Archive for the ‘Sales Management Consulting’ Category

Build Your 2017 Pipeline NOW!

November 21st, 2016

Now is the Time to Build Your Pipeline for 2017

At this time of year it is not unusual for salespeople and sales managers to simply focused on closing business to achieve their yearly objectives, maximize their compensation plans and unfortunately drain their pipelines.  January can be a good month with leftover sales opportunities but many sales teams face a weak February/March. Because of this  I wanted to share an easy sales driven prospecting system that can ensure your sales pipeline does not shrink-ever!

HINT:  This marketing campaign idea could incorporate messaging from your vendors utilizing their marketing materials, email campaigns, telephone scripts and partner involvement, if their marketing website allows you to download quality tools.

Action steps include:

1) Refine their prospect database to reflect the A, B, C Ideal client profile concept.  (See previous blogs that define what an ideal client profile is or send me an email for details.

2) Download and review a direct mail letter/postcards/email tools provided by your vendors or develop your own and create two pieces for two campaigns that will be used; these can be personalized with your logo, etc.  These should include two different messages based upon your products/services that must excite a net new prospect.

3)  Create multiple batches of 20 suspects by salesperson, divided into groups of A, B, C, D, etc.

4)  Execute on the following tactical plan:

Week One:      Each salesperson sends email/ postcards # 1 to 20 different suspects in Group A

Week Two:      Each Salesperson sends email/postcards #2 to the same Group A 20 suspects

Each Salesperson sends email/postcards #1 to another set of 20 suspects in Group B

Week Three:    Each salesperson begins to call Group A and set an appointment or invite them to an Executive Forum run by the partner

Each salesperson sends emails/ postcards # 2 to the 20 suspects in Group B

Each salesperson sends email/ postcard #1 to 20 suspects in a new Group C

Week Four:     Each Salesperson begins to call all non-contacted member of Group A

Each Salesperson begins to call all suspects in Group B

Each Salesperson sends emails/postcards #2 to the suspects in Group C

This program continues in this manner. As the activity level and pipeline grows, the only change in this marketing and activity plan will be the number of emails letters sent per week, it could drop to 10. The reason we recommend 20 or less names is to keep the contact focus low enough to ensure the salesperson can attempt multiple contacting calls within the third week.

It is recommended that an on-going “Executive Forum” or workshop event is scheduled for the same time/same day each month i.e. the third Thursday at 8am. The purpose of the event is to provide a “call to action” and provide a reason for the telephone call follow up.

HINT: Sales Management must monitor this program carefully to ensure 1) salespeople are contacting the prospects, 2) the messages within the marketing pieces are working or not and 3) what call/contact ratios are effective.

Let me know how this idea is working for you or what other ideas you are using to drive you sales pipelines.

 

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 fourth 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

Sprint to the Finish-it’s that time of year…

October 24th, 2016

Sprint to the Finish—–It’s that time of year…

by Ken Thoreson

 

An upcoming election . . .  Roller-coaster days on Wall Street . . .  Middle East issues . . .  Competitors taking what appears to be drastic measures . . .   There are many distractions.

With that economic domino effect affecting us all as 2016 begins to wind down, ending the year on a high note will be more challenging than ever.  Here are some ideas and strategies for you to consider:

Keep it in perspective.  Focus on your technology-based products and services – it is the best place to be in challenging economic times.  You sell what is especially in demand by your customers right now – solutions that can increase efficiency, cut costs and enhance customer relationships.

  • Stay optimistic.  Remember that clients and prospects are seeking help and you’re in a position to both reassure and assist them.
  • Work harder.   (Sorry, but that’s what’s needed.)   Try to stretch yourself both in terms of attracting new customers and better serving existing ones.  Sell professionally; execute brilliantly.

Meanwhile, the standard end-of-year scenario still applies.  As always, this is when accelerated compensation programs kick in.  More importantly, it’s when many management bonus systems take effect, rewarding executives for driving certain levels of pretax income to the bottom line or attaining their revenue targets.  And it’s no wonder that, just like every year at this time, sales teams feel like they’re in the last 100 yards of a big race.

Here are 5 sales strategies to help you stay out in front as you approach the 2016 finish line:

  1. Count the days.  In the same way that consumers track holiday shopping days, know how long you’ve got left to sell this year.  Doing the countdown adds urgency to the process for you and your prospects.  (Hint:  How can you use one more hour a day to boost business?  “One more call before I break for lunch; one more call before I leave for the day.”  That’s two additional calls per day, 5 days per week, number of days – you do the math!)
  2. Leverage all your resources.  Can you turn to colleagues to strategize about opportunities and develop winning tactics?  How about conducting site visits?  Can an existing client, vendor contact, or strategic partner help create credibility with prospects?
  3. Plot-closing strategies.  Focus on why prospects need your solution and exactly how they’ll benefit from implementing it, whether it’s generating revenues, improving productivity or better serving customers.  Then develop a reason for them to act now. You may have a sense of urgency driven by end-of-year deadlines for quotas or bonuses, but you need to show prospects how moving forward at this point will benefit them.
  4. Make contact twice weekly.  Never let a week slip by between meetings with prospects.   If you see them on Tuesday, see them again on Thursday.  Stop by at a convenient time-but always have a valuable reason to visit, such as providing an implementation plan or a reference letter.
  5. Keep prospecting.  Sales organizations often drain their pipelines by the end of December.  January may be strong with leftover business, but February, March and April typically lag.  It’s important to ensure that marketing and prospecting levels remain constantly focused on future pipeline development.  Now is the time to develop your Prospecting Parthenon for the first half of next year.

One last tip for coping with today’s economy:

In the downturn following the 2008 market collapse, I developed a short personal motto that successfully reinforced the need to keep moving forward.  It was: “Take action. Stay positive.”  I suggest that you develop a similar slogan to help you close out 2016 with a strong finish and begin 2017 with consistent sales results.  Having a strong foundation can make all the difference in how you end the year and position yourself for 2017.

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 fourth 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

 

What is all this talk about a Sales Process?

April 20th, 2016

What is all this talk about a Sales Process?

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

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

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

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

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

This is an example of a Discovery Stage:

Discovery (Opportunity) Stage 3                                                                                                      

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

Salesperson Responsibility:

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

o   Identify people attending the demo

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

 

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

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

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

Let me know your thoughts on creating a sales process. What has worked for you? What hasn’t?
Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 18 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

 

Did It Get Done?

October 27th, 2015

Did It Get Done?

That is a question most executives worry about and often have to ask their direct reports, this is especially true when thinking about Sales Management. In some situations the President of the company may have responsibility to manage the sales team or maybe they are attempting to manage a sales manager(s). In either case-attaining revenue objectives becomes a critical success factor-to a point where it might be distracting from achieving other responsibilities of sales management.

However the job of sales leadership demands more than revenue focus, in fact in my training programs and client consulting engagements I tell my clients that it is not sales management’s job to achieve quota-that is the salesperson’s job! It is the job of sales leadership to hire, train and manage the team properly and position them for success-that is why “getting it done” becomes a critical question. Ensuring that the necessary basic foundations are being achieved becomes important.

If the issue of not “getting it done” seems to be occurring with a client, we implement the following process to train and keep everything in focus. Each Friday afternoon each field Sales Manager submits a weekly and at the end of the month, a simple standard form or checklist that was created to ensure that “all the bases are touched”. I’ve listed a few examples from a typical checklist:

  • Attended  on-site sales calls with reps to observe sales behaviors and to coach?
  • Listened to phone calls to observe sales behaviors and to coach?
  • Scheduled a well-planned weekly sales team meeting to discuss results, new plans and build excitement?
  • Reviewed new salesperson applications and executed interviewing plans?
  • Randomly inspected CRM updates by salespeople to ensure they are updating it correctly?
  • Scheduled monthly sales training meetings and topics that are planned with specific dates/times?
  • Scheduled monthly one on one meeting with each direct report?
  • Confirmed future marketing programs

The key element is not to make the checklist exhaustive but detailed enough that the fundamental aspects of the job is accomplished.  I have seen many growing organizations begin to fail simply because the basics were being overlooked and without a foundation the system begins to fall apart.

Our clients have also taken this approach to each department within the organization. Building a prescriptive approach and holding direct reports accountable will almost always propel the organization to the next level.

If you are the sales manager or you are managing sales managers and want our weekly/monthly “Manage a Sales Manager” template send me an email; Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  This tool was designed to ensure both the President/EVP and the sales manager(s) are in synch and are working on mutually agreed to goals.  I have found quite often the field sales manager is busy and productive but their management is frustrated that other corporate objectives are not being achieved. The reason? Simply a lack of clear communication and lack of mutual priority setting. This tool will help resolve those kinds of problem.

What other items should be on your monthly sales manager’s checklist? Get it done.

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

11 Actions Sales Management Must Take Now!

October 6th, 2015

11 Actions Sales Management Must Take Now!

Sound investment portfolio-management advice ranges from “hold firm with your existing stocks” to “take advantage of a great opportunity to buy at today’s basement prices”. Holding firm assumes that your existing portfolio contains quality securities, is properly diversified and has been managed with an appropriate, long-term perspective.

For our sales management world, let’s make the same positive assumptions – our sales team consists of quality people with good attitudes and successful track records, and has been properly managed. However, there’s one big difference. Sales leaders must continually keep their sales teams focused on goals and activities that make their teams and companies successful. Therefore, their perspective must be short-term revenue generation.

Today’s tenuous political and economic situation is very distracting and may be having a negative impact on your team’s morale and drive. Lousy economic headlines and layoffs may have left staff suffering from survivor’s guilt, lamenting about the loss of comrades and security.

Now is the time to rally your troops. The nation’s leaders are encouraging spending and investing to boost our economy. This also is an opportunity to build a better sales team that will increase your market share as competitors lag. The following tactical program features 11 key sales and marketing management actions that will help your sales management approach take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime during the lifetime of this opportunity: 

  • Mobilize by motivating. 

 

    1. Keep your team focused on activity, and decrease distraction by tuning into the attitude and motivation of your sales team. Build belief in your company, and boost your team’s confidence in its products/services with visits to your satisfied customers, reference letters, or customer visits and presentations to your entire organization about their satisfaction. Make your sales meetings fun. Create sales contests/games that are focused on achieving activity levels that will increase your sales pipeline and sales opportunities. Find out what is important to your sales team, and create rewards that will reinforce these.
  • Review your product/service packaging and pricing tactics to ensure that you are capitalizing on your strengths and meeting competition.

 

This is a perfect time to review your existing profit margins and sales-cycle length by product line, and make short-term adjustments to determine the elasticity of your product that will increase revenues and margins. Create or amend the features or offerings in your various packages or even create new packaged offerings. Confuse your competition with new offerings and you may even find new added-value options that have been overlooked. Find ways to be different. 

  • Analyze and profile the sales team and distribution channels that you need to penetrate your markets.   

 

    1. Your channel partner strategy should complement the efforts of your team, not cannibalize them. Look to your partner’s business model to determine how to capture “share of mind”, and reward them for their achievements. Quantify the results of each partner, and keep senior channel management updated.
    2. Analyze your existing strategy and each channel partner as to how they match up to your profile. You may find new partners/alliances that will open up new accounts and even new markets. If your #1 choices for partners aren’t interested, pursue #2 choices with the argument that you can help make them #1. You also may find it advantageous to discontinue some relationships.
    3. First list the attributes necessary to maximize sales of your product, and then determine if this is best accomplished through a company sales organization or channels/partners or both. Second, create a customer focus group and ask them how to best serve them and what they are looking for in a relationship. What levels of support do they require? Third, make a decision on the five most essential attributes or profiles for your sales employees and channel partners.
  • Muscle up your sales team.

 

With so many very good salespeople available and looking for the right opportunity, it’s the perfect time to increase your recruiting and potential hiring. It is far better to hire the best person for the job, and not the best available person. Create the ideal five attributes of successful salespeople, and establish a “tight” interview process that ensures you increase the quality of your team. Guideline: spend 25% of your time interviewing.

 

  •  Analyze and strategize each sales opportunity.

If your industry is facing fewer opportunities and increased competition, each opportunity is even more precious. Schedule time with salespersons individually or in a team setting to think through each near-term sales opportunity. Provide your team with effective tools that analyze the status of each opportunity and develop the various tactics to increase your probabilities. Specifically:

 

    1. Pinpoint and develop ways to counter objections
    2. Determine buyer decision criteria
    3. Establish client decision makers and influencers
    4. Initiate multi-level contact with multi-level influencers in the prospect’s company. 
  • Seek supporters who will recommend your product/service.

 

Analyze the type of organizations or people that impact your client’s decision process. These “influencers” may be consultants that work in the same market or leverage the same prospect base, accounting firms, bankers, industry analysts. Consider other sales organizations that would benefit directly or indirectly from the sale of your product or service. Develop a plan to establish who the decision makers at these organizations are. Enlist your sales and management teams in a campaign to present these influencers with advantages of your firm, and secure a commitment from them to work with you. This on-going action can lead to the equivalent of a normal salesperson’s quota value of sales!

 

  • Create new sales leads with an active target-marketing campaign.

 

Create a smart, targeted campaign, not a blast or mass-appeal plan. First, establish profiles of current clients, and determine the five reasons they use your products/service. Second, hit your market with a strong, clear message – ROI and productivity gains – through case studies in publications that your market reads and a customer reference list. Third, establish a plan of action for the next six months and make sure you have included a sales follow up contact – execute your management review. 

  • Review your current compensation plan to ensure that it supports company goals.

 

Clearly document your current plan and tabulate payments against results over time. Is the plan achieving your original goals? Is the plan reinforcing desired sales activity behavior? If not, develop a new plan, and gain internal buy-in from your team. Focus on shorter-term goals, and implement a new plan with commitment to keep it in place for at least six months. Use the existing market opportunity to focus on short-term achievements. 

  • Increase your investment in training – sales skills, product/service knowledge.

 

In tighter times your team must perform more effectively. Review your past efforts, and take an inventory of training needs based on individual salesperson comparisons against your desired profile. Schedule ongoing training programs. Develop your own internal programs to ensure your salespeople fully understand and can sell your product/services and then arrange for commercial sales skill training programs. You will experience both short-and long-term benefits. Focus on increased levels of training for six months. 

  • Develop an active program to contact every customer.

 

This is a great time to establish a program to make contact with each existing client to fully understand their situations and use of your product/services, to offer new packages, and seek references for new potential clients. Make sure you are effectively using your CRM or SFA programs, and update your database with each customer contact. Verify that your sales team’s recent contacts with every prospect and client are appropriate. Develop, execute, and monitor a program of continuing contact with all targeted clients, prospects, influencers and partners. Review your progress each week/month at your sales meetings. 

  • Build better planning into your sales organization.

 

Failure to plan is the number one obstacle thwarting revenue generation. First, define the specific steps of your sales process, and ensure that each salesperson executes those steps effectively. Second, develop detailed six-month individual salesperson business plans. Third, create specific named account tactical sales plans for those key strategic accounts, and follow up on your salespersons’ actual actions. 

You’ll find the word “execute” many times in this brief article, because action is critical.

Successful sales managers plan, successfully focus, and execute their programs. Take these 11 actions, and you will enhance your sales team, increase revenues, and build a focus in your organization when it is critically important – NOW! Take Action. Stay Positive.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is all this talk about added value?

February 4th, 2015

What is All This Talk about Added Value?

A mind is like an umbrella, it must be opened to work….

 During my keynote at a recent sales kickoff meeting I opened up the dialogue regarding how salespeople and organizations need to not only create value to separate themselves from their competition buy also the need for a company to prove their value proposition during the sales process.  Many organizations express their value on their website or marketing brochures, but fail in this important step of proof.

At this highly “product” driven company the salespeople were really struggling to understand the concept of being unique or what kinds of value they could offer, it was a lively session.   In a commodity business it is critical you consider value and what is really value. During a 90 minute keynote it might not be possible to create specific ideas around adding value or proving your value proposition but opening the mind to the concept is critical in today’s environment.

It comes down to the fact that without value added, anybody can do what you do, including your competition. Value added is up to the salesperson or organization in making the difference and if it is done right, no one will ever compete with you.

The strategic thought process question that should be asked before every meeting or client situation is:  “How can I add value to this opportunity?

There are three steps to adding value.

Step One: Forget what business you are in.

Understanding your business begins, paradoxically by forgetting your product/service. You’re not the product/services you represent. You sell dreams and you sell solutions; you simply deliver the product/service.  As a young salesperson I learned the power of this step, I found out the reason the client was purchasing my computer/software was to enjoy her weekends at the lake cabin!  That emotion is what I ended up selling. It is critical you always understand what the compelling reason to purchase is driving your client? I always stress this during sales strategy sessions.

Step Two: Move from the big picture to added value options

Ask yourself: What actions can I take that will add value to my offerings-that will exceed by clients’ expectations? What can I do that will position me as different from and more valuable than my competition?”  These can be the big questions that organizations can ponder during a strategic planning session or driven by the salesperson in each unique sales situation. One client of ours sold heavily on ROI; what we did was assist in creating a sales process where on stage 3 the salesperson would have the client visit our client’s website (make it a sales tool). The prospective client then would actually enter a few variables into a data entry form.  As a result the CFO of the client’s organization would create a business case for the project, this business case was then presented to the prospective client.  This added value, proved the companies value proposition and added a unique phase to the relationship.  What kinds of added value actions can you offer is a challenging session and will take time to develop. We suggest group meetings with a variety of employees, customer focus groups and brainstorming sessions during this phase.

Step Three: Value Add Evaluation

How can I bring this idea to my clients? Can I afford to do these things? Does it duplicate any other service we provide? I always suggest that competitors can ‘catch on” to what you are doing, but you don’t want them to “catch up”. It is critical you continually assess your ideas around the value you are bringing to the sales situation. Every six months schedule a strategy session to evaluate your sales process and your value add services.

It is a challenge to create value but the time and investment will pay huge dividends in revenues and profits.  Get creative, open your mind, find your competitive edge and win!

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

It’s a Scary World Out There!

October 27th, 2014

It’s a Scary World Out There

While everyone maybe thinking of their Halloween costume or what tricks or treats they may provide, as sales leaders we must consider the bigger picture. It is a scary world out there and many fears exist; the future of the business cycle, new taxes that will hit in 2015, consumers of to their lively hoods and the fears of your sales team as they face another challenging year. All of these fears impact your planning actions.

Emotion has always been a major element in the sales environment, buyers today are more risk adverse, salespeople are more cautious and less self confident and worse the relationships between buyers and sellers are caught up in cost vs value.   It is evident the Wal-Mart mentality has taken hold.

Wal-Mart for years has pressured vendors for the low cost option. Just today I listened to a prospective client describe how their prospects are treating his sales teams and how his sales teams dread attempting to call on ‘net new” opportunities-“It’s all about low price-vendor relationships vs how we like to work as a consultative partner with our clients” he stated.  The good news is in the technology sector two factors separate us from Wal-Mart mentality.

In selling your solutions, partners we can sell productivity enhancements, business efficiency and you can sell cost effectiveness. And if you do it right you can sell BOTH at the same time!  I challenge you to consider what other industries address these most important business challenges.

The question is: as an owner or sales leader how are you lowering the fear in your sales teams and how are they approaching their prospects or clients to lower their fears?

At the recent conference I lead three back to back breakout sessions, in reading the evaluations and in conversations afterwards I heard: “What should I do….?” What do you recommend…?”  “How should I address…” These fear based questions were being asked?

What are your action steps to reduce fear and finish off 2014?

Create a sales theme. Most would consider this a weak action, however if you spend time creating a mantra or maxim that you believe in and you focus your energies around reinforcing it with your sales team the desired attitude will build.  At the University of TN they display former Coach General Neylands 7 Maxims. His first is: The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win. I have used Be Brilliant on the Basics or We will dominate our market and take an assertive sales approach. Each of these is designed build a certain sales mentality.

Focus your sales team on selling to the business challenges of the NON-IT decision makers. This requires sales training that includes adding role play in your sales meetings.  The issues your team must understand are: operational efficiency, cost containment, customer responsiveness, revenue growth and increase market share. What issues do the CEO, COO, CFO, VP of Sales/Marketing, VP HR or VP of Mfg care about? If you make the business case to the COO, they can find the money.  Make your sales team more confident; give them the knowledge to hold their own in tough sales situations.  Mental toughness is critical.

Re-evaluate your marketing and your messaging. To gain attention you need to consider “edgy” and stand out in the market. The important element is to create multiple messaging that addresses the business challenges from #2 above.  Campaigns should be focused to the specific job title you are attempting to address. Most partners use the same messaging  to addressing all job titles or worst they use a technology message expecting business decision makers to understand or translate the technology pitch into valid business benefits. Run your “Business Breakfasts or Executive Forums’ campaigns aimed specifically to a job title with the appropriate message for that title.  “Drive an Increase in Customer Satisfaction and Lower Your Costs” certainly would get the attention of the VP of Marketing or COO.

Don’t be scared; be aware, the important action is to take action. Sales leaders must recognize their environment and build a culture of success with an organized plan of attack.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 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.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

There are only 10 day’s left in June!

June 2nd, 2014

There are only 10 days left in June!

For the first time sales manager

Today (6/2/14) during a client’s Monday morning sales meeting, before we started the sales forecast for June, I announced: “There are only 10 days left in June!” I did this on purpose for several reasons.

1. I wanted to wake up and shake up everyone’s thinking at the outset of the meeting.

2. It was important to create a sense of urgency in everyone.

3. I created a theme for the month.

If you are a first time sales manager or even an experienced one, having any size team in a Monday morning sales call takes preparation. You do not begin without thinking about the outcome and intent of the meeting. With my clients, we use a sales meeting agenda and stick with a standard format, this keeps everyone on task. In today’s meeting we had 15 people with the vast majority on telephones-keeping everyone involved is important and getting to the point is critical. We covered a lot of topics in less than 40 minutes with good communication.

Creating a sense of urgency is critical, as a first time sales manager staying focused on achieving sales objectives is an important aspect of the job. Making sure your sales team is increasing their sales tempo is a must I sometimes find salespeople making one appointment per week per prospect-if they are hot, see them twice a week! Move the opportunity faster. If you are always waiting until the last week of the month or quarter to achieve your objectives it will grind you and your odds of success will decline. Keep the attitude of “what can I do today to move this sales opportunity forward?” is the mantra that each of your salespeople must feel and keep focused on-HINT: create that sign and hang in your sales area.

I have written often about creating a theme for the month or quarter, they can be fun or serious but they always are focused on selling. In my new book, out later this month: SLAMMED!!! The Guru’s Guide: for the First Time Sales Manager there are 9 chapters on Building a High Performance Culture. Creating an atmosphere of performance takes leadership, attitude, fun, and support. As a new sales manager maintaining that balance is an important function of your job.

What else can you do to increase the sense of urgency of your team? Let me know and I will post your comments.

If you would like a copy of a Monday morning Sales Meeting agenda template, send me an email: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

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 the world.

His latest book is: Leading High Performance Sales Teams, Ken’s 5th book designed for New Sales Managers will be published this summer.

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com www.AcumenManagement.com Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Make It Happen-Now!

April 21st, 2014

Make It Happen-Now!

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog about “Life Enrichment: a mantra “, I wrote it regarding a more personal approach to building a better life, I had a lot of reaction to that blog, but several people asked me about writing a blog based upon a more professional perspective vs a personal view.

In thinking through that issue, I think as sales leaders the title of this blog has it right! Make it Happen-Now!

Sense of urgency and creating momentum are critical to the success of any sales organization, I like to suggest to my clients that asking the sales teams “What can you do today, To create an order? Should be your daily mantra. Many sales teams wait for situations to occur to eventually close an order, great sales teams create situations that cause orders to occur. Sometimes these maybe chaos, a well-planned series of events, others are developed with skill of a brain surgeon during discovery and others are just plain salesmanship.

A good friend of mine, Jeb Blount from Sales Gravy (www.salesgravy.com) likes to use these questions with his clients:

• Are your prospects listening to you?

• Do they trust you?

• Do they like you?

• Are you making them feel important?

• What is the impact you will have on their business?

Making sales happen requires you can answer these questions correctly; these critical issues are missing in many sales management one-on-one sales opportunity discussions.

High performance salespeople are creative and are constantly re-thinking their sales strategies and competitive re-positioning, (have you touched all the bases?) Are you challenging the strategy of your thinking? Are you thinking about what else can I do to win this sales opportunity=ALL the TIME? Who else can I talk with or bring into this opportunity?

If you want a copy of the Acumen Sales Strategy Guide, let me know, Ken@AcumengMgmt.com

Make it happen-Now! And you will celebrate all through the summer. Spring Board into summer!

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 “Leading High Performance Sales Teams”.

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. Ken@AcumenMgmt.com www.AcumenManagement.com,

www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

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2014: How will you standout in the marketplace?

January 27th, 2014

2014: How will you stand out in the marketplace?

In reflecting on the past year it seems our program at WPC 2013 set the pace for many client projects. Our Master the Cloud Business Builder series we built for Microsoft provided a prescriptive approach to accelerating revenues as partners built Cloud/Mobility practices. Embedded as one of the key components in the marketing segment was building a vertical market using Cloud solutions to increase sales velocity, one of the sub-elements was using Thought Leadership Marketing to help you stand out in the marketplace. Another aspect of the Cloud Builder marketing program was ensuring your messaging/value proposition was clear, concise and unique. Effective messaging is the number two biggest challenge facing Microsoft partners.

Since our breakout session at WPC 2013 last July in Houston, we have received an enormous number of emails and business opportunities from partner organizations that wanted to learn more about “separating themselves” from their competition. If you weren’t able to make it to the session, you can still see it on WPC Connect it was rated in the top 20 of ALL events at WPC in 2013.

What is Thought Leadership? This quote from Fast Company: Golden Rules of Thought Leadership set the stage for our program at WPC: Dominate your market: learn how thought-leadership marketing will impact your vertical market presence.

You can achieve this in a variety of ways, and in my session at WPC I shared 10 actual examples and other marketing ideas.  One great example would be scheduling and sponsor an event each month at the same date/time, same locations(s) that features an industry expert covering a pertinent vertical market issue or a panel of customers discussing their company’s problems and how they solved them (HINT: using your solutions). Inviting high level executives such as CIO’s to these on-going events will help build up your company as a thought leader.

From a sales perspective, we also stress that your sales team is trained to execute more effectively within a Thought Leadership philosophy. In our Cloud Business Builder program we stressed Acumen’s Business Guidance sales training program. In this format we use existing sales methodologies and add a key component where the salesperson can become a true consultant to the prospect by offering advice or suggestions that reach beyond the technology solution.

By combining better messaging, adding thought leadership marketing and Business Guidance selling techniques your entire organization can prepare to make 2014 your best year ever!  Let me know if you would further information on this topic??

About the Author

Ken Thoreson, President of Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” business and sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 15 years, his consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout the world. Ken’s latest book is “Leading High Performance Sales Teams”. This was his 10th year speaking at WPC.

He was recently ranked for the second year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2013.

 

You can reach Ken at Ken@AcumenMgmt.com, www.AcumenManagement.com and his award winning blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com.