Tag Archives: sales success

Be Mindful of Their Time

Some years ago, a rep popped in to give me a quote. Even though I mentioned at least 5 times how hectically busy I was, he still engaged in story after story about his wife, kids, old school pals and more. Almost an hour later, I was literally hopping from foot to foot and finally had to politely edge him closer to the door in order to “escape”.

As a sales professional, do you really want your customer to be praying that you’d just shut up and leave? Do you really want them to start avoiding taking your calls? Or when a customer sees your car pull up unexpectedly, would you want her to quickly hide in the storeroom to avoid spending 2 hours with you?

As Jill Konrath so aptly describes, customers and prospects are ‘crazy-busy’ at the best of times. They don’t have time to waste. Especially the real decision-makers.

Improving Sales Performance: Train the “C’s”, Coach the “B’s”, Recognise the “A’s”

Sales Managers are often tempted to spend most of their time in the field with their worst performers, the “C’s” who are always struggling to meet their targets, thinking that they can coach them to achieve greater results. However, many sales managers become more of a crutch than a coach, stepping in to close the deal at the salesperson’s request. If you’re going to invest your time in coaching selling skills out in the field, then do so with your “B” performers who just need to hone their skills to better their performance.

In addition, according to Tony Rugliano, co-author of the book “Discovering Your Sales Strengths”, a key area that sales managers need to concentrate on is building their relationships with their star performers. Rugliano suggests that star performers need your support and recognition of their achievements too. Do you spend enough time with your top performers in the field?

The Role of Trust in Sales

As Sales Managers, we are entrusted with a team of individuals who have faith in use and depend on us to lead, manage and guide them to success in their sales careers. People mostly rise to the expectations we have of them. In what ways do you instil confidence, trust and belief in your team to deliver results.

And by the same token, as salespeople, what ways do we instil confidence, trust and belief in our sales manager that we will deliver results?

Set Your Salespeople Free … To SELL

What’s your current sales team set-up based on?

Is it …

# 1 : Each sales rep being essentially self-sufficient i.e. get their clients, keep the clients and do all that needs to be done, including process the order and collect the payment?

Or is it …

# 2: Configuring your sales “production” process much like you would in manufacturing/factory environment?

I favour the latter. For years, I’ve been calling for companies to start isolating sales tasks and activities and to set up individuals to manage this for the external sales team. Specifically when it comes to sales research (aka qualifying new prospects and opportunities). By doing this, you will free up your external sales team to do what they were employed to do – be out there, all day, every day seeing quality new prospects and making meaningful appointments.

Ten years ago, I thought we would be seeing job ads posted on LinkedIn and on career portals for specialist “Sales Researchers”within a few years. People whose job it is to literally tee-up potential opportunities from prospects as well as existing clients. People whose job it is to stay on top of all new developments in market verticals. People whose job it is to provide insights to the external sales team who in turn use the information to provide even more value to customers.

But this has not happened. We are nearly all still stuck with outdated sales thinking which requires a salesperson to manage the entire sales process on their own – even dragging them into pre-sales social media marketing and post-sales customer care responsibilities too .

Justin Roff-Marsh, based in Australia is the guru behind re-engineering the sales process. I highly recommend that you take a look at his work. This ‘division-of-labour’ principle is working wonders for many companies around the world. Sales have soared and costs have plunged.

In simple terms, the system is based on separating the admin of sales from the face-to-face of sales. And then going further by employing internally-based specialists for every phase of the sales process.

When you release your sales executives from having to do all of their own pre- and post sales admin and shift most of the account management/customer service activities to a slick in-house support team, your sales will increase.

4 Questions Sales Achievers Must Ask When Interviewed

Naturally you’ve done your homework before your interview and you have a bunch of questions ready about the products or service you’ll be required to sell. But don’t forget to ask the following four questions too – it shows you are serious about your sales career. Remember – when you are a seriously talented sales professional (that includes sales managers too), you’re interviewing your next employer at the same time they’re interviewing you. No need for any arrogance of course, but do look after your interests.

Question #1 How many of your reps regularly make their target?
Ask this one because you want to get an idea of how successful others are in the team – the answer could lead to further questions regarding sales targets and team benchmarks in general.

Question #2 What support structure is in place for me?
The answer will tell you whether you will have someone assisting you with sales admin, lead-generation and other general sales tasks that take you away from being out there in front of customers, as well as if there is a company driver available to collect cheques and make deliveries – these are all activities that will prevent you from doing your “real” job.

Question #3 Will the sales manager be conducting in-field sales coaching?
Of course you’ll want to meet your manager and if possible get an idea of his or her management style too from others on the team – you need to suss out the overall sales culture. Sales coaching is essential, even for top achievers – the level of coaching will be far higher than that for a junior rep but is coaching nonetheless.

Question #4 What sales onboarding process is in place?
Given that lack of a quality sales onboarding process is one of the main reasons salespeople leave within the first 6 months, it’s worth asking just how much help you’ll be getting to ramp up in the shortest possible time. If you’re expected to hit your target within the third month it’s a bit of a big ask if your manager only confirms your customer base the month before, or if you still haven’t been able to tie down the technical chaps for that in-depth product training you need.

Then once you get to when it’s looking like there will be an offer on the table,  it’s also a good idea to confirm your understanding of the commission structure as well as to ask for a full copy of the standard contract of employment to review BEFORE accepting the offer. I can’t tell you the number of folks I’ve spoken to that only find out about these vital issues after they’ve resigned from their current position or have already started their new job. Realising at the end of your first month that the commission structure is not what you “thought” it was, is a bit too late.

It’s your sales career move – make sure it’s the right one.

 

 

You Can’t Ride Two Horses …

One of my business mentors – a highly-respected Irishman, academic and entrepreneurial guru – once gave me a valuable piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten.  He said “Suzanne, you can’t ride two horses with one arse” (Please excuse the terminology guys but I’m keeping it real).

It was a comment he made after listening to me explain how I was struggling to manage two major projects at the same time. The fact that I was splitting my time and efforts was affecting the success of the projects. I was not making any headway. He was right, I was no Zorro. I took his advice, chose the one project I knew would be a winner and dropped the other. It was the best move I’ve ever made.

The same advice applies to sales. We need to focus on the ONE thing we were employed to do:  Bring in the business.

Don’t lose your sales focus because someone else is seeking your assistance with their problems. The moment you start regularly spending loads of your time helping to re-configure the CRM system, assisting the export department with their paperwork or getting sidetracked with sorting out production issues, it shows up in your sales results.

At the very least if you can’t get off “the other horse”, you have to ensure that management knows exactly how your precious selling time is affected by being expected to do additional tasks.

Stand firm on this. Otherwise you’ll pay the price in your performance review.

Remember To Dump Your 2012 Sales Baggage

There’s no use in holding onto old sales baggage. Whilst it’s best to do a mental sales “detox” on a daily basis, sometimes we forget and before we know it, we’re carrying a whole load of sales junk that weighs us down mentally. It’s a sure way to dampen our spirit and enthusiasm for this brilliant career path we’re on. Selling is as fun, exciting, interesting and rewarding as we make it.

So forget the orders that didn’t happen, the delivery frustrations, the missing documents, the duff up with the commission calculations and all those little things that can side-track us from doing what we love – being in front of prospects and clients, trying to help them to offer a better service or product to their customers.

Start 2013 off on a clean sales slate. Dump last year’s B2B sales trash and take only the lessons learned and the very best memories into the New Year.

Here’s to Your Abundant Sales Success in 2013 – we’re with you all the way.