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Archive for January, 2009

As promised, Craig’s 1 of 5.

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Sales Training: The Rare Leader Executes Effectively

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

As a member of the sales training community, I continue to be surprised by how often a sales training investment is not seen through. An organization spends thousands (millions in larger organizations) to provide sales skill or sales methodology training for their sales teams and then…. that’s it. Last September, Dave Stein posted information about the “half-life of sales training”. (http://davesteinsblog.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/whats-the-half-life-of-sales-training/). His organization, ES Research suggest you see a 90-120 day lift from any sales training.

Everyone knows this, right? If they do, they don’t care enough to do something about it. It points back to two challenges of our time – attention span and execution, but that’s a BIG topic for another day.

In my experience, those investing in sales training fall into a few categories:

The first – they are doing sales training because they feel they should commit to a certain amount of training each year. It’s part of their culture. The training decision is made at a lower or HR level and loosely lines up with company strategy and selling philosophy. Typically this buyer has a tough time explaining the company at a strategic level and, instead, wants to talk about the training components such as “how much is train-the-trainer”?

The second – this is a sales leader who has a real sales goal to hit and sees better selling skills and methodology as one avenue to get there. This leader provides great information regarding the strategic plans of the company and what the salespeople need to be doing differently to get this result. He gives you access to his senior leadership team, even his CEO, to create the entire picture and he invests accordingly. This leader is usually pulling several other levers at the same time (CRM, hiring, etc) all aimed at accomplishing this real goal. Unfortunately, this leader fires all these guns and then no one owns the sales training follow-up, reinforcement, application or advancement of skills. Instead, there are some feeble attempts to use the new language, a few will get some immediate successes and leadership will feel “it worked”. The reality is that these new skills fade without repetition and exercise and …. that is the hard part.

Then, there is the third category. Ah…. the third. This sales leader looks a lot like the sales leader in the second category, but with some key differences. This leader does all those same things to quickly assess and pick the best training for their teams. They stay close to the roll out, have a strong communication plan to their sales team during the implementation, hire, if necessary, someone to own the training and then execute on a plan to reinforce, apply and advance the skills and methodology. This leader is extremely rare.

In a coming post, I plan to share ideas on how your team, no matter what position you are in, can own and advance sales training you’ve already invested in or your company has invested in for you. Own it and you will be surprised at the results.

Stay tuned….

Double Your Sales in 2009 by Craig Klein

Monday, January 26th, 2009

I have had the opportunity to share ideas and best practices with Craig Klein of SalesNexus (SalesNexus.com) over the past few months. When I saw that Craig was starting a “double your sales in 2009″ series, I anxiously awaited the first installment. It is here!
Included here is
(2) the link to register to receive the FREE e-book upon completion of the series http://www.salesnexus.com/lp/lp-double-your-sales.php.
I love the attitude of this piece. You can win even now if you have a competitive edge in the marketplace. Craig is covering topics that can give a sales leader a competitive advantage. Enjoy!

Win in a Down Economy – #9 – Blocking & Tackling

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

A couple of days ago Craig Klein posted a comment on this blog regarding the importance of blocking & tackling activities and it really got me thinking. For the most part, I’ve put quite a bit of focus on blocking & tackling and it has brought me consistent performance. I hadn’t really given it that much thought until recently, though.

I was reflecting back on the UF vs. OU National Championship Game this past week and again the importance of blocking & tackling (literally) was on my mind. When you are Florida and you are playing a powerhouse like Oklahoma, you are not going to run all over them like you would a lesser team. Your game plan is important and, for the most part, decided long before you suit up for the game. Once you are on the field, what becomes important is that each player on the field knows his assignment – who he blocks, where he runs, what play comes next, the snap count, etc.

The same is true for those of us responsible for the sales numbers. The strategy has been decided. Yes, some adjustments can be made at half time, but the strategic plan has been set in motion. Now, it’s time to execute it. The blocking and tackling may not seem so glamorous. Many enjoy the “strategic planning” and scheming and lack the discipline to consistently, play after play, execute their assignment. The strategy is great, but it’s not what wins games. The blocking and tackling wins games.

Figure out what assignments you and your team have and make sure you are executing them play after play. Make sure everyone understands their assignments and is accountable to executing them. Consistent execution on a solid game plan wins games.

Go Team!

And, congratulations to the Florida Gators.

Jill at Meeting to Win (http://www.meetingtowin.com/)

The Road Less Traveled in Sales – #2 – On Boarding Like You Mean It

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

(“The Road Less Traveled … in Sales” is a series about sales management practices that are not practiced as much as maybe they should be. It is about taking the road less traveled and really setting yourself apart by coming through on sometimes the smallest most obvious things.)

As I’ve mentioned before, a key success factor for a sales manager is to have a process and put as many sales managment activities on “auto-pilot” as possible. These “auto-pilot” activities include one-on-ones, account reviews, weekly sales team meetings, etc. One of these activities is critically important for building successful teams. This activity is on-boarding your new hires.

Years ago I read a statistic that said the first 30 days on a job determine if that person will still work for that company in 3 years. That always stuck with me. Turnover is expensive and disruptive and time-consuming. I thought that if I could make the first 30 days on the job so great then all that turnover could be avoided. And, I was right. I put this on-boarding practice into place when jobs were plentiful and companies were paying big bucks to attract good candidates and I experienced no turnover. Everyone that joined our team said they never felt more wanted, trained and prepared to succeed as they did when they came to work for us.

By the way, I created this plan template once which definitely took some time and revision. Once it was completed, it simply needed to be revised for each new hire which took significantly less time. It was a company-wide best practice at two companies and was in my category of “pro-active sales management” or blocking & tackling that made my life as a sales manager so much more smooth….

30-Day On -Boarding Plan:

Involve the entire team:

  • When a new hire starts, send a note to the team and any other appropriate people asking them to welcome the new hire within their first week on the job. I asked that they call, introduce themselves, provide contact information in a follow-up e-mail and offer their help.
  • As possible, take new hire out to lunch with members of the team on Day #1.
  • Also, assign an On-Boarding Partner to the new hire. Ask someone on the team to own this person’s on-boarding success for 30 days. For example, they should have regularly scheduled check-ins, help the new hire navigate internally, provide direction throughout training.
  • Sales Manager should regularly check-in with new hire, also. This should be part of their schedule so new hire has confidence his success is being monitored.

Create a 30-day schedule:

  • Determine which experiences the new hire should have throughout the first 30 days on the job. This could include: learning appropriate systems, getting computer/phone set up, ordering business cards, understanding products & services, meeting clients, company sales training, hitting activity goals, etc. This list should show up in 2 places. First, each item should be addressed in the 30 day schedule. Secondly, there should be a checklist to keep track of as new hire completes schedule. At any time, they should be able to see what they have learned and what they still need to learn. At the end of the training, they will have confidence that they have been exposed to everything that will help them succeed. When you are learning something new, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. The list will help them understand “what they don’t know” so they will always have a map of the journey.
  • Each day should be scheduled in advance and the entire schedule sent to everyone on the team who plays a role. The team should review the new hire’s schedule, recognize their part and take responsibility for helping new hire in that area.
  • Each activity on the schedule should include a learning objective. If you ask a new hire to spend 2 hours with the marketing team, make sure they understand specifically what they should be accomplishing. For example, the learning objective could be “to understand all the brochures, etc available on the products and where to find those tools”.
  • The schedule should include regular check-ins with On-Boarding Partner to ensure progress, remove roadblocks and help navigate inevitable schedule changes.
  • Each activity that involves another person should include contact information. For example, you may ask the new hire to attend sales calls with a member of your team one day. That team member’s contact information should be included and even a meeting place and time determined in advance so everyone is clear about their part. Again, make sure there is an objective clearly stated. It might be “to understand what questions salespeople should ask on sales calls”. If they are clear on the objective, they will pay attention to that area and consult with the sales rep during their day together.
  • By the end of the 30 days, the new hire should have been exposed to everything and everyone they will need to succeed. They will have a record of who to contact and where to find everything that they may need as they move forward. Not to mention, they will have many internal relationships that can help them succeed.

Happy On-Boarding!

The Road Less Traveled…in Sales – #1: Core Values

Monday, January 5th, 2009

How did I get here?

Today, an article was forwarded to me (http://www.usnews.com/blogs/risky-business/2008/12/17/madoff-any-good-lessons-for-businesspeople-to-learn-from-his-mistakes.html) which referenced another article (http://www.slate.com/id/2206739/pagenum/all/) which reminded me of a book I am reading, The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D. which reminded me of an article I read in 2004 by Senator John McCain, In Search of Courage (http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/86/mccain.html).

OK, sorry for the journey into my thought process, but it almost seemed meant to be that I start this series. I’d love input and thoughts as I explore “the road less traveled in sales” series.

First of all, we’ve all heard the saying “hard times don’t build character, they reveal it”. Well, we’re here. This is the time when one’s own personal operating system, foundation of core values or personal code of conduct needs to be solid. What is OK and what is NOT OK with you? Do you have a foundation of core values to guide you? Not your company’s, not your leader’s, but yours. Be sure of it because we will see many, many ideas of what others see as OK and, as we already know, they aren’t always right (some are even in jail!).

As a sales leader and sales professional, create your own personal list of core values to guide you through these constantly changing times. Every scenario that gets tossed your way can be held up along your core values and help you make decisions you can be proud of. It is too easy to get influenced by those you’ve trusted during good times only to find out you’ve been led astray. It’s time to be sure of who you are.

This is a great exercise to do as a team, also. Enjoy the journey and the lessons we are all learning as we navigate this environment.

7 Sales Team Meeting Ideas for 2009

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

7 Sales Team Meeting Ideas for 2009

The weekly sales team meeting is an important hour of a salesperson’s week if it is not squandered. Busy sales managers sometimes neglect to prepare properly for this meeting and this hour becomes a drain on the team instead of an accelerator. The last thing a sales leader wants to do to their team first thing on a Monday morning is drain their energy.

Instead a sales manager can use these ideas from Meeting to Win (www.meetingtowin.com) for lively, productive meetings that energize the team for the week ahead. Try these out in 2009. For new agendas and topics every week in 2009, sales managers can also subscribe to Meeting to Win sales team meeting agendas. Each week fresh, relevant and current topics are packaged into 60 minute sales team meetings and sent directly to subscribers.

Idea #1: Fishbowl Topic
Ask a member of the team to introduce a topic, thought-provoking question, problem or scenario and ask the team to discuss it and resolve it during the meeting. The outcome should be new ideas or solutions to problems. By asking a member of the team to introduce it the sales meeting is more likely to cover topics of interest to sales team members.

Idea #2: Loss Analysis
In a positive and safe environment, ask someone who recently lost a deal to share the story with the team. Let the team ask questions, discuss and ultimately create a list of lessons the entire team can learn from a loss.

Idea #3: Reading Discussion
As a team, pick a business book and assign certain chapters each week or assign a recent article. During the weekly sales team meeting, set aside some time to discuss the reading assignment and apply any new ideas to your selling world.

Idea #4: Guest Speaker
Invite a guest speaker of the team’s choice. It is even better to get the team to find, invite and plan the guest speaker. Again, it is more likely the topic and speaker will be of interest to the team.

Idea #5: The War Room
During your weekly sales team meeting, set aside time to discuss new developments in your business and your customers’ business based on the economy. Each week presents new challenges and changing strategies. It is a critical time to stay up to speed in real time. The collective experience of the team can reduce surprises.

Idea #6: Reinforce Sales Training
If your company has provided any formal sales training, you can benefit from this investment of your team’s time by reinforcing and applying the training. Each week ask a different person on the team to re-teach a section or module of the training they experienced. Role play, do the exercises, apply it to real deals and hold each other accountable to using your new skills.

Idea #7: 2008 Sales Lessons
Ask the team to create a list of sales lessons from 2008. This list could get long. After they’ve created this list, determine 1 or 2 ways they will apply those lessons to 2009.

Enjoy these ideas and great sales team meetings in 2009!
The Meeting to Win Team