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.
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
Type your new text here.
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
What you do today has an affect on your future income. Whether you’re a sales manager developing a plan for your salespeople or a salesperson developing your own sales plan, you need to develop a daily and weekly plan that is based on pre-determined activities levels reverse engineered from your goal in order to be successful. It is the only way to stay focused on growth and stay self-motivated to actively pursue success, rather than waiting for it to come your way.
How do you develop the plan?
1. Set your annual sales goal that is needed for you to make your targeted income level.
How much do you want to make this year? How much revenue do you need to close in order to justify your salary and company overhead expenses associated with your position? If you don’t know your goal, how do you know what success looks like?
2. Define your ideal client and what their average value is to you.
Do not take every piece of business you find. What type of clients do you want? What is their average worth to the organization? If you do not have business intelligence to use, your need to determine an average worth of your client base to set a baseline for the next steps.
3. Divide the sales goal by the average client value to determine how many clients you need.
If your goal is to make $100,000 this year and the average client is worth $5000 to your organization and you make 10% commission, you need to find 200 clients…..Pretty simple! Know how much business you need to close in order to meet the goal.
4. Know your closing ratio.
If your closing ration is 50% and you know you need 200 clients, then you need to propose to 400 targets to meet your goal. Again, pretty simple!
5. Know how many targets you need make proposals for.
You can’t do business with everyone. If you do, I guarantee that you will lose money. 20% of the typical customer base in any company costs more money to the company than they bring in revenue. If you make sure you are talking to “qualified” targets based on your ideal client profile, you will know how many qualified targets you need to propose to.
6. Know how many prospects you need to qualify as targets.
How many prospects do you talk to or meet with that do NOT meet your ideal client profile? At first, the prospects may seem like they can do business with you but when you are done talking or meeting with them, it is not a good fit for the organization. It’s not your fault! They looked like a target and do NOT feel remorse by disqualifying them to stay focused on better targets.
7. Know how many leads you need in the top of the funnel to qualify as prospects.
The phone book is not a lead list! Although you may think everything with an address is a prospect, you need to be smart about where you spend your time and energy to develop business. Much like the conversion of prospects to targets, the smarter you are about the leads that you generate, the more successful you will be at moving leads to clients.
8. Develop your “lead-o-sphere” to fill your funnel.
Much like the universe started in chaos and eventually developed into form, you need to form leads from the chaos in the market place. What are your lead sources? Who have you partnered with to be a complimentary provider? What networking groups have you joined to increase your contact base? What service organizations do you belong to? What boards are you on? What social events do you attend? Where do you go hang out? Who is in your LinkedIn network? Who are your centers of influence? Who do you need to meet to put you in a position to talk to your next lead?
You can download the “Get There” Calculator on the Technik Resources page to help you determine what your funnel volume and funnel velocity needs to be to guarantee your success.
Customers are disappearing, buying habits have changed, profit margins are shrinking, marketing budgets have been stripped, and the competition is entrenched. To compound the problem, your sales team is only selling 20% of the time, call reports are fictional, sales are unpredictable, and the training seminar that was purchased has had no impact on results whatsoever. In this day and age, more production is needed from the sales team and they need to be held accountable for results.
To truly hold sales people accountable, organizations have a responsibility to have certain things in place. These responsibilities include:
- Having a lofty goal in place
- Aligning the company on the lofty goal
- Knowing their “ideal” client
- Having current marketing materials
- Knowing opportunities exist in the market
- Being market-oriented and customer-centric
- Being able to measure success
Once these responsibilities are taken care of, the next step is to design a sales system and create a roadmap that is reverse engineered on the lofty goal. This road map should include clearly defined expectations such as:
- Specific activity metrics
- Weekly sales plans
- Public activity calendars
- Expected funnel size and velocities
- Structured reporting mechanisms
- Time bound results
Once an organization has taken care of their responsibilities, developed a sales system to follow and fully communicated what is expected, only then can the sales people be held accountable