Archive for the ‘Sales Management’ Category

Be an Optimized Sales Leader

April 3rd, 2017

Be an Optimized Sales Leader

In every business cycle new ideas are built and strategies-tactics attempted to create a positive impact on the organization. For example, the role of quality control, Lean and Kaizen Management have been implemented in many areas of business to improve performance. In most cases each of these “re-engineering” type programs have had positive impacts; from just in time inventory, to ISO policies.  Most of these programs have been directed at inventory, process management, cost reduction, financial statements and even Human Resource management.  What has seemingly been overlooked in most companies and now is rapidly gaining a focus is the productivity, cost and methodology of the sales organization.

The impact of Sales Management Optimization Policy ™ must be applied to the sales organization. Essentially OP is defined as: “you must build your organization to excel in the tough times and to propel in good times”.  In a sales organization this responsibility is the Vice President or Sales Manager. Yet these individuals who have a major impact on the success of the organization generally have a job-life span of 14-18 months, limited training-at best and must operate in a pressure filled role with multiple soft and hard management skills in operation at all times.

In most cases sales management lacks methodology and a focus on running their organizations that manufacturing, inventory and financial managers have successfully implemented. Sales Management Optimization Policy takes into consideration the aspects of effective process management, standards and cost control into the sales organization.

Challenges:

In the current economic market, the successful Sales Leader faces many challenges:

  • Managing Lower Costs of Sales
  • Driving Revenue
  • Attaining Budget Goals
  • Managing Sales Teams
  • Working with Limited Span of Control
  • Achieving Goals with Stretched Resources
  • Working with Market Dynamics

The answers lie in two fundamental points. First;if it’s working, don’t mess with it” and for those companies where sales (revenues) are working there is little interest in disturbing that department. Second, when sales are not working two actions seem to take place; radical personnel change or high levels of micro-management on the actions to fix revenues.  We would argue that all organizations must look at a bigger picture and build logical and emotional judgements/systems in place not only to achieve the goals of the organization but to assure management systems/processes are designed to create the environment for successful sales cultures. Selling is emotional  and sales leaders must balance the need for building an environment of success and need for business management systems.

The interesting element in building an Optimal Policy within a high performance sales management approach is aligning the goals of the individual with the goals of the corporation. The smart sales leader will understand the basics of pure management, i.e. understanding the personal needs and wants of their individual team members or what most people today call EQ or Emotional Quotient.  In my Life Enrichment keynotes I discuss how management must focus on this point for themselves and their teams.

First, let’s address the business side of sales management. This element covers  key components of the tactical implementations of  sales management. The list below represents a Sales Management Business Plan.  Each of the  components would include goals, impact on the attainment of the  corporate goals, critical success factors, potential challenges, measurements and defined tactical actions required to achieve the goals. We recommend these plans are updated every six months with a 60-day assessment of trends or changing factors.

Statement of focus

Time line of planned events

Activity standards

Account plans

Sales organization design (18-24 month view)

Sales process design map

Customer relationship strategy

Sales technology implementation

Recruitment/hiring/training programs

Marketing/ materials

Public Relations awareness

Business Eco-System Partners and Alliances

Product and revenue projections-24 months

Competition Analysis

The second aspect of Sales Management must be the cultural human interaction or EQ.  It must be recognized that only managing by the numbers and focusing on activity based sales indicators will not create the environment for high performance. The goal of sales management is to achieve results and manage the business, it is critical that salespeople understand key ratios are to assist them in their personal job success not as micro-management. Yet we find often a line has been drawn between the salesperson and their manager in “talking only about the numbers”. The key issue for the individual  is to understand their formula for success and how the specific  salesperson’s performance matches against that company’s formula.

We must move beyond this mentality to truly understand the personal objectives of our people and communicate your interest to help the person. Sales Management today must assist members of their team in setting personal objectives  and assist their team members on achieving those goals.  We call this align the soul of the individual with the goals of the corporation. This is where coaching and real managing takes place and a managers trust level grows.

 Focus on understanding and improving the sales management process along with building your EQ sensitively to the needs of your sales team and you will experience the best that life can bring you: Sales Management Optimization!

 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.

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

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

 

When are Sales Won or Lost?

June 14th, 2016

When are Sales Won or Lost?

A notable function a sales manager must master is understanding why sales are won or lost. This is particularly true for large, complex sales opportunities where there may never be another opportunity or, if so, it may be years in the future. In all likelihood this opportunity had a high profile within the company and there will be more than passing curiosity about why the company lost or why the company won! The proximate reasons may not make sense (too much money, missing capability) when these apparent issues were known and dismissed during the sales cycle (“we know your offering costs more, but it is worth more” or “we will never need that capability so it doesn’t matter to us”).

WHY is this important to discover?  The sales manager can determine if there are salesperson deficiencies, salesperson effectiveness, Competitor strategies, product limitations, etc.

When the decision between two vendors is extremely close, small differences maybe be the stated reason for selecting one vendor over another. However, these are unlikely to be actual reasons, just the rationale.

In most cases the sale is won or lost much earlier in the sales cycle. The most common reasons are: (1) failure to differentiate your offering from the competition and/or (2) failure to differentiate the buying experience from the competition.

Let us dig deeper into each of these. For many sales people, meeting the prospect’s stated requirements are what they believe is their sales function. This is particularly true for newer sales people who do not understand why the prospect needs what they state they need or are incapable of expanding what the customer’s requirements should be.

An expert sales person will not simply accept what the prospect thinks they want but will engage with the prospect to understand the context of the requirements and attempt to explore unstated additional requirements the prospect did not consider, but should. The sales person who can do this effectively elevates the prospect’s trust and credibility in the salesperson and their company. Even should another vendor be able to demonstrate similar functionality, the initiator has already “won”.

For the majority of sales opportunities this differentiation occurred weeks or months before the decision during the discovery and presentation phase.

Differentiation of the buying cycle can have multiple elements:

  • How responsive was marketing and/or the sales person to initial requests?
  • If the prospect did not have a clear decision process (true in many cases) how did the sales person help them to understand why they should have one and what it should include.
  • How did the sales person/company help the prospect with their internal selling challenges?

As an example, a sales person who recognizes a justification is likely required by the prospect, helps the prospect think through what is needed and can provide supporting materials (PowerPoint template, justification calculators, pro/con tables of options) will be perceived as a partner instead of an adversary.

Again, in many sales cycles the presentation of options to an internal capital approval committee or an informal management group will occur before the final vendor decision. A sales person who can assist a prospect through this process will yield increased confidence that this vendor can help them succeed once the project begins.

Successful selling organizations understand these points and invest a significant amount of training, role playing and account strategizing during these phases of the sales cycle.

Actions

In the regular sales strategy sessions with your salesperson:

(1)  Focus on the stated reasons the prospect is buying and what else they should considering

(2)  Who the likely competitors could be and how they will respond

(3)  What and how your salesperson can expand the requirements and who else it impacts within the prospect’s company

(4)  How your capabilities can differentiate your offering from the competition

(5)  Whether the prospect knows how to buy and what advice & aids your salesperson can provide

(6)  Institute a formal Win/Loss analysis, ideally with a trained non-salesperson conducting the interview within a week of a decision.

Summary

An effective sales leader will build a culture that embraces the need for constant, regular opportunity reviews and helps their sales team members answer, for each opportunity, the key questions of “Why do anything and Why do it with us”. They will also recognize the value of understanding wins and losses when they occur and establish a routine process to learn why.

If you would like a copy of the Acumen Won/Lost Template just send me a request!

John Moroney is an energetic operations and sales management consultant with over 30 years of experience in high technology products and services with a particular passion for sales process design, deployment and improvement. Increasing productivity, driving revenues with a focus on execution, John brings his clients practical and creative solutions that are designed to impact. He is an Associate Partner with Acumen Management Group, a business and strategic sales management consulting firm focused on a world-wide audience.

 

You can reach him at JohnM@AcumenMgmt.com or LinkedIn: John J Moroney     651-402-4342

www.AcumenManagement.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

 

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

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

 

 

Slammed!!! The first time sales manager

June 10th, 2014

Slammed!!! The First Time Sales Manager

I can remember…those first 6 months as a new sales manager was a challenge! I had taken over from two previous sales managers who were now reporting to me and three other salespeople for a total of five on my team. The company was swimming in issues and I felt like I was changing tires on my car at 60 mph.

I had only been selling maybe 8 years with two different companies and had experienced four or five sales managers and as you can imagine-all with a variety of styles, patience and skill level. Obviously I had participated in various sales training programs and I had a few perceptions of what a sales manager should do, but obviously I was scrambling and at the same time trying achieve sales objectives. Luckily I received some assistance.

The president of the company I was working for gave me advice but he also sent me to Boston to spend two days with “the best sales manager” in the US according to my boss. I spent time listening to Dave and understanding his approach and systems and then flew back to Minneapolis. As time went by I made mistakes, learned lessons, faced tough circumstances from firing, recessions, leadership vs management topics and actually did some things correct. Amazingly 7 years after meeting Dave, I ended up working for him as a VP of Sales running a North American sales operation. The next eight years I spent working at a street level and a corporate level fine tuning sales leadership and management challenges. I have seen hundreds of entrepreneurs attempting to manage their sales teams, first time sales managers thinking they knew the job and organizations under achieving their opportunities and missing their objectives. So what can a first time sales manager to do? In my newsletter: Why Sales Managers Succeed! and in this blog I attempt to provide insights for everyone.

In a blog I can only give a few tips, over the next few weeks I will continue to provide more insights and tips for the first time sales manager. To be open, my new book is also about to be published on the topic as well and is titled: Slammed!!! For the First Time Sales Manager. Readers of this blog will gain insights; idea’s and tips from that book and my experience as well. All Free. The book will be an Ebook and found on my website: www.AcumenManagement.com  and at www.SalesGravy.com

There are four Sections in the book and 57 chapters, be prepared for a ton of content and idea’s that have faced me over the 20+ years of sales leadership challenges. The four major sections are:

1. Personal Leadership and Growth Development

2. Executive Leadership and Strategy

3. Creating and Maintaining a High Performance Culture

4. Sales Leadership: a Year Round Job

The reason I have 57 chapters is the first issue facing new sales leaders is Time Management. Quickly they are faced with the needs of the sales/marketing function and directing their teams. Next they need to work with their fellow peers on the management team and the third element the demands of senior management that are requiring information and accountability. Each chapter is designed to provide a quick insight into certain issues facing the first time sales manager.

Hints on Time Management:

• Protect Your Time and your To-Do List; don’t take every problem your sales team gives you and put it on your own To-Do list. Listen to the issues, ask them for their 3 idea’s to resolve their issues, and then suggest to them to perform the best activity that will resolve it. If your to-do list expands beyond the capability to even react, then your team will lose respect and stop accepting your coaching.

• If you are meeting one on one on a regular basis do so early or late in the day.

• Start your sales meetings early in the morning-that means 8:30am at the latest. (one on one’s can start at 7:30am)

• Make a certain number of sales calls with each team member every month, this will help you understand the salesperson skill level more accurately.

• Plan your sales training meetings for the entire quarter before the quarter begins. Train on sales skills, product/service knowledge and sales operations.

The first time sales manager faces many day to day and quarter to quarter challenges; our job-all of our jobs is to help everyone become successful. Let me hear your thoughts on the lessons you have learned by commenting below. Cooperate, Share and Succeed, a great theme as we explore critical topics during the next few weeks.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 15 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout the world. He was recently ranked in the top 50 sales & marketing influencers by Top Sales World magazine for the third year in row.

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

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

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

 

 

Sales Mgmt: Achieving Balance: Fear vs Respect

April 16th, 2013

Achieving the Balance Between Having Your Sales Team Respect You But Not Fear You

Ken: This week we have a guest blog. The topic is extremely important for all levels of sales leadership, especially in challenging situations/times.

Every good sales team manager knows that a delicate balance must be maintained between having your team respect you without having them fear you. We’re going to address why this balance is so important to maintain, and how to achieve and maintain it. 

Fear breads contempt. If your team is living in fear of you, or in fear of making a misstep, this can easily breed resentment. No one likes to feel as though they have someone on their shoulder watching their every move or waiting for them to fail.

Additionally, when your team fears you, they may make more missteps because they aren’t acting naturally and instinctively, but are trying too hard to please you. Trust them to do what they were hired to do. 

You want your employees to have a healthy respect for you, and not to fear you.

Be stern but relatable. Don’t be a frosty manager. This can create a bit of fear, as people always wonder what the cold manager is thinking about them. It’s okay to be human and to have a laugh with your team to put them at ease a bit.

The trick is not letting the team in too close. When they start to feel as though they are your good friends, they start to feel as though maybe they can get away with a bit more than they would if they weren’t. 

Reward success—employees appreciate the acknowledgement.

Incent and reward success. Everyone likes to have something to motivate them. Your team will appreciate and respect that you reward their success.

Don’t reward every single thing, because then rewards become less meaningful. Reward the really important wins, and show your team that these are not given out easily. Those who do get the awards appreciate and respect that you noticed their success and that you are calling it out to others.

Have very clear measures for success. Be clear regarding what it takes to get promoted and to be seen as successful on your team. Those who aren’t performing will stand out if you have metrics against which you can measure them. Don’t keep them on board for long if they continue to underachieve. Consider perhaps how you could route them elsewhere in the organization if they might be a better fit in another department, or let them go after a couple of warnings with no improvement.

If others feel they have to meet their own numbers but an underperformer is allowed to stay, this can breed resentment and disrespect. Taking expected and swift action with underperformers will go a long way in maintaining your team’s respect for you.

Have annual 360-degree reviews. Know what your team thinks of you and let them know what you think of them—get honest feedback by doing 360-degree reviews, and get a sense for whether there is any feeling of fear for you. Work to then change that if it is the case, and always look to improve yourself.

A good manager does not lead with fear, but earns the respect of his or her team and keeps it by being consistent, relatable, and someone who takes action both when things are going well on the team, and when they are not. Leading with fear can only breed contempt and frustration among a team, and is a good way to lose good people. Finding the balance can for some personalities be difficult, but with practice, you can get there. It’s well worth the effort.

Cara Aley is a freelance writer who writes about everything from matters relating to managing your business reputation to those of health and wellness.  

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

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

Sales Management: Understanding “Setting the Hook”

March 3rd, 2013

Sales Mgmt:  Understanding “Setting the Hook”

One of the main jobs of sales management is to help their salespeople see where they are in the sales opportunity.  Are they early? Do they know what they need to know? Do they have an excellent strategy to close?  I like to think that a salesperson is a juggler, tossing X number of opportunities in the air and the sales managers job is to assist the salesperson on judging what opportuniti8es to work , which one’s to toss away and to provide ideas on HOW to work the selected ones

During a few recent client/consulting meetings I realized that this remains an extremely important aspect of any salesperson’s life as well as any sales manager or president of any firm. Exceeding monthly sales objectives are the goals of the sales organization, especially the sales manager. What to do?

First: if you have not subscribed to the “Sales Managers Tool Kit”, at www.AcumenManagement.com , you can get a free copy of the Sales Strategy Guide by sending me an email:  Ken@AcumenMgmt.com   The Tool Kit contains 40 tools/guides for any sales manager.  The purpose of the  Sales Strategy Guide  is to be used by each salesperson and the sales manager to discuss and strategize on individual sales opportunities and uncover what you know, what you don’t know and develop tactical steps to move the account to conclusion.

Second: The salesperson must know what the “Impact” of your product or services will have on the prospects business. The salesperson must fully understand this question and its answer. You will use it during critical aspects of closing the opportunity.   YOU close for the prospect’s benefit-not the salespersons.

Third: Depending upon your product/services that you offer and vendor relationships, knowing when the prospect wants to be fully utilizing your offering is critical. It is not about “when a decision will be made” it’s about understanding timing and any issues surrounding that timeframe.

Fourth: Knowing early on during the sales process the reason the client will make the decision, the impact of your solution on their company and timing, allows the salesperson to begin to set the hook early. Now I am not suggesting unethical sales tactics, but making sure early in any sales cycle you fully understand the prospect’s key issues allows you control the sales process.

The key element to remember is individuals are always challenged to make a decision, your job, as a trusted advisor is to assist the individual in making the right decision that will impact their business and to help them make it on your time line. This is selling vs order taking. 

Being mentally creative and tough and moving your role from simply presenting products/services to providing business guidance moves the role to the next level. It is the job of sales management to assist the salesperson to move forward professionally.

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

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

www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Sales Leadership: Bringing a Sharp Focus to Your Sales Meetings

January 21st, 2013

Sales Leadership:  Bringing a Sharp Focus to Your

Sales Meetings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 26th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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