Sales and Sales Management Blog

July 15, 2014

Book Review: Neuro-Sell:How Neuroscience Can Power Your Sales Success

neuro-sell2How buyers buy and how sellers can use this information to sell to buyers in a manner that matches the way buyers buy has been the subject of much discussion over the past several years. A new contribution to this discussion is Neuro-Sell: How Neuroscience Can Power Your Sales Success (Kogan Page: 2013), by Simon Hazeldine.

Hazeldine sets out a process he calls Adaptive Selling, a process he developed that seeks to understand the purchasing personality of the prospect and then adapt the sales process to match the needs of the prospect’s purchasing style.

The first four chapters of Neuro-Sell are a discussion of neuroscience and how the brain works and how that influences the purchasing decision. Although the information is technical, the author reduces it to a level that lay people can understand, including how each part of the brain impacts the purchasing process.

In the fifth chapter we’re introduced to the Adaptive Selling model which requires sellers to “flex, alter and vary” their sales approach depending on a number of variable such as the product or service being sold, what stage of the buying process the prospect is in, the wants or needs of the prospect, and the personality and buying style of the prospect. Hazeldine says that

“the theory behind adaptive selling is the successful outcome of a selling situation is determined by both the customer’s deliberation of the benefits of the product or
service being offered and the customer’s experience during the sales interaction.   The salesperson’s ability to create the right chemistry, rapport and connection with
the customer will be as important as the ability to communicate the key benefits of the proposal to the customer.”

In order to create that right “chemistry, rapport and connection” the seller must understand how the buyer buys and adapt his/her process to the prospect’s buying style. That, obviously, requires the seller to recognize and understand the buyer’s buying personality.

The key to understanding the buyer’s personality and buying nature is PRISM Brain Mapping, an on-line neuroscience based behavior profiling instrument. Through the use of the PRISM instrument, Hazeldine has created four distinct categories of buyers and their personality and buying characteristics, each category corresponding to one of four quadrants of the brain that are associated with the specific behavioral preferences of the buyer.

Adaptive selling requires the seller to discover which of the four buying personalities he or she is dealing with and then adapt their process to that personality.
The Adaptive Selling process in its most basic format consists of:

  •  considering who the customer is by researching them and understanding their industry and business and by thoroughly understanding your products and services
  • maximizing the prospect’s comfort through connecting with them and the use of Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques
  • establishing context and catalyze, that is gaining a detailed understanding of the issues, needs, and goals of the prospect
  • the fourth stage of the process is to convince “the customer’s brain that the action you will be proposing is a positive one, and that it will move the customer away from the pain of the problem and towards the reward that your solution will provide”
  • the final stage is to close the deal.

Hazeldine encourages each reader of the book to go to his website and take a version of the PRISM Brain Mapping instrument that will give them a report on their own particular purchasing personality. Taking the instrument will allow you to get a more comprehensive view of how brain mapping works—and also gives you the opportunity to compare the findings to what you know about yourself and test its accuracy. Maybe you’ll learn some new things about how and why you act the way you do.

In the end Neuro-Sell is a combination of the old and the new as much of the findings discussed in the book simply confirm what has been around the selling arena for years, while bringing into play some new and interesting findings about how the brain works and why each of us has a unique way of looking at the world and making purchasing decisions—and how that information can be used to make sellers more effective.

Some will complain that the process seems too manipulative. I personally don’t think that to be valid as selling, as with a great deal of life, has to do with persuasion and by its very nature persuasion, too some extent deals, with manipulation. The question I don’t think is whether the process is manipulation but instead is to what purpose is the manipulation taking place? Consequently no discussion of the selling process or methodology can stand alone but must also be married to a discussion of ethics. But that’s for another discussion.

July 14, 2014

Guest Article: “The Dichotomy of Sales!,” by Lynn Hindy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 10:02 am
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The Dichotomy of Sales!
by Lynn Hidy

I was working with a relatively new inside salesperson recently and we uncovered he was facing the Dichotomy of Sales!

not sure what dichotomy is? Merriam Webster says “something with seemingly contradictory qualities”

On one side: it is all about making commission
On the other side: it is all about making sure the customer solves their problem

The reason I picked the definition I did was the word “seemingly” – actually, these two things are not contradictory.

Rather, when you go into every interaction with a prospect with the intention and belief – it is all about making sure the customer solves their problem – ultimately you will make more commission!

It is really all about: balance, technique, skill, and bravery.

* balance – to ensure that both of you get something out of the relationship. Their problems are solved AND you make commission.

* technique – asking the right questions to uncover real problems, listening to their answers, communication is your responsibility! Not just information – but also communicating your intention.

* skill – taking the time to actually practice the craft of sales, not to manipulate a prospect… rather to ensure you know you’re the best fit for the opportunity.

* bravery – to believe that making it all about THEM will get you what you want as well!

A little like skateboarding; without balance, you’ll fall flat on your face. If you haven’t learned the techniques to do that new trick, again falling is inevitable. Without taking the time to turn technique into true skill and mastery your performance will be inconsistent. Plus you have to bravely believe you CAN do it.

Lynn Hidy, founder of UpYourTeleSales.com, is the expert at creating profitable telesales salespeople and organizations. She knows you can make six figures over the phone – she does it!  Get more of Lynn at the Up Your TeleSales blog.

July 11, 2014

Never Again Struggle with Staying in Contact with Prospects

Do you have a proven process for insuring that your relationships with prospects are continually moving forward in a manner that is purposeful and leads to the natural culmination of the process? In other words, are you and your prospect always on the same page, consciously and constantly moving forward to a purchase decision? Or do you, as most sellers do, approach the sales relationship process haphazardly without knowing where the relationship is going—and often not knowing where it should go?

Rather than shooting from the hip, making follow-up calls to prospects without having an idea of how or why to make the call, you can turn the sales follow-up process into an organized and logical progression that makes the sales process comfortable and valuable for both your prospect and yourself.

Unless you are engaged in a one-time close sale, you know going into the initial meeting with a prospect that your sales cycle will require you to maintain contact with them over an extended period of time before the sale is consummated, whether that be a week, a month, or a year.  Since you know you will have to follow-up with additional information, more meetings, a proposal, a committee presentation, and/or a formal needs analysis, you should be fully prepared to carry the relationship forward, knowing exactly what your next move will be before you ever enter the initial meeting with the prospect.

After only a short exposure to meetings with prospects you have seen virtually all of the variances your meetings can take, from the prospect that shows a great deal of interest, to those who show no interest at all, and everything in-between.  Once exposed, you have no reason not to be fully prepared to take control of the situation when exposed to that type of prospect again.

Since you will see the same basic situations over and over again with your prospects, you should know exactly what the next step in your process will be before you wrap up the initial meeting with your prospect.  Instead of going back to your office and wondering what to do next, you should have already agreed with your prospect on the next step to take, whether that be another meeting, sending follow-up information, or simply putting the prospect on your long-term touch program—or removing the prospect altogether because they really are not a prospect.

Think of the sale as a staircase with a number of alternate stairways branching off of the main staircase.   If you are familiar with the drawings of E.M. Escher, think of his etchings of stairways where there are myriad branches but all stairways eventually lead to the same location.  That’s your sales stairway with all of the branches eventually leading to your central location-the sale.  Some stairways are short and direct, others take a very circuitous route.

Your job is to have planned each route and to know exactly what you must do to guide your prospect through the stairway he or she has chosen.  To do that you must have a well defined plan, knowing exactly what your moves will be well ahead of time.

The first step in your staircase is, of course, setting the initial appointment.  That step naturally leads to your second step-the appointment itself.  Unfortunately, that is where the staircase ends for many salespeople, not knowing what the next step for any particular prospect should be.  Don’t allow yourself to ever be put in that position.

Just as the first step-setting the appointment-lead naturally to the second, your second step should lead naturally to your third step, and so on throughout the sales process.  What your third step is will depend on what transpired during the initial appointment since your prospect may choose one of several staircases to climb.

For most of us, the initial appointment serves numerous purposes, one of which is qualifying the prospect.  In fact, for many, the appointment isn’t with a prospect at all, but is rather with a suspect–someone we think, or maybe just hope, might be a prospect.  During the initial meeting one of your primary jobs is to determine if the suspect is a prospect, and if they are, what type of prospect–short-term or longer-term.  Your staircase will branch off in different directions depending on whether you determine the suspect is not a prospect at all, is a short-term prospect, or a long-term prospect.

If you determine your suspect is not a prospect, your staircase ends with this meeting.  There is no need to pursue them further.

If you determine your prospect is a short-term prospect, your staircase will continue, but you’ll have to decide during the meeting which branch of the staircase to lead your prospect–are you going to set another meeting, present a proposal, send or deliver additional information, or is another move appropriate?

The key to building your staircase and your relationship is to have your prospect agree on the next move before the end of the meeting, and in order to do that you must know both what the logical next move for the particular prospect is and where that move is going to lead in the sales process.  Never leave a meeting without agreeing on what will happen next and when it will happen:

  • Are you going to research an issue for the prospect?  If so, when will you deliver the results of your research and how will you deliver them-in person, via an email, or will you send them via the mail?   Once delivered, what is the next logical step to have your prospect agree to?
  • Will there be a second meeting?  Set a date and time and a specific goal for the meeting before you leave the initial meeting.
  • Are you going to get the prospect additional information or data?  If so, agree with your prospect when and how the information will be delivered and the anticipated results of supplying the information, as well as what the next step after the information has been delivered should be.

The key to building your stairway and leading the prospect to the sale is to always have your next step built before you finish the step you are on.  If you are to deliver information, know exactly what information to deliver, how you will deliver it and agree on what will happen once the information is in your prospect’s hand.  If your are setting a meeting, agree on the time and date, the goals for the meeting and the next step to be taken after the meeting.

Don’t rely on chance, luck, or happenstance–plan your moves well in advance and gain your prospect’s agreement and commitment.

Planning your moves is not difficult.  If you are meeting with a short-term prospect you know what the likely next moves will be, in fact, there are probably only a handful of possible moves.  For some prospects the next move will be another meeting, for others additional information, for others possibly a demonstration or a proposal.  Since you know what to anticipate, have a clearly defined plan of action for each eventuality.

Build the third step in your staircase the same way.  During the second meeting you gain your prospect’s agreement on what should take place next and then set a specific time and date for that step along with specific goals for that step.  When delivering the agreed upon research, agree with your client on the next step and again set a specific time and date and goals for the next step in the process.

By continually gaining agreement from your prospect to the next step in the process, you keep your prospect engaged, you continually monitor the prospect’s level of interest, and you prevent yourself from falling into the awkward situation of wondering how to re-engage your prospect.  Never leave a meeting or finish a conversation with your prospect without knowing what will happen next, when it will happen, and what the anticipated results of the step will be.

If you find you are working with a long-term prospect, you build a staircase that, like an Escher staircase, takes a longer, less direct route to the sale, but just as with a short-term prospect, you guide the prospect along a stairway that you know leads to the purchase decision.  Your steps may have longer intervals and may entail less direct interaction, but they must still be agreed upon by your prospect.  These steps may include your monthly or quarterly newsletter, scheduled phone calls at a specific future date, or even calls based on specific future events such as the release of a new product or the passing of a specific threshold such as the beginning of a new quarter.

Prior to your next appointment with a prospect or suspect, create your staircase and map out a logical route to the sale for each scenario you are likely to encounter.  Although you’ll have stairways branching off from your main staircase, you’ll probably have no more than a handful of branches for short-term prospects and probably no more than two or three for your long-term prospects.

Lay out on paper each logical step for each branch and then plan how you will lead your prospect to agreeing to each step along the way.  Although many salespeople believe writing out scripts is fake and insincere, be aware that you will eventually create an effective-or ineffective–script that you’ll use over and over to introduce and seek agreement from your prospect to the next step to be taken.  You can either leave the creation of your script to the spur of the moment as you are standing in front of your client, or you can take the time and care to do it while you can carefully think through the best way to introduce the next step and gain your client’s agreement.  Either way, you’ll eventually end up with a script you’ll use over and over.

You don’t have to be like the majority of salespeople who struggle to keep in touch with their prospects and move them along the sales process.  Instead of worrying about what to say, when to contact a prospect, or how to get your prospect to move along the process, simply build the next step while you’re with your prospect.  Not only will it give you more confidence since you know you’re in control, you’ll close more sales and close them faster-and that’s a good move.

July 9, 2014

Book Review: The Innovative Sale: Unleash Your Creativity for Better Customer Solutions and Extraordinary Results

the innovative saleOne of the truisms of selling is that the goal of the seller should be to discover a customer’s problem and to present a real solution to that problem.  No longer are we to simply sell a product or service.  Instead we are to become consultants, understanding the real root issues our clients have and solve those issues in a manner that adds concrete value to the client.

The problem is that for most of us the solution we devise is the same solution that our competitors come up with—and much of the time our solution is really nothing more than a rationale for why our product or service is the one our customer should purchase.

For most of us there is little—maybe no—problem solving other than figuring a way to justify the purchase of our product or service.

Possibly the reason we so seldom create real solutions to client problems isn’t because we don’t want to but because we’ve never been taught how to think through a problem and create a solution.

Mark Donnolo, author of The Innovative Sale: Unleash Your Creativity for Better Customer Solutions and Extraordinary Results (AMACOM:  2014), offers a unique perspective on how to develop and implement creative solutions to customer problems.

Donnolo approaches the subject of creative problem solving from the perspective of an artist and seller, certainly a perspective much different than most of us sellers.  Donnolo graduated from The University of the Arts with a degree in Art and worked for a New York design firm, eventually working as a designer for one of the top branding agencies in the world.  In time he decided to enter the University of North Carolina and earned an MBA which eventually lead to his thinking through the dilemma sellers have when trying to solve client issues.

For the past 25 years Donnolo has been working with sales teams teaching them how to be creative problem solvers.  That work is the basis for The Innovative Sale.

The Innovative Sale isn’t a theory book but rather a practical guide to learning how to become a creative problem solver.

Creativity isn’t one dimensional, Donnolo says, but rather there is “artistic” creativity that we associate with artists and there is “functional” creativity which is the creativity we sellers need to develop.

Artistic creativity “leans heavily toward expression and the unconstrained innovation seen in” the arts, whereas functional creativity “is defined by its objective outcomes.  With functional creativity, there is a right answer.”

Within the arena of sales innovation Donnolo identifies three major dilemmas that must be dealt with:

The Dilemma of Perception: In sales innovation “you’re not prancing around with finger paints to find your inner Picasso.  You’re solving a sales challenge in a creative way that will differentiate you from competitors.”

The Dilemma of Constraints: As sellers we must work within many constraints and limitations—but. he argues. constraints enable creativity.

The Dilemma of Personality:  “Innovative ideas for sales organizations require the best of both brains: the left brain’s ability to work within the constraints of a process and sales context, and the right brain’s inclination to think freely.”

From his discussion of these three dilemmas, Donnolo moves to a discussion of the 6 principles of the innovative sale:

The Principle of Pattern: “our instinct to find related ideas in any given situation,” i.e., our tendency to look for solutions from past experience or instances we’ve heard about where a solution might lie.

The Principle of Variety:  Seeking a large number of potential solutions instead of sticking with only what we’ve used in the past.

The Principle of Unity: Refers to how all the pieces and individuals involved work together.

The Principle of Contrast: “In sales innovation, contrast invites the sales team to critically question and push back against established practices.”

The Principle of Movement:  The progression through the innovative process.  “Innovative ideas rarely occur in a flash.”  Creative innovation is a development process, not artistic inspiration.

The Principle of Harmony:  Making sure the solution developed can be implemented by the client.

Each of these principles is fleshed out with 18 imperatives.

The bulk of the book then proceeds to apply these principles and imperatives to developing creative solutions to sales challenges, as well as an excellent chapter on using the innovative sale approach to developing your Vale Proposition.

I’ll save you from all of the book review clichés since there are no books that are “must reads” or “indispensable” or “must be on every seller’s bookshelf.”  This is, however, an excellent book that presents a process that can help you or your sales team develop creative solutions to client issues that just might help set your apart from your competition.

 

July 7, 2014

Guest Article: “Beware of Who’s Preaching that Prospecting No Longer Works to Develop New Business,” by Mike Weinberg

Beware of Who’s Preaching that Prospecting No Longer Works to Develop New Business
by Mike Weinberg

There is a lot of noise and confusion about prospecting in the sales world.

It’s always been hard to get salespeople to prospect for new business — even when proactively pursuing strategic target accounts was widely accepted as a valid method for acquiring new customers.  Today, the false teachers, many from the Sales 2.0 movement, loudly proclaim that prospecting is dead and completely ineffective for developing new business.

Be on guard when you hear people preaching that prospecting no longer works.  Be careful because it is exactly what your itching ears want to hear.  No one really likes to do the grunt work involved to prospect successfully, especially if it involves cold calling. So it is natural for us to gravitate toward those who tell us what we want to believe.  It’s the same concept our parents taught us:  It matters who your friends are.  Much of our subjective truth is based on the beliefs of those we choose to listen to.

Here’s what I’ve noticed over the past couple of years as a coach and consultant to business to business sales teams:   Those with the loudest voices boldly proclaiming that prospecting is ineffective and that proactively pursuing target accounts who aren’t coming to you is a waste of time, are not only wrong, but they also have an agenda.

There are two distinct camps of loud voices preaching the deadly advice that many in sales are excited to hear.

The first camp is filled with  your under-performing colleagues in sales.  These are the folks who survived, or possibly thrived, when times were good and there was plenty inbound demand for what they sold.  For the most part, they never had to prospect for new business. It came looking for them.  Or they were so skilled at account and relationship management, they benefitted from an abundance of opportunity at existing accounts during good economic times. These people did well without ever having to go out, turn over new rocks, hunt for new relationships, etc.  So, now, in tougher times, not only do they not want to proactively prospect for new accounts, truthfully, they don’t know how.  And because of their own fears, struggles and current poor results, they don’t want you to prospect either. You get it? They are failing and the last thing they want to see is you succeeding picking up new business when they’re not.  They’re scared, lost and confused.  And they figure that the louder they yell that prospecting doesn’t work that a) you will listen and agree, and b) they may not be forced to do it themselves.

The second group motivated to turn you against prospecting are those in the Sales 2.0 camp peddling products, services and content for Inbound Marketing.  Don’t over-read into that statement.  There are some incredible sales minds and great people delivering huge value to the sales community from the 2.0 group. And I’m as big a fan as anyone of integrating new media and smart inbound marketing into our business development initiatives.  But there is also a contingent of false teachers vehemently declaring that prospecting is passé, worthless, dead . . .  that “old” methods don’t work anymore.  And it just so happens that many of these same folks stand ready to sell you their solution so you never have to cold call again. Not exactly unbiased advice, is it?

We can embrace the new without discarding the old.  Social media and inbound marketing are great supplements to, not replacements for, our personal prospecting efforts.  Pay attention to who is telling you not to prospect for new business.  I bet there’s a good chance they’re from one of the groups described above.

Mike Weinberg is the author of New Sales. Simplified: The Essential Handbook for Prospecting and New Business Development.  Find more of Mike’s wisdom at The New Sales Coach blog.

June 26, 2014

Why Producing Sales Managers No Longer Make Sense (If They Ever Did)

Although many companies believe they are maximizing dollars by requiring their frontline sales managers maintain and grow their own book of business, are they really getting the value they expect or are they costing themselves sales and money in the long run by trying to save a few bucks on a manager’s salary?

Let’s examine the duties that are expected from a producing sales manager as gleaned from several producing sales manager ads on CareerBuilder:
•    Recruiting and hiring salespeople–and often clerical staff
•    Training, coaching and mentoring those people
•    Resolving customer issues
•    Coordinating and working with other departments such as shipping, manufacturing, underwriting, finance, etc.
•    Monitoring the local market and competition and keeping management informed of market changes and opportunities
•    Creating and implementing a local sales and marketing plan
•    P&L responsibility for the local office or branch
•    Conduct sales and training meetings
•    Complete reports for management on a weekly, monthly and annual basis
•    Creating annual office or branch budget
•    Creating monthly and annual sales projections
•    Operating as company’s ambassador to the community by attending community events and maintaining a high visibility in the community
•    Other duties as assigned

And then the kicker:
•    Maintaining a high level of personal sales activity and personal production

The first dozen responsibilities listed above are management activities that are—or should be—critical to the growth and profitability of the company.  Most of these activities require someone with strong management, problem solving, and analytical skills.  To properly perform these activities, the individual must have a frame of reference to resolve customer issues, to develop sales and marketing plans, to maximize the return on assets, to properly analyze the local market and competition, and especially, to recruit, train and mentor salespeople.

Only the last item is a purely in-the-trenches sales activity related item.  Yet, as anyone who has been in sales understands, to meet that requirement of ‘maintain a high level of personal sales,” selling must be a full-time job.

The Requirements For The Job
Go further into the job description and you find the ‘requirements’ section, describing the background and experience this individual must have to be considered for the job.  Most typically, that description includes these items:
•    3-5 years direct industry sales experience
•    Proven high level of production, meeting or exceeding quota
•    Strong product knowledge
•    Proven industry contacts and book of business

What’s missing in the requirements for this position?  Of course, not a single word about management skills, aptitude, training or ability.

And how is this individual typically paid?  Usually some combination of base salary, commissions and overrides, or worse, overrides and commissions.

Does It Make Sense?
The above list of responsibilities was gathered from a number of job postings from a number of industries including retail, banking, insurance, securities, medical, software, chemical, consulting, and others.  Most of these job postings listed a majority of the above requirements including the personal production requirement.

Although traditional in many industries, does this combination of duties make sense?  If it does:
•    why are so many offices in these industries poorly run?
•    Why the constant harping by senior management for the offices to keep costs down?
•    Why complaints by marketing that leads aren’t being followed up?
•    Why the complaints by manufacturing and shipping that didn’t know certain things about various orders?
•    Why are commission checks so often wrong?
•    Why is the training and coaching in these companies so poor?
•    Why are so many poor hiring decisions made by the company’s sales managers?

The list could go on.

The reason of course is obvious.  The company didn’t hire a manager, they hired a salesperson to try to keep the herd in line and hopefully end up with the sales numbers the company wanted—and that sales manager is expected to make sure they do through his or her personal production.

Sales management as so often practiced today is hardly deserving of the term.  And despite the onus being placed on the sales manager by the company, the problem doesn’t lie with the sales manager.  Typically, the company got exactly what they wanted—a top salesperson willing to assume responsibility they haven’t been prepared for in exchange for a title.

Can Companies Afford to Continue This Way?
For most companies, selling is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge.  Competition is fierce, their products are most often indistinguishable from their competitor’s, their markets are becoming more fragmented, their prospects are better educated and more demanding than ever before.

Management as a sideline, although traditional in a great number of industries, is costing companies billions of dollars every year in lost opportunities, bad hires, poor local market decisions, lack of resource utilization and lost sales.

In a complex world with razor sharp competition and astute prospects who often know more than the people trying to sell to them, companies can no longer afford to use management positions as rewards for past production.  Frontline managers are increasingly becoming the focal point of a company’s success or failure.

Many companies have already begun to change their management philosophy and have eliminated the selling manager position and have replaced them with full-time, qualified, and trained managers.  To this end, they have instituted manager training and coaching programs hiring outside companies and coaches to work with their new and existing management staff.

Take Action Now
If you are in a producing manager role, hire a sales management coach to help you prepare for the realities of the changing environment you are entering.  Those items within your job description that haven’t been emphasized in the past are becoming increasingly important.

If you’re a senior manager, consider whether a producing manager is really worth the lost revenue and lost opportunities.  Your company’s selling environment isn’t going to get easier.

June 24, 2014

Guest Article: “TEAM SELLING–Lone Wolfs no longer reign supreme,” by Dr. Richard Ruff

Team selling – lone wolfs no longer reign supreme
by Richard Ruff

Team selling continues to be on the rise. We’ve heard this from clients and colleagues – and now from the research front. According to a recent Corporate Executive Board (CEB) study, the individual salesperson “no longer reigns supreme”.

As the CEB authors noted: “On the most effective sales teams, particularly B2B, the individual no longer reigns supreme. Strong sellers must not merely execute their day-to-day tasks well; they also must engage with their colleagues to marshal resources, wrangle involvement, and coordinate people’s capabilities.  They now rely on collective, even crowd-sourcing skills, in ways that weren’t possible just a few short years ago.”

Why is this team selling collaborative approach emerging to the forefront today? There are a number of reasons – let’s explore three.

  • Transformational Market Change.  First, several markets are undergoing a transformational change where the customer is demanding the salesperson brings a broader and deeper level of knowledge to the sales process.

A good case in point is the medical market where the Affordable Care Act plus other social and economic trends are transforming the health care landscape.  Hospitals now expect their suppliers to become partners to help them to deal with significant challenges driven by reduction in reimbursements and changes in their care delivery models.  This means to sell successfully the salesperson has to know more about knowledge areas such as: hospital economics, payment models, disease states and end-to-end supply chain costs.  This requires a team – a single sales person cannot do it alone.

  • Availability of Technology.  Today, salespeople have available easy-to-use and powerful CRM systems and software applications that allow them to share information and insights to a degree that was hard to image even 5 years ago.  Simply put, the technology enables salespeople to collaborate more effectively than ever before.  So, not only is there more of a need for team selling; there is also a way.
  • Sales Management Support.  The frontline sales manager has always been the pivotal job for achieving sales excellence.According to the CEB authors, today’s sales managers are operating differently.  Among market leaders sales managers expect and support their salespeople to leverage all the personnel resources that are available. They facilitate idea exchange across their sales teams, use collective brainstorming to figure out how to unstick stuck deals, and borrow effective approaches to talent management and sales rep development from peers in other areas of the business.  Sales managers are fostering relationships with personnel outside their divisions, such as: marketing, manufacturing, tech support, and customer service, as well as, with counterparts in other sales divisions when multiple divisions inside a company sell to the same customer.

Today customers expect sales people to know more and know it at a higher level of proficiency than in times past.  The higher up in the customer organization, the truer the proposition.  Senior level executives expect the seller to bring fresh perspectives to help them to frame their challenges and new insights to generative alternative solutions.  They want help to know more about what they don’t know – not product presentations.  If this trend continues, so will the shift to team selling.

Dr. Richard Ruff has spent the last thirty years designing and managing large-scale sales training projects for Fortune 1000 companies.  He is a co-founder of  Sales Horizons, a sales training company aimed at mid and small size companies. He has co-authored Managing Major Sales, a book about sales management, Parlez-Vous Business which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and Getting Partnering Right – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances.  You can find more of his work at his blog.

June 23, 2014

You Need to Know Your Sales History if You Want to Grow Your Sales Business–and Income

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:37 pm
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OK, so metrics are boring—but knowing your numbers is critical to your success.  Go ahead, read the article and then apply the math to your sales business.

Do you know what you have to do if you want to increase your income by 25%?  How about if you want to increase it 70%?

The obvious answer is to increase your production by 25 or 70%.

But is that the right answer?

Maybe–probably–not.

Rather than thinking in terms of increasing your production by 25 or 70%, ask yourself these questions:

What is your average annual commission per client?

Since most of us have different products and/or types of clients, break it down even further:

What is your average annual commission per client type A (say retail client)?
What is your average annual commission per client type B (wholesale)?

Or

What is your average annual commission per individual client?
What is your average annual commission per corporate client?

Or

What is your average annual commission per client buying service A?
What is your average annual commission per client buying service B?
What is your average annual commission per client buying service C?

Here’s a hypothetical example:

Mary sells widgets to both individuals and companies.  Over the past 3 years she has sold widgets to 300 individuals and 114 companies.

Her average commission for selling to an individual is $375.
Her average commission from a sale to a company is $1,050.

Last year her income was $107,050.

She wants to increase her income by 22% or $23,500 this year for a gross income of about $130,000.

Since she knows her production/commission numbers she knows exactly what she must do:

She needs to sell to an additional 28 individuals and 12 companies to reach her goal.

However, she could refocus her business by concentrating on business sales as each additional business sale would reduce the required additional individual sales by 2.8.

She could also take her numbers one step further and calculate what her averages have been over a shorter period of time such as 6 or 12 months.  When she does that she discovers that:

Over the past 12 months she has sold to 105 individuals with an average commission of $450 and 45 businesses with an average commission of $1300.

With these more accurate current numbers she knows in order to reach her goal she must sell to an additional 23 individuals and 10 new businesses.

So, that’s all she needs to do in order to reach the $130,000 income she wants for this year—simply make an additional 2 ¾ sales per month.

Again, she could refocus her business and concentrate more on corporate sales as each additional corporate sale would decrease the number of individual sales needed by almost 3 sales.

All the sudden that 20% increase doesn’t seem so difficult to accomplish because she knows exactly what it will take to get there.  The hocus pocus of pulling numbers out of thin air, the wondering of how in the world she can make an additional $30,000 is gone and replaced with knowledge—knowledge of what she has done in the past, what she is doing at the moment, and what it will really take to reach her goal.

Reaching your income and sales goals can be just as concrete and just as realistic as Mary’s goals were for her if you’ll take the time to do a little research and math.  These are crucial metrics of your business that you must know.

Don’t play a guessing game.  You can’t afford to operate in a vacuum.  Knowing your sales history is key to reaching your goals for our future business tends to replicate out past business unless we consciously break out of that pattern.  You need to know where you’ve been in order to get where you want to go.

June 13, 2014

Are You Failing Because You Fail to Persist?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 10:05 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Over the years I’ve spoken to thousands of sellers who want to change their behavior, their careers and their lives. There are certain traits that seem to be consistent with a great many sellers I speak with–they tend to be disorganized; the majority question their ability to perform up to the standards they have set for themselves; almost to a person they have no idea of how they intend to get where they want to go.  Almost all lack one of the most crucial traits of a mega-producer–persistence.

They try one technique or strategy a few times, and then move to the next.  They read a book, put into practice a little they have learned and when that doesn’t immediately produce results, they discard it and go on to something else.  They never allow themselves to learn, practice and develop a new skill because they aren’t immediately getting the results they want or expect.

Selling is both an art and a science.  Like anything else in life, it takes time to learn and develop new skills.  If we don’t allow ourselves the time and practice required to develop the skills required to become successful, we’ll never become successful.  The NFL, NBA, PGA, and other sporting associations are chock full of individuals who have spent their entire lives on the practice field preparing themselves for just a few minutes each week in the limelight.

Take an offensive lineman.  A guard has basically one job—keeps someone from the opposite team from having the opportunity to tackle the guy with the ball.  That’s it.  Just keep one man from tackling one other man.  Pretty simple, right?  If you have never played football or have never even seen it played and you walked onto a practice field for the first time it probably wouldn’t take more than five minutes to understand what the job of a guard is.  Heck, it wouldn’t take 30 seconds to understand the basic concept. Within an hour, you’d understand the most basic concepts of playing guard.  You’d know the stance, you’d know that you don’t move until the ball is snapped, you’d know that the guy on the other side of the ball that you are supposed to block is really, really big, and you’d know that your job on each play is only going to take 3 to 8 seconds to perform.  During the same time period you would have learned that there are different plays and that you do something a little different on each play.  Let’s assume your team has 10 basic plays.  Maybe it takes you another 2 hours to learn what it is you do on each of those 10 plays.

So, you’re ready for the game, right?  You’ve invested 3 hours.  You know your job is to keep that guy from tackling the guy on your team with who has the ball.  You know you have ten plays and you know whom to block on each of those 10 plays.  What else is there to learn?  You’re done.  Go take a shower and show up a couple of hours early on game day.

Maybe someone forgot to tell you that the other guy is going to do everything he can to keep you from blocking him.  Maybe they forgot to tell you that he won’t line up exactly where you want him on every play.  Maybe they forgot to tell you that he isn’t just going to stand there waiting for you to come block him.  Maybe they forgot to tell you that people don’t act the way you want them to act.  Maybe they forgot to tell you that what sounds easy isn’t necessarily easy.

If the average lineman in the NFL is 26 years old, and the average player has been playing football since age 7 or 8, then that guard has spent almost 20 years of his life learning to do one thing—keep one guy from tackling another guy.  That’s it.  And no matter how good he is, he still gets beat consistently.  He still misses blocking assignments.  He still has opposing players get around his blocks.  He still makes mental and physical mistakes.

Salespeople are in the same position as the guard above.  We have a simple job that requires a great deal of skill and practice.  The guard has spent his life learning not just the most basic parts of his job, but he has spent thousands of hours learning the techniques and strategies that will make him successful.  If all he needed was to learn the most basic concepts, he could pick up a book, read about what a guard does and then show up for the game.  There wouldn’t be any need to practice.  There wouldn’t be a need to hone his skills.  After all, what could be simpler than to have someone tell you to just keep that guy away from that that other guy?

But that is exactly what tens of thousands of salespeople do each and every day.  They read about a particular skill, go out and try it and it doesn’t work the way they want it to. They conclude it was all hype anyway and move on to something else.  Selling is a practiced skill, meaning persistence in practice, patience in application, and honing of abilities is necessary.

As we enter the second half of the year rededicate yourself to your personal training. Understand that what you learn must be practiced and perfected.  New skills take time to learn.  If you are perpetually moving from one sales concept to the next without having learned and practiced each, you’ll never improve your ability to perform your job.

Persistence is at the heart of perfecting any skill, sales skills are no exception.

June 10, 2014

How huge changes in Buying have impacted Selling – Webinar

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 9:28 am
Tags: , , , ,

As part of our continuing goal of bringing the best speakers and ideas to you to help you develop as a salesperson, manager, and business executive, we’re excited to invite you to a dynamic, new webinar on Wednesday, June 18 at 11AM Pacific, 1PM Central, 2PM Eastern.

According to Daniel Pink, bestselling author of To Sell is Human, selling and buying has changed more in the last 5 years than it did in the last 100 years! Unfortunately, most salespeople have NOT adapted to these changes. What worked well just a few short years ago can be a liability today.

Our guest speaker is John Schumann, partner at Whetstone Group, a sales process improvement and training company. He is the co-author of several books, including Common Sense Selling, Sales Mastery, and The Monday Morning Sales Coach. He has trained 1000s of salespeople in over 17 countries.

John brings a new perspective to the old game of selling, one that will help you understand how these changes are affecting your everyday selling activities and how salespeople are now being manipulated.

You’ll walk away with some fresh ideas on how to begin making the transition to selling more effectively and selectively in 2014 and beyond…and learn a tool that you can put into practice immediately.

The webinar is complimentary. You won’t want to miss this.

Click here for more information and to reserve your spot now.

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