Archive for the ‘sales leadership’ Category

Emotional Sales Leadership

April 5th, 2016

Emotional Sales Leadership

I was recently interviewed on a podcast based in Europe around the topic of the importance of emotional leadership. The interviewer asked me a series of questions regarding the topic and why I felt it was a critical success factor for most organizations.

In retrospect based upon the podcast I came away with even a stronger opinion on the topic of generating the right level of emotion-that is positive emotion into the sales team.

It is important to track sales metrics to better understand the sales formula or recipe for success and to analyze leading indicators that will allow the sales manager to better predict future revenues. Balancing the mechanics of sales management with emotional leadership techniques requires the sales manager to take the next step up the ladder of professionalism. Many times we have seen organizations with failing sales or lacking the growth they expect to simply throw money at a sales training organization to fix the problem.  That approach simply becomes a band aid.

I am not saying sales training does not work or is not required but many times the ability of the sales trainer to interject their emotion/passion during the workshop helps pump up the sales team and short term impact occurs, however several weeks later that emotion is no longer felt and sales fall back to the original level.  We call this the balloon effect. The air or excitement has seeped out of the balloon and now it is simply limp and looks like it did before the balloon was blown up-just like the underperforming sales team.  Many times the sales manager enjoys the emotion as well, but they simply forget to reinforce the sales skills or to build on the positive emotion from the event.

So what specifically can any leader do to create Emotional Leadership?

  • Create an atmosphere of fun: make sure the sales team enjoys their job.  This is not to mean that accountability and expectations are not set, it simply means that there is excitement about what the salespeople do and how they do it.  HINT: Run an annual sales trip contest.
  • Provide a vision: where will the company/sales team be in 18-24 months? Share an expected Organization Chart and ask the team for their insights. HINT: set sales objectives that lead you to your goal.
  • Focus on training salespeople on belief: focus on how your products/services benefit your clients as much or more as what your products/service do. HINT: Visit client offices to see the impact you company has had on their organization.
  • Create a sales training program on attitude: Use video’s or books that share the concepts of mental preparation and positive attitudes, not the simple rah/rah material but courseware that changes lives.  HINT: Twice a year focus on this kind of training.

As sales leaders you must recognize that every time you walk into a room, talk to someone or even send an email the message you send gets magnified.  Use emotional leadership to create an environment of high performance.

What other ideas do you have to create that positive emotionally driven sales team?


Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 18 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

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

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



Sales Mgmt: Mowing Your Lawn

April 1st, 2013

Sales Management and Mowing Your Lawn

The first quarter is over and sales leaders are capturing forecasts for the next two months and hopefully celebrating the achievement of their first quarter results.  I am sure not everything has been smooth, after the last 90 days of working with a variety of clients and speaking at a variety of conferences, the odds of some “uneven” achievements and unexpected events has occurred.  In one client we didn’t hire the salesperson we wanted, in another a salesperson left without management knowing it would happen and in another the marketing campaigns didn’t launch on time.   Just like my lawn…

As I drove into my garage last week I realized it was finally time to mow-for the first time this year; my lawn looked uneven in growth, leaves have nestled into the grass, some weeds had extended themselves and it resembled something far different than I had hoped to enjoy. There is work to be done.  I am sure after this afternoon when I hope to mow that the results of a fresh cut will level off the growth, the leaves will be mulched and generally it begin to represent a well groomed lawn.  The next treatment of fertilizer will stimulate better growth.

The same view of your sales team should also be considered, evaluate your team, determine who needs to be “groomed” or “cut” and what treatments must you begin to accelerate your growth during the second quarter. This necessary in order that your summer sales will generate the necessary look and feel that you desired. In past blogs we have discussed how to create your quarterly sales training programs and coaching sessions with each salesperson.

HINT: It is a great time NOW to hold a one on one salesperson review meetings; What worked? What didn’t work? What new steps/actions need to be implemented to increase performance? Develop a mutual action plan where both you and your individual salespeople agree on those actions and use that tool to coach and manage for the next 90 days.

Enjoy the spring and position your team to truly enjoy a wonderful summer season of selling. What are you plans?

Resources: Top Sales World web site and magazine for April!

April is a very significant month for us on Top Sales World, as we launch Top Sales Academy – see Linda Richardson’s interview on Page 4. Also on April 16th, you will be able to tune into Top Sales Radio.  If you are not all ready subscribed to the magazine: you can register for free here:

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 14 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. His latest book is titled: “Leading High Performance Sales Teams”.

Ken Thoreson provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. ,

February 6th, 2013

Sales Leadership: Getting Refreshed

Last week on Thursday in Ft Lauderdale, Fl  I provided a closing Keynote program for an international association annual conference,  the program was based on a topic that has proven to be very popular: Gourmet Living: building a menu for life. During the same week I spoke to a group in NY at their 2013 kick off meeting, that topic was: Changing Environment Means Changing; a plan for success!  In both cases, with different programs and certainly different audiences, the “after” the program conversations were identical.

It is normal that after providing a program that members of the audience will come up to me and make a few comments; in both cases everyone commented that they needed the uplift, the new thoughts or simply to be reminded of something they knew.  While I won’t detail all of the comments these words hit me, especially on the plane from Ft Lauderdale to Destin Fl, where I have been taking some time off as well.  During the weekend and the first few days of this week I have monitored email, attended a few conference calls and did some limited management coaching, I have also walked the beach, played golf, enjoyed friends and I am almost half way through a fun book I am reading.  Last year I wrote about the fact that sales leaders were facing “Sales Fatigue” within their sales teams and as well perhaps within themselves.  I offered a few ideas as to how to counter that attitude.  If you want a copy of that blog let me know:

On Thursday I will be driving back to my home-9 hours of windshield time. Today I am heading to the Spa for a massage and few other treats.  Why am I opening this topic with you?  I am firmly convinced that you must “Treat Yourself” to maintain a freshness.  My wife had to teach me this, but as hard as everyone works I have come to accept that these opportunities to relax, to treat yourself and to enjoy friends are unique points in time.  Serious sales leadership requires high levels of energy, creativity and the ability to relate to your team, members of your organization and certainly to prospects.  If you are dull because of not taking the time to refresh, your organization will sense this and feed off of your lack of energy and robotic behavior and your sales will suffer as well.

During the program I normally hand out a Personal Pizza and a Professional Pizza (not real-only on paper)  where each of the 8 slices for each pizza  are described by one or two words, we ask each attendee to score themselves from 1-7 (7=Great) as to how they feel about themselves in relation to the word.  They then connect the circled numbers and draw a line connecting the dots. The representation will show if you are in balance personally and/or professionally. We then have instructions as to how to fix your life if you need balance. If you want a copy of our Pizza Test, send me an email:


The message: find time each day to refresh. In my keynote I speak about creating “Extreme Self –Care” by creating daily rituals that relax, (yoga/mediation) are fun (?) and exercise (walking or something more strenuous), and focus on eating better.  Focus on mentally and physically refreshing and your sales results will improve as well.  Off to the Spa.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 15 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Ken’s latest book is: Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams.

 Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.    


Sales Leadership: Bringing a Sharp Focus to Your Sales Meetings

January 21st, 2013

Sales Leadership:  Bringing a Sharp Focus to Your

Sales Meetings

During the past few months I have been consulting with several clients on a variety of issues and coaching others via our new “Acumen Project”. (more on that later), in both environments I have begun to revert to a similar sales management technique to achieve the desired results.   For this week, I thought I should share this fundamental concept with you.  If you are attempting to bring an increase focus on weekly sales and activity and exceeding your monthly sales goals, this idea will help you.

First, you should be using Acumen’s Sales Meeting Template, (if not check out our previous blog), when you get to the sales forecast section and opportunity discussion, you can either go to the “white board” or via Excel and a PC projector; you note your monthly sales objective. For example $250,000.

Second, you then ask each salesperson to forecast each account and dollar value on all sales opportunities greater than 75% probability of closure. Write each entry underneath your sales goal.

Third, total the overall sales to see if they exceed your sales goal.  If they don’t, list all additional opportunities greater than 50%.  If you still don’t have enough opportunities and potential sales to exceed your quota—you are in trouble-, see past blogs.

Fourth, discuss each opportunity as a team to ensure the salesperson has the next TWO sales steps planned to close the opportunity for this month-see Acumen’s 10 Magic Questions.

Fifth, perform this exercise each week of the month (save the list) and as certain opportunities close or are postponed, work to move other sales opportunities to the close list.  The 50% list becomes your “upside” list.

Six, track what your individual salespeople forecasted at the first of each month and what they actually ended up the month selling. This is called the Forecast Accuracy ratio, a great ratio to better understand your team’s ability to forecast and understand their prospects buying reality. You will be in a great position not only to forecast pipeline values to your management team with this historical view, but be a better coach for your sales team.

Seven, each week, each salesperson should be prepared to report on specific weekly activities. While this will vary by type of sales organization, by having a weekly reporting function, salespeople will have to be accountable.   As a rule we ask each salesperson to rate their previous week on a scale of 1-5 at the beginning of each sales meeting. In other teams, each salesperson must earn 25 points a week by performing certain level of variety of activity levels. If you would like to see a sample of the 25 point, send me an email:

What’s the bottom line?  Its fundamentals-back to basics;  salespeople pay attention to what sales management pays attention too. Discipline of focus always is the payoff to success, what is your commitment to success?   Let me know your idea’s to drive performance.

The Acumen Project?  I was watching the golf channel several months ago,  a show called the Haney Project where a golf coach would take a well-known celebrity for 6 weeks and provide customized coaching to improve their game. While it was somewhat a reality show, positive results occurred.   I thought about that program and have now created the Acumen Project.  Where using our online Interactive Sales Management Tool Kit, my books, DVD’s and 12 hours a month of consulting services over 5 months, we will turn executives or sales managers into leaders of sales teams.  We cover the strategies and tactics of successful sales management; recruiting, compensation, reporting and coaching and much, much more. For more details, ask.

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 15 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. His latest book is titled: “Leading High Performance Sales Teams”.

Ken Thoreson provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 

Sales Leadership: 2013 Sales Theme

December 3rd, 2012

Sales Leadership:  2013 Sales Theme

Last week I was speaking at a conference on: “Building and Maintaining Sales Motivation”, after the program several individuals came up to discuss my concept of a “Drive Statement.

At this time of the year everyone is working on your sales business plans for 2013 and finishing budgets and forecasts.  While every plan should include goals and objectives for training, marketing and sales incentive programs; it is also the perfect time to consider how you will maintain your sales team’s emotional focus on exceeding your goals.  Creating a “Drive Statement” can assist you.

A Drive Statement is a series of words or a sentence that describes your overall theme for your sales team for an entire year.   This statement is reinforced at every potential opportunity.  It may appear on your internal letterhead, made into a banner and hung in your sales area and used to reinforce your training programs.  For example, I have seen one that was simply: Growth!  This word reinforced the company’s focus on sales growth, professional growth, market share growth and company growth.  Another that has been used before was; Brilliant Execution. This particular company wanted to reinforce the sales process, sales strategy execution as well as increasing the focus on customer service. They had defined specific steps they felt would improve all aspects of the sales function and they wanted everyone to know that they expected brilliant execution!

One that I have seen was a more complex statement; We will dominate our market with an assertive approach and creating a unique experience. This company wanted to make the statement that becoming #1 in the market was important but using the word assertive meant they wanted a more aggressive attitude within their sales and marketing departments but the additional use of “unique experience” meant a touch of creativity or the opportunity to standout was important.

Think through your goals for the 2013, what approach and attitude do you want your sales team to consider or act on throughout the year.  Then engage several team members to assist you in developing a sales theme or Drive Statement.  I would encourage you to share your thoughts on this topic in the blog comments below.

At your 2013 Sales Kick Off meeting, create the atmosphere of an excitement when you unveil a well-planned out business plan where sales, marketing and operations are coordinated and your sales team leaves the meeting motivated to exceed their goals.  Plan a fun event but make sure your team knows your Drive Statement and how it relates to your vision for the year.  If you would like ideas on how to create a successful  sales kick-off meeting send me an email:

  Ken Thoreson is the President of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. Ken’s latest book is: “Leading High Performance Sales Teams”. Consider Ken for your sales kick off meetings.  You can reach him at  Blog: 3f4qb8v9ge

Sales Mgmt: 4 Steps on How to Not Get Fired!

November 26th, 2012

Sales Mgmt.:  4 Steps on how not to get fired.

On my flight to Seattle I was pondering what this week’s blog might contain; it occurred to me that in reflecting on the past year and looking forward towards 2013 a quick summary of a few basic actions sales leadership must take to succeed would be of value.

Step One: Build an active recruiting plan.  Most sales managers get fired for not hitting the desired sales goals, the issue is normally because they have a lack of salespeople selling their products/services!  You must know what is your average transaction value is vs your yearly or monthly sales objectives? The question you need to know is: “do you have enough salespeople on board to achieve your monthly number of required sales transactions? “ A sales manager must look out 90-120 days knowing your future potential revenue objectives and understand your manpower requirements.  Recruiting is sales leadership’s marketing campaign for sales leads. Build an ongoing program to ensure you have the right talent in place to exceed your goals.

Step Two:  Know your pipeline metrics. This is something I have written about before but it is what can bite the sales manager. You must know the accurate value of the pipeline 90-120 days out (depending upon your sales cycle). The question you must ask is: “do you have enough number of opportunities both in value and number of opportunities to achieve your upcoming monthly quota? If not, what can you do to ensure you build up the pipeline values so that you will have enough opportunities to achieve the monthly objective? It’s November, what is your February pipeline value? Do you have the necessary values to achieve February’s goals when it’s February first?

Step Three: Is your team trained?  Recently, at one of my new clients; my client, a technical team member and myself “listened in’ as two of their salespeople gave a demonstration to a major new client sales opportunity.  It became obvious to the president that the salespeople were not professional or even capable of handling the meeting. It was enlightening and a crucial step towards increasing the need for continued focus on sales training.  The sales team had been neglecting our recommendations as to improving their skill level, and now there will be an increased buy in by management and peer levels to focus on sales skills. 

  • ·         Make more sales calls  with your team,
  • ·          build in  a quarterly  salesperson skills  evaluation process,
  • ·          increase more role playing in your sales training meetings
  • ·         Build a quarterly sales training programs 

Step Four: Improve your professional business acumen. 1) Make sure you read the local business sections in your local papers, the Wall Street Journal, business magazines/web sites,  2) read 3 business books a year and 3)  join a sales leadership  “peer group” of other sales managers to learn how others are increasing their leadership skills. This step will improve your ability to discuss the business trends of the day with prospects and your sales team, increase your stature within your management team and improve how you manage your team.

Follow these four steps and your odds of surviving the normal 18 month window that most sales leaders live under will improve. If  you have not downloaded  our White Paper “Top  40 Sales Management  Actions To Build Predictable Revenue”  from our website:  , send me an email  and I will send it to you.  Have you registered for our monthly newsletter: “Why Sales Manager Succeed!” Hit our web site.

Finish the year huge and make sure you are ready to slam the first quarter!

Ken Thoreson is the president and founder of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at   Ken’s latest book is: “Recruiting a High Performance Sales Team”.  Blog: 3f4qb8v9ge



Sales Leadership: Nine Minutes on Monday

October 22nd, 2012

Nine Minutes on Monday

The Quick and Easy Way to Go from Manager to leader

By James Robbins

McGraw Hill

My speaking and sales leadership consulting practice causes me to work with many  individuals that are experiencing situations of stress that include either learning to manage a sales team for the first time or their organizations are not performing at optimal levels.  The author captures the reader immediately by building on the story of him climbing a mountain where he is almost at the summit and unsure if he can make it to the top.  As the book moves forward the James Robbins continues to share stories that make his points and describe his easy to follow plan to enhance your leadership and the performance of your team.

While any student of management and  leadership maybe familiar with a few of this tactics, what makes this book a must read for all levels management is his formula and his challenge to simply spend nine minutes each Monday to consider 9 simple questions. Too many times in the face paced world we live in, especially as sales managers, we neglect the basics of leadership and the need to build the appropriate culture that drives performance. Those of you who read my blog on a regular basis know that while this is a favorite topic of mine, James Robbins can provide you a pathway to becoming the real leader you need to be in any sales leadership position.

The author builds his case for his formula by beginning to address the fundamental needs of all employees and yet provides answers and direction with examples of individuals who have applied his techniques.  One of his 9 points is: The Need to Play, in that chapter he describes the importance of having fun and his example is from a Funeral Home!  The really great way this book is put together is at the end of each chapter there is a “Summary” page that recaps the Key Lessons, provides one of the 9 Key Questions to consider and a Key Action Step.  At his web site: you can download other tools as well. An example of one of his questions is: “How can I promote a feeling of autonomy in one employee this week?  Each question is simple, but profound on its potential impact on your team.

Buy the book, read it, apply James Robbins plan and find out how in the end, he made it to the top of the summit by learning the ultimate leadership lesson.

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 14 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.  Ken’s latest book is: Leading High Performance Sales Teams!

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 


Sales Leadership: The Impact of Creating a Sales Process

September 23rd, 2012

 Sales Leadership: The Impact of a Creating a Sales Process 

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

Recently in working with a client we spent about two hours simply documenting what a salesperson should do on each of the various steps of their sales process, it enlightened the existing sales manager and created the beginning of a new sales driven culture for the company.  What happened?

  1. 1.       In forcing the process of “thinking through’ the logical progression and the actual actions the salesperson should take, we altered the second step and changed “what “the salesperson was to say and sell during that stage.


  1. 2.       We created one additional professional service product that could be re-sold.


  1. 3.       The Sales Manager began to fully understand not only what the steps in the sales process were, but more importantly WHY the salesperson needs to execute on them.


  1. 4.       Actual definitions of each action within each stage were specifically defined.  Why is this important?  Pipeline values become more accurate. Let me describe this in more detail.  Let’s assume there is a “demonstration” stage in your sales cycle, next ask yourself, when do your salespeople move the prospect to the demo stage: When it is scheduled? Or after it is completed? This is an example of the kinds of detail that will come out during the process.


  1. 5.       During the sales process your companies Value Proposition must be proven. You can build a step or an action that takes place at the appropriate stage that can validate your messaging.  We created what we expect to be a unique idea for the client to prove theirs.


  1. 6.       One of the most important aspects of creating a prescriptive sales process is changing the sales process!  What I mean is; if you and your competitors use the basic sales stages in the same sequence and say and do the same things no one stands out and prospect becomes confused. When there is confusion, generally there is no decision.  Change your sales process to stand out, be different and make the customer remember you. Refer to my previous blog on the End of Solution Sales.


  1. 7.        We added a last step: a follow up at 90 days post implementation/installation to validate customer satisfaction and ask for a reference letter.


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

Let me know your thoughts on creating a sales process. What has worked for you? What hasn’t?

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Ken’s latest book is “Leading High Performance Sales Teams”.


Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 


Sales Leadership: Finding Fresh Air

September 18th, 2012

Sales Leadership: The Need for Fresh Air

Last Tuesday around 10pm I had just gotten back to my home from a neighborhood activity, sitting down on my porch, turning on the TV to catch the last news of the day, I checked my phone for email. This is not an unusual practice for me as our client base can be in multiple time zones around the world; the issue was I had 2 from a sales manager from the Eastern Time Zone that had come in after 9pm.
While there are always times when our jobs cause us to put in the extra time, it is important to find balance and the time to clear your mind-seeking fresh air! As I responded to the client, I received two email responses in return; it was now 10:30pm. While the week had been stressful for him; letting go of a salesperson, hiring another major position and discovering a few major problems, I sent back an email: Rest, Sleep, you will need more fresh air in the morning!”.
With the day to day stress levels that sales leaders face, it is critical you focus on your personal self as well as the health of your team and company. The most successful sales leaders are creative, high levels of energy and mentally alert to the variety of situations they face each day. If you are stressed out-you burn out, become ineffective.
I have written often in my monthly newsletter: Why Sales Managers Succeed” ( on the various responsibilities of the sales leader, but maintaining a personal fresh perspective is most important.
If you are tired, you will not coach effectively, you will not think clearly when working on various sales strategies with your team, and you will not provide the leadership that is necessary to propel you revenues to the next level.
Each of us must find our means to “Open Up the Brain”, I always say, the brain is like an umbrella, it only works when it is open! I know in my professional life, I need quiet time to re-charge-others need physical activity while others need people or games to let them find that fresh air. In my Keynote program: Gourmet Living: building a personal & professional recipe for success I provide a variety of idea’s to help individuals build a better life. When you have fresh air, your life will be in balance and success will follow. Check out my video’s on my channel to listen to my thoughts on life.
How do you find your Fresh Air? Love to hear your ideas…

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 14 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Ken’s latest book is “Leading High Performance Sales Teams”.
Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

The End of Solution Sales

August 3rd, 2012

The End of Solution Sales

The Role of Sales Leadership & Management

Now what does that title mean to you? Recently I spoke at a major software vendor’s partner and client conference and a few weeks later I received an email from one of the attendee’s  suggesting I should comment in a future blog on the Harvard Business Review (July/August 2012) paper titled: The End of Solution Sales.  I put it in my to read file and as I fly to Hong Kong (16 hours) to lead a clients sales leadership workshop I pulled it out to read and contemplate. At 35,000 feet it woke me up.

As a salesperson and sales manager for many years I clearly understand the concepts and logic behind a solution sale. This article makes one take a deep breath and a step back to reconsider how we as sales leaders not only address the market but also train our sales teams to become more professional.  A changing market environment, more access to information and smarter buyers means we must alter our sales approach.  While I can’t certainly summarize the entire article I want to address a few key points and if you would like the entire article, simply send me an email and I will email you a scanned version or obviously contact HBR and subscribe to their wonderful publication.

  • I will also be including this document/blog in my August newsletter: “Why Sales Managers Succeed!”, if you haven’t subscribed to our free monthly newsletter simply go to my website.  to register.  Each month I cover 3 topics: Personal, Professional and Organizational Commitment.

While I suspect most everyone reading this blog understands the concept of solution sales, but in summary it essentially is a sales methodology designed to increase the Discovery aspect of selling where in the salesperson seeks to understand the problems of the client and address those issues by recommending one of the salesperson’s products/services to solve the prospects pain.

In the Harvard Business Review article the authors make the point-by performing extensive research with many top performing salespeople- that times have changed.  Now prospects know their pain and have researched potential solutions and are simply looking for a solution that is cost effective, thus reducing the professionalism of the salesperson and their potential commission.

Front the front page of the article:  “The old playbook no longer works. Star salespeople now seek to upend the customer’s current approach to doing business.

 The authors make the point that is similar to any sales training program that entering the account prior to the RFP and understanding the customer’s issues early on is a good way to counteract the “bidding process. Most Account Planning programs will cover this tactic.  While this is old it sets the stage for their 3 strategies that must be considered.


Star Performers follow these three strategies:

First, look for the right prospect. Are their agile? Can the customer act quickly and decisively? Does the prospect have an emerging need or is the organization in a state of organizational flux?

In the article they share a great guide to determine whether to pursue an opportunity or to simply move on, but the light bulb will go on as you consider their next gem. After interviewing many top performers they uncovered where the new “INSIGHT SELLING” professionals standout.  Rather than uncovering pain, or answering an RFP, the “star rep uses sales calls to reframe the discussion and turn a customer with clearly defined requirements into one with emerging needs or ….revealing to the customer needs they didn’t know they had.  These ideas must be provocative in nature, challenging to the prospects and insightful! This will make your organization stand out amongst the crowd of sellers.

The second strategy describes the 7 profiles normally found in any account: Go-Getters, Teachers, Skeptics, Guides, Friends, Climbers and Blockers. While we have always been trained to find a “coach or advocate” the authors make the case that in today’s selling environment star-performers  seek out to find  only: “Go-Getters, Teachers and Skeptics’, in effect these become the “mobilizers” within an organization.  Mobilizers are focused first and foremost on driving productivity change for their company and that is what they want to talk about-their company not the salesperson’s.

The third strategy is simply to assist the buyer in buying!  The salesperson must fully know the buying the cycle and NOT probe about “what are the steps to gain approval”. Be an asset and provide valued insight to help your prospect cause change.

The article will give any salesperson and certainly sales manager’s things to consider in re-inventing your sales process, sales training and certainly in your sales strategy. The key is review how your salespeople are selling today:  Can you change the game on your competition?  Are you including new sales processes/tactics that can make your organization stand out during the sales cycle? Is your sales training program designed to enhance the professionalism of your team?

Have you read any other thought provoking articles lately? Share your thoughts with all of the readers on this blog or other related sales leadership topics.

Thanks Dennis for the great read!

From somewhere between Knoxville and Hong Kong……have a great week and month.