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Archive for February, 2009

We will not be participating in the recession.

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

I read this article by Dave Brock on The Customer Collective a few days ago. Since then, I’ve heard the President’s address and a daily dose of bad news from my TV, Rush and Glen. As a sales professional, I don’t want to ignore the facts. I need to help my customers navigate this storm and the storm is real.

I do love the idea of not using the economy as an excuse. I thought I’d share the approach a sales leader shared with me last week. He told his team at the beginning of the year that they “would not be participating in the recession”. From there, they set up a plan to succeed and they are exceeding their growth goals. They faced the reality that they would lose some business as some of their customers actually went out of business. They expected that to happen and made a plan to make up for those losses in other areas. I like the approach of facing reality, executing a plan for that reality and “not participating in the recession”.

Try this on your team!

Bonus Article:
Seven Lessons for Leading in Crisis
Also check out Dave Brock’s comments on this article.

Communication is Critical in Reducing Recession Distraction

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Yesterday, I had coffee with an EVP of Sales I’ve known for 10 years. I’ve watched or experienced this EVP lead hundreds of sales people through many ups and downs and most significantly post-9/11, a bankruptcy, an acquisition and now a recession. We began discussing what sales leaders should be doing now. Our conversation settled on the topic of communication and I realized that, this EVP does many, many things right (I think I’ll interview her for this blog soon) and one consistent theme is she communicates early, often, openly and honestly.

People are concerned or even scared in some cases. As this headline states, 1 in 3 Americans have lost a job or knows someone who has. This fear is extremely distracting for salespeople. This distraction is hurting business.

Sales leaders can reduce this distraction by communicating early, often, openly and honestly. Give your team regular updates on the health of the business. Share the company’s strategy for riding out the recession. Is the first step pay cuts, second step job cuts? They are wondering anyway so just let them know. The lack of communication simply causes fear and distraction.

Remember, “in the absence of communication, people assume the worst.” Just another challenge of working with human beings. Salespeople aren’t stupid. They know we are facing challenging economic times, their friends are losing jobs, their own business is suffering.

Don’t be silent – be open, honest business partners with your sales team. Communication shows respect and with respect, they can get back to the business of selling and out of the business of worrying.

In Contrast to Solution Selling – A Recession Strategy

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

I cracked the cover on my latest Harvard Business Review and read the article, In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers. Being a sales methodology student of many top solution selling programs, I loved this article’s perspective on a fresh approach to selling in a recession, provocation-based selling. I know that while “we have no budget” often means, “I could find it if I really wanted to or if I had the authority to”, this article gave some very practical ways to approach prospective customers in a new way. I do offer a solution to a problem many sales leaders don’t know they have. That is what our clients are discovering over and over. This HBR article gave me a strategy to put behind what I am learning through experience.

I am sharing it here in the hopes it may give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. I am putting my plan into action ASAP and promise to report back here on how it’s working. If you try it, please share your experiences, also. It’s a new world out there – maybe a new approach to helping our customers is just what’s needed. Hmmm….

How Can My Marketing Department Help? A Salesperson’s Perspective

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Let me start by acknowledging that salespeople always believe their marketing departments can do more to help them succeed. And, if they had unlimited budgets, maybe there is an element of truth to that. In the real world, especially the current real world, budgets are limited. During a company reorganization, I had an opportunity to fill in for a very short period of time as a Director of B2B Marketing and I had a quick glimpse of all that falls under the term or department of “Marketing”. (I had to buy a Marketing dictionary to make it through a department meeting!)

Over the years, I continue to find it interesting how separate sales & marketing departments remain. As a salesperson, I have some ideas as to how my sales and marketing teams could form a better partnership that helps customers and sales reps. I mean well and I invite those more schooled in marketing (almost anyone!) to disagree.

Marketing and sales need to commuicate regularly. Too often, I have seen this communication as a one-way street, typically Marketing sending e-mails to the sales team about new marketing tools, campaigns, etc. The sales team does not have time to give input until it’s too late, if at all.

Salespeople, while often skeptics, can give marketing a “real world” perspective on upcoming marketing programs and ideas before it’s too late to turn back.

To accomplish this simply requires some standard commuication. I would create an “advisory group” of sales managers and mainly sales people. This advisory group would act as consultants for the marketing team. The marketing team should share their program ideas with this group and allow them to react. Marketing should actually ask “what are all the reasons this may not work”. I would hire an outside consultant to facilitate these discussions to make sure marketing leaves with valuable information about how to best spend their limited resources.

Then, I would ask marketing to provide regular education to sales. So often marketing does amazing research on the industry, customer needs and wins and losses and somehow this information doesn’t make it to the sales team. Marketing may be basing decisions about future marketing programs on this great information. It would be so helpful to salespeople if this great research was shared with them so, as a sales organization, they could apply it to their customer interactions to create more value for our customers. Customers love information and sharing that information makes salespeople that much more valuable in the marketplace.

And, sales has this same responsibility. Salespeople are hearing directly from customers every day. There needs to be a discipline around sharing this information with the marketing team. Marketing could interview a certain number of salespeople each month to get the “pulse” of the customer. Even if this is simply anecdotal, trends emerge pretty quickly. Marketing can add some “science” to the knowledge gained from these interviews and make more informed decisions about needed programs.

Finally, sales training can play a partnership role, also. Maybe marketing has identified a need for certain products or services in a particular industry, title or functional area. They now plan to market to this industry or function. Sales training can play a role by equipping the sales team to sell to this targeted customer.

While the last thing we need is more meetings, it seems collaboration between marketing functions and sales functions could produce some amazing results.

Please feel free to share thoughts, ideas and reactions on the partnership between sales and marketing.

Sales Manager’s Checklist by JustSell

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Have I shared lately how much I love this Sales Manager’s Checklist from Just Sell? I recommend sales managers review this “checklist” regularly. Enjoy!

You can also get a motivating quote delivered each day by signing up at SalesQuotes by Just Sell.

We made the front page of Sales Gravy!

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

We are so honored to make the front page of Sales Gravy’s ezine on Wed, Feb 18th. The on-line, weekly magazine was focused on social networking this week and our LinkedIn article made the main page. Glad to see our own experiences using this tool can be shared. It makes all the trial and error worth it!

Check it out here.

Thanks for reading.
The Meeting to Win Team

Recession Got You Down? 5 Things to Try Now

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

I was on my way to a meeting last week. I took a slight detour to visit my local Dunkin Donuts and got caught in some traffic near my house I’d never experienced. As I sat in a long line of cars and school buses (with no coffee yet, by the way) waiting to get through a light, I realized I was feeling discouraged and a bit unmotivated. It really struck me when I finally got to the front of the line. Apparently I hit this intersection at the exact time every school bus in my county was heading back to the school bus depot. There was a guy standing at the street light overriding the built in timer to get the school buses through to their destination and, therefore, the rest of us on our way. So, I have to assume that every morning from 8:30-9:00 am this guy stands there pushing this button every 2 minutes. The status of my attitude hit me when I caught myself wishing I could trade jobs with him.

Any human salesperson has ups and downs and it occurred to me I was having a …down. I’ve been in sales 15 years and 99% of the time I love it – I really don’t want that guy’s job no matter how much better it seemed that day. The good news is that I know how to move from “down” to “up”. I thought I’d post about 5 things that have worked for me over the years and last week.

1. Get enough sleep, eat right and exercise. It is amazing the problems a good night sleep and some vegetables will solve!

2. Help your customers. Spend energy contributing to your customers’ success.

3. Avoid negative people and news for a few days. Focus on something positive instead.

4. STOP worrying about your quota. As the Bible says, “Can any of you add an hour to the length of your life by worrying?

5. Focus on something you CAN control. If you want to lose 20 pounds, eat fewer calories than you burn starting immediately. You’ll gain momentum by reaching a goal you have control over.

These are 5 things that work for me over and over again. I’d love to hear what works for you, too.

This week’s FREE "M2W 10 Minute Topic" – Your Customers’ Customers

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Your Customers’ Customers

Duration = 10 Minutes

During your weekly sales team conference call, use this “M2W 10 Minute Topic”.

For the next 10 minutes,
(1) Each sales person on the call should share the following:
- Who are your customers’ customers?
- How is the economy affecting your customers’ customers?
- What are your customers’ customers expecting from them right now?
(2) Based on what you’ve shared and learned, what are some ideas for helping your customers better serve their customers?
To get 60 minute sales-generating, team-building, momentum-creating sales team meeting agendas every week like our subscribers do, just visit Meeting to Win to subscribe.
Folow us on Twitter for more updates!

M2W FREE "10 Minute Topics" Weekly: Have Better Sales Team Meetings This Week!

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Each week, Meeting to Win, LLC will publish one sales team meeting idea, “M2W 10 Minute Topics”, for sales managers to use during their weekly sales team call.

We will send this idea each week to subscribers of M2W 10 Minute Topics. To subscribe, click here.

Please join us and tell your friends who may benefit from this FREE service from Meeting to Win, LLC.

To get 60 minute sales-generating, team-building, momentum-creating sales team meeting agendas every week like our subscribers do, just visit Meeting to Win to subscribe.

Folow us on Twitter for more updates!

One Time, at Band Camp…

Friday, February 13th, 2009

I know, horrible movie. It’s become a line in our house whenever anyone is starting a boring, aimless story. I’ve had the opportunity to begin selling an amazing program. A program that gets amazing results and should be so fun to talk about. Those I know that have been successful selling this program have the explanation of it down to a science – which they continue to improve after hundreds of repetitions, I might add.

I had been selling the same thing for so long that I didn’t realize how much my explanation of it had evolved over the years. Now that I have a new program to represent, I am reminded about how bad I once was at that one, also.

So, one time, at band camp….

Here’s to repetition and practice!