Don’t Kick Your Salesperson’s ASS, …Help Them Find Their Number….

 

One of the easiest things a sales manager, (business leader) can do is resort to a; “boot on the throat”…” a throat to choke” ….and “Ass Kicking “mode. After all it takes very little effort, knowledge or skill to be a critic and a bully.

True leaders help train and motivate their teams.

 If your desire is to hit and surpass your sales objectives….Help your salespeople “find their number”.

I see it all the time, a new product launches or a new sales goal is distributed to a sales team and the key performance measurement: Sales to plan is not met. The easy route is to start “Ass Kicking”. You know …the weekly and by weekly conference call thrashings in front of their  peers. The sales update calls at 5pm on Fridays that last until 7pm. The “contemplation of your navel” market reports on why they can’t hit their sales numbers and their future action plan to change the results.

Yes this may drive some momentary, fear driven results, but this is not how you create sales velocity. In 99% of the cases I have been asked to help figure out why sales objectives were being missed it was not lazy salespeople who needed their butt’s kicked. A frequent cause was poor (or a total lack of) sales training. In these cases struggling salespeople are told to “stop making excuses and just make it happen, figure it out”. However the reality is the reason your team is missing numbers can be traced back to your understanding (yes you) of your market and buyers problems, buying criteria, and buying process.

Sales velocity is sales increases with direction and momentum and it is never driven by fear.

If your salespeople are struggling with sales, particularly new product sales and or new business sales my advice is to stop… the beatings as the morale is not improving and “help your salespeople find their number”. Their number is how many rejections they have to experience to have a win.

For example at one time in my career I ran business development for an ad firm. After tracking my calls I found my number was 18. If I made 18 calls I would get 2 appointments and from those two appoints I would close 1 new account. Instead of dreading the call process it became a game. Each rejection meant I was one step closer to a yes. Over time I also tried to improve that number.

A couple of funny things happen when you track how many rejections your team receives;

First, they make more calls. More calls mean more opportunities to win, more opportunities to start conversations.

Secondly, if your sales team has been properly trained on how to listen to buyers, determine their unresolved problems, and they understand the problems your product solves….you will have a number of net new potential clients dropping into your marketing funnel. Some of these accounts may not buy for 12-14 months, but if you compliment your calls with a lead nurturing campaign you have a high probability of closing them when their problems, (their pains) become unbearable.

As the leader you must listen to your team and look for diamonds as far as what is working and share it with your entire team. In addition you must look for common reasons sales do not occur and work with marketing to create sales tools for these common roadblocks in the flow of the sales process.

So do me (and your sales numbers) a favor …

Track number of rejections for each team member for 60 days. Gain an intimate knowledge of common reasons buyers are rejecting your salespeople.

 

Have your salespeople report on their number of rejections each week and you will see more net new sales and your marketing funnel will increase exponentially to help your future sales numbers.

Or go ahead and Kick Some Ass….it sure worked when you were a salesperson right? …Oh it didn’t? It actually made you feel like a number, and you lacked a loyalty to that manager and or company? Or you left that team, that idiot boss and now you lead the competitor’s sales team?  Interesting…did the ass kicking make you seem desperate to your accounts at the time and the deals you did close were below your targeted profit margin? Hmmm…so what makes you think “Ass kicking” makes your team feel any different?

Does your team track number of rejections?

 

Does each of your salespeople know their number?

 

Does your organization use those individual rejection numbers to identify team member who need training?

 

If you are in sales, do you know your number?

 

Do you find when the pressure is on salespeople chase new business differently? Are they making things up on their own? Making promises your product or service can never achieve?

You always have a choice.

You can “let the beatings continue until the sales and morale improves”….’let the Sh@t flow down hill…”or you can chose to lead your team. You can help them, motivate them to make more calls, and clearly understand your market, buyers, and have a record setting year.

Leads,… Tire-kickers…, and Prospects…Oh my!

 

 

Nothing can throw a monkey wrench into the alignment of sales and marketing efforts like the lack of common terms we use all the time like ; “leads” , “inquires” and “prospects” .

Nothing drives team members back to the safety of their silo’s of ;” I did my job” quicker than a lack of common language when it comes to what everyone refers to as “ leads”.

We also see frustration that results in tarnished relationships when the manufacturer / supplier lack a common lead language with his or her channel partners, dealers, and distributors.

So to set the record straight I want to share what I have always taught my sales and marketing teams that reported to me over the years as well as my clients’ teams.

 

 

Leads

 

Simply put a lead is someone who has raised their hand, and basically expressed the following;

  • I have a problem
  • I think your product or service can solve my problem
  • I have the ability to pay for your solution if it truly can solve my problem

 

A lead therefore is someone qualified to have a problem your product solves, they want the problem fixed, and they have the money to pay for it, or a way to pay for it.

 

 

Inquires (tire- kickers)

Inquires are people who have expressed an interest in your product. What we used to call “tire- kickers” back in the day. These are folks who walk by your booth like they were trick or treating and fill their show bag full of brochures. Or they surf the web in areas of interest and reach out (like a virtual trade show) and ask for brochures to be sent to them.

  • they may or may not have a problem your product or service solves
  • they are not sure if your product can help them , but they are interested in learning more
  • they may or may not know the cost of your product or service
  • they may or may not have the ability to pay for your product
  • they are curious and may be shopping for a solution or just information for themselves and or someone else

 

They basically walked by, surfed by… and said; “cool…tell me more”. They did not say; “great, I want one, where do I send the check?”

 

Prospects

 

Prospects are those folks out there in your market that your product or service could help. Some know they have a problem that needs a solution, and some may not. Some may not even see the condition (problem) you solve as a problem, but just one more thing they have to live with.

  • they may be aware they have a problem , or may not
  • they may know your company and have a perception regarding your products and services and the problems they solve, or they may not
  • they may have a perceived cost to fix their problems in mind, or they may not
  • they do not currently buy from you , and they may be buying alternative solutions

 

Prospects often represent over 70% of any market and are often great resources for market information and determining unresolved problems as they discuss in the book Tuned In.

As you can imagine many discussions end in frustration that begin with; “I sent you 122 leads last week and you have not closed any of them.” Really? Were they truly “leads”, or were they “tire kickers” or were they simply “prospects”?

The key is Market leaders must develop a common understanding, a common language to insure relationship within their teams grow. If you work with a manufacturer who sends you “leads” or you are the manufacturer who sends “leads “ to channel partners you must define what this term means and the corresponding expectation.

If you are a Market leader, and your sales are a science and not an art, you understand the buyer, buying process and can clearly communicate the expectations of leads and inquires.

If you work with (for) a market loser, every inquiry that “fogs a contact us form” is a lead and is a potential sale you failed to close.

Market losers spend more time trying to; “Hold people accountable” ….their salespeople, their dealers, their channel partners and so on when they should be spending that time gaining an understanding of your buyers.

If you do not like my definitions it does not hurt my feelings. What is key is to clearly state what the terms thrown around in meetings truly mean and get everyone on the same page. Once you have a common language, you can work on building a perceived expectation for each term.

A common language is critical to clearly articulate where a buyer is in the buying process. A common language insures you, your partners, suppliers, and your salespeople have the right tools in place to keep the conversation moving to the next phase of the buying process so you can eventually close.

How about your team…do you have clearly defined definitions of the words like; Leads, inquires, and prospects?

 

Do you and your suppliers, your distributors have a common language?

 

Do you have a Market Loser calling you wanting to know why you have not closed “leads” when in reality they were just “inquires”?

I would value you sharing how your team defines a lead, inquiry, and or prospect.

Top 20 Entrepreneurial Best Practices to Make Sure 2010 is a Profitable Year

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When I wrote my EBook: 50 Ugly Truths About Owning and Running Your Own Business…and 5 reasons why you should do it anyway I was responding to a number of misperceptions I was hearing from entrepreneurs.

Historically, at any given time six out of ten US adults is thinking about starting their own business. A number of new entrepreneurs are emerging that  I refer to as “necessity-preneurs “who were downsized and can not find new employment, are deciding to launch their own businesses as they want a much more active role in the security of their careers. The last group are cashing in their 401k and or borrowing from friends or family to buy an existing business and in a short amount of time realize they really just bought a job and they are quickly running out of cash.

One thing I have learned over the past 25 years of identifying roadblocks impeding businesses profitable growth is there really is not any new creations in terms of problems and strategies to grow a profitable business. Peter Drucker simplified it even further; there are only two considerations; innovation or marketing.

Just as I shared 12 mentor moments that I have used personally over the years to help businesses grow profitably, I have the Top 20 entrepreneur best practices that I have observed and lived over the years.

#1 “More” Sales or “Create Sales Velocity”?

#2 Dismiss or Distribute “Yafo’s” quickly …

#3; If Sales are Scary, You Can NOT Afford to NOT get Creative..

#4 Remember “The Law of the Locker Room”… it truly is a small world after all

#5 Tailor Questions for your buyers that Illustrate your Expertise and Prepare you to Serve their Needs

#6 Learn To Cut Bait …early

#7 You are Not Your Market

# 8 When Sales Get Rough…Look for Diamonds

#9 Don’t Let the Two Most Important Plates Drop

#10 “How” you “CHASE” New Business Matters….Do you want pepperoni with that new checking account?

#11 Follow the leader is a dangerous game, particularly when you follow Hippos…

#12 An “Idea” is not a product…and it’s definitely not a business

#13 Hire Strategic Partners… Not “Marketing Tools”

#14 Customers will Stiff you…But Don’t Let Them Burn you…

#15 Beware of “Smores”…Social Media Whores

#16 “Make a Wish” come true with Focused Passion

#17 intentionally reward the customer behaviors you desire …

#18 You will Receive Your Best Tips To Grow Your Company From Prospects Who Do Not Buy From You…

#19 Interview those who Exit and identify Roadblocks to Achieving Your Strategic Objectives…

#20 Exercise Your Power of Choice in Choosing Your Role on the Team…If Your Gift is Being a Duck….Be a Duck!

 

 

The above are by no means an all inclusive list of every entrepreneur best practice but they are some of my favorites. The post that seemed to resonate the most and create the greatest number of discussions was the difference between creating “more” sales versus “creating sales velocity” ( entrepreneur best practice #1).

 

 

How about you….do you have an Entrepreneurial Best Practice you use regularly and would like to share?

 

 

Of the above which best practice(s) resonate most with you?

 

 

Which of the above do most entrepreneurs struggle the most with based on your observations?

 

 

Is there a Key best practice not identified? (If so please add to the discussion)

 

 

As we move into 2010 which of the above Best practices do you feel will resonate most? Why?

 

 

Thanks for hanging with me  in this series of posts and I want to particularly thank those who have reached out to me personally to discuss this series of posts. As I have discussed, I enjoy helping entrepreneurs realize profitable growth and the strategies discussed are not new. One of my goals in blogging is to help business owners who may not be able to afford outside help at this time and I hope this blog adds value.

If you are wired to take on the 50 Ugly truths of starting and owning your own business and you have intentionally chosen to do it anyway I hope the above best practices were of value to you and your team.

Entrepreneurs will lead our country to economic recovery and I am proud to serve this innovative group of passionate problem solvers along with my other clients.

Entrepreneur Best Practices: #15 Beware of “Smores”…Social Media Whores

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As I meet with entrepreneurs I am amazed at the number of people professing to be experts that are preying upon entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses. I discussed “marketing tools “in my previous post; who they are and how to quickly spot one so you don’t get burned. A new entrepreneurial predator has emerged that is referred to as “smores” or social media whores. In this post I plan to share how social media, social marketing, is a key component of any businesses overall integrated marketing, and how to quickly spot the smores so you do not get burned.

Last week I had lunch with David Barnhart a local thought leader in the social media space here in Arizona and we were discussing my post about the amount of “marketing tools” that are out there preying upon trusting entrepreneurs. David shared with me the new predator he sees is what he called a smore”. I did not want to show my ignorance as I had not heard this term before so I let David keep discussing this topic that was obviously a subject he was deeply passionate about.

What he described as “smores” are self professed social media experts who take large retainers from unsuspecting clients, they over promise and under deliver. They chase shiny social media objects but lack business acumen.They are familiar with the tools of social media, but they are not master craftsmen in marketing and business growth.He went on to say how this new marketing tool gives others who practice social media with a focus on helping clients achieved desired outcomes a bad name. Guy Kawasaki refers to smores as opinion leaders so I am a bit confused.Eventually I had to ask….why do you call them “smores”? He explained, “Oh that’s easy,… it’s because they are social media whores”. So for this post smores are social media whores who understand social media tools but lack an understanding of how to apply these tools to solve the business problems of entrepreneurs.

So what can an entrepreneur do to add social media to their integrated marketing and not fall prey to smores? Most of the entrepreneurs I work with value the benefits social marketing can provide, however they lack a clear plan and a desired goal for this tool and do not know how to determine the marketing tool smores from the strategic social media partners who will add value to your business.

 

So I thought I would create a post, based on my admitted limited knowledge in hopes of starting a discussion on this growing problem.

 

You may be dealing with a smore if…

 

 

 

 

Knowledge

If you are going to make the investment in social media do some research first. I am shocked how quick some entrepreneurs are to cut checks but not crack open a book, read a few blogs, or do a little googling. I am not a social marketing expert but there are expert’s readily available, thought leaders in the space. Before you start investing in social media I recommend you read David Meerman Scotts two books : The new rules of marketing and PR, The World Wide Rave, and spend some time on his blog Webink and watch the following free webinar.

 

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In addition I recommend you read the book Groundswell by thought leader Charlene Li, and the book by Seth Godin tiled : Tribes to gain a baseline understanding of this thing everyone is calling “social media” and learn how you can use it for your “social marketing” efforts.

 

In my view, social marketing is about creating relationships and leveraging those relationships that ultimately results in revenue.

 

 

If someone in the social media space does not know who Guy Kawasaki, Charlene Li, David Meerman Scott or Seth Godin is…you may be dealing with a social media whore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost

I hear smores saying social media is free…They are often correct in that you may not be cutting checks to ad firms for creative or media buys, and you may not be paying a $5,000 PR monthly retainer, however one common challenge all the entrepreneurs I work with have is time. Your time, the time of your team members has a cost. You may capture it as a fixed cost, or variable for outsourced contractors, but there is a cost. Often the biggest cost is not the hourly rate your time is worth, but the opportunity cost. When you engage in an activity you have strategically decided this activity ranks higher and will produce greater outcomes than other activities you could be doing.

If someone in the social media space tells you that social media is “free” you may be dealing with a Smore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goals

Everything you do should have an objective, a goal that is in alignment with the flight plan for your business. I think it was Einstein who said “if you can’t explain something to a six year old you probably do not know it yourself”. Before you invest, your time or hard costs with a social marketing out sourced partner make sure you have a clear set of objectives and goals in mind that you can clearly explain. Do not invest until you can explain what you are about to do , or have a social marketing partner explain what you are about to do, so that a six year old can understand it.

If you meet with someone in the social media space and they want to talk about “putting you out there” without discussing goals and some measurement of those goals… you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location

Social Marketing is about marketing you, your business in areas that build relationships that offer the optimum return. Social Marketing strategic leaders like Elizabeth Hannan will discuss with you the creation of “outposts” in which you strategically plant yourself and begin building relationships. Each of these outposts has specific demographic patterns and their own educate. You will also want to cross pollinate your outposts once they are established.

For example, I chose Linked In, Twitter, Facebook and Freindfeed and my blog as my initial outposts that I wanted to develop based on targeting entrepreneurial leaders. The location of the outpost you choose is based on those who participate in those communities. You will want to have your strategic partner clearly explain with the use of techno graphic data how your buyer personas use technology and this will guide you to the right social marketing tools.

If you meet with someone in the social marketing space and they talk about putting you “everywhere” as opposed to strategically placing you in outposts based on your market and buyer persona’s…you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

 

 

 

Your Brand

Before you begin your efforts in social marketing you must clearly understand your brand, your brand promise, and the problems you are promising to solve for your market. Decide the voice you wish to have that would resonate most with your buyer personas.

For example, back in the day …one of the market’s I opened for the plastic packaging company I was serving was libraries. Librarians are highly educated amazing underutilized resources for entrepreneurs in the area of research by the way. They are proficient at finding and researching areas of interest for themselves and those they serve. The voice we chose to use for this buyer was a very detailed explanation of our products and how they specifically solved issues for librarians like the protection of their VHS movies being returned in drop boxes that also has large books falling thought the trap door. We listened to their pain points, and we clearly explained how we solved them, and provided additional data on the type of resin we used, the molding process, and so on.

Our brand promise was “video packaging designed for libraries” when our competitors focused on the other industries they supported and their message was…”if it’s good enough for Hollywood video it would work for you”. Within 24 months we dominated the library packaging space and this new adjacent market produced over $4 million dollars in incremental revenue and profits 20% higher than our primary market.

If you meet with someone in the social marketing space and they do not spend the time on the upfront to understand your brand and your brand promise….you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

 

 

 

Establish Key Performance indicators

As market leading entrepreneurs you know the value of inspect what you expect, and “a goal that is not written down is a dream”. So establish clear measurable indicators that you want as outcomes for your social marketing efforts. These objectives will be different that typical goals like sales by region, by client.

For example you may want to measure the number of followers of your blog. You will want to connect with Google analytics and quantcast so that over time you can gain insight into who is visiting you, what is their demographic, key words searched for , how they came to find you and your bounce rate. I attended a workshop recently by Jennifer Maggorrie who is an obvious key strategic partner in the social marketing space and she discussed some other goals may include; the frequency of repeat business, number of new prospects by month, number of new inquires, and establishing things like Yacktrack.com and Google Alerts to see what people are saying about you, your business and your other team members.

Social marketing is about establishing and leveraging relationships. A key component of any relationship is trust. Your social marketing efforts help to establish trust much earlier in the relationship and therefore it is my theory (and I may get blasted by David Meerman Scott for saying this) but I believe a strong social marketing effort will reduce the selling cycle for your products. So determine the current cycle and measure the cycle over time after the implementation of your social marketing initiatives. With every engagement ask your prospects and clients how they found you and increase you efforts in the areas that rise to the top and reduce or eliminate your investments that do not bear fruit in relation to your objectives.

If you meet with someone in the social media space who says you can’t expect a return on your social marketing investment …you may be dealing with a smore.

 

 

So back to Jennifer Maggorie… not only has she been recently recognized in the business community, but in her workshop she clearly articulated a six step process on how she serves her clients with social marketing. (Even an old sales guy like me could understand it)

 

I have listed a few of the strategic social marketing thought leaders that I have gained knowledge from but in no way am I an expert in this space. I am someone who helps entrepreneurial leaders reach and exceed explosive growth in revenue and profits and I recommend the use of social marketing as a key component of a team’s overall marketing strategy. I have a strong respect for social marketing.

 

 

 

 

love sale

 

 

 

How about your organization….

 

 

Have you decided to make an investment in social marketing?

 

 

 

How did you pick your outposts? Strategically with an appreciation for techno graphic data or did you just jump in and hope?

 

 

 

How do you feel about establishing goals for your social media efforts? Do you feel it’s unrealistic to have an ROI expectation? If so let me know why…

 

 

 

Do you have a smore preying upon you right now? Was this post any help?

 

 

 

As entrepreneurs we have enough to keep us busy and we cannot afford to engage with self proposed experts who we learn after months of paying retainers are actually marketing tools and whores.

 

Entrepreneur Best Practices: #10 “How” you “CHASE” New Business Matters….Do you want pepperoni with that new checking account?

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I have heard entrepreneurs say; “any marketing is better than no marketing at all…” and they can say this…but they would be wrong! Entrepreneurial leaders must insure the marketing vehicles and tactics  they use support their brand and do not create an interruption.

 

 

Market leaders understand their buyers, their buying process and buying criteria.

 

Market leaders create sales velocity because everything they do has continuity with their brand.

 

 

Market losers create a variety of marketing tools and “throw them against the wall” of their market and wait to… “see what sticks”.

 

Market losers scare business away, and their energy and budgets are used to grow competitors’ businesses.

 

I Love being a Chase Bank customer.

 

I have used a number of banks over the years…Bank of America, Key Corp, and so on. However the service I get from Chase Bank seems to feel different, it’s as if they know me, and they answer my questions before I ask them. Just yesterday my wife and I met with Dennis at our local branch and he was obviously trained to serve his clients. When other banks have made us feel like we were putting their associates out , Dennis was like the Van’s Golf employees name tags that say “sure not problem” Even the experience of walking into one of their locations “feels” different in how you are greeted and guided to the right person to help you. So imagine my surprise after a doctor appointment to come out to my car and see a windshield flier under my wiper from Chase Bank. This was an interruption for me.

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Marketing interruptions make current customers pause…and bad things happen when customers pause.

 

For example, at first I smiled and threw their flier in my trunk to throw away later. As I drove to my next appointment however my mind wandered…

I have been reading about banks in trouble

 

Is my bank…Chase Bank, in trouble?

 

Should I maybe check out Wells Fargo or maybe open an account with Bank America again just to play it safe?

 

Didn’t I just read they were downsizing?…. ut oh

However my mind quickly came to terms with what has a higher probability of truth; It was the end of August ( end of the month race to hit numbers), and some salesperson , a hunter by nature ( which is awesome) needed business. So as opposed to sitting in the branch waiting for business to come to them, they took initiative and made some purple fliers and more than likely spent hours in the 104 degree Arizona heat stuffing them under windshield wipers in hopes this would drive new business. I had a pizza shop as a client years ago that could ramp up or down his sales by the number of windshield fliers he would have his drivers place. It became a predictable outcome for him over time.

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However, the way a pizza shop or even a gas station chases new business is significantly different than what I would expect from my trusted bank, and the two should never be confused.

As I discussed, entrepreneurial leaders have bad things happen when they “assume”. “Well if windshield fliers work for pizza shops and gas stations…why not…” The “why not” is whatever you do must be intentional and have continuity with your brand image, your brand promise in the minds of buyers in your market.

In defense of Chase Bank, I have had rogue sales guys and even sales managers do much worst over the years. As I said I have to smile that at least they tried! Leaders, no matter what the size of their organization, must remember;

If marketing does not create tools that help salespeople hit their objectives, sales will create their own…and although you appreciate their “be a part of the solution” attitude it may cause your market to pause. When markets experience a pause, an interruption in the brand image …bad things happens.

 

 

How about your company…..

 

Are your salespeople creating their own tools to hit their numbers?

…Are you sure?

 

What policies and procedures do you have in place to insure your brand image is protected and reinforced?

 

Have you ever had your salespeople create their own tools…tell me about it.

 

 

From the number of fliers blowing around in the parking lot now as “marketing litter” I could tell most of the people who had fliers under their wipers did not value this communication attempt by Chase Bank. I would be interested to know from Chase Bank if this tactic is a marketing approved new business program or if I was correct a local branch went off the marketing reservation. If this tactic does in fact drive needed new business at moth end that is greater the negative impact it has on their brand in the mind of the market.

Entrepreneur Best Practice; #5 Tailor Questions for your buyers that Illustrate your Expertise and Prepare you to Serve their Needs

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When you are being served by a market leader you know it. When someone experienced in understanding the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing. When buyers experience this kind of service they buy, and they become raving fans for referrals.

 

Market leaders understand the value of knowing their buyers needs, criteria, and how the very questions they ask illustrate your knowledge and expertise.

 

As I have shared in previous posts, I decided in March I needed to lose weight. Since March of 09 I have now lost 70 lbs. The good news is I have a tremendous amount of energy, I feel healthier and I no longer need my blood pressure medicine or my sleep apnea machine. The only bad news is I need a new wardrobe.

I was recently asked to be the keynote speaker for the Boomerz event and I wanted to buy a suit. All the suits I have are 52 jackets and I swim in them now. I could deliver my content casual, but I would prefer to be more formal. (There I go showing my old school nature again) My wife recommended I look at the local Stein Mart as they have designer suits at significantly discounted prices.

suit

I went to a local Stein Mart and started trying on jackets to determine my size today. I was quickly approached by Howard, the floor salesman and asked if he could be of assistance. He asked …” what size are you?” and I explained that I do not know. So he quickly measured me and said you are really a 43 long, but let’s try a 44 long. As I was trying on various suits, Richard (who also worked in the men’s clothing) approached and asked me a number of questions;

 

What size do you typically wear? I explained I do not know as I just lost weight…

What size were you before? A 52 jacket and a 42 pant…

So you have always bought athletic cut suits? …how did he know that?

Did you typically buy Heart Shafter Marx? (How did he know?)

 

Did you play football? Yes…again how did he …?

What occasions will you be wearing this suit? I explained I do public speaking and training workshops and consulting…

So you will be on your feet most of the time? Yes…

Oh, this is the wrong suit for you…and he disappeared, and I liked that one…

Within a few minutes he came back with two suits I had not seen prior … (Forgive me but I thought to myself …oh great he probably just found two of the most expensive suits off the rack, and like a car salesman wanting me to take a test drive he put the new jacket on so I would fall in love with it and find the money)

The suit looked great, but felt snug…

Richard said; the suit lays exactly as it should on you; this suit is cut better for men built like you… (He must have detected my concern about the snug fit)

I can tell you are not used to wearing clothes that fit… are you? Kind of a bold question from someone who wants my money…

 

He went on to say …You told us early on you have lost a lot of weight…it’s not unusual when we are overweight to not have clothing that fits properly…this is how a suit is supposed to fit. Wow, they were listening to me…

He asked me to look into the corner of the mirrors so I could see the back of the suit, and he said; see how nice this lays on you? And he taught me how a suit is supposed to fit.

He asked; when you speak do you button your coat? (I never thought about it)

He went on to tell me; Gentlemen never button the top button and he recommended when I first greet my audience I have the middle button buttoned and then unbutton it as I begin to speak…( is this guy for real? Or is it that I have never met someone before who knew so much about men’s clothing as Howard and Richard?)

I decided to buy the suit they recommended and have the suit tailored…

Again, a new series of questions from Howard and Richard (I’ll spare you but you get the idea)

Howard asked …so when do you need the suit? I explained I have time its a few weeks away…

He said; no… When you pick up your suit we want you to come back and we will check everything with the actual shoes you plan to be wearing…again, amazing….I felt like I was not only in experienced good hands, but I felt like I was the only customer in the store…

As I went in the dressing room I forced myself to peek at the price and to my surprise it was the same price as the suits I originally was looking at! …He paid attention to my price target…

When I came out of the dressing room Howard handed me a claim ticket and went on to explain the date it would be ready, where it would be located that day. Again both Howard and Richard reminded me to try the suit on, bring the right shoes and if for whatever reason it did not look right they would have time to fix it as …they wanted me to feel good when I walked to the front of the room. …again wow!

I thanked them and they asked what I teach. I explained how I teach leaders how to treat customers the way they both just treated me. It turns out they both had over 25 years of experience and Richard served clients for over 30 years on a commission only basis prior to joining Stein Mart.

Since that time I have told over a dozen of my friends about what a welcome interruption it was to receive such amazing service. I told everyone about the team of Howard and Richard and if you want to have an expert serve and fit you, you need to visit them at the store on Shea near the 101 freeway in Scottsdale.

When you are being served by a market leader, someone experienced in serving the needs of their buyers, the overall buying experience is amazing.

 

You can identify Market leaders by the questions they ask, and their bottom line.

 

Market leaders make you feel like your goal becomes their goal as well.

 

Market leaders not only want you happy, but they want to make you a raving fan.

 

How about your organization….

 

Are your salespeople trained as well as Howard and Richard?

 

Are you hiring “service people” or “salespeople”?

 

Is your team creating raving fans?

 

Do your clients feel like your team members are “internal champions” for their needs …or just trying to hit a goal and make their commission?

 

(In hind sight I now wish I had the guts to have the pants cut without a cuff as Richard adamantly recommended, but I chose cuffs …obviously showing my lack of knowledge in the current styles.)

 

Remember… buyer’s like to buy…they hate being sold.

 

Our job as salespeople today is to help buyers buy.

 

Guide buyers through their buying process and be their internal champion and not just “protect the fort” of company policies, rules and reinforce “we can’t do that’s

 

Thank you Howard and Richard!

 

I can only hope I make my clients feel as you both made me feel.

 

Entrepreneur Best Practices; #1 “More” Sales or “Create Sales Velocity” ?

For the past 25 years I have helped entrepreneurs realize what I refer to as Explosive Sales Growth, or said another way;

I help organizations Create sales velocity.

 

Sales velocity occurs when you connect your product or service to a market need, and create messages that clearly tells them how you solve those needs for your buyers.

Sales Velocity is Sales Acceleration, with Direction and creates Momentum.

 

Creating Sales Velocity is one common need every business has, particularly in 2009.

A few nights ago I attended the local TIE event here in Phoenix. As I mingled with entrepreneurs before our guest speaker I heard a constant need;

I have an amazing product (service) but we need “more” sales…now!

 

I met with a number of entrepreneurs and their passion for creating something bigger than themselves seemed dampened by the immediate need for sales. I shared some “quick win” techniques that always work for me, but I went on to explain that what they really want is to create Sales Velocity.

Sales Acceleration

I have helped entrepreneurs and their teams grow businesses and what they often need first is sales acceleration. What I mean by this is a number of quick wins in new accounts or new products placed in existing accounts. A big part of sales acceleration is intentionally driving the sales you want to grow. When entrepreneurs mistakenly say they want “more” sales, by default they are saying “any sale will do”.

Not all sales are good sales if they strain your team to “slightly” change your product or service.

 

These “slight “changes slowly pull you form the core of your business and distract focus.

I have served a variety of industries and the best way to create intentional sales acceleration is always they same; talk to your customers and others in your market. In doing so you must determine “current truths” because your gut and intuition alone will not drive the growth you desire.

Direction

 

I think we have all seen the monthly sales charts that resemble a heart rate versus a market leading organization. Sales are up, and then off, up, plateau, then drop.

As an entrepreneur you need sustainable, repeatable sales or your personal heart rate will fluctuate as you try to plan cash flow.

When you implement a ; creation of sales velocity mind set, you have specific targets that support your overall vision, road map and serve market needs.

Momentum

 

One of my favorite classes in high school was Math and Physics. (odd for a sales guy huh?) The concept of momentum always fascinated me. How a body of mass moving with direction creates an energy of its own, and that energy can be transferred to other things that the mass bumps into.

Sales momentum occurs when your sales pick up in a positive, intentional direction with velocity.

 

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Now the fun part, if you have two particles ( sales) , with masses clip_image002and clip_image003and velocities clip_image004and clip_image005, the total momentum of these particles , clip_image006is

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However, if you have one particle (sale) going to the right, the other to the left they cancel each other out. ( how sales and marketing often act) Once you pay commission you have a net negative effect on your bottom line for the energy produced. If you sum the two momenta together, you get a total momentum of zero. ( this is what often occurs when sales teams are asked to …”hit your numbers and make it happen” …because that is what we “sales guys” are wired to do. However if not directionally focused and aligned with your road map the net result over time is zero added value to your bottom line( and often reduces the value of your business).

The real fun begins when you have a number of particles (sales) bouncing around in the right direction. The equation gets a little sophisticated and the total momentum of N particles (sales), of masses clip_image008and velocities clip_image009as

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The net result is increased sales and the valuation of your business increases if done correctly.

(Thanks to Joshua Deutsch for the above equations.)

 

As an entrepreneur and future market leader you do not want “more “sales you want “sales velocity”. When you realize sales velocity you experience sales acceleration with direction that builds a sustainable momentum over time.

 

Sustainable momentum provides predictable cash flows and helps you find willing investors for future expansion.

 

How about your team?      heart rate 2

 

Do your sales look more like a heart rate monitor?

 

Do you have salespeople “making it happen” but the way they are making it happens seems to cancel each other out?

 

Are you or your salespeople running in many directions, getting your organization exhausted …without building momentum?

 

 

Over my next series of posts I will be discussing entrepreneurial best practices. I will be sharing personal experiences of what worked as well as did not produce in hopes of helping entrepreneurs shorten their sales cycle and accelerate their revenues and profits, and most importantly the value of their business. I am always looking for thought leaders to contribute as it is my goal to add value to the entrepreneur community.

If you have thought leadership for entrepreneurs, please contact me.

Are You a Sales “Stallion” or an “Order Taking Gelding” Headed For the Glue Factory?

 

When I wrote my post: Are you enabling your Sales Force or emasculating them? I discussed comments made by salespeople selling in today’s economic climate. In addition I shared other leader’s comments about their view of salespeople and my preference to hire sales Stallions over order taking geldings.

 

I had a couple of salespeople contact me concerned if they were sales Stallions or order taking geldings. So I decided to share some of the questions I asked them on the telephone in hopes it helps others determine where they fall. But before you answer these questions please understand that teams require all types of people with varying degrees of gifts and experience. If you are an order taker, then be the best order taker with the greatest accuracy to detail in your company…just do not call yourself a salesman nor expect to be paid like a sales stallion.

 

1. In the last 6 months have you identified a change in your buyer’s buying process that requires a new sales tool?

2. In the last 6 months, have you challenged a corporate norm that is self serving to your organization and not customer serving?

3. Would you describe your role as “fighting for your clients?”

4. In the last 3 months have you experienced conflict with key influencers in other departments in your organization in your efforts to better serve your clients?

5. Has an account thanked you for your quick follow up in the last month?

6. In the last 30 days have you taken a bold action to serve your client without seeking your manager’s permission?

7. Are you in the top 10% of performance to goal in your sales team?

8. Are your accounts in the top 20% of most profitable accounts for your organization?

9. In the past week have you presented your management clients needs for approval?

10. In the last 24 hours have you asked for a clients oder?

 

If you said “No” 2-3 times be careful as you are on the verge of becoming an order taking gelding.

 

If you said “No” 4-6 times, don’t look now but you have become an order taking gelding. If that is who you want to be, then be the best you can.

 

If you said “No” to 7 or more of the above questions not only have you become a order taking gelding, but you are headed for the glue factory if you do not change quickly.

 

Sales Stallions spend 2/3 of their time listening and understanding the needs of their clients. Stallions understand the needs of their clients and solve those needs with the products and or services they represent. They become internal champions who fight for the needs of their clients. Sales Stallions consistently produce profitable sales revenue. Sales stallions are experts in their client’s buying process. Sales stallions are in the top 10% of sales to quota performance.

How about your company….

 

How well does your organization embrace client needs?

 

Does your company welcome your fighting for the needs of your clients? Or do your actions politically hurt you?

 

Have you been told to “sell through your client’s objections” when you share your clients’ needs?

 

Are your companies ‘policies and procedures written to better serve your clients, or your own organization?

 

If you have challenged one of those; “how we do things around here” rules how was it received?

 

The role of salespeople today is to help guide clients to a sale. Salespeople must become internal advocates for their clients and help their buyers buy, versus selling them. If you are a stallion in line to become a gelding to survive in your organization, you need to ask yourself if you will be happy making that compromise for a company that is disconnected to the needs of its market.

It’s never too late to jump the fence before you get your… “Values”…. snipped.

Are you Enabling your Sales Force or Emasculating them?

 

Market leading Sales forces are singularly focused: to sell stuff.

Sales are one of the most accountable areas of the organization and often are unde2 hoursesr the constant microscope of senior leaders as they have a significant, immediate, and direct impact on the bottom line. Companies must enable their salespeople and not  emasculate them. Over the past 25 years I have always preferred to hire the sales stallions over order taking geldings. Stallions require you to have a high emotional intelligence, and they will often try to get your goat, however they consistently produce and add value. While geldings wait to be told what to do, how to say it, and where to go. Stallions are saying get out of my way or I will run over you.

 

Market losing organizations myopically manage every sales activity and create approval thresholds that slow the sales cycle when the heat is on and the market dries up.

 

I thought it would be helpful to get inside the mind of a salesperson today, in this economy…so I interviewed a few and below is a summary is what I heard…

It’s simple really, as a salesperson our job is to; Sell. Yes you ask me to do all kinds of little side projects, write reports, and conduct market investigations gathering data to insure what marketing is telling the CEO is actually what’s going on out here in this mystical place called “our market.” However at the end of the day my compensation is specifically tied to: selling stuff. The more stuff I sell the more money I make. My job is to “make it happen” with whatever you folks at corporate throw over the wall.

I tried telling you the reason that last product launch failed was because you created a product because you could and not because you should…but you said I was just making excuses and I needed to “sell through objections…and hit my numbers”

My pay, my commission rice bowl if you will, is about selling as much as I can, as quick as I can, and building relationships that plant seeds for future sales. With the internet my customers are more knowledgeable than they have ever been before about our products and services, (they often know things about our company before I do these days and this really makes me look bad in my market) so my job is really to help buyers solve their problems with the stuff I sell, and help them buy from us. I don’t like to discount our product unless I have to because my commission is based on the selling price, and the more I discount the more units I will need to sell to hit my targeted compensation.

My buyers are really it playing close to the vest right now;

· My buyers have to justify every expenditure to the “higher ups” who they do not have relationships with

· C-level executives need to sign off on all orders

· I have to speak with all kinds of people I never had to sell before; CTO, CMO, CEO, CFO…

· Customers are not stocking up and they are taking much longer to buy, our programs give customers the incentive to buy volume, but they want Just In Time

· My buyers have the C-suite recommending all these competing vendors to our products and my buyers are spending time chasing these leads the C-suite read about or heard about at the country club…versus keeping a close eye on my inventory…so now I am checking our inventory for our customers

· Since you have changed my compensation, I am working twice as hard, twice as long and struggling to make what I made last year

· After the headcount reductions we had at corporate, we have dropped the ball a number of times over the last six months and I am being pulled to fix past sales issues in ;customer service, billing and quality issues ( you see I am out here, I have to stand belly to belly with these folks called “customers” and I can’t hide behind voice mail, email, or transfer them to someone else, if I do not solve these past sales issues they will not buy until the problem is fixed.

· My family life is strained, you see we established a lifestyle based on my past compensation, and when you changed it, it not only affects me, but it touches my entire family. My wife and kids felt I spent too much time working as it was however they justified it because I am a work-a –holic and we were making good money, but now they pressure me..” why work so hard after what they did with your pay..You need to go someplace where you are appreciated like XXXX used to.”

· About 70% of what marketing gives me I do not use. I know it will piss you off, but what I have been doing is writing my own stuff and using some of what Mike also created up in the North West region, you see it is old, but it works!

· I lost another customer last week because we out sourced XXXX to china. I know you said we make more profit and their cost is 1/3 of what it would cost us to make it, but if it’s junk what’s the point. Besides, I have been selling him a lot of other products and now I lost the entire account over the stuff we outsourced?…I know sell through it…

· The young “Hitler youth” you hired in accounts receivables has pissed off a number of my key accounts. I hear the CFO told him to trim 15 days off the receivables aging? Well if he keeps threatening my customers, you won’t have to worry about receivables much longer! Is it true you have him on a commission of what he collects? No wonder he put my largest account on hold for $3500 12 days past due…it’s hard enough out here guys!

· That launch of xxxxx was great, but now we are on back order and my buyers are calling to check on their orders versus buying more.

 

So for all of the leaders out there who never have carried a sales bag, I hope the above was enlightening.

(do you still think a monkey could do it?)

Having led salespeople for 25 years, what they said did not surprise me, but what took me back was the energy, anger even, in the way they said it. Are you listening and observing the challenges your salespeople are experiencing? Are you creating sales enablement tools to help keep conversations flowing to a sale? Or are you telling them to stop making excuses and “just make it happen”?

I was also taken back by the disconnect that seems to have grown wider when the teams became challenged by current economic conditions.

Market leaders grow closer through challenges and emerge stronger.

Market losers conduct Blame-storming that adds no value and if left unchecked cripples a team.

This disconnect should not surprise me really because I frequently speak with business owners and senior leaders who say things like;

· “I make sales come to me personally with each “deal” they want to give away “Why? “Well because, if I told them upfront the range I am willing to work in they would all sell at the lowest price, and give away the farm” [for what it’s worth this is a trust and respect issue not a pricing issue gang] 

· “Saying the economy is tough is just an excuse, when I carried a bag….” (he carried one 20 years ago)

· Marketing ; “ we just spent six figures on the re-launch of xxxx and sales is not using any of the tools we developed, we need to hold them more accountable”[ no, how about understanding the market and the buying process and creating tools to keep conversations flowing?]

· I heard a marketing executive say; “sales is like water, they take the path of least resistance to a sale” [how would that make you feel if you were in sales? Does this sound respectful to you?] 

· A CFO said recently; “with what we are paying them they should be working 18 hours a day.”[Really? In most organizations sales is compensated with a base and a commission. Most commission rates vary from 5% to 15%. So Mr. CFO , you should look forward to cutting those commission checks because for every nickel you pay, you get ninety-five cents]

Tough times cause the true nature of people and teams to emerge. Market leading teams use adversity to become stronger.

 

Market losing organizations “eat their young”.

 

How about your organization?

 

What behaviors are you seeing when your team becomes stressed?

 

What other comments have salespeople heard that show a lack of respect for sales?

 

What comments have salespeople made that show a lack of respect for other departments?

 

Do you feel silos (kingdoms) are healthy, or negatively impact bottom line results?

 

Market leading teams tear down silos and align their entire team to a specific mission and establish key performance indicators that measure what matters. Market leading teams reward cross functional behavior and crush kingdom building.

 

What kind of a company do you work for?

What are we supposed to do when the Heat is on and our market dries up?…SOW!

 

The bible is very clear that we are to SOW in the dry spells, in the time our business hits a dry spell, yet so many market losers do the oppofamily pics 069site.

It was 114 degrees yesterday, here in the Arizona, and I know people say it’s a “dry heat” but that does not seem to console me…it’s hot. Simple errands seem to drain you, suck the life out of you even. For example in this time of the year all the trees are dropping their pods full of seeds. Although the animals welcome the food, they quickly make quite a mess. So there I was at 6:00 am (102 degrees) picking up pods in my yard before it got hot. How ironic that the trees are dropping seeds when we are in the hottest part of the summer, where’s natures wisdom in that? Actually it is smart because when the pods fall they are baked in the desert sun and they crack open allowing their seeds to fall into the earth. When the rains return, the seed is now in an environment to take root and grow.

I was thinking about the wisdom in this as it relates to what we as business people must do when our market becomes dry and the heat is on to hit our numbers. The Bible is very clear we are to “SOW” in these times. What does it mean to “SOW”? At Dictionary.com the definition is;

1. to scatter (seed) over land, earth, etc., for growth; plant.
2. to plant seed for: to sow a crop.
3. to scatter seed over (land, earth, etc.) for the purpose of growth.
4. to implant, introduce, or promulgate; seek to propagate or extend; disseminate: to sow distrust or dissension.
5. to strew or sprinkle with anything.

 

The Bible has a number of lessons about sowing. It is very clear we are to;

 

“Sow in the midst of suffering”

“There may be no fruit now, but the grains of love and faithfulness you have scattered will produce a rich harvest”

“Let your eyes be on the field which you reap”

“Each will receive what he has earned.”

 

If you feel your market has dried up, it’s time to start sowing. Ironic however that I see a number of companies doing just the opposite; cutting back on marketing and sales travel. Market leaders are taking this time to sow.

As I explore this deeper it is often the result of not having and understanding of what marketing and sales activities actually produce fruit and what are just “ Activities”. To ensure you are sowing to produce the greatest harvest the first thing you must do is understand how your buyers buy. What makes their soil fertile, and what causes the seeds you plant to be washed away? What marketing initiatives are you doing today that are falling among the rocks and will never take root? What marketing and sales activities are you doing today that are falling among the thorns only to have sales spend time on them as “good leads” only to have the life choked out of them before they produce fruit?

 

The key is to know your market and more specifically your buyers.

 

How about your company…

 

How well do you know how your customers shop for your product?

What do your buyers use as buying criteria?

Where do your buyers go when they have a problem they need solved?

Who are the key influencers that impact your buyer’s ability to purchase today?

Answer the above and compare the answers to what your team is currently doing and you will be well on your way to a bountiful future harvest.