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Hire High Performance Sales Teams # 2

September 1st, 2015

Hiring High Performance Sales Teams
Follow this formula to hire sales superstars
(Second installment of a two-part article on sales recruiting)

If you can find good people, they can always change the product/service. Nearly every mistake I’ve made has been in picking the wrong people, not the wrong idea. Most entrepreneurs have no problem coming up with a good strategy, but they usually need all the help they can get in developing and implementing the tactics that will make them successful in the long run.”

—Arthur Rock,
Harvard Business Review, 1987

Selecting sales personnel is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, challenge of any organization. Failure to achieve revenue targets, manage customer relations and deliver service can be traced directly to hiring people unequipped to carry out their assigned roles. Recruiting is a commitment; it should consume about a fifth of the sales leader’s time, and the process should be as well organized as the company’s sales methodology and forecasting systems.  The following information is used in our online video training course for sales managers: . https://app.wagmob.com/ken/

Define the Ideal Profile
The key to building a winning sales organization is understanding whom you want to hire. Why? Because thorough development and analysis of the ideal sales representative profile heightens your chances of recruiting the right person. Here’s how you start:

Make your own list of essential sales person characteristics. As the hiring manager, start by writing down your definition of a great sales representative.

Ask company leaders to make a list. Ask management and members of the sales team to identify desirable sales traits.

Test your top sales representatives. Ask your company’s most successful sales representatives to complete a personality profile or psychological test administered by an outside party. Record the data and look for common denominators among your top sales people.

Reviewing the basic personality types often encountered in sales can provide additional insight into hiring effective sales representatives. “Hunter” (aggressive, accustomed to cold calling and inured to rejection) and “farmer” (stable, oriented to customer care) are common terms used to describe personalities in the sales world.

Understanding an applicant’s most typical behavior style when interacting with others can reveal how that person solves problems and makes decisions. And you may learn how flexible the applicant is in dealing with contrasting personality styles. The types:

Dominant—A dominant individual loves a challenge, and is always ready to take on the competition. Dominant people are direct, positive and straightforward. They continually seek new horizons and like to make decisions quickly. Some consider dominants restless, because they become impatient and dissatisfied with the status quo. They are generally resourceful and adapt readily to new situations.

Cautious—Cautious people are basically humble, loyal and non-aggressive. They are usually conservative, slow to make decisions until they have absorbed all available information, and sticklers for detail. Cautious individuals want to be appreciated, and will go to extreme lengths to avoid stepping on someone’s toes. They strive for a stable, ordered life and tend to be more task- than people-oriented.

Interactive—These individuals are outgoing, persuasive, gregarious and generally optimistic. Interested in people, they’re poised in social situations; at an initial meeting they may greet you warmly by your first name, as if you’ve been friends for life. Interactive’s may act on emotional impulse, making decisions based on a cursory analysis because of their trust and willing acceptance of people.

Steady—Usually amiable, supportive and relaxed, steady individuals appear contented, even laid back. Patience and deliberateness are their defining characteristics. People high in steadiness strive to maintain the status quo and avoid rocking the boat. They value relationships that they have worked hard to establish, and operate well in a team environment.

Matching the salesperson’s personality to the job—or even to the type of client he or she sees—makes sense. But remember that people often display characteristics of two or more personality profiles.

Measure the Profile
Once you’ve compiled all your information on the sales position and the applicant’s desired personality profile, boil it all down to five or seven objective, measurable characteristics. Why so few? Because you need to focus on key responsibility areas that drive success. For example:

  • Hundred percent quota achievement in four out of five sales jobs, for a minimum of five years
  • Bright, articulate
  • Experience in opening new territories
  • Regional sales experience
  • Specific industry expertise

Create a measurement scale for each characteristic, like this:

Ineffective
Effective
-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 NA 1 2 3 4 5
and use it to rate each candidate during the interview session.

Don’t be fooled by the profile’s simplicity, or the fact that it measures only five characteristics. This is the distillation of sound input from numerous sources, a benchmark based on the personalities and performance of your top sales representatives. Focusing your work in an easy to understand, simple format places the emphasis on implementation and results. It’s important to make this profile document available to everyone involved in the interviewing process, including recruiting firms.

Critical Reminders
To derive the most benefit from your new recruiting tool, interview a minimum of three candidates for each position, and make sure that every interviewer in the process rates each candidate from -5 to +5. Continue to refine the profile by gathering input from both internal and external sources.

A highly motivated, successful sales organization is critical to generating revenue and margin growth year after year. For a company’s sales leaders, searching for great sales people every day is a top priority and never-ending challenge. Studies show that successful sales managers spend 15 to 20 percent of their time on recruiting. Whether or not there’s an opening in your sales ranks, take the time to meet new candidates or reacquaint yourself with candidates whom you have been courting. When you least expect it, your top candidate may become available.

Striving for Consistency
Now that you have a plan to fill the pipeline with quality candidates, the next step is to systemize the process for choosing and winning the right candidate time after time. Communicating an established process to all involved parties not only saves time, but sends a clear, unified message to candidates that this company has its act together, increasing their desire to join the sales team.
The following model has worked consistently in the past. Consider it as a foundation for your sales recruitment process.

1) Identify and document each stage in the interview process, and who (at least three people) in your company will participate.

2) Perform personality testing on your top sales reps. This provides a benchmark for evaluating candidates in one-on-one interviews.

3) Distribute to all participants:

Outline of interview process
Ideal sales candidate profile
Interviewing scorecard
List of base questions to ask every candidate
The candidate’s resume
It takes effort to build a recruiting process, and even more to ensure that everyone follows the plan. But the result—the creation of a winning sales team—is guaranteed to make life less stressful for any sales leader!

Check out our online video sales management training courses: . https://app.wagmob.com/ken/

 

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Hiring High Performance Sales Teams #1 of 2

August 25th, 2015

Hiring High Performance Sales Teams Strive for high competency and high commitment (first installment of a two-part series on sales recruiting)

You’ve got sales quotas, plans and deadlines. You can’t reach your sales goals without a complete staff, so when someone leaves it’s terribly tempting to hire the first person available to fill the job.Yet, a helter-skelter, frantic approach leads to hiring the wrong person. That adds expense, disrupts your sales team and, potentially, creates a customer service disaster. As Harvey Mackay says, “The worst mistake a manager can make, especially a sales manager, is to make a bad hire. You can’t build a business if you have a revolving door.”

That’s why I recommend that sales leaders spend 15 to 20 percent of their time in “recruiting mode.” You must invest that necessary time and effort to increase the odds of hiring the best. It’s the number one challenge in the channel, hiring top talent. In my book,Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams, I also provide a New Salesperson On Boarding Training Plan.

As the sales leader, you are the key contact for candidates and have the greatest impact on whether they say “Yes!” to your offer. Here are a few tips to help increase your odds of selecting the right candidate for the job and building a winning sales team.

Prepare Ahead of Time  Thorough preparation lets you:

  • Establish rapport with the candidate
  • Listen, instead of talk
  • Complete adequate interviews (use our Scorecard plan)
  • Seek meaningful credibility rather than be moved by surface characteristics such as appearance
  • Make thoughtful decisions, not based on personal preference or prejudice

Therefore, plan ahead. When scheduling, allow ample time to address your questions and those of the candidate. Determine when you are most alert and “on top of your game” and interview only during your best time of the day. Conduct interviews in an environment (on-site or off-site) where you are free from distractions. Turn off your cell phone.

Before the interview, decide on the five to seven most important characteristics that will make a person successful in the job. If you’re lucky enough to have two great candidates available, use their “score” on these characteristics as a tie-breaker.

Plan to make the interview highly interactive so that you can truly gauge the candidates’ competency and commitment in a short time. What kinds of problems and obstacles might an applicant experience in the job? Think of three or four scenarios for them to address. Challenge the candidates with pertinent, applicable questions and see how well they think on their feet—just as they would in a sales situation.

Competency and Commitment  When recruiting, focus your thinking on two concepts—competency (sales skills) and commitment (attitude and culture alignment). Remember that you need the right combination of skills and attitude for this person to be both productive and to assimilate into the company’s chemistry and culture.

If the current opening is for a major executive sales position, the candidate must be a competent sales expert. For the entry-level sales representative, on the other hand, commitment and attitude become the most important ingredients. This facet is as important as the skill level. Having the “right fit” means skill and attitude.

Potential employees usually fall into one of four types. Understand these and you can more effectively choose the right person for the job and for your company.

High competency, low commitment—This person has strong sales skills but needs an attitude adjustment. Ask yourself: Is it the person or the previous company that caused past concerns or problems? Will your culture provide a self-motivational environment for this candidate to succeed? Do you have the time and energy to help coach this candidate to success?

Low competency, high commitment—this person needs sales training but has a great attitude, a great entry-level profile. You need to consider: Does your company offer education and training for entry level-sales representatives? Do you have the time or resources to train entry-level candidates? Is there a mentor program in place?

Low competency, low commitment—End the interview and move on. It is one thing to need sales training. It is a no-win situation if the candidate also has a poor attitude.

High competency, high commitment—Hire these people on the spot. Do everything in your power to create an environment where they can “hit a home run.” They have the sales skills and attitude for success.

Critical Points to Remember Here is how to be sure you hire the best and leave the rest:

  • Design a consistent, systematic interview process
  • Define now the ideal sales representative and write the job description
  • Construct a list of base questions to ask of all candidates
  • Communicate to all internal participants the job description, sales profile and your expectations

A good recruiting program brings rewards beyond just a stellar array of candidates. Interviewing is a valuable way to gain intelligence about the marketplace. You can gather tips about unhappy accounts. You can learn about competitors’ strategic changes as well as their weaknesses in customer support and product or service availability. Interviewees may even offer leads to sales people.

Hiring good salespeople is one of most important tasks a manager faces. Few decisions are more essential to the success of your company than who represents your products and services. The time and money required for an organized recruitment process pales in comparison to the payoff.

To view a free video on “HIRING THE BEST” go to: app.wagmob.com/ken

Next blog: profiling job candidates. 

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers,

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:   www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Ignite Your Sales Team: Sales Management on Fire!

August 17th, 2015

Ignite Your Sales Team: Sales Management on Fire!

Everyone wants to lead a high performance sales team, but have you made the right investment to make it happen? We see many organizations struggling simply because they have not figured out the importance of investing in training their sales managers.

We are excited to announce the unveiling of our new service: Ignite Your Sales Team video training programs for sales managers. To learn more:

Take a Test Drive

Each topic has been designed to improve your strategic and tactical execution at the critical tipping points of the job of sales management. The following are the major course topics, you can select each course individually or use our packaged courses for best value:

 

  • Hire the Best! Recruit a Top-Tier Sales Team
  • Expect the Best! Coach & Train for Success
  • Manage the Best! Sales Systems that Build Predictable Revenue
  • Pay the Best! Create Compensation Programs that Work
  • Lead the Best! Become a Successful Sales Leader

Almost 5 hours of sales management strategies and tactics that will impact your sales organization and your life! Each course has been designed in bite size increments with quizzes and work guides to ensure a true learning experience. Ken brings his 25+ years in sales leadership and consulting to you through these learning modules.   Not only are the concepts proven, but you will see, hear and use tools, tips and materials to increase the level of your professionalism.

These low cost training programs can be watched on your PC, Tablet or Phone, anytime, anywhere. Take advantage of this opportunity now and watch how your sales organization becomes proactive, quota busting and self-managed.

Purchase the entire series, individual modules or selected packages. We can arrange for training for individual programs or entire sales management teams with personalized programs.

HINT: check out the personal Mentoring option if you want direct coaching on your sales management challenges or you have questions on the training.

Corporate licensing is available, contact Acumen directly: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

To learn more:

Take a Test Drive

For a free peek watch one section on YouTube         https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSKOWs7yHr0

MOVE FORWARD with ACUMEN MANAGEMENT GROUP

 

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project 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 Above and Below the Line

August 10th, 2015

Selling Above and Below the Line

You need this book! This week’s blog is another book review and it’s a terrific read. The book is titled: Selling Above and Below the Line by Skip Miller, published by AMACOM.

Reading my past book reviews you know I ‘fold over” the corners of the pages that I find especially enlightening, in this book I think I hit one of the highs- 24 pages folder over-that shows how much I enjoyed reading this book; it is filled with great idea’s, tactical tools and concepts.

In Chapter 2 Skip gets to the heart of the matter describing why there is a difference selling to individuals and understanding the “buying-process” and how that process changes during stage two of the traditional sales process-that being a change in expected outcomes. The User Buyer (Below the Line Buyer) is thinking needs and considering decision criteria, the Above the Line Buyer is more strategic and their consideration for any change is driven by the impact the product/service will have on corporate strategy or business plan, i.e. increase sales by 20%.

The balance of the book then goes in specific details on why the traditional salesperson sells to the user buyer based upon their training and what they hear from the BTL (below the line) buyer. Their sales efforts and messaging is therefore focused around what the BTL buyer needs and they neglect gaining a full perspective on the more important strategic needs of the organization.

In 19 chapters Skip gives the reader insights into how the ATL buyer thinks, what they think about and how the salesperson can use this to gain leverage at the prospective organization. To give you some insight this is a list of just a few of the chapters:

  • Know the ATL Buyer
  • Understanding the ATL Energy
  • Sharpen Your Business Acumen
  • Discussions with an ATL Executives
  • How to Control the ATL Sales
  • Balancing Between the Lines to accelerate the Deal

Chapter 13 is worth the investment of this book alone… understanding the Law of 2X, how to accelerate your sale cycle is a gem. It is a concept I have discussed for years, but Skip put it distinctly. He then shares with you the “Journey Map”-a tool every sales organization should use.

As I have stated before, as a professional you need to read at least two sales books a year, this is one of them.   As a Sales Manager this is one of books for your Weekly Sales Team Book Club. (Have each of your salespeople read one chapter a week and discuss the content during your weekly sales meeting.)

Add this book to your sales library.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Increase Your Summer Energy-6 idea’s

July 6th, 2015

Increase Your Summer Energy

6 idea’s

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

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

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

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

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Trade Shows Can Work!-new idea!

June 22nd, 2015

Trade Shows Can Work-new idea!

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

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

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

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

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

What? Really?

Yes really.

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

What I call Trade Show Radio is really quite simple:

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

Done. Simple.

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

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

Win win win for ALL involved.

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

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

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

http://intrepidnow.com

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Structure vs Creativity & Flexibilty

June 15th, 2015

Structure vs Creativity and Flexibility

 

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

Structure vs creativity/flexibility?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Know When to Say When

June 9th, 2015

Salespeople: Know When to Say When

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

 

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

Bite your tongue and stop selling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion

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

Bio on author, Adam Honig:

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

 

Trade Shows Don’t Work

June 1st, 2015

 

 

Trade Shows Don’t Work

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

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

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

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

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

What are you best tips on working a trade show?

 

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

 

Are You the Maestro of Your Sales Team?

May 18th, 2015

Are You the Maestro of Your Sales Team?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 17 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2014.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com