Archive for problems

Stop Making Your Salespeople “Assume The Position” …

Posted by on September 19, 2012 with 2 Comments

the buyer pat down without a positioning statement

By Mark Allen Roberts

In my last few posts have been about how buyers become “Brand Damaged” and this preventable disease will quickly eat away at any chances your team thought they had of achieving their sales goals. It is very difficult to heal damaged brands. Another marketing disease that frequents particularly large companies occurs when sales has to : Assume the Position of your product or service when presenting buyers. If your salespeople do not clearly understand your product positioning they are left to be pat down by buyers . Sales then assumes what it must represent to make this uncomfortable experience end,and the result is very dangerous. It is dangerous because you fail to close sales you probability could have won  and your sales team is promising things you can not execute.

I can hear some of you now, “ok, you have discussed branding and positioning in the last two posts, enough already!” My answer is no, I have shared branding and how your brand can become a damaged brand in the minds of your buyers. In this post I will discuss how far too many companies force their salespeople to ; Assume the Position their product or service has in the minds of their buyers and this results in lost sales that could have been yours.

Let’s go over a couple quick definitions;

Brand- Unique designsignsymbolwords, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer’s mind (see positioning). Thus brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefitsand valueLegal name for a brand is trademark and, when it identifies or represents a firm, it is called a brand name. See also corporate identity.

Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/brand.html#ixzz26NttsbS1

Position, Positioning, Positioning Statement -  Written description of the objectives of a positioning strategy. It states (1) how the firm defines its business or how a brand distinguishes itself, (2) how the customers will benefit from its features, and (3) how these benefits or aspects will be communicated to the intended audience.A positioning statement is a subset of a value proposition that optimizes it for marketing communications purposes. It identifies the target audience, the product and its category, a specific benefit, and is differentiable from the nearest competitive alternative. It is an internal, non-emotional statement that becomes the messaging cornerstone of an integrated marketing campaign.

Read More : http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/positioning.html

You can control your “positioning” by creating a unique selling proposition and using it in all your marketing communication. Over time, as people become aware of your products and services, you start building your brand in your prospects’ and customers’ minds. Positioning is something you can do now when you state the problems you solve and how you uniquely solve them. Branding happens over time. Branding refers to what your customers think or feel when they hear a specific word. Positioning refers to your position “relative to” or “in comparison to” your competitors. Positioning is sharing your distinctive competence with your market. Branding is your product’s identity established over consistently executing what you promised.

With that said…

Are your salespeople trained and aware of your product positioning? …are you sure?

When your salespeople meet with new prospects do they know your product’s distinctive competence?

Is your brand and position  true in the minds of your buyers?

Are some of your products; “positioning dated”?

Are your salespeople “assuming” they know what your product position statement is or sharing a dated position that worked five years ago?

Is it time to re-position your product(s) based on the market conditions and problems your buyers face today?

Salespeople are focused on closing new business and if you do not provide your product positioning that resonates with buyers, sales will assume and make their own tools to drive the sale to a close. The trouble is, from a buyer’s perspective, it feels very uncomfortable as they have to pat down salespeople to find products that may solve their problems. For a buyer it feels like the salesperson is playing feature and benefit BINGO. They keep tossing features and benefits expecting  the buyer to yell; “BINGO …I get it now, I know what problem you can solve for me.” The more this salesperson is left to find your product’s position the less credible they becomes in the mind of your buyer. The more salespeople you have on your team creating your positioning, trying to sell dated positioning, your market will lose trust in your company.

Don’t make your salespeople Assume the position when meeting with buyers.

Train your salespeople to seek unresolved market problems and understand your product’s position to solve those problems. The goal of positioning is when your target market associates a benefit with your company. When you fail to establish a strong foundation from a position that resonates with your buyers, you fail to create brands that create raving fans.

So hopefully you can see now that when salespeople are forced to Assume the Position of your product or service it creates an unstable foundation for a trust based relationship and is it any wonder buyers become brand damaged? A strong position in the mind of the buyer, reinforced over time connects to the buyers’ emotion and they begin to trust. It is at that point your positioning becomes a brand.

When salespeople are forced to assume the position of your product ;they make an ass out of you and your company.

Are Your Buyers Suffering From “Brand Damage”?

Posted by on September 13, 2012 with 7 Comments


by Mark Allen Roberts

As I shared in my first book Branding Backwards, your brand is your promise, your flag you plant with laser like positioning in your market that shares the problems your product or service promises to solve and is established over time. Companies can have intentional brands like Volvo that will always mean safety. Market losing companies let the market decide what their brand stands for and I refer to this as; Branding by Default. Like it or not your company, your products, your teams have a brand perception in the minds of the buyers in your market. The harsh truth is; your buyers’ perception of your brand is reality. Your brand emerges after executing your positioning well or poorly over time. It can take years and a considerable amount of money to establish a brand, and one terrible experience that breaks that promise (trust) and destroy it.

What happens when your brand promises something you do not execute?

Your buyers become “Brand Damaged “

Once buyers in your market become brand damaged their trust in your company, its products, salespeople, channel partners is broken… often permanently. I heard a great quote recently and I am not sure who said it but here goes; People do not buy from people they like, they buy from people they trust.” Your brand is something you must treasure, reinforce and protect. Your brand is what you are promising if someone buys your product or service. It becomes the foundation of your future relationship of trust with your buyers.

Markets establish and adjust perceived brand images  much quicker  today since the internet has become an open forum for good as well as poor buying experiences.

When I have worked with companies wanting to increase their sales and profitability, one of the first things I do is go out into their market and meet with their current customers, customers they would like to have and customers they have lost. In these meetings I am trying to quickly determine their market’s perception of the companies’ positioning and brand . I am not judging what I hear as I am just gathering market information…market truths if you will. The next step is interviewing the companies’ sales team, distributors, and channel partners specifically listening for what they are promising the market. The last step is I spend time with the corporate team and dive deep into their marketing communication, their positioning and are they intentionally building a brand. What I am looking for is any disconnects, any promises the corporate group is making that buyers have experienced are not true in the market today. I emphasize the word “today” since what I often experience  is the perception of the companies’ product positioning and brand at the corporate level was once true, but experiences  occurred that have changed buyer perceptions and broken buyer trust.

In every interview with customers, prospects , suspects, distributors and team members they all have an opinion, a perception of what your brand represents today. Does the brand promises shared by the companies’ team and their marketing message match the market’s perception of the companies’ brand? In most cases the root of the brand promise is consistent; however once in a while I find a company that has Brand Damaged Buyers.

What are some symptoms you have Brand Damaged Buyers?

  • sales failing to meet plan
  • competitors sales growing
  • competitors gaining market share
  • profit decrease due to field discounting to “win the business
  • channel partners, distributors afraid to sell your products
  • past customers you have lost refusing to meet with you
  • you are losing large key accounts who have “been with you forever”
  • you consistently have missed new product launch dates
  • high turnover of star salespeople
  • you consistently miss product ship dates
  • customers embrace a new product and it fails
  • new products introduced before they were  ready
  • decrease in web traffic
  • buyers share “its all about price
  • current customers not embracing/supporting new products for 6-18 months after launch
  • current customers stop sharing problems they are experiencing
  • increase in product returns and or warrantee claims
  • increase in customer deductions off your sale invoices
  • sales fails to sell new customers
  • sales can not even book meetings with targeted market leading new customers
  • trade associations complain frequently about your company, service , and products
  • your web site and marketing brochures promise things that are not true with buyers using your product
  • unhappy customer experiences are found on web

I can hear some of you saying; “come on Mark, be realistic, anytime you sell a product or service you are going to have happy customers and unhappy customers. Customers sometimes are unhappy for no reason of our own and I don’t think it’s correct or fair to say they are brand damagedYour right, not all “unhappy” customers become brand damaged. If you have a clear path of communication and you are aware of problems in the buying experience and correct them, your buyers do not become damaged. It is the case when you keep beating buyers upside the head in sales presentations, webinars, your literature and web site with what your corporate team believes to be true, ( often wishes was true) that your buyers perceive ( have experienced)  as not true that they become Brand Damaged.

A quick way to determine if your buyers are suffering from Brand Damage is to ask yourself two questions;

As you read the above symptoms, how did it make you feel? Worried? Defensive?…you have brand damaged buyers in your market.

As you review the above list and you say “yes” to more than 5 of the above symptoms…you have brand damaged buyers in your market.

So how about your company…

Do you have Brand Damaged buyers in your market?

How do we heal Brand Damage in our markets and get back on track to creating profitable sales growth?

Once you have broken trust it is difficult to win it back. Buyers want to find brands they can trust. However when companies or representatives of companies keep selling the company line with their Kool-aid drinking mustaches still fresh on their faces, buyers become brand damaged. Brand Damaged buyers shop until they find another company who’s brand promise is true. In my next post I will discuss how to insure the brand burned into the minds of your buyers is the one you intended and how to heal brand damaged buyers.

The Value of the “Four Legged Sales Call”, …Fix Sales problems quickly

Posted by on May 6, 2011 with 6 Comments

 

 

 

 

The Value of the “Four Legged Sales Call”, …Fix Sales problems quickly

An “old school” technique to drive explosive sales and profit growth is the “four legged sales call” It doesn’t matter if you have a direct sales team , regional managers and or independent representative firms, the four legged sales call is the quickest path to incremental revenues and fixing your sales problems.

Let’s face it, in most markets out there it’s tough. The buying process has changed, we have more irrational competitors, and a much larger number of people influencing the purchase.

 

Sales today is like walking on Jell-O, its difficult to gain traction and easy to fall down.

I have a number of business leaders expressing a need for a quick fix, a quick way to fix their sales problem. They often phrase the need as “my sales rep team just can’t execute our plan.” When I hear this I often pause as based on my experience most salespeople “try” to execute “the plan”, however the root of the plan (marketing strategy) is often flawed and therefore they fail to execute and meet their sales goals. What market losers do is race to engage with what I call Mullet Marketing; doing the marketing work after the launch instead of understanding the market and it’s problems before the launch.

What are some signs your sales process is disconnected from the market?

 

  • 70% or more of your sales team are missing sales key performance indicators
  • Profit per sales below key indicator goal
  • Lead to sale ratio below prior, below goal
  • New product sales fail to meet plan
  • Customer satisfaction scores decrease
  • Customer service, technical assistance increases

 

The quickest way I have found, even with all the new CRM tools , win/ loss survey companies, online surveys, and so on is the “four legged sales call.”

In the four legged sales call the salesperson in charge of the account and is accountable for the sales from that account is joined by the VP of sales or the company President. While your salesperson is selling, your focus is to listen and observe.

What you are listening (looking) for?

  • salesperson’s understanding of the buyer’s problem
  • salesperson’s ability to communicate the problem your product or service solves
  • Does your salesperson have the right tools to help the buyer make a buying decision?
  • What are the buyers’s buying criteria today?
  • What is the buying process?
  • Does your sales process mirror the buying process?
  • What sales tools does your salesperson have and which ones do they use? Are they current, or something they created themselves?
  • Does the buyer have other problems they verbalize but your salesperson fails to hear?
  • Where does the buyer turn today when faced with an unresolved problem? …the internet, a trade journal, calls a local representative…
  • What other products does your buyer buy from competitors that they could be buying from you?
  • What % of the time is your salesperson listening versus talking? ( my favorite indicator)

 

I promise you, after a few four legged sales calls you will have a much better understanding of your market, buyers, and how buyers are buying. Make sure you visit accounts you are currently selling as well as those you lost and or are trying to sell. When you return to corporate gather your notes, look for common data points and adjust.

If you have not changed your sales process in the last six months it is broken!

 

When is the last time you went on a four was legged sales call?

 

When you ask your salespeople why they are not hitting sales objectives, do they say “price”? ( if so they are wrong)

 

What is your buyer’s buying process today? How has it changed over the last 6-12 months?

 

Are their other “old school” methods to fix sales problems? If so, what are they?

“Clean Sales Management” …the Secret to Profitable Sales Growth

Posted by on February 4, 2011 with 1 Comments

 

 

As the leader of your sales team are you able to quickly identify market shifts, buying process changes, and the needs for new products and or services? Or do you, like 90% of the sales leaders out there seem to be playing catch up, always chasing what you should have done? “Clean Sales Management “is a practice, a methodology, which entails gathering market information in the market, belly to belly, if you will, with buyers. When you practice clean sales management you will find your sales team seems always ahead of your competitors in sales, new products, as well as overall customer satisfaction.

Like a number of us I set out in 2011 to become healthier. I drifted from my workout plan and I found myself being less intentional about what I was consuming to fuel over the last three months. I found a number of articles on “eating clean” . The basic premise of eating clean is to consume less processed foods and intentionally set out to eat foods that are closest to their raw natural state. For example, we should consume raw broccoli and carrots instead of popping open a can and quickly microwaving this canned, processed, solution. It’s about staying away from consuming junk food.

As I thought about eating clean it reminded me of how I have found the most success in leading sales and marketing teams when I was out in the market, intentionally consuming feedback from buyers directly with my teams. When I would struggle in my sales and marketing leadership is when I was so focused on forecasting and CRM system stage reports that I failed to have an intimate understanding of what was going on in the lives of my markets and the problems of our buyers. Sure, my sales teams participated in weekly conference calls provided weekly call reports, and one on one calls with my team members, however I see now those communications were processed.

Developing sales plans based on phone conversations with your salespeople is “sales management junk food.”

I heard it once “salespeople are like water and they will take the path of least resistance to a sale” and what I have experienced is they strive for quick fixes and shortcuts, often band aides to cure gapping wounds in the repeatable sales process.

When you practice clean sales management you;

  • Are in the market more than behind your desk
  • observe your salespeople in action, with buyers
  • know why buyers buy from you…and why they don’t
  • compare sales report data to what you observe at the source ( raw and unprocessed)
  • stop looking for a salespersons “Ass to kick” and focus on solving problems
  • identify the injuries to your repeatable sales process as the shifts occur and adjust so they do not become gapping wounds
  • become stronger at conducting business triage
  • find your leadership is stronger due to your direction being driven close to the source
  • meet and exceed your sales goals
  • meet and exceed new product sales goals
  • poor performers are eliminated from your team quicker
  • buyers trust your overall organization more
  • sales are more profitable
  • gather sales representative data points and build sales tools that address trends as apposed to chasing each salesperson’s perceived needs based on the last buyer they spoke with

 

So how about your organizations…are you ready to practice Clean Sales Management?

 

How often are your sales leaders in the market working with their teams in front of buyers?

 

Do you and or your sales leaders feel chained to your desk at corporate analyzing CRM updates and creating forecasts no one ever hits?

 

Do your competitors keep beating you to the sale with new products and or services?

 

Do you believe your sales team provides “raw” feedback or “processed “information based on what they think you want to hear?

One resolution I ask each sales leader to practice is to intentionally set out to work in your markets, belly to belly with buyers to insure you practice clean sales management.

Why Can’t Salespeople Sell New Products?

Posted by on December 27, 2010 with 2 Comments

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?

Customers Are Not Your Best Source of Information To Grow Your Sales?

Posted by on December 21, 2010 with 1 Comments

 

Customers Are Not Your Best Source of Information To Grow Your Sales?

When companies desire to grow their sales they often reach out to their customers to find what they could be doing to grow their business. The trouble is your customers already have a relationship with you. They heard and understood your value proposition enough to buy from you. You need to speak with them; however you must also meet with those who did not buy from you.

If you really want to grow your sales you must speak with potential customers and those your team has quoted. Since they never bought from you they are more likely to not overlook your clunky web site navigation or your salespeople who showed up and threw up without ever understanding the problems the buyer needed solved. They may tell you your brochure is a great explanation of who you are, but fails to tell the buyer the problems you solve for them.

Look at this another way…of the conversations your salespeople have each day…which is greater …the people who say yes…or the people who say no? Let’s say your salespeople close 15% of leads. Doesn’t it make sense to have a focused understanding of why the majority of the people your salespeople speak with say no? As well as what you need to do to help them say yes? Chances are your current customers have the same issues and your overall buying experience and customer satisfaction will improve by adding those who do not buy when you do your market intelligence.

Who does your team speak with when they want updated market info? Just your customers?

Who does the interviewing?

Why or why not should salespeople do the interviewing?

Have you used this process? If so please share what you learned?

Get Your Sales Team in Shape For Profitable Sales Growth

Posted by on November 13, 2010 with 8 Comments

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.

Two Reasons the CEO Should Not Run Sales

Posted by on October 7, 2010 with 4 Comments

  oeps

The role of CEO is hard enough, particularly in this shifting and changing economy. Balancing all the spinning plates you face each day is difficult without trying to lead and manage a sales team.

The quickest way to insure a sales decline is have your sales team report to the CEO.

 

I have seen sales decline when CEO’s take on the role of driving the sales team for two common reasons;

CEO’s fail to provide the sales team a Value Proposition that resonates with buyers

 

CEO’s communication preference and style

 

One of the best parts of my job helping a variety of businesses that have what they call a “sales problems”. I have served a number of CEO’s over the years and as a group (for the most part) they understand their most important role is  the keeper of their brand promise and positioning .

To be effective as CEO you need to balance all those spinning plates while also focusing on those initiatives that result in the greatest impact on the business today and in the future. (not a job for the faint of heart) CEO’s are natural at problem solving and driving the execution of key performance indicators. They are process driven and have the tenacity of a pit bull once they lock into a vision.

Most CEO’s should never lead sales for two main reasons;

 

CEO’s fail to provide the sales team a value proposition that resonates with buyers

 

Salespeople require a market driven value proposition for the products and services they sell. This should explain the problems you solve for your buyers and not just what you do. It should help your sales team understand who they should target. To insure your value proposition resonates and continues to connect with buyers you must listen and observe the market on a continual basis. Focused CEO’s are flying at 45,000 feet above your market and often become frustrated when sales teams share new roadblocks to achieving their goals. What CEO’s want is sales velocity.

You can tell when your CEO is frustrated when he or she says;

 “ just make it happen”,

… or my favorite ” I don’t pay you to tell me problems, I pay you to sell through objections and hit your numbers…” .

 CEO’s have so many things already on their plates the last thing they need is to add more “to-do’s” to add to their never-ending list. Often buried deep in sales feedback you will find the need for new sales tools for ajusting the sales process based on a buying process that shifted.

A strong VP of Sales can work with salespeople and the CEO. The VP of sales understands the mission and objectives while also constantly assessing the market, buyer needs, buyer criteria, and equips the sales team with value propositions and sales tools.

 

 

CEO’s communication preference and personality style

 

CEO’s are focused on communicating in short bullet point bursts and salespeople speak in stories. ( can you see the train wreck about to happen?) Market leading salespeople incorporate what I teach that I call “story speak”. As opposed to speaking in feature and benefits, I teach salespeople to listen to the buyer problems and share how our product or service solves that problem in the form of a story. So we teach salespeople to speak in stories to communicate effectively, but we get frustrated when they can’t report results to us in bullet points?

I attended a sales conference once and the CEO brought me in to fix what he called  a repeatable sales process problem. He asked his team to individually meet with me to share the common roadblocks they face in achieving their numbers each month. ( so far so good)

But then he said something that still makes me cringe… 

And remember Mark is busy like me so…

Be brief…

 

Be brilliant….

 

Then Be Gone…

(When he got to this part three of the salespeople in the room also said “be gone”…they obviously have heard this before)

CEO’s often rise up through the accounting, technology, and finance channels and they are very process driven. They do not mange people, they develop and manage processes,systems, and or people to follow processes. If you follow DISC assessments, most CEO’s are high D, moderate to low S and low I and moderate to high C. Most salespeople have (very) high I, high D and low S and C. (Often very low C) So again, just based on how CEO’s and salespeople are naturally wired that light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

An experienced VP of sales is constantly listening for common market roadblocks shared among their sales team. They grew up through the sales ranks.Experienced sales leaders understand you need to lead each salesperson individually. A seasoned sales leader will observe and listen to changing buyer problems and processes to identify sales tools the team needs to help their teams continue conversations to a close. VP’s of sales earned long ago how to use their sales team’s natural styles and they provide back-end support for their shortfalls.

So how about your experience…..

 

Should sales report to the CEO? Why or why not?

 

Is there a benefit for CEO’s to have sales teams report to them?

 

What impact, if any, have you seen on the morale of the salespeople who report directly to the CEO?

Is your Market Strategy one of a "Hawk" or a "Dove"? …

Posted by on September 11, 2010 with 1 Comments

 

Market leaders understand the importance of working their plan, and they do not focus on “crushing” the competition, but they do passionately serve their markets. (Doves) Market losers focus their energies on “beating”and “crushing” the completion and have little understanding of the problems of their buyers as their entire focus is on their competitor(s). (Hawks)

Doves strategically and passionately set out to solve their buyer’s problems. Hawks try to swoop in and destroy competitors who may or may not be perched with an understanding of buyers, their problems and buying criteria. (they are only as good as their competitors…who chances are do not understand their market) Ironically, Hawks actually believe their competitors must know the market or they would not be trying to “beat” them.

The trouble occurs when you chase the quest to destroy competitors you fly even closer to your competitor and farther away from understanding your market.

 

One of the benefits of working with a variety of business leaders is listening to their stories. Recently I met with an entrepreneur who shared how he learned one of the most valuable lessons in business strategy  long ago when he served the Marriott Corporation. He described their training and one of their sessions was called “Hawks and Doves”. In this exercise they broke off into small groups and were presented a business challenge. Predictably, everyone fell into the trap of wanting to attack and crush the competition as a Hawks. Admittedly there is a sense of machismo ego in being a Hawk after all. However the problem with being a Hawk is there are always Eagles who can swoop down ( out of seemly no where) and destroy you. Doves however are singularly focused; serving the needs of their market.

As Hawks, you rely ( focus) on your prey,… in a way you are counting on their smarts, their understanding of the market….a follower strategy.

This entrepreneur went on to share how when Marriott would have a location oversold they would have a network of other hotels they would send customers to. On the surface this may seem odd, right? However Marriott is and has been consistently one of the top hotel chains in the world. Their quality and service are consistently recognized as market leaders.

Market leaders serve their market.

Market losers focus on killing competitors.

When I wrote “are you a Pit Bull or a Poodle?” I shared the tenacity entrepreneurs must have . They have a  sence of ownership and not a victim out look. However I do not want to leave you with the impression that means attacking and chewing up your competition. Pit bulls have a fierce tenacity and jaw strength that insures when they clamp down on unresolved market problems and they do not let go.

 As Pit Bull entrepreneurs you clamp down on your commitment to solve your buyers’ problems with your product or solution, but do so with the market serving strategy of a Dove.

How about your organization…..

Is your focus that of a Hawk or a Dove?

How’s that working for you?

Does your mission statement sound like a Dove strategy but you work for a Hawk?

 At the end of the day, it’s about your team’s intentional focus. Are you focused on serving your market or destroying the competition?

Pick wisely…

Delivering Happiness; Enterprise Rental Cars Knows it’s About Doing a Number of Little Things, Consistently Well

Posted by on July 14, 2010 with 33 Comments

 

 

Delivering happiness to your internal and external customers is not about just doing one big thing very well. Market leaders understand delivering happiness is about intimately understanding your customers and your market and consistently doing a number of little things exceptionally well.

Delivering happiness is the “golden rule” in action.

 

This week my work brought me to Chicago. As I discussed in a previous post about the buying experience as a differentiator , my preferred rental car company is Enterprise Rental Cars because of the amazing expertise I had at their Denver location.

I arrived at the Chicago airport, retrieved my checked bags and I was off to the rental car shuttle bus location. When I arrived I was happy to find the Enterprise bus waiting and I quickly boarded. The driver helped me with my bags and provided me a map to help me return the rental car when my trip was over. Another bus arrived and we were quickly off to the rental car parking lot. On the trip the driver (just like Denver) said “we will be arriving at your car in approximately 12 minutes”. As we drove the driver offered to provide us directions if we needed them. The driver radioed “we have two customers approaching and we are two minutes out”…great, I wonder if they will greet us when the van rolls up like Denver?

Sure enough, we were greeted by professionally dressed associates waiting for us. They introduced themselves and invited us inside. As I made my way to the counter, I was offered a cold water to drink. (How did she know I was so thirsty)? We quickly started on the paperwork and she asked how my flight was. Interesting, this is when Dollar or Hertz is typically trying to sell me a GPS rental or insurance, and she seemed to genuinely want to know about my day…

The reservation was pulled up quickly and she led me outside to pick out my car. I chose a small Kia and she walked around the car with her clipboard inspecting the car for damages with me. Again, how nice as this is my job with other companies and it never seems to fail I miss something. She asks about gasoline and insurance packages, but in a way as if she was concerned about my overall service experience and not like she was receiving a sales spiff like I have experienced with Thrifty and other rental car companies. Again she asked if I needed directions and she drew on my map the route to my hotel. She too offered me a map for returning the rental car and circled the directions I would use based on the location of my hotel in Shamburg. She quickly handed me my paperwork and said; “you will need to show this paperwork and your drivers license to the guard at the gate when you leave”. How did she know? How did she know one of my (many) travel pet peeves is if you need to see my drivers license again when I leave your lot, tell me. Don’t wait until I am in the driver’s seat, seat belt fastened and now having to retrieve my wallet and license again. Awesome, it’s like they shadowed me for the past 26 years of traveling and know each of my needs.

Another smaller irritant if you will is finding a radio station I like. Not a big deal mind you, but I often find myself trying to find a station , as I am driving at night in a strange place, trying to follow my Google Maps directions while keeping my eyes out for the right exit signs. When I sit behind the wheel of my Enterprise Rental car I look up and there, hanging from the rear view mirror is a list of radio stations…again how awesome.

After my work was completed I followed the circled directions and quickly found the rental car lot for my car return. When I arrived I was directed to rental car returns and found three people, professionally dressed again, waiting to help me. I would say from the time I pulled in, to the time I was back on the bus to the terminal was no more than 3-5 minutes. Again…awesome! They must know that travelers on their way home just want to get home. We seem to lack patience even more so on the return home than when we arrive and waiting in lines to drop off a rental car is not something we want to do.

Enterprise Rental Cars is in the delivering happiness business and they again reinforced my loyalty based on an amazing overall buying experience.

 

To deliver happiness you must intimately understand your buyers and not rely on your gut and intuition.

 

The test if you are truly committed to delivering happiness is the repeatability of the overall service experience.

 

Market leaders identify customer needs and build repeatable processes and procedures that insure a quality experience each interaction.

 

Market leaders committed to delivering happiness also instill a passion in their team members that is seen in authentic individualized service that reinforces the overall passion to serve.

 

So how about your team?…

 

Do you choose to deliver happiness to your internal and external customers?

 

Is your customer experience the same in Denver as it is in Chicago, Cleveland, or Miami?

 

Do you have processes and procedures in place to insure you consistently deliver happiness? (Market leaders do)

 

How can you instill a passion to deliver happiness in your organization?

 

Just as Enterprise Rental Cars has taken what historically was a matter of fact exchange of service in renting a car to an opportunity to deliver happiness, you can too. You too can get to know your buyers, your market and identify all those little opportunities to serve them that often cost very little but have a huge impact. To do so you need a culture passionately committed to the overall customer experience and an intimate knowledge of your buyers, their needs, and frequent problems.

Oh…as a side benefit, when you passionately deliver happiness customers are forgiving when things go wrong. When I arrived at my hotel I noticed my automatic door locks and truck release did not work. Given how many times I was in and out of the car and trunk over the weekend this would have normally been something that irritated me and tainted my overall buying experience. Since so many other parts of the buying experience were amazing I found the door and trunk release not working not a major problem. I was more forgiving of those inevitable occurrences that go bump in the night than I would have been having rented a car else ware.

Are you in the delivering happiness business?

 

If not now is as good a time as any to start!