Archive for the ‘Sales Training’ Category

More Sales Less Time

January 24th, 2017

More Sales/Less Time

-A book review-

If want to exceed your sales goals this year-read this book…

I am not sure how some people do it?   Jill Konrath has written three other sales related books and now she hits the mark again with More Sales/Less Time published by Penguin books.

This book sets a different tone from her past books, Selling to Big Companies, SNAP Selling and Agile Selling.  In this book, Jill shares a highly personal story, sharing a lot of research that ends up providing every executive, sales manager and certainly all salespeople a formula to increase productivity. Her findings and action plans are a fresh approach to managing a salesperson’s business and personal life by creating a more productive time management plan. In the end, time is everyone’s most valuable asset.

What you will enjoy about this book is Jill created a story about her own professional sales life, with pipeline challenges, client work and worldwide travel challenges, plus including her active personal life. Everyone will relate to her realization that “things’ had gotten out of control. Everyone in sales will buy into her story, her attempts to increase productivity, her failures, this makes her “result” all the more real.  The other strong aspect of this book is the ton of research Jill had done along with many one on one interviews, that bring credibility and reinforces her thinking. (Jill has a complete appendix of available resources for you too…)

So what’s the meat in this book? In my opinion it is the essence first that in today’s crazy busy sales world, there are many distractions (CRM/Social Media/Internet, sales calls….) that eat into a salesperson’s key resource –TIME.  Jill takes you through her pathway of exploring various ideas, tools and even gamification to attempt to find her method to increase her productivity and time management.   I turned over the corners of 18 pages where I found major tips, new concepts and key points in her book.  You will find yourself nodding your head and say, great idea!

What you will gain by buying this book is a process to create a new time saving methodology for you! A personal plan that will:

  • Recover Lost Time
  • Learn to Get More Done
  • Make it Easier
  • Accelerate Sales

Those are just a few of the major sections of Jill’s book. The chapters I found most enlightening were Part 4, where Jill becomes The Time Master, her Time Master Manifesto should be hung on every sales room wall!  It’s worth the investment of the book.  Let me give you a hint: The Time Master becomes her avatar that possesses a deep knowledge and magical capabilities-like a wizard-a hero! 

Part 5 “Add the Secret Sauce” links everything together.

HINT: if you are a Sales Manager, Appendix 1 is for you: Leading a Highly Productive Sales Team

It’s a fun read with a lot of worthwhile content. If you are a sales leader, buy this book for every salesperson and run an Acumen Book Club-assign each of the 7 sections to a salesperson and then each week in your sales meetings, discuss the contents of that section with your entire team. Then follow up to ensure your team is working on Jill’s key points-I think you will be amazed at the increase in productivity.

Find it on Amazon, go to:  www.JillKonrath.com    a great site for content.

Let me know your thoughts?

 

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

 

3 Magic Questions a Sales Manager Must Know

August 18th, 2016

Three Magic Questions a Sales Manager Must Know

One of the main roles of a Sales Manager is to help train your salespeople on how to stay on track during a sales cycle. During any sales opportunity coaching sessions consider asking these three questions with any sales opportunity:

  • Why do anything?
  • Why now?
  • Why with us?

Let’s explore these, acknowledging the answers can’t all be known at the beginning of a sales opportunity but focusing on answering them is critical to maintain focus and winning the sale.

Why do anything?

Any person and organization has a myriad of priorities. Going through a buying decision whether for marketing services, new equipment or office space, is a major commitment that may include multiple people and maybe competing with multiple priorities. So how will your prospect justify the effort and invest the time? Often, the buyer has latent pain – they know they need to do something but they may not know what they need to know or how to decide. They almost certainly don’t want to speak with a salesperson without a strong sense of what they need and whether it is affordable. This presents your first challenge – how to help the potential buyer to answer the question – Why do anything?

Therefore, marketing and sales campaigns which provide the prospect with honest content where the buyer can educate themselves is vital.   Your sales team’s prospecting activities (emails, phone calls) should leverage this content and assist in identifying the issues and required capabilities. Blogs, webinars, case studies as all examples of content that may be beneficial to the prospect as long as it is not overtly self-serving.

Once they engage with a prospect, top sales professionals know they can both help the prospect and increase their company’s potential sales success through a deeper discovery phase. Exploring unexpressed potential needs, linking the implications of the current issues with other functions within the enterprise and tying the project to corporate objectives will both help the prospect build momentum internally and differentiate your offering. This is critical to begin to build your “business case” for taking action.

Why now?

Consider again the myriad priorities within the prospect company and the limited availability for executive support and investment capital or expense. To win the business requires more than beating your competition – you need to help your prospect communicate the importance of this initiative and gain internal approval. Perhaps this project is critical to retain a key customer, or comply with upcoming regulations. It may require a formal cost justification and follow a capital approval procedure. If the prospect does not have experience or insight to elevating the importance of your sale within the company and how to navigate the approval cycle, you will either have to help them or accept the consequences. Tools to assist your prospect such as payback models, use cases and template presentations can be both valuable and appreciated.

Timing is important, as knowing when the solution to fix the “pain” must be implemented and begin operation can drive the prospect’s sense of urgency to purchase.

 

Why with us?

Successful salespeople develop a competitive strategy starting at prospect qualification, refining and adjusting through the Discovery stage. What are the issues and capabilities that your company has helped the prospect uncover and how do you prove the ability to deliver? Are they unique and important to the prospect? Can the competition respond?

Often the committee will meet many days or weeks after all the vendor presentations. Summarizing the issues, the capabilities you offered and how these were received by the team and communicating to all of the committee members could be your last opportunity to stand apart. Whenever possible, these documents should be personalized.

As a Sales Manager, is it important to have your team act professionally, staying aligned throughout with the prospect’s buying process and possibly added value as it has progressed? Remember, as the point of vendor selection nears, the buyer’s sense of risk rises. How you understand and respond to this state may be the deciding factor amongst the prospects choices.

Summary

During the life of any complex sales opportunity it is sometimes difficult to for a salesperson to keep their arms around the abundance of information, questions, insights and tactics. Consider these three questions as their guide. Regularly reviewing each opportunity with these questions and honestly facing the answers, will provide the salesperson and sales manager the insights to adjust the opportunity strategy. Training your sales team to crisply communicate opportunity status to executives within your company via these three questions will both be appreciated and demonstrate your team’s competence and professionalism.

If you would like an additional set of “Magic Questions for Sales Managers”,   Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

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

Building a Sustaining Partner Community: a Channel Strategy

August 10th, 2016

Channel Strategy: Building a Sustaining Partner Community

-A Case Study-

After working in a VAR partner organization for 8 years as a Sales Manager,  leading an entire channel focused company for 8 years as a VP of Sales and spending the last 19 years consulting with vendors, distributors and VARs, dealers, resellers, partners all focused on channel based strategies, I believe I can say:  I have seen it all.

What I would like to do in this blog is attempt to document  and tell the story of one Worldwide channel focused software organization that did it the best– at building their channel. As they were a former client of Acumen, I simply wish to document certain steps without sharing confidential or competitive insights. If you have specific questions send me a note: Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

BTW: I know from personal experience the steps I am outlining can be executed by small, medium or even large vendor based teams.

First, let me state their market was highly focused, sophisticated but considerably large, and they were not the major player.  This firm in 6 years had a 20% growth rate in an industry that was growing 3% annually, they quadrupled sales and profits margins were double the industry norms.

Do I have your attention YET?

But before I detail their actions, the three things they did not do were:

  • Add more VAR’s into territories creating too much competition
  • Start selling directly to larger customers
  • Constantly invent new sales or partner incentive programs

Second: in a blog I can’t define all the specifics but I will create a checklist of the key initiatives they took with any appropriate notes. Future blogs may go into greater detail.

Phase One

  1. They made a corporate philosophical strategic decision to invest in the channels business competencies and long-term capabilities. Knowing their resellers/partners were small businesses and as small businesses they thrive on consistency and long-term behaviors.
  2. They built a small team focused on this initiative that reported to the VP of Sales.
  3. In Phase 1 they focused on
  4. Business Management: Cash Flow, Sales Capacity
  5. Sales Management: Skills and Forecast Accuracy
  6. They made sure every Partner had strict accounting standards along with actionable business plans. Not simple spreadsheet budgets.
  7. They realized the Channel Partner was only as good as their Sales Manager, as an owner who is the lead salesperson or who has never driven a sales organization the company recognized that most of their Partners could scale for growth. They built market value calculators to convince the owner of the size of the market along with a salesperson allocation model.  They began to build a Sales Management training focus.
  8. They provided full-time recruiting expertise to find, screen and interview candidates
  9. Next the vendor organization created new salesperson and technical development programs.

Phase Two

The Channel Vendor organization added higher levels of commitment within:

  1. Business Management
    1. Financial Planning
    2. Marketing Planning
  2. Sales Management
    1. Multi-product Management
    2. Account Management
  3. Technical Management
    1. CRM, for pipeline standardization
    2. Technical Staffing
    3. Skills Management
    4. Customer Retention
  4. Personal Management
    1. Personnel Review
    2. Benefits Programs
    3. Advancement Programs
    4. Training Programs

Phase Three:

Then the light bulbs starting turning on; the vendor realized they didn’t know it all and they wanted to uncover the true best practices within their Partner community.  We then created a 65 question survey to uncover information in each of the Phase Two categories, each question was scored as well as documented. The company organized and trained interviewing groups into 2-person teams. This process lead to categorizing their existing partner community into four segments:

Legacy Oriented, Farmers, Peak Performers and Rising Stars.

The results of this study paved the way to decide on what to focus on as well as who to focus on and the creation of an almost MBA experience for their VAR channel.

I have experienced, developed and lead many Partner Readiness programs, all are good, under this vendor they were excellent.  I credit the vendor for their long term commitment, Partner communications and continuity of message.

Summary

What I tend to see is many vendors attempt to introduce these concepts on a semi-regular basis or toss funds at some of these actions during a Partner Conference or run a few programs via a web cast, then change consultants, introduce another set of new concepts without ever gaining the execution or increase in performance from the Partner. Partners begin to “tune out” most vendor’s attempts because of their time demands or the lack of real understanding by the vendor of what the partners face in managing their organizations.

This vendor is still investing in these concepts and it’s been 10 plus years of consistent messaging, training and investments.

HINT: For additional channel based information for vendors, Distributors and Partner Readiness check out www.ChannelEQ.co

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

 

 

 

 

 

If it is too good to be true, it is! Sales Managers protect yourself…

April 12th, 2016

If it is too good to be true, it is!

KEN: Today I want to introduce John Moroney to you! He is more than a guest blogger, John has worked for Acumen Management Group for many years and is re-joining our organization after a long permanent engagement with a former client. He provides great insights into the challenges all sales organizations face.

Do you remember early on in your career getting really excited when you got a call that went something like this, “Hey John, we are on a fast track to select a vendor this week for our mega project and we hear your company is really good. We need your best proposal by tomorrow so we can present to our CEO to make a decision Friday. Call me right away!”.

Oh boy, were you drooling or what! This would be the quickest sale in your life – you already were thinking about what that commission check would buy. Except – it was too good to be true.

What was happening here and what should our starry eyed sales person have done?

There are at least three possibilities:

  1. The prospect is really going to make a decision and you have a real opportunity
  2. The person who contacted you thinks they are going to make a decision
  3. The prospect is really going to make a decision and you have no opportunity

Let’s take these possibilities in order and explore.

Situation #1 is extremely rare and is almost certainly because the person contacting you has a previous relationship with your company or someone else has directed them to contact you. There may be a real opportunity but before you jump and send the requested sales proposal, why not back up the prospect a bit and schedule a call or visit with the key people? You may be able to give them a more intelligent response including some options. Just to stay realistic, this situation occurs less than 5% of the time.

Situation #2 is a fairly common and often is prompted by a change in the organization. For example, a new VP or Director has joined the prospect company and quickly realizes there is a need for your product or service. The subordinate who is given the task to get the proposals may think there is a decision about to be made, but an experienced sales person will know that is unlikely. The good news – there may be a real opportunity for your company but the somewhat bad news – it Is not happening in the next week. Treat this as a qualified sales prospect and stop salivating. One approach would be to trade the proposal for a meeting with the requester or better to schedule a call with the boss before going too far. Of the three situations, this is by far the most common.

Situation #3 is sometimes known as “becoming column fodder”. The team tasked with selecting a vendor has already decided on who they want (see #1 above) but the executive committee/CEO pushed back on the team. The committee/CEO were expecting to see three choices (i.e. three columns A, B & C), particularly for cost comparison purposes. Hence, the panicked need for your proposal by Friday. There is almost no chance you will ever hear from the prospect again after sending the proposal. You will need to change the game to have any opportunity to win this business. In this situation, you do have some leverage. The prospect needs something from you but you need access and opportunity to extend the decision process. There are two tactics you must employ: (1) Make your offering comparable in price to the competitor and (2) uncover what the prospect is uncomfortable about the preferred choice. Get agreement to make a presentation to the team as the “cost” of the proposal. Go above and around the team if necessary – remember, you have very little to lose. Focus your presentation intensely upon how your company is superior to the competitor in the area of discomfort but equal in every other way. Typically, the anxiety the prospect has for the competitor is not about the product or deliverables but more about reliability, quality, responsiveness, etc. Avoidance of risk is the predominant concern at this point in the sales cycle, so a calm, smooth, confident approach is vital. This situation is fairly rare, less than 10% of all sales opportunities fall into this category.

For many of us, experiencing these sales opportunities has taught us to slow down and step back. So although, we may recognize something is too good to be true, it still takes skill and patience to work the opportunity particularly when the prospect could be inexperienced and reluctant to engage. Good selling!

What are your thoughts?

 

John Moroney is an energetic operations and sales leadership executive with over 30 years of experience in high technology products and services with a particular passion for sales process design, deployment and improvement. You can reach him directly at:  JohnM@AcumenMgmt.com

Acumen Management Group, www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

 

Trade Shows Can Work!-new idea!

June 22nd, 2015

Trade Shows Can Work-new idea!

NOTE: Several weeks ago I wrote a blog on “Why Trade Shows Don’t Work”, shortly after a good friend, Todd Schnick, wrote me a note to discuss how he makes trade shows work!  I asked Todd to write a blog regarding how he works with organizations in a very unique manner using podcasts.  The blog below is Todd’s.  I hope you enjoy!  Ken

I see the same thing at every trade show: hundreds, if not thousands, of company personnel standing around, wearing their logo shirts and nodding politely to passersby, or worse, staring at their phone.

Shame. They are wasting time, space, and money.

I get the fact that you need people to man the exhibit and walk people through a product demo and answer questions. But if your trade show strategy is built on walk-up traffic, you are better off saving your money. Your efforts will fail.

Instead, I leverage a different strategy (and help my clients with it): leveraging one of the hottest media tactics around: podcasting.

What? Really?

Yes really.

If you go to a trade show hoping to connect with 2,000 of your closest prospects, you will also fail. But if you want to leave the show having spent quality time with 50 to 100 key executives and decision-makers, then a podcasting strategy is your answer.

What I call Trade Show Radio is really quite simple:

  1.  Ask your sales team to identify the fifty to one hundred executives you want to visit with at the show.
  2. Have your sales team invite them several weeks before the show to appear on your “business” radio podcast.
  3. Next ask your sales team, before the show, to ask the prospect for 5-7 talking points about their business. These will be used to during the interview on the air (This is also collecting market intelligence on your prospect). Don’t forget to set a specific date/time with the prospect for the interview.
  4. In your booth, set up the radio/podcast area and then conduct the interview (about THEIR company, not YOURS) at the show. Post the interview on a master site.
  5.  Then post-show, prepare the audio file from the podcast and call your prospects and have your salesperson deliver the mp3 file (your welcomed excuse to contact your prospects post-show).

Done. Simple.

The benefits? You deployed a non-threatening way to set appointments with key prospects. They came to spend time with you, AT YOUR EXHIBIT. Chances are you and your sales team spent quality time with them before and after the interview (this is what you are really after). You created great content (for everyone involved). You generated some wicked cool buzz at your exhibit. And you did something VERY memorable for all of your key prospects.

They’ll forget the beer your competitors poured for them. But they won’t forget their radio interview-ego is a powerful tool in creating relationships.

Win win win for ALL involved.

Execute this strategy once, and you’ll never do your trade shows the same again.

Anyone can execute this idea, but I do it for a living. You can learn more about Trade Show Radio by clicking here!

Todd Schnick is a writer, media and content strategist, and business talk radio host and producer. Through a media company that he co-founded, Todd travels across North America broadcasting LIVE business talk radio from trade shows and association events. He lives with his family in Brookhaven, GA.

http://intrepidnow.com

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.

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

Increasing Velocity is a Critical Success Factor

January 13th, 2015

Increasing Your Velocity is a Critical Success Factor

 

It’s normal.  After any keynote presentation members of the audience will approach me to ask further questions on my program or make more in-depth comments on related topics, frankly I truly enjoy these kinds of give and takes.

Last Friday my topic was “Accelerate Your Business in 2015”, during the program I covered a variety of ideas, techniques and tools the audience could  use to drive increased levels of sales pipeline values and revenues.  A portion of what I spoke about was from a recent blog:  The One Must Do Action Step to Ensure a Great 2015!  In this in blog I covered why it is important to meet with your existing clientsat the beginning of every year and 5 potential outcomes you could expect from those meetings.  If you haven’t read it, it is not too late to implement the tactics I covered.

The interesting part of the one on one discussions I had was the tendency of almost every person that spoke to me suggested creating additional or new ideas/tools beyond the ones I had shared.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with creativity, being innovative or trying something new. What continues to amaze me is everyone had great ideas, however taking the time to create new approaches, or tools either delays the end result or in most situations-nothing happens.  Either something comes up or a distraction occurs and the sales/marketing/management programs fail to achieve their goals.

It seems people love to reinvent the wheel.

My recommendation is to use the idea’s/tools of others, certainly refine them to fit your focus, but rather than delay implementation or spending valuable time re-inventing or tweaking the program-simply execute it!   Increasing the velocity of everything you do in business today has become a critical success factor.

On Friday I had suggested the following ideas to accelerate your business;

  • Learn to Partner with other organizations, I call this business-eco system marketing
  • Implement a salesperson 20-20 campaign
  • Focus on a vertical market with in your business
  • Perform Account Plans on your top 30% customers
  • Learn to Cross Sell/Up Sell each of your products/services
  • Build Thought Leadership into your marketing
  • Create customer Power Networking Maps

During the presentation I covered each of these topics in greater detail as to the how to’s and the desired outcomes, if you wish to learn more about these ideas you can find them in  my various blogs on each topic. If you can’t find them reach out to me and I will share my thoughts with you. Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

Need other tools designed to increase your sales and sales management effectiveness? Don’t reinvent the wheel, check out the Online Sales Management Tool Kit

Lastly, what is your one best idea to increase the velocity of your business for 2015?

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.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

The One Must Do Action Step to Ensure a Great 2015

December 29th, 2014

The One Must Do Action Step to Ensure a Great 2015

What is the first action all salespeople must do to begin each year? It’s simple, but many times overlooked. The first action they need to do is reach out to every one of their existing clients, in a physical meeting if possible, and discuss with them their use/satisfaction and impact of the salespersons product/services on their company.  We call it the Annual Client Audit Review.

The objective of this meeting is actually made up of many sub-steps.

  • This will reinforce in the mind of the salesperson the benefits the products/services that were delivered-this builds belief in the company and belief by a salesperson is the most important emotion they must carry with them each day. It’s the inner desire to serve clients that separates the average performer from the top producer. When the salesperson truly believes in their product/services and their impact on their clients business -they will go the extra mile to win the order.

 

  • The second action, during this meeting is to discus with the clients “the client’s strategic objectives over the next 24 months”. This will help the salesperson plan a strategic sales roadmap as to how their products/services can potentially be used to assist the client in achieving their goals.

 

  • The third action with each client is to work them through an Account Plan. One portion of the entire plan is based upon mapping the current utilization of the existing product/services used by the client. Next the salesperson would walk the client through a Cross Sell/Up Sell program, showing them additional benefits of new offerings they have not taken advantage and how these additional products/services will leverage the clients existing products/services and bring new benefits. After the meeting the salesperson can then develop a strategy for the account and then create 5 tactical steps to further penetrate this account.

 

  • Don’t forget to ask for Reference Letter or a quote from your client.

 

  • Lastly, always ask for a referral, who do they know that you can serve?

These five actions will help the salesperson get off to a fast start-by working with and selling existing clients where they have trusted relationships and proven solutions. Immediate revenues, larger pipelines and increased levels of belief along with better customer relationships is a positive way to start the year.

What is your plan to get a jump start on 2015?

HINT: This Action Plan is assuming that in December the salesperson has already completed a 6 month Salesperson Business Planning exercise.

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

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

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

Put a Little Personality into Selling

November 17th, 2014

Put a Little Personality into Selling

The concept of selling based on your buyer’s personality style has been around for a while, but I’m often surprised at how many sales professionals aren’t familiar with it. Knowing the four basic personality styles in the model can help you communicate and build a relationship with your prospects, increase your sales volume and improve your velocity.

1. The Director is to the point, and focused on the job. Relationships are not important. When dealing with a director, emphasize short-term benefits and appeal to a need to gain advantage. Briefly cover main benefits and isolate dollar-related topics or verifiable benefits. Recognizing signs of impatience will help. In presentations use brief, bottom-line visuals, ask open-ended questions designed to make the prospect talk and allow the director to lead. To speed up closing, provide alternatives, handle objections by taking issue with the facts and not the person, motivate a director to close by using objectives, results and a sense of urgency. Ask for the order — be dramatic and brief, then be quiet.

 

2. A Persuader is outgoing, expressive and wants to be the center of attention. Approach a persuader informally — go with a first name, listen for personal information and use it as you work to develop a relationship. Avoid formal visuals and PowerPoint — use handouts with testimonial information that is woven into an unstructured and interesting discussion. Show personal respect by being open and honest, even about weaknesses of your solution. In closing, provide examples of solutions accepted by others the persuader respects. Offer incentives for a willingness to take a risk, avoid too many details, speak to the persuader’s dreams and make the person a hero. Create a sense of urgency and help the persuader to buy, but don’t make the close too obvious. Focus on next steps and use an assumptive close by providing ideas for implementing action.

3. Analytical personality types are the record keepers, but don’t get them confused with only being the CFO or controller. Many executives can be analytical. During your sales process you will need to emphasize research. Know the client’s situation thoroughly, state facts and prepare alternative choices. Your discussion must be detailed, logical and low key. Emphasize the tested, proven and well-documented aspects of your implementation process and probe for issues that might be barriers. With this group, your presentations should use visuals, charts and statistics that can be left behind for review. These individuals will be skeptical and especially wary of exaggerated claims. During your closing it’s important that you be thorough. If you can’t get a commitment, ask for specific next steps. Restate your summary and those newly provided next steps as a trial close before ending a meeting.

4. In working with Supporters it’s important that you realize your role in their decision process. As a professional you will need to research a client’s growth plans and show how your solution will benefit the client company. During your sales call, ask open-ended questions that reveal future and current plans, then relate how your solution benefits those plans. In conversation, allow some latitude to give the client opportunities to open up. During your presentation, think laterally and invite a supporter’s comments on plans and wishes; use the supporter as a sounding board. Be careful not to push or crowd, you must build trust and convey respect by recognizing their achievement and intelligence. These people prefer cooperation and stability, not confrontation. During your closing, provide examples of others that have accepted the solution, use a low-key, assumptive close to assist them with their goals; avoid hard, “ask for order” selling and help them to make a positive decision. Selling trust and confidence is critical.

People are complicated. Everyone has a portion of each of the four personality structures, but people often have a dominant style and a secondary style. The more you know about them and the more you know about how to professionally work with your prospects, the more money you will make.

There are many excellent books on Personality Style selling ideas, including analyzing the physical elements of their offices, take the time to improve your close ratio’s by remembering that selling is an “emotional art”, use all the available tools you can-pay attention to your prospects personality!

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 16 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

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

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com