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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.

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.

6 New Pitches to Replace Your Elevator Pitch

The following is a summary from”To Sell is Human” by author Daniel Pink.

We are all in “Non-Sales Selling”

You don’t have to be a sales person to be in sales today.  According to Daniel Pink, everyone in an organization spend 24 minutes of every hour trying to persuade, influence, and convince others to move. He calls it non-sales selling because it does not require anyone to purchase anything but in our world, that is still considered selling.   You are simply trying to get others to move in a direction that you want them to go.  But how do you get them to move? How do you sell them on moving?

Start with the end in mind

In today’s world which is full of distractions, we get a very limited time to be in front of people to talk therefore your message has to be concise and to the point in a way that people can hear and understand simply.  Ask these three questions when you are formulating your message:

  1. What do you want them to know?
  2. What do you want them to feel?
  3. What do you want them to do?

Using these tree questions will help provide clarity to your message. Now, how do you deliver it?

Use one of these 6 different pitches for different opportunities

How may of us have been told to develop and “Elevator Pitch” at sales classes for networking events and any time we had the opportunity to tell someone what we do?  Today, we have many other opportunities to get our message out there and with all of the distractions that our audience has, we need to be concise and deliver our pitch in a way that is relative to the people we are trying to move in our direction.

  1. The One-Word Pitch is mostly used in things like political campaigns and social movements.  What is the one word that people will associate with how you are trying to move them.  Words such as “forward”, “solidarity”, “joy”, and “believe” all have meaning depending on who you are.
  2. The Question Pitch should be used when your argument is strong and making a statement might not be the best approach.  Ronald Reagan asked “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” to move people away from Jimmy Carter.  “What is the cost of not doing this?” is a personal favorite of mine since people move when they can understand how much money they could lose if they do not make necessary changes.
  3. The Rhyming Pitch is typically used to simplify how we process the information we hear.  One of the most famous rhyming pitches was used by Johnie Cochran during the OJ Simpson trial when OJ could not get the famous black glove on his hand. “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” became his battle cry for the closing arguments.  “Woes unites foes” works better than “woes unites enemies” and “caution and measure will bring you treasure” work better than “caution and measure brings you riches”
  4. The Subject Line Pitch can be very effective when you have to use email to try and move people.  Did you know that people and much more likely to open an email when they think they have something to lose or something to gain or the subject matter directly affects their work? Who would not open an email with the subject line:”Delivery options for dropping off your suitcase full of cash?”
  5. The Twitter Pitch is quick, painless, to the point, cuts through all the PR babble, and forces people to summarize what they want you to hear in 140 characters or less.  Be sure to make it 120 characters or less if you want it to be retweeted.
  6. The Pixar Pitch involves six sequential sentences that Pixar executives have used to move the film industry to produce such academy award winning movies such as Finding Nemo, WALL-E, The Incredibles, and Toy Story 3.  Try pitching your message in this format: Once upon a time_____________________.  Every day, _________________.  One day ________________________.  Because of that, __________________. Until finally ______________.

The elevator pitch is not dead, it has just evolved to meet the need for us to communicate efficiently and effectively to the people we are trying to move.

The 3 Types of Selling Activities That Lead to Sales Success

Great sales people are not a mystery, they are just able to commit their time to the right selling activities and best practices that the rest of us do not.  They could be rain makers for a pharmaceutical firm or they could be a start up business owner that has to sell his own product or service.  Regardless, most sales people are only able to sell 20% of their time because of the non-selling activities that they get involved in.  What would your sales look like if the non-selling activities could be delegated and more time could be committed to selling activities?  How many sales have you lost because the non-selling activities took up too much time?

Let’s take a look at the three types of selling activities and the specific selling activities that you need to start or improve upon to get the results of a great sales person.

Funnel Filling Activities: These are the activities that are going to fill your sales funnel with a higher qualified volume of potential opportunities.  Notice how these are “in-person” selling activities or will lead to other “in-person” selling activities regarding conversations about new business.

  1.  Attending networking events relevant to your potential clients and referral partners interests.
  2. Sponsoring seminars and speaking engagements that attract potential clients and referral partners.
  3. Setting appointments with potential clients that meet your ideal client profile regarding their needs.
  4. Setting appointments with referral partners to help target opportunities to work together.
  5. Meeting with current clients to further understand their business and where you can add value.
  6. Always helping others grow their networks or improving their business when you have the ability and time to do so.

Funnel Accelerating Activities: These are the activities that are going to move your potential opportunities through your sales funnel to become a client and remain a client.  Notice how all of these are meant to move potential clients to a next step.

  1. Understanding who your potential client really is, what they really want, and how they buy.
  2. Presenting as a team with your technical expert to qualified potential clients.
  3. Providing your potential client with two closing options.
  4. Overcoming objections and put-offs that arise unexpectedly.
  5. Giving your potential client all of the information they need regarding integration and delivery.
  6. Making sure that everyone in the organization understands the potential client’s expectations and what their role will be in the integration and delivery phase.

Focusing Activities:  These are the activities that will improve yourself and help you keep your time and energy focused on the Funnel filling and funnel accelerating activities listed above.

  1. Making sure you have a plan for what you are attending, who you are meeting with, and who you are talking to about new business for next week before you leave this week.
  2. Making sure all of relevant customer information is updated in your CRM where others can find it when they need it.
  3. Delegating non-selling activities to the proper support people so you can stay focused on the selling activities.
  4. Taking time to grow your knowledge about business success and industry innovations.
  5. Taking time to grow your skills, capabilities, and belief in yourself.
  6. Unplug once in a while to focus on your personal life.

Notice how nothing has been said about Process and Systems.  That is because I am assuming that you have defined processes and systems in place for you,  your sales people, and your support functions to focus on the right activities for the duties assigned.  Considering that every minute you spend in the non-selling activities is a potential lost opportunity or even potential lost revenue, how much more do you have to lose before you start to integrate some of the right selling activities into your daily and weekly routine?

Please feel free to contact me if you need help on where and how to integrate any of these activities to help you become a great sales person.

7 Sales Metrics and 7 Questions You Should Utilize for Sales Growth and Sales Coaching

In a recent seminar about “Building a Sales Management Function” that I was honored to facilitate, we talked about what metrics matter to an organization that wants to be forward thinking and use leading indicators instead of the traditional “Postmortem” metrics that most companies use.  Looking backwards is fine if you are alright with using your rear view mirror to drive forwards, but companies that are focused on sales growth should be using a different set of Metrics.  These seven metrics are both useful for production and for a sales management function to identify coaching opportunities for better sales performance.

These seven sales metrics are key to effective sales management for organizations focused on growth:

1.    #of  Face-to-face meetings with “new qualified targets” (not prospects or leads) regarding new opportunities
2.    # of two-way phone or email conversations with “new qualified targets” regarding new opportunities
3.    # of Face-to face meetings with existing clients regarding new opportunities
4.    # of two-way phone or email conversations with existing clients regarding new opportunities
5.    Amount of new opportunities added to their sales funnel
6.    The # of actions that moved existing opportunities through their sales funnel
7.    The amount of new business that closed from their sales funnel

These seven sales metrics will help identify how effective a sales rep is at both finding new business (volume) and moving business through the sales funnel (velocity).  These seven sales metrics will also provide your sales management function with the information and business intelligence they need to coach your sales rep for better performance once you bench-mark them.

What questions would you ask as a sales manager to coach your sales reps once you have bench-marked these sales metrics?

1.    How can we increase the average value of the new opportunities you find in new clients and existing clients?
2.    How could we decrease the length of sale from 6 months to four months?
3.    How can we increase the amount of opportunities in existing clients?
4.    What else do you need to help add volume to your sales funnel?
5.    What are the objections you are getting from clients and how are you navigating them?
6.    What do you need to do differently next week to get better results?
7.    How can I help?

You cannot manage want you do not measure and what you measure gets done, so what are you measuring and what else do you need to start measuring? A good sales management function will help their sales reps put money in their pockets so everyone is happy.   I guarantee your sales reps want to know the measuring stick and know that someone wants to help them.

Please feel free to contact me if you need help identifying what sales metrics makes sense for you to measure for growing sales and how you can start using them to improve your sales performance.