Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What Independent Manufacturers' Representatives Should Expect From Their Principals

1. Training. Unless the manufacturer produces non-technical products like brushes or socks, training is critical. Even non-technical products do not make a new representative exempt from being training on procedures, operations standards, customers support expectations, etc. In some cases, principals cover part or all of expenses for reps' training tools, courses (if necessary), or travel (if the independent rep is expected to visit the principal's office or manufacturing facilities).Manufacturers often try to alleviate the financial burden of travel for new hires. Depending on what is negotiated, they will either pay for some or most of the cost of travel when training new reps. This gives new reps greater confidence in the manufacturers' ability to support them in the field. And it signals economic strength.Independent sales reps fail when they do not have sufficient product knowledge to confidently and competently promote their manufacturers' products. The bottom line is, If a manufacturer's rep is not comfortable selling a product, they won't. And training should not be limited to just the initial stages of the relationship as products are upgraded or improved. So training must not only be comprehensive, but also ongoing.2. Initial Travel Period. A rep's first few months can be brutal, especially when pioneering a new market or territory. Many news reps need hand-holding. Principals should consider making a corporate employee available to travel with the sales rep to make the initial sales presentations easier. This assistance helps new reps develop a more profound understanding of the product line. It immediately exposes them to common customer questions or troubleshooting issues that they will have to respond to when out from under the proverbial wing of their principal.

3. Sales and Marketing Collateral. Independent reps should be armed with as much sales and marketing collateral as possible. Brochures, catalogs, color charts, pamphlets, fliers, product samples-all very helpful marketing materials. There is no legitimate reason why a principal would withhold this critical material.4. Fast Response. When manufacturers reps submit requests for quotes or troubleshooting feedback, the principal must respond as soon as possible! A rep's ability to successfully support customers is dependent upon their ability to respond to customers' needs in a timely manner. It may seem obvious that principals benefit, too, when responding quickly. Surprisingly, poor response time is one of the most common complaints from independent manufacturers' representatives.5. Sales and Order Tracking. Sales representatives do not have a guaranteed commission. They have to work for every dime they earn. Their ability to do so requires access to critical information that principals should provide, including:- Updated price lists
- (Back) order status
- Invoice copies
- Product literature and other sales collateral
- Shipping notifications
- Commission schedule6. Customer Lists. Principals should provide their reps with lists of existing customers. User lists or installation lists can be leveraged by independent sales reps when marketing to new customers. It helps demonstrate the compelling value proposition of the principals' products. Like most other items on this list, it is in the principal's best interest to provide this information to their reps.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Dead at 27 Club

Can anybody find me somebody to love are brilliant lyrics from Queen that say so much, but alas they may well have been his undoing. Freddie Mercury was out there - he was wild, untamed, in his heyday extremely promiscuous and in the end his partying and all the other antics that were part of his repertoire took him at a very early age. Far too young.This begs the question: did those who died young from partying and living in the fast lane go happy? Would they have changed what they were doing had they known it would bring a premature end to a glorious career and life? There exists the unfortunate " - Janice Joplin, Jim Morrisson, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Henrix and Amy Winehouse, all gone with so much more to give. Were they so disturbed and mentally imbalanced from the drugs and partying that there really was no way they could have come back to the straight and narrow? It could be said that Robbie Williams would have joined that club along with Russell Brand but fortunately both managed to turn the corner before falling into the abyss.You have those that hit the wall at high speed without a care in the world for any consequences to themselves or those around them and go young, or you have those who don't. A great friend of mine Richard Wilkins uses the phrase, "NLE" - Near Life Experience, those who have been alive but have never actually lived. Our challenge, I believe, is to find the level of living that is right for us - after all, hard drugs and rock and roll is not the calling for most of us. Counter that with those who never quite found the reason to try, the burning desire to have a go or were blocked by a wall of fear, doubt or self-belief which prevented them from even trying.

When I eventually go I do not want it to be said that I didn't try, that I sat back and watched, I was a spectator rather than a player, I could have achieved so much more. All of these phrases send shivers down my spine. I personally need to know and believe that I have given everything my best shot, had a go and played full out, and I know there are times when I fail to achieve this. We have all lost family friends, relations, parents and close mates far too early, I believe they all had more to give, help and provide. So if the same is said about you today by those in your life that you have so much more to achieve and deliver, what are you waiting for? You know the phrase "Carpe diem" - "Seize the day" There is nothing wrong with now, stop FAFFing about and get on with it.At any one time there could be 20-40% of staff off on holiday during the main holidays, any more than that and the company would have issues trading. Turn this around and this means that 60-80% of staff are still at work at any one time during the holiday season. How quickly do you need answers? Can they not wait two weeks until the decision-maker comes home from holiday? This doesn't mean you should give up trying to get hold of them; you should continue as normal and follow up as normal. Using seasonality as a reason not to make the effort is simply lazy, get on with business as usual, leave messages on answer phones and emails with assistants and stop FAFFing about avoiding doing business.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Increase Sales This Holiday Season

The holiday season really brings in more sales than any part of the year but you can still leverage more by using some practical tips that can further boost your sales. Sales rep software can also help you maximize the sales potentials by effectively managing and monitoring your sales leads. Here are the ways to increase sales appropriate for any kind of business:1. Promoting one Product/Service at a time. This limits the customer's buying decision to just buying or not buying. This leads to immediate sales, of course. Try to avoid promotions that will require the buyer to make more choices after deciding to buy. They might confuse them and end up not buying at all for the fear of making the wrong choice. If you really like to make promotions, create a promotion for each product or each service separately; or combine products and/or services into one package. The aim is to just get a "yes" or a "no" from the prospect, no more, no less.2. Make your benefit your lead start at all times. Your benefit is your strongest selling point. This is your unique selling point that your prospect must immediately see in your promotional messages. Put the benefit of your product and service in your banners, leaflets, flyers, brochures, sales letters, emails, posters, and other ads. Use it also in your audio and video campaign so that your prospects will continue listening and watching. Sales rep software can help you monitor the leads.3. Make your approach personal. People buy from salesmen who make them feel that their specific and individual needs are addressed. Customize your sales message to each prospect you meet to cater the particular interest of each client in every market group you are targeting. You can also do this online by creating special web pages that meets the needs for each market group then link to your home page.

4. Give specific description of your product and service. Do not just say your product is affordable, or you give quality service, or the printer you are selling is reliable, or you turn in your finished product fast. You have to be more precise with your description. Say how fast, what kind of quality, how reliable, and many more. Do not give dull descriptions like "You will print more with this printer." instead say "Your printing output will increase by 70% more." This stirs curiosity and excitement to the prospects and will take the time to look more into your offer.5. Dramatize feelings. It is found that people buy on impulse and not on logic. Their buying decisions are based on their feelings about the product or service. Aim to make them excited about what you are offering and you will surely increase your sales. Design your promotional ads, sales letters, and web pages with emotional rewards. Use vibrant images that can make your prospect imagine how he would look like while enjoying the benefits of the product or service.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Are You Suited to a Property Career?

As there are a lot of different processes involved in the buying and renting of homes, there are lots of different kinds of jobs available from secretarial roles, to surveyor positions to branch management. This also means that it is possible to work up the career ladder or transfer your skills to other parts of the property industry. Although that sounds like there is a job for everybody, when you search property jobs and read the prerequisites, there are various skills and attributes that are required.Like most jobs, some skills can be learnt and developed over time where as some are more like personality traits, such as attention to detail and negotiation skills.One of the most basic skills required is, like most sectors nowadays, computer literacy. As well as having basic Internet, email and typing skills, it helps to be able to pick up computer programs quickly to learn in-house systems. Another basic skill that can be transferred is customer service. When people are dealing with their potential home or looking to rent out a property that they have put a lot of time and money into, they expect to deal with somebody who goes the extra mile for them. When people are dealing with such a major aspect of their life, it is more reassuring to deal with somebody who proves that they are reliable and dedicated to doing a good job. For some people, this comesnaturally and it is a skill that can be learnt and developed in other industries, but this is not the case for everybody.Negotiation skills also do not come easily to everybody and these are necessary for sales-based jobs in the property industry, such as sales managers and consultants and other negotiator jobs. Not all jobs in the industry are sales-driven and require a different set of skill sets. For example, there are administration-based roles that are more suited to people with excellent computer and customer service skills who can also organise and work well in a team but perhaps don't have the sales or industry experience to work in letting agent jobs for example, or any other roles in the industry.

Other roles in the property industry, such as property surveyors, require industry experience and specific training, so you wouldn't be able to slip into it from a completely unrelated previous job. One thing that all jobs in the property industry have in common is that you need to have the drive and determination to work hard and succeed. Some might argue that this is the most important attribute.As well as skills and experience, there are certain stresses and pressures that come with a career in the property industry. For example, people looking for a new home will often want to view properties at weekends or after their working day, so estate agents and letting agents need to be available outside of normal office hours. There is also the pressure of trying to make sales and negotiate the best deals whilst the country is still suffering financially and dealing with rejection. If you have been recently made redundant, just leaving education or simply feel like a change in career path, it may be worthwhile to search property jobs if you have the drive and determination as well as people skills and the ability to thrive under pressure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Are You Using Your Sales Data Effectively?

So, you find yourself glancing over last month's sales figures and you're not too impressed. Well, we are in the worst recession since the 1920s; lower sales figures must be reflective of low consumer confidence, right? Wrong. The market may be down, but customers are still buying. What has changed is that they are more sophisticated and demanding in their buying habits than ever before.The range of purchasing options and product information available in this information age will not disappear along with the recession. The former is here to stay. So, lower prices? Sell more of a particular product? No. The key, particularly for smaller businesses, does not lie in attempting to increase quantity or slash prices to bolster sales; it lies in identifying the key drivers of sales. Enter predictive analytics.Predictive analytics, simply put, is a powerful mode of business intelligence that allows businesses to analyse the factors that maximise the probability of future product sales and use this information to make more viable business decisions. Analysing past sales figures is not of much help if one cannot determine how that relates to the future. Predictive analytics has the capability of building statistical models to determine the probability of future events. For instance, a regression model might describe projected monthly sales data in this way:SALES = 5,000 + 50(PRODUCT A*CUSTOMER B) - 20(PRODUCT B*CUSTOMER B)Let's put some real English behind the jargon:• 5,000: Refers to the minimum sales your business can be expected to make per month based on past trends.

• 50(PRODUCT A*CUSTOMER B): Illustrates that when 1 unit of Product A is sold to customer B, revenues rise by €50 each time.• -20(PRODUCT B*CUSTOMER B): However, for every unit of Product B sold to Customer B, revenues drop by €20 each time - showing an overall net loss of revenue in our equation due to the opportunity cost of selling Customer B the product that is in more demand by this segment, in this case Product A.Without the above regression analysis, businesses cannot pinpoint where the loss in revenues lie. Here, a loss in revenues would be due to the fact that we are selling the wrong product to the wrong customer. It is not simply a matter of overall sales. Without knowing the cause behind lower revenues, a manager might decide to increase the sales of Product B to Customer B, without knowing that the opportunity cost of fewer targeted sales in other products is what is actually hurting revenues.Ultimately, it is a mistake to make a blind attempt at increasing overall sales. Business owners must discriminate in the combination of product and customer segments targeted to determine how to maximise overall revenues. For many business owners, persistently lower sales figures means that identifying the root cause is critical in order to remedy the problem. Predictive analytics is the ideal tool to do this, and is one that business managers increasingly cannot avoid.

Friday, October 17, 2014

What to Discuss During a Sales Meeting

You've won the next role in your career! You're now a Sales Manager for first time. Congratulations!As you look at your Team and assess their strengths and weaknesses and plan out how you will work with each of them you are struck by the realization that very soon you will have to hold your first sales meeting. You think and reflect on your own experiences and begin to consider what should be in your Sales meeting.Yes you will look at numbers and talk about quotas and targets, but what else? How should you talk about the numbers?I would suggest that the following are essential items to running a successful sales meeting:1. Communicate: If there are messages from your Leader or Senior Management that need to be passed down to your Team, this is the perfect time to do it. Not only will all your team members be getting the information at the same time, but you will have the opportunity to address any questions or concerns and - at a minimum - take feedback back to your management.2. Review and Assess: This is your opportunity to look at the targets, achievement and forecasting of each salesperson. There are, of course, varying philosophies on how this should be done and what should be shared. Some Managers prefer not to share the individual results, but rather focus on the Team. Personally I believe that salespeople are not only competitive, but also very aware of the perceptions of their peers. As such, I tend to perform a 'stack ranking' of the Team - listing all of the individuals, their quotas, the attainment percentage, the commitment that they made to you on behalf of the organization and very clearly asking each member publicly to declare where they will land and with which clients. While this may seem a little like putting your salespeople on the spot, it also makes it clear that there are no favorites on your Team and that everyone needs to be prepared to declare not only to you - but to their peers. In essence it builds accountability not only to you, but also to the whole Team.

3. Helping each other: Often members of your team will have differing levels of experience with the organization. Opening the floor to seek help does a few things. Firstly if anyone can help or provide information on the items shared in #2, this provides a safe forum to do so. Secondly it makes it clear to the Team that you do not have all the answers. I always like to remind my Teams that if I am the smartest person in the room we have a serious problem because each person will bring unique knowledge and perspectives to challenges at hand and I will not - and should not - have all the answers. Thirdly this approach will enable the Team to truly form as a Team. Sales is unique in most business functions in that there are a group of individuals that are rewarded by their personal performance and not necessarily by a Team target. Using this approach will enable the team members to freely ask their peers for assistance and build their own personal credibility/brand by helping their colleagues.4. Educate and Practice: These two elements will change each meeting based upon what the organization has you working on. Perhaps you will be learning about a new product or promotions in the marketplace. Perhaps you will be looking at the profile of a certain competitor and learning how to handle objections related to that competitor. At other times you may want to use this time to 'sharpen the saw' - practicing sales interactions, working through opportunities, working on scripts that they may use in their day to day sales lives.5. Offer Help and Motivate: Every one of your sales meetings should end with this element. Offer your assistance publicly to everyone. Finish on a motivational note. Tell a story that is relevant to their challenges and how they could overcome that challenge.While there are many other elements that may come up in a Sales Meeting, theses are the Top 5 things that I build into every meeting and are a good start as you begin your sales management career.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Guidance to the New Sales Manager: Opportunity Identification

'Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.' Sun TsuIt's your first day in your new role. You've climbed out of the trenches, past the inside and outside sales roles to the point you wanted to be. Now you're a leader. Contrary to the belief of some organizations (and to the dismay of the newly promoted), being a superstar sales person does not automatically translate into being a superstar manager.Often sales managers are cast into the swift current of sales cycles, targets, client issues at the same time as trying to build personal credibility as a leader. And then it happens. You are expected to do a deal review/sales review/funnel review with members of your team.You know how you have operated in the past, how you have assessed your own opportunities and yet you find yourself in the unfamiliar territory of asking similar questions of your new Team. Herein lies the problem.Unless you picked it up from a sales leader that was particularly strong in sales process you may not be able to articulate to your Team how or why opportunity identification can be performed without appearing either as a micro manager who does not believe in their people or as a inflexible new manager that is 'picking' on members of her staff.Opportunity identification (and by extension opportunity reviews) are a necessary part of our role as sales leaders. Yet how do we approach them in the way that will enable our people to 'win first and then go to war'?Consider the following suggestions that I have used in many of my own transitions and taught to many new managers:1. Pick a methodology that you are comfortable with. In some cases organizations are following a set approach - MEDDIC, TAS, Consultative Selling, SPIN Selling, QBS, Sandler - if this is the case, be sure you are prepared to guide the conversation down the appropriate path. In other organizations the use of the CRM is paramount and the leader is given latitude to choose their own path. Regardless, have a system that you can consistently implement and execute with your Team Members.2. Share the methodology and expectations with your whole Team. Ensure that the Team knows why the opportunity identification process is important to them as well as to you. Make a clear linkage between following a set path and increased wins (and compensation) for the salesperson.3. Begin scheduling one on one reviews. In these reviews, focus on the Opportunity and the Client. Not on the salesperson. Failure to do this could set up a dangerous precedent in how you relate with your Team. You will have time for formal coaching/review meetings but during an opportunity review is not the right time to do this.4. Systematically work your way through the assessment questions you have developed (or inherited). Discuss each and allocate one of three ratings - yes, I know/can prove I know this; it's an unknown for me and I need to spend more time here; no, I do not know/cannot prove that I know. I prefer to allocate a score and deal with these items in absolutes. We'll look at some sample questions you may want to consider shortly.

5. At the end of the discussion/question and answer period you will have a 'score' for an opportunity and also a list of things your salesperson needs to check/find out before the final proposal is submitted. You may also find that you won't have any hope of winning a particular opportunity or that it is an education session for your client. In these cases you can make a recommendation to your leader to engage or not. Remember, if you win first and then go to war you will be victorious. Rushing to war (or the opportunity) without knowing all you can leads to defeat.6. Initially these may be difficult questions for you to ask your staff. You may feel uncomfortable poking into their opportunities and identifying shortcomings. However, it is far better for you and your staff member to do this collaboratively than for the salesperson to include a deal in their call for the month when they do not have all the information and you have not helped them determine what is missing. It is far better for our people to feel foolish with us than to wonder 'what happened' to the deal they were resting their month/quarter on.Now you're ready for the conversation with your sales team member. What do you need to ask to determine what is really going on and how you can help your Team member to close a specific deal? Yes you need to know about BANT - budget, authority, need, and timeline - but what else would be useful in determining if there is really an opportunity for you to win? In the years I've been working with sales people and training sales managers, I have used the following types of questions to determine the status/actions that need to be taken on an opportunity:1. Determine that BANT exists.
2. What is the compelling event that is pushing the client to act now (a deeper dive on Need)
3. Do we have supporters inside the client organization?
4. Is the person we are dealing with really the decision maker? (Deeper dive on authority)
5. Who are we competing against?
6. What is the competition's position in the account?
7. Have we analyzed the competitors vis a vis our solution?
8. Do we know the formal decision criteria?
9. Do we know the informal decision criteria?
10. Who are the influencers on the decision?
11. What is the risk to us of bidding/not bidding? (Is the solution new?)
12. Is this profitable business we want to win?
13. Do I have the internal support I need from my organization to win?These questions will lead you deeper into the opportunity so that you can assist your Team with better opportunity identification. After all, better identification leads to a better use of resources and ultimately winning business that you want to win.-----

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Acknowledge - Explore - Listen: Dealing With Facts And Coaching

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." Aldous Huxley (1894-1963).Too often we can see the sales leader that is unwilling or unable to face the facts - whether these are the facts on specific deals that salespeople are working on or facts relative to some tough conversations that need to take place with their team members.Just because we review opportunities with our sales people in some cases doing a partial review and often not holding our people accountable for progress on specific deals (really a 'surface scan') does not change the truth behind the conversations. Nor does it change the sales leader's own sense of hope (hope that a deal will land, hope that a salesperson is wrong about the quality of a deal).In fact, our unwillingness to accept the true facts - or worse adopt a position where we shoot the messenger or ignore the facts - does not encourage an environment of trust and acceptance where one can focus on reality and solving problems without dealing with political and emotional trauma that can create a physical manifestation in the Team.Clearly the answer to this is not to ignore the issues and problems - as Huxley states, facts are still there even if ignored. The answer is also not to bring overwhelming political and emotional force down on the salesperson dealing with the facts.Instead, consider this approach.If, when faced with facts that are irrefutable and at the same time damaging to our sales, we approached the salesperson from a position of collaboration what might occur? Is is possible that the salesperson might be open to having someone help with solving a problem?I would submit that in most cases this is true. Salespeople by their nature are competitive and like to win. If we, as leaders, can offer something that will help and enable these professionals to grow isn't it reasonable to assume that they would accept this assistance and willingly change their position/approach with a customer?At the very least the salesperson would enter into an open and honest dialogue with their leader to explain the situation and why an approach may or may not work. And that is the key to moving forward. Acknowledge the facts. Explore alternatives together. Listen to our people as they often can see elements that we cannot.If, after attempting this approach, you still feel like you are not getting the facts then a decision must be made. Either we personally enter the deal with the intent to bring clarity and accelerate a close or we investigate the approach/habits of the sales person.

I can recall one situation where I was coaching a Sales Executive through a deal that would close off several months of his quota. He had committed this deal to his organization yet something didn't seem right. The dates kept sliding and when I offered to assist in visiting the client to accelerate the sale the salesperson blocked at every turn. As we looked closer and closer at the deal, the structure, and most importantly the political alignment and support inside the clients organization, we discovered that this deal that was coming in 'any day' was not likely to come in for months.At this point we are faced with a few decisions. Firstly, do we act as other leaders have acted and ignore the facts and demand that the salesperson deliver the deal (a completely unrealistic expectation and completely ignoring the facts)? Secondly do we attack the individual for not understanding their account (and thereby alienating the salesperson)? Or thirdly do we approach this as a coachable moment and explain to the salesperson the impact of improper forecasting and show them the facts and obtain agreement on the necessary steps that the salesperson is willing to commit to to advance the deal?The inexperienced leader might opt for #1 - trying to show dominance yet not achieving anything except pushing the salesperson away. Or they may try #2 - accept the facts but personally attack the competence of the salesperson with a 'if you can't do it, then I will' approach. The result of this is that the salesperson will continue to rely in the leader in any difficult situation with a fatalistic feeling (no matter what I do or say my boss won't be happy and they will take this deal from me).However with option #3, real coaching, growth and learning can occur. Finally the truth can be acknowledged and the leader and salesperson can work together to further the deal.As Huxley states 'Facts do not cease to exist' regardless of how we and our organizations react to them. Instead of reacting or hiding from these facts, we should embrace them and treat this as a learning opportunity for the sales organization.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Six Steps To Building Your Sales Business Plan

The biggest problem many businesses face when it comes to developing their sales business plan, is that they don't do it. The only time most companies look at building any kind of business plan is when they need to find investment capital or talk to their banker. Building a sales budget is not a plan. It,s a goal. If you want to achieve that goal, you need a plan with the strategies and tactics you will use to achieve it.Building Your Sales Business Plan To Hit The NumberUsually a sales manager is given the number. What they must produce for the year, each quarter, and each month. The goals have been established. Now it's up to the manager to develop a sales business plan to achieve those goals. Here are six steps to help build your sales business plan:1. Establish The Sales Planning TeamThe first step in developing your sales business plan is to establish a team. There are multiple stakeholders in achieving your sales goals, so get them involved. This team could consist of individuals from sales, marketing, accounting, operations, and service. The goal of establishing your sales plan team is to involve people in the process to gain their support. The secondary reason for the team is to spread the workload and gain additional insight.Once the team has been selected, schedule your first sales plan development meeting to outline the task ahead. In that meeting you should be prepared to explain what will be involved in the sales business plan, the task that must be completed and set major and minor miles stones for the project. The last thing that you want to do in this meeting is assign individuals to each of the task.2. Use Historical Data As The Base For Sales Business PlanOne good thing about someone presenting you with a target number, is that you don't have to come up with one. You don't have to worry about establishing goals and target, because they were just handed to you. Your sales business plan is your methodology to achieving those goals.The best indicator to use as a base line for how you will produce the desired results is to look to the past. What did you do last year? As an example, last year your team produced $1.5 million in sales. You sold $800,000.00 of product A, $400,000.00 of product B, and $300,000.00 of Product C. That's the base line. Now you should determine how many sales are required, in each product group to hit your new number. If total number of sales for product A were 450, that tells you the average sale was approximately $1,777.78. You want to do this for each of your product lines. Once thats completed you will need to gather sales information on:
How many leads did it take to make each sale?
How may presentations did it take to make a sale?
You want to ask these questions and more to ensure that you have a good base line of what you did and how you did it through the entire sales process. If the number is the same as last year, and it never is, you now know what it takes to hit the number. If the new number represents a 15% increase, just up everything by 15%.This is an important part of the sales planning process. Knowing your key sales indicators and ratios tells you what you need so you can plan accordingly. If possible key indicators like: lead to appointments, appointments to presentations, presentations to proposals and presentation to close. After that, you should categorize your sales. One way is product, territory, and salesperson. Now that you have a good idea of what you need to do to establish your baseline numbers, who will you assign to this task?

3. Know Who Your Ideal CustomerWe call this customer profiling. If you have a new business, profiling your ideal customer is based on a hunch and market research. You're guessing. If you've been selling for a while, all you need to do in look at your clients and determine what sets them apart from the rest of the world.To develop a solid sales business plan you must make sure you are going after the right targets. Make a list of your top clients and determine:
Where are they located geographically?
What industry are they in?
What is their size by employees or annual sales?
What is their Standard Industrial Classification, (SIC) code?
How was the lead developed?
Who was the decision maker?
What department is the decision maker in?
Once you know what your ideal customer looks like, you can describe it and add it to your sales business plan.4. Make Sure Your Market Will Support Your PlanOnce you know your key indicators. You understand the type of customer you are looking for, It's time to make sure your market will support your needs. How many of your ideal customers are in your market area? On of the best ways to find this out is to go to any list company and ask for a count base on industry and geography. Now you can assign this task to a member of your sales business plan planning team.5. Develop Your Marketing StrategyIn step two, you determined how many prospects you need to hit the number. In step three, you determined who your prospects are. In step four you found out that your market can support the number. So how are you going to get to them? As a rule of thumb you should have five sources for developing new business. As an example her are five that you may want to look at:
Your sales people
The internet
Trade or local shows
Direct mail
A good way to evaluate this is to go back to your customer profile and see where your existing customers came from. One important note that I want to make here, is that if you are not generating business from your web site. You need to rethink your marketing plan.Don't Forget the Importance Of The InternetFor years businesses invested thousands of dollars a year on yellow page and directory adds. Why, because that"s where people went when they wanted to find something. Today, if someone is looking for your services, the first place they will go is to the internet. It's not enough to have a web site. You need an active SEO program that allows you to reach those that can use your services.6. Evaluating Your Sales TeamIs your sales team capable of delivering? This is always a bib question for sales leaders. When you build your sales business plan, look at the skills required for your salespeople to execute that plan. Once you have defined the skills needed and the tactics they will need. Its time to get the team ready.You need to develop a training structure. This is another part of the planning process that gets left behind. How do I make sure that my team is ready to play? You do it by developing an ongoing training program. In your sales business plan, have a section that provides a training schedule for the year. This insures that your team is ready to go.Building a sales business plan is more that just having a goal. It means you have developed the strategies and tactics to achieve that goal.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

3 Critical "I's" of Business

In today's world of sales we speak in and out daily on how to increase sales along with our sales teams and how to increase market shares?One word which syncs all of us... its Distribution for any product to succeed!To make it simpler on Distribution, the key factors involved are as follows while appointing distributors, super-stockists etc.The most important critical factors are 3 "I"s...Investment, Infrastructure & InvolvementInvestment - The first important "I" determines the health of the business, the distributor needs to be financially sound (excellent assets most importantly liquid cash and own funds and not borrowed funds from bank and private investments) and needed to have a long term outlook of the organization to have better yield in reaping benefits, mean (ROI) Return On Investment. They need to be more convinced in not to diversify with different organizations which filters is investment in order to have focused funds to us.Infrastructure - The second most "I" determines proper coordination of all human resources (Staff & Field force) and processes and operations (Warehouse - Proper storage of products & Vehicles - to connect deliveries in time for retailers) necessary to ensure and manage profitable growth. Regardless of the size of the business Infrastructure facilitates our business and services to width & depth of the markets in a way to a positive consumer experience resulting in increased sales. It also drives economies of scale.

Involvement - The third "I" determines the effort and relationship built over the years in business along with retailers etc. The geographical knowledge and the experience of personal involvement play a very vital role informally & formally over competing products to understand in terms of influencing them on reaching products to retailers and also knowing the depth of retailer's relationship with his consumers to tap accordingly.These three are different prospective on the role of Investment, Infrastructure & Involvement and are interdependent in en cashing the business prospective of the assigned territories for the distributor/stockist in expanding in accordance with the organization's priority and thereby expanding larger canvas of operation.The above 3 critical "I's needs to be measured & checked periodically to keep the health of the distributor by the organizations representatives and always keep motivated at all times along with the back-up in the ordnance of failure of any one of them.These checks would ensure to gain better on leadership in distribution expansion of retail outlets leading to gain market shares consistently.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

10 Fool Proof Ways to Murder Sales Performance in Your Company

Are you serious about killing sales performance in your organization? Well, if you've been googling for books and tips on that subject don't bother. I did a search to find out if a sales murder mystery has been written before. You're right - I did not find one. What I did find was countless books written on how to improve sales performance, and really just about everybody knows how to do that. So I decided to get real and do a little sleuthing myself to find the top 10 fool proof methods for killing your sales team's performance. Here's the scoop but keep it to yourself:Killer Tip #1: Don't make the deadly mistake of setting specific measurable sales goals for anyone on your sales teamAnd if you've committed that crime, here's the cover up. Don't communicate it, or get buy in or put it down in writing! If your sales people insist, pull out a number that sounds incredulous and tell them it's a stretch goal, so you can keep them on their toes.Killer Tip #2: Always pretend you have the upper hand and know more than THEMYou don't need to get real and show your team how to do it or strategize or give them tools. That's just "book talk" from the millions of sales gurus out there. Your team will do way better and thank you if you just let them just sweat it out. Set firm deadlines so no one can escape and let them know you're in control.Killer Tip #3: You'll get busted if you get in the trenches with your sales teamThey're grown-ups and can do without your pep talks. They're looking for 3 specific things from you at weekly sales meetings: (a) an excruciating minute by minute account of sales activity (b) the math on their conversion numbers (c) the number of Nos it's going to take for them to master the art of accepting rejection.Killer Tip #4: Get them believing in the power of the human brainThe best scientists in the world have proven that even the fastest computer cannot measure up to the immense potential of the human brain. And to think that we only use 10% of our brain's hard drive. That's plenty of space to keep track of pipelines, prospects, and clients for crying out loud! Why bog your team down with expensive CRMs for that? For those on your team, who just can't deal with instant data retrieval, get them to set up multiple spreadsheets or a paper piling system on their desk.

Killer Tip #5: Keep the sales process a complete mysteryLet your sales people do some figuring out. After all, they have to earn their commission. You want a survivor on your team, someone who can jump through the hoops and stay on task. If the sales process were that simple, everybody would be doing it.Killer Tip # 6: Ignore all that hocus-pocus you've been hearingProduct training, sales training, checklists etc. to increase average dollar sale, seriously? It's simply a trap; a set up to get your team to sell more? Stay away from making that blunder.Killer Tip #7: Free your sales team from the shackles of estimatesLet their creative juices flow. Let them figure out what numbers it will take to get a customer to say yes. Let them go the extra mile: discounting, price wars, fee waiving, 360 day credit terms -whatever it takes!Killer Tip #8: Make sure your team has no clue that you're thankfulIf your sales rep lands a job, be sure to never acknowledge that, especially in a team meeting. Keep it simple; pretend it's no big deal at all. Instead, remind them constantly of that stretch goal. They need to be thinking of the next big prospect; when and what it'll take to land a new account.Killer Tip #9: Play hard to getGet your team on board with the idea of playing hard to get with customers. Discourage them from contacting customers that they haven't talked to in years or thanking them for their business. It's a complete waste of time! You've already got them! Customers know who you are and will come back. Get the sales team in pursuit of brand new hot leads.Killer Tip #10: So what do I do next?Congratulations, if you're already implementing these. If not, then pick 2 that you will apply in the next week. Nothing happens without action.I wish you the very best in your endeavor. And yes, if any of these ways, sounds rusty, doesn't despair and give up because there's always another way. Let me in on your specific situation and we'll custom design one for your team specifically.Au revoir.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Key Elements of Designing a Solid Sales Plan

Strategy is the key to sustainable growth. On your journey toward building a strategy for sales perfection it is essential to understand the process and chart a course for the coming years. You have completed three steps in the process, you have 1) analyzed the current state of affairs in your company, where we are now. You have 2) used this information to formulate the thought process for a clear strategic direction. And you have 3) used this information to develop the framework for you coherent set of strategies or the foundation to building the strategy for sales perfection.The essential elements of the business plan are defined below. The business plan is not a book but a summary and definition of what needs to be completed to meet the company objectives:Executive summary:Your executive summary is a snapshot of your business plan as a whole and touches on your company profile and goals. This section offers tips on what to include and how to keep it brief and succinct.The Mission Statement- This explains what your business is all about. It should be between several sentences and a paragraph.Company Information - Include a short statement that covers when your business was formed, the names of the founders and their roles, your number of employees, and your business location(s).Growth Highlights - Include examples of company growth, such as financial or market highlights (for example, "XYZ Firm increased profit margins and market share year-over-year since its foundation). Graphs and charts can be helpful in this section.

Your Products/Services - Briefly describe the products or services you provide.Financial Information - If you are seeking financing, include any information about your current bank and investors.Summarize Future Plans - Explain where you would like to take your business.Submit a detailed or broad perspective of the market in the business plan. Depending on your audience will determine the level of detail needed. No one is a better authority on your business that you. Communicate that knowledge to insure that your audience will have a high degree of comfort in the existing market and the impact your plan will have on shaping the market as well as the culture of your organization.Define the specific strategy and desired outcome of the sales team. From a high level, explain the business objective and desired result from the sales team. Explanations can be individualized, they can be generic, they can be regionalized, and they can contain product initiatives or a combination of all of these. Remember, the strategy is the definition of what needs to be accomplished, changed, altered and improved upon to meet specific revenue and profit objectives. Illustrate the specific needs of the organization from a manpower standpoint and how you plan to meet these objectives especially if it requires additional staffing and management requirements.