Hey Delta, …Buyers Make Decisions in “their timeframe” Not Yours!Your Goals do not Matter to your Buyers

 

Organizations that create objectives based on their needs and timelines and not their buyers miss key indicators and create frustration for their internal and external customers. Why do so many organizations create goals and key performance indicators from high within their organizations and not from the market and buyers in market?

Most organizations lack an intimate knowledge of their buyers, their problems, and buying process so they operate in “gut and intuition  mode.”

 

When organizations start building market driven goals with an understanding of the problems their products and services solve, key indicators and EBITDA objectives are met and exceeded.

If you have not gathered it from previous posts, I fly a great deal. Domestic travel has become more of a necessary evil experience (with the exception of South West). I have traveled on  business now for over 25 years, so I remember when air travel felt like the airlines valued me and my business.

International travel has become even more challenging. I traveled  from Phoenix to Manchester England recently on Delta. I had a long layover in Atlanta and  then 7 1/2 hour flight over the pond and I was in business. The first leg of my flight left Phoenix at 6:10 AM. so based on the rules for international travel I had to check in at the airport by 4:00 AM. Luckily I do not live too far from the airport so I set my alarm at 2:45 AM.  I arrived, parked the car, took the parking bus to the terminal, went through security and arrived at my departure gate.

I settled in with a book I have wanted to read  by Jim Collins and I was not looking forward to my 5 hour layover in Atlanta,… but you have to do what you have to do.

The gate agent announced;

We are overbooked on this flight and we are looking for 4 volunteers willing to take the later flight and we will give a voucher to be used for future travel…

I went up to the check in counter, and found I could indeed take the later flight and still have a hour to make my connection in Atlanta. However, since I was already at the airport, I decided to decline.

In about 15 minutes another announcement needing volunteers and her voice seemed more desperate. ( don’t customers know how important it is to Delta to get volenteers now?)

 As the boarding  time approached we heard additional announcements and eventually they found their volunteers who had “flexible” flight plans and they received later flights and cash vouchers. ( while our take off was delayed)

 

Hey Delta…when did your system know you were oversold?

Is this the ideal buyer experience for your service? …I think not.

 

If your system knew within 24 hours of the flight it was over sold, it sounds like you have an unresolved problem you need to solve that may actually turn into a service your customers rave about and save your bottom-line profits…Interested?

 

If you have the technology to remind me to check in 24 hours prior to the flight, …can you leverage that technology to request volunteers for overbooked flights 24 ours ahead of check in? If so I would have volunteered for free to have a few more hours of shut eye!

How about your organization?

 

Do you set sales goals and timelines based on your needs versus the markets? How’s that working for you?

Are your sales objectives and timelines created by internal Hippos who have a dated understanding of your market?

 

Or are your goals developed with a clear understanding of your buyers, their buying process and criteria?

Let me ask you a key question….

What % of your sales team met or exceeded their sales goals last year? If you are like most organizations as high as 70% of your team missed their sales objectives last year.

 

While on this topic let me ask you another question:

What % of your salespeople received a goal increase this year?…( that many huh?)

 

So let me get this straight, 70% of your team missed their sales objectives in 2009, and 100% received a goal increase in 2010? Am I the only one who has heard Einstein’s definition of insanity? [Hell, chances are you have used it in meetings with your team, why not look in the mirror when setting goals?] So your employees also suffer whn goals are made wiout an understanding of your buyers?

So what happens next?

 

Objectives are missed

 

Goals are adjusted down or inventory far exceeds actual sales, and EBITDA objectives are missed…again

And / or you discount your product or service so buyers react to your goals and timelines

Market leaders understand goals should not be a shell game, and they must be created from a clear understanding of your markets and how (when) your buyers buy.

Market losers create objectives in their Hippo watering holes called boardrooms with little or no understanding of their buyers, buying timelines, and buying process.They focus on their needs and not those of their buyers. They demand buyers to buy on thier timeline. 

 

Market Losers get frustrated because objectives and key timelines are being missed, and they try to “manage” their way to bottom-line objectives.

 

What kind of company do you work for?

What kind of a leader are you?

 

If you are a Hippo, when is the last time you left “the watering hole”?

 

When was the last time you bought or used your product or service?

 

When was the last time you talked to a potential buyer for your product?

Are you dictating when buyers must buy?

 

The solution is obvious….

Get out in your market and get to know your customers and potential customers today. When you do you will discover market problems and see opportunities for your team to solve those problems.

Who knows, you may also create raving fans who value a few extra hours a shut eye more than a $400 travel voucher.

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Are Your Salespeople Selling In The “Domain of Losses?”…If so It’s Costing You

 

 

The economic climate has changed the buying process, and thus the sales process as I discuss in my blog: Are you Enabling your Sales Force or Emasculating them?. Buyers are taking longer to make purchases, they want better prices, extended terms, some of your competitors are making irrational price proposals just to pay their light bill, and there are now more people and they are often C-level executives the buyer’s company involvd in the buying process.

Having led sales and marketing teams for over 20 years, through good and bad times, some of your salespeople may be in a dangerous ( and costly) place…

The Domain of Losses.

 

We’ve either been their personally or witnessed the following.

You are in Las Vegas, or another gambling location and you (they) are wining. It feels like you can do no wrong; you are “lucky” tonight. Then something changes…the dealer at the blackjack table, new dice, a new ball for the roulette wheel and the next thing you know you are losing. Bet after bet you are loosing and very quickly you are no longer playing with the house money you won but now you are dipping into your own. What was fun and the time of your life has become something that makes you anxious and irritable. You know you should walk away and live to fight another day, but a strange little voice whispers to you; you will have to bet more to get back to where you were when you were wining. Most of us can resist this voice and walk away.

 

 

However there are those few who enter a dark, anxious and fearful place; The Domain of losses. In this zone studies show  people make unethical decisions when they are under goal. Their desire is to see those chips (commissions) grow rapidly again and they start making irrational long shot bets to get whole again. As the losses continue to increase the aggressive irrational strategies increase and the losses grow exponentially.

 If any of your salespeople are in this fearful and irrational place after missing quota for a number of months and having little if any personal commission contribution,…

 

you  must pull them away from the table. (Their market) or it could cost you for years.

 

 

 

What signs indicate a salesperson is in or may be in; The Domain of losses?

 

1. Every sale has a price concession

 

2. Customers pay their invoice short due to un-communicated “deals” your salesperson gave them to get the sale.

 

3. The salesperson’s Accounts Receivable exceeds other regions selling the same products by 10 days or more.

 

4. You notice an increase in expenses

 

5. They complain about product quality more than other sales representatives selling the same product in other regions.

 

6. They focus on features competitors have and your product lacks

 

7. When asked to create a plan to correct their performance you receive a strategy that is basically doubling down. Their entire year hangs on the thread of landing that new account they have been promising they would close for the last six months.

 

8. You lose key customers in their region who have been with your organization for years

 

9. As an individual they are living beyond their means

 

10. They act alone, no sense of teamwork or trust in other department competencies…” I’ll have to do it myself”

 

11. You receive complaints from your internal customer service and accounts receivables  about this person, their mistakes, and poor overall attitude with the rest of the team.

 

12 . You catch them lying to you about meetings they had with accounts

 

If you read the above and you have someone on your team with three or more of the above you need to help them push away from the table (market) as.. .

 

They are scrambling in fear, when they should be focusing on real opportunity.

 

As the leader you must recognize the warning signs early and take bold corrective action;

 

  • pull them away from the table

  • seek to understand their fear drivers ( income, job loss, loved one pressure)

  • help them rewrite the stories , thoughts that have become beliefs in their minds with tactics and outcomes their irrational thoughts could not see

  • if they do not change quickly…Fold (their membership on your team)

 

 

 

 

 

Having been a salesperson and managed salespeople for years,we are a rare breed. Ideally you want someone who understands their market, your product and the problem it solves for the buyer, and they have relationships built on trust with their key account buyers. The trouble is this requires skill, art and science. I prefer the Mavericks who break though the roadblocks to a sale than the Gelding’s waiting for direction on how to overcome the objections they are experiencing.

When the chips were flowing in regardless of what your team did, they did not need to be all that good.

Challenging economic environments will help you to quickly identify the sales leaders from the sales losers.

 

If you are the person in fear mode, doubling down to get caught up you first need to;

 

Recognize what you are doing , and that it never works

 

Connect to your fear driver

 

Challenge your fear driver(s) to see if they are true

 

If not true- you need to intentionally re-write the thoughts that become beliefs so you leave the domain of losses and your fears subside so your creative problem solving returns

 

If true ask for help

 

 

 

As CEO, has your VP of Sales said something like: “you are right, Bob’s numbers are way off and his expenses seem high, but he has always come through in the past” make both of them leave the table.

 

 

How about your team?

Do you have any team members in the domain of losses?

 

 

Could other departments also enter this zone? If so provide examples.

 

 

Has a key account complained recently about their bill being wrong?

 

 

Is your entire team in the Domain if losses?

 

 

Have you pulled team members away and helped them return after training to exceed expectations? …Tell us about it.

 

As the leader you must be constructively paranoid about your buyers, their buying process, sales, and sales team members.

If you see any of the indicators I discussed above do yourself a favor and pull them away from the table sooner than later. Your shareholders and key accounts will thank you, and when you change your salesperson’s perspective… they will thank you.

(Ok thanking you probably is a push…, they will perform and you will go home at night and be able to sleep)

You Got a Minute to Win It…Your Buyers’ Attention

When you are shopping for a new item where do you start? If you are buying a snack or Diet Coke you find the nearest source. However, when you set out to buy more substantial products most of us start shopping with an internet search. Information once only available through a salesperson is now available on web sites, in chat rooms and blogs. Where most organizations’ web sites fail is their message is about them, how great they are, how many years they have been in business, who some of their key customers are, and awards…blah …blah….blah.

Market leaders know their web site needs a concise message that clearly states the problem they solve for their buyers because today you have less than a minute to win it…your buyers’ attention that is.

 

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Have you seen the new game show on Sunday nights titled; “You’ve got a minute to win it.” I predict this show will not only be a huge success but it will have entrepreneurs creating home minute to win it games and consumers will be making their own contests based on what they have seen on television.

 

As our family watched this new game show we found ourselves cheering for the contestants as they attempted challenges of varying difficulty. I thought how similar these contests are with the environment most marketers face when trying to capture consumer interest on line.

Your web site should not require practice for consumers to win (find answers to their unresolved problems)

 

The contestants on this show have all practiced their challenges at home prior to appearing on the show. So they practiced balancing bolts strung on a chop stick and bouncing a ping pong ball over three consecutive plates and into a fish bowl. What we as business people can learn for this includes;

  • your potential customers do not want to learn how to win , practice finding, the problems your product and or service solves for them

  • It is your responsibility to test and keep testing your web site and adjust it so potential buyers “get it in a minute.”

 

The moral of this blog post is;

*when your marketing team knows they have a minute to win it in terms of customer attention they will boil your message down and clearly explain the problem your product or service solves for buyers in your market. When done properly you receive more traffic, more page views, a reduced bounce rate, more inquires that turn into more leads, and ultimately more sales.

 

So how about your web site and your message…if you asked a potential customer to view your site would they understand the problem you solve for them?

 

Does the imagery on your site also clearly show the problems you solve for buyers in your market? Not sure?

Print your home page and give it to potential customers. Potential customers are buyers in your market that could use your product but you have not sold them in the past. Set your timer for a minute and ask them to quickly read and view your web page. [Warning; if you are a C level executive and chose to try this you will not like the answers you receive if you are like 90% of companies] If you are a market leader clearly explaining the problems you solve and not playing “feature and benefit bingo” hoping your buyers figure out what you do, you will enjoy this exercise.

You have a minute to win it in terms of customer attention when they are shopping on the internet.

Your web site must clearly state the problems you solve for your buyers in your market, ideally in the voice of your market. If you fail to do so they will be gone in a click to other sites until they find one that does not require practice to master.

 

 

How about your companies’ web site?

 

Do you understand the problems you solve in less than a minute? (If your answer is no you are really in trouble as you have more product knowledge than your buyers just starting their buying process)

 

Do you have the courage to ask potential customers to take the win it in a minute challenge on your web site?

 

Is your current web site a virtual brochure that requires customers to play feature and benefit Bingo to understand your message and the problems your product or service solves?

 

You have a minute to win it with buyers shopping on line for solutions to solve their problems. Your website must clearly state the problems you solve for your buyers in less than a minute or you loose the game.

Are Your Customers receiving a “Luke Warm” buying experience? …if so it’s costing you more than you know…

 

The climate for business is difficult with consumer confidence low, the access to cash tight and record unemployment. However some organizations are thriving while others know something is wrong, and they are just blaming the economy. The economy is a factor; however it may be the main “why” behind your organizations’ struggles to make numbers if your clients are receiving a “Luke Warm” buying experience. Luke warm employees create a “just enough to get by “buying experience and that simply is not cutting it in this highly competitive environment. I discussed how the buying process has changed over the last year in my post: Are you Enabling your Sales Force or Emasculating them?  With these added pressures, the last thing you want is for your clients to have a poor buying experience and seek out your competitors.

I just finished a book by Francis Chan titled; Crazy Love. It’s a book about growing your spiritual life.. In chapter four he discusses “the profile of Luke warm” and I thought how the wisdom he shares with regards to our faith life also applies in the business world. Chan describes how a Luke warm faith life is worst than being hot or cold and I feel this is also true for businesses and their employees. Specifically this is most evident in the buying experience.

What is it like to buy from your company? Are your salespeople trained and knowledgeable? Do they know how to find buyer problems and set out as if on a quest to solve them?

Or are you like most organizations who have built inside out service models and you hear executives challenged by “how our clients just are not smart enough to see the value in what we provide.” Or maybe you have downsized your sales and customer service teams and you are wondering why your business is declining and your customer satisfaction is at an all time low?

Luke warm team members produce Luke warm service levels.

The Bible discusses how being Luke warm is worst than being hot or cold and this rule also applies to your team members. I would much prefer a team member who tells me: “I just don’t get our plan and I am having a hard time getting motivated to execute my indicators” than someone who says they are on board and is just going through the motions to just get by.

As I discussed in my post: Third Part of truth …Motivation; Are You willing to go the extra mile like Chick-fil-A?  As a consumer we instantly recognize good service and an organization that has clearly set an expectation for how customers should feel in the buying process.

I need to ask…How you want your customers to feel in the process of buying your goods and or services.

Once you intentionally create this vision, you will need to identify team members who will need to be trained, and in some cases replaced.

14 warning signs a team member may be Luke warm and negatively impacting their service to internal and external customers

1.)    They do what they believe is expected of them and only what they believe is expected of them

2.)    They choose to follow Hippos, they do what is politically correct but may not be right

3.)    They are striving to survive not win

4.)    They rarely share their knowledge and experience as they use knowledge as power and not a gift

5.)    They focus on comparing their results to that of other team members versus their key performance indicators

6.)    Their actions serve themselves more than others ( customers both internal and external)

7.)    Their service is conditional, selective, and often comes with strings attached

8.)    They are focused on today and what’s in it for them today, they lack a future vision

9.)    They spend more time with their bosses than their subordinates and customers

10)    They do the bare minimum , and their goal is to be “good enough”

11)    They play it safe, they know the rules better than anyone in the organization and often site them

12)    They are visually busy, but not necessarily adding value

13)    When things go wrong they quickly blame others

14)    They seek the safety of their silo’s, and lack a “one company-one team” mentality

A half hearted commitment to the organization’s plan; mission and vision can be felt by customers. A Luke warm commitment to service disrupts your team from within and in the market if left unchecked.

If you read the above and could apply at least four of them to specific team members; employees, managers, supervisors, you now have to ask yourself a tough question;

Will I be a Luke warm leader and look the other way? Or will I take the market leader position and address poor service resulting in a bad buying experience?

 

 

 

What about your organization?

 

When you read the above did specific employees come to mind?

 

How about you, did you personally identify with any of the above?

 

How have you helped Luke warm employees become energized value adding producers again?

 

Have you experienced a loss due to not addressing a Luke warm employee and you would like to share?

 

What should you do if your boss is Luke warm?

 

 

Thank you to Francis Chan for his book; Crazy Love, as it challenged me on many levels.