Does Your Website Clearly Convey Your Brand Promise?



How do you compete with huge accounts that seem to have bottomless pits when it comes to advertising and media buys?…Smart internet marketing! The average buyer decides if a web site is right for them in 3 seconds to 1 minute. As I shared some time ago: you have a minute to win it when it comes to online sales. How do market leading companies insure buyers find what they are shopping for quickly, stay on their website and buy? I found a new company that clearly understands how to sell products online: Buffalo Head Leather.

As I watch retailers scrambling for position in the minds of buyers for black Friday sales I can’t help but be somewhat amused by the poor branding and positioning. Do these retailers who now sell online not understand marketing and positioning or they have become so lazy and complacent they just hope throwing it on the wall to see if it sticks is good marketing? Are they now aware that up to 60% of the buying process is completed online before a buyer interacts with your company?

When I look at the ads and the visual imagery chosen to sell a particular product I often wonder what if any consideration occurred for the brand of the retailer and the product when designing the communication? Who are their buyer personas? How well do they know them?  The ads that now fill my newspaper, television and websites I visit are all the same. They have dumb-ed down their marketing, positioning and branding as if they assume “everyone “could be a customer.

So imagine my delight in finding a new company online: Buffalo Head Leather. This new company makes and sells leather belts, wallets, key holders and accessories made from buffalo hides. When you visit their website they clearly understand the importance of imagery to support your brand and positioning. In addition this site loads fast. More searches are now done on mobile devices than desktops. I have read studies that share you web site has 3 seconds to load or a consumer will quickly bounce to the next site listed in their Google search. This site loads quickly and it was designed to be mobile friendly. Web sites that are not mobile friendly are quickly becoming invisible as I shared in a post titled; Is your web site invisible.

When I found this new company they obviously have done their homework in terms of marketing specific to branding, positioning, their ideal customer and buyer personas. The imagery found on this site says to me;

  • We make a high quality product that is competitively priced
  • Our research shows to target men
  • Our products for successful people who value quality
  • We did research and it showed consumers have a concern that Buffalo’s are endangered
  • The shopping experience is easy and fast
  • We believe in creating images and content so our customers can easily share us
  • We are not the cheapest

This site reminded me how new companies often execute better than companies who have served markets for years. New companies understand the market today and do their research. New companies take the time to define their buyer personas and their imagery and content supports their brand and positioning. I just ordered a book titled Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper (and what to do about it). I look forward to reading this book and discussing this topic future posts.

I was so impressed by marketing strategy well executed and the quality of their products I reached out to the company. I spoke with one of their owners who has experience in marketing buyer personas and visual imagery. I asked if my perception of what he was communicating online was correct and I think he was surprised how much I knew about his brand after just a few minutes on his website.

Below are a few of the questions I asked:

Any challenges in his market verification stage? He shared that when they tested their messaging prior to launch a common concern buyers expressed was a perception that buffalo leather was stiffer than cow hide leather and actually the opposite was true so he directed me to a web page that shares the difference and how products made from buffalo are actually softer.

I noticed you are not the only site or the first site, how do you plan to compete? Authentically sharing who we are, what we represent and everything we do is about a total quality experience. We are committed to knowing are targeted buyers and helping them buy , helping them shop.

What else? We believe in speaking to communities, the “tribes” Seth refers to. We have a facebook page, a newsletter, pinterest and instagram presence.

Why pinterest and instagram when your buyer persona is successful men who value quality products? Our research showed men want quality products, accessories if you will. Some shop searching for imagery and clicking pictures that match what they are looking for hoping the image brings them to a site to purchase. More importantly, we found successful men are hard to buy for, and women often shop for gifts for them on line. So based on how many women use pinterest and instagram we had to establish a presence there.


How about your web site?


Does the imagery speak to your buyer personas?


Does your web site proactively speak to concerns your buyers have that interrupts their buying process?


Is your web site mobile friendly?


Is your company at risk of a branding and positioning savvy new competitor entering your market and being 10 times better and faster?



Does your website imagery and content clearly convey your brand promise?


Congratulations to the buffalo head leather team for doing your market work prior to launch and positioning your products. It is time we all take the time and clearly understand our markets, buyers and buyer personas. We must create content and imagery that quickly resonates with our targeted buyers or they will find another site that does.

How do I  correct sales problems after a market shift?



Your sales team was aligned and equipped to have a strong sales growth year. Your team created sales playbooks, buyer personas and new sales tools to insure you hit your sales goal (this time). Your team was building a strong momentum and then it feels like someone turned off the sales faucet. What just happened? What probably occurred is your team has experienced a market shift. How do you fix sales after a market shift? In this post I will share the strategy I have used when we experienced a market shift. ( and it’s not likely you are starting in the right place)


Before we discuss the strategy to refocus your sales efforts I want to remind you of a quote from my last post that shared various caused of market shifts. I used the below quote for years as a filter when asked to help companies in the middle of a market shift or more often after a market shift.


“Are you prepared to stake everything, change anything, and do whatever it takes— even if it means altering long familiar habits, redeveloping precious programs, and redeploying sacred assets?”             

  – Tom Bandy

A market shift will cause your company to change and adapt to the new reality. The degree of the shift and the severity of the shift’s impact on sales performance will determine just how much your team will need to adapt.


I can hear some skeptics saying …”We have been doing business this way for 15 years and we do not need to change, we need to wait until the market goes back to normal” The trouble is when your market shifts, you will never go back to normal.


Don’t believe me when I say  how much markets change and shift? OK, how many people reading this have a Myspace account? From 2005 to 2008 Myspace was the most visited website in the United States, even more than Google! Today? Myspace is ranked 1272 on most visited website. What happened? A shift! New companies felt the shift and created products buyers wanted to buy.


Or listen to a leader who transformed shopping with

“There’s a trans-formative shift in business, and what worked before is no longer an option. It’s time for evolved entrepreneurs, visionary creators, and change makers to rewrite the rules of business for the 21st century.”

Tony Hsieh,  CEO of


Or read one of my past posts about when sales plans fail and how to adapt.


Do you agree markets shift ?



Assuming you are willing to adapt and change: “how we have always done things around here” in this post I will share the process I have used over the years to help sales teams fix sales problems due to a market shift.





Meet with your key customers who represented 80% of your sales opportunity before the shift. What you are looking for in these meetings is to clearly understand what shift occurred, when, and more importantly how your buyers plan to react to this shift.  Having faced market shifts many times the first reaction for most sales teams is to target new customers. You may need to do this if your current market is not likely to produce sales to meet your sales goals. You must clearly understand what changed, how your buyers are and have reacted to that change.



Improve overall buying experience. Take the information you have gathered and update the way you deliver solutions to your market based on the way they want to buy and receive them.


Explore for technology shifts. Was the shift due to a technology shift? (72%) of business leaders think technology will transform their company’s competitive landscape in the coming years according to an IBM report .


While meeting with your key accounts ask if there are other departments within their organization that would value your team’s distinctive competence. Why? One of the reasons why buyers do not buy is risk. Can this new vendor execute what they are promising? Is their quality as good as they say? Will it be easy to work with them of difficult? The more a buyer feels there is risk the less likely they are to engage with a new vendor. The exception occurs when you are a:”vendor of record”. Your company is  in their system. You are set up to receive purchase orders, get paid and so on. Assuming you have done a great job you can share your on time service statistics, your billing accuracy and have your other buyers refer you.


Based on meeting with your accounts you need to gather what you learned and create the following I shared In a post some time ago :


Write a market truths document based on gathered current data


Highlight strategies and tactics in your current sales plans that are no longer in alignment with the market of today


Asses your internal truths, capabilities, discard action items that do not support your objectives


If your team lacks a motivation to serve your market, create one


Determine your ideal customer profile


Write a plan you will execute based on the information you have gathered from the market and your capabilities. (allow some flexibility, design your sales plan to be Agile)



Once you complete the above you need to determine if making adjustments in your current markets with current customers will provide sufficient sales opportunity to achieve your sales goal. If yes proceed with executing your plan and you will not need the following steps.


After you have gathered your current market truths and internal truths and you determine your market does not have the opportunity necessary to achieve your sales goals please continue with this process and complete the following steps:




Find other accounts in the same market you have not sold yet. In most of the companies I have helped their “customers” have represented 20% to 30% of the entire market. In this step you will identify other accounts in the same market that are likely to have similar problems as the account(s) you have been selling. Keep in mind when business slows down buyers have time. They have time to meet with new vendors and they often have new goals like specific cost savings targets. When you discover this to be the case make sure the solutions you propose are shared in a way that speaks to the buyer’s company and personal goals.


Explore surrounding markets that include accounts buying products like those you supply. I look for adjacent markets that are interconnected to the markets I have been serving.


Expand your search for new markets that have similar problems your current market has. The key is to clearly understand your companies’ distinctive competence. What is your product or services’ value proposition? Is that value transferable into new markets? Ideally you want to find one to three accounts and test your assumption. In this process you will learn new information and a new language for the new market. Assuming your test clearly demonstrates value, you will want to scale that solution in the language of this new market.


Design new Innovate solutions if your current products no longer solve your current customer’s problems.


Share innovative new products in your current markets.


Share product innovations in adjunct markets


Share product innovations in new markets


As you lead your team through the above process you need to stop when a step will achieve your desired sales goals. For example, let’s say as you explored adjacent markets and you found a number of new accounts who agree with your value proposition, have agreed to buy your products and their sales will help you meet goal. Stop and execute.  Stop following the steps and focus on executing in the adjacent market. Why? Why wouldn’t you have us do all of the above just to play it safe? Three reasons;


Focus – you want to lead your sales team with as clear a focus as possible. When you lack focus your team will be “very busy” but fail to achieve desired results.


ROI- The farther your team expands from your known core business the less RIO you will realize in the short term.


Timing – Often when sales teams experience a problem they have a short window to fix the sales problem. The farther you move from your core the longer it will take to win sales.



Have your sales taken a downward turn?


Did your sales team experience a recent market shift?


How does your sales team fix sales problems due to a market shift?


We serve dynamic markets and we need to expect them to change. When you experience a  market shift the key to reacting and fixing your sales is clearly understanding the shift and having a systematic approach to finding new sales to insure your sales goals are still achieved. Most inexperienced sales managers will quickly launch into a new market. Why take this strategy that has a history of the slowest contribution, lower ROI per sales transaction and highest risk when a current market or a market close to your core will fix your sales problem? The above is the process I have used for years and I welcome comments on other processes and advice for when market shifts occur.

Increase Sales/Fix Sales Problems: Do A Midyear Sales Gut Check

Increase Sales/Fix Sales Problems: Do a Midyear Sales Gut Check

Last year approximately 70% of sales managers achieved their sales goals and of that approximately 10% surpassed their goals. So that leaves 30% of the sales manager’s not hitting plan in 2013 and in 2014 their sales regions received another increase.

What can those at plan do midyear to insure they close the year at plan?

What can those not at plan through the end of June do to insure they hit plan year end?

Quick question: How are your sales performing to goal? If you are like most companies this year’s goal was difficult as we scratch and claw our way out of the recession and you just might hit plan. How can you be sure you not only hit your sales plan but exceed it? You need to perform a midyear sales gut check.

I have been leading sales and marketing teams for more years than I like to admit. (over 30 years… but who is counting) I have used a simple process that has often resulted in a dramatic increase in underperforming sales regions as well as keep the momentum building in regions at or above plan: a midyear sales gut check. What we do is basically review each sales region’s performance to the sales playbook you prepared when the year began. Now that half the year has passed we need to review how the region performed to the sales plan we developed to hit sales objectives. Change and the rate of change is constant in our dynamic markets and as Sales Benchmark Index shared in a  recent review on Jill Konrath’s new book Agile Sales discusses:

“Fighting these changes, or denying they exist, is pointless.  You need a new skill to cope with being an overwhelmed worker. The skill needed to exceed in this environment is agility.”

If you have never done this process I want to share how I have done it in hopes it adds value to you and your salespeople. I also highly recommend you buy Agile Sales. As David Meerman Scot shared in his recent post; Agile Sales Requires a Real Time Mind Set. Good sales leaders are always asking questions and practicing what I refer to as: Clean Sales Management. Your midyear sales gut check needs you to direct your questions internally as well as externally.

What did we set out to do this year? (restate goal(s) and how we agreed we would achieve them)

What are our goals in dollars and profit dollars contributed from sales?

Where did we expect them to come from?

How has this region performed through the end of June to the goals you established for the current sales year?

What is working? (and you need to do more)

What did you think would work, has not produced the desired sales impact and you need to stop doing?

What have we learned?

What are the results on key performance indicators that drive top line results? (discuss each)

Has the market experienced any strategic shifts that can be trigger points for new sales or challenges to existing sales?

Based on the data discussed what will be your three key focus areas for the rest of the year?

If you had to pick just one, with the intent that perfectly executing that one would make the other two obsolete…what would it be?


A midyear gut check is something I like to perform both for the businesses I am serving but also personally and I have added this process to every team I serve. If you have not tried this process I highly encourage you to do so.

Let me leave you with a few questions that may make you want to try this process…

How is your team performing to plan YTD?

What did you plan for this year and it worked?

What did you plan and it did not work?

Based on what you have learned what changes have you made to insure the sales plan is achieved year end?

( if I served on the board of your company this is one question I have asked that has left the best CEO’s pale and at a loss for words)

As the team who has been tasked many years with” just making it happen” we need to have the desire and process to gather current market data and agilely approach our markets to insure we achieve and surpass our sales objectives.


Does your team practice agile sales?


How to Create “Sales Velocity”; Turn “Street Legal Salespeople” into Servant Salespeople

It's not enough to just be "street legal"

It’s not enough to just be “street legal”


I am often asked by business owners and leaders; “What is the best way to create sales growth that becomes repeatable and predictable?” I prefer to phrase this somewhat differently to achieve what the business leaders really want;

How can I create real Sales Velocity?” 

When I hear someone say;

I want more sales

I need more sales

How do I increase sales quickly?

What I immediately think is ; how do we create sales velocity for this team? In this post I will share one way to insure you build a foundation for achieving and often surpassing your sales goals by creating Servant Salespeople .


So what is “sales velocity”? In a previous post I said;


Sales Velocity is Sales Acceleration, with Direction and creates Momentum.


Sales velocity is not just “more sales”. When you ask your team to “go get more sales”, or my favorite with regards to hitting their sales growth goals; “just make it happen you are in essence saying any sale is a good sale. We all know this is not true, but what will happen is sales will take a shotgun approach to the market and often bring in business you may not want and worse yet may not be able to execute effectively and create brand damaged buyers. In addition to often permanently damaging your brand in the marketplace you also run the risk of turning your salespeople into “snake oil salesmen” and they will make all kinds of promises your product or service was never meant to do. If left unchecked you will receive crazy orders you never should have received from customers you will never extend credit to and your team will jump through costly hoops to try to fulfill them.


When I used to conduct sales and marketing seminars, I would share the worst kind of business to win is one order. Once you win that “one order” you now have the liability of servicing it, hearing customer complaints (often now through social media), and sales assumes the position you want more orders like this.


I was in church last Sunday at Grace United Methodist Church and Pastor Don was talking about how it’s not enough to be a “street legal Christian”. Don does a great job of telling stories that have analogies to help people understand the message. In this message he shared how he and a buddy when they were 16 years old had this old beater of a car. He shared how the steering wheel had about 90 degrees of play in it and how the floorboards were all rusted out and you could see the pavement while driving. They had a rear brake light broken out so they covered it with cellophane and used red paint to make it look and somewhat work like a brake light. The car had all kinds of issues but technically it was “street legal”. The car met the basic requirements to be on the road, but really should not have been driven as it was an accident waiting to happen.


Don later pulled this analogy full circle and shared how Jesus taught us we are not to just be street legal Christians that go to church, maybe read a bible once in a while and go through the motions. As I drove home it dawned on me I have seen this many times over the past 30 years in leading sales turnarounds with “street legal salespeople” too. They have the title of sales and they go through the motions of sales but really do not have the heart to serve their clients and solve their customer’s problems.


What is a Street Legal Salesperson you might ask?


Received some basic product training.


They have some understanding of how to reach buyers.


They want to hit their sales goals and corresponding commission checks.


They often have some bad sales habits.


They come close to hitting their sales goal each year, not terrible but not sales super stars.


They try hard.


They are often commission junkies. (not their fault by the way)


At or below the acceptable targeted profit margin for your product or service.


Have problem customers, who complain, pay late or not at all.


When you hear them on the phone with a customer you cringe, but if it works… ah what the heck…


They go through the motion of sales…


The role of sales has evolved over the last 30 years from my perspective. At one time the salesperson was the keeper of the information keys. They did not need to be as good at listening and understanding customer needs as they needed to be aggressive and persistent and know their product inside and out. The salesperson had all the product information and used their sales product binders to answer questions as they arose. They worked hard on relationship selling. Back in the day we taught salespeople the objections buyers would probably make and how to overcome objections.


Next we saw sales consultants/ consultative selling emerge as product experts who would help buyers understand how their product or service might solve the buyers’ problems. In essence they were sales translators who translated what their products did in a language buyers understood once they found a problem they can solve.


Then the internet shifted the power from the salesperson to the buyer. The buyer now can Google almost anything and now has access to the product information keys. We have seen social selling emerge as buyers investigate products and their salespeople with tools like LinkedIn, blogs, online case studies and industry group forums where they openly share poor buying experiences. Buyers are connecting with companies who are seen as thought leaders and they make it their quest to understand buyer problems, criteria and buying processes.


I believe the next sales person emerging is  the Servant Salesperson.


What are the characteristics of Servant Salespeople?


They understand the various buyer personas in their market.


They understand why buyers buy and how buyers buy.


They understand the buying process and criteria buyers use to buy.


They are constantly sensing their market for any changes in how buyers buy.


They listen for problems buyers’ share that can be solved by their product or service.


They have a continuous improvement approach to both product and sales training.


They do online research prior to reaching out to a potential customer.


They have large social networks with many customer referrals praising their service.


They ask open ended questions to understand buyer problems.


They seek first to serve and believe if they solve customer problems income will follow.


The days of snake oil salesmen promising their products and services do whatever the buyer needs is over. Buyers are seeking authentic sales servants who seek to win their business by completely solving their problems,providing the best total buying experience, and salespeople who help them buy. Buyers today see a commission junkie coming from a mile away. Aggressive salespeople are blocked and filtered with email, voice mail and gate keepers. Buyers are looking for salespeople who are focused on serving them.


What stage of selling is your sales team in today?


Would a “servant salesperson” be welcome in your organization? Why or why not?


Why wouldn’t a buyer in your industry welcome a “servant salesperson”?


Just as we are not designed to be “street legal Christians” buyers today do not want “street legal salespeople” who go through the motions of trying to solve the buyers problems.

Servant Salespeople create sales velocity because they authentically seek to solve buyer problems.










Improve Sales Execution; The Power of One Thing

The One Thing


Multitasking is a lie that far too many people believe to be true. Scientific data proves multitasking is not as effective as focusing on one thing at a time and completing it before moving on to the next task. This is particularly true for salespeople as we have the reputation of; chasing shinny objects. When salespeople develop the discipline of focusing on one thing and seeing it to a close they meet and exceed their sales goals. In this post I will share a great new book I have been reading; The One Thing, the surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan.


As I have shared before sales execution is often a common problem in sales teams. Senior leadership did their 2-3 day strategy planning, came away with the plan and rolled it out to the team. However in most cases, CEO’s find themselves frustrated six months into a new sales year when sales results are not achieving plan and upon investigation they find what I refer to as the great disconnect…sales is not executing the plan. Why does this occur and what can be done to insure sales execute the plan and achieve their sales goals?




As the authors of the book; The One Thing share we achieve more when we go small. It takes great discipline to ignore all the things we could do and focus on the thing we should do. The authors share six lies that stand in the way of our success;


  1. Everything matters equally
  2. Multitasking
  3. A disciplined life
  4. Will power is always on Will call
  5. A balanced life
  6. Big is Bad


I highly recommend you buy and read this book. You will find yourself highlighting each page and writing notes in the margins.


Having lead sales and marketing teams for over 30 years as well as coaching salespeople, one common area salespeople must get over to achieve sales plan and hit their goals is the myth of multitasking. They believe busyness drives business… and this is simply not true. What does drive sales results is focusing on serving the customer. However when you ask a salesperson a simple question; what did you do yesterday?…you will often hear;


  • worked with frank in shipping to get my order out
  • I helped Joanie in customer service with…
  • I worked with engineering to quote the part #…
  • I did my call report from my last trip
  • I called and left messages with 6 current customers
  • I did some research on a guy I have been trying to sell for over a year
  • I worked with Lisa in accounting to get one of my accounts to pay their bill
  • I booked my travel plans for the meeting we are having in two weeks
  • I chased down the reasons why my order for …..did not ship on time as we promised
  • I worked with scheduling to try to move up the delivery on my order for …..
  • I did my expense report from the trip I did a month ago…
  • I entered some updates into the CRM
  • I sent email follow ups on order ship dates to some of my customers
  • I read an article in our industry trade journal about how a number of our customers are moving to …..

So what is a sales manager to do? where do you start?

I am a big fan of four legged sales calls. This is where you travel with your salespeople and meet with current customers, potential customers and often past customers you have lost and are trying to win back. One of the things I am also doing is determining how focused the salesperson is. Yogi Berra said ; you can learn a lot by observing… and what I often observe that is also occurring in a salesperson’s day they may not be aware of includes;


  • Multiple calls from their spouse or the person they are dating
  • a text from one of their children or friends
  • an email joke from a friend
  • junk emails with links to content salespeople read
  • LinkedIn updates on who visited their profile, who found a new job, and who may have endorsed them today
  • Facebook updates
  • Twitter updates
  • Maybe Google + updates
  • You tube videos they just have to watch
  • Good articles from industry trade journals sent to their email
  • Emails from customers needing help with quotes, order status updates, why an order did not ship
  • Reading blogs about how to improve their sales performance
  • Reading blogs and articles about their personal interests


* to make this even more of an interruption all of the above and more come through or cell phones.


You get the idea….salespeople today have a tremendous amount of distractions and can easily fall into the trap of believing being busy, having a great deal of activity , adds value. What adds value is bringing in and closing more profitable sales.


A great quote from the book; “ It’s not that we have too little time to do all the things we need to do, it’s that we feel we need to do too many tings in the time we have” – Gary Keller


What I really enjoyed about this book is how they blend in clinical research. Research shows workers are interrupted every 11 minutes and spend 30% of their day recovering from interruptions. We have an average of 4,000 thoughts a day flying in and out of our minds. We change a thought every 14 seconds so it’s easy to see how we fall into the trap of multitasking. But sales people who multitask get more done right? Wrong! Research shows;


  • the more complex the task you switch from when distracted the less likely you are to go back to it
  • chronic multi-tasker’s develop a distorted view of how long it takes to do things
  • workers who multitask make more mistakes
  • they have more stress
  • multitasking makes us slower witted


The book goes on to share more statistics and if you are like me will quickly agree we have been sold a lie with regards to multitasking.


How do we break this cycle of poor sales execution as a result of the multitask lie? The authors give us a grounding question to ask ourselves and our people each day;


What is the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or even unnecessary?


Let that question soak in, seep deep into the marrow of your bones….


What is the one thing your salespeople can do that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?


What is the one thing you as the leader can do that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?


What is your to-do list for today? How many to-dos do you have today?


How can you boil that list to one thing that you will do today that will have the most impact because you focus on it and see it to completion?


I highly recommend the book; The One Thing as at first it will help you, your team, and your ability to drive extraordinarily results. The hidden benefits will also arise as you apply its wisdom to your personal life….your health, your marriage, spiritual life, your relationship with your children and so on. This book, like Ctrl Alt Delete will be a resource tool in my library for years to come.






Increase Sales: Turn your “Sales Bucket” into a “Marketing and Sales Funnel” That Generates Revenue

Steve Patrrizi new sales funnel

Steve Patrizi new sales funnel


In my last post I shared what CEO’s and business owners often share about sales: Why can’t it be more predictable, more systematic? The good news is it can. The unfortunate thing is most companies believe they have a marketing and sales funnel when in reality they have a sales bucket. A “sales bucket” is when all your opportunities, prospects and leads are all floating around together and many dying because you lack a process to help them buy. In a sales bucket opportunities that should become sales make a big splash when they enter your system but fail to leak out the bottom as a sale.  In this post I will share how I have helped companies turn their sales buckets into revenue generating marketing and sales funnel generating revenue on a consistent and predictable basis.


When I hear a business leader say: What we need is a repeatable sales process. We need the sales guys to be more efficient at closing business and bringing in the revenue.  What I hear them saying is : Why can’t my sales and marketing be more of a science and less of an art form? …it is too random, too unpredictable and it drives me nuts that I can’t count on the sales forecasts I am given.” These made me want to do some more research and answer the question: What is science?


At its very foundation science seeks to identify patterns. Through identifying and watching patterns, scientists uncover laws that are ultimately translated into math equations. These patterns follow one of two interwoven features; physical laws and environmental influences. With the common pattern of as high as 96% of leads going unsold…what is the pattern and what can we do to improve?


For companies who lack a marketing and sales funnel over the years the current market has only made this problem even worse. It used to be, back in the day, back when sales was the “keeper of the keys of product information” , marketing just had to dump prospects and leads into the top of the funnel and sales was responsible for pulling them through to a sale. The funnel and the function of the funnel changed as Steve Patrizi points out here. Today buyers are more informed and as much as 60%-80% of the buying process is over before they contact you. I read an article recently that shared the most important number in B2B marketing is 60%.


What does this figure mean for Marketing?

  • 60% …  This is no man’s land: a gap in the purchasing funnel that neither commercial function currently addresses.
  • The 60% mark is in that part of the mid-funnel that is critical in terms of driving the buyers’ consideration of a supplier for a potential purchase.
  • 60% also means trying to build a dialogue with customers without having the advantage of a Sales rep’s one-on-one commercial interaction.
  • Finally, 60% means moving beyond the “qualified lead” mindset.  In essence, once we have moved past the early stages of the funnel, we need a strategy for persuasion and attention-grabbing mechanisms.

Our job today becomes understanding how buyers buy, what common problems do they have, and turn our sales bucket into a slippery marketing and sales funnel that helps buyers buy.  So how do we do that? What have I seen work? Below is the process I have used to help take the art out of sales and make it a much more predictable, forecast able, outcome.

  1. Establish a common language – what does your team mean by a; Prospect, Inquiry, Opportunity, Lead?
  2. Go into your market, ideally on four legged sales calls and clearly understand how your buyers buy and the criteria they need to make buying decisions.
  3. Identify market truth’s
  4. Map Buying journey
  5. Create a marketing funnel that helps buyers buy
  6. Stop the “sales insanity” and map a repeatable sales process that turns leads to sales
  7. constantly sense and refine, adjust , be agile as your buyers change their processes change with them
  8. Measure, measure, measure…
  9. identify “the canary in your coal mine”, your lead to close %
  10. Nurture your leads, improve your lead to close % by helping them slide through the funnel with what they need when they need it.

make sales funnel slippery

Do you have a sales bucket with opportunities that should become sales (leads you paid good money for already) dying?

Do you know why buyers buy from you and why they don’t?

What do your buyers need today to make buying decisions?

Do your sales people have the right sales tools to make the sales funnel slippery or is buying from you like sliding down a sliding board lined with sand paper and splinters?






Attention CEO’s and CFO’s; Do you have a “Sales and Marketing Funnel” or Bucket? …the answer may surprise you, take a short quiz and know for sure



do you have a marketing and sales funnel or a leaking sales bucket?

do you have a marketing and sales funnel or a leaking sales bucket?


“Wouldn’t it be great if we could have our sales and marketing run like our plant? We could have key indicators, a proven methodology, and process with predictable results…”I hear business owners and leaders say this to me often once they relax and truly share their thoughts and concerns. Far too often CEO’s and CFO’s think/hope their marketing and sales teams have a defined process that is efficient and effective to drive predictable results. Unfortunately, if you really understand and look at leading indicators what they think is a marketing and sales funnel is actually a sales bucket. In this post I will share how to determine if your team has a marketing and sales funnel or a sales bucket that leaks an occasional sale or two.


I was asked by the chairman of the board of a company to have lunch. He heard through his venture capital and private equity network what I do, and he was warned early on my approach is a bit different. I enjoy meeting new people and business problems are drawn to me. I enjoy learning new things, facing new challenges and each meeting like this one always teaches me something. Once we made it through the pleasantries it was not too long for me to hear his concerns;


Why can’t sales and marketing be like my manufacturing plant? Predictable, scalable, and provide me sales forecasts I can count on?


It drives me nuts to know we are spending so much money on marketing and I do not see an immediate and often long term return on that investment, but I am afraid to stop making it in case it would hurt the performance we are seeing.


What we need is a repeatable sales process. We need the sales guys to be more efficient at closing business and bringing in the revenue.


Based on our moderate to poor sales results over the last few years, do I have the right salespeople or should I be looking for new ones?


I feel like the CEO / President is asking for more money each year for marketing, but I am not seeing a corresponding increase in sales…why?


We seem to have high turnover in sales, we lost some good sales people and this has to be expensive and hurting our results.


About the time we finished eating he said; “what do you think? Is this something you can help with, can you fix sales problems like this?”


I have and often do “fix sales problems.” However more often than not what CEO’s and business owners want to hear on how to fix sales problems is not the way they anticipate. In most cases they think they have a repeatable sales process, but they don’t.


They think they have a marketing funnel that is dumping primed and ready leads to their salespeople and their sales people have a proven way to close them quickly. They think they need more sales training. They think they need to better motivate their sales people to perform.  No, no, no and in most cases no again.


What I have observed in most cases is leaders, particularly those not from marketing and sales believe they have a marketing and sales funnel, but in reality they have a bucket, with an every so small hole in the bottom that occasionally leaks a sale or two. Left unchecked this marketing and sales bucket becomes a Chinese water torture to your senior leadership team as they try to explain and predict future revenues and ROI with owners and investors. As one thought leader just shared, what they think is a funnel of live and vibrant leads and opportunities is actually pipeline stench. The pipelines may look full and make you feel good in senior management meetings Monday mornings…but are actually full of dead and rotting opportunities polluting your entire marketing and sales process.


Do you have a Marketing and Sales Funnel or Bucket?


  1. What is your lead to close %? Do you know it?
  2. Do you have defined stages in the marketing and sales pipeline? What are they?
  3. Can you share the # in each phase?
  4. If I met with your latest new salesperson, could they share your repeatable sales process with me?
  5. Does sales and marketing have an understood definition of the terms; opportunity, prospect, lead?
  6. Can you tell me the average time a new person you engage with spends in your process until they buy or die?
  7. Can you share the qualifying questions you use?
  8. Do you have the top three buyer personas  identified and have you mapped out their buying journey?
  9. Have you added new sales tools in the last 6-12 months?
  10. Does your web site speak in the tone of the problems you solve?


If the answers I receive to the above have three or more “no’s” you have Marketing and Sales Bucket not a funnel.


How about your company?


Do you have a “Marketing Funnel”, “Sales Funnel” a “Repeatable Sales process”?….are you sure? (you need to be)


What other questions could we ask to determine if you have a funnel of vibrant buyers anxious to buy and solve their problems, or a bunch of rotting dead leads just polluting your management process?


In the market of today there is no excuse to not have marketing and sales funnel that is a systematic process driven tool to maximize your team’s effectiveness and do so in the most efficient way.


So did this post make you nervous, anxious, and maybe a bit angry? As your team for the answers to the above that I use to diagnose teams I serve, and you will quickly understand your internal truths. Once you do, you are well on your way to driving a process that gets results. In my next post I will share some techniques I have used to turn marketing and sales buckets into funnels.

What You should Do If You Report to a “Post Turtle Sales Manager” ?

post turtle manager



In my last few posts about different types of buyers and how to sell them, I shared advice about how to sell a “Post Turtle Buyer”. I had planned to keep sharing different buyer types I have worked with over the years. What surprised me were the emails and calls I received asking; what should I do if I report to a “post turtle sales manager”? The reason I started blogging was to share advice in hopes it helps and serves others. If you report to a “post turtle sales manager” this post is for you.


First we need to make sure we are talking about the right challenging sales manager. A “post turtle sales manager” is one that was placed in this role and does not know what to do there. Someone else put them there and they did not climb up there, earn this position on their own. When I spent some time researching why sales super stars leave, I found one of the leading reasons was their boss; their sales manager. However most of those interviews were about what I referred to some time ago as the “Ass Kicker”. The Ass Kicker is a jerk basically who subscribes to; the beatings will continue until the moral improves weekly. When something goes wrong, sales are not met they quickly look for an ass to kick or a throat to choke. They lack the emotional intelligence to manage themselves let alone a team of people. They often lead with fear and intimidation and if you are struggling with this type of sales manager I have some advice for you here.


A Post Turtle Sales Manager is different. They may have been a salesperson promoted. After all since they were so strong at selling they would be an awesome sales manager right?… WRONG. Managing and leading people requires an entirely bigger skill set than how to sell products effectively.


I have seen Post Turtle Managers also emerge from the owner’s rolodex of “smart” people and or relatives.


Just because you are smart is does not insure your success leading a sales team.


Just because you may have the same DNA flowing through your veins as the owner, it does not mean you have the training, experience and gifts to lead a sales team.


What should you do if you now have a post turtle sales manager?


  1. Make a decision – do you want to work for them? You now understand who and what they are and are you willing to sign up for this deal? If the answer is no, and it often is with sales super stars, start making your plan to exit now.
  2. Assuming you chose to stay, first identify how they will be judged.
  3. Help them achieve their objectives.
  4. Ask them to go on some four legged sales calls.
  5. lead up; you do not have to have a title to have influence
  6. Find them a raving fan account contact they can bounce ideas off of and learn about current market problems common in your business.
  7. Find them a Mentor, someone in your organization or someone in a similar role serving your industry but obviously not a competing company.
  8. Find them an industry association group to join, participate in.
  9. Help them find a local leaders organization like Vistage.
  10. Encourage them to subscribe to content, like my blog here at



Other sales and sales leadership content I would highly recommend includes;



Selling Power:


Sales Benchmark Index:


Top Sales World:


Insight Squared:


Salesforce Blog:


Revenue Journal:




Content specific to leadership would include;



Management Excellence:


Chris Brogan:


How to change the world:


Tom Peters:


Leadership Wired:


Brian Tracy’s Blog:


Leadership Now:



Some you tubes they could watch include:

You don’t have to go it alone;


This week in sales:


Connie Podesta:



A couple of great books;



Profit from the Core


New Rules Marketing and PR


Ctrl Alt Delete


Coaching Salespeople into Champions


First 90 Days


Your Brain at Work




If you now report to a Post Turtle Sales Manager you can moan, complain and participate in all those non value adding negative conversations with your peers,…or be a part of the solution. Offer to help your sales manager learn how to become successful and who knows you may find they are the perfect boss…and become a lifelong friend as well.


Have you worked for a post turtle sales manager?


What Advice would you give to others?

Dispel 5 Myths about Fixing Sales Today and Insure Strong Future Sales



Over the last few weeks I have been discussing common myths business owners and leaders believe to be true about the fixing sales problems and how to immunize future sales performance. I recently went for my annual flu shot and the myths people in line were discussing as truths reminded me of the five main myths sales leaders need to lose to fix poor sales performance and how we can immunize future sales results. Before I can help you fix your sales problems we need to dispel the 5 myths that you may be carrying as market truths;


You cannot Train your way out of a sales problems alone.


You cannot Manage your way to improved sales alone.


The Economy is not the only reason for your poor sales performance alone.


Hiring outside help to work on your Sales Process will not hurt your current sales.


Just because you have Good Sales Now does not immunize you from future poor sales results.


What is the best way to immunize your sales performance from poor results?


Clean Sales Management


Clean Sales Management as I shared in a previous post entails being in your market on four legged sales calls with your sales team. As a reminder, you are not there to close sales but to observe buyers.


You need to answer;


Why do buyers buy from you and why don’t they?


What is their buyer journey today?


What sales process is your team using? (… if any)


What are common buyer personas your team is presenting?


What criteria are important to your buyers today?


When your buyers shop for a solution, where do they go, what process do they use?


Are there any “Spin Cycles” in your current sales process that no longer mirror how your buyers are buying today? (Spin cycle- those places in the sales process where the sale stalls, spins, or even goes dark)


What tools could your salespeople use to overcome or eliminate buyer Spin Cycles?


As a sales manager, and more so if you are the VP of Sales you have a number of activities all vying for your time and attention. Having been a VP of Sales and Marketing myself I experienced the following all pulling me like they had a gravitational power of their own;


Your CEO and President want answers to specific questions


Hitting your new sales goals


Hitting your profit objectives


Controlling expenses


IT wants to book SAP training and your opinion on what a CRM should do


A/R wants help collecting from difficult customers


Marketing wants your sales guys to ask their buyers …. (you fill in the blanks)




Cost of Quality meetings


Meeting with the CFO forecasting ROI and sales forecast for new products


HR wanting to have succession plans in place, quarterly performance reviews, performance improvement plans, and on-boarding discussions


Product Development wanting to know why we are not hitting new product sales


Meetings with Product Engineering discussing problems with their last new design


Product Marketing wanting to meet about why sales is not closing a higher % of leads


Social Media group wanting stories from the field


More meetings you did not even know were on the list


…do I need to keep typing or do you agree I have lived this?


If you try to do all of the above you can quickly become an “an office bound VP of sales” and this is the beginning of the death of a sales VP. The reality is you (we) need to do all of the above and more. However what keeps us employed, hitting our bonus objectives and answering the top four activities above; answering President and CEO questions strategically and timely, hitting sales goals, achieving profit objectives and controlling expenses…you need to be in the market practicing clean sales management. In your market you become aware of market changes, viruses, which can infect your sales results early and keep your team’s sales performance on plan.

Improve Sales; Hiring Outside Help To Work On Your Sales Process Will Not Make Your Sales Results Worse

The first quarter of each new year often starts out as a struggle for sales teams to achieve their new goals. Your sales team has received a new and bigger goal, (there’s a high probability they missed last year’s goal) and now your team’s sales performance is poor or put another way; it is sick. When you ask business leaders why they will not hire someone to help  improve sales performance and immunize their team from future performance issues we often hear a fear that the market work will actually hurt sales and cause sales results to get sicker.

Assuming your team’s poor sales performance to goal will get worse by hiring an outsider to help your team is like believing if you get a flu shot, you will catch the flu….it is simply not true.

As I shared in a previous post it is not just a sales training problem, a sales management problem, or a poor economy alone. It is often so much more. Before we can clearly diagnose why your sales team is experiencing poor sales performance we need to identify a squash myths your team may believe.

I was in the line at Walgreens to receive my annual flu shot and I could not help but listen as people in line shared myths that they believed to be true about the flu and the flu shot it’s self. This reminded me of the myths I have heard over the years about poor sales performance and I wanted to dispel some of the reasons people use to rationalize poor sales performance. One that always amazes is me is leaders who chose to go it alone and actually believe working on their sales process will somehow hurt their sales.

Hiring an outsider who conducts win loss analysis will add a tremendous amount of value quickly. They will interview current customers, past customers and buyers in your market you have always wanted to sell. Their mission, if they are good is to identify the buying process, buyer journey and buying criteria your buyers  are using today. They will compare how buyers are buying and want to buy to your current sales process and identify what I call “spin cycles”. Spin cycles in the current sales process are places the sales stalls and basically spins instead of proceeding to the next step. Spin cycles are resolved by adding needed sales tools and or adjusting your current sales process steps.

If your team fails to stay current with how buyers are buying in your market your team risks contracting a disconnected market virus. The longer the virus runs in course through your team the more difficult it will be to cure. There are no quick pills, quick fixes, and without senior management support to cure this condition it can become terminal.

There is only one situation where conducting market win loss work can and often does hurt your sales is when you interview a buyer currently in the sales process. Buyers in the current sales process must not be interviewed until the sale is closed or lost.

How about your team….

Have you noticed an increase in price discounting over the last three months?

Has your sales close % decreased in the last 30 days?

Are 60% or more of your sales team missing sales plan goals?

Have you lost a key account (or two) in the last 120 days?

The above are some of the symptoms your sales and specifically your sales process are sick and your team has a disconnected market virus. There are no quick fixes for viruses but the best defense is a strong offence. A flu shot will expose your body to a very small sample of the flu and allow your body to build your immunities over time. Staying current with how your buyers are buying and the buying criteria they are using to make buying decisions is the best way to immunize your sales from experiencing poor sales results.

I would be remiss if I did not warn you that win loss analysis and working on your sales process will likely have some side affects;

  • challenge assumptions your senior leaders believed to be true and they will become uncomfortable
  • expose disconnected and dated processes
  • can cause some emotional upset when you learn lost sales were not based on price
  • may give your marketing team heartburn when you find 80% of the buying process is done before buyers call you and your current web site is invisible
  • may make you feel ill when you learn how your salespeople believe their main responsibility is to protect the fort and not help buyers buy

The side affect will pass overtime and your team will quickly become stronger and your sales results healthier as you adjust your sales process and introduce new sales tools to help your buyers buy.