10 Sales Enablement Resources To Improve Sales Results

10 Sales Enablement Resources to Improve Sales Results

 

 

 

In my last post I shared how teams want to fix common sales problems they need to break free from the prison of out dated sales processes.  We shared how to determine if your sales process is out dated and  how voice of the customer work helps understand your buyers, how they buy and what they need to buy today. Sales enablement is about strategically giving your buyers the right content at the right time in the right format to help sales close faster and at higher gross margins.

 

I received emails and calls from past clients wanting to learn more about the topic of Sales Enablement since it has such a large impact on increasing sales revenue and having a greater ROI on the marketing assets you create.

 

Below are 10 resources I found particularly useful on the topic of Sales Enablement.

 

1.Sales Enablement Infographic 

 

2.The definitive guide to sales enablement

 

3.Sales Enablement Best Practices

 

4.Sales readiness technology buyers guide 

 

5.The Value Shift eBook: Designing and Implementing A Mobile Sales Enablement Strategy 

 

6.8 keys for a successful Sales Enablement Program

 

7.What is Sales Enablement?

 

8.Sales Enablement buyers checklist

 

9.Use Buying Process Exit Criteria to IncreaseYour Sales Effectiveness

 

10.GARTNER’S MARKET GUIDE FOR DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGEMENT FOR SALES

 

 

Sales Enablement is about providing the right information, in the right format at the right time in the buyers buying journey.

 

When your team does your voice of the customer work to understand the buying process and criteria your buyers must have, and implement a sales enablement business development strategy your team will experience:

 

Sales revenue increases

 

Gross profit per sale increases

 

Increase in sales close %

 

Higher customer satisfaction

 

Sales will close faster

 

Increase in engagement in your sales team

 

Improved retention of sales top performers

 

Sales will hit forecasts

 

Increase in Brand value

 

New product launches that meet or exceeds ROI targets

 

Open new profitable markets

 

 

If you have found other useful articles and or EBooks and web sites that share useful Sales Enablement information please share the links in the comments below.

 

Has your team implemented a sales enablement strategy?

 

What impact has it had for your business?

Are You A Prisoner To An Out Dated Sales Process? Break Free With VOC And Sales Enablement

Are you a Prisoner to an Out dated Sales Process? Break Free with VOC and Sales Enablement

 

 

In my last post I shared how to determine if your sales team is following an out dated sales process. If your team is experiencing declining sales, lower profit per sale, losing orders you should have won and a decline in your sales close % you have a out dated sales process. If your sales team can’t seem to open new markets or sell new products you have an outdated sales process. In this post I share how you can stop being a prisoner to an out dated sales process and break free of poor sales results.

The first step in solving any problem is clearly defining the issues and impacts or as I like to say: “ throwing the skunk on the table”.

Sales is a changing process in today’s markets and we must constantly be sensing those changes and adjusting to them.

Some sales problems sales teams are experiencing today include:

  • Buyers going dark, you thought you had good sales meetings and now no feedback
  • Longer sales process from first meeting to close
  • More influencers involved in purchase decisions
  • Gross margin per sale declining
  • More competitors
  • Strong price pressure
  • Buyers commoditizing products and services
  • Up to 70% of buying journey is over before buyers speak with a salesperson
  • Buyers choosing to do nothing
  • Buyers choosing to solve their needs internally
  • Difficulty in having discussions with buyers
  • Faster service requirements
  • Buyers wanting JIT and not large stocking orders
  • Buyers needing 100% on time delivery
  • Higher quality expectation
  • Real time conversations – wanting answers now when they have them, immediate response

The above are some challenges sales teams are facing with buyers today and there are many more.

When sales, marketing, customer service, Hr and operations align sales teams break free of the above sales problems and win more business.

The trouble is sales and marketing are often not working strategically together and this leaves them both in a prison of their own making.

Are you familiar with what is referred to as : The Prisoner’s Dilemma ?

I found the below explanation on Wikipedia in case this is new to you.

 

The prisoner’s dilemma is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely “rational” individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence rewards and named it, “prisoner’s dilemma”

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They hope to get both sentenced to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to: betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent.

The offer is:

  • If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison
  • If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa)
  • If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge)

It is implied that the prisoners will have no opportunity to reward or punish their partner other than the prison sentences they get, and that their decision will not affect their reputation in the future. Because betraying a partner offers a greater reward than cooperating with them, all purely rational self-interested prisoners would betray the other, and so the only possible outcome for two purely rational prisoners is for them to betray each other.[1] The interesting part of this result is that pursuing individual reward logically leads both of the prisoners to betray, when they would get a better reward if they both kept silent. In reality, humans display a systemic bias towards cooperative behavior in this and similar games, much more so than predicted by simple models of “rational” self-interested action.[2][3][4][5] A model based on a different kind of rationality, where people forecast how the game would be played if they formed coalitions and then maximized their forecasts, has been shown to make better predictions of the rate of cooperation in this and similar games, given only the payoffs of the game.[6]

So what does the “prisoners dilemma” have to do with fixing the above sales problems teams are facing today?

A great deal!

When I helped sales and marketing teams in the past, I always heard the same things…

Marketing would share…

  • Sales is a bunch of “prima donna’s” and they want everything served to them spoon fed on a silver platter
  • Sales has no appreciation for marketing
  • We spend so much time and money creating sales tools and we latter find no one is using them
  • I can’t produce great content if I don’t know what’s going on in the market and sales will not take me on calls
  • We give sales leads and they can’t close them
  • We are crushing our leads generated goals but sales can’t seem to close them
  • Why can’t sales sell new products?
  • Why can’t sales sell more of what we have?
  • Why can’t sales win new business in new markets we identified?

Sales would also say….

  • Marketing has no idea what its really like out here..Selling today
  • Marketing spends all this time and money on new brochures and new sell sheets but they are all ”company speak” I can’t use them.
  • Marketing feels so distant from what is really going on out here today its like they think our customers are like they were 10 years ago
  • Marketing gives me “lists” not “leads” ( there’s a big difference) to chase and they are worthless. It takes time to follow up on each and none of them are actually leads.
  • My buyers say they can’t find what they need on our web site
  • I can’t find the sales tools I need quickly in our system
  • We have the worst web site in our industry
  • I spend more time building sales tool than selling anymore
  • if our product had just one more feature I could sell it
  • Marketing launches this new product, or asks us to open new markets but we don’t have the tools to do so

 

The Prisoners Dilemma…instead of working together many teams choose to stay in a poor performance prison for years to come.They betray each other and in the process lengthens  their time in poor results prison.

 

What if Marketing and Sales would stop complaining about each other and defending their silos and work together? If they did they can both break free from the prison of poor performance metrics and in about 8-12 months be free to be the market leaders they were meant to be.

How do sales and marketing teams break free?

Voice of the customer 

Sales Enablement

 

Since I have shared close to 20 articles on the voice of the customer and shared the financial the impact this work has on sales and bottom line, in this post I will discuss the power of sales enablement.

What is Sales Enablement?

 

Lets quickly review 5 definitions…

 

A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.

Brain shark 

Sales enablement is the technology, processes, and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity..

Hubspot

“Aligning marketing processes and goals, and then arming sales with tools to improve sales execution and drive revenue.” 

 The Pedowitz Group

Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.

TOPO Blog

Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips sales teams to have consistently effective engagements with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey.”  – Highspot

From my experience, Sales Enablement is about intimately knowing how your buyers buy today and what they need to buy today. Secondly it’s about having the right content at the right time in the buying journey, in the right format that helps your buyers buy. Sales enablement is about teaching your salespeople a sales process that mirrors how buyers are buying. It is about serving your customers .It is about training and coaching salespeople on what you have, where they can find it and when they should use it.

How about your sales and marketing teams?

Are your teams hitting “their goals” but your overall company is losing?

Do you have a sales enablement? How is it working?

Is there any reason why sales enablement would not work in your sales and marketing efforts’?

When sales and marketing teams start working together strategically with voice of the customer and sales enablement, sales and profits increase, new products achieve ROI targets and customer satisfaction scores climb. Sales becomes less of an art and more of a science. 

In future posts we will unpack sales enablement and how you can use sales enablement to break free from a prison of outdated sales processes and grow sales profitably.

 

 

Is Your Team Using An Out Dated Sales Process?…answer A Few Short Questions To Find Out

Is Your Team Using an Out Dated Sales Process?…answer a few short questions to find out

 

 

Many sales teams will have a sales problem this year. They will fail to achieve their sales and profit goals. Is it a sales team motivation issue? Compensation issue? Sales is not working hard enough?…Maybe… but from what I have experienced in most cases sales teams are failing to hit their goals because they are using an out  dated sales process. They are working hard (probably harder and longer than ever before) to execute an out dated sales process that no longer works with how your buyers buy today.In this post I help business leaders quickly determine if they have a dated sales process so you have time to adjust.

 

Everyday salespeople are hitting the streets working hard to achieve their sales goals with the tools and training they were given. Some will hit their goals and have a great year but unfortunately most will not. For those who fail to achieve their sales targets they are often resorting to what I refer to as “Bare Knuckle Selling” . They don’t understand what their buyers want , what criteria buyers are using today, and they do not know the buyer’s buying process. They resort to old out dated sales processes and they will have sales problems this year too if things don’t change quickly. For your sales team members it feels like they are pushing mud uphill and not making any progress.They are doing what they were told to do, using the tools and training they were given but nothing seems to work.

 

In this post I offer 15 questions for business leaders to help you determine if your team is using a dated sales process and what to do if you need to update it.

 

Let’s agree the buying process our buyers’ use has changed significantly in the past 5-10 years and continues to adjust and evolve. If you believe your buyers have not changed how they buy, they are not needing new criteria and there are not more people involved in the buying decision, and your buyers are not doing research online before they buy…you are wrong.( sorry)  It is like your salespeople are playing darts blindfolded. Once in a while a dart may hit the target, but most of their attempts fail to achieve sales velocity. They resort to selling on price and we all know the impact that has on your margins.

 

Sales and marketing teams who recognize strategic shifts in the buying journey and adjust increase sales profitably.

 

Unfortunately most sales teams either lack a sales process or  they are executing an out  dated sales process and they will experience sales problems this year. The severity of the sales problem you will experience is directly related to how far your sales process is disconnected to how buyers are buying today. Luckily most companies just need to make a few minor tweaks to their sales process and build a few new sales tools. However some teams struggle needlessly each year and are selling like their company did 20 years ago.

 

A friend who owns a manufacturing business asked me out to dinner and shared the following :

 

“What keeps me up at night is wondering…will we have a good sales year this year? How can I be sure? As you know I am not a sales guy, my experience is in  in operations and finance. My team assures me this will be our “best year ever” but how can I know for sure? (They told me the same thing last year and we missed our financial metrics significantly). What bothers me most is ….are there any better ways, strategies our team should be using to insure we meet our plan this year? I wish sales was more logical like operations, more of a scienceOur top competitor grew last year and we did not. My gut says there has to be better and smarter ways are out there. Sales should not be so variable, so hit or miss. I can’t have another year with our investors where we find out third quarter our plan did not work.”

 

I asked a question:

 

When was the lat time you and your sales team reviewed your repeatable sales process?

 

If you are like most teams you either lack a formal repeatable sales process or the one you are using is out dated.

 

It sounds like the selling process your team is using feels more like an art than a science?

 

“How can I know if we have an out dated sales process?”

 

Answer a few questions for me…

 

  1. What events trigger your buyers to shop today? Please list at least two.

 

  1. Where do your buyers go when they are looking for a new supplier, new product to solve a problem?

 

  1. When buyers in your industry shop what criteria do they use to make their buying decisions? List and rank the top three.

 

  1. How many people at your ideal customers are involved in the buying decision today? List at least 4 and what each needs.

 

  1. What sales tools, process and or content did sales use to open your last three new accounts? List three.

 

  1. List at least 3 urgent buyer problems your product or service solves for buyers in your industry.

 

  1. What % of the buying journey is done online prior to your fist meeting with a new customer?

 

  1. Why do your current buyers buy from you?

 

  1. In the last 10 quotes that did not buy from you? What were the top three reasons?

 

  1. What is your product’s value proposition that resonates most with your buyers today? Explain the specific financial impact to their business.

 

  1. Who are your top three competitors? what are their value propositions?

 

  1. When buyers choose one of your competitors over your company what is the reason specific to each competitor? List two per competitor.

 

  1. When a new buyer contacts your company, how (what process) and where did they find your company?

 

  1. When a possible net new customer visits your website, where do they spend the most time and what content bought them to your site?

 

  1. Can you describe your top 4 buyer personas? What are they and what does each need to make a buying decision today?

 

We went through the questions and for many he assured me “someone” on his team knew the answers but I could tell he felt uneasy.He asked if I wouldn’t mind emailing these questions and he would ask them at his Monday senior leadership team meeting. I shared how I used to qualify and coach new clients with these questions to help me know where to help most.

 

He suggested I should share our conversation on my blog to help others who may be thinking and feeling the same way as him, which prompted this post.

 

Below are some guidelines for you to consider based on how your team answers these questions and what the probability is your will hit your sales goals this year.

 

If your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently answer 13-15 of the questions…congratulations! Your team is in the top 10% of sales and marketing teams. You know your markets and buyers intimately. You know your buyers’ key criteria and the buying journey they take to purchase products. The plan you have should be market focused and customer centric and you will, if your team executes the plan and uses your sales process and sales tools at the right time in the buying process, have a good sales year.

 

If your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently only answer 10-12 of the questions… your team is doing good and with some voice of the customer work and a few win-loss calls your team can be a top performing sales team in your industry. You need to do some research over the next 30-60 days and adjust your plan, sales process, create new sales tools and train your teams how and when to use them. You could still have a very strong sales and profit year.

 

If your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently only answer 7-9 of the questions… your team has been experiencing some sales and profit challenges over the past few years. You have seen your sales success be highly dependent upon the purchases from large customers your team has sold for 10+ years but you have not been successful at opening net new customers in your markets. You have seen your gross profit margins erode at your large accounts over the last 5 years and if you Google problems your company solves you may not be found in the first two pages of a search. If your customers have a good sales year your team should have an OK sales year, but your bottom line may see some continued erosion like the last few years. Your team will continue to work on operational efficiencies as in the past but they will not contribute as much this year. You have a outdated sales process and you need to update it quickly. You need to do voice of the customer research quickly and map the current buying journey your buyers go through and create a new sales process that mirrors what your buyers want and need today. If you do this quickly your team could have a good sales year.

 

 

If you and your sales and marketing teams could quickly and confidently only answer 6 or less of the questions… Your team will have a sales problem this year and will not hit sales plan and significantly miss your net income target. Sales are flat if not declining for the past few years. Your top sales and marketing leaders may have said when asked about the poor performance:“ our markets are down and we are waiting for the business to return to normal again.” I am sorry to be the one to tell you this is the new normal and you must adjust, you and your team must adapt and quick. Like a ship at sea with a strong wind but no rudder to strategically steer your sales and marketing teams, sales feels more like an art than a science. Your senior leaders meetings are not fun and your company owners and or investors are looking to make changes if the performance does not improve. You will miss plan this year and you will likely see some of your key sales team contributors “just leave” to the surprise of the rest of your team. You will see at least one maybe two of your top customers fade away in the next 12-18 months. You need to quickly do voice of the customer market work, win-loss work and develop a new strategy and new sales process with the right tools at the right times for your buyers or you will have a big sales problem.(again)

 

I was happy to hear in a voice mail message my friend’s team could answer 11 of the above questions. He went on to share what bothered him though was how long it took some of his team to answer these questions.I shared if your team needs hours/days/weeks to answer these questions, they are probably tracking dated performance indicators and not the right KPI’s that drive success today and he may want to adjust what they report on each Monday.

 

How would your team answer the above questions?

 

Are the answers based on current market conditions or “ the way we have always done things around here”?

 

Can your sales and marketing leaders quickly answer these questions or do they need to do some homework?

 

I hope this post helped you do a gut check with your sales and marketing teams to see just how much they know about your markets, buyers, and the buying process your buyers are using today.

 

In my next post I will share how market-leading teams are constantly sensing for shifts in how their buyers buy and the criteria they use to buy, and they adapt.

 

One strategy market leading organizations are using to adapt, align and improve their sales is Sales Enablement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Your Customers Feel “All Chewy” Inside?…How Leveraging Customer Buying Experience Drives Sales Growth.

Do Your Customers Feel “All Chewy” Inside?…How leveraging customer buying experience drives sales growth.

 

 

How do your customers feel when they buy from your company? The answer to this simple question is often the missing piece in your team’s sales growth strategy. Today your company needs to have a buying experience vision and a strategy to deliver customer service just like other strategies you develop, and this must include an online buying experience. Chewy.com owns delivering amazing service how buyers want and need to shop today for pet supplies. Your business too could serve your buyers and make them raving fans. When you do, you too could become the dominant leader in your market.

 

We all love our pets. They are often considered part of our family. At our home our pets had their own stockings at Christmas! Below is one of our Labs.

The pet industry segment continues to grow at 6%-9% year over year and represents about $62.7 billion in sales.

 

To date buying what you need for our pets has been an “OK” experience but nothing exceptional. If we needed dog food we probably looked in the Sunday newspaper ads, found our preferred brand of dog food on sale and drove to that retailer and bought it. If your family is like ours, you probably buy more food when you notice you have about a couple days worth on food on hand. We buy our favorite brand and the buying experience at retail was more of a commodity experience.

 

Given the size of our dogs, and particularly if we are fostering a dog, my wife buys the largest bags of food she can find. My petite wife either struggles to lift the dog food bags into her car or she asks for some assistance from the retailer to help put her purchases into the truck of her car.

 

When I come home from work I carry her recent purchases into the house from her car. I usually see some unplanned purchases like dog toys or my dog’s new favorite: deer antlers to chew on.

 

What if a company focused on making buying pet supplies easy?…fun even?

 

What if they provided friendly and kind customer service?

 

What if you felt like you were buying from someone like you who loves pets?…not just “a company”

 

What if someone took the time to understand my needs, buying preferences and designed their business model to serve me?

 

And what if a company was available at times convenient to me 24/7 online?

 

We found Chewy.com in 2017 and have never turned back to brick and mortar retail ever since.

 

At our dogs 5:30 am feeding Thursday I noticed our dog food supply was running a bit low and I left my wife a note. She ordered 2 large bags of dog food from Chewy.com around noon on Thursday and it arrived Friday by 3:00 pm with no shipping charges because our purchase met a minimum free shipment requirement. A very strong box arrived at our door with two bags of food and some dog toys to meet the free freight requirements . (We must be ordering from Chewy.com more than I realized because our dogs recognized the box and were excited with tails wagging when I opened it).

 

At Christmas my wife ordered some toys from Chewy.com and one of them was not what she expected. The error was our fault. So she called their customer service and actually spoke to a live and friendly person. They did not argue with my wife or make the experience difficult or painful they simply wanted to help her, serve her.

 

My wife explained one of the toys was not what she expected and wanted to return it. We made a mistake as a buyer and we figured we would pay the return shipping. But what happened next blew us away. The customer service person said: tell you what, I will give you a credit, but do me a favor and donate this toy to a local dog shelter. Huh? In that one moment they won my wife’s’ business forever…brilliant!

 

What is interesting about this is our family donates to local animal shelters and we foster Labs waiting for their forever homes. (It felt as if they knew this, it was as if knew us) That one conversation won my wife over for life. It’s not about the money something costs anymore from Chewy.com…they give us quick service at a good price (not the cheapest), they make the buying process easy…and most important we feel we are buying from people like us who love pets and we trust.

Your company can make your customers feel the same. Your buyers can feel :All Chewy inside.

 

Some people reading this might be saying:

“OK that’s interesting for B2C buying but I am in B2B and our buyers are different.”

 

Well to borrow a quote from one of my mentors: 

“You could say that… but you would be wrong”.

 

The B2C buying experience has set the service bar for all buying experiences whether you like it or not… so B2B companies need to step up.”

– Mark Allen Roberts

 

Your B2B buyers, who buy things like: custom air intake parts, gears, exhaust systems, steel, industrial air compressors, oil,wood pallets…  at work, also buy things as B2C buyers for their families.

B2B buyer needs, how they want to shop, when they want to shop and the desired buying experience and service expectation has become the same as B2C, it is just the products and services are different.

 

What do B2C and B2B buyers want?

Buyers today want easy buying experiences with companies they trust.

Buyers today are hungry for authentic sales and service people who will genuinely take the time to understand them and serve their needs.

Buyers want fast friendly service from companies that do what they promise.

Buyers today like to shop and buy online.

Over 70% of shopping is done on a mobile device.

 

 

B2B companies must recognize buyers like and prefer to shop online. As much as 70% of the buying journey happens before a buyers contacts you today. This is not some fad that will go away, it is a behavior we all must recognize, adapt to and strategically plan to be the supplier of choice.

Chewy.com, like Zappos has it figured out how to deliver happiness to their customers online. They understand the needs of their buyers today.

One of the founders of Chewey.com turned his vision into a strategy and supporting processes.

“From the beginning, we came in saying that we want to provide pet parents with the most amazing customer experience. Period.” –Ryan Cohan

I promise you they did their voice of the customer work and shaped their business to serve their ideal customer profile and buyer personas. Chewy.com is the fastest growing pet supplies company (they even beat Amazon).

A Miami Herald article shared …“According to 1010Data, Chewy.com rules the online sales of pet food, with nearly 51 percent of the online market, including 40.5 percent in direct sales and 10.2 percent in subscription sales. The nearest competitor isn’t even close. Amazon.com cornered nearly 35 percent of the market, with 23.5 percent in direct sales, 7.6 percent in subscriptions and 3.6 percent at retail. “

Chewy.com executed their online strategy and customer experience vision so brilliantly Petsmart bought them in 2017 for $3.3 Billion.

How about your company…

Do your buyers like to shop and buy online? (Let me help you. the answer is YES!)

Has your B2B Company developed an online strategy and presence?

What is your web site’s current hit rate?

 Bounce rate?

What is the most frequently visited page on your website?

On that page what is the most frequently viewed area? Content?

If you are online and able to receive customer orders…is it easy and enjoyable?

How do you know?

Is your web site Mobile friendly?

How is your web site trending in terms of site visits?

What content you published is driving he most traffic to your site?

Where is that content found?

What else do buyers view when they are on your site?

How long are they on your site?

How many new buyers visited your site?

If you have an online purchasing capability, how many buyers start the process of buying then drop off?

Why do they drop off?

What is your strategy to recapture drop offs?

In what stage of buying are they dropping off most?

 

The above questions and many more Ecommerce metrics for online buying must become part of your weekly senior management performance review meetings. At the same time you are discussing field sales call results, sales revenue, gross profits and sales forecasts, B2B companies must start adding the above metrics to their KPI’s.

I shared I was going to write this article with a past client and she shared:

“This is an Interesting topic, but it does not apply to our company since we use dealer distributors to fulfill our orders.”

As I shared with her… B2B Company’s need to own the online buying experience, those that do will dominate their space,  this is even more critical for companies who sell through dealer distributors. As a B2B company you must own the sales and buying conversation and deliver your product through your dealer distributors for fast and exceptional service.

I am a huge fan of working with dealers and distributors. I have done so for over 20 years. From my experience, companies who help the end buyer buy through local distributor networks become even more valued by their channel partners. That order sent through your distributor often opens the door to a new customer relationship for the end user and your distributor. That order could be coming from one of your distributors key accounts and by sending it through the local distributor you reinforce their value in the buying experience. There is a high probability your distributor also carries other complimentary products and services this end user would value. This new order has a lifetime of purchases value for your distributor beyond your order.

 

Has your team developed your customer service vision to make how you serve your customers your distinctive competence?

 

Our family is sold on Chewy.com. I noticed both of our adult children are now ordering from them for their pet food and accessory needs. All my wife’s friends now buy from them after hearing my wife’s experience as a raving fan.

Personally I wish Chewy.com offered supplies for ponds like water treatment supplies and Koi food. Once they do I too will be a raving fan. I hate the way I am treated when I buy supplies for my Koi pond. Some of the retailers who carry these niche products treat me like they are doing me a favor to sell me. Every time I buy Koi food at a retailer I feel they should be wearing a mask for what they are charging when I check out.

As a buyer I get it…this is a very niche product, not many people carry it so they can mark it up like they do. Since this specialty retailer is the only one around for an hour drive or so, they can treat customers with an average to poor buying experience…today. I get it but that does not mean I like it!

This is usually where a company like Chewy.com is born.

 

If you have not developed your online buying strategy and service expectations for your customers I promise you some one will. (Particularly if the current buying experience is average to poor)

Why not make your company the one who dominates in the online buying journey and customer experience in your market?

It’s not a matter of “if” someone will do this in your market…it’s a matter of “when” based on buyer preferred buying experience and service expectations today.

(My guess for most of you is someone in your market is already working on this, or has done it)

Does buying from your B2B Company make your buyers feel all Chewy inside?

Your buying experience needs to to be a strategic part of your buying process if you want to have continuous profitable sales growth in a world of buyers who want and like to buy online.

What about your company…

Do you have an online buying strategy? How is it working?

Is adding new customers a key part of hitting your sales objectives?

Is growing your marketshare a key part of your growth plans?

Is growing sales with your distributors and dealers critical to having a strong sales year ? 

Would your team like to have a dominant market position?

Is there any reason why your team would not want to have a strong online buying experience and a strategic service expectation?

Some common sales problems are needing to grow sales with current accounts and finding and closing new accounts. When your company has a strong online buying experience and you make your buyers feel all chewy inside your team will realize profitable sales growth with current and new customers.

 

If your team would like to learn more about Ecommerce metrics I suggest you read the below articles:

11 Ecommerce metrics that really show your Business performance

55 Ecommerce Metrics & KPIs You Need to Measure to Drive 10X Growth in 2018 

A last note: Our family are raving fans of Chewy.com. They are not a client of mine or have ever been a client of mine. I chose to write about them because they help teach B2B companies how to best serve buyers of today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increase Sales: Train Sales Managers

 

Every year sales superstars are promoted to sales manager and fail. Why do top performing sales people struggle as sales managers? The most common reason is a skills gap. The book: The Sales Managers Guide to Greatness author Kevin Davis helps close those all too common skills gaps and teaches sales managers to lead sales teams strategically with his 10 essential strategies for leading your team to the top.

 

I have seen this happen for over 34 years now….

 

Mike was a top performing sales rep for the company years ago. He met his sales growth goals and often exceeded his gross profit metric. His customer satisfaction scores were the best in the company and he executed the top new product placement in the entire sales organization. About 18 months ago Mike was promoted to sales manager and now we need to discuss the poor results of his sales team and develop a corrective action plan.

 

What happened to Mike? …(the senior leadership team asks)…he was once our best rep and now his region is failing? Is he just not motivated anymore?

 

From my experience his motivation is not the problem….

 

Mike was your sales super star and one day someone in management, (probably in a meeting about some other sales topic) says: “ What we need are a team of Mike’s, look at his results! What if we promote Mike and create an entire team if Mike’s?”

 

Mike’s manager meets with him and shares the exciting news and Mike is promoted to sales manager.

 

When can I start?… he asks.

 

His manager shares: Immediately, and we will need you to watch over your accounts until we hire your replacement.

 

Mike hits the road and starts traveling and meeting his teams’ customers while watching over his customers. His team was recently peers, buddies even, but now they are treating him differently after all he is management now. He assumes this must be one of the prices you pay to be a sales manager and presses on. He feels somewhat alone and misses the relationships he one had.

 

He finds many of his sales reps have good relationships with customers but lack sales skills training and are not following the companies’ sales process so he jumps in to help close more sales.

 

Fast forward…18 months pass and now Mike is meeting with someone like me to help turnaround his team’s sales results. Mike is exhausted, he has been traveling and having four legged sales calls with his sales reps five days a week. He is working nights and weekends just to keep up. His team is now at 75% of plan and everyone in senior leadership is concerned and they want his team back on track ASAP.

 

Eight months ago his VP of sales put Mike on performance improvement plan and part of that plan is a weekly report of activity and results by day. Mike shares how one of the things he loved about being a sales rep was setting his own schedule and now he feels he is being micro managed. He goes on to share he quit his morning workouts, has gained 15 pounds  and his relationship with his wife and children is strained since taking this position.

 

One of few things typically happens with “Mike’s” …

 

They leave your company and join your competitor’s team and quickly become your competitors’ top performing sales rep.

 

They stay and move into survival mode, they often fail and are asked to take a sales rep role again but are never as effective as they once were, or they are asked to leave the team.

 

They find someone who will train, coach and mentor them and over time they develop into the top performing sales manager.

 

Why does this happen to once top performing sales reps when they enter sales management?

 

A quick answer as I have shared before is a skills gap.

 

The skills required to lead a sales team are much different than the skills to be a sales representative.

 

To be an effective salesperson you need the following skills:

 

What skills are required to be an effective sales manager?

 

I was very excited to receive a signed copy of Kevin Davis’s new book: The Sales Managers Guide to Greatness. I love to read and learn so I was curious about this new book and would it help the fix sales management problems?

 

I found this book an excellent tool to give all sales managers to help them better understand how to drive profitable sales results with a sales team. Kevin does an excellent job of discussing the skills gap between being a sales person and a sales manager.

 

For example the author boldly challenges the myths many believe to be true about what it takes to be a sale manager.

 

This book shares what it takes to be a top performing sales manager but it also includes specific action plans one can take to improve.

 

For example the author shares how the role of the sales manager has needed to evolve just as the role of salespeople has evolved based on the changing behaviors of buyers.

 

One skill that every sales manager must posses is that of a sales coach and rarely is it taught. In this book the author shares how critical sales coaching is to drive team and individual performance.

 

In chapter three the author shares his very specific coaching model:

 

C – Commitment

 

O – Observe

 

A – Assess

 

C- Consult

 

H– Help

 

He walks you through each step and how to apply them.

 

If you were recently promoted to sales manager I highly recommend you buy this book and read it.

 

If you are a leader in your company and recently promoted a top performing sales super star into sales manager, please buy them this book.

 

If your team has a few “mikes” struggling as sales managers, buy them this book and coach them.

 

Sales manager skills gap 

 

How about your team….

 

Have you recently promoted a top performing sales person to sales manager? (How’s that working?)

 

Does your company train recently promoted salespeople? What training program do you use?

 

Can your team afford to have one or more of your sales territories performing at 75% to plan?

 

Top performing sales reps can become market leading sales managers if trained. The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness helps close the skills gaps for sales people wanting to be strong sales managers. In The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness, sales management consultant Kevin F. Davis offers 10 proven and distinctly practical strategies, skills, and tools for overcoming the most challenging obstacles sales managers face

 

 

 

 

Increase Sales: Help Your Salespeople Become “Rejection Proof”

Increase Sales: Help your salespeople become “Rejection Proof”

 

 

 

Why do some salespeople consistently achieve their sales growth goals while most (60%)struggles? How do we fix this common sales problem? We must help our salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and become Rejection Proof”.

 

Your salespeople have their sales goals. You shared what you expect in terms of growth from current business and identified the delta. The delta is the difference between the new sales goal and what your current business should do. I refer to this delta as: New Business Needed.

 

Most sales teams will have a big sales problem in November…it will be obvious they will not achieve the New Business Needed part of their sales plan and they will come in around 78%-90% of their sales plan.

 

Why?

 

The most common reasons I have observed over the past 30+ years of leading and coaching sales teams are …

 

A Dated Value Proposition 

 

Do not understand their market and buyers today 

 

Fear of Rejection

 

I have shared in a number of posts how to fix the sales problem of dated value propositions and in others posts how to quickly understand your markets.

In this post I will share how to help your salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and become rejection proof.

 

What is rejection and why do we all try to avoid it at all cost?

 

Rejection occurs when people interact and one says “no” and refuses to act on something that was asked. Rejection is a moment in time judgment made based on a number of factors most people do not realize…

 

Immediate need

Perceived value

Historical Experiences

Cultural differences

Psychological factors

Emotion

Risk tolerance

 

From my experience salespeople experience rejection when the buyer decides, based on what they have been presented and what they believe to be true, they do not trust the product or service will solve a problem or need. Or the buyer fails to have the problem the product or service solves and that is the sales problem of properly qualifying opportunities.

 

At this point in my sales career rejection does not scare me. A “no” just means “not yet” but it took me years to get to this point.

 

I do not own rejection and I do not see it as some badge or scar I need to carry with me and worry that others see it. I see rejection for what it is: a judgment based on information at that moment in time.

 

As I shared in a recent sales conference…

 

Rejection is a moment in time occurrence based on the information at that time… not a painful stain on your soul…once we see it for what it is we can stop being afraid of it”

 

The trouble is as humans we seek acceptance and approval from other people. Couple our deep need for acceptance in our DNA with the needs for safety and comfort and we should not be shocked salespeople avoid asking for the sale due to the fear of rejection. If we feel rejection and not observe it as a judgment we fail to feel safe.

 

How do we help salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and ask for the new business we need?

 

How can we teach salespeople to become rejection proof early in their careers and not wait 20+ years until they see rejection for what it is?

 

I was preparing a workshop to help salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and a friend suggested I should look into the work of Jia Jiang and watch his TED Talk. He has a number of very popular you tubes on rejection and a book titled: Rejection Proof, how to beat fear and become invincible through 100 days of rejection.

 

 

The book: Rejection Proof should be in everyone’s library, particularly sales and sales leaders.

 

The author shares how he set out on a quest to overcome his fear of rejection by purposefully experiencing 100 rejections over 100 days.

 

It is a fun and quick book to read.

 

The examples he shares have a great deal of humor like asking for a burger refill at his favorite hamburger joint.

 

What I found fascinating though is not everyone said “no” to some of his crazy requests like asking Krispy Kreme donuts to make him a donut shaped like the Olympic rings. The store manager not only made one for him but she gave it to him for free!

 

This made me wonder…

 

How many sales could have been won if the salesperson would have asked for the sale and not feared rejection?

 

I led the class on rejection, specifically overcoming rejection and I suggested everyone check out Jia Jiang’s You-Tubes and read his book.

 

What happened next I did not expect…

 

  • One person shared how he was at his fitness club and tried to be rejected by asking for a free massage…they gave it to him!
  • Another shared how he was in a long line at Chipotle, and asked for free chips for his inconvenience…they gave it to him!
  • Another boldly asked to drive my 1972 Corvette, a car that was my dad’s…I said “sure, its just a car
  • Some heard very loud “No’s” like the young man who asked for an attractive young girls phone number while she was sitting with her date (not one I would coach you to try)
  • Or the young man who asked for a “good guy discount” at an auto parts store. The clerk said “ a what?” The young man said I am a good guy and would like your good guy discount… he was rejected!

 

Could it be one reason why top sales performers consistently achieve and surpass their sales and profit goals is because they have had so many rejections they too have become Rejection Proof? I believe it is.

 

I look back over my career calling on customers like: Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, CAT, Blockbuster Cummins Engines, Sony Music, Ford, Nintendo, CA, Microsoft and many more…and I received many more rejections than purchase orders. Those rejections over 30+ years made me rejection proof today.

 

What if we strategically insure our sales teams receive many rejections early in their careers and actually made it an application exercise in their training?

 

If you do…you will have a team of sales super stars blowing their sales goals out of the water!

 

If you need to fix a sales problem, the fear of rejection, I recommend you ask your team to read Rejection Proof and have them set out on a quest of their own to receive 100 rejections as fast as possible.

How about your team….

Are your salespeople losing sales they could have won simply by asking?

What impact would it have your your bottom line if your sales team was rejection proof?

 

Escape Poor Sales Execution…Find Market Clues

Escape Poor Sales Execution…Find Market Clues

 

 

Why is sales execution such a big problem for most sales teams? In this post I will share a technique to find why teams have a sales execution issues and how to fix those sales problems.

 

Recently I took a team to an off-site team-building event at an escape room. If you have not heard of escape rooms it is something my daughter introduced me to. Escape room venues are opening in a number of cities. They are rooms you enter as a team, look for clues, solve puzzles and hopefully escape in time.

 

For those of you feeling anxious relax, you can physically leave the room at anytime if you need to. The challenge is to work as a team, find the clues to solve specific puzzle challenges in the allotted time and escape.

 

Our room challenge had an old time gangster theme. Our room was pitch black and we were given 4 flashlights for 8 people, our mission and a clue to get started. Our mission was to find four hidden jewels in 45 minutes.

 

We received instructions from the staff, entered the room and read more instructions quickly and distributed flashlights.

 

(41 minutes remaining)

 

It was interesting to watch the team’s behavior once we entered the room. The team quickly broke out into groups of two with one flashlight and started looking for clues. We quickly found one clue that helped us open a locked box that produced a jewel. Then we found another box to be opened but this one was a series of color-coated buttons that needed to be pushed in just the right sequence to open the device. The clues to the right sequence were around the room in paintings. We struggled with this for some time all the while the timer was clicking in the background.

 

(30 minutes remaining)

 

We made a mistake; we all split up and did not work on each clue as a team. We tried to find all four jewels at once. We wasted about ½ our time in this mode. Once we started working each clue sequentially as a team (did I mention it was a team of engineers?) we started having much more success.

 

(18minutes to go)

 

As I watched and participated this reminded me of what it feels like when I have helped teams struggling with sales execution problems.

 

When I speak with senior leaders of organizations sales execution usually comes up as a problem in the first 15-20 minutes. As I shared in a short video back in 2010 nothing frustrates CEO’s more than spending time developing a strategic plan and they find out six-eight months into the year sales is not executing the plan..I call this the Great Disconnect. Why is sales execution such a problem for most teams? In this same article I shared …

 

Market leaders create tactical sales play books by territory.

 

Market losers tell salespeople to “just make it happen”.

 

What I have found over the past 33 years of helping teams fix sales execution issues is it is rare to find a sales team not trying. They are working very hard, but often not smart. Salespeople in general are very competitive. We love to compete and more importantly win. If your compensation program was strategically designed to drive the behaviors your senior leaders have deemed critical, we also have skin in the game. We must hit our sales objectives to achieve our targeted compensation.

 

I bring this up because I often hear senior leaders say things to me like….

 

Our sales team has become complacent they just need a kick in the… rear (edited)

 

“We have clearly mapped out what we need sales to do and they are simply not executing the plan”

 

“ The sales team seems very busy…but we are not seeing the results we need.”

 

“Our team is not executing our plan , they have gone back to how we have always sold and we are missing our sales goals”

 

“The sales team needs to understand what we expect and do it …or else we will find people who can.”

 

The problem with the above statements and the many others I have heard over the years is they are built on a few core assumptions:

 

  • Sales knows the plan
  • Marketing provided a value proposition to execute the plan that resonates with your customers and solves issues today
  • Sales has been trained to execute the plan
  • Sales has the tools and knows were to find them
  • Sales compensation rewards the behaviors you want them to strategically execute
  • Your team clearly understands your markets, customers, buyers and the journey they take to purchase and the criteria they use to make buying decisions
  • Your sales managers are coaching your team to overcome obstacles

 

What I have experienced is sales teams who are failing to execute sales plans lack one if not all of the above.

 

Lets get back to my team in the escape room…time is ticking away and will soon run out. (like you only having 4 months left in the year to hit sales plan)

 

We found a few of the easy clues early and solved the challenges and won our jewels. (this is like how your sales team will have some quick early wins in a new sales year with a new plan. ) However now we were stuck, in this pitch-dark room, flashlights desperately searching everywhere trying to find a solution to escape this room. We needed to solve two more challenges.

 

(15 minutes left on the timer)

 

Our team members grow frustrated and as if saying we just need to try harder…(sound familiar?) Some grew noticeably agitated. Then one of our team who was paying attention when we were trained by the staff said: “ you know they said if we get stuck we can ask for clues” YES! This is what I was looking for. Did they listen and hear all the instructions and training before we entered this game or were they so focused on playing they missed the instructions?

 

(13 more minutes and we could hear our other half of our team successfully escaped their room and are waiting outside our door)

 

What happened next was also interesting. Half of our group said : sure let’s ask for clue, we want to win this challenge... Two of our team had basically given up and were no longer engaged and wanted to just give up and exit so we could go to dinner at the local brewpub. One of our team members was adamant we should not ask for a clue..we are engineers we can figure this out, we don’t need help!

 

(8 more minutes to find the clues and exit)

 

We tried hard to solve the puzzle but no luck. We asked for another clue, worked as a team and quickly solved another puzzle and won another jewel.

 

(5 more minutes one puzzle left)

 

We identified the location of the last jewel and the team frantically worked to solve the puzzle. Some team members could see what previous participants tired based on markings on the wall so they tried that..no luck. What did we do next? Try it again, harder…faster!

 

(3 minutes to solve the last clue or loose the challenge)

 

One very competitive engineer suggested …look we know its in there, I can bust it open..” NO! (that’s all I need to have to explain on my expense report!)

 

We worked hard and tried to use the clues we had to solve our last puzzle challenge to successfully escape.

 

The timer went off and the lights came on. We failed.

 

One of the staff came in, read the clue again, and solved the last puzzle in 30 seconds. Ouch!

 

What we missed was the last clue told us exactly what to do if we would have taken the time to slow down and understand each word in the clue. However we were so focused, so busy, and under so much pressure as the clock was ticking we missed a clue.

 

So why share this story of a recent team building event at an escape room?

 

I share this story because if your sales team is not executing on their sales goals they too are in an escape room and this is what they are feeling.

 

  • some of your team are frustrated, its not about money its about winning, pride even
  • some of your team are no longer engaged, just going through the motions waiting for this years’ challenge to end
  • some need training, they are motivated but need to revisit past training because they probably missed something very important
  • some want to break the game, cheat basically to win at all cost ( that gets really expensive fast… trust me)

 

What are your sales teams doing?

 

The good news is the answers; the clues are out there, in your market, with your buyers if you know where to look and how to ask.

 

Instead of trying to work more hours, harder, why not work smarter?

 

If your sales team is not executing on your sales plan stop and spend 2 weeks and capture the voice of your market today. (Find current relevant market clues)

 

Use this current market data to identify the journey your buyers take when making a purchase and mirror your sales process to match how your buyers want to buy.

 

Write your plan based on current market information.

 

Focus on sales enablement.

 

Identify the process your buyers are using today and create your sales process to mirror the buying process.

 

Give your sales people the perfect sales tools to help buyers at each step of the buyers’ journey.

 

Keep listening and looking for market clues, apply, pivot and adjust.

 

Understand the criteria your buyers must have, and when and provide it.

 

Focus on serving your buyers and not selling them.

 

Implement the above and your team will be on the path to executing their sales plans and solving their sales problems.

 

Is your sales team achieving their sales goals this year?

 

As the clock is ticking on achieving your sales goals…are you telling them to just make it happen or are helping them find current market clues to help them win?

 

Does your current sales process mirror how your buyers are buying today?

 

Does your sales team have the right sales tools and do they know where to find them? (or are they cheating and making their own)?

 

If your team is struggling with sales execution, I highly recommend you find a local escape room and help them understand the importance of looking for market clues and solving them as a team. ( perhaps your senior leaders would enjoy this experience too?)

 

If you would like to learn more about this topic of Sales Execution I recommend you check out the following links:

 

9 ways you can start improving sales through sales enablement

Why do 78% of sales strategies fail? 

A guide to sales resource optimization 

New rules of sales execution 

Here’s what you can do to improve sales execution

 9 steps for sales enablement

 How do I quickly improve sales ( short video) 

 Fix sales problems, create a sales  a sales GPS for your team  

Fix Sales Problems With Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Fix Sales Problems With Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

 

 

 

 

A few Salespeople have “IT”. They all need “IT” to achieve their sales numbers. ..What is “IT”? In this post I will discuss Emotional Intelligence and the role it plays in helping our salespeople achieve their profitable sales growth objectives. In the book:  Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal by Jeb Blount

Leading and coaching salespeople you find some salespeople just have “it” and some do not. It’s hard to describe. It is more of a feeling than a word you can use to describe it…at least until now.

For years I have assumed it was experience, product knowledge, sales skills, personality, communication and presentation skills but they just did not completely cover what I was experiencing. What I was seeing is called Emotional Intelligence.

I shared another book on this topic some time ago: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success by Colleen Stanley.

In that post I shared Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include 3 skills:

  1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
  2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
  3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.

So the topic of Emotional Intelligence is not new. Solvey and Mayer first introduced it in 1990. However it really did not pick up steam until Daniel Goleman a Harvard trained psychologist wrote an article in 1995 for the New York Times about his book: Emotional Intelligence.

To add to this discussion I just competed an excellent book by Jeb Blount titled: Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal . Like the other books mentioned this book is a must have in every sales leaders library. Why? Why this book now you might ask? The short answer is to adapt to a shift that has occurred in “power” during a sale.

The author shares…

“ Technology has disrupted the traditional sales process by giving buyers unprecedented access to product and industry information, more control over the sales process, and more choices of products and vendorsTo differentiate yourself from competitors and hold the short-lived attention of buyers, you need to be a master of emotions, interpersonal skills, influence frameworks and human relationships ”

–       Jeb Blount

For years I have helped companies Fix Sales Problems.  Many companies believe if we just train our people in products, markets and selling skills we will achieve our profitable sales growth goals. However what they all were missing is something that was often a disruption for their leaders to hear:

Buyers buy with emotion and justify their decisions with data

Let that sink in a minute….

So we have been training salespeople for years…in my case over 30 years in product features and benefits, sales processes, closing techniques, how to overcome objections, the challenger model, the sales consultant model, value based selling…and the list goes on but how many of us work on the Emotional Intelligence of our salespeople? Not many I am afraid.

Jeb Blount captures this later in the book…

Managing disruptive emotions is the primary meta-skill of sales. The combination of situational awareness and the ability to consistently regulate disruptive emotions is what puts ultra-high performers on a pedestal above average salespeople….We know that the buyer’s emotional experience along with the buying journey has as much( or more) impact on their propensity to buy from you as anything else…the paradox of emotions is that the same time they are your most powerful ally they’re also your greatest enemy

Let me share a real example ( from my youth)  where I blew it and I hope helps bring the importance of emotional intelligence home.

It was early in the 1990’s and I was leading the retail division of a plastics packaging company. We made retail loss prevention devices to prevent the theft of music and we made video storage packaging for video rental. The video rental market had shifted and we introduced a new product to meet that need I branded: The Squeeze Box. The name described how it worked…you squeezed the bottom of the plastic storage box and the video tape would slide out. I named it that after the song,..mama’s got a squeeze box..but changed the lyrics ..and my competitors can’t sleep at night.

The industry was so excited about this new product we could not make them fast enough. One mold became two, two became four and the demand kept growing. It was an exciting time and did I mention it was also the most profitable product we were selling? We priced it based on the value it gave the end customers not our costs.  Because of the high demand we used this product to gain share leveraging availability based on buyers giving us more of their base business our main competitors owned.

One of my largest accounts was a distributor in Iowa, who was later acquired by Ingram Entertainment. I had a great relationship with this account, its executive team and the buyer. The buyer helped me in the gathering of requirements for this new product design and in our market verification. I helped them use this innovative new product to land large video retailers and some targeted grocery accounts they always wanted. A real win-win relationship.

I was calling on the buyer and he said: “Mark, I am moving to a new division and I would like you to meet Frank (not his real name) he comes from purchasing in our electronic accessories business and has made quite a name for himself here …”

He walked me to Frank’s office and we were introduced. Frank was very rude with my past buyer, almost dismissing him. I sat down to start trying to understand his needs and goals and he quickly said: “what are you doing, I don’t meet with salespeople in my office , this is where I get work done, go find a conference room and we will meet there

Huh?

You heard me, I am a busy guy, I manage millions of dollars of inventory and its time someone whipped you and your company into shape. “

I connected with the executive assistant for all the buyers who had become a friend over the years and asked for an open meeting room. She said: I suppose it is for a meeting with Frank? Sorry you got him Mark he’s kind of a jerk but quite the climber around here” (and she rolled her eyes.)

Frank came in, sat at the head of the table as I guessed he would and started…

I understand we are your largest distributor in this space.

My guess is you use my volume to be competitive with many people in this market?

To increase the sales of your products we need to increase the advertising allowance and we will not be providing you proof of ads as we have been doing. I have done this for 5 years and I know what I am doing.

I see you have been winning more and more of our overall category purchase dollars? …That ends today.

The last buyer was way too easy on his vendors, …I am not.

Your prices are too high and must be reduced immediately and I expect an adjustment for the entire inventory we have on hand. Here’s a report of our current inventory. I need to see the credit transaction in the next 5 days.

As a salesperson you probably do not understand the business we are in and I would not expect you to. Just give me what I need and we will get along just fine. Make me look bad and I will make you pay.

I hear you have a hot innovative product called a Squeeze box? We need an exclusive on it and we will sell it to our competitors.

The rep for your competitor is a golf buddy of mine and his line of plastic boxes comes from a much bigger and more impressive company than your little Ohio company.

Who are your large video chains buying this now direct? That is going to end and you will send them through us too.

The Squeeze box is twice as expensive as the other boxes we buy from you. I weighed it and it’s actually lighter than the other products you sell for ½ the price…you need to drop our price at least 30% immediately. I will not be a push over buyer like my predecessor (your buddy) .

I understand you have independent sales reps calling on all my locations? That stops today and I want their compensation paid back to us as a 5% year-end rebate.

If you do not have to power or you are not smart enough to understand what I am asking for give me the owner of your companies’ name and office number….tell you what… just give me his name I can tell you do not understand strategy…

Well?

( my blood was boiling)

I shared how we have grown with his company based on service and training his salespeople how to sell our products. I personally trained his telemarketers every quarter and his field salespeople. I shared the issues we helped his company with like; on time delivery, just in time inventory, new products we developed for them, training his salespeople, helping his people close large accounts and so on.

I shared I heard each of his requests…and was about to answer them one by one….

“Oh, you think these were “requests” do you? ( he stood up and slammed his hands onto the conference table) No.., you will do what I told you to do or you and I will have a problem, or don’t you understand this?”

You are going to do this right? You want our business right?

 

No!!! (I stood up nose to nose with him and I lost my temper).

How I was feeling inside was like I was in another street fight with a bully. I shared we do not do business this way, we value working with his company because they shared the same values and ethics as our company and I would like to speak with Earl, his boss now, who I have known for years, had dinner at his home,  so we can work this out.

 

Get the F@#ck out of here!… and don’t come back until you give me what I want,… if you call Earl …your sales here are over, do you understand?

 

As I left the meeting room I passed a number of people who obviously heard our heated exchange. I was angry, confused, surprised …and now worried how I will explain this to the president of our company.( dead man walking)

 

Why did this meeting go so bad?

Why did this new punk get to me so much?

 

Working with a coach later in my career , and receiving training and coaching I discovered my emotional triggers are:

 

  • Bully me

 

  • Bully someone who cannot defend themselves or are not there to defend themselves

 

  • Threaten me …fine no big deal, my family? My company? Or someone I care about…game on!

 

  • Treat me like I am stupid, inferior mentally

 

What Frank did in our first meeting was pretty much trigger all my emotional hot spots I was not aware I had at the time. This resulted in a reflex response of threatening him back by bringing the merchandise manager (his boss) into the equation. My voice became louder and my tone became attacking to mirror his. My face became red and the veins in my throat and forehead were enlarged. My physical size was much bigger than Frank so when he stood I stood nose to nose so to speak …all the things I did, I did not think about, they happened as a reflex like when the doctor taps your knee with the rubber hammer at a checkup.

 

I can vividly still remember this meeting as if it were yesterday.

 

Why?

 

Emotion!

 

I let the meeting get personal to me and I reacted with reflex and not strategy.

Frank made our company pay for about 6 months with significantly less orders.

Eventually Earl heard about how I was treated and intervened but Frank and I were never friends. He lasted about 2 more years and was let go. Who was the new buyer? My friend the administrative assistant who rolled her eyes when she booked the meeting room with Frank. She said I was one of the few “Factory Guys” who treated her with respect over the years and would appreciate me helping her be successful in her new role. As the years went by we grew to be a preferred vendor, and won almost all of their purchase dollars in our category.

Your salespeople will be in negotiations that build to red-faced moments.

Are they prepared?

The great news is Emotional Intelligence can be a learned skill and this book : Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal by Jeb Blount will help sales leaders and salespeople understand and leverage Emotional Intelligence.

Salespeople who are trained in Emotional Intelligence sell more at higher profits.

Leaders with high Emotional intelligence drive stronger team performance and are more resilient team members as the US Army found in their studies.

I highly recommend everyone add this book to your business libraries and apply the author’s practical advice.

Are your salespeople emotionally intelligent?

Are you losing sales you could have won with Emotional Intelligence training?

Is there a reason you might not want your salespeople trained in EQ?

As the number of competitors grows and buyers push to commoditize products and service, how your team sells can be your market differentiation.

Buyers today are hungry for authentic knowledgeable salespeople who have a strong EQ so working together you can work through those red-faced moments in negotiations.

I just met with an interviewed a senior level purchasing director with over 35 years of experience on the other side of the desk in a sale. In my next few posts I will share the strategies he teaches buyers to use to disrupt salespeople’s emotions to win lower prices, better service and a number of free services that companies typically charge for.

 

 

 

 

 

Fix Sales Problems: Wear Hats Not Masks Leading Your Sales Team

Fix Sales Problems: Wear Hats Not Masks Leading Your Sales Team

 

 

 

 

As I shared in my post: “ Congratulations you have been promoted to sales manager…now what?” leading sales teams requires new skills you may not have acquired as a sales super star performer. Just because you were an amazing salesperson does not mean you will be a top performing sales leader. A common mistake new managers make is they put on masks of who they think they need to be to effectively lead their sales team. In this post I will share why sales leaders must learn to put on hats not masks.

 

“The most common mistake I see sales leaders make is they wear masks not hats.”– Mark Allen Roberts

…. let me explain.

Leading sales teams is about serving your team and helping them achieve sales goals and objectives. Often those goals and objectives are difficult and seemingly beyond reach for your people.

You cannot and will not effectively and efficiently lead your sales team until you remove the masks you developed over the years and start strategically putting on hats your teams require.

What do I mean by wearing a mask?

A mask is an adapted behavior we all use to adjust to a belief that is often not true. It is something we create to protect us.

You have seen people wearing masks many times I am sure…

 

The person who has to be the smartest person in the room..

 The jokester who makes a joke out of everything..

 The debater who has to win every argument even if they are wrong..

 The intimidator, gladiator if you will..

 The belle of the ball that needs to be the center of attention …

 

What these all have in common is they are about that person, for that person to feel safe. These masks and more were developed to protect that person from triggering a belief that makes them feel they are not safe and to avoid feeling fearful.

There are many others but what they all have in common is they are adaptive behaviors people have developed over time to protect themselves.

Would it surprise you to learn, as much as 50% of your personality was developed by the time you were seven years old? By the time you were eleven almost 90% of who you think you are and how you see the world was developed.

Over time you have experienced both positive and negative experiences. We create masks as defense mechanisms to protect us from future negative interactions. Think of a mask as you playing a role, an actor if you will in a play. You become whom you think you need to be to survive. However these masks prevent us from having authentic human interactions. Those people you deal with feel your lack of authenticity and they put on their masks…resulting in interactions that fail to discuss real issues.

Let that resonate for a minute….

Would you let an eleven year old make key decisions in your life?

Would you let a seven year old run your company? Lead your sales team?

I hear some of you saying..

I don’t wear masks…I authentically lead my sales team”…I hear you but you are probably wrong.

Unless you have worked with a coach, discovered all those false beliefs and reprogrammed them chances are you are wearing masks.

I gave a very short speech on this deep topic recently for a toastmaster’s competition. If this idea of the masks we wear and how they interrupt and interfere with being the leader you were born to be is something you would like to learn more about you could watch my speech here.

 

Wearing masks interfere with leading your teams authentically and must be removed.

 

Masks prevent you from authentically connecting with those you serve and negatively impact you’re your team’s performance.

 

Just as buyers are hungry for authentic salespeople, your salespeople are hungry for an authentic sales leader.

 

What sales leaders, leaders in general for that matter, must do is drop their masks and understand the various hats we can and often need to wear to serve our teams.

 

What are the most common hats a sales leader needs to wear?

 

In “Developing a Leadership Style,” Alan Murray shares six styles of leadership from Daniel Goleman’s “Primal Leadership.”

 

  1. Visionary.
  2. Coaching
  3. Affiliative
  4. Democratic
  5. Pacesetting
  6. Commanding

 

I found this content on how to develop your leadership style and the various hats leaders must learn to wear very informative. If you would like to learn more I recommend you read this Wall Street Journal Article and buy the book.

Hats are about serving others, how you adapt your service based on the needs of others.

The hat you wear helping one salesperson, one employee, may be much different than the hat you wear for others.

If your true goal is to grow your organization profitably you must learn how to loose masks and put on the right hat for each leadership opportunity.

 

How about you?

What mask do you wear? 

What hats do you feel comfortable putting on?

Are there any hats discussed above that make you feel uncomfortable? Why?

Are you letting an 11 year old run your sales team? Your company? Your life?

 

You were born to be great. You are destined for greatness! You have specific gifts and talents to serve others.

 

It is time we all must loose our masks and start wearing the right hats to authentically serve our teams.

 

What we are discussing here is emotional intelligence. In my speech I shared one way to help you identify false beliefs that cause you to wear masks and reprogram them.

 

In my next post I will share an important new book all sales leaders must have in their libraries Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal by Jeb Blount.

 

If this topic of “masks” is new to you, and you would like to learn more, I highly recommend you read the following books.

 

True Faced, by Bill Thrall

 

UNMASK, let go of who you’re supposed to be & unleash your true leader by Jeff Nishhwitz 

 

 

Pre- Sales Checklist :The Secret To Hitting Your Sales Number

Pre- Sales Checklist :The Secret to Hitting Your Sales Number

 

Salespeople who are prepared for meetings outperform others who just show up and throw up; it’s as simple as that. We all know this right? Not being prepared for buyer meetings is one of the top reasons over 50% of salespeople will fail to achieve sales quota each year. Our markets and how buyers buy has changed significantly with as much as 70% of the buying journey being over before a salesperson meets with a buyer. In this post I will share how I coach salespeople to prepare for sales meetings to drive the maximum sales results in an authentic way.

I have led sales and marketing teams for over 30 years and I am a practitioner of what Pragmatic Marketing refers to as “NIHITO”. This stands for: Nothing Important Happens In The Office. Therefore I travel, check that, …I travel a great deal in the market doing four legged sales calls with my sales teams.

One area that is a common sales coachable skill is pre-sales call planning.

Traveling often I have taken a number of flights. As sales leaders we can learn a lot about being prepared for our mission of increasing sales profitably by watching airplane pilots. Before each and every flight pilots conduct a pre-flight checklist.

They have a standard checklist that starts at the left wing tip and they walk around the plane, checking each wing, each tire, the tail section, the nose of the plane, the cockpit instrumentation panel. They check the fuel manifest to insure they have enough fuel to fly safely to their destination.

Ben Franklin said:“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Why do salespeople fail?

There are 3 major reasons that salespeople fail.

  1. Lack of mental preparation
  2. Lack of physical preparation
  3. Poor quality of conversations

… all of them involve being prepared.

What are the top five things sales super stars do to prepare for each sales meeting?

  1. They’re prepared for anything – especially the negative circumstances
  2. They’re genuinely interested in their prospects
  3. They check their ego at the door
  4. They master the art of managing expectations
  5. They have done their research

The below checklist must be completed before trying to start a journey with a buyer today.

Buyer information

  1. Who will you be meeting with?
  2. What is their role, and title?
  3. How long have they held this position?
  4. How long have they been with their current organization?
  5. Where did they go to school?
  6. Where did they work prior to this company?
  7. Do you share any mutual contacts, if so call them and ask them about this buyer
  8. When was the last order?
  9. Do you have a buyer persona for this type of buyer? If so read it.
  10. Is there a current order in the system?
  11. If so when will it ship and arrive?
  12. What is the status of the accounts payments, do they have any money past due that may interrupt service if not paid?
  13. Has the buyer and or their teams experienced any quality issues with products and or services in the last 6 months and were they resolved?
  14. How is the buyer measured?
  15. What are your buyers’ key performance indicators?

The account

  1. How long has your company sold this account?
  2. What are your current sales with this account, and how does this compare to last year?
  3. Does this customer buy predominantly one or two products or do they support your full line of products and services?
  4. When was the last buyer call or phone discussion on the CRM?
  5. What was the topic of the last conversation and action items?
  6. Were the action items completed?
  7. Visit their web site, click on “press” and or “news’ …what is the most recent news event they posted?
  8. What are your customers value proposition to their customers? You can gather this by cutting and pasting their landing page copy into an I cloud service and see prominent words.
  9. Who are their competitors? Do you sell them?
  10. Who else is involved in buying decisions?

The Industry / Market

  1. Google this industry read top three articles.
  2. What is news worthy in their industry in the last three months?
  3. Visit industry trade association web pages and read last three news articles. What is news worthy in trade groups?
  4. Is the customers’ market up, down, or flat?
  5. What are the future projections for this market?
  6. How is this customers market segment performing for your company?
  7. Is this customer’s sales performing at the industry average, below, or above and why?
  8. Have competitors introduced any new products or programs in the last six months?
  9. Prepare two to three questions that illustrate you know the buyers’ industry, what is happening and can be used to build trust.
  10. Is their industry consolidating or highly fragmented?

Competitor information

  1. What other companies like yours also sell this account?
  2. What are their strengths?
  3. What are their weaknesses?
  4. What are your competitors’ value propositions?
  5. Do any of your other customers also use these competitors and if so what have they shared with you?
  6. Visit competitor(s) web sites, what is new?
  7. How do your competitors market their products and sell their products?
  8. Know your competitor price strategy.
  9. Does the competitor provide products you do not?
  10. Do you have unique and or patented products your competitors do not offer?
  11. What is your competitor’s service history compared to yours?
  12. What are your competitors shipping and delivery policies?

 Your Strategy

  1. Why are you meeting with this account?
  2. Why did the buyer agree to meet you?
  3. What is the buyer’s expectation for this meeting?
  4. Is meeting with the account in person the best form of communication based on your objectives?
  5. What sales tools will you need to be successful?
  6. Will you require any video or computer presentations?
  7. Will you require access to the Internet? If so bring a device to give you access in the event the company cannot allow you to access their connection.
  8. What is your value proposition? Answer the question: Why your company?…and or your product?
  9. Who are your competitors at this customer and what are the strengths of your competitors and their products?
  10. What are the perceived weaknesses of your competitors’ products?
  11. What case studies should you bring to support this sale?
  12. What STAR stories will you share in your presentation to build trust?
  13. What will you leave with the buyer?
  14. How many copies will they need for other influencers in their company?
  15. What is your buyers buying process?
  16. What criteria must your buyer have from you to make a buying decision?
  17. What does this account, this buyer’s journey look like?
  18. What are your 2-5 challenger questions for this meeting?
  19. How will you judge if this meeting was a success?
  20. What are typically next steps in the follow up process you can offer proactively in this meeting?

 

I hear some of you saying…

but mark that’s a lot of information to have before we meet with someone! On a normal trip I can meet with up to 8-10 customers…do you expect me to have all of the above for each meeting?”

My answer is YES!!!

The markets we serve are dynamic and competitive pressure is only growing. In your buyer’s world they too are experiencing pressure and demands on their time. Buyers want to meet with salespeople who do their homework and understand their account, and their markets and any challenges they may be facing. Buyers are hungry for authentic salespeople who want to understand and help buyers and their companies solve urgent market problems.

The days of …Hi how are ya meetings …are over!

The days of just dropping buy, or my personal favorite…. buying two dozen donuts are over!

…“But Mark I want to build my relationship with this buyer….”

Then do your research prior to your buyer meeting and demonstrate the following:

You know the buyer and have an interest in helping them

You know the industry and share how you help buyers like them

You understand your competitors

You know the buying journey

You know the criteria your buyers must have today to make a buying decision

You understand your products and services and the problems they solve

You build trust with buyers by being prepared

Doing your pre-flight checklist before each buyer meeting will insure a safe buying journey and help you land are your desired goals. 

Are your salespeople prepared to meet with your buyers?

What is your cost of sale today?

Do you believe having a pre-call checklist can improve your sales cost as a percent of sales?

Does your team have a pre=call checklist?

How often are your salespeople prepared for each buyer meeting?

Have you experienced a buyer meeting that took a nosedive because your salesperson was not prepared?

Below are some great articles on preparing for a sales call.

Pre-call planning the forgotten step https://www.customercentric.com/news-and-resources/articles/pre-call-planning

 

4 tips for effective pre-call sales planning https://www.jillkonrath.com/sales-blog/bid/130501/4-Tips-for-Effective-Pre-Call-Sales-Planning

 

7 steps to ace pre-call sales planning https://www.jillkonrath.com/sales-blog/bid/130501/4-Tips-for-Effective-Pre-Call-Sales-Planning

 

Pre-call planning: It’s more than just research http://www.sellingpower.com/content/article/?a=2847/pre-call-planning-it-s-more-than-just-research

 

Finally–a Sales Pre-call Checklist That Will Help Your Opportunities Soar! http://customerthink.com/finally_a_sales_pre_call_checklist_that_will_help_your_opportunities_soar/

 

Three Steps to better Pre-call Planning http://www.sellingpower.com/content/article/?a=1458/three-steps-to-better-pre-call-planning

 

How to prepare for a winning sales negotiation https://www.salesreadinessgroup.com/blog/how-to-prepare-for-a-winning-sales-negotiation

 

Preparation and Sales Success http://blog.anthonycoletraining.com/Sales-Training-Sales-Brew/bid/30683/Preparation-and-Sales-Success

 

Pre-call planning strategy checklist http://www.mentoru.com/sanfilippo/pre-callplanningstrategy.pdf

 

8 Steps to successful sales call https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/207016

 

Develop your companies’ pre-sales call checklist and watch your sales and profits soar!