Tag Archives: sales

You Can’t Do It Alone

At some time in the life of a small business, someone besides the owner will need to sell the product or service for the firm to be truly successful.

Unfortunately, that’s where the wheels come off the bus for a lot of business owners. While they are continuing to bring in revenue themselves and focusing on a myriad of other important objectives like product development and customer experience, their sales reps are unfocused, not directed, and in far too many cases, unsuccessful.

Whether you are already in this predicament or think you might be someday, here are two things you should do right now:

Create an ideal prospect profile of the types of customers that are the best fit for your business. Include the size, markets, geography, most profitable things they buy, the amount of business they do with you annually, and the positions you target.

Document the process that you use when you sell. Start at the point when you first talk to a prospect.  Include what you say to get their attention, what questions you ask, how you describe the way your business can help them, and what sets you apart from the competition. Make sure that your list includes when and how you use product literature, give demos, offer trials, and anything else that’s a part of your sales cycle.

If you already have reps in place, accompany them on a sales call. See how close they are to your process. If you’re currently hiring, evaluate their ability to follow the processes that are working!

Quote of the Week: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible… and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Francis of Assisi

Other Factors

According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of new hires will fail within the first 18 months. Their companies will then spend the equivalent of six to nine months of the position’s salary finding and training replacements. The costs of a bad fit are staggering, and they prevent businesses from building better products, growing sales, and increasing profits.

What’s at the root of this failure? It seems that while interviewers are busy confirming technical competence because it’s easy to assess, they aren’t paying attention to factors like coach-ability, emotional intelligence, motivation, and attitude. These factors actually have a much larger impact on success than technical knowledge.

In most cases, employees who were terminated, left under pressure, received disciplinary action, or had significantly negative performance appraisals had problems accepting and implementing feedback from managers and colleagues. Many of them also had trouble understanding and managing their own emotions or those of their colleagues. They typically lacked the drive to be successful in the position, and their attitude didn’t fit the job or work environment.

The big takeaways are that interviewing is a skill and accessing a fit is complex. Investing in training for your hiring managers and using third-party testing can help you make better hiring decisions, and this will save you money in the long run.

Quote of the Week: “The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” — Steve Jobs

The Organization We Compromise For

Dysfunctional organizations don’t just materialize. According to American Entrepreneur and teamMarketer Seth Godin, they develop as a result of many compromises made over time.

A new hire doesn’t seem to be catching on, but the time it will take to replace her trumps the need for initiative and productivity.

A skilled tradesman refuses to train a co-worker because he’s afraid he’ll become less indispensable to his company. The need to maintain current production levels trumps the need for cooperation, teamwork, and increased production capacity.

A sales rep refuses to learn the new CRM platform and says she’s too busy to enter information into the system. The need for an immediate sale trumps the need for account development and consistent revenue growth.

And finally, a tired owner spends 18 hours a day putting out fires, leaving no time for strategic planning. The need to cross items off a list trumps the company’s long-term sustainability.

Organizations of all sizes and types make decisions daily that prevent them from growing into the businesses they were meant to be. The reasons are plentiful—no time to think, too hard to fix, too many urgent needs to attend to. These compromises pave the path to mediocrity. If you want to be the best, don’t compromise! Choose team players, quick learners, time managers, strategic thinkers, and the future over the present.

Quote of the Week:Be careful not to compromise what you want most for what you want now.” – Zig Ziglar

No Time Like The Present

While many managers struggle with holding their teams accountable, it seems it is most epidemic with sales managers. Surprisingly, these accountability challenged managers often have the biggest problem with their best reps.
The top reps might be the ones failing to update their CRM or turn in forecasts or account development plans by the assigned deadline. The manager rationalizes that his stars don’t have time because they are busy selling. Not holding the best reps accountable is often a slippery slope and before the manager knows it, no deadlines are being met, the team is missing its targets, and his credibility is shot.
Here’s how to get off to a fast start in 2016. Managers should sit down with their teams, explain that the lack of accountability is undermining the team’s productivity, and clearly and specifically set expectations for 2016. Add an accountability plan to your strategy that sets consequences if deadlines aren’t met. Try withholding expense checks if you really want to get their attention. Oh, and one more thing, the same process can be used by senior management to hold their sales managers accountable.
Quote of the Week: “Accountability breeds response-ability.”—Stephen Covey
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Impact: Going Deeper Than Data

By Lorrie Bryan, TGI’s Marketing Hour, Volume 1 Issue Five: September/October 2015

With a few clicks, the right data-software combo can readily tell you who your best customer is and what products or services he has bought from you in the past A couple of more clicks, and you can predict with a great accuracy what they’re likely to buy from you in the future, how much and how often. With a few more strategic clicks, you can capture and analyze data that then helps you create a tailored, automated marketing plan that provides your customer with engaging messaging that’s personalized for increased relevance and effectiveness.

You don’t even have to pick up a phone and call him. 

But you can click-click-click until your fingers ache; search the expansive internet heavens; gaze intently into your super-duper, 32-inch, professional-grade, ultra-high-definition monitor; crank up the latest Voice of the Customer program; dive into social media; and still not understand your customers sufficiently.

If you really want to know what keeps your best customers up at night, what’s on their wish lists, and what you can do to help their businesses succeed and their dreams come true, try an old-fashioned, pre-information-age practice. It’s called conversing, personal interaction and visiting- and it can make a deep impact.

“We go directly to our customers and see their actual situation and needs first-hand. Then we can propose changes and solutions that more satisfy them.” –David Stevens, Senior VP, American Mitsuba Corp.

10 Ways to Make an Impact on Key Customers

  1. Create a Customer Advisory Board and invite your best customers to join.
  2. Look for opportunities to visit with your best customer at his place of business.
  3. Invite your best customers to visit your facility and show them how you operate.
  4. Provide your best customers with valuable content on an ongoing basis.
  5. Customize your products or services to add unique value for your best customers.
  6. Be responsive and readily available to your best customers.
  7. Offer remarkable customer service that exceeds their expectations.
  8. Anticipate their needs and be solution oriented rather than product oriented.
  9. Know their industries, know their companies and understand what is important to them personally.
  10. Be authentic, take a genuine interest in your customers, and facilitate their success.

 

“Businesses don’t have relationships with businesses – people have relationships with people.” –Dimitri Kapelianis, Associate Marketing Professor, University of New Mexico

 

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