Archive | October 2013

10 Characteristics of a Successful Sales Manager and Sales Management Function

We previously wrote about the characteristics of successful selling organizations and identified that they all shared strong sales leadership and had a strong sales management function in place.  So what are the characteristics of these sales manager and sales management functions that leads to becoming a successful selling organization?

  1. They have a seat at the table with the senior leadership and is part of crafting the vision of where the organization is going both short term and long term.
  2. They are able to be the voice of the customer and sales team throughout the entire organization.
  3. They are always looking for better ways of doing things to get better results with both internal and external customers.
  4. They know how to prioritize activities and motivate others.
  5. They have a methodical approach to the market and are able to direct internal and external resources to deliver what was promised.
  6. They are capable of assembling a team and making tough decisions about them.
  7. They foster a culture of winning as a team.
  8. They use business intelligence, market research, and objectivity to drive decisions about what actions and activities are necessary to achieve their goals and objectives
  9. They are not afraid to give credit to others and share success with their team members.
  10. They focus on selling more to the market through their sales team by hiring the right talent, training them on the processes and systems, and coaching them for better performance.

Does your sales manager or sales management function share any of these characteristics? Feel free to download our presentation on both of these topics for your next sales meeting and contact us if you would like us to present these materials for your next sales meeting.

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9 Characteristics of Successful Selling Organizations

Does your company share the characteristics of such successful selling organizations as SAP, Oracle, CA Technologies, SalesForce.com, Monster.com, Cisco, Clear Channel, and VMWare? These are just a few on the Forbes 2013 list of top selling organizations.  These are all companies that:

  • Outpace their competition
  • Are leaders in their markets
  • Consistently deliver profits year after year to their share holders
  • Are capable of hiring great sales representatives

We previously wrote about the 3 benefits of being a market-oriented and customer-focused organization so we narrowed the list down to 9 characteristics that top selling organizations share:

  1. They all have a vision of what they want to be and have the entire organization aligned on it.
  2. The all foster a culture of continuous improvement and learning where employees are expected to challenge the status-quo and help increase revenues, decrease costs, and increase efficiency.
  3. They all operate under a sense of urgency.
  4. They are all very process driven with a repeatable sales process.
  5. The are able to hire superior sale people because the have sales processes and systems in place.
  6. They are all results focuses and not activity focused.
  7. They all have leading indicators and metrics in place to measure success that is focused on new business and not just any business.
  8. Their compensation plans are aligned with the goals of the organization so their people are rewards to produce the right results.
  9. They all have strong sales leadership and a strong sales management function.

So how does your organization rate for these characteristics? Do you have some of these characteristics, are you strong in any of them and weak in others, or do you not have any of these? We invited you to be part of our survey to see how you rate your selling organization based on the 9 characteristics listed here.  The results will be published in November 2013.

Please feel free to contact us if you need help with building these characteristics into your selling organization.

Benefits of Being a Market-Oriented Organization

To be competitive in the market place today, you had better be a market-oriented organization.  Your sales team may be increasing the number of potential clients they present to and, ultimately, increasing revenue, but if the whole organization isn’t aligned with delivering what the client wants, you may soon be seen as replaceable by your customer.

Being a market-oriented organization means that every employee in every department is focused on the customer with constant two-way communication between the organization and the customer at every touch point.  By being market- oriented, the organization is better able to gather information about customers and competitors, more able to analyze the information that is collected, and thus more able use the knowledge gained to guide current and future strategies.  

Market-orientation is actually quite rare, so organizations that take the initiative to become market-oriented will have a significant resource for sustaining a competitive advantage which leads to several benefits being realized:

  • Better Marketing Programs: Because the organization has multiple opportunities to gain feedback from clients about their needs and about what competition is doing, marketing programs are able to be tailored to clients and market needs instead of a general approach that focuses on the product only.
  • Increased Client Retention:  Because the customers now have the ear of the organization on multiple levels, the customers receive faster responses to their needs and thus feel like they are receiving the attention they deserve.  This makes it much harder for competition to gain your customers’ attention and makes it much harder for the customer to entertain the competition.
  • Stronger Strategic Relationships:  As the relationship between the organization and the customer becomes more involved, values become shared, strategies co-develop, and mistakes tend to promote a two-way dialog on how the problem can be solved together.  The intangible value that is delivered by being market-oriented allows the organization to become a partner rather than just a vendor.

To become a market-oriented organization, marketing can no longer be thought of as an activity to just facilitate the selling of goods or services to a potential customer.  It must now turn to a customer-centered set of values and activities that focus on the organization’s mission to provide superior value by delivering what the client wants.

The 5 Types of Sales Reps – Which One is Right for Your Business?

Innovation is difficult and innovations alone will not drive sales so who is on your team that can help you grow your business?  Do you have the right types of sales representatives for your efforts?  Can your sales efforts increase market share utilizing current resources?

What made your organization successful in the past may not be enough to maintain the current sales levels or even survive in the future.  Many companies are doing the same thing the same way with the same people and with the same customers.  Companies must evaluate their sales efforts and sales teams if they want to grow in this “new economy”.

In the book “The Challenger Sale” by Mathew Dixon and Brent Adamson published in 2011, the authors studied the skills, behaviors, knowledge, and attitudes that matter for high performance and developed five profiles of sales representatives including the identity of the most successful one.  It is a brilliant book that you should read if you are serious about taking your sales effort to the next level and stay ahead of the competition.

So what are the five different profiles and what is the most successful one?

The Hard Worker: This sales representative is always willing to go the extra mile, does not give up easily, is self-motivated, and interested in feedback and development.  21% of sales representatives fall into this category.

The Relationship Builder: This sales representative builds strong advocates in customer organizations, is generous in giving time to help others, and gets along with everyone.  21% of sales representatives fall into this category.

The Lone Wolf:  This sales representative follows their own instincts, is self-assured, and difficult to control.  18% of sales representatives fall into this category.

The Reactive Problem Solver: This sales representative reliably responds to internal and external stakeholders, ensures that all problems will be solved, and is very detail oriented. 14% of sales representatives fall in to this category.

The Challenger:  This sales representative always has a different view of the world, understands the customer’s business, loves to debate, and pushes the customers.  27%  of sales representatives fall into this category.

There is no doubt that the “Challenger” is the most successful of sales representatives studied.  The good news is that the characteristics and style of the “Challenger” representative can be taught and replicated in any organization.

Challengers do not lead with information, they lead with insights about how they can save money, increase revenues, or increase efficiency in their prospect’s or client’s business.  The Challenger teaches their prospects and clients things that they do not know and can use to improve their business.

Please feel free to contact us if you need help building challenger representatives in your organization for your selling efforts.