Two last thoughts:

1)      if you have questions or comments on any of these ideas let me know : Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

2)      On our  website we have a White Paper on the Top 40 Actions Sales Managers Must Take to Drive Predictable Revenue and several free Sales Management assessments, www.AcumenManagement.com

Have a great July, sit back, reflect and take action.

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

 

 

 

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