Archive for the ‘Sales Management Systems’ Category

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

 

 

Sales Management & Discipline

December 14th, 2015

Sales Management and Discipline

Last week it happened-again. I received a call from a former client that was concerned about the status of their sales team and VP of Sales-it seems that their revenue was off more than $2M over the previous year and below their growth goal! The President wanted some answers and certainly a fix.

My first question was why did it take the President so long to recognize the problem or revenue drop and why wasn’t it addressed in June! After that conversation I next interviewed the VP of Sales.   After 10 minutes I had a good idea of what had happened or more importantly what had not happened.

The VP of Sales and President failed on one major tenet of sales leadership; they forgot about the need for discipline. Definition: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character, control gained by enforcing obedience or order, orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior. The President failed to pay attention to what the sales manager was doing and both let various “systems” that were in place fall away. In past blog’s I have discussed the need for sales management to have discipline, accountability and control, and while I had introduced this to my client several years ago it slipped away. BTW: This all happened even through the President/VP formally meet twice each month.

What the VP got focused on were tactical actions that caused him a loss of leadership, vision and execution and most importantly lost control of his time management. So what are our next steps?

  • Review session on the 5 styles of leadership/management and coaching techniques
  • Development of a Sales Plan for the new year with quarterly objections/goals
  • Re-Introduction of a 2016 salesperson business planning tool.
  • Kick start their sales recruitment plan-for him to attain his new revenue goals for 2016 he needs to hire 4 new salespeople ASAP
  • Re-install his quarterly salesperson training program
  • Analyze his marketing plans
  • Implement an Account Planning program for Growth, Target, Key Accounts
  • Increase the focus on CRM execution
  • Build a weekly/monthly/quarterly sales management checklist.

These are all fairly basic actions and frankly easy to fix, but without them and discipline to operationalize and make them part of the standards of a sales organization revenues become non predictable and potentially decline. In this particular client situation the VP of Sales now recognizes what must be done, he learned the hard way and luckily will keep his job.

If you want a copy of a white paper The Job of Sales Management; 40 actions to build predictable revenue, send me an email:  Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

Lastly, as a President or Sales Leader; it is critical to inspect what you expect and remember your sales team will pay attention to what you pay attention to.

What will you change in your sales organization in 2016? Let me know?

 

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

 

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

Build Predictable Revenue

October 13th, 2015

Build Predictable Revenue In Your Organization

Make 2015 Your Best Year Ever!

In recent years, organizations have gotten better at analyzing financial statements, refining manufacturing procedures, reengineering business systems and improving marketing effectiveness. CEOs have strengthened their balance sheets with better asset management, reduced their inventory and cost levels with just-in-time methodologies, and increased direct mail and advertising effectiveness through thorough testing and reporting methods. But one area where additional improvements still can be made is the sales organization.

Smart companies are scrutinizing their strategic sales management plans, taking a closer look at everything from their pipelines to their forecasts. They are also taking a closer look at lifetime values, cost of sales, market share, sales processes and salesperson effectiveness. The reason is simple: All organizations, regardless of whether their sales are shrinking or growing, are under pressure to create a sales distribution organization that generates predictable, consistent, profitable results.

We believe most organizations can improve their profitability by increasing the Discipline, Accountability and Control within their companies. Many times we hear that “our company is too small to do these management systems that you show us, Ken”.   My answer is simple; “it’s more critical when you are small to begin building management systems and tools because revenue and profitability are considered more critical in an organization. Start with a few simple tools and you will be amazed how you can leverage your time more effectively and begin to achieve revenue and profit growth in your firm.

Interestingly, I see many VAR organizations that are struggling. They often lack both a strategic and tactical sales plan. Before you get too deep into your 2007 strategic plan, ask yourself what kind of sales-management plan you have in place. Such a plan must include an amalgamation of the organization’s goals, individual salespeople’s desires and objectives, and a common set of measurement factors that ensures all parties are focused on the right activities for generating success.

Planning

The first step is to plan your revenue plan, in the exhibit below we have estimated revenues from four practice areas and “where potentially” the revenues will come from-i.e. existing clients or new clients. This exercise will begin to build your framework for allocation of sales and marketing dollars, marketing plans and the beginnings to create a dashboard to track your effectiveness.

So, where do you go from here? Focus on creating business plans for individual salespeople that define and bring together their goals with those of the corporation, and that coordinate activities with planned marketing programs (see “Planning Pointers,” above). We recommend that in a salesperson’s business plan you should make the salesperson define their weekly activity goals, set sales goals that reflect their “Best, Most likely and Minimum revenue or profit expectation levels. In addition, we like to see them forecast by suspect/client by product or practice area three times their quota. Plus in the business plan each salesperson should set their networking goals and their own marketing plans. Each plan should be created every six months.

If your sales team is focused on certain accounts, where you have defined five or ten Named accounts or you have certain accounts Targeted for your firm to “open”, then their Account Plan’s should include a specific strategy for each named account and five tactical sales actions to move deeper into the account, sell additional products or services into the account and increase the overall sales into that account. These account plans should be prepared every 90-days.

Sales-management planning systems dramatically refocus a sales manager to future business instead of past results. While most SFA/CRM or manual sales-management systems can enhance the effectiveness of a sales organization, they generally measure past activities and current sales funnel values. While this information is a must for all sales teams, the systems fall short by providing a rear-view mirror methodology to management.

A properly designed sales-management planning system changes all of that. With a sales-planning tool, a sales manager or executive can monitor expected performance; coach, mentor and provide a viewpoint of past performance; and measure results against the salesperson’s desired objectives. In addition, such a tool helps a salesperson and sales manager, who are looking at planned activities far enough ahead, to ensure that consistent activities are in place to build pipeline values that will provide enough prospect opportunity to exceed individual quotas or personal goals.

 

I like to say that it is the salesperson’s responsibility to achieve their monthly quota and its is management’s responsibility to ensure the proper mix of marketing and sales activities are in place that the 90-day pipeline is full enough to ensure quota can be made each and every month. This type of salesperson business plan can take the load off an executive and place on the people who is accountable for sales.

Like any new organizational change, the rollout of such a system must be carefully planned and explained to all salespeople. Ideally, salespeople should attend a group meeting with all members of their team, along with key members of the management team, including a controller/CFO and any vice presidents of marketing and delivery. Last, it’s wise for each salesperson to present a business plan and account plans to his/her peer group and management team.

We recommend that these meetings be serious events that incorporate some aspect of fun. The power of these personalized plans is actually realized when the plan is measured against actual performance. This is when salespeople get it. They recognize what it takes to achieve their personal and professional goals, and they see how creating better planning impacts performance.

Training and Development

The next step is create a sales training and development plan each quarter for you and your sales teams.

In our work with many Partners we find four essential elements failing, 1) when new employee’s are hired, there is a limited-at best-new employee training program, 2) on going sales training programs are sporadic and not focused on the key elements required to compete, 3) ineffective or nonexistent role play scenarios being run in sales meetings and 4) sales management is not coaching or mentoring, in the field, during routine sales calls. The result is uneven knowledge levels and a lack or discipline by sales management to reinforce MSS or other training programs.

It is critical that companies of all sizes focus on the need to train employees-continuously. In most Partner organizations there has been a focus on ensuring “certification levels” of the technical team are current, yet little investment is made to “certify” our sales teams. An Acumen truth: training programs do not have to consist of an expensive sophisticated program-just keep it to the basics.

To ensure success, several basic components need to be in place: first, a plan that defines the goals and components of a training program, second, a defined on-going process and third, and most importantly, proper execution.

The Plan

The plan should contain an outline for initial employee training on job functional requirements, company product/service offerings, benefits and recurring plans for training existing employees. One element that most organizations miss in their training plans is the belief aspect of employee training. While it’s important to train on new skill development, product/service knowledge; maintaining employee’s interest and motivation levels are critical in today’s competitive economy. This focus on developing employee’s mental commitment and aligning their personal-motivational interests is called “re-recruiting”. As new employees enter into your company it is the perfect opportunity to set the tone. If you have letters of reference-they should read them, if you have awards-make sure they look at them and understand how you earned them. Next, make sure all new employees have a lunch or a meeting with the highest level position in their division or in smaller organizations with the President. It is at these sessions that commitment, attitude and loyalty can begin to be developed.

We believe in creating a detailed three-week New Hire training plan, the format is simple-yet complete. Each week is broken down into specific training and knowledge transfer components-with homework! Everything must be covered: legal documents, marketing case studies, how to use the phone/Fax/CRM, lunch meetings, as well as learning to sell/present your organization via the use of your company’s brochures/PPT. It is critical that each aspect of your New Hire Training Program is defined and as the salesperson completes each section the person responsible for the area “signs off/dates” that the new person has “passed”.

The Process: it’s ongoing

The process again can be a simple program. In designing a training plan take into consideration the follow elements: 1) sales skills, 2) product/services knowledge, 3) company operations, 4) industry awareness and 5) (if appropriate) Vertical industry awareness. We recommend that once a quarter you plan each sales meeting and sales training event. By preplanning in advance you can incorporate each of the five items into a comprehensive plan. In addition, each salesperson should have a six-month personal program that allows them to set their personal goals. This document begins the process of ensuring each person’s goals are aligned with the overall corporate goal. HINT: at monthly company meetings, semi-annual employee gatherings, (picnics/party) should also be utilized to reinforce employee development. Rather than simply “getting together”, use these sessions to bring in customers to tell of your success stories, speakers to work on team concepts or industry awareness programs.

Certification Process

One existing client has taken this concept and built a process within their sales organization that sets the bar! Each salesperson must pass several certification levels, each year! In one situation the salesperson has 15 minutes to review a case study, walk into a room where a professional actor role plays the client situation and three independent professionals evaluate the salesperson’s performance. The passing grade level must be achieved for the salesperson to move to the next level. HINT: These might be video taped for later review.

Execution

The better question: how do I start? Develop the written three-month sales training plan. A predefined schedule will end individuals having conflicting appointments or not being prepared for the training. HINT: assign sales people for most of topical training, (this will ensure they know it if they have to train on it) and schedule outside resources at least once a quarter. The benefit of a short-term plan and agenda are that current issues can be addressed and continuous training and employee focus is a company goal.

Employees are a critical asset. Most software systems have regular maintenance check-up’s and support agreements to keep them at current levels-do the same with your employee assets. Keeping your employees personal and professional objectives aligned with your corporate goals by “training and re-recruiting” will create huge dividends.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Action You Can DO to Exceed Your Quota

September 8th, 2015

One Action You Can DO to Exceed Your Quota

Exceeding quota is never easy, in fact studies have shown that large percentages of salespeople never achieve 100% of their assigned quotas, but if you are in a position of sales leadership what can you do to improve your odds of success?

It’s not the purpose of this blog, but the first action is to read the last two week’s blogs on “Hiring High Performance Sales Teams” but reality is here, it’s the third quarter and you have to work with the team that’s in place and your sales goal has been set. The one action to for you to do is easy and depending on the size of your sales team or location (remote/multiple offices/local) some creativity or logistics may need to be implemented, but here’s the tip we tell all of our clients:

  • Instead of burying your sales pipeline in a CRM database visually display the top ten (10) sales opportunities where they can be seen by yourself and or your team. This list normally is displayed in the sales manager’s office and could be on a white board or on a paper flip chart.

What is the logic behind this recommendation?

  1. Typically by winning a few of the larger opportunities each month/quarter almost always ensure sales budgets are exceeded.
  2. Keeping the list visual allows them to be top of mind and allows for a constant review of strategies, tactics and updates.
  3. The visual list allows for the entire management team to be aware of those key opportunities and increases the number of potential sales ideas and availability of resources that could be used in closing the sale.
  4. The list can be used in sales meetings to brainstorm ideas and to teach the sales team the basics behind developing winning sales strategy ideas.

What do have to lose? Try this idea for the next 90 days and let me know your results. In the past 18 years of consulting with organizations, when this idea was executed, we always saw revenues jump!

Want to improve your Win/Lost Ratio? If you would like a copy of our 9 page Acumen Sales Strategy Planning Guide send me an email request and I will send it to you. Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

Make it a wonderful trip between now and end of the year! Don’t forget to check out: Ignite Your Sales Team, Sales Management on Fire Video.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

4 Measures to Find Out if Your Prospecting is Effective

April 13th, 2015

4 Measures To Find Out If Your Prospecting is Effective

By Sean Burke

CEO, KiteDesk

KEN: We have a guest blog this week, during the past year, our research  told us that “prospecting” was the #1 issue  facing sales leaders.  I think you will find this interesting.

Finding prospects and nurturing them into leads is an integral part of any sales cycle. Sometimes traditional marketing efforts are not enough to keep a healthy number of prospects flowing into your pipeline. When email marketing, client referrals, and trade show attendance is not enough, prospecting online provides opportunities to attract new leads to your business.

So, you start using social media and work on creating a following by sharing content. You start creating all sorts of downloadable content – eBooks, white papers, checklists and Infographics. You host and/or participate in webinars and online chats. Sometimes you give away these assets for free, other times, you offer them in exchange for contact information.

You can also use the newly released KiteDesk 2.0 sales productivity tool to quickly identify qualified leads from among millions of potential contacts from cloud-based data providers Fliptop, Netprospex, ZoomInfo and/or Full Contact.  Advanced filtering delivers just the leads that sales reps have mutual connections into, which helps turn cold calls into warm introductions.  KiteDesk collects and scores connections found in employees’ emails, calendars and social networks as well as CRM so they are easily accessible and searchable by anyone in the company.  Get 300 free leads from KiteDesk when you sign up for KiteDesk today.

Once you have these details, prospecting can begin.

There is a lot of time and effort that goes into creating virtual giveaways, and it’s not always easy to determine if your efforts are yielding viable prospects. For the purpose of this discussion, we are going to use hosting a webinar as an example of a prospecting activity, but you can apply the following metrics to any of your prospecting efforts to discover if you will see a return on your investment:

  1. x Number of Leads Created – This is a simple measurement. For example, if you host a webinar, how many people registered? How many attended? If you are investing in hosting webinars that people aren’t attending, perhaps you need to make adjustments to your webinar planning (i.e. inviting a larger list, posting more ads on social media or co-branding the event with another company). If attendance doesn’t improve, you may reach the conclusion that your audience is not interested in attending webinars. Find out what does interest them, and do it better than your competition.
  2. Percentage of Leads Converted to a Sale – all the leads in the world do not matter if they do not translate into closed business at some point. Check out Marketing Sherpa’s Ecommerce Research Chart: Industry benchmark conversion rates for 25 retail categories to get a rough idea on the average conversion rate for your industry and determine how your efforts compare. Start by looking at your average sales cycle (say 60 days). After hosting a webinar, track those new leads at 60 days. Take the number of leads that converted to customers divided by the total number of new leads from the event. That’s your percentage. Are you meeting or exceeding your industry’s average? If so, great! If not, webinars may not be the best source of new leads for your business.
  3. Pipeline Revenue Created – In addition to measuring the number of leads you are creating through your prospecting efforts, it is also important to make sure that these leads eventually turn into new clients/revenue. Measuring the total NEW pipeline revenue will help you determine if you are building enough pipeline to justify the effort you are putting into prospecting.  The way we recommend that you do this is as follows:
    1. Create a campaign in your CRM called = “Prospecting – Webinar Registrants”
    2. Ensure that all leads generated from webinars are associated with this campaign
    3. Make sure that your sales team keeps accurate information in your CRM that includes: Opportunities, revenue value of each new Opportunity created, and if and/or when those opportunities become closed sales
  4. Is Your Cost/Lead Going Up or Down – How much does hosting a webinar cost you? Divide that by the number of leads created, and that gives you your cost/lead. What does that number look like? Is it high? Is it getting higher? Ideally, your cost for acquiring a lead should be a low number to know that you are getting the most value out of your efforts. Here is a link to a report that you can use to determine how you are doing – Lead Generation, Benchmark Report.

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

7 Benefits of a Prescriptive Sales Process

April 6th, 2015

7 Benefits of a Prescriptive Sales Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Thoreson, President of Acumen Management Group LTD.

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Time for Salesperson Evaluations

March 30th, 2015

Time for Salesperson Evaluations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com