We moved Blog to improve for you

 

Over the years since I started blogging I have been noting the feedback I receive about my blog so I can better serve you.

Some of the feedback included;

  • Need more professional page layout
  • Need to add video
  • Need pod cast, audio files
  • My favorite ; “you need to eat your own dog food and tell us the problems you solve”

 

Based on your feedback, with the help of Business Blogging Pros, I now have a new blog at www.nosmokeandmirrors.com .

For those of you who subscribe to my blog via email, please visit and subscribe.

Thank you for the feedback and I am committed to providing improved content and overall experience. Thank you for the comments and please let me know how I can better serve your needs to grow your business profitably.

Mark Allen Roberts

“Leader, You Don’t Have to Go It Alone!”

 

When I asked CEO’s and business leaders where they turn when they face a problem in their business I heard two common answers and one that disturbed me. The common answers were;

  • I call someone in my network

 

  • I talk to my spouse

 

However the answer that also bubbled to the top frequently was;

  • nowhere,… that is what I am paid to do, solve problems so I figure it out
  • 

 

The third response disturbed me… when did business leaders decide they need to go it alone? When was it decided we need to have all the answers? I tell my clients in fact I do not have all the answers,… but I do , based on my experience know what questions to ask.

So let me get this straight….

  • if you want to improve your golf  game you have no problem hiring a pro for a few lessons

 

  • If you want to get fit you join a gym and hire a personal trainer

 

  • If you sprain your back you see a doctor ,enter a rehab program with a physical therapist to get you back in shape and out of pain

 

But if your business has a problem…you feel you must go it alone based on your gut?

 

Market leaders have the emotional intelligence to know what they know as well as what they do not know. They seek help from experts that complement their gifts and realize faster and much more profitable growth.

 

So where do you turn when your business needs help? Why?

 

“Leader, You Don’t Have to Go It Alone!”

Are Your Salespeople Playing “Feature and Benefit BINGO?”

Are your salespeople costing you revenue you should be winning by playing “feature and benefit BINGO?” The only way you truly know is if you or your VP of sales is traveling and working in the market with your sales team.

Feature and benefit BINGO is a game untrained salespeople play far too often. They “show up and then they throw up” and they spew all the features and benefits they can think of waiting for your buyer to jump up and yell”…BINGO….I get it….I figured out what problems you can solve for me…”

 

Market leading salespeople ask questions and take the time to listen and understand the problems, the pain their buyers are experiencing and they position their product and or services as solutions to those problems.

As a quick litmus test, ask yourself who talked more in the meeting? Your buyer… or your salesperson? If it was your salesperson I promise you they are showing up and throwing up and it’s costing you sales revenues you could have won.

Are you playing feature and benefit BINGO in other areas?

Your website?

Brochures?

Your sales training?

Are Your Salespeople Afraid of the Dark?…Look For the Signs

 

If you have been in sales, led salespeople you know what it’s like when a sale “goes dark”. You had a “great meeting” , you listened, and you felt you heard the buyer’s pain, you followed up with a proposal that shares how your product or service solves their pain….and then nothing. A day turns into a week, a week a month and your buyer goes dark not answering your voice mails, emails, faxes, and so on.

To make maters more stressful the salesperson shared how they felt they finally closed “XYZ “and all of senior management is now waiting for the order.( and asking for what seems like hourly updates as to when it will come in)

What are your buyers doing when they go dark…does your team know? If not what you will experience as signs your salespeople are afraid of the dark include;

  • end of sales period price discounts

 

  • change in agreed payment terms

 

  • change in standard shipment terms

 

  • free products and or services added to “close the sale

 

The most common cause of salespeople becoming afraid of the dark is a shift in the way your buyers are buying. Your current sales process lacks a clear understanding of the buying process and you require new sales tools to keep the conversation moving to a close.

Reminder, it’s not about how you want to sell, but helping your buyers buy …the way they want to buy!

 

 

 

How about your organization……

 

Is your sales team afraid of the dark?

 

Do you have one or two salespeople who seem more afraid than others?

 

Do you hear about a number of good meetings that never result in an order?

 

Market leading organizations are constantly in their markets and adjusting to shifts in the way their buyers are buying.

Get Your Sales Team in Shape For Profitable Sales Growth

         

 

Are your salespeople prepared to win in the market they face today? Are you sure? Market leaders are taking the time to clearly understand their markets, their problems, buyers, and buying process to make purchases. Market losers plan to work harder, doing more of what they have been doing that did not produce results. Losers believe it’s just an “execution problem” a “motivation problem” so they plan to “manage” their sales team’s activities even closer. Market leaders are getting their teams in shape for the market of today.

In March of 2009 I decided I needed to get in shape. Years of traveling two to three nights per week, poor food choices and lack of exercise and I found me in the worst shape I have ever been in. It was not something that happened over night, but over a long period of lack of focus. So the first thing I did was get moving. I started working out like a maniac. I took spin classes at 4:00 am and then I would lift weights and end my workouts on the elliptical machines. This went on for months, and although I did have more energy, I was not losing weight.

More Activity alone was not producing my desired results.

So I attacked this like a business problem; I started doing research. I found that I fell into the same trap many people assume when trying to get healthy; activity drives healthy results. Therefore we assume more activity should produce even more desired results right? Wrong! The more I read I learned that 65% of your health is determined by the food you consume (inputs) and 35% is activity (execution).

I was focused on activity with little attention to what I was consuming, what was going into my body. I found with the right focus on inputs, you don’t need to have 2-2 ½ hour workouts. A strong workout of 40-60 minutes produced greater results. Within twelve months I lost 80 pounds, became healthier, and I now have more energy and more time.

I find a many businesses try to fix unhealthy sales results by demanding more activity without focus on key inputs.(strategy)

 

 Managers quickly direct their sales teams to more activity although the current activity is not driving the desired results. (Einstein’s definition of insanity)

Just as there is a proven formula for creating a healthy body, I have found a similar model to create healthy sales teams that drives profitable sales growth.

65% of your profitable sales performance is driven by strategy (inputs)

 

35% of your profitable sales performance is the result of sales team execution            (execution)

 

( Ironic most of us have this backwards)

 

 

 

Strategy

 

To insure your salespeople are equipped to be effective and efficient in the market of today you must have a clear understanding of your market, market problems of today, and map how your buyers buy today. These inputs will strengthen the core of your sales team performance with a power that the majority of your competitors do not have.

So how do you get started?

Get out in the market

 

Ask open-ended questions

 

Meet with customers and those who you did not sell

 

Identify the problems they face today

 

Equip sales with a value proposition that resonate with buyer needs of today

 

Map the buying process buyer’s use

 

Create a sales process that mirrors how your buyers are buying today

 

Develop sales tools for areas in the buying process where the sale grows dark and stalls

 

Constantly review the buying process and adjust your sales process, add tools as needed

 

 

 

Activity

 

Once you clearly understand how your buyers are buying, how they are making buying decisions today, equip your sales team with a new sales process and tools. Manage their activity using the sales process that mirrors how buyers want to buy.

“Your focus must be on how your buyers want to buy and not on how you want to sell.”

 

How do we execute new sales process?

Share the buying processes you discovered with salespeople

 

Train your sales team with the sales process you developed to serve how your buyers are buying

 

Teach your salespeople how to, and when to, use the new sales tools you created

 

Create sales tools that share the problems you solve in the markets voice

 

Create key performance indicators that measure key steps in the sales process

 

Constantly assess your new defined sales process for areas the sale seems to go dark

 

Lead your sales team by managing sales opportunities through the defined sales process steps

 

Identify salespeople who may need additional, individualized training, or may not be embracing new process

 

The core strength of your sales team’s performance is based on clearly understanding your market…stay close to buyers

 

 

Applying a sales process that supports how your buyers want to buy will produce healthily results in sales revenues and profits.

 

“If you have not changed your sales process in the last 6 months it’s broken.”

 

“If you have not produced new sales tools in the last three months, you are losing sales you could be winning.”

 

 

 

How about your team?

Do you clearly understand the problems your buyers are facing today?

How are your buyers buying today?

 

How do your buyers shop today?

 

Who is involved in the buying decision, and what additional information do they require?

 

What problem does your product or service solve for your market?

 

Market leading sales teams understand their buyers, buying criteria, and how they want to buy. They design sales processes that mirror how buyers want to buy and they equip their sales teams with sales tools to help buyers buy.

Two Reasons the CEO Should Not Run Sales

  oeps

The role of CEO is hard enough, particularly in this shifting and changing economy. Balancing all the spinning plates you face each day is difficult without trying to lead and manage a sales team.

The quickest way to insure a sales decline is have your sales team report to the CEO.

 

I have seen sales decline when CEO’s take on the role of driving the sales team for two common reasons;

CEO’s fail to provide the sales team a Value Proposition that resonates with buyers

 

CEO’s communication preference and style

 

One of the best parts of my job helping a variety of businesses that have what they call a “sales problems”. I have served a number of CEO’s over the years and as a group (for the most part) they understand their most important role is  the keeper of their brand promise and positioning .

To be effective as CEO you need to balance all those spinning plates while also focusing on those initiatives that result in the greatest impact on the business today and in the future. (not a job for the faint of heart) CEO’s are natural at problem solving and driving the execution of key performance indicators. They are process driven and have the tenacity of a pit bull once they lock into a vision.

Most CEO’s should never lead sales for two main reasons;

 

CEO’s fail to provide the sales team a value proposition that resonates with buyers

 

Salespeople require a market driven value proposition for the products and services they sell. This should explain the problems you solve for your buyers and not just what you do. It should help your sales team understand who they should target. To insure your value proposition resonates and continues to connect with buyers you must listen and observe the market on a continual basis. Focused CEO’s are flying at 45,000 feet above your market and often become frustrated when sales teams share new roadblocks to achieving their goals. What CEO’s want is sales velocity.

You can tell when your CEO is frustrated when he or she says;

 “ just make it happen”,

… or my favorite ” I don’t pay you to tell me problems, I pay you to sell through objections and hit your numbers…” .

 CEO’s have so many things already on their plates the last thing they need is to add more “to-do’s” to add to their never-ending list. Often buried deep in sales feedback you will find the need for new sales tools for ajusting the sales process based on a buying process that shifted.

A strong VP of Sales can work with salespeople and the CEO. The VP of sales understands the mission and objectives while also constantly assessing the market, buyer needs, buyer criteria, and equips the sales team with value propositions and sales tools.

 

 

CEO’s communication preference and personality style

 

CEO’s are focused on communicating in short bullet point bursts and salespeople speak in stories. ( can you see the train wreck about to happen?) Market leading salespeople incorporate what I teach that I call “story speak”. As opposed to speaking in feature and benefits, I teach salespeople to listen to the buyer problems and share how our product or service solves that problem in the form of a story. So we teach salespeople to speak in stories to communicate effectively, but we get frustrated when they can’t report results to us in bullet points?

I attended a sales conference once and the CEO brought me in to fix what he called  a repeatable sales process problem. He asked his team to individually meet with me to share the common roadblocks they face in achieving their numbers each month. ( so far so good)

But then he said something that still makes me cringe… 

And remember Mark is busy like me so…

Be brief…

 

Be brilliant….

 

Then Be Gone…

(When he got to this part three of the salespeople in the room also said “be gone”…they obviously have heard this before)

CEO’s often rise up through the accounting, technology, and finance channels and they are very process driven. They do not mange people, they develop and manage processes,systems, and or people to follow processes. If you follow DISC assessments, most CEO’s are high D, moderate to low S and low I and moderate to high C. Most salespeople have (very) high I, high D and low S and C. (Often very low C) So again, just based on how CEO’s and salespeople are naturally wired that light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

An experienced VP of sales is constantly listening for common market roadblocks shared among their sales team. They grew up through the sales ranks.Experienced sales leaders understand you need to lead each salesperson individually. A seasoned sales leader will observe and listen to changing buyer problems and processes to identify sales tools the team needs to help their teams continue conversations to a close. VP’s of sales earned long ago how to use their sales team’s natural styles and they provide back-end support for their shortfalls.

So how about your experience…..

 

Should sales report to the CEO? Why or why not?

 

Is there a benefit for CEO’s to have sales teams report to them?

 

What impact, if any, have you seen on the morale of the salespeople who report directly to the CEO?

Is your Market Strategy one of a “Hawk” or a “Dove”? …

 

Market leaders understand the importance of working their plan, and they do not focus on “crushing” the competition, but they do passionately serve their markets. (Doves) Market losers focus their energies on “beating”and “crushing” the completion and have little understanding of the problems of their buyers as their entire focus is on their competitor(s). (Hawks)

Doves strategically and passionately set out to solve their buyer’s problems. Hawks try to swoop in and destroy competitors who may or may not be perched with an understanding of buyers, their problems and buying criteria. (they are only as good as their competitors…who chances are do not understand their market) Ironically, Hawks actually believe their competitors must know the market or they would not be trying to “beat” them.

The trouble occurs when you chase the quest to destroy competitors you fly even closer to your competitor and farther away from understanding your market.

 

One of the benefits of working with a variety of business leaders is listening to their stories. Recently I met with an entrepreneur who shared how he learned one of the most valuable lessons in business strategy  long ago when he served the Marriott Corporation. He described their training and one of their sessions was called “Hawks and Doves”. In this exercise they broke off into small groups and were presented a business challenge. Predictably, everyone fell into the trap of wanting to attack and crush the competition as a Hawks. Admittedly there is a sense of machismo ego in being a Hawk after all. However the problem with being a Hawk is there are always Eagles who can swoop down ( out of seemly no where) and destroy you. Doves however are singularly focused; serving the needs of their market.

As Hawks, you rely ( focus) on your prey,… in a way you are counting on their smarts, their understanding of the market….a follower strategy.

This entrepreneur went on to share how when Marriott would have a location oversold they would have a network of other hotels they would send customers to. On the surface this may seem odd, right? However Marriott is and has been consistently one of the top hotel chains in the world. Their quality and service are consistently recognized as market leaders.

Market leaders serve their market.

Market losers focus on killing competitors.

When I wrote “are you a Pit Bull or a Poodle?” I shared the tenacity entrepreneurs must have . They have a  sence of ownership and not a victim out look. However I do not want to leave you with the impression that means attacking and chewing up your competition. Pit bulls have a fierce tenacity and jaw strength that insures when they clamp down on unresolved market problems and they do not let go.

 As Pit Bull entrepreneurs you clamp down on your commitment to solve your buyers’ problems with your product or solution, but do so with the market serving strategy of a Dove.

How about your organization…..

Is your focus that of a Hawk or a Dove?

How’s that working for you?

Does your mission statement sound like a Dove strategy but you work for a Hawk?

 At the end of the day, it’s about your team’s intentional focus. Are you focused on serving your market or destroying the competition?

Pick wisely…