Category Archives: business acumen

What Makes Your Organization Different?

custom_crayon_box_standout_16486What is the one thing your business or organization has that none of your competitors have?

Over the past five years we have asked a great many people in all types of organizations this simple question; and while the answers initially vary, they all ultimately agree that there is only one true and sustainable differentiator…

It isn’t a product or a unique feature of a product, or even a type of service, because these can be too easily emulated. So while a one-of-a-kind product or service might serve as a short-term differentiator, neither represents the best answer.

The simple answer is: YOU!

An organization’s one true and sustainable differentiator is the people within. Collectively the people make-up an enterprise’s personality; they represent the core values, and they represent not “what” an organization does but rather “how” it is done, which ultimately makes all the difference.

Given these realities, making enterprise engagement a cultural choice within your organization is the ideal way of achieving long-term success.

“Send Me a Quote?”

salesadvancecontinueWhile in more transactional selling models success is most often determined on a “sale or no-sale” basis, more complex selling processes involve more steps and, therefore, take more time to complete. These facts can also make it more difficult to determine the degree to which each sales call within these multi-faceted sales processes has, in fact, been successful.

With this in mind, author Neil Rackham, creator of SPIN selling, has identified two important measures of success for more complex selling situations. And like all metrics, it is important for us to be honest in assessing our success, or lack thereof, after each sales call!

The two outcomes are:

  1. Advance
  2. Continue

The simple difference between these two outcomes is  defined by the level of commitment gained by the seller.

“Send me a quote…” – Success or Failure?
Any action that the buyer agrees to take which moves the seller closer to completing the sale is termed an advance and constitutes a successful outcome.

The outcome of a call that does not reach agreement on action that moves the sale forward is termed a continuation and considered unsuccessful. For example, a buyer’s request for a proposal or quote is not an advance unless the buyer also agrees to take some action – i.e., agreeing to meet or schedule a call so the seller can present the quote.

It’s crucial to set realistic call objectives that make advances possible, Rackham explains. His research also shows that the early introduction, qualifying and assessment stages are the most crucial in more intricate selling situations or processes. This is in contrast to the more old-school belief that closing is the most important step.

So, if your  sales effort is of the “more involved” variety, it’s important to be diligent in the earlier steps of the process and to obtain the right commitment at the end of each sales call. As noted in previous posts, maintaining a key awareness with respect to logical or ideal next steps is a good way to help us “advance” the sales process rather than simply continue it.


Sales Advice from Baseball Legend Ted Williams?

tedwilliamsAs you may know, Ted Williams was a star player for the Boston Red Sox from 1939 through 1960, except for the three years he spent in World War II… and one of his many nicknames was, “The Best Hitter that Ever Was!”

In fact, in 1941 he posted a .406 batting average, making him the last Major League  player to bat over .400 in a season.

So, you may be wondering how Mr. Williams might provide some solid advice for sales professionals…

Well, the story goes that one day a young newspaper reporter ran into Ted at a train station… as you can imagine, the youngster was quite impressed and found himself rambling on about what an “honor it was… meeting the best batter in baseball… and so on and so on…” And then he said to Ted Williams, “Gee Mr. Williams, you must be a great student of hitting.”

To which Ted replied, “No son, I’m a great student of pitching!”

Tying this into the sales process, as sales professionals we must understand both the selling process and the buying process; we must learn why people might be most likely to buy-in to our ideas and proposals, and then structure our presentations to match that thinking process.

Along those lines, in his book, “The Anatomy of Persuasion,” author Norbert Aubuchon shared his research on defining the buying or “buying-in” process. He identified the following five steps:

  1. NEEDS – a buyer has an unsatisfied need, either recognized or unrecognized
  2. RECOGNIZE – a buyer recognizes the need, and makes it a priority; the buyer is willing to act
  3. SEARCH – the buyer seeks information on how to satisfy the need
  4. EVALUATE – the buyer matches the information with requirements and rates the results
  5. DECIDE – positive ratings usually result in a buying decision; negative ratings result in continued search

Interestingly, these steps align nicely with the steps for selling a product or service, which are outlined in our previous post!


The Order of Things…

readyfireaimDoing things in the proper sequence is often critically-important.

For example, in mathematics we have the standard order of operations. If we’re to reach the right solution our calculations must be performed in the right sequence, which is “Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and then Addition and Subtraction.” A common technique for remembering this sequence is the phrase “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

Similarly, a good chef will tell you that the key to success when following a recipe is to not only add the right quantity of the right ingredients, but also to do so at the right time.

And as depicted in the image above, if we fail to aim before we fire, we are likely to miss our target!

So… there is an order of things.

And this “order of things” certainly applies to the selling process. Consider this simple but not-always-easy sequence, which helps sales professionals establish personal value, engage their customers, and shorten selling cycles:

  • Sell yourself
  • Sell the company
  • Then sell products and services

Read the full article…


Sales Process Waste?

ChasingWasteOutOfSales2Based on research from Conway Management Company, the largest waste (or opportunity for improvement) in most commercial and industrial organizations is the lost gross margin that results from lost sales, sub-optimal pricing, excessive costs, and unnecessary costs in the sales and marketing processes.

Some of the most important processes in need of improvement include the process of selecting target markets, identifying prospects, connecting with those prospects, identifying needs, presenting the right solutions, closing sales, and retaining customers.

All of these can be systematically studied and dramatically improved.

We developed Chasing The Waste Out Of Sales to help every organization  create a high performing culture that produces increased sales dollars.

The book explains tools and techniques that will make real differences in your bottom line.  It’s the first and only book available to teach those in customer-oriented and management positions how to:

  • Collect and analyze key data
  • Share the information on a macro level
  • Study and improve processes
  • Make the changes in your organization that count

Read more…

Got a Minute?

60secondsuccesstipsPositive feedback on our “sixty-second success tips” series has prompted us to once again share this free resource in today’s post.

Pursue self-development, consider new ideas, learn new skills or refine existing ones in a convenient, fast-paced video format. Each “tip” will be delivered in approximately sixty-seconds.

Topics include:

  • Business Development
  • Business Communication
  • Effective Networking
  • How to Plan the Best Sales Calls
  • And more…

View playlist…

“Meeting” Sales Challenges

meetings2As we all know, effective communication and team meetings are key components of sales management that enable leaders to drive sales. In one of our past posts we shared ideas for running the best meetings.

But in other posts we’ve shared data that was presented by the Wall Street Journal indicating that barely half of all meetings in the US are productive!

Wondering how much this might be costing businesses around the nation?

Well, according to, approximately 11 million meetings occur in the U.S. every day, and most professionals attend a total of 61.8 meetings per month.

Their research also indicates that over half of this meeting time is wasted, resulting in a loss (cost!) of approximately four work days per month.

Here are a few additional and equally-troubling statistics from and other survey sources about what really happens during meetings:

  • 91% say they daydream
  • 96% have purposely missed meetings or parts of meetings
  • 92% say they have brought other work or they multi-task when in meetings
  • 39% say they have dozed during meetings
  • 67% of all meetings are considered non-productive or failures

These statistics are alarming on their own, and can quickly become even more concerning for sales leaders when considering that each sales call conducted by the sales team is also a meeting!

Selling Attitude!

hole_hand_thumbs_up_sm_nwm“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal. Nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” W.W. Ziege

Selling is a people business. People buy from people, and most often, from people that they like. But what makes one sales rep more likeable than the next? Surely all, or at least most sellers try to be likeable!

Attitude makes the difference.

A positive attitude is not only easily recognizable, but it’s catchy. Sellers who possess truly positive attitudes “assume the close.” They honestly expect the best from prospects, and they offer their personal best as well. They tend to react to things positively and, more importantly, tend to bring about positive return reactions.

Christine Harvey asks a pertinent question in her “Successful Selling” book. “What are the chances that your customer will be positive if you aren’t? The answer is zero.”

But it’s not easy to be truly positive! Especially when so much of selling tends to be negative.

Read the full article…

The Power of Conviction!

conviction copyHave you ever wondered about the impact of belief, or the value of believing not only in what we do, but also in our own ability to do it?

Much has been written about these concepts, which have been categorized in various ways, including believing in yourself, faith, conviction, laws of attraction, or self-confidence. Well-known examples include “The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret.”

Here are a few additional perspectives on how our belief or conviction might enable us to achieve greater levels of success or fulfillment…

Read the full article…

The ROI of Engaging Employees?

engagement1It can be difficult to know the value of engaging employees as well as the impact higher-levels of workforce engagement has on customer relationships.

As a first step, you might find research from Aon Hewitt of interest, which indicates teams that had high levels of engagement had a 37% net promoter score (NPS) versus 10% NPS for teams with lower engagement.

In addition, Avatar Solutions’ recent research reaffirmed that engaged employees tend to enrich their organizations, have fewer absences, be more innovative and confident in expressing new ideas, and have higher levels of productivity.

We are attending an Enterprise Engagement conference in Denver this week and in upcoming posts we will be sharing additional data on the ROI of engaging colleagues and customers, as well as insights on how to do so!