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.

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.

13 Free Sales Tools to Help Build Your Business

Having worked with these sales tools in my own business and helping my clients integrate these sales tools  into their own habits, I sometimes take it for granted that everyone knows about them.  These should not just be tribal knowledge and I hope these help you in your own selling efforts to the markets you are targeting.

Jigsaw is a user-generated database that is continually updated by its members.  It gives you the name, title, postal and email addresses and direct-dial phone numbers for individual contacts you can’t find directly.  This allows you to find the direct contact information for decisions makers you are targeting without going through the gatekeeper and wondering if you message is even being received.

InfoUSA is a sales tool available with just a library card through your library system.  Not only is this tool useful for finding information on your target customers, but it also give you a list of management names, their competitors, and their SIC and NAICS codes to be able to download searches for even more target customers that may not appear on other search tools.

MyBrainShark is a website that allows you create a voice-enriched multimedia presentation or podcast.  It also makes it easier for you to record your PowerPoint presentation for online display purposes.  This allows the market to view and hear your message and learn from your expertise 24/7.

FirefoxSuperSearch is like the the”Swiss Army Knife” of search engines. It allows users to perform web searches, people searches, reverse lookups, public records searches, due diligence and background research, using over 160 of the internet’s best search engines.  This allows you to learn a lot about your prospects and customers before you engage with them.

Google Analytics generates detailed statistics about the visitors to your website. It can track visitors from all referrers, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, email marketing and digital collateral such as links within PDF documents or other downloads.   This will help you identify how your website is connecting with in your market and help you identify what content you need to change.

Xobni is a free add-on to Microsoft Outlook that turns it from an email system into a powerful sales tool. It creates another window in outlook that displays a profile of whoever sent you the currently highlighted email by grabbing that person’s photo and telephone number from LinkedIn, Facebook, or several other social networking sites. It also shows a string of communications that you’ve had with that person. If you use outlook, this is the easiest way to start “social selling” using all of the social media tools.

Hoovers is a database of companies and other organizations, which includes top level data on financials, strategies, competitors, key executives, market dynamics, and so forth. It’s built on a database of information on more than 30 million corporations and organizations, and more than 35 million people. This is a great place to learn about a customer or a competitor, without having to dig through the SEC reports.

Zoho CRM is a Customer Relationship Management tool that has all the features you’d expect in a world-class CRM product, including marketing campaigns, lead management, sales pipeline, forecasts, etc.  This will allow you to keep track of all of your opportunities and activities in one location and you can even have up to 3 people on the same system before you have to pay for it.  I have 3 clients using this currently as their first CRM tool and it works great for a sales management function.

Demandbase Stream is a nice little sales tool that works like a news ticker displaying information across the desktop about which businesses are visiting your Web site, along with their interests, and contact details for the most appropriate decision makers to contact for follow up. You can also flag existing customers, prospects, partners, and competitors, so that you’re aware when they’re doing something on your website.  This helps you act fast when someone is interested in what you have to offer.

Super Pages has proven useful for search for companies that are typically hard to find because they do not “fit” into a specific market segment.  You are able to search for companies in specific geographic areas using key words of the service they may offer.

LinkedIn continues to be a valuable sales tool for business development as more and more companies are joining and senior leadership begins to adopt it as a tool themselves.  Although they have removed some of the features since going public like Events and Answers, you can generate plenty of activity with a target audience by posting useful information to help your network or take part in discussions within the groups you belong to.  Make sure you join 50 groups that are relevant to your expertise, industry, and interests to get the most reach.  Chances are, if I do not know something, my network or fellow group members do and I get an answer very quickly.

Evernote is a great way to keep your projects and to-do list organized.  You can access it through both a desktop and your mobile device to add activities and make new notes when you think about them so you do not forget about them

Xmind is a mind mapping tool that helps you visualize strategic plans, build organizational charts, develop fish bone diagrams for processes, and even can be used to map a potential website site map.  This is a great tool for those of us who are more visual learners.

Please feel free to contact me if you need any help with these or just want my library card number.

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.