Archive for the ‘Sales Management Training’ Category

Sales Management Thought Leadership:  efficient effectiveness

April 20th, 2017

Sales Management Thought Leadership:  efficient effectiveness

As an Eagle Scout I can discuss the topic of “Be Prepared” easily and based upon my upcoming vacation next week it could lend more credibility. Last year I had to catch two planes and a ferry to end up on an island in the Caribbean, while that sounds somewhat easy, it took planning and preparation.  Taking a vacation for me becomes a big project for a variety of reasons-but mainly it’s time to unplug and “breathe fresh air”.

We researched a wide variety of destinations, resorts and optional packages, we narrowed the search and checked out online evaluations and then compared costs.  I posted potential locations and asked for opinions on Facebook, I asked my travel agent for her thoughts and friends for their experiences. All of this helped us pick a great spot, it was rated the “best beach resort in the world”.

Next I had to organize my professional life.  Client projects needed to be finalized, meetings re-scheduled, mobile phones had to find International plans, and new proposals completed.

Now just a few day to go, we had to pack, purchase last minute items and think through options like umbrellas, sun tan lotion, books, mosquito spray and other health related item.

What does this have to do with sales management?  As a manager you must be prepared-at all times for almost any event.  The best plan is to have a plan and to consider what might go wrong or what could impact your ability to exceed your objectives.  I have simply listed below a series of topics for your consideration and for you to double check against your plan or lack of plan.

Do you have a plan?

       If you lose a salesperson

       If your sales team needs sales training

       To increase the sales culture of your team

       To increase your networking/partnering function

       That generates excitement for your products/services

       To say thank you to your support team

       That increases your level of professionalism/education

       To create a sales contest that drives revenue

       That adds net new customers to your base

       That drives the necessary sales leads for each month

       To say thank you to your existing customer base

       To increase your public relations exposure within your community or market

       That will increase/improve your vendor relations

       To improve your CRM effectiveness

       If your computer systems fail or are destroyed

That’s enough for now, but if I missed anything, comment below, let’s build a complete list for the future.

HINT:  this is a great idea for your next management meeting, simply begin by asking each of the departmental managers about their problems or contingency issues that arise on a day to day basis or what might occur if a disaster of any kind happens-then ask them for their plan.

Why is this critically important today?  In any kind of business environment,  the organization that operates the most efficiently generally out performs their competition, in more challenging times a focus on efficient effectiveness must become the mantra for the day.

Check out our  Sales Management Boot Camp, starts May 12th, 8 weeks of online, interactive training:

https://www.salesgravy.com/online-sales-training/course/Slammed!-The-New-Sales-Manager-Boot-Camp-(Starts-5-12-17)-233

 

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 partners throughout the world

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

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Slammed! Sales Management Book Camp

January 9th, 2017

KEN: Normally I do not use this blog to promote, but I have had many readers inquire about out training programs and I wanted to let everyone know about this special opportunity.

Slammed! The New Sales Manager Boot Camp

We hear these comments all the time:

  • Revenues are flat
  • We have too much to do, we don’t have time to build a sales organization
  • I am frustrated with my sales team, do I have the right team?
  • I have a problem growing sales profitably
  • My pipeline is full, but nothing is closing
  • I don’t think my compensation plan is working
  • I am unsure what metrics to use to measure sales effectiveness
  • We seem to react to every opportunity

If you relate to any of these comments then SLAMMED! Sales Management Boot Camp maybe for you.  We start 2-24-17

To Learn More    http://ow.ly/VRmV307IMB5

Sales management is one of the most rewarding jobs in business when you know what to do and how to do it. This is what New Sales Manager Bootcamp is all about. Taught by sales management guru Ken Thoreson (one of the world’s foremost sales leadership coaches),  you will get everything you need to crush it in your new role.

You will attend eight live, virtual sessions with Ken in a small group setting (all sessions are recorded), in addition, you’ll have access to:

  • More than thirty self-directed video learning modules
  • Discussion forums where you can share best practices with Ken and other participants
  • Live chat room where you can interact with Ken
  • Ken will also be available for limited one to one coaching
  • Plus you’ll get all four books in Ken’s Sales Management Guru series including Slammed! For the New Sales Manager

In the course you’ll learn:

  • Important time management strategies for sales leaders
  • How to recruit, interview, and hire top talent
  • How to motivate your sales team
  • How to build and lead a high-performance sales culture
  • Compensation and incentive strategies
  • Coaching and training strategies for improving performance
  • How to effectively onboard new sales reps
  • How to evaluate your team and plan for the future
  • Pipeline strategies
  • Business planning strategies
  • How to build and create accountability
  • How to monitor leading indicators
  • How to manage and leverage sales dashboards
  • How to use Salesperson Business Plans to lead a self-managed team
  • And continued access to all training material in the program for twelve full months

If you are new to sales leadership  or never attended a sales management course this is a opportunity you must not miss. It is a rare opportunity to learn from one to the greatest sales management minds of all time. To ensure that participants get full attention class size is limited to 12 participants.

Enroll now to get instant access to pre-work and initial training videos. For questions please give us a call at 1-844-447-3737

To Learn More    http://ow.ly/VRmV307IMB5

 

 

July is Sales Leadership Month

July 6th, 2016

July is Sales Leadership Month

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

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

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

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

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

Two last thoughts:

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

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

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

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

 

 

Sales Management Shouldn’t be a Horse Race

May 3rd, 2016

Sales Management Shouldn’t be a Horse Race

First of all I don’t enjoy gambling and second, I really don’t know how to read a horse racing program. When it comes to betting on a horse race I tend to look at the color of the Jockey’s silks or the name of the horse.

Last weekend a group of East Tennessee friends and I attended Keenland horse racing track near Lexington KY for an afternoon “at the races”. With a lot of laughs, good food and a few beverages we netted out with a loss of $26-overall a good day.  It occurred to me later on the drive home that our random decisions of determining which horse to choose and how much to bet, simply showed our ignorance and certainly a casual attitude to our investments.  (To be truthful the biggest bet we made on any race was only $10.)

During the past 18 years of consulting with hundreds of firms and certainly talking to thousands of people I have witnessed the same ignorance and casual attitudes in managing sales teams. That happens because of many reasons; lack of good pure sales management training programs, lack of previous exposure to sales leadership mentors or poor management styles.

It happens in so many aspects of the job of sales leadership. I have often written about the many aspects of how to build a high performance sales team and the many challenges that any sales manager faces on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. You can find my white paper on the 40 Actions Sales Managers Must Take to Build Predictable Revenue.

The challenge is to keep it simple with a focus on: inspecting what your expect and building on accountability.  What do I mean?

Unlike reading a jammed packed statistical Racing Program-that does not make sense to me and acting randomly, sales leaders must follow the Acumen Recipe.

  1. What is your vision for the next 24 months? What are your goals?
  2. Do I have a quality recruiting and interview/selection process for new salespeople?
  3. Is there a new hire on-boarding program designed to ensure the new people are ready to sell?
  4. Do you have a quarterly plan to train your sales team on: products/services, sales skills, company operations?
  5. What are the 5 metrics you are using to predict future revenues and sales performance?
  6. Does your company have a strong value proposition and can your sales team articulate it?
  7. How are you creating an emotional buy-in by of your sales team to your organization?
  8. Is your sales compensation plan achieving the strategic goals of your organization?
  9. Are you following up on the details? Inspecting that your salespeople can sell, can discuss your products/services the way you want them to? Are you holding them accountable for results-is a real world way?
  10. Is everyone having fun? (This is a major focus most sales managers miss.)

Step by step you can logically and systematically become a high performing sales organization. If you have a challenge understanding this 10 step sales management “race program”, then let me know. It is our goal at Acumen to improve your odds of winning.

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. 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

 

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

 

What Happened at the End of the Workshop?

September 21st, 2015

What Happened at the End of the Sales Leadership Training Workshop?

It was an interesting out come at the end of the two day Sales Management Training Workshop last week… We discussed the Role of Sales Management, what Strategies face sales managers and focused on the Execution of sales management tactics. At end of the second day I always ask the participants what was the most interesting or important learning take-a-way from the workshop.

We had 10 people going through our program, all from one client but from 5 different offices, while it was personalized to their specific requirements we did cover the following topics:

  • Building a high performance sales culture
  • Recruiting and hiring sales teams
  • Leading and managing your sales team
    • 7 styles of leadership
    • 5 styles of management
  • Building predictable revenue using management systems
    • How run a sales meeting
    • Developing sales training meetings
    • Developing appropriate sales dashboards to analyze activity and pipeline levels
  • Coaching and building salesperson Development Plans

While most of the session was focused on creating standardized sales management systems between their five offices and getting by-in, when I went around the table asking what was the most important thing each participant learned during both days, everyone seemed to have been focused around the need for “creating a culture of belief”.

The interesting aspect of their choice to me it that area or responsibility is often the most overlooked by sales leadership.

Sales teams run on emotion; personal emotion of belief in themselves, the products/services they deliver (and their results for their clients) and the ability of the company to execute effectively. Therefore successful sales management must build into their plan ideas and methods to reinforce and build belief.

I like to recommend a few ideas on building culture from my book on Leading High Performance Sales Teams

Storytelling: People from different cultures and generations pass along stories about their ancestries, traditions and lore. Companies need to take a similar approach to capturing and preserving their histories. To do so, write down customer success stories when they occur. Put together detailed descriptions of your company’s role in helping customers implement new technologies, launch or salvage important projects or earn recognition from your vendors. Then share these stories at sales meetings and other employee events. You can also use the best stories to recruit top performers and help orient new employees.

Monthly Meetings: When a company launches, its first employees typically feel that they share a mission. Everyone knows everything that’s happening and what’s needed to succeed. But when the staff grows beyond about 15 people, that sense of mission-along with clearly defined expectations and common beliefs-can be difficult to maintain.

We believe that monthly employee meetings are crucial for keeping everyone engaged and informed. (Larger organizations and those with remote offices may want to opt for quarterly day-long events instead.) Such gatherings give you a chance to remind your staff about your business philosophies, plans and expectations. You can also use them to recognize outstanding employees, perhaps honoring a Most Valuable Player chosen by the team at each session. Remember to make the meetings fun as well. Consider sponsoring games offering door prizes. One company meeting I attended featured a surprise visit from an Elvis impersonator, who sang several songs.

Customer Visits: Each quarter, have your entire sales team visit a customer company that’s successfully implemented your solutions. Ask the customer’s executives to describe the impact your company has had on their competitive position or to review the savings they’ve gained from your products and services. You might also invite customers to share their experiences at some of your monthly meetings.

Reference Letters: Ask your best customers for testimonials. While such letters are, of course, highly useful as tools for future sales presentations, they’re also valuable for building belief in-house. Frame the letters and display them in your lobby or sales presentation area. Have new employees read them as part of the orientation process. Or try to record a testimonial using a quality camera and replay them at your company meetings and post on your web site.

You might enjoy this You Tube video on “What Great Sales Organizations Do!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqKO3o4MXns&feature=youtu.be

In our business, it’s all too easy to get bogged down with lost sales, missed project dates, data reports and other problems. Regularly reinforcing the positives goes a long way toward keeping everyone’s belief and passion strong and moving in the right direction.

 

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

 

 

Are You the Maestro of Your Sales Team?

May 18th, 2015

Are You the Maestro of Your Sales Team?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Why Can’t I get an accurate forecast?

April 23rd, 2015

Why can’t I get an accurate forecast?

Just last week I heard that comment from a new client and he was the President of the company.  Frankly it is a common phase I have often heard from CFO’s, Presidents and VP of Sales-but what’s the resolution? Many consultants would drag out their “scorecards or methodology” to fix the issue, instead let’s first learn to diagnose the signs and why the problem exists.  This is what I generally see or hear when I begin to poke at the problem:

  1. When you review the pipeline report (CRM/Excel) all the Closing Dates are listed as the end of the month-6/30/15 as an example.
  2. Beyond your current monthly pipeline values future pipeline dollar values are not listed
  3. The velocity of the sale or length of time it has been in the funnel is 90 days longer than the average velocity for your business.
  4. Monthly forecasts by the sales team are always off by a wide margin, when asked, the sales team has no idea as to why they can’t predict accurately.
  5. The salespeople do have not a defined closing plan for active opportunities
  6. The salespeople are closing on topics i.e. price, instead of what the compelling reason is the prospect has for your product/service.

What’s the action plan?

First, as the sales leader there are some obvious actions to take place and some not so obvious. The first action is not to ask for a forecast. WHAT?  Yes, remember forecasts are like the weather person on TV-they have just so so odds of being accurate. We recommend instead to ask for a commitment.   How we recommend to  teach this is: during the first sales meeting of the month when each salesperson “forecasts” their sales for that month say for example, $100,000, the sales leader would say: Great!, you hit $100,000 and I will give you a $500 bonus.  OK?  As expected the salesperson gets excited. The Sales Leader would then say the same phase to each of the salespeople on your team. After all the salespeople have forecasted the sales leader would say: and if you don’t hit your goal of $100,000 each of you will owe me $500!  Now that you have their attention you allow them make a new “commitment” vs a forecast.

Second, we recommend that you begin to track each month’s commitment by salesperson, do this for at least 4 months without the sales team knowing you are tracking their commitments, then record their actual sales for each month.  By comparing those two numbers you can determine the Forecast Accuracy % by each salesperson and for your entire team.  When you have sufficient data, share this information with the entire team and discuss that you will continue to measure this data and it will be added to your Sales Dashboard-assuming you have one!

By tracking this information, your sales team will know that you paying attention to this metric and they will begin to pay attention to the importance of the monthly goal.  In sales management what you pay attention to-on an ongoing basis-will begin to impact what your sales team pays attention to.

Third, it takes training.  This happens during the weekly sales meeting, your monthly one on one business reviews and in all coaching environments, this has to be an ongoing process and not simply discussed from time to time.   What we find is either the Sales Manager is not asking the hard questions of the salesperson or the salesperson is not asking the prospect those pertinent questions. We call them the Magic Questions.  They are part of our Sales Management Online Tool Kit, but I want to share them with you to improve your process.  My recommendation for the Sales Manager to use these-printed out- during the weekly sales meeting and then make sure each salesperson has their own copy for their use.  Each week or each day that any opportunity is discussed it is critical the sales manager continues to use the check list of questions to drive their use into the salesperson’s head!

By using these questions and being tough nosed on making sure your salespeople can answer these questions, both you and the team will have more honest sales discussions.

    • What is their Decision Process? (Do you know every step?)
    • When do they want to be implemented or have our systems ready to go?
    • Who is involved in the Overall Decision?
    • Do they have a Business Need?
    • Are they Listening to you?
    • Do they have Funding?
    • What is the Next 2 Steps?
    • Who or What else are they considering?
    • When is the Next Board Meeting? Or Decision Meeting?
  • What are They Doing for me?
  • Do I know my Strengths?/Do I know my Weakness(s)
  • Do I know Their Decision Criteria?
  • Do I have an Excellent Closing Strategy?

 

 

Make the commitment to get the commitment and your sales forecast (ugh) will become more predictable and accurate.

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

10 Traits Buyers Seek in Salespeople

March 24th, 2015

The 10 Traits Buyers Seek in Sales Superstars

Selling yourself is the first step.

What really separates the best salespeople from the rest of the pack? Our research shows that top performers not only understand each customer company — they understand the person making the buying decisions as well.

Most sales training courses emphasize the importance of addressing the customer’s needs. They teach salespeople to explain how, “your product or service”,  can help achieve key business goals. Those discussions are critical for making sales.

But few training programs address how buyers view salespeople as they’re presenting that information — knowledge that can be an equally powerful sales tool.

Our research indicates that, from the buyer’s point of view, the best salespeople:

1. Listen. Buyers want to deal with professionals who ask the right questions and truly listen to the answers, people who can take what they’ve heard and translate it into appropriate solutions. Want to boost your listening skills to top-performer level? Take notes, summarize and restate what buyers tell you and — just as important — listen when they confirm whether you’ve gotten it right.

2. Tell the truth. I cringe when I hear salespeople tell customers or prospects, “Let me be honest with you,” as if they haven’t been honest so far. If you don’t know the answer, don’t make it up. If you aren’t professional enough to sell without lying, find a new profession.

3. Do more than push products. Of course, it’s vitally important for salespeople to know about the products they represent, but talking only about features and functions went out in the ’70s. Top performers focus on helping buyers achieve their business goals. One way to do that: Videotape and watch your own sales presentation to see from the buyer’s point of view. Are you helping or just selling?

4. Know the customer’s business. Going after vertical markets has become a major emphasis for many organizations. Stay abreast of developments in your customers’ worlds. When prospects see that you’re familiar with their businesses and industries that generates trust and confidence — key ingredients in any successful sales formula.

5. Know what the customer’s clients need. See No. 4.  Why do their customers buy from them? Knowing their customers will help you sell them.

6. Address pain points. Top performers outdo the competition by personalizing their presentations, showing how their solutions help customers resolve specific business problems, achieve important goals and generate impressive ROI.

7. Keep promises. Buyers keep track of what you say you’ll do and whether you actually do it. If you offer to send a white paper or list of references, follow through. And get it there when promised; never request an extension.

8. Avoid wasting time. As a salesperson, you’ve got the right to be persistent and to be respected, but not to be a pest. Dropping in unannounced because you were “in the neighborhood” falls into the latter category; it’s also the mark of an amateur. Instead, schedule your calls, have a stated objective for each meeting and be sure the time spent results in value for the customer.

9. Serve as an information resource. Top-performing salespeople often provide customers with useful background materials, typically from reputable outside sources. Consider giving your buyers relevant information from The Wall Street Journal, local business journals,  industry magazines and newsletters.

10. Make the buyer a hero. Top performers know what personal factors drive each buyer’s behavior, whether it’s ego, desire for a bonus, the potential for promotion or some other factor. Do what’s necessary to make sure an important buyer regards a particular sale as a personal win. Do you know their personality style?

Long ago, someone told me the three key factors in sales are: Emotion, emotion, emotion. No question about it: If you recognize your buyers’ emotions, you’ll accelerate your sales.

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