Increase Sales: Fix Broken Windows In How Your Team Sells

Increase Sales: Fix Broken Windows in How Your Team Sells

 

 

Is your sales team prepared to win and achieve their sales goals  today? Do your salespeople consistently exhibit the discipline to drive profitable sales growth? Do your salespeople clearly understand your expectations and they are accountable to them? One way to insure your sales team breaks the growing global trend of sales teams not achieving sales growth goals is to fix broken windows in your sales organization. In this post we will discuss where to look for broken windows that are hurting your sales performance.

 

I am very thankful to a number of my mentors over the years. They taught me how to capture and leverage the voice of the customer and how to serve customers by providing industry insights and best practices to improve their bottom line. One mentor taught me how to listen, actively listen for unresolved problems. Mentors help salespeople understand the discipline required to drive profitable sales growth and to be accountable for key behaviors that if performed consistently will drive profitable sales growth. Having disciple and being accountable is not about doing 1,000’s of things perfectly. Being accountable and having discipline is about is having clear goals and expectations on how you will achieve those goals. As the sales leader it is about inspecting what you expect and understanding the behaviors and attitudes to support key goals.

 

I am very proud of my children. My dream for my children was I would grow a business and give it to them one day to run. In running the business they would learn the life lessons I experienced and have financial freedom. I discovered about 15 years ago this was only my dream. My children had much different plans. My daughter became an amazing artist and now is the social media marketing manager for a company driving 3-5 times the traffic to their trade events and website leveraging her artistic skills creating innovative content. My son has a burning desire to serve and protect others and a police officer.

 

Over the holidays my son and I were talking and he shared something called “Broken Window Theory” and I thought it was fascinating. Broken window theory suggests that visible signs of crime like cars stripped and up on blocks in the street, street signs missing, traffic lights not working, people consuming alcohol in public and other anti- social behaviors create an environment for more crime and more serious crimes. The theory suggests that policing methods that target minor crimes such as vandalism, public drinking and others create an atmosphere of order and lawfulness, thereby preventing more serious crimes.

 

In the 1969 a psychologist named Philip Zinbardo from Stanford ran an experiment. He parked a car with no license plates in two neighborhoods. One that was run down, broken windows and signs of crime and one in an affluent neighborhood in Palo Alto California. The car parked in the run down neighborhood was vandalized within 10 minutes. Next he smashed the front window and what he observed surprised him. Others in the neighborhood with vandalism and other crimes joined in and within 24 hours the entire car was stripped to the frame. Who did the vandalizing is what was disturbing: It was respectable adults in the community often with their children not …street gangs.

 

The car in Palo Alto remained untouched.

 

The findings from the study?

 

Unintended behavior leads to a breakdown of community controls

 

One broken window leads to many if left unaddressed

 

Disorders drives fear and withdraw from community laws and norms

 

Even the best citizens in a community can start bad behaviors if the behaviors are left unchecked

 

My son has been a police officer in a large city now for a number of years. He has personally experienced how policing and correcting what seems like minor misdemeanor crimes helps bring a neighborhood back to life. He has seen the impact having the discipline to enforce common community norms and expectations that support a safe and prosperous community and how this reduces crime significantly.

 

“Ok Mark, this is all interesting … but how does this apply to driving profitable sales increases year over year?”

 

I thought you would never ask!

 

How many broken windows exist in your company’s sales organization?

 

Do you know where to look?

 

The good news is you have a good smart team and there are many things about your company you and your team should be proud of. When I did business development consulting work I asked a lot of questions and looked for broken windows that are signs of much bigger sales problems to be solved. It is not unusual for my past clients to not even see the broken windows they walk by each day. Many broken windows have been broken for years and they became “ how we do things around here”. New team members will see them immediately but if they want to survive they learn to look the other way. Instead of repairing the broken windows teams try to just cover them up.

 

Let me help you see the broken windows that I have seen because you too may have grown accustomed to seeing them and may walk by them everyday and they are hurting your business development and sales growth efforts…

 

Majority of salesperson’s time spent in non-sales activities

 

“Hi how are you meetings” …Salespeople bringing donuts to their distributors with no other business reason for the visit, no one at the distributor even knew you were coming

 

Not being properly groomed

 

Company car dirty inside and out

 

Not making eye contact with customers in meetings

 

Sales people not taking notes in meetings

 

Salespeople not having a pen visiting a customer job site and having to “remember” the requirements

 

No pre-call plans 

 

No CRM entry for future meetings or past meeting notes

 

Outdated company brochures in sales associate’s vehicles

 

Damaged and stained brochures from not being properly stored used in customer presentations

 

Poor or no customer follow up

 

Not following up on leads provided, QDD disorder

 

Salespeople leaving sales training to make/ take phone calls

 

Customer email not responded to in 24 hours

 

Out-dated sales process

 

Salespeople working on laptops in meetings and not paying attention

 

Missing team weekly meetings

 

Salespeople openly criticizing others on sales team, others on other teams ( not constructive criticism ) 

 

Not responding top your email of voicemail in 48 hours if you asked them to

 

No plan to achieve their sales goals

 

Showing up late to weekly meetings

 

Salespeople playing feature and benefit bingo 

 

Not being prepared for weekly meetings

 

No cadence for how often they visit with each customer

 

Not completing expense reports timely

 

Poor interpersonal exchanges with team members from other business groups

 

Talking too much in meetings with customers

 

Salespeople who have never been trained in sales (product-yes, sales-no) 

 

Not understanding their customers’ businesses

 

Not understanding their market or market language

 

No dollar value in CRM for new opportunities identified

 

Not understanding how your product or service impacts your customers’ bottom line

 

Not qualifying potential customers

 

Salespeople seen as just another rep not a trusted advisor

 

Salespeople not spending the majority of their time in sales behaviors

 

Not updating sales stage in CRM

 

Asking poor questions in meetings

 

Poor listening, talking over customers 

 

Selling on price not value

 

No ideal customer profile so everyone could be a customer 

 

Company vehicle not maintained

 

Poor to no relationships at key customers

 

Key account budgets/goals… but no strategic growth plans on how to achieve them

 

Only knowing the buyers at key accounts no relationship with other influencers 

 

Sales pipeline bucket not a funnel 

 

Poor new product sales 

 

Poor sales customer visit trip planning (more time driving and flying than in front of customers)

 

No formal sales process

 

Salespeople staying at very expensive hotels

 

Salespeople submitting very expensive dinners without customers

 

If you see some of the above you have broken windows that need to be repaired before your team can experience explosive sales growth.

 

The above are some broken windows I have observed but there are plenty more I am sure.

 

How about you…

 

What broken windows have you observed in your sales teams that are negatively impacting your profitable growth plans?

 

Do you have associates in key sales leadership roles that have not been trained to lead salespeople?

 

Are their politically incorrect secrets that your salespeople know but are afraid to discuss?

 

If we allow broken windows in how we sell they hurt our ability to drive profitable sales growth and increase shareholder value. We are not saying everyone has to be perfect and 1,000’s of things. What we are saying is we need discipline and accountability in our sales teams. As the leader you need to set the expectation and insure compliance. If you observe a behavior that is not consistent with what your team has identified as your core values you must be safe to address it and correct it. If not the little broken windows become chaos and good team members in your sales community will start behaving in ways counter to driving profitable growth.

 

In our next post we will discuss common marketing broken windows to look for and repair.

How To Overcome The Top 10 B2B Sales Challenges

How to Overcome The Top 10 B2B Sales Challenges

 

 

The number of salespeople meeting and or exceeding sales quota is dropping each year. Why? If you were in the quality department and not sales you would find root causes. What are the top 10 root cause problems B2B salespeople face and how to you solve them?

 

Thomas Williams and Thomas Sain just released an excellent book: The Seller’s Challenge to help salespeople and sales leaders fix common sales problems.

 

Why is The Seller’s Challenge relevant to every B2B seller and their leaders?

 

Take a look at some of the common sales problems this book discusses and gives you applicable advice to solve.

 

  • What is the best way to sell multiple buyers?
  • What is the best way to research and execute a sales call that moves the sale?
  • How do I influence buyers who are strongly committed to a different course of action? (they are happy with what they have)
  • Why are y sales calls bombing and how can I fix this sales problem?
  • What is the best way to address gatekeepers?
  • Why is the status quo my #1 competitor?
  • When should I participate in an RFP?
  • Why is selling to committees so hard and what should I do?
  • What is the best way to manage price and discount demands?

 

Do I have your attention now?

 

The authors captured my attention because I frequently was asked to solve a number if not all of these sales problems in my career.

 

Not only did I find the content extremely relevant to solve seller challenges, but the way it is written is brilliant.

  • A summary of the sales challenge
  • A story to help you quickly emotionally connect to it
  • Discussion of the challenge and all the dynamics involved
  • An illustration or model to resolve the sales problem
  • A solution and best practices
  • Summary of key takeaways
  • Commitment and action steps quickly after the content for the reader to apply what they just learned
  • Chapter addendums illustrating exactly how to implement the best practices

If you are like me and have been in a sales role or leading sales teams you will agree sales has changed a great deal over the years. I find companies continue to be prisoners to outdated sales processes and they fail to identify the root cause of their sales problems they face each day. The result? Sales teams continue to fail to achieve sales and profit quotas year over year.

 

What do most sales managers recommend who have not read this book?

  • Try harder
  • Try more
  • Sign up for Sales training

Or my personal favorite: “Just make it happen!”

 

And how’s that working for you?

 

Be honest its just us…

 

I highly recommend The Seller’s Challenge as a strategy roadmap to help your sales team achieve and surpass their sales quotas by fixing some of the most common root cause problems they face in todays marketplace.

 

 

 

 

Achieve Sales Goals: Turn “Sales Rep’s” Into “Trusted Advisors”

Achieve Sales Goals: Turn “Sales Rep’s” Into “Trusted Advisors”

 

 

On average 48% of salespeople fail to achieve their sales quotas…why? The number of salespeople not achieving sales plan continues to grow year over year…why? Why do 58% of buyers surveyed share meeting with the sales rep today added no value to the buying process? We have 79% of business buyers share it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson that is a trusted advisor.

 

It is time we turn “sales rep’s” into “trusted advisors “ and the book: The Trusted Advisor by David Maister gives you a roadmap to accomplish this objective.

 

The author starts the first chapter with a simple yet critical question I want you to think about.

 

“What benefits would you realize  if your customers trusted you more?”

 

Maister then goes on to share a list of benefits your company and your sales associate will realize when your buyers trust you more. There is a list of 16 benefits and below are three I have personally experienced.

 

  1. They reach out to you for advice
  2. They bring you in on more advanced strategic issues
  3. They share more information that helps you help them

 

This is not the first thought leader to discuss the importance of trust. In Stephen Covey’s book: The Speed of Trust he shares the specific financial impact to your companies’ bottom line when you have high trust.

 

Where do your salespeople fall on the client advisor relationship spectrum?

 

First we have salespeople who sell on price. It drives us nuts, we have taught them to sell based on the value our product or solution provided but the reality is they sell on price.

 

Then we have product experts, subject matter, and process experts. If a client shares a problem with them (big if) then they connect the dots to solve the problem with a product or service.

 

Next we have the subject matter expert problem solver. This type of salesperson clearly understands their customers, markets and common problems they have. They hunt for customers with those problems and help clients solve them. They are a valuable resource for their customers.

 

Last and the level very few salespeople achieve is that of the Trusted Advisor. They have product, market, and application knowledge. They also know how to help solve problems. The big difference is they also know the customers business of their business. They have a strong grasp of financial business drivers and business acumen. They ask questions and help customers find better more efficient and effective ways to run their businesses and they have a measurable impact on their customer’s bottom line.

 

This level of sales professional is seen as a trusted advisor to their customers because they use a value based sales approach.

 

As you can tell I like to share sales and marketing research findings on why buyers buy and must have in our markets of today to make buying decisions. (Sorry)

 

To paraphrase the research results from a report by The Rain Group…

 

“85% of buyers today expect salespeople to present their solution and identify the value it will bring and less than 15% of salespeople today actually meet this key buyer need.”

 

So how you feeling right now?

 

Are we hitting a little too close to home?

 

From my experience with business owners and investors they usually admit this conversation makes them feel a bit uncomfortable.

 

They know what they want: profitable repeatable growth.

 

They have invested in a sales team, marketing, operations and often product development to achieve what their shareholders want.

 

They have invested in sales training but are not seeing sales behaviors change to meet what buyers require today.

 

Quietly …on their drive home or when they are taking a shower, or if they are like me at 3:00 am a thought interrupts your peace.

 

I don’t think we will hit sales plan and I need to fix this problem

 

If you are a salesperson where do you fall in the Client Advisor Sales Spectrum? (be honest its just us)

 

How much of your day is actually spent helping your customers solving problems? If you are like most salespeople today less than 20% of your time is spent selling.

 

If you lead a sales organization where do most of your salespeople fall on this spectrum?

 

From my experience teams typically hover in and out of product experts and problem solvers. Each team has about 10% of salespeople selling based on price and they are significantly underperforming.

 

If you own a company what impact would it have to have your typically 60% of salespeople on your team who are mid-level sales performers coming in under plan every year produce the results your top 20% of sales performers produce?

 

When your team is trained to understand market problems and sell with a value based sales model they will become trusted advisors to your customers.

 

If you want (need) your salespeople to fix their sales problem of not hitting sales goal and profit objectives I highly recommend you buy the book The Trusted Advisor and follow the author’s roadmap to help your team move from “sales rep “ to “trusted advisor”.