Category Archives: sales management

Step Outside-the-Box for Personal Growth & Achievement

boxSales professionals, sales managers, and business owners all share the need to maintain consistent personal development.

Many speak of stepping outside of one’s “comfort zone” as being a requirement for growth and skill development.

But as we all know, most of us do not readily embrace change, even when we are well-aware of the potential gain!

In a recent PULSE article,  Dr. Travis Bradberry, coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and President at TalentSmartexplains that the very act of stepping outside of our comfort zone is critical to our success and well-being.

“Our brains are wired such that it’s difficult to take action until we feel at least some stress and discomfort,” Bradberry writes. “In fact, performance peaks when we’re well out of our comfort zone.”

Maybe, as Bradberry suggests, it might be easier for us to step outside-of-the-box if we took smaller steps?

Here are some of the “little steps” he lists — which qualify as examples of not only as stepping out of our comfort zone, but also as potential catalysts leading to greater levels of personal growth and success:

  • Get up earlier
  • Meditate
  • Focus on and achieve one “impossible” goal
  • Volunteer
  • Talk to someone you don’t know
  • Bite your tongue!

“Staying in our comfort zone means stagnation,” Bradberry says. “Just as an oyster only makes a pearl when it’s irritated by a grain of sand, no one has ever accomplished anything remarkable when comfortable.”

 

Proactive Sales Management: Balancing the Rear-view Mirror?

salesmgmt2A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month or quarter.

Circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing, and while the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly in terms of lost opportunities if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

Instead, a proactive approach to sales management and leadership will involve:

  • A systematic method of interacting with the team on a group-basis
  • A systematic method of interacting with each team member on an individual basis
  • Ongoing individual assessment via sales call monitoring and joint sales calls
  • Proactive field support
  • Team building & motivation
  • Ongoing engagement, training and improvement plan

Read the full article…

What’s Your Story?

story3In a past post we shared some simple yet powerful insight on the power of storytelling. Among other things, stories are much more memorable when compared to selling presentations or lectures, and they often inspire others to take action!

During the selling process, the ideal times to incorporate a story are when trying to reinforce the value proposition or when addressing a concern or objection. Stories area also an excellent way to engage an audience when making presentations.

But it is also important for sales professionals and sales leaders to recognize that a poorly-told story can have the opposite effect!

Here are six guidelines for crafting and telling the most compelling stories when engaged in selling or making a presentation:

  1. Start with a character your audience can relate to. Make your ideal customer the hero of your story.
  2. Set the stage. One quality of a bad story or storyteller is the feeling that you being subjected to pointless rambling.
  3. Establish conflict. You can’t have an interesting story without conflict.
  4. Foreshadow.  Foreshadowing is a simple technique of hinting at what is to come, thus building suspense and value.
  5. Use dialog. Stories are about people, and people talk. This can enable us to vary tone and “voice” during presentations as well.
  6. Keep it interactive. Use receptivity tests or rhetorical questions to keep the audience engaged.

Read the full article…

Engaging Your Sales Team?

engagementroiSpring-boarding off of last week’s post from “Engagement World,” we might ask ourselves how (or if) we are engaging our sales team.

Regrettably, the data shows that only 25% of the workforce trusts organizational leadership!  Fortunately the trust level in direct supervisors is higher.

This is critically-important for sales leaders or small business owners because buying decisions are significantly impacted by the engagement level and attitude exemplified by the sales team. In fact, the data shows that well over half of all buying decisions are driven by the emotional part of the brain!

Based on findings shared by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and the Enterprise Engagement Alliance (EEA), three best practices for engaging your team are:

  1. Invest your time in one-on-one sessions with each sales team member – preferably done on a weekly basis at a consistently-scheduled time (i.e, “same time each week). The agenda for these one-on-one sessions should include an activity review, opportunity or pipeline discussion, strategy and planning session. The tone should be supportive.
  2. Collaboration – invest your time by making joint sales calls, both in the field and via conference calls. By “working deals” with the sales team you will not only show support, but you will also learn about marketplace preferences while adding an important layer to customer and prospect relationships
  3. Provide the team with professional development opportunities. Training and development are inextricably tied to engagement, and higher engagement levels are inextricably tied to attitude and discretionary effort.

Author Timothy R. Clark summed-it-up nicely when he said, “Highly engaged employees MAKE the customer experience. Disengaged employees BREAK it.”

“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 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…

The 5 “I’s” in Team?

The business world has begun to see the deep connection between employee engagement and customer experience, productivity and profit.

Simply stated, highly-engaged employees try harder, make a stronger discretionary effort, and tend to drive business results!

They are twice as likely to work after their shift ends, twice as likely to do something good for the company that is unexpected of them, and three times as likely to make recommendations for company improvements, according to an Employee Engagement Benchmark Study by Temkin Group.

But despite the benefits of an engaged workforce, far too many organizations struggle to engage their employees, as evidenced by the fact that only thirty-percent of the U.S. workforce is engaged.

The 5 I’s
We’re all familiar with the quote, “There’s no “I” in team.”

Playing off of this adage, Temkin Group suggests there are actually 5 “I’s” in team…  and five key ways to engage your team.

Read the full article…

“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 effectivemeetings.com, 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 inc.com 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!

Balance the “Rear-view Mirror” With a Proactive Performance Management Plan

A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective team or sales management. The most successful approach not only enables managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.

Balancing the Rear View Mirror
Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month, quarter or trimester.

Consider that circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly (in terms of lost opportunities) if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.

As an alternative, the best approach is to adhere to a comprehensive and proactive performance management plan.

Read the full article…