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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.

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.

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.

10 Reasons your sales effort is complacent

Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  1. You do not have regular sales meetings.
  2. A member of your team quit and you have no CRM to access account information.
  3. You spend less than 60% of your time with customers.
  4. 20% of your selling efforts accounts for 80% of your sales.
  5. You recently lost sales because you did nothing.
  6. Your sales cycle is longer than last year.
  7. Your customers are buying less.
  8. Less than 25% of your sales come from new customers.
  9. You have seen less than 4 customers and prospects in the last week.
  10. You do not subscribe to any sales blogs or read any books on new ways of doing things.

If more than 3 of these reflect your organization’s selling function, you may want to consider making some changes to your selling processes, changes to your structure, changes to your compensation plan, and investing in some training.

How leading indicators can help keep your eyes on the prize

During my spare time while traveling for a project with a major Midwest manufacturer, I decided to summarize a take away I had from reading “The Four Disciplines of Execution”.1 The book is very relevant for any of us who have started major initiatives in our organizations only to watch them be stifled by competing priorities or as I call it, “the tyranny of the urgent”. These are daily need-to-do activities and organizational fire fighting that makes us wonder what we actually accomplished and did all day.

After an organization determines a relevant business goal they want to achieve and target date for completion, they traditionally measure their progress through what the book calls “Lagging Indicators”.  These lagging Indicators are reflective of the goals that we traditionally set quarterly or annually such as:

  • Increase sales from $500K to $625K by 2015.
  • Increase the number of dealers from 10 to 15 by 2013.
  • Reduce cost of sales by 10% by Q3.
  • Increase average selling price per transaction by 5% by March
  • Increase our market share by 10% by 2014.

Sound familiar?  If achieved, any of these are all good indicators of success, but when does and organization traditionally look at the results? Most of them only look at their progress a few days before the target completion date.  This can produce only one of two possible results: a sense of jubilation and desire to celebrate, or a instantaneous increase in your pucker factor that now has you worrying about your year, your career, and the future of your organization.  Using these lagging indicators to measure success at the end of a target date is about as useful as looking in your vehicles rear view mirror to navigate in a forward direction.

What if you could measure your progress along the entire way toward your target date?
What if you were able to change your game plan at half time instead of the two-minute warning?  What if everyone in the company knew could measure results on a weekly basis?
What do you have to start measuring to be able to do that?

The book introduces the development and use of “Leading Indicators”.  Leading indicators measure the achievement of specific activities and activity levels that are necessary for you to achieve your goal.  These can be as simple as:

  • Meet with 10 new qualified targets per week.
  • Present to 4 qualified prospects per week.
  • Up sell 10 clients per week.
  • Mail 100 new information packets to targets per month..
  • Complete 3 field assessments per month.
  • Participate in 2 trade shows per quarter

All of these leading indicators can be reverse engineered from looking at your past successes and determining what activities helped you get there.  For example, if your goal (lag indicator) is to sell $100K of materials in 10 months to new clients, your average client is worth $10K, 50% of the prospects let you send them a quote, and you closing ratio is 10%, then you will have to talk to 200 prospects and propose to 100 of them to reach your goals.  Breaking down these activities into leading indicators determines that you need to talk to 20 new prospects and propose to 10 of them every month or even talk to five prospects a week and propose to 2.5 of them on average. Your goal of $100K in new revenue in 10 months does not seem all that hard to achieve know what you have to do each week in the midst of the tyranny of the urgent.

The last words of advice from the book are to develop and maintain a public score card that helps everyone in the organization understand how they are meeting their leading indicators and progressing towards their goals on a weekly/monthly basis.  Read here to understand the benefits of keeping score properly to drive accountability in your organization or contact SalesTechnik  should you like help developing relevant leading indicators to help you achieve your goals.

1. The Four Disciplines of Execution: McChesney, Covey, and Huling, Free Press 2012
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How to Get a Faster ROI from Your New Sales Person

You just started a new sales person after your last sales person walked out the door only after 6 months.  You ordered new business cards, set up an email address, put together some sales figures, printed a customer list, and gave them a stack of brochures.  They should be set to go, right?  This is the most common scenario for any company that has a high turnover in their sales teams.  In fact, it was the way I was on-boarded as several companies earlier in my career.

Most companies do not have the proper systems and processes in place for on-boarding new sales people and without them, the sales person is set up for failure from the beginning. What does it take to set the new sales person up for success?  I call it the 4-P’s and it is everything that should be given to a new sales person to hit the streets faster and produce an ROI for your company.

Position: How thorough is the job description?  Have all of the expectations been communicated? Are their support people in place? Have goals been set?  Does the sales person understand what their role is in the achievement of those goals?  Without a clear understanding of the sales position, the opportunity for misunderstanding of role and expectations can lead to frustration and lack of results.

Products: Has the new sales person been trained on your product or service and fully understand the value it can deliver to your customers?  Do they know the pricing?  Do they know your entire portfolio? Do you have technical expertise that can support the sales person? Are your marketing materials current?  The failure to properly train and even cross train your new sales person will destroy your credibility with customers.

People:  Who are the people that you want to deliver your product and service to? Do you know what an ideal customer looks like? Do your marketing materials speak to your target market?  Do you know your competition?  Do you know your differentiators?  Do you know how your customers buy?  The failure to understand your market will not develop a clear marketing and selling plan to follow.

Processes: What metrics do you have in place to measure success?  Is your CRM in place and the use of it mandated?  Can you document your customer buying process and what roles are responsible for the various stages and touch points?  Do you have support people for order entry, shipping, billing, and servicing so your sales person can stay in front of customers and new opportunities?  The failure to have proper support in place for customers will make your sales person get involved with non-selling activities and you will only get 20% of the selling effort you need.

To get a faster ROI out of your sales person, you need to take away any potential for misunderstanding, not knowing expectations, ruining you credibility, and not being able to measure success.  For help developing your 4-P’s, please contact us at SalesTechnik

Grow Your Business by Targeting Ideal Opportunities

Many organizations are unable to grow fast enough because their sales teams spend too much time with opportunities that are wrong for your business.

Have you ever:

  • Thought your weekly sales funnel reviews are the same week after week with no progress?
  • Been tired of hearing phrases such as “They asked me to stay in touch” or “They are still deciding”?
  • Believed your sales efforts are focusing on prospects that you do not want to do business with?

The simple fact is that sales people hate saying “no” because they believe they can every opportunity they find and hence every opportunity they find becomes a prospect of some sort.  This leads to waste of time and efforts on opportunities that will never close, your opportunity funnel becomes clogged with bad prospects, and your business does not grow.  I guarantee these opportunities were never a good opportunities to begin with because you have not identified the characteristics of your good clients and what a good opportunity looks like to your organization for the sales team to call on.

What was done by the salesperson to identify the opportunity as ideal? What questions were asked to qualify the opportunity? Can your organization even identify what an ideal client is and what an ideal opportunity looks like to help your sales team target better opportunities?

If a company is able to define what an ideal client looks like, then the marketing and sales efforts are able to work more efficiently because selling time is only spent on qualified opportunities that match the characteristics of your ideal clients. Additionally, your operations should perform better because you are only doing business with ideal clients that you are meant to be serving.

Should your ideal clients be of a certain size?  Should they have certain annual revenue?  Should they be able to purchase one or more of your products or services?  Should they have a certain structure?  Should they have a certain credit rating? Should they be able to lead you to more business?

By identifying your ideal client characteristics, you will be able to identify what an ideal opportunity looks like and hence your sales team will be able to identify where their time should be spent and become more efficient with closing more ideal clients to grow your business faster.