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?

Delivering Happiness; Enterprise Rental Cars Knows it’s About Doing a Number of Little Things, Consistently Well

 

 

Delivering happiness to your internal and external customers is not about just doing one big thing very well. Market leaders understand delivering happiness is about intimately understanding your customers and your market and consistently doing a number of little things exceptionally well.

Delivering happiness is the “golden rule” in action.

 

This week my work brought me to Chicago. As I discussed in a previous post about the buying experience as a differentiator , my preferred rental car company is Enterprise Rental Cars because of the amazing expertise I had at their Denver location.

I arrived at the Chicago airport, retrieved my checked bags and I was off to the rental car shuttle bus location. When I arrived I was happy to find the Enterprise bus waiting and I quickly boarded. The driver helped me with my bags and provided me a map to help me return the rental car when my trip was over. Another bus arrived and we were quickly off to the rental car parking lot. On the trip the driver (just like Denver) said “we will be arriving at your car in approximately 12 minutes”. As we drove the driver offered to provide us directions if we needed them. The driver radioed “we have two customers approaching and we are two minutes out”…great, I wonder if they will greet us when the van rolls up like Denver?

Sure enough, we were greeted by professionally dressed associates waiting for us. They introduced themselves and invited us inside. As I made my way to the counter, I was offered a cold water to drink. (How did she know I was so thirsty)? We quickly started on the paperwork and she asked how my flight was. Interesting, this is when Dollar or Hertz is typically trying to sell me a GPS rental or insurance, and she seemed to genuinely want to know about my day…

The reservation was pulled up quickly and she led me outside to pick out my car. I chose a small Kia and she walked around the car with her clipboard inspecting the car for damages with me. Again, how nice as this is my job with other companies and it never seems to fail I miss something. She asks about gasoline and insurance packages, but in a way as if she was concerned about my overall service experience and not like she was receiving a sales spiff like I have experienced with Thrifty and other rental car companies. Again she asked if I needed directions and she drew on my map the route to my hotel. She too offered me a map for returning the rental car and circled the directions I would use based on the location of my hotel in Shamburg. She quickly handed me my paperwork and said; “you will need to show this paperwork and your drivers license to the guard at the gate when you leave”. How did she know? How did she know one of my (many) travel pet peeves is if you need to see my drivers license again when I leave your lot, tell me. Don’t wait until I am in the driver’s seat, seat belt fastened and now having to retrieve my wallet and license again. Awesome, it’s like they shadowed me for the past 26 years of traveling and know each of my needs.

Another smaller irritant if you will is finding a radio station I like. Not a big deal mind you, but I often find myself trying to find a station , as I am driving at night in a strange place, trying to follow my Google Maps directions while keeping my eyes out for the right exit signs. When I sit behind the wheel of my Enterprise Rental car I look up and there, hanging from the rear view mirror is a list of radio stations…again how awesome.

After my work was completed I followed the circled directions and quickly found the rental car lot for my car return. When I arrived I was directed to rental car returns and found three people, professionally dressed again, waiting to help me. I would say from the time I pulled in, to the time I was back on the bus to the terminal was no more than 3-5 minutes. Again…awesome! They must know that travelers on their way home just want to get home. We seem to lack patience even more so on the return home than when we arrive and waiting in lines to drop off a rental car is not something we want to do.

Enterprise Rental Cars is in the delivering happiness business and they again reinforced my loyalty based on an amazing overall buying experience.

 

To deliver happiness you must intimately understand your buyers and not rely on your gut and intuition.

 

The test if you are truly committed to delivering happiness is the repeatability of the overall service experience.

 

Market leaders identify customer needs and build repeatable processes and procedures that insure a quality experience each interaction.

 

Market leaders committed to delivering happiness also instill a passion in their team members that is seen in authentic individualized service that reinforces the overall passion to serve.

 

So how about your team?…

 

Do you choose to deliver happiness to your internal and external customers?

 

Is your customer experience the same in Denver as it is in Chicago, Cleveland, or Miami?

 

Do you have processes and procedures in place to insure you consistently deliver happiness? (Market leaders do)

 

How can you instill a passion to deliver happiness in your organization?

 

Just as Enterprise Rental Cars has taken what historically was a matter of fact exchange of service in renting a car to an opportunity to deliver happiness, you can too. You too can get to know your buyers, your market and identify all those little opportunities to serve them that often cost very little but have a huge impact. To do so you need a culture passionately committed to the overall customer experience and an intimate knowledge of your buyers, their needs, and frequent problems.

Oh…as a side benefit, when you passionately deliver happiness customers are forgiving when things go wrong. When I arrived at my hotel I noticed my automatic door locks and truck release did not work. Given how many times I was in and out of the car and trunk over the weekend this would have normally been something that irritated me and tainted my overall buying experience. Since so many other parts of the buying experience were amazing I found the door and trunk release not working not a major problem. I was more forgiving of those inevitable occurrences that go bump in the night than I would have been having rented a car else ware.

Are you in the delivering happiness business?

 

If not now is as good a time as any to start!

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.

Want to Jump Start Sales and Morale? Write a “Passion Statement” For Your Business….

 

Business leaders for years have been taught to write a mission statement, a values statement , distinctive competence, and their Unique Sales Proposition. Leadership teams are sequestered off to three-day retreats to write these statements only to often return and go right back to practicing what prompted the retreat in the first place…Why? The reason is far too often is the “work” they did at the retreat was all “head work” and lacked “heart work”.

The quickest way to jumpstart sales as well as the morale of your team is to create a “Passion Statement”.

 

So what is a passion statement? A passion statement is something I help my clients to create that explains;

  • what problem your product or service solves?

 

  • who do we solve it for? Who are our buyer personas?

 

  • what emotion does our solving the problem create in our clients?

 

  • what emotion does solving our clients problems create for us?

 

If you study companies who have become market leaders they very seldom set out to build huge profitable companies. In the majority of the cases they saw a problem that someone had and set out passionately to solve that problem. Their focus was not as much a business as it was a quest.

For years we have heard; “fake it until you make it” , unfortunately however you can not fake a passion to serve your clients and your market.Your customers will quickly detect inauthentic commitments to serve.

An authentic passion ( quest)  to serve your markets unresolved problems takes your business to another level in the minds and hearts of your market.

 

Let me give you two examples of companies I have helped. One is a typical stale example without passion often find after interviewing their team and their customers, the other a passion statement we all can rally behind.

Example A

 “our business’s purpose is to create wealth for our owners and shareholders. We plan to accomplish this by charging the maximum price the market will bear for our product and service and we plan to hold our employees and partners accountable to this objective…” ( don’t worry once the CEO understood this was his teams’ perception ( and his customer’s) of why they were in business we helped them to change this )

 

Client Name not shared for obvious reasons

 

Example B

 

“Our passion is to helping consumers with physical disabilities from the waist down experience the rush and  freedom that results from riding a motorcycle.We are committed to helping our clients connect to their passion or riding”

 

Mobility Conquest

 

 

Which company would you like to buy from?

Which company would you like to work for?

Which company is “selling” you and which company is “helping you buy”?

 

If you had to state your company’s passion statement today…is it more about what you want? Or is it about serving an unmet need of your customers? ( by the way, I do not mean the statement written on posters, shared in quarterly meeting …I mean the mission your team ( and your customers) perceive it to be)

 

Who would you rather compete against… company A or B? Why?

Ok …I hear you CFO’s and bottom line driven CEO’s out their saying …”Ya… but…” so let me assure you that if you study the most profitable market leading companies they have a passion statement.

Still not a believer? In my next post I will share the signs that you need a Passion Statement.