Tag Archive | Customer Alignment

The Benefits of Having a Cause

What does you organization support and how have you integrated that into your marketing?

With 75% of soldiers returning home have some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  They are truly returning home broken after bravely volunteering and serving our country out of a sense of duty.  Until now, there has not been a location dedicated to veterans connecting and supporting each other in our community which is why SalesTechnik has joined forces with DryHootch of Waukesha County to raise enough funds to build a permanent location.

Having experienced what the lack of support can have on our returning soldiers, I decided to purpose my own sense of duty to improve things and help companies focus with their selling efforts if they make a donation to the organization.  You can learn about our offering here.

It is called “Cause Marketing” and I would suggest that every company discovers the “why” in them and finds an organization to align with.  This alignment has increased awareness for DryHootch of Waukesha County in the business community and has increased awareness for what SalesTechnik can do for individuals, organizations, and companies.  We have developed a sustainable revenue source for this cause and without much energy, built a pipeline of clients that share similar values, extreme gratitude, and concern for our returning soldiers.

With charitable donations at an all time low, this tactic should be integrated into every marketing plan.  It has led to a much higher level of conversation with business leaders, gives a risk free and tax-deductible introduction  to our services, and has helped individuals, organizations, and companies develop a high level focus on increasing their opportunities in the market place.

Feel free to contact me should you want to learn more about what we are doing to build a DryHootch in Waukesha County.

How to Become An “Opportunity Creator”

A mentor recently reminded me that the word “sales” is not always perceived well when used in a  conversation.  It is unfortunate but true because some “sales people” have ruined the reputation of all of us through non-standard practices that are remembered and shared with others.  Even those companies and employees that I coach have trouble being called “sales people” even though what they do does have an impact on company revenues.  Maybe that is why most businesses do not even print the word “sales” on business cards.

The primary duties of anyone in the business development field is to create opportunties for their company by finding a need in the marketplace and filling that need the products or services that their company offers.  How do you do that without being “sales’ like?  I would offer that the activities that you do have an impact on how you are perceived and that some of the best sales people I have know have never been described to me as “sales people”.

What do these people do differently that leads to increased opportunities for their companies?

  • Perform strategic business reviews with current clients that helps them understand how you have added value to their business and what other services you offer

  • Conduct lunch-n-learn sessions for account managers in other companies that can refer you to opportunities in their client base.

  • Schedule breakfast and lunch meetings with centers of influence that are secondary stakeholders in targeted companies you want to work with.

  • Focus your free time and champion a non-profit by volunteering your services to help with their fund development.

  • Ask current clients for referrals.

  • Introduce your clients to prospects, strategic partners, and other service providers that help them grow and improve their business.

  • Make sure all of your family and friends know what you do.

Working any of these tactics into your activity calendar will help you increase your opportunities without the traditional sales tactics that are taught in videos and highlighted in the movies.

How can they be called “Salespeople”?

Salespeople spend most of their time on non-revenue producing activities. Really?

A recent study found that salespeople spend more than 70% of their time doing things other than selling. Our research found that salespeople spend, at most, 30% of their time in face-to-face selling. The rest of the time is spent handling administrative tasks, making collections calls, resolving logistics issues, attending meetings, and filling out reports.

How can we call these folks “salespeople” anymore when less than half of their time is spent selling? Maybe we should call them “support account administrators who occasionally sell.” Who is at fault–salespeople or management? Finger pointing does not really accomplish much other than scapegoating the blame.

It confounds me when salespeople tell me that they cannot make more face-to-face calls. Why not? Do buyers perceive little value in the meeting? Do managers require salespeople to yield to administrative distractions? Is traffic that bad?

I grew up in a sales culture where we were required to make eight face-to-face sales calls per day. If we were in the office between 8 AM and 5 PM, our bosses assumed we were goofing off, and we probably were. Sales managers scrutinized our phone credit card statements to make sure we did not spend the day doing phone work versus face-to-face selling. We did paperwork at night or on Saturday morning. If it sounds a bit Draconian, it was not. We were salespeople after all, not office people. I learned a work ethic that helped me start and run a successful business, and I am eternally grateful for the lesson. Maybe it is time for some old-school selling rules again.

Make Cold Calling Part of the Plan

There will always be a place for cold calling in any sales strategy and knowing how to do it is a critical differentiator in all market segments.   For many sales people, cold calling can be the best and most effective way to build a pipeline but only through determination and polite persistence.

To be a good cold caller it’s key to understand the environment.  Cold calling is interruptive and not permissive.   Therefore from the second the call is placed, the people on the other end of the line have their defenses up and are NOT receptive until you give them a reason to let you in.

Because cold calling is interruptive and not permissive it requires 4 things to be executed flawlessly:

1. You have to know who you are calling – have a list.

Before you pick up the phone and start making calls, you have to know who you are calling and why.  Let’s call this pre-qualifying.  Pre-qualifying means creating a key customer profile that outlines the traits of a company that is the best possible fit for what you are selling.   Build a list of pre-qualified companies to work from and make it as long as possible before you start calling.  Don’t do research while you call, it slows down the process and makes it difficult to get into a rhythm.   A calling list is the most valuable asset a cold caller can have and spending the time upfront building it will make all the difference.

2. Know what you are going to say

You have less than 10 seconds to capture someone’s attention.  If you don’t know what you’re going to say, you’ll look sound like a rookie.   I’m not a big fan of “scripts” and actually I consider them constricting, impersonal, and don’t always align with the flow of the call and what the person on the other line wants to hear.  I prefer improvisation and agility.  This doesn’t mean wing it, it means you have a set of key messages you know you must get out, but how you communicate them and when is driven by the person on the other end of the line.

Create a set of key messages you think are critical to your customer and to make sure they impact the key business elements of my target customers.  I don’t talk about my services, but rather how my services can positively affect their business in the next 30-60-90 days.

3. Set Goals

Set daily cold call goals since the hardest part of cold calling can be just making the calls.  Setting goals you know based on past success will ensure you can make your numbers. Know how many new calls you need to make in a day and know how many return calls you will make.  New calls are calls made to someone on the list you’ve never called before.  Return calls are someone on the list you didn’t get a hold of the last time you called them.

Overtime, as you call more often, your call back list is going to be as equally as big as your new call list and the most important thing to remember is to not quit until you reach someone.  Make the call, leave a message, set a reminder to call them back, but never quit calling.

4. Don’t stop until they say “NO!”

This is where determination and stamina come into play.  Do not stop calling until you get a no.   Without a no, you don’t know why they aren’t calling you back.  My rational is this; if they’re not interested, they’ll let you know because they may be too busy to do otherwise.   For every prospect that will tell you to stop calling,  I bet that you will have five that will thank your for your persistence and were glad you kept on them as they wanted to talk but were so busy they never got around to calling you back. – Don’t stop until they tell you to stop.

Cold calling is not dead.  It maybe warping, but, regardless of what it’s doing or not doing, doing it right matters and will have an impact on your income.

Maximize Sales Opportunities through a Division of Labor

With the sales function in most companies looking remarkably like production did prior to the industrial revolution we can apply the same division of labor principles to the selling function in order to increase productivity or in this case “sales”. 

The primary duty of a sales person is to convert new opportunities into a sale but most companies do not allow them to perform that duty because salespeople are increasingly expected to perform non-selling activities such as customer service and even fulfillment duties.  By assigning the non-selling activities to other positions in the organization, a sales person will be able to increase performance of their primary duty of converting opportunities into sales. But who in the organization should the non-selling activities be assigned to and how do all of those people and activities work together to increase the number of opportunities for the sales person?  The positions and their respective duties should include:

The Promotions Coordinator is responsible for communicating the product or service offering to targeted prospects in order to generate leads.  What is your company doing to keep the top of the funnel full?

The Sales Coordinator is responsible for ensuring that leads are followed up with by the sales people and that the sales people’s calendars are full at all times with business development meetings.  They are also responsible for communicating the result of those meetings to the departments responsible for fulfillment and ongoing customer service.  At the end of the day, sales people should only be reading what is in the CRM and not entering data.

 The Technical Team is responsible for maintaining selling capacity by developing unique offerings to the market, providing marketing materials, automating standardized communications, and monitoring key activities such as business development meetings and conversion of opportunities into sales.

The Salesperson should only be responsible for conducting the business development meetings and converting the opportunities into sales. Additionally, a company may be able to decrease the amount of sales people since non-selling activities can be performed by more administrative and technical skilled staff. 

 The number of people dedicated to the above listed positions will vary depending on the size of the company, the amount of products, and the number of opportunities that are being generated by effective marketing but by having the right people in the right positions with the right procedures and the right promotions for the right product, a company will maximize the amount of selling opportunities and can guarantee an increase in their sales.

Stop Wasting Money on Sales Training!

Ask any sales manager about the need for continuous sales training and you instantly get agreement that it is important. So why isn’t there more of it going on?  The fact is, most money spent on sales training is wasted. Typically, it annoys the sales team, disrupts your sales opportunities, bores the talented team members, and is totally forgotten within 30 days.

This is true for three reasons:

1) Credibility – “Who is this sales seminar leader and why on earth should I follow his/her advice?”

2) Relevance – “Maybe this stuff works in the X industry, but I don’t see how it applies here.”

3) Reinforcement – “I’ll implement these new ideas just as soon as I have the time.”

You can get around these issues and realize a greater ROI from your training budget with an internal “Sales Excellence Committee”. Put the best of your best sales talent on it. (i.e., those who are most respected by the rest of the team) and that alone will take care of missing links one and two.

Next, provide proof that you’re serious about using the knowledge of these folks for the benefit of all your reps. In other words, provide funding for and relentlessly conduct monthly 1/2 day “SEC” meetings. Their objective is to identify, clarify and communicate sales best practices and integrate them into tactical actions that produce the fastest, most tangible results for your business.

At the risk of being repetitive …the mission of your Sales Excellence Committee is to:

1st – Identify the best sales practices of your best reps

2nd – Clarify – write them down in specific detail

3rd – Communicate – make sure ALL your reps know how to replicate the power of each best practice.

Many firms find it helpful to use an outside facilitator to start and keep the ball rolling. This person would need all the classic qualifications of a sales trainer PLUS expertise in knowledge management and process engineering. Your best reps will always be the best source of sales tactics and strategies that work. Don’t waste time and money on standardized sales training. Tap into the gold mine you already have on the payroll. Fund it. Plan it. Do it.

Do your sales and customer service functions meet 911 expectations?

When you dial 911, you may not necessarily think of what is happening behind the scenes, you only know that you need the services that 911 provides and you need it fast.  Your focus remains on the reason you dialed number in the first place and then a series of events happen that are out of your control….hopefully with a great outcome.

Why does dialing 911 work? First of all, people know to dial 911 because the message has obviously been promoted well.  Secondly, before the number existed, countless hours were spent on planning and training to make sure execution would be performed flawlessly to deliver their “product” once they were called. Not to diminish the responsive and important role 911 plays in our lives, but what happens when one of your customers dials your company phone number and has a need for something you offer? 

 With proper planning and training, your company can implement the same standards to be just as responsive:

  • People: Do you have the right amount of people to service your customers?  Do you have the right people to service your customers? As the relationship between the organization and the customer becomes more involved, most companies have more than one person involved in the delivery of their product.
  • Positions:  Do you have the right people in the right positions? People have different skill sets and matching those skills to job function is essential for an organization to ensure the delivery of their product to their customer.
  • Procedures: Anything that is able to be duplicated has a well defined procedure in place that is able to be replicated with the same result.  This holds true for organizations that want to increase their customer retention and revenue per client.  Any deviation from a well defined procedure could end with very bad consequences.

No one ever wants to plan on calling 911 but hopefully your marketing has been effective enough that customers plan on calling you when they have a need.  By having the right people in the right positions with the right procedures, you can deliver your product as flawlessly to your customers as 911 professionals do when their product is needed.

Learn more about how your company can maximize their sales function at www.salestechnik.com

Reverse engineering of your sales goals

When a prospect told me they wanted to sell more but did not have a plan other than imploring their sales team to make more calls, I took a sheet of paper and showed them how I have been able to help my customers meet their sales goals.

Most plans, directions, and instructions are developed and read from the left to right -or- from the top to bottom, I have always started at the bottom and worked up.  Why you ask?  Because most sales people just focus on the next opportunity and don’t take the time to really think about how they won the last sale.  

It is very simple.  Write down your current sales goal and your past ten selling successes with the activities and actions that led to those successes on a sheet of paper.  Additionally, write down what you might have done better and sooner in the relationship that could improve your sales cycle next time.  Ask yourself: What made the customer decide to buy?  What activities did you do to get in front of that customer? What information did you give to that customer and when did you speak or meet with them.  Who introduced you to that company and how did you meet them?  What was the trigger that made that prospect interested? 

On a second sheet of paper, write down your sales goal at the bottom of the page and draw a target around it.  Now in reverse chronological order, list the activities and actions that must be done in order to achieve the goal.

Congratulations!  You now have a road map of what activities and what actions you need to replicate over and over in order to meet your goal.

Are you a selling organization?

If your company is a typical company, you have a series of sales people that you expect to operate autonomously and efficiently in the best interest of the company to help increase revenues.  Is that the best practice to move you forward in the future?

Have your sales increases kept up with the market increases?  Are you bringing as much new money to the bottom line as you are to the top? Are you retaining all the new clients that are closing?  Do all of the other departments know who your clients are?
 
If you answered yes to all of the above questions, then congratulations, you do not need to have a learning session about where you want to be three years from now.  However, if you did not answer yes, then there is a great opportunity before you.  
 
In today’s economy, companies have to sell smarter as well as make sure that they are 110% successful in executing delivery and customer service in the manner that the customer expects.   By making sure companies have the right people in the right positions with the right procedures, companies can sell their extra capacity and position themselves for further growth.

What got you here won’t get you there……

As companies have built new production capacity through the implementation of LEAN principles over the past few years, their weakest link is now the sales process that is still being managed by principles from the 1950’s.  “Outside” sales people are only selling 20% of the time because of the way the organization is designed.  If a company is serious about growth, they need to evolve their company to a customer orientated model that allows more sales to happen.  Placing the right people in the right positions with the right procedures will allow a company to increase their customer retention and maximize their selling opportunities.