Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How You Can Recruit Sales Super Stars - Part 2 - How to Recognise Sales Sheep and Wolves

Following on from my previous article which identified the traits of great sales people, and showing that poor performers don't have them!Ultimately it comes down to recruiting the right salesman to take the company to the next level - and tied to good marketing too of course. With a great salesman good marketing is even more effective.Broadly you can break salesmen into sales sheep, sales wolves and sales super stars.Sales SheepThey wait for customer to come to them, or the phone to ring to take an order.Or they wait in a shop and sell purely because the customer wants to buy something from anyone who wants to take their money.They think the customer is always right even if it means that they'll lose money on an issue that the customer created themselves. Or they'll give the customer some stock they had lying around.What about the salesman who drops by and entertains their contacts to "touch base", "to see if there's anything for me today" and who "nearly gets a sales but doesn't quite?"Sales sheep cost you money. Let's count the ways:
Their basic pay to sales ratio is higher than yours, or other sales staff
They give stuff away as sweeteners, or to get out of a problem
They entertain prospects and don't convert them
They entertain people at the clients who are not remotely connected to the sale process
They don't follow-up and lose sales to competitors who do
How do you recognise one? There is a way before you even recruit them...Sales WolvesThey're so enthusiastic and raring to go. However, beware!They almost run out of your door and can't wait to close a sale. They're so keen they can make people buy your products and services even though they may be wrong for those customers.They know what you sell and try to sell it all to every customer, whether there's a need for it or not. They're equally upfront in-house anything that affects their sale, and often their commission, is bulldozed out of the way to make sure that sale gets done. Sometimes it's pushed through to the detriment of other customers or sales people.Sales wolves cost you money. Let's see how:
They sell lots but you get a higher returns rate
You get more external complaints, affecting your reputation and therefore referrals
You get more internal complaints and lose staff or morale drops
You lose sales by them tying up staff that other sales people need
They don't want to know about customer issues after a sale. They're too busy on the next sale

How do you recognise one? There is a way before you recruit them...Sales SuperstarsA good salesman gets in more business than he costs you to run and make your company more money than that. A bad salesman is a drain on your company. It can be almost impossible to sort the good from the bad.Almost, but not impossible.When you recruit a salesman you need to aim for the star salesman. Don't be put off because you think can't afford them.The star salesman psychological profile is formed during their early childhood and you may catch one before they realise they're great. Or you may find one who was burnt out and is ready to rejoin the fray.Either one doesn't require vast amounts of money. Remember even if you paid them 5 times what you pay yourself and they brought in 20 times more in profit would their salary even matter?The Drive Behind Sales Super StarsThe 3 Types of Sales StaffAccording to psychological research a super star salesman is driven by two factors: ego and empathy. Finding those with the right mix of both can be challenging - but ultimately very rewarding for your company.Too much ego and they get the sales but at a huge cost to you in terms of customer and internal relationships bruised or destroyed by the ego-driven salesman. These are the types of salespeople I've called the Sales Wolf, they'll do almost anything for their commission.The type of salesman I've called the Sales Sheep has way too much empathy and they end up discounting so deeply and being so completely on their customer's side that you'll lose money on deals that would normally be profitable.Now you know how to tell sales sheep from sales wolves you want to find out how to get sales superstars. Check the next article in this series.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Top 4 Personality Traits Needed For Sales

There are tomes and tomes of books written on the requirements for the 'perfect' salesperson. There are movies that people point to (Glengarry Glen Ross and most recently the Wolf of Wall Street). Yet despite all the advice out there, what should we, as sales leaders, really be looking for?Tenacity: Face it, sales is a game of persevering through the last rejection until you can win the next deal. Yes it may be slightly different for account managers versus hunters versus an inside sales team however the base trait of tenacity and perseverance against the odds is a requirement for success in a sales role. In the pursuit for success the sales person has to be prepared to continue towards their goal - ignoring the 'you can't do that' or 'the customer will never buy' or why would you think they would buy from you'. Tenacity, perseverance and holding to a longer term vision are all critical.Focus: In any organization there inevitably arises the opportunity for a sales person to get sidelined by finance issues, delivery issues, service issues, and billing issues. However most compensation plans do not account for this 'unproductive' sales time. As hard as it is, you need to pass these off to the right member of your support team and continue selling. Selling is your raison d'etre - not servicing.Communication: There are many sales people out there that are good people yet they could be better sales people by improving their communication - both internally and externally. Internally the salesperson has to be open, honest and willing to accept guidance. Telling their manager that deals are coming in week after week not only undermines their personal credibility but makes it less likely that the manager will want to invest time with the salesperson. In addition, if commitments have been made to a customer, they must be passed back through the organization so that the customer continues to build rapport with the company's representative - the sales person. Externally the sales person has to have the confidence to realize that the customer isn't always right. That at times they will have to say no to a customer's request (granted, they should be able to explain why) in order to ensure that they are fulfilling the mandate that their company has set out for them.

Vision: Every sales person - unless they are purely selling commodities - must be prepared to participate in building a vision with their customers. In order to truly become part of the customer's 'team' and secure their position and relationship they need to bring more than just products and services to the customer - they need to bring solution and vision. The sales person needs to be able to understand what the real issues are that the customer is facing and provide advice to them. Hopefully that advice will coincide with a service or product that they can represent to the customer.Although there are many, many personality traits and skills, habits managers will want to see in their sales team members - these first four will provide a firm foundation to build upon.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sales Bottom Line - What's The Big Idea!

What is the professional reality for any Sales Manager? You are only as good as your weakest link allows you to be.I am often asked by Sales Managers what the secret is to getting sales solutions quickly.Here is part of what we do and it reflects how we get to increase sales, quickly and cost effectively for major benefits such as:Easily accessible sales bottom line skills knowledge & training with an 8 step process. A system for individual coaching irrespective of sales team size. Goal setting & drive are at the heart of successful sales with a simple to follow process made available to individualsAccess to online sales and sales manger coaching with blended learning techniques sales bottom line. The collective hands-on sales and Sales Manager industry expertise of our sales bottom line specialists using our proven COG System cover all aspects of Selling, Prospecting and Lead Generation by an experienced battle hardened 15 year veteran of the internet & social networking environment.Pricing Analysts & Specialists.
Sales Database Engineers and in the cloud Management.
Proposal and Presentation Specialists.
Sales and People Management,
Sales Training and Motivation,
Social media Policies and Procedural matters,
Sales Manager Compliance Issues,
Web 2.0, Sales,
Special Seminar Events,
Customer Service & CRM specialists.
Marketing Integrators.
Organizational gap fillers plus niche and sales systems.Once we start digging, the real sales picture will quickly emerge.Before these solutions can be executed, authority should be sought from the Sales Manager or sales representative who has been given permission to over see such projects for unfettered access to the sales team including all existing methods and manuals. The sales task force, working with the sales manager will set about discreetly, or otherwise, unearthing the real reasons behind the current situation - good or bad. These facts will then be reconciled against the sales bottom line information that has already been previously supplied by sales management to Head Office.Any discrepancies that exist between those two lists, the Sales Manager and the sales person list, will then be red flagged as both important and urgent. In other words, by drilling right to the core of the problems with your sales bottom line with bankable rapidity.The first question you want answered is, "What is actually happening when the Sales Manager and management are not there?" Such as out in the field, 2.00pm Friday afternoon, in other words a complete picture.But, when you start putting their sales people under pressure, the Sales Manager should be informed to be prepared for any of the following traits in their salespersons:weaker less enthusiastic
poorer performers
out of their depth
bored or sheltering in a comfort zone
unmotivated with disruptive attitudes
adverse to instructions from the management
no idea about sales bottom line
no goals or enthusiasm for improvementTo resist, feel nervous, threatened, the blame game, or come under so much team mate pressure they leave to become someone else's headache. Some else's problem perhaps.Call us old fashioned if you like, but we're from the school that considers taking an unscheduled 10 minute break, talking to friends on a mobile phone during work hours, abusing the company internet & social media policies or giving shoddy service to clients as tantamount to theft and should be treated as such.

Yes. We recommend that you do adopt a somewhat hard-nosed common-sense, roll the sleeves up, get down and get the hands dirty approach. That comes from our sales task force collective of over 50 years combined international experience knowing and executing what really works at all levels, from small local sales teams to large International multi cultural ones. But this is only for the initial preparation stage and prior to the transition to performance enhancement.Pre planning prevents poor performance!You should ask questions about your business, your sales goals, your ideal prospective clients and your clients. These questions will help underpin your Sales Bottom Line Blueprint with sustainable profitable solutions. This is far more than just a "survival turn around kit" for sales driven organizations.It is a complete step-by-step action plan of what to do to ensure the sales and profit at better margins heads upwards on the graph.Any organization who is trying to find ways to increase their Sales Bottom Line should also carry out a complete and extremely confidential assessment of everything related to sales. Whether you have them or not here are just some of the elements of your sales bottom line that we at Sales Drive scrutinize and perfect, listed in no particular order.Individual salespeople performance, attitude towards the Sales Manager, time management, punctuality, promise making, delivery, tasking, recruitment
Compliance issues, confidentiality and security
Ideas, creativity, expanded thinking, sales presentation, service
Occupational Health & Safety manuals, operations manuals, policies, training manuals
All sales and Sales Manager performance to date
Sales budgets
Checklists, daily activity lists, sales orders
Flow charts, procedures, delivery
Understanding of client issues, ability to uncover potential lost opportunities for clients and other matters
Sales commitments and obligations
Client prospecting, segmented marketing, sales event mix, special attractions and reasons to buy
Equipment, material, maintenance, improvements
Your rivals and your competition, everythingIf they drive a company car we will even look in the trunk to see the hidden time wasters - golf clubs and the like. The good news is that nearly every imaginable challenge and problem in the sales industry has a solution.Thankfully for you, there is no need for you to reinvent the wheel or rely on guesswork.What is learnt from these in depth analysis's about your business is should be kept strictly confidential. Both parties should sign a Non Disclosure Agreement, because you wouldn't like any of the matters discussed repeated to anyone either.You can expect to enjoy increased sales.Before you know it, your sales team will be fully systematized; the key people up skilled, motivated and working at capacity for your benefit. This means you can sleep soundly at night knowing that:All stakeholders will see progress
Your role will be appreciated and elevated
The sales support staff will be eager to satisfy the clients
The clients will be eager to return more often
The reputation and therefore the value of your organization will rise
Quality salespeople will be queuing to join your team
Staff turnover will drop
Costly Lost sales will decline
Sales Team and overall Staff morale will improve
Recruitment will be easier
Poor performers will be gone to become someone else's headacheWhat more can I say about your bottom line?© Phil Polson - 2013. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Recruitment Consultant Training - The Important First Step

Recruitment consultant training does work. As a first step you need to know if the consultants on your team actually possess the skills needed to become high billers.The first step for any recruitment manager is to conduct a skills audit. If you have a job profile you will have a list of key skills and attributes that you want your recruitment consultants to have. Some skills are more trainable than others. Specific areas may need additional coaching and follow up time. In fact the latest research says that when training is followed up the results can increase by as much as 40%. If you don't have a specific role profile then make the time to create one. Think about the high billers you have known in the past. What were they amazing at? What did they say and do that created the results they got? Then make a list. As a hint top performing billers are; good communicators, great at building relationships, prospecting, understand their market and customer, are energetic and hardworking, they ask questions, they thrive on challenge and meeting customer needs, they listen and respond to feedback and they are tenacious.Break these areas down into the actual behaviours that people use that demonstrate this skill. Then review if your consultants exhibit them on a regular basis. For instance someone that is good at prospecting might use LinkedIn to best effect, send out emails to new clients and candidates and then follow up with a phone call. Knowing the key behaviours that link to skills makes it easier to measure results and improvements and bring everything back to a process that can be taught. This will give you a great foundation about where to focus your attention, time and resources. If you are new to your own role as a recruitment manager then ask questions. It is easy to make an assumption that your recruitment consultants know how to perform a given skill. If you are not sure ask them to talk you through the process. This will reveal a lot of information for you. For instance if you notice John or Joan are not picking up the phone it could be a skill issue. You might be surprised to find out that they are unsure how to open the call and what to say to move the phone conversation onto the next stage.

If you commit to do this with your consultants then you will soon identify the main skills gaps. Once you have carried out this process group the key areas together. You will see a pattern emerging and some priorities will jump out at you. As a business owner you will know the key performance indicators for your business. If there are skills gaps around any of these this is an area to address as a main priority.Once you have this information you can develop a recruitment consultant training plan that will develop skills in your team that will add to the business.The reality is that many recruitment managers are unaware of how powerful this process is. It bases your actions on facts rather than judgement. In summary, decide the ideal skills and behaviours you need. Carry out a skills audit to identify if they are there and being used. Then plan a training programme that will either deliver the skills that are missing, or refocus on those already there.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Success and Failure - Building a Sales Culture Where Sales People Want to Be

In sales and specifically in sales leadership what does success look like? Yes success is attaining the financial targets we have, but what else?Success must be more than an event for individuals to aspire to. Success must become part of who they are - part of their DNA. Part of how they act and carry themselves. The confidence that comes with success is essential of a sales person to build solid rapport with their client. Success must become an essential part of the Team. It must become a way of operating, an expectation that is held by every sales person and sales manager on our Teams.Success becomes an intrinsic component of every individual. However, so too does the response to failure. In order for a Team and an individual to grow, they must experience both success and failure.The important thing in this, however, is how the organization, leader, and individual respond to the failure. Do they see this as an opportunity to learn and better their craft? Can they put aside ego and feel comfortable sharing it?Sales is competitive. Success equals payment; failure equals missed opportunity. How then do we, as enlightened leaders build a sales culture where we can encourage sharing of the traps we have fallen into in order to grow the overall knowledge of the organization and provide others the benefit from our experience? Is this a function of the comfort level of the team with their Leader? Or is this cultural dynamic a larger organizational drive?On an individual level we must determine not only the strengths and weaknesses of our team members, but also their unique motivation. Like a maestro playing the orchestra, a Leader must use the right instrument at the right time. The instruments themselves need to be 'in tune'. Tuning the instruments (motivating the staff) is contingent upon knowing each person - their likes, dislikes, dreams and goals - extremely well.

At a micro level how the person feels determines their success. We all make decisions based on emotion and the. Proceed to justify the decision with logic.Fear is one such motivator. Some Leaders lean heavily upon this particular emotion. But fear is subtracting from the Team - leeching energy at every turn. Fear grows and build upon itself until it creates deep crevasses in the Team and becomes a trap that the Team can fall into and cause fragmentation in the Team structure. Yes, in this case the manager/leader may make their targets but it will be upon the broken backs (and spirits) of their Team.Recall Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Basic needs must be met before 'higher level' needs can be attained. Ignoring this with our Teams will result in a combative, divisive, nest of vipers as Team members position to be the favourites of the Leader.I also believe that one emotion we, as leaders, do not capitalize on enough is the need to belong. The need to be part of something special and to be able to point to an achievement with pride and say, 'I was part of that.'Of course compensation is also a critical piece of the puzzle. This, however, is merely a function of appropriate goaling. At the same time, most salespeople need to see and feel the link between hard work and results and recognition. Recognition and Celebration is a topic that is typically left behind as organizations look at motivating Sales Teams. By this, I don't mean the Presidents Club or other corporate award, but simple consistent recognition for the normal work as well as the extraordinary. For the individual that consistently hits 'base hits' or steps out of their comfort zone to share some pertinent learning. A clear strategy and tactical plan on this front will build morale and add significantly to the sense of Team.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Coaching and Your Sales Team: The GROW Model for New Managers

Sales managers and leaders are often given the task of playing the role of a 'player/coach'. Yet rarely are new managers prepared for this task.I don't mean the individuals who transfer into an organization with these skills in hand, but rather the individuals that are promoted into their first leadership role, or move into a new organization with their first true role of managing and coaching sales people.Through the interview process the hiring team will ask for examples of coaching. They will look for evidence of a previous coaching methodologies and experience. They will look at how individuals were able to transcend the role of an individual contributor and move to leading peers or influencing cross functional teams.Yet I believe that there is a critical element missing. Unless the leader can articulate the coaching style and clearly define the expectations during both 'in the moment coaching' and scheduled feedback sessions there will always be an element of uncertainty. The coach may or may not be able to clearly articulate their process. The coached team member may find value in the coaching. Alternatively they might feel that the influence the leader is attempting to exert is 'meddling' and providing little value. This is especially true in cases where the leader continually solves problems for the sales team member.Early in my career I had the opportunity to be trained by some excellent folks at IBM. The coaching methodology I learned became the foundation for all of the coaching systems that I learned and adapted to my style. As I've met sales teams. - either as a leader or as a consultant/interim leader I have always shared this methodology with my Teams. This clarity - the clear expectations and focus on solutions rather than blame - allows both me as the leader and the staff to understand that I will always be available to share and solution problems. However I will not always be the one to solve it.This system - Goal: Reality: Options: Will - allows both the leader and the staff member to clearly understand expectations in a coaching session.Simply put this system is broken down in the following fashion.Goal: What is the objective of the coaching situation? What are we trying to solve together? The key here being together. This is not the staff member dumping a problem on the Leader. Nor is it the Leader abdicating authority and letting the sales person figure it out themselves.Reality: What does the environment *really* look like relative to the issue at hand. This is the time for complete openness and honesty between the salesperson and the Leader. As Leaders we need to practice active listening without judgement or blame and seek to help our people develop analytical and situational awareness skills. The Team Member that is being coached needs to be brutally honest with the situation at hand. This is the time to share the good, bad, ugly, and surprises in the situation. The employee needs to be comfortable enough with their leader to be willing to share everything. The Leader has to be willing to listen, make notes for further clarification, and focus on the situation - not the actions (or inactions) of the Sales Team Member.

Too often the coaching methodology breaks here as the Leader reacts to information by chastising or belittling the sales employee that should have 'known better'. It is important that coaching is not a performance discussion. It is a way to help our people build skills and advance their agenda as well as the agenda of the organization. It is a way for us to share wisdom, participate in groupthink and build strength in our teams rather than create a divide.Options: This is where there is an open interaction between the salesperson and the manager. As Leaders we need our Team members to bring forward a list of potential solutions to discuss. Are we looking for the Team member to have all the answers? No, of course not. However we are looking for the salesperson to have some ownership of the solution and have thought through some potential answers to the issue at hand. As these solutions are explored, a free flow of ideas should occur with both parties analyzing and evaluating and enhancing the solutions in a nonjudgmental way.Will: The last step in the process is one of commitment. What is the sales person willing to commit to as a course of action? What assistance is needed in order to execute on the potential solution? What checkpoint will be built in for escalation to the Leader (who is now briefed fully on the situation)?This simple methodology - the GROW formula - can be used by leaders at any level in an organization to promote connectedness and a cohesive approach to problem solving. The days of expecting Our Team Members to solve all problems for their Leader or for Team Members to 'dump and run' issues on their Leaders are long over. Together Leaders and Team Members can solve problems - but only if they trust each other and are open to sharing and learning from situations. At that point the whole organization benefits from this GROWth.-----

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Guidance for New Sales Managers: Reviewing Opportunities - What Should You Look For?

You've finally made it! You have your first role as a Sales Manager. Then the reality hits you. Not only will you have to manage your people and your clients, but you will have to learn how to do opportunity reviews and forecasting for your leader.If you're fortunate you will be taking a role from someone who was organized well. If not, perhaps there will be a mentor in your new organization that will help you learn the ropes.But what happens if there isn't a 'buddy' to lean on? What do you do and what do you ask? Before going into a full panic, pause. Remember that you may be a Sales Manager now but the operative word is Sales. You have been there. You know how a deal works. Just because the word manager has been added to your title doesn't mean that you forget/lose your selling skills.With this in mind consider the following questions and facts.1. You will need to make a forecast for your management team and that forecast should have a minimum variance (positive or negative).2. It is your role to question, coach, lead, assist your team in accelerating deals. You can only do this if you know about the deals and you have all the relevant information you might need.3. Does your management look at a factored funnel (dollar value x probability) or a deal by deal view?4. Now you should have some questions in the 'kit bag' for your Team members. First you need to look at the probability of a deal closing this month. If someone has a deal listed at 75% probability, what is stopping them from closing it this month? What help do they need to move the deal forward?5. Next you need to look at the aging of opportunities as you examine a Team member's funnel. How long have opportunities been open? What percentage are they sitting at? What is the next step the salesperson is committing to to advance the deal? What is the typical sales cycle by product and service? Given the duration of the sales cycle does the length of time in the funnel seem reasonable?

6. It's time to drill a bit deeper on the opportunities. Who has the Salesperson been meeting? Why do they need the product/service right now? What is the impact of the customer doing nothing? What is the customer's timeline to make a decision? Lastly, who from your executive has relationships and how can they be leveraged?7. As part of your first few meetings, ask the salesperson for a firm commitment on what is coming in. Here's some things to remember though. A 'zero' is not acceptable. Every salesperson should have something in their funnel that they are working at closing. A committed deal must come in or be replaced by a deal of like size (preferably the deal that was called will come in). With the committed deals what needs to be done to deliver these in your favour?With a critical and discerning eye you should be looking at the details. Not to institute a 'big brother' mentality, but rather to prepare your Team member for the best possible success and to share your approach and thoughts to make the opportunity stronger.For me I believe the role of the Sales Manager/Sales Director is one of the most influential roles in any organization. Not only do you guide the ambassadors of your company, you are the conduit of information to your organization and the voice of your customer back to the company. Enjoy the role and have fun as you develop and help your Team Members to develop.----

What Vtiger CRM Can Do for Your Sales Management

The advantages of Vtiger CRM are numerous but this piece will treat some of them so that the power to improve your customer relationship management will be made available to you. If you can spare part of your time to read through, your business will be better for it.The first benefit of Vtiger CRM is that it will improve your lead quality. You will be able to capture higher quality leads due to the integration of web-to-CRM forms which will give confidence to your visitors to supply their contact information. Furthermore, there are easy-to-create email marketing tools which will help you in educating your leads about your products and services, and even when you are offering a new deal. You will also be able to learn the traits of high-value customers with custom reports and analytics, and you can use custom filters to discover leads that share these traits so that you can spend more time taking care of them.Moreover, you will be able to build an effective sales process and turn many of your leads into paying customers by increasing sales efficiency and enhancing customer confidence. This is achieved through workflows which automate your sales process thereby enhancing the consistency and effectiveness of duties such as task creation and delegation, report generation and follow-up reminders. A robust email campaigns can also automate the lead qualification process whereby email templates, define triggers, contact lists and other parameters can be customized in order to ensure that your leads automatically get the right information at the right time.

In addition, your salespersons will be provided with an array of tools to operate with which will in turn improve their productivity. There are configurable workflows which can automate recurring duties like assigning leads and tasks to salespersons based on given rules. Records are also aggregated so that salespersons can spend less time browsing and more time selling because deal information, customers' interactions, emails and data are all handy in one place. Also, mobile applications allow your salespersons to have access to records at all times even without internet connections.Furthermore, authoritative reports built on customers, salespersons and interaction data help you to take improved management decision which also help you in understanding your business better. You can also schedule follow-up dates to ensure that follow-ups are carried out properly while you can build report to track existing customers in order to forecast where sales opportunities might exist.