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Archive for July, 2009

Finish This Sentence

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Last week we shared this question on our blog and several LinkedIn Groups. We’ve gotten some great answers and wanted to share them here.

Here was the challenge:

Finish this sentence (send a comment to do so),
“If there is one thing I’ve learned this past year, it’s….

Here are some of the answers – Enjoy!:

Check out the discussion and answers at Sales Playbook’s LinkedIn Group.

NEW RESOURCE FOR SALES VPs:

Meeting to Win NOW offers complimentary Sales Management Meeting Topics for Sales Directors and VPs to use during Sales MANAGEMENT Meetings.

  • See the first one here.
  • IF you lead Sales Managers, subscribe to get a new strategic management topic each month here.

ARTICLE TO SHARE: If you Twitter, here’s help making the most of your 140 characters…

Back to School, Back to Work – Get a Headstart

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Summer vacations are coming to an end and the kids are heading back to school in a few weeks. For salespeople this means business is about to get hopping again. Decision makers are back in the office, a new quarter is set to begin and it’s busy season until Thanksgiving.

Wise salespeople can get a headstart and take full advantage of the next 3 months by taking some simple actions now. By the holidays, these salespeople can be enjoying some nice commission checks!

Take action now:
  1. Schedule business reviews with your current clients. This is a great time to sit down with exisiting customers and review the work you currently do, understand their changing business needs and, together, make sure that your solutions are still meeting their needs effectively. These meetings are a great chance to ensure superior customer service, uncover new opportunities and gain referrals. Get this meeting done now and you’ll be well into new sales cycles by the time everyone else is just getting back to work.
  2. Call prospective customers to set appointments. Research your prospective customers and call them to discuss a business need they have. Salespeople have a unique visibility into many companies. They can offer to share best practices and ideas from their experience. I have had my very best, high-level, most-rewarding appointments with this approach. People helping people! Again, you’ll uncover opportunities or determine if you should pursue other prospective customers instead – you’ll either have a headstart or free up some valuable selling time.
  3. Start having at least one networking meeting per week right away. Get and give a referral once per week. Get the meetings with those new referrals on the calendar. You’ll find new customers before the summer ends.
  4. Do your clients a favor. If you start a sales cycle with a prospective customer you are doing them a favor. If there is an opportunity it means they have a need that is going unmet. If you take the initiative to start the conversation and begin moving them toward a solution (a sale), you help them solve a problem sooner. Be the trigger for your client. They will be better for it, too.
  5. Share some helpful news with clients and prospective clients. Send a newsletter that shares information that may help your clients run their business more effectively. Your expertise is valuable to them – share it. You’ll be helping them and you’ll be top of mind as they get “back to school”.
  6. Get your own team together now and set goals for the Back to School season. SWOT your business and take action now.
  7. Get your internal customer teams together (implementation, sales, managment) for your top customers and put a strategy in place for the upcoming months. Figure out ways to help them more effectively, solve a problem they have or surprise them with new value or solutions they didn’t know existed. Contact them and get moving!
  8. Get a Back to School outfit. OK, maybe that’s just me! A new suit makes those Back to School meetings that much better.
  9. Get back into a good routine. Summer days are often slower and salespeople tend to start later and end earlier. Stop that now – start using every minute of selling time available now.
  10. Take your clients out for coffee and lunch – at least one per week. Solidify those relationships and uncover opportunities over lattes.

The important thing is to take action now. Contact clients and begin your sales cycles before everyone else does.

If you get off the beach one month before everyone else, you’ll reap the rewards.

Post brought to you by Jill Myrick, Founder of Meeting to Win. Meeting to Win provides sales team meeting agendas for sales managers who want to experience sales momentum every week.

Solutions for your Average Sales Meeting from SalesBuzz by Michael Pedone

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Sales & the City is happy to welcome a guest blogger on our favorite topic, effective sales team meetings. Michael Pedone is an Entrepreneur with a specialty of helping outbound sales teams to reach their top sales potential. Get to know SalesBuzz: Visit Michael at SalesBuzz. Sign up to get free sales training tips on his new blog, Sales Buzz. Or check out Michael’s interview with Selling Power.

I’ve been a straight commission sales person most of my adult working life and have sat through more sales meetings than I care to remember. Some were great, inspirational and served their purpose. Most ended up boring me to tears – which probably cost me a few lost sales and the companies I worked for a few new accounts. Losing a few accounts is going to happen when you as a sales person have “lower than normal” morale. As an individual sales person, you can live with that. But when you’re losing a few accounts a week per sales person and you have 20 sales reps, that can be tough to swallow – especially in today’s economic environment.

Personally, I believe most sales managers forget what it’s like to be on the other end of a “morning meeting”. When you’re presenting to a room full of newly hired sales reps, they’re all hearing this “motivation” for the first time. You’ve got them fired up and ready to blaze the phone lines.

But soon, like most things, repetition kills that “excitement”. So six months later, your new hires blaze has turned into a barely lit pilot light. And an unmotivated “sales vet” is like having a high performance sports car filled with low-grade gas.
And that is costing you and your organization money.

Here are three solutions to help you get your sales team fired up instead having to fire them:

  1. Take ownership. I know with all the bailouts going on today it seems like very little ownership of ones responsibility is taking place. But there is no bailout on its way for you – only the strong will survive and the strong grab the reins and take responsibility for their results. Realize that it is up to you to make sure you’re bringing the right message for every sales meeting.
  2. Have a strategy. Simply “winging” it will not work over the long haul. Sure, it works on the “newbies” but that’s because they haven’t heard the same story told 25 different ways yet. Maybe separate the group into “vets” and “up and comers”. Doing so will give the vets a sense of pride and a boost to their usually fragile ego while inspiring the “up and comers” to strive hard to be in the “vets” sales meetings.
  3. If you are struggling for new things to say, seek out additional resources. And don’t be afraid if you have to shell out a few bucks to a pro to get a good game plan together. The ROI if done right should be ten-fold.

Meeting to Win would like to thank Michael and SalesBuzz for being our Guest Blogger today on our blog, Sales & the City. Meeting to Win provides sales team meeting agendas for sales managers who want to have meetings that inspire, motivate and drive sales. Have a great weekend! Thanks again, Michael and SalesBuzz.

Is Your Offering Provocative? – This week’s sales team meeting topic from Meeting to Win, LLC

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

Here is this week’s sales team meeting topic from Meeting to Win, LLC, Is Your Offering Provocative?. It should be available throught this link for about 30 days.

Simply click on the link above to access the sales team meeting topic. Use this exercise during your next sales team meeting for lively and interesting discussion. If you don’t directly manage a sales team, send this to your colleagues who do. They’ll thank you! We hope you enjoy and welcome any comments.

To subscribe to receive a new topic every week, click here.

Have a great week and sales team meeting.

Sales Managers – Expect More, Babysit Less

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I have always gotten some great satisfaction from working. Both the success and the struggles make the rest of life that much more rewarding. While I enjoy the work, I am determined not to do it more than a certain number of hours per week. Someday when I am on my death bed, I will not be saying “Oh, I wish I would have stayed at the office later a few more nights.”

So, easier said than done? I don’t think so. As a sales manager I realized there was so much room to add efficiencies, none of which were shortcuts, just smarter, more efficient ways of ensuring my waking hours weren’t solely for work.

When I first became a manager I looked around at the “busiest” sales managers and quickly realized they weren’t the most successful. As a matter of fact, the successful ones looked calm and went golfing on Fridays. Guess which group I wanted to belong to!

Here is one practice the golfers used and you can use it to if you have better things to do than work late every night.

Expect more and babysit less. Sales Managers manage adults. Why do they feel they have to remind them 10 times about a report that’s due or an upcoming meeting? Why do they call them when they are late for a meeting to remind them to join the call? Why do sales managers send reminder emails about something on every one’s calendar? Why do sales managers re-send information that has already been sent or could be found on the company intranet?

See where I am going here? Many sales managers are creating their own monsters, allowing their sales reps – actually training them to – get away with undisciplined behavior that those very sales managers wouldn’t tolerate from their children.

So, how do sales managers turn this around and begin saving hours per week? They simply must stop the behavior that the sales reps begin to rely on. If there is a meeting that a sales rep must attend, managers should send the reps a calendar notice with all the necessary information right in the meeting notice. Once reps “accept” that meeting, they should NOT be reminded again. Tasks and information should be sent in an organized, consistent format with clear due dates. The sales manager must communicate to the team how they will receive information and then make sure to stick to the communication plan and then let them be.

Use the technology to communication effectively, make sure everyone knows the communication system and allow adults to act like adults. Everyone will feel better, more organized and more in control.

Expect More, Stop Babysitting.

Post brought to you by Jill Myrick of Meeting to Win, LLC. Meeting to Win provides weekly sales team meeting agendas for sales managers who want to proactively manage their sales teams through a weekly sales team meeting.

The #1 Problem with Weekly Sales Meetings, Etc – posts by Skip Anderson

Friday, July 10th, 2009

A friend shared these posts with me. I love the topic and the advice so I am passing them along here.

Also, check out our new section at Sales & The City, Expert Advice on Sales Team Meetings. You’ll find a collection of articles and advice on holding more effective weekly sales team meetings.

and
by Skip Anderson

We Don’t Give Up Here

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Today was my son’s first swim lesson. He had some trouble at the end of the short lesson and wanted to quit. As a mother, my impulse would have been to let him quit a few minutes early. After all it was his first lesson and, after all, he did great for 16 of the 20 minutes and, after all, he was hungry and tired. My list of excuses goes on…

Instead of my idea, the teacher looked my son in the face and told him “we don’t give up here”. He ended the lesson not a minute early and stronger and with a new skill. He was proud of himself.

In an effort not to jump in the pool to rescue my son (and give the teacher a piece of my mind), I had to think of the benefits to staying.

Then, I thought about Don Jonas. Don Jonas was my softball coach when I was 10-13 years old. I was his short stop and we had a competitive, fun team. At 12, I broke my arm in a horseback riding accident and was sidelined with multiple surgeries for about a year. When I finally got the last cast off my arm, I brought my weak atrophied arm to the softball field to get back to my team. It was the arm I wore my glove on and it was so weak I had to use my other hand to lift the glove up – work my wrist did a year ago.

It was a rough practice. I couldn’t field a grounder – at all. I kept pulling my head up afraid to get hit, I missed everything and I was getting frustrated. Again, I thought about calling it a day. After all, it was my first day back, after all, my muscle was almost gone, after all, my physical therapy had just started, after all, after all, after all…

I learned a huge lesson that day. Not only did Coach Jonas not allow me to quit (I actually don’t think the option ever crossed his mind), instead he expected me to work harder. I don’t even remember him asking my parents if I could stay longer, he just assumed we would. Basically, he said “we don’t give up here”. He hit me hundreds of grounders. I think the only thing he said was “you know you can do this”. I didn’t, but I was afraid to tell him that. Instead, I fielded grounder after grounder until I was no longer afraid of the ball, I figured out a way to compensate for the changes in my arm and I was picking them up one after the other and throwing the ball to first.

If you don’t have a Don Jonas in your life, get one, be your own and be one for someone else. Push through, work harder, expect more from your team, make more calls, become more of an expert, go to more events, add more value, get more creative, read more books, help more customers, get up earlier, try new things, do the impossible cause WE DON’T GIVE UP HERE.

Quote of the Day from JustSell.

Blog post brought to you by Jill Myrick, Founder of Meeting to Win, provider of powerful sales team meeting agendas and topics for Sales Managers who want to win.

Dysfunction Junction, What’s Your Function?

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

Reading this Sales Improvement Analysis by Graham Roberts-Phelps & Associates got me thinking about the dysfunction salespeople continue to live with daily. In their analysis they share “12 key elements to analyse that will lead to sales improvement”, none of which I disagree with. What’s funny about this is that many of these are self-inflicted by a dysfunctional way of managing sales and salespeople. I don’t have all these answers, but I am going to challenge my readers to meet at “dysfunction junction” and push ourselves to reduce at least some of the dysfunction for the good of all, including those sales results.

As a salesperson in a few organizations and industries and a consultant to many more of both, the dysfunction is clearly rampant. We hold salespeople accountable to certain activity goals, pipeline volume, training courses, proposal and presentation quotas and so on. What sales leaders want from all this is, of course, better sales results and they feel that the path to those better results is the above list. Of course, in a large percentage of the sales force, this method leads to inflated, weak pipelines, useless activity to fill in the activity report, and presentations and proposals delivered to the wrong people to simply meet the quota. Human beings often are challenged with sacrificing the short term “benefits” for the long-term, sustainable real benefits. For example, a salesperson wants to avoid an unpleasant conversation with a sales manager over missing an activity quota or senior leadership seeing a “weak” pipeline vs. spending time on the long-term benefits of working toward solid activity and pursuing only qualified deals. It feels good to be busy and it feels good to see your sales team busy.

In almost every sales training engagement, senior leadership imposed dysfunction that encouraged exactly the opposite behavior we were working (and they said they wanted, by the way) to install. For example, walking away from bad deals! This wasn’t allowed to happen in most cases even with the art and science we taught to help them do this effectively. The reality is that salespeople will lose their jobs if they actually do the right things.

So, what can sales leaders and salespeople do about this? I’d love to hear ideas. Here are a few of mine. These may seem expensive and time-consuming and I’ll argue that they aren’t nearly as expensive and time-consuming as the dysfunction most sales teams currently live with.

First, hire an expert to truly study top performers in the organization and the industry. Make sure that salespeople are actually doing activities with the right contacts to impact sales results.

Second, conduct weekly one-on-ones with sales team members to review and scrutinize deals in a positive way. Challenge sales people using your method of qualification (Helping Clients Succeed, Strategic Selling, The Complex Sale, etc – whatever your choice) to make decisions about deals to pursue and how to pursue them. Don’t be afraid to walk away.

Involve marketing to create leads with the right targets so the pipeline can include better opportunities to qualify further.

Meet with the team weekly to stay focused, troubleshoot and challenge one another to keep deals moving.

Graham Roberts-Phelps & Associates’ list is so true and only useful if sales leaders are willing to abandon the dysfunctional management practices that creates these 12 problems. I am sure Graham Roberts-Phelps & Associates and other consultants have great solutions to these problems, but only those with guts will actually implement those solutions effectively and have a chance of shortening the list.

I’d love to hear other ideas.