How Do You Sell a “Post Turtle Buyer”?

if you can sell a post turtle buyer you can sell anyone

if you can sell a post turtle buyer you can sell anyone

 

If you have been in sales for any length of time you have come across many different types of buyers. One of the most difficult buyer types is what I refer to as a “Post Turtle Buyer” as they really do not know what they are doing, do not understand what problem they are trying to solve and often can consume a tremendous amount of time, energy, and often produce little if any results if you do not understand how to work with them. If you have called on, or are calling on a post turtle buyer, this post is for you.

 

So what is a Post Turtle? As the picture implies it’s a turtle on top of a fence post. It did not get up there on its own abilities; someone had to have placed it there. It was elevated beyond its own abilities, function, and talent. It does not know what to do up there and when we see one we often wonder who was the idiot who placed it up there?

 

In a previous post I shared what it is like to call on Parrot Buyers, a buyer who basically is an information gatherer for others in power to make the buying decision. Parrot buyers know their job; they have a process and are very good at researching possible solutions. In the next post I shared how to work with this buyer type to produce golden purchase orders. The post turtle buyer is different, they really do not have any clue what they are doing, and they lack process, criteria, and do not clearly understand the problem they are trying to solve.

 

It was the early 1990’s and I was leading the sales for a company that produced mechanical loss prevention devices designed to reduce theft in music stores. They were/ are  awesome product solutions and not too hard of a sale when you produced an ROI based on reduced in store theft dollars compared to the one time cost of our product. In addition, sales data supported that having your music out “live” on the showroom floor produced much greater sales than what some retailers felt was a better solution which entailed putting the product behind the counter or in glass cases that required a store associate to help you when you wanted to purchase them. A somewhat sizable record chain in the mid west had failed to commit to our products and it was driving my regional manager and independent sales rep crazy, so I flew in to meet the buyer and figure out how we could help him.

 

When I met Kevin he was young, very young actually to have such an important job. As I asked him questions to better understand his experience I found this was his first “real” job. His father owned the music chain. Kevin had tried to find other work since graduating college but only could secure part time jobs in bars and restaurants so his father hired him and put him in a job to “learn the business” . Why my team was so frustrated was;

 

  • We qualified that he had a problem; his theft rate was between 7%-10% based on data their loss prevention manager shared with us.
  • We know based on a history of helping many customers like this one we could cut their shrink ( product stolen) to under 2% ( you will always have some theft from in store personnel that our devices could not control)
  • Our sales manager and representative did a great job of quantifying the problem and using our ROI tool.
  • Our sales team did an excellent job of identifying power in the account; the loss prevention manager, the owner, and the merchandising manager who all had a strong influence in the final purchase
  • Our team did an excellent job of positioning why our product that had the ability to store a loss prevention sicker tag inside our device so it could be reused and not accessible to consumers was a measurable value unlike our competitor’s  product.
  • We produced a list of happy other music stores with phone numbers ( we did not have email back then) , some of which were much bigger chains than than this one, raving fans if you will

 

So what did we do wrong?… and what are we going to do to win this order?

 

What our team failed to identify early on was we were dealing with a “post turtle buyer”. They were treating Kevin like he was a very skilled purchasing agent like we typically serve and in reality Kevin did not know what he was doing, and was so afraid of making a mistake he was paralyzed. He had gathered so much information that the more he gathered the more paralyzed he became.

 

Once I identified the real “why” we had not received the purchase order we developed a plan to win the order…solve their problem….and that became our focus.

 

So how do you sell a “Post Turtle Buyer”?

 

  • teach them their job
  • share industry best practices from others doing the same job
  • find them an industry mentor, someone in the same position who knows what they are doing and can answer questions
  • put a cost on doing nothing
  • share cost of doing nothing, ideally by the week , with all power influencers
  • position buyer for a win inside their organization to build confidence
  • teach don’t tell
  • serve don’t sell
  • be open, no question is a dumb question if it stands between you and a PO
  • build a buying road map for buyer to follow with timelines and expectations in each step
  • find the buyer’s  individual, personal pain , and solve it
  • speak to that pain and how you will make it go away in each follow up call and tie it to the daily, weekly cost of doing nothing

 

Within 30 days we received a large purchase order from Kevin. We took Kevin under our wing and we basically trained him. What was Kevin’s individual pain? Like many children working for a dominant successful business leader/ business founder like their dad, what he really wanted and needed was his dad’s respect and the respect of others in the organization. Those were hard if not impossible shoes to fill. His concern of failing his dad was more paralyzing than the pile of manila folders on his desk with the product data he gathered. We positioned him, allowed him, and enabled him to win. We did not need the “credit” for solving the problem because our focus was winning the PO.

 

Do you have any Post Turtle Buyers?

 

What techniques have you used to get them off center and to buy?

 

Is a current sale you expected being held up under the shell of a Post Turtle Buyer?

 

One of the huge benefits of selling a post turtle buyer is it makes you and your organization better. If you really want to understand something try teaching it. When you must teach something you are forced to dive even deeper into the buying process, industry standard buying criteria and clearly understand why and how buyers buy. Once you can sell a post turtle buyer you can sell anyone.

 

 

Sales Tool Helps Buyer Parrots Lay Golden Purchase Orders in Your Hands

golden egg hand

 

In a recent post about are your salespeople calling on power or parrots I shared how your sales success or failure may be in the hands of the parrot buyer’s ability to present and sell your solution to decision makers and influencers within their organization. Time and time again a salesperson reports back after “good meeting’s” that they will win the purchase order. Weeks turn to months and the buyer has gone dark. What is happening with the order we expected? What can we do to shorten this sales cycle? What can we do to insure we win the order? In this post I will share one technique to help you, help parrot buyers lay golden PO’s in your hands.

 

Buyers today are doing a tremendous amount or research on the internet. It is estimated that as much as 60%-80% of the sales process is over before the buyer contacts your salesperson. Now more than ever we must find ways to help our buyers buy. Often buyers are actually trained buyer parrots that accumulate and repeat information they have heard to key decision makers and influencers in their organizations who have the power to buy. Here’s the problem; do you want your sales results, your team’s ability to achieve your sales growth targets, your income at the fate of a buyer’s ability to present and sell your product and or service? Ya…I didn’t think so.

 

How can we equip and empower buyers to effectively present and sell our products and services to decision makers who have the ability and power to approve purchase orders?

 

One technique I have used in a number of industries is to provide the buyer a presentation slide deck that speaks to the specific buyer persona’s of those who do have the power to approve the purchase. So what is a buyer persona? Per one of the leading thought leaders in buyer persona’s Adel Revella;

 

“Buyer personas are examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in  strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo… insightful buyer personas readily inform strategies for persuasive messaging, content marketing, product or solution launches, campaigns and sales alignment.”

 

If you want to learn more about buyer personas I recommend you download and read; The Buyer Persona Manifesto.

 

In one company we found we were presenting buyers and those buyers had to gain the approval of the; CFO, CEO, COO, and Engineering. We spent some time interviewing these key decision makers and identified what was important to each, the criteria they used to make decisions, and what they needed from us to make those decisions. For example;

 

CFO– they made decisions based on number, return on investment, mitigating risk for the least cost, insuring the investment supports the strategic vision of the organization. They hope and plan to be CEO one day. They want to make smart business decisions that demonstrate their ability to move into this job when the time is right. They want to avoid decisions that jeopardize or could limit their plan.

 

CEO– frequently from an accounting and finance background with strong understanding of operations. Sets the vision and is constantly looking for anything that could be a roadblock in achieving that vision. Responsible to shareholders, often the owner, they are about growing the company profitably and investing in equipment and services that support that growth.

 

COO – operations focused, key words; efficiency, production, productivity. Often grew up through the manufacturing ranks as plant manager, may have had some purchasing and quality control experience. Focus is on meeting the needs sales has sold as effectively and efficiently as possible. In this example we kept hearing the desire to reduce manufacturing variance.

 

Engineering– They have a laser like focus, all data no emotion to solving the problem to be solved with this purchase. Needs to make sure you clearly understand the problem they are solving. They not only need to see and hear your solution but also see the information and decision process you used to make this recommendation. They want information and ideally open communication with your engineers to have the ability to speak with someone highly educated like themselves and not someone trying to sell them.

 

 

Based on the above we created a slide deck of 10-12 slides. The first two slides were basically a requirements summary sharing our understanding of the problem to be solved. The rest of the slides provided what each key decision maker with power needed to commit to purchase. In addition to the slides we provided an appendix that included product data sheets, engineering drawings, key content web links, engineer contact information within our team, and a deep dive in data should an engineer wish this information. For example, we provided a ROI on the product and shared expected returns. We provided testimonials from other well known companies in the same industry. We established a cost on doing nothing and a weekly cost of not purchasing. The last slides clearly mapped out the steps and expectations of how to commit, what they should expect when. Ideally we always asked to present these slides in person, via web conference, but worst case we have now equipped the buyer with a sales tool to gain funding to support the purchase.

 

What will surprise you most is we did not talk a great deal about us, if all as much as the problems we solve, who we have solved them for and provided what we have learned others have needed to make informed buying decisions.

 

How about your company….

 

Do you provide tools to help buyers sell your solution internally? Or do you count on your brochures to do that?

Do you understand who the power decision makers are in the buying journey your customers go through? If so who are they in your industry?

 

What tool(s) have you created to help educate and inform key influencers in the buying decision?

 

While the statistics show buyers and influencers feel 97% of their interactions with possible vendors are not worthwhile, isn’t it time your company becomes one of the rare 3% who proactively provides useful, relevant , insightful information in a way and language your influencers need to lay golden purchase orders in your hands?

Are Your “Salespeople Hunting Elephants With a BB Gun?” Answer 10 questions…

Are Your “Salespeople Hunting Elephants With a BB Gun?” Answer 10 questions…


As I have shared in prior posts, salespeople are like water; they find and take the path of least resistance. Having carried a sales bag for years I get it; it takes a tremendous amount of work to sell a large number of new accounts when I can sell one big account and make the same amount of money, and possibly more. The problem is most salespeople are ill equipped to land big accounts so they are hunting elephants with a BB gun. When your team hunts elephants with a BB gun they not only fail to hit sales objectives, and fail to increase the number of prospects in their funnel….there’s a high probability they are irritating the elephants.

Some of my fondest sales memories were landing some big elephants in the markets I served like; Wal-Mart, Block Buster, Musicland Stores, Nintendo, Dell, Blackberry, and others….and I have to admit it was a rush. I had a big advantage though and that was training and sales tools to land big accounts (elephants). When you sell big accounts you must understand how they buy, who is involved in the buying decision, and aggressively pursue the economic buyer. ( the one who has the power to write you a check) Just as if you were hunting elephants on the plains in Africa, you would equip yourself with a different set of equipment (tools) to bag your trophy, than if you were hunting rabbits or squirrels in Ohio. The environment is different, your weapons are different, and the net number of targets and shots you can take is very different.

One common problem I am observing in the market today is salespeople are hunting elephants with a BB gun and getting frustrated and surprised when they fail to bag their trophy.

How do you know if your salespeople are hunting elephants with a BB gun?

  1. Have your salespeople focused on and failed to close elephants in the past 6-8 months?
  2. When you ask why they failed to close the sale, all they say is price?
  3. Do you keep hearing “good meeting” but fail to see an order or a clear understanding of what was achieved at the last meeting and what the next step of the buying process is for the prospect?
  4. Do you notice the entire sales territory is underperforming to plan?
  5. When you ask about the territory performance, does your salesperson always add the elephant to the discussion?
  6. Are other team members complaining they are being pulled into this “big” opportunity and they are not seeing the sale moving to a close?
  7. Has your salesperson said something like; the account just went dark?
  8. Have you seen new leads not being followed up on in a timely manner?
  9. If you did bag an elephant in the last 6-8 months, was it significantly under your profit targets?
  10. ..I saved the hardest question for last …What does your gut say, should your salesperson be presenting large key accounts in your market? Are they trained and have they demonstrated the ability to listen and present solutions to problems? Would you want your salesperson calling on you?

So how did your team score? If you answered “yes” to four or more of the above, your salesperson is hunting elephants with a BB gun. How did you answer question #10? If you said “no” stop irritating the elephants in your market today.

There are a number of problems with your salespeople hunting elephants when they are not equipped to win;

they fail to bring home all the rabbits and squirrels in their market

they only irritate and make the elephants angry and that anger is attached to your companies’ brand

they compromise margins and they are  operating in the domain of losses

they pull resources from other areas of the organization that fail to meet their objectives

Market leading sales organizations understand the buying process for large key accounts is different than the smaller accounts they serve, and they provide the tools and training to clear the jungle and bag those market elephants.

How is your team’s sales history bagging elephants?

What is the main reason your salespeople say as to why they failed to win their trophy?

How many other opportunities are not followed up on that they could close with a BB gun?

Do you agree or disagree elephant hunting requires different training, tools and experience?

If your team wants to bag some elephants, are you equipping them with the right tools and training? Or are you counting on them to “just make it happen”?

How to Sell “Cautiously Optimistic Buyers”- Diagnose and Prioritize Buyer Pain

How to Sell “Cautiously Optimistic Buyers”- Diagnose and Prioritize Buyer Pain

One shift in buyers that has emerged as our economy begins to rebound is the “Cautiously Optimistic Buyer”. The good news is buyers are searching for solutions to problems they are having or plan to have. The bad news is this “cautiously optimistic buyer “has a different buying process and criteria than buyers of the past. Market leading salespeople diagnose and prioritize buyer(s) pain to close the cautiously optimistic buyer.

If you are trying to help salespeople close orders you probably have heard; “ my buyer is cautiously optimistic” as a response to the status of a pending sales opportunity ( and why the sale you thought you had has not closed yet). I have heard this phrase so often I wanted to share what it means and how salespeople must adapt to this buyer.

Before we can unpack this buyer and how to insure they purchase what they need from you, we need to understand what is meant by the phrase; “cautiously optimistic” I found an interesting quote at The Phrase Finder.

“I believe things will turn out well, so I want credit for having the wisdom to predict it. But I don’t have the courage to say so out loud, so if everything falls apart, I want credit for having the wisdom to be cautious.”

To paraphrase what I have been personally hearing…” I know I have a problem that needs to be solved, it has needed solved for some time but the economy was so bad I did not have budget approval, or the nerve to ask for one. However now the pain of this lingering problem is so great and it feels like the economy is turning around I must find a solution, but I must do so with the least amount of risk to my company ( me) while also being able to defend what I purchase incase I am challenged at a later date.”

So how do we successfully close a cautiously optimistic buyer?

The keys to closing this type of buyer are to;

*Ask open ended questions until you clearly understand the pain points of your buyer and all of those in the buying decision

*Prioritize pain points and rank by decision maker power

*Provide a summary of the problem to be solved, all the buying criteria and requirements shared to insure you did not miss any

*All follow up communications will speak to solving pain

*Proactively provide buyer(s) with information to defend their buying decision if challenged

As I have discussed in previous posts the buying environment has changed and market leading companies must sense the changed and adapt their sales process to insure they achieve sales objectives. If you ask salespeople why a sale they projected to close did not close you often hear; our price was too high. However if you ask buyers as I have, the number one reason the buyer did not buy was not price. The leading reason buyers do not buy is they feel the salesperson did not understand the problem to be solved completely and therefore they do not trust the solution the salesperson is proposing will make their pain (or threat of future pain) go away.

Have you experienced the cautiously optimistic buyer?

What changes have you made to your sales process to sell this buyer?

Are your salespeople finding the sales process has become longer or shorter?

The Toughest Sale an Entrepreneur Can Make….Investment Capital to Grow

 

I enjoy sales, I really do. I see sales as the ultimate example of serving others. You connect with people in your market that may have problems your product or service can solve, and you help them solve their problems. For me it’s the ultimate rush helping clients solve problems they have struggled with and felt they must learn to live with. However there is another sale entrepreneurs have to make that is not nearly as fun and can be emotionally and physically taxing if you do not know what you are doing…raising investment capital.

Typically the companies I serve have the capital and or are self funding and I am asked to create a repeatable sales process, based on how their buyers want to buy. Then I train their team how and when to use the sales tools we create for each step of the new sales process. In one instance however, a company I was asked to turn around lacked adequate access to capital to truly scale the business. So I approached raising investment capital as I would any market with various buyer personas , but in this case what I was selling was the viability of the business and future potential. I found there are basically five ways to fund your growth and each has its own characteristics, requirements, needs and challenges. Over a three month period while out making sales calls with customers, I met with as many “potential buyers” for funding as I could to understand  shape and I even named my buyers, my ways to raise funds.( I had way to much car time, so stick with me)

Self Fund through sales revenue – “Willy Lowman”

 

State and Government Grants – “Annette to detail”

 

Friends and Family- “Have-I” , as in have -I got a deal for you

 

Angel Investors- “Michael”, like the archangel

 

Venture Capital –”Barbra”, from the show shark tank

 

The first I called “Willy Lowman” from Death of a Salesman. You are out chasing revenue, cold calling, following up on every potential lead, and networking like crazy. You bootstrap your way, working 12-14 hours a day meeting with clients who could provide that next big order. At night you stuff envelopes with letters and brochures, and scour the internet using social media tools searching for the right contact to speak with at your future targeted accounts.

Characteristics– You often find yourself bunking on friends couches and driving great distances simply because the meetings need to occur but you lack the capital to afford air flights and hotel rooms. You have a passionate connection to your product and you have the ability to sell convincing presentations that drive early orders. You may hire independent sales representatives to sell your product on straight commission, but quickly find they too require time, your most precious asset at this point.

Requirements – You have to be skilled at taking inventory of what you have to work with and leveraging it to the best of your ability while always being cognizant of the businesses cash requirements, cash flow. You personally will do without.  You need tenacity, good old fashioned (excuse the expression)… “piss and vinegar”. You will have many doors slammed in your face and you will need the ability to press on in the face of adversity. You know the “right” way to get orders, but you lack the capital today, so you do what you need to do. I have 50 other ugly truths in my eBook you can download off my blog. You have to possess the ability to create learning’s through each transaction and adapt quickly.

Need – samples, sell sheets and a clear understanding of the problem you solve, and who potentially has that problem. With some of the software out there today and help from friends in your network you can create some professional presentations and sell sheets. You must have a web site.

 

Caution – it’s not unusual to start a business this way trying to sell your way to success, however know that it is not for the faint of heart, and if you do it for too long you too run the risk of going nuts like our buddy Willy. If whatever you are launching cannot gain traction and begin to result in predictable sales revenues within 12-18 months, cut bait! Chances are you are pushing mud uphill and you have not answered one of the four questions with a yes.

So how about you…have you launched a business on shear tenacity? How did it turn out?

 

As you look back, how long were you in the bootstrap mode? (Or are you still in it?)

 

What did you find the hardest part of this phase?

 

What advice would you give someone who has desperately tried to scale their business, their dream for 18 months with no success?

The key to funding I have learned over time is to truly understand where your company is on the business growth continuum. Is your business pre-cash, do you have a few customers, some revenue… but needing capital to scale, ….?

Once you clearly understand where your business is, you can connect to the right kind of funding. As you move from self funding / friends and family to Government Grants to Angel investors to Venture Capital, you must clearly understand where you are at and what your buyer (investor) requires.

What I have experienced is friends and families are investing more in you and your abilities than the business. They are looking at your past success and your personal abilities. They have a personal relationship with you.

Government Grants/ other Grants are focused on answering a specific issue. You must be skilled at writing grant applications and clearly answering how your product falls into their grant offering.

Angels fund from small $20k investments up to $2 million from larger angel funds. Angel funds are groups of angel investors who pool their monies and invest in companies. Sometimes members of the fund may also wish to make “side car” investments in addition to the fund investment. Angels focus on;

  • proprietary product and or technology
  • leaders ability to lead organization, monetize opportunity
  • the market and your product solution’s potential
  • your team and its ability to execute
  • your exit plan, who would be potential buyers, or do you plan to go public

Venture Capital traditionally invests in opportunities over $2 million. They are industry specific and the cost of their funds in terms of equity in your business is often much greater. They are focused on return on their investment. They have specific business valuation models and your engagement with them will feel more like a business transaction than a relationship. VC’s will receive 1,000’s of pitches each year and only work with a select few companies that match their criteria. I recommend you watch the show Shark Tank and pay attention to the discussions, the interaction as it will prepare you for possible discussions you may be having should you pursue VC funding.

If you are an entrepreneur and feel the next step to truly scale your company is funding, make sure you understand where your company is at, and what type of funding source best matches your needs. If you are like me, you will find it the most challenging sales process you have ever experienced!

Why Can’t Salespeople Sell New Products?

The CEO said…” Why can’t my salespeople sell new products” ? I hear this frustration from business leaders often. The assumption is the salespeople are not capable, but the reality is they can sell new products if they are provided a strong value proposition and sales tools that guide potential buyers through their buying journey. If your new product or service clearly provides four yes’s then it will not feel like pushing mud uphill during launch. However far too often new products are thrown over the wall from engineering and product management and sales are told …”just make it happen”.

The reality is you do not want your salespeople spending time figuring out how to sell the new product.

Salespeople follow the path of least resistance to revenue.

If your new product lacks a clear value proposition, sales tools designed for specific buyer personas, and a history of poorly launched products your launch may be doomed.

Equip your sales team to gain new product sales velocity by clearly understanding the problem you are solving for your buyers and the buying process and criteria they use to solve their problems.

How successful is your team with new product sales launch?

 

Does your new product offer a quick path to revenue or does it feel like pushing mud up hill for your sales team?

 

Can you afford to have your salespeople figuring out how to sell a new product while your core product sales suffer?

 

Are new product sales an Art or Science in your organization?

Get Your Sales Team in Shape For Profitable Sales Growth

calorieBurning-elliptical-intervalTraining         

Are your salespeople prepared to win in the market they face today? Are you sure? Market leaders are taking the time to clearly understand their markets, their problems, buyers, and buying process to make purchases. Market losers plan to work harder, doing more of what they have been doing that did not produce results. Losers believe it’s just an “execution problem” a “motivation problem” so they plan to “manage” their sales team’s activities even closer. Market leaders are getting their teams in shape for the market of today.

In March of 2009 I decided I needed to get in shape. Years of traveling two to three nights per week, poor food choices and lack of exercise and I found me in the worst shape I have ever been in. It was not something that happened over night, but over a long period of lack of focus. So the first thing I did was get moving. I started working out like a maniac. I took spin classes at 4:00 am and then I would lift weights and end my workouts on the elliptical machines. This went on for months, and although I did have more energy, I was not losing weight.

More Activity alone was not producing my desired results.

So I attacked this like a business problem; I started doing research. I found that I fell into the same trap many people assume when trying to get healthy; activity drives healthy results. Therefore we assume more activity should produce even more desired results right? Wrong! The more I read I learned that 65% of your health is determined by the food you consume (inputs) and 35% is activity (execution).

I was focused on activity with little attention to what I was consuming, what was going into my body. I found with the right focus on inputs, you don’t need to have 2-2 ½ hour workouts. A strong workout of 40-60 minutes produced greater results. Within twelve months I lost 80 pounds, became healthier, and I now have more energy and more time.

I find many businesses try to fix unhealthy sales results by demanding more activity without focus on key inputs.(strategy)

 

Managers quickly direct their sales teams to more activity although the current activity is not driving the desired results. (Einstein’s definition of insanity)

Just as there is a proven formula for creating a healthy body, I have found a similar model to create healthy sales teams that drives profitable sales growth.

65% of your profitable sales performance is driven by strategy (inputs)

 

35% of your profitable sales performance is the result of sales team execution (execution)

 

(Ironic most of us have this backwards…)

 

 

 

Strategy

 

To insure your salespeople are equipped to be effective and efficient in the market of today you must have a clear understanding of your market, market problems of today, and map how your buyers buy today. These inputs will strengthen the core of your sales team performance with a power that the majority of your competitors do not have.

So how do you get started?

Get out in the market

 

Ask open-ended questions

 

Meet with customers and those who you did not sell

 

Identify the problems they face today

 

Equip sales with a value proposition that resonate with buyer needs of today

 

Map the buying process buyer’s use

 

Create a sales process that mirrors how your buyers are buying today

 

Develop sales tools for areas in the buying process where the sale grows dark and stalls

 

Constantly review the buying process and adjust your sales process, add tools as needed

 

 

 

Activity

 

Once you clearly understand how your buyers are buying, how they are making buying decisions today, equip your sales team with a new sales process and tools. Manage their activity using the sales process that mirrors how buyers want to buy.

“Your focus must be on how your buyers want to buy and not on how you want to sell.”

 

How do we execute new sales process?

Share the buying processes you discovered with salespeople

 

Train your sales team with the sales process you developed to serve how your buyers are buying

 

Teach your salespeople how to, and when to, use the new sales tools you created

 

Create sales tools that share the problems you solve in the markets voice

 

Create key performance indicators that measure key steps in the sales process

 

Constantly assess your new defined sales process for areas the sale seems to go dark

 

Lead your sales team by managing sales opportunities through the defined sales process steps

 

Identify salespeople who may need additional, individualized training, or may not be embracing new process

 

The core strength of your sales team’s performance is based on clearly understanding your market…stay close to buyers

 

 

Applying a sales process that supports how your buyers want to buy will produce healthily results in sales revenues and profits.

 

“If you have not changed your sales process in the last 6 months it’s broken.”

 

“If you have not produced new sales tools in the last three months, you are losing sales you could be winning.”

 

 

 

How about your team?

Do you clearly understand the problems your buyers are facing today?

How are your buyers buying today?

How do your buyers shop today?

Who is involved in the buying decision, and what additional information do they require?

 What problem does your product or service solve for your market?

 

Market leading sales teams understand their buyers, buying criteria, and how they want to buy. They design sales processes that mirror how buyers want to buy and they equip their sales teams with sales tools to help buyers buy.

Don’t Kick Your Salesperson’s ASS, …Help Them Find Their Number….

 

One of the easiest things a sales manager, (business leader) can do is resort to a; “boot on the throat”…” a throat to choke” ….and “Ass Kicking “mode. After all it takes very little effort, knowledge or skill to be a critic and a bully.

True leaders help train and motivate their teams.

 If your desire is to hit and surpass your sales objectives….Help your salespeople “find their number”.

I see it all the time, a new product launches or a new sales goal is distributed to a sales team and the key performance measurement: Sales to plan is not met. The easy route is to start “Ass Kicking”. You know …the weekly and by weekly conference call thrashings in front of their  peers. The sales update calls at 5pm on Fridays that last until 7pm. The “contemplation of your navel” market reports on why they can’t hit their sales numbers and their future action plan to change the results.

Yes this may drive some momentary, fear driven results, but this is not how you create sales velocity. In 99% of the cases I have been asked to help figure out why sales objectives were being missed it was not lazy salespeople who needed their butt’s kicked. A frequent cause was poor (or a total lack of) sales training. In these cases struggling salespeople are told to “stop making excuses and just make it happen, figure it out”. However the reality is the reason your team is missing numbers can be traced back to your understanding (yes you) of your market and buyers problems, buying criteria, and buying process.

Sales velocity is sales increases with direction and momentum and it is never driven by fear.

If your salespeople are struggling with sales, particularly new product sales and or new business sales my advice is to stop… the beatings as the morale is not improving and “help your salespeople find their number”. Their number is how many rejections they have to experience to have a win.

For example at one time in my career I ran business development for an ad firm. After tracking my calls I found my number was 18. If I made 18 calls I would get 2 appointments and from those two appoints I would close 1 new account. Instead of dreading the call process it became a game. Each rejection meant I was one step closer to a yes. Over time I also tried to improve that number.

A couple of funny things happen when you track how many rejections your team receives;

First, they make more calls. More calls mean more opportunities to win, more opportunities to start conversations.

Secondly, if your sales team has been properly trained on how to listen to buyers, determine their unresolved problems, and they understand the problems your product solves….you will have a number of net new potential clients dropping into your marketing funnel. Some of these accounts may not buy for 12-14 months, but if you compliment your calls with a lead nurturing campaign you have a high probability of closing them when their problems, (their pains) become unbearable.

As the leader you must listen to your team and look for diamonds as far as what is working and share it with your entire team. In addition you must look for common reasons sales do not occur and work with marketing to create sales tools for these common roadblocks in the flow of the sales process.

So do me (and your sales numbers) a favor …

Track number of rejections for each team member for 60 days. Gain an intimate knowledge of common reasons buyers are rejecting your salespeople.

 

Have your salespeople report on their number of rejections each week and you will see more net new sales and your marketing funnel will increase exponentially to help your future sales numbers.

Or go ahead and Kick Some Ass….it sure worked when you were a salesperson right? …Oh it didn’t? It actually made you feel like a number, and you lacked a loyalty to that manager and or company? Or you left that team, that idiot boss and now you lead the competitor’s sales team?  Interesting…did the ass kicking make you seem desperate to your accounts at the time and the deals you did close were below your targeted profit margin? Hmmm…so what makes you think “Ass kicking” makes your team feel any different?

Does your team track number of rejections?

 

Does each of your salespeople know their number?

 

Does your organization use those individual rejection numbers to identify team member who need training?

 

If you are in sales, do you know your number?

 

Do you find when the pressure is on salespeople chase new business differently? Are they making things up on their own? Making promises your product or service can never achieve?

You always have a choice.

You can “let the beatings continue until the sales and morale improves”….’let the Sh@t flow down hill…”or you can chose to lead your team. You can help them, motivate them to make more calls, and clearly understand your market, buyers, and have a record setting year.

Want to Jump Start Sales and Morale? Write a “Passion Statement” For Your Business….

 

Business leaders for years have been taught to write a mission statement, a values statement , distinctive competence, and their Unique Sales Proposition. Leadership teams are sequestered off to three-day retreats to write these statements only to often return and go right back to practicing what prompted the retreat in the first place…Why? The reason is far too often is the “work” they did at the retreat was all “head work” and lacked “heart work”.

The quickest way to jumpstart sales as well as the morale of your team is to create a “Passion Statement”.

 

So what is a passion statement? A passion statement is something I help my clients to create that explains;

  • what problem your product or service solves?

 

  • who do we solve it for? Who are our buyer personas?

 

  • what emotion does our solving the problem create in our clients?

 

  • what emotion does solving our clients problems create for us?

 

If you study companies who have become market leaders they very seldom set out to build huge profitable companies. In the majority of the cases they saw a problem that someone had and set out passionately to solve that problem. Their focus was not as much a business as it was a quest.

For years we have heard; “fake it until you make it” , unfortunately however you can not fake a passion to serve your clients and your market.Your customers will quickly detect inauthentic commitments to serve.

An authentic passion ( quest)  to serve your markets unresolved problems takes your business to another level in the minds and hearts of your market.

 

Let me give you two examples of companies I have helped. One is a typical stale example without passion often find after interviewing their team and their customers, the other a passion statement we all can rally behind.

Example A

 “our business’s purpose is to create wealth for our owners and shareholders. We plan to accomplish this by charging the maximum price the market will bear for our product and service and we plan to hold our employees and partners accountable to this objective…” ( don’t worry once the CEO understood this was his teams’ perception ( and his customer’s) of why they were in business we helped them to change this )

 

Client Name not shared for obvious reasons

 

Example B

 

“Our passion is to helping consumers with physical disabilities from the waist down experience the rush and  freedom that results from riding a motorcycle.We are committed to helping our clients connect to their passion or riding”

 

Mobility Conquest

 

 

Which company would you like to buy from?

Which company would you like to work for?

Which company is “selling” you and which company is “helping you buy”?

 

If you had to state your company’s passion statement today…is it more about what you want? Or is it about serving an unmet need of your customers? ( by the way, I do not mean the statement written on posters, shared in quarterly meeting …I mean the mission your team ( and your customers) perceive it to be)

 

Who would you rather compete against… company A or B? Why?

Ok …I hear you CFO’s and bottom line driven CEO’s out their saying …”Ya… but…” so let me assure you that if you study the most profitable market leading companies they have a passion statement.

Still not a believer? In my next post I will share the signs that you need a Passion Statement.

Leads,… Tire-kickers…, and Prospects…Oh my!

 

 

Nothing can throw a monkey wrench into the alignment of sales and marketing efforts like the lack of common terms we use all the time like ; “leads” , “inquires” and “prospects” .

Nothing drives team members back to the safety of their silo’s of ;” I did my job” quicker than a lack of common language when it comes to what everyone refers to as “ leads”.

We also see frustration that results in tarnished relationships when the manufacturer / supplier lack a common lead language with his or her channel partners, dealers, and distributors.

So to set the record straight I want to share what I have always taught my sales and marketing teams that reported to me over the years as well as my clients’ teams.

 

 

Leads

 

Simply put a lead is someone who has raised their hand, and basically expressed the following;

  • I have a problem
  • I think your product or service can solve my problem
  • I have the ability to pay for your solution if it truly can solve my problem

 

A lead therefore is someone qualified to have a problem your product solves, they want the problem fixed, and they have the money to pay for it, or a way to pay for it.

 

 

Inquires (tire- kickers)

Inquires are people who have expressed an interest in your product. What we used to call “tire- kickers” back in the day. These are folks who walk by your booth like they were trick or treating and fill their show bag full of brochures. Or they surf the web in areas of interest and reach out (like a virtual trade show) and ask for brochures to be sent to them.

  • they may or may not have a problem your product or service solves
  • they are not sure if your product can help them , but they are interested in learning more
  • they may or may not know the cost of your product or service
  • they may or may not have the ability to pay for your product
  • they are curious and may be shopping for a solution or just information for themselves and or someone else

 

They basically walked by, surfed by… and said; “cool…tell me more”. They did not say; “great, I want one, where do I send the check?”

 

Prospects

 

Prospects are those folks out there in your market that your product or service could help. Some know they have a problem that needs a solution, and some may not. Some may not even see the condition (problem) you solve as a problem, but just one more thing they have to live with.

  • they may be aware they have a problem , or may not
  • they may know your company and have a perception regarding your products and services and the problems they solve, or they may not
  • they may have a perceived cost to fix their problems in mind, or they may not
  • they do not currently buy from you , and they may be buying alternative solutions

 

Prospects often represent over 70% of any market and are often great resources for market information and determining unresolved problems as they discuss in the book Tuned In.

As you can imagine many discussions end in frustration that begin with; “I sent you 122 leads last week and you have not closed any of them.” Really? Were they truly “leads”, or were they “tire kickers” or were they simply “prospects”?

The key is Market leaders must develop a common understanding, a common language to insure relationship within their teams grow. If you work with a manufacturer who sends you “leads” or you are the manufacturer who sends “leads “ to channel partners you must define what this term means and the corresponding expectation.

If you are a Market leader, and your sales are a science and not an art, you understand the buyer, buying process and can clearly communicate the expectations of leads and inquires.

If you work with (for) a market loser, every inquiry that “fogs a contact us form” is a lead and is a potential sale you failed to close.

Market losers spend more time trying to; “Hold people accountable” ….their salespeople, their dealers, their channel partners and so on when they should be spending that time gaining an understanding of your buyers.

If you do not like my definitions it does not hurt my feelings. What is key is to clearly state what the terms thrown around in meetings truly mean and get everyone on the same page. Once you have a common language, you can work on building a perceived expectation for each term.

A common language is critical to clearly articulate where a buyer is in the buying process. A common language insures you, your partners, suppliers, and your salespeople have the right tools in place to keep the conversation moving to the next phase of the buying process so you can eventually close.

How about your team…do you have clearly defined definitions of the words like; Leads, inquires, and prospects?

 

Do you and your suppliers, your distributors have a common language?

 

Do you have a Market Loser calling you wanting to know why you have not closed “leads” when in reality they were just “inquires”?

I would value you sharing how your team defines a lead, inquiry, and or prospect.