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Sales Management End of Year Checklist

November 7th, 2016

Sales Management End of Year Checklist

 

While I was working on ideas for the next few blogs it occurred to prepare a series based upon the end of the year and the start to 2017. Depending upon the person and the conditions in their sales organization each article may or may not be pertinent. I decided to start with a Sales Management End of Year Checklist.  The following checklist is not in any priority format, but simply a quick read list and a set of recommended actions for any executive or sales leader as they plan for 2017. I have attempted to provide a list of resources, downloads or offers to assist in providing value and support for all of our readers. If you have other ideas or suggestions please comment within the blog so that all of our readers can benefit.

?       Evaluate your sales team.  What does each salesperson need to enhance their productivity in 2017?  Who are keepers, who are laggards?  I like to recommend that Sales Managers create a Personal Development Plan for each person, if you need a template Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

?       Is your compensation plan working?  Did it achieve your goals for 2016? In 2017 are the strategic goals of the company changing? Do I have to alter the sales compensation plan to help achieve the new goals? Take our online Sales Compensation Audit   to determine any weak points or check out our blog for new ideas and select Sales Compensation category.

?       Is your 2017 overall Business Planning in progress?  Assess your entire business and develop a score by department using our online Business Assessment.

?       Need to prepare a 2017 Sales Business Plan? Ask me for a template Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

?       Concerned about 2016’s tendency to not achieve quota each month or your inability to Predict Revenues? Download our List of the Top 40 Actions Sales Managers must activate to build a high performance sales team.

?       How many new salespeople do you need to hire during 2017?  Do you have a recruiting marketing plan in place? How strong is your interviewing process and skills?  Watch a video on recruiting and interviewing to help improve your organization.

?       If you are hiring, then you must tighten up your new hire on-boarding process, this must be a priority for any sales organization, you can find a template on our Sales Managers Tool Kit. There are over 40 robust tools located in the tool kit.

?       Time to plan your 2017 Sales Kick Off event; you need to have a theme for the year, make it fun, motivational and educational.  Set the tone for your team at your kick off meeting, my blog has many ideas for this kind of event or ask for ideas or speakers for the meeting, select Sales Kick Off Ideas category

?       Does your sales team need new formal sales training? Check out two sites for an online video training courses that offer low cost, mobile access and adult training methodology. www.ChannelEQ.co or Sales Gravy University

?       HINT: at your 2017 Sales Kick Off Meeting you should have your entire Quarterly Sales Training Plan ready to hand out, topics must include: Sales Training, Product/Services Training and Sales Operations.

If you have questions on any if these ideas let me know.

This is the time of the year to evaluate your successes, determine what issues must be changed or improved, and finish planning for the new year and also by the way…… exceed your 2016 quotas!

Have fun and go sell something!

 

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

 

 

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

October 24th, 2016

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

by Ken Thoreson

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One last tip for coping with today’s economy:

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

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

3 Secrets to Success from John Wooden

October 3rd, 2016

Three Secrets to Success from John Wooden

 

Last week I was in Chicago keynoting an international association’s sales conference, in preparation I had been making notes and clipping interesting ideas from a variety of sources, one of them was Success magazine.  The specific article covered a young coach, Dale Brown meeting with John Wooden, the Hall of Fame UCLA basketball.

After a full day of discussing a wide variety of topics around becoming a major college head basketball coach John Wooden said at the very end of day that Dale could have saved LSU a lot of money in travel expenses because there are just only three secrets. John went on; the three things that I am going to tell you are fairly simple if you want to be successful. Anyone that has read any articles or books by John Wooden, as I have, would have to read the balance of the article as his ideas are golden.

As a Sales Leader or Executive these 3 secrets will also help propel your sales organization to the next level.  In Chicago I took each bullet and discussed the specific actions sales management must implement to execute on each element.

First: make certain you always have better players than anybody you play. This is pretty obvious to readers of this blog or have purchased my book “Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams”. One of my recommendations is to analyze each of your salespeople, are they Deadwood, Learners, Good for Now, High Achievers.  Decide who to keep, who not to and build a recruiting process that ensures higher quality people. HINT: for every one person you hire, you need to interview five.

Second: make certain those better players put the team above themselves. This was the majority of my program that I called the Effect of Emotional Leadership, Sales Leaders must build a culture of team, of belief in the company/products/services and a focus on team accountability.  This action can start with sales games, hearing customer success stories, sales compensation plans as well as genuine conversations.  Top performing sales managers have the ability to communicate with positive vision, personal awareness and openness.

Third: don’t be a coaching genus, don’t give your players too much information, always practice simplicity with constant repetition. This secret I thought was very interesting as most sales managers either don’t train enough or train very poorly on sales skills, sales operations or product/industry information. The balance of Sales Managers probably train too much early in the salesperson’s life and then fail to reinforce effectively. What I stressed in Chicago is what I think Mr. Wooden meant-figure out what needs to be done during the sales process/sales call, effectively map it, describe it as to why it should be done and how it should be done and then focus your training on those actions and then practice often.

Just this weekend the University of Tennessee won a football game against the University of Georgia during the last 4 seconds of the game with a Hail Mary play. (A Hail Mary play is when you have 3 receivers run to one spot in the end zone and the Quarterback throws the ball hoping someone catches it, this week it was for 43 yards!) Tennessee’s coach Butch Jones was quoted after the game that they have practiced that play every week for three years and this was the first time he has used it! It worked when then needed it.

John Wooden is a legend in basketball, he was a master teacher and mentor to many. If you have not read his book I highly recommend it.

Build your sales organization around these rules and perhaps you will become a legend as well. If you have further questions or want to discuss other concepts from the Chicago presentation please reach out.  Ken@AcumenMgmt.com

 

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

 

The Perfect Close

September 26th, 2016

The Perfect Close

-A book review-

The quality of new sales related books coming out is amazing and The Perfect Close by James Muir is another high quality book to add to your library. James writing style along with his content makes his book contemporary and a complete book to take an average performer to the next level. You can find it on Amazon.

He caught my attention when he thanked Mahan Khalsa for his initial introduction into sales.  For anyone that has not read Mahan’s books, you are missing a legend.

I especially enjoyed how James takes the reader from sharing  information on his personal sales background (helps everyone relate to the challenges in selling)  to  research on High Value Selling vs Lower Value Selling and how the closing process and the sales process must change with high value offerings with levels of success up to 42% . And then quickly even on page 32 the author brings further research on developing the proper mindset for selling and closing by discussing several psychologists and their work on changing the minds individuals. Having mental toughness is important but understanding the internal workings of individual’s minds gives the superior salesperson the edge.

James then takes the reader through the tactics that must be executed to build to The Perfect Close.  This book is a must investment for every salesperson simply because the author gives the reader:  Questions, Planning Concepts, Tactics and Methodology to execute the sales process at a higher level.

Are you working the right opportunity-4 Questions to Test the Deal

Do you have a Plan?-A Checklist to Validate it

Are you building value-Why Should a Prospect See You?

Readers of this blog know I am a firm believer in the art of discovery and James hit this out of the ballpark-a chapter that can’t be missed.

What makes this book dance is Chapter 12 when James gives you the two questions that gives the reader the perfect close-they are simply brilliant.  What make it better is he then provides potential scenarios, examples and test situations where any salesperson can relate to their current list of prospects. Buy this book for this chapter alone-it will increase the velocity of your sales cycle.

In his next chapter James then put’s it all together summarizing the entire book.  Make this book one of your Acumen Book Club sales training sessions going into the fourth quarter and watch your quota numbers get crunched.

 

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

 

The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need!

September 12th, 2016

The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need!
-a book review

It must be book time! And what a perfect time to up the performance of your entire sales organization.

Anthony Iannarino has brought together the ideal sales guide and without question this book qualifies for the Acumen Sales Book Club. It is a must read because it covers the essentials of what top performers already know and do. This book will lift the performance of everyone on your team. What makes this book a must buy for your entire sales team are the two “parts” to his book. In working with our clients, whether we are building a recruiting/interviewing process-we test for mental toughness and creativity, Anthony’s part one hits the mark by focusing on the right Mindset. After ensuring the salesperson understands the emotional portion of sales and success, the author then moves to the Sales Skills in Part Two.

The secret is the content, he’s boiled down everything Anthony learned and tested into one convenient book, packed with useful material for everyone from raw rookies to tested veterans. He focuses on the building blocks that all successful sellers, regardless of industry or organization, share: a mind-set of powerful beliefs and a skill-set of key actions.

He explores nineteen essential traits and skills that nearly all great salespeople have, including…
• Self-discipline: How to keep your commitments to yourself and others.
• Accountability: How to own the outcomes you sell.
• Competitiveness: How to embrace competition rather than let it intimidate you.
• Resourcefulness: How to blend your imagination, experience, and knowledge into unique solutions.
• Storytelling: How to create deeper relationships by presenting a story in which the client is the hero and you’re their guide.
• Diagnosing: How to look below the surface to figure out someone else’s real challenges and needs.

Anthony then blends these emotional aspects of selling with the skills necessary to master to win. He touches on key topics but moves the ball up a level and makes the content current to our time.

Chapter 11 focuses on Closing: The Ability to ask for and obtain commitments.

Prospecting: The Ability to Open Relationships and Create Opportunities follows in chapter 12.

In chapter 14, Diagnosing: The Desire to Understand, you’ll learn how to discover the truth of your client’s challenges and how to ask the questions that differentiate you, while influencing your client to take action. KEN HINT: This is a lost art in most sales teams.

Chapter 15, Negotiating: Anthony shows how to make sure your client receives the benefit of the bargain while ensuring that you capture the value that allows you to deliver.

Chapter 16, Business Acumen: The Ability to Understand Business Principles, explains why business acumen is the new sales acumen. At Acumen we call this Business Guidance selling and knowing business acumen separates the A performers from everyone else.

In chapter 17, Change Management: Building Consensus to Help Others Change, you’ll learn how to manage all of the stakeholder relationships necessary to overcome the status quo. This chapter is a road map to developing and leading change, a must in selling new offerings.

Once you learn Iannarino’s core strategies, picking up the specific tactics for your product and customers will be that much easier. Hit your end year numbers with what you will discover in this book.

Whether you sell to big companies, small companies, or individual consumers, this is the book you’ll turn to again and again for proven wisdom, strategies, and tips that really work.

preorder.theonlysalesguide.com

Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.
He was recently ranked for the fourth year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!
Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.
Ken@AcumenMgmt.com www.AcumenManagement.com
Blog: www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

High-Profit Prospecting

September 6th, 2016

High–Profit Prospecting

-book review-

It seems like new sales books are coming out every week but I can promise you this;  this is one that must be in your sales library.  It has made the Acumen Sales Book Club list.

High-Profit Prospecting by Mark Hunter, published by AMA (American Management Association) has laid out solutions to one of the top sales problems facing every sales organization. In 2015 Acumen performed a survey at every conference we spoke at asking each member of the audience to define the top 5 challenges they face in sales-filling the pipeline/prospecting were consistency listed #1 or #2!

It is my belief that organizations that expect Marketing to be responsible for lead generation and pipeline development are wrong-to win market dominance, Sales must drive prospecting.

As frequent readers of this blog know, I measure the successful books I read by the number of “page corners I turn”, Mark’s book earned an award of 24 pages with a host of underlined, circled and marked-up sections.  His sub-title says it all: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results, Mark broke the book into four sections with 23 chapters of jammed-packed ideas and tactics to help every salesperson at every level propel their business.

Just a few of the chapter titles will help you understand why I felt this is a powerful book:

  • Fit the Prospecting Plan to Your Market
  • Time Management for Prospecting
  • Best Practices for Making the Initial Contact
  • Winning at the Enterprise Level
  • Customer Engagement Dos and Don’ts

The chapters that justify this book and after 19 years of consulting with sales organizations I have found are the most challenging and overlooked are:

  • Referrals and other Major Pipeline Builders

In this chapter Mark shares many ideas but his four-step referral development process is great. He details how and what actions the salesperson must execute to ensure success in using a referrals. It is a sales training session all by itself!

  • Email, Communications and Connection

Many people believe we can sell or prospect using email, in the majority of situations it fails.  This chapter is a must read for Marketing teams and all Salespeople, Mark shares tactical steps, specific email scripts that can be tailored for your business,  many examples but his 3 Strategies to “get the email opened” are absolutely right on! Buy this book.

It is my recommendation every salesperson in your organization read this book and follow the Acumen Book Club process: Assign a chapter to each salesperson, ask them to lead a discussion on a weekly basis during your sales meetings.  As a Sales Manager develop a plan to train your salespeople how to prospect but also a plan to Inspect what You Expect that your salespeople are executing effectively.

What is your best method to prospect and fill your pipeline?

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

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

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

Ken@AcumenMgmt.com  www.AcumenManagement.com

Blog:  www.YourSalesManagementGuru.com

 

The 4 Letter Word in Success

August 25th, 2016

The 4 Letter Word in Success

How successful can I really be? People ask me that all the time, my normal response is: Do you know what it takes?

I have worked with thousands of individuals over the many years at Acumen Management Group; a wide variety of salespeople, managers, entrepreneurs and corporate teams.

With all of those contacts you can imagine I have seen many levels of successful and unsuccessful individuals.  I have thought a lot and read a lot about the reasons for why people experience differing levels of either personal or professional success. In my analysis I like to break groups of people into two categories:

  1. A) Those that possessed levels of talent that should have allowed them to take advantage of it to succeed
  2. B) Those that did not have talent but who worked incredibly hard, with long hours and had commitment

However we all know that people with talent can fail and people with hunger or drive and lacking in talent can fail as well.  We also know that talented individuals can experience success as well as those individuals who worked hard to earn success.

As I thought about these two groups (success and non-success) and various levels of failure I had to ask: what is the missing ingredient between those individuals who did not achieve a level of success and those that did?

As many of you know who regularly read my blog and  during my keynote programs I speak often about creating a Menu for Your Life and what recipes are important for success, I breakdown  everything into a recipe.  I believe the missing ingredient in the groups that were not considered successful, and those with talent that were successful and those lacking in talent with a hunger or drive for success and who did succeed is a 4 letter word.  They possessed the will to succeed.

This 4 letter word is a key ingredient not only important to understand but to activate.  As a Sales Manager or in anyone in a leadership position creating this passion to succeed must exist to build a personal or professional success for yourself or any team.

Activating this inter drive or will can be the secret to unlocking your potential. Clearly it can come from a variety of stimulations and experiences based upon a person’s environment.

Taste it.  There maybe exposure to what success “tastes like”, a small dab of emotional success and a will to have more can be generated.  As a manager these are the actions to take to create a sense of reward and the types of reward can either be for each individual experiences or as a team.

Celebrations are important. As an individual there maybe a series of small steps, much like a ladder, that lead to what the person considers success-use each step in your path as a reason to celebrate. Reinforce the emotional connection.

Visualize it.  Much has been written about the power of visualization, I like to believe this consistent mind power can reinforce anyone’s will to succeed.  As a leader, providing a vision to your teams are a Critical Success Factor as well.

Certainly goals are important but an inner will to achieve those goals must be incorporated into your overall plan.   Let me know your thoughts and what has generated your will to win.

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Life Enrichment: Using your talents to make a difference

August 3rd, 2016

Life Enrichment:  Using Your Talent to Make a Difference

As Sales Leaders or as anyone, creating a positive life for yourself begins by focusing on others; in my keynote programs I describe how during my work on improving the professionalism of sales managers, we actually began to focus impacting their personal lives as well.  This balance of personal and professional life actually ended up being the real difference in the overall levels of success of the individuals we have worked with during the past 20 years.

I have written in my blog and spoken about Life Enrichment often but a recent article in my local newspaper touched me and made me think about a this idea: using your talent to make a difference might be obvious but in my day to day travel schedule I see and talk to hundreds of people who are simply walking through life vs experiencing life to its fullest.

In the newspaper article it detailed the story about a local women that was a professional writer who connected with a local hospice and offered to interview people at the end of their lives and write their story. She would take her notes from the interviews and prepare a document that formally expressed their thoughts, as expected the stories varied from regrets, loves, experiences and philosophical messages to remember them by after they past.  The story described that the women sometimes actually read her story about the person at their funeral services.  The part that I found extremely interesting was how her experiences have now led  her to speak to various groups about her stores but in reality her story is how her exposure to all of these people and their lives have touched her in an unexpected  and positive ways.

As writers we all desire acceptance and awareness regarding our work, in this story the women described that as her outer awareness dropped because of her hospice writing a focus on others lives, the women began to achieve an inner acceptance.   This is a cornerstone in Life Enrichment. Her overall life began to turn to a positive force and all the other pieces of life began to fit together.

So the questions are:

  • What talents do you have?
  • Whose lives can you impact?
  • When will you start?

With all the challenges, problems and general unhappiness and frustration in the world today, I would suggest it’s time for a positive life force changing action to take place.  Agree?  I would enjoy reading your comments regarding this idea.

 

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