Jan 312018
 

Not every sale requires a presentation, but most do and that has led to an abundance of wasted time. And boredom. And the audience checking e-mails and messages. And even more subsequent presentations.

Sales presentations are both over and under-rated. They are over-rated because most of them are about the seller and are the software equivalent of the “don’t hesitate to phone or e-mail me if you have any questions” line all salespeople use at the end of all calls with all customers (doh, you bet the customer already knows the obvious). Sales presentations, on the other hand, could be under-rated for their sheer efficiency and effectiveness to excite, motivate and move things along. The latter variety is the exception and needs preparation.

Photo Credit: Hans

How to do so? First and foremost a presentation is about the buyer. I repeat, a presentation is not about you the salesperson, your company or your way of selling it. It is about them, the prospect. The problem typically starts with the marketing and product management groups. Nothing against these important departments, but the stock presentations they generate violate the abovementioned rule. Then sales plays tag using the templated presentations and carries on with slide after slide of ‘who we are’ and ‘where we are’ et cetra.

Sales must resist the urge to dole out this information in favour of information relevant to the customer, its process, its buying habits and specific needs. Customers care about the seller’s information only insofar as it concerns their needs. The problem, however, often is that the correct information to be included in a pertinent presentation is not known to the salesperson. Either the salesperson has not asked/not dug enough in advance or the buyer has resisted giving the information out and the seller has copped out and not persisted. This is to the detriment of both the buyer and seller.

It is the job of the salesperson to ask the ‘why’ questions, understand the need, understand the customer’s buying process including MAN (Money, Authority, Need). This information should then be used in the subsequent customized presentation that speaks to the information the buyer would find valuable.

  1. Gather the information that is relevant to what the customer finds important (it is fair if as an expert you have data that similar customers have found useful and relevant).
  2. Know the ideal outcome (based on the concept of the buyer) that should follow the presentation.
  3. Create the presentation based on the above. Keep it pertinent, do not be copy-heavy and focus on the customer.
  4. Practice your presentation in advance of delivering it.
  5. Delete or shorten what is unnecessary. The less complex and the smaller the solution/product/service the more focused and succinct the presentation should be.

 

Addendum: in all cases do not think the ‘what’ is sufficient. Think ‘why.’ Why is this point important, why is this information offered and why did you decide to leave this text in your presentation when others did not make the final cut. Let the audience know. Do not assume they know or understand why you included something. Again, hint: you collected the context from the audience. As you can see the majority of the work was done in advance of the presentation itself. Explain to them that this text/bullet/page is there because as the expert in the product/service/pitch it is what you picked up from them and know it is important. Explain and elaborate the ‘why’ before you make your point so the context is clear before the actual point is given.

Here is an example: “Jane, Tammy and Joe you had mentioned that ten percent of employees use your current dispenser. I have included a point about adoption of our dispensers because their ease-of-use makes for a much wider adoption than what you currently see. We see this at all our customers and wanted to share the number with you. So here goes, as you see on the second bullet you will see eighty-percent adoption with our dispensers, which is key for you.”

 

While we are on the subject, and going back to the opening sentence, salespeople should not assume or insist on a presentation. If a sale can proceed without then by all means allow it to.

 

What are your thoughts? Click on ‘Comments’ and let me know.

*Things That Need To Go Away: We were founded in 1981, which makes us 37 years old and are located in more than 15 countries and over 20 cities. Let me tell you about our president and founders now…

Photo Credit: Robinsonk26

Be Sociable, Share!
Jan 082018
 

This article will not be two things. Those are:

1-      A customized sales process

2-      The mechanics of Market Identification and Prospecting, which are the beginning of the sales process, or existing customer Account Management and Reporting, which are at the continuation of a repeatable process.

These are outside the scope of this article.

Instead let’s examine how sales organizations set up their sales departments and configure salesperson positions from a responsibility and resource perspective.

If the reader would forgive a slight exaggeration, in order to stimulate the mind, there are as many sales department formations out there as there are sales teams and companies. Moreover, admittedly many of these salespeople and companies are doing well, achieving their objectives and making themselves, their stakeholders and hopefully customers successful.

The article is assuming the organization has more than one or two salespersons. The math obviously does not apply to the mom and pop business with a part-time seller or a lone full-time salesperson, but as you can imagine if the number of sales folk to the size of market is out of proportion this in itself is a recipe for sales collapse. For now, let us assume a sales team (plural) exists.

Many companies have too large of (what they perceive is) an addressable market or have deployed their salespeople inefficiently. This issue is so prevalent that it boggles the mind. It is something that happens far too commonly and is a function of the sales management having not truly sold in the past, forgetting what it is like to be an individual contributor, have personal experience in only one type of sales or being subjugated to a larger force within the company. This is not meant to be condescending. After all, what did you have for lunch last week, day before yesterday or even yesterday? It is easy to forget, isn’t it?

When assigning dedicated salespeople to accounts, territories or solutions and verticals companies tend to create a strict demarcation between the job descriptions and focus of

  • inside and outside or
  • SMB and enterprise/major public-sector or
  • Generalist and vertically/other specialized

representatives. The friction created as a result is one story. Much time and goodwill is expended mediating the issues that arise. Cooperation among team members is lessened and customer service suffers when service is slowed and coverage and responsiveness is decreased.

Credit: rawpixel

Challenge: Aside from the above, a bigger and more immediate issue is the inefficient deployment that results in what I have seen so often I have a term for it, namely inverage. It is ‘incomplete coverage.’ No account, territory or solution is completely covered. Instead, companies have spread their efforts in every step of the sales cycle/account management more thinly than is necessary. The employer is not even deriving complete value from its salespersons’ particular specialty and skills. What is meant by this?

  • Enterprise/field salespeople who are best at, and need to be establishing deep relationships with customers, are spending an inordinate part of their time hunting new business from scratch, making cold calls or booking transactional and low value business for their major and existing customers.
  • SMB sales reps are dialing into new accounts. Handling major accounts that the Enterprise team has not picked up and attempting to give C-levels at larger hierarchical accounts the same treatment as it does to smaller and SMB accounts. The truth, however, is that transactional activities do not leave room for an in-depth management of the customer. Yet, many customers need or demand that attention. The smaller accounts’ managers are also dialling/e-mailing for dollars and have more resources to canvass a larger set of customers’ employees.
  • Business developers whose task should be attracting new accounts and sales are covering the trenches because no one else is handling the account or is not allowed to step outside the pre-defined boundary.
  • At the aforementioned smaller companies, the (few) sellers have too large of a or practically undefined territory and are attempting to cover the proverbial phone book.

Anyone who steps outside his or her designated role and account does so voluntarily and may even be attracting the displeasure of management, which in many cases has its own immediate chain of command divided into outside/enterprise/major and inside/SMB/minor to begin with. There is likely an opportunity cost to doing so in terms of one’s own accounts and commission dollars for the seller.

Within this model no one is quite happy needing to go where they are least comfortable and less inclined. No one is truly exposed to anyone else’s business and professional life either furthering the segregation. Time is not utilized in optimal fashion.

As a manager of several sales teams at Microsoft several years ago I had instituted a variable pay system where a portion of the team members’ sales commission (20%) was based on team performance. The shared model made the comradery better, helped with cross territory and team cooperation and gave customers’ better coverage. It worked quite well. It was dismantled a fiscal year later when the senior management asked that the compensation be standardized to the global model.

Answer: What teams need is a sharing of account management duties.

  • The flexibility for the Enterprise seller to devote (say) 20% of his or her time to assist the SMB representative and the flexibility of the SMB seller to devote a congruent 20% of time to the enterprise account he or she shares in a minor fashion with the enterprise representative is key.
  • Both would be proportionally sharing in the variable rewards of their respective primary accounts as well thus rewarding them for their effort.
  • Each seller would also would focus on what his or her main job responsibility or forte is, while being exposed to the duties of his or her counterpart.
  • Most importantly perhaps, it is the customers who are most thankful for the coverage, responsiveness, deepness of expertise and teamwork.

Credit: anemone123

Again, and most importantly, the sellers would focus on what they do best most of time, but simultaneously there would be much less of a gap in selling and other necessary activity coverage.

This configuration addresses respective salespersons’ lack of time, lack of skillset, unwillingness, priorities and the quarterly nature of quota. Any company that can should pair sellers.

Account Type Major Role & Variable Compensation Minor Role & Variable Compensation
  F/M I/T G/U F/M I/T G/U
Small/Transactional No Yes No Yes No Yes
Large/Strategic Yes No No No Yes Yes
Unmanaged No No Yes Yes Yes No
 


F/M = Field/Major Salesperson

I/T = Inside/Transactional Salesperson

G/U = Generalist/Unmanaged Accounts

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: he does this, she does that, they do not mix and if they do it is to their personal detriment.

Credit: Geralt

 

Inverage

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Apr 102017
 

My friend Chris texted me a picture of the The Boss Baby from the movie of the same name that is in cinemas right now. The baby’s line “… Cookies are for closers.” is a reference to Alec Baldwin’s character from the seminal ‘sales’ film Glengarry Glen Ross of course. In that film Alec Baldwin and a host of sales characters interact in a real-estate sales office as the company goes about countering slumping sales with, er, leads and, cough cough, some motivation.

Boss baby

So, need some sales inspiration? Need to find the tip of the spear of materialism? Need to laugh at the exaggerations, salesmanship, hyperbole or incredible lines? Here is a list, in order of release, for you salespeople and observers of salespeople.

These films should mostly focus on the ‘sale’ rather than are about salesperson’s lives and other endeavours, but included are films that at least delivered a good line or two.

Now don’t go watching these! Instead, get out there and sell something!!
1. Tin Men (1987)
2. Cadillac Man (1990)
3. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
4. Jerry Maguire (1996)
5. Boiler Room (2000)
6. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
7. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)
8. Love & Other Drugs (2010)
9. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
10. Unfinished Business (2015)

Let me know what I missed.

*Things That Need To Go Away: High-pressure aggressive sales (which thankfully is as obsolete as the cathode ray tube television).

Be Sociable, Share!
Mar 142017
 

Unless one is dealing with an invading army (whose soldiers have eyes that emit their version of LASER no less!), being ignored is rarely a nice experience. It makes one feel unwanted, rejected and base – all the qualities that evolution has taught humans to dislike. Some may be more immune to the negative reactions that come with it than others. Most persons, however, would regardless take it badly.

Every salesperson has experienced it time and time again. The customer who does not reply. The prospect who does not follow up subsequent to a first conversation. The follow-up call that does not happen. The e-mail goes unreturned.

It is a sad reality that whether out of carelessness, a lack of class, being busy, politeness or pressures at work many sales e-mails go unreturned. It is ironic because promptly responding or a firm ‘no’ would go a long way towards saving everyone time, but alas let’s not launch into a discussion of logic and illogic here.

Instead, let’s look at what to do in such situations.

First and foremost, you have read it here before. Make you communication relevant and personalized. If you have not already then read this. Spending time researching calls and e-mails is better and more conducive to success than the alternative. It is ultimately a time-saver to invest time to look for relevant and applicable information.

Secondly, every salesperson should be frank enough to disqualify as well as qualify his or her customers and pipeline. Time and resources need to be spent on productive work and not folk who are uninterested or inattentive. This is not an invitation to rely exclusively on inbound marketing, but rather insistence to deal in reality and productivity. If you have more good leads than bad or more leads than time then you are in a good situation to execute on this advice anyway.

Thirdly, if the salesperson knows a game is being played the best advice is to not play. After all, one is not gamed if he or she is not playing. Focus should be on productive work. At the very least, one has detached himself from the negative effects of this behaviour.

With that said, here are several bullets based on my experience that will help with the response rate.

  • Be prompt. Respond right away to inbound calls, e-mails and leads. First, this in and out of itself increases one’s chances, but also if multiple follow-ups and attempts are needed the first one was the aforementioned. Importantly, per Insidesales.com, “the odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times and from 5 minutes to 10 minutes the dial to qualify odds decrease 4 times.”
  • Do leave a voice-mail. Voice-mails are likely retained whereas missed calls are not. Hearing your name and reason for call also begins the process of awareness.
  • Unanswered e-mails require follow-up. No, not of that kind. Of this kind: forward your last e-mail and keep it as short as possible. Exclude a salutation and signature and ask a simple follow-up question. The details and explanation are in the original e-mail that are being forwarded.

“Want to follow up in case this e-mail got buried.”

“What would be a good next step?”

“Is there some way to find out if this is a priority?”

That is it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: Sales And Customers Working Against Each Others’ Interests. Collaboration, Service and Honesty Wins.

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Jun 112016
 

Fear sells. We know that much.

What else sells? You might think ‘competence sells’ or ‘return on investment sells’ or ‘likability sells’ or even ‘fun sells,’ et cetra. However, the question of the day is whether insulting a customer sells? What about boring a customer? Does that sell?

Take a look at the following videos. In the first, a man who appears to have been in business a number of years (success?) utilizes something he calls G.U.T.S.* Sales Training Method or the *Great Un-Orthodox-Un-Traditional Techniques Of Selling Success to insult the customer into buying from him.

In this video, the world’s most humanlike automaton cranks out calls at rates that would put those embarrassingly useless automated dialing computers to shame. Is he.. could he… be successful?

What do you think?

*Things That Need To Go Away: Calling Lying, Half-Truths, Fudging Or intimidating ‘Sales.’

Be Sociable, Share!
Jun 052016
 

Does anyone need reminding that when we say a successful salesperson should have attitude, we are not taking about bad attitude. We are talking about something else.

Sales is there to align customers’ stated or latent needs with goods or services.

Here comes another pushy, rude and annoying salesperson who is doing exactly what gives the worst of the profession a bad name.

Vacuum salesman stays until 1am, leaves pile of dust

Assertiveness and persistence win. They should be coupled with the abovementioned alignment. Stunts like the one pulled by the vacuum salesperson are a black mark and unfortunately hallmark of someone who does not have a good product and is not expecting to return or repeat business.

facts

*Things That Need To Go Away: Pushy Salesperson Who Lie

Be Sociable, Share!
Mar 202016
 

road construction fail

It is one of the biggest challenges in the sales world. The salesperson has a process with his or her customer and the customer goes dark. AWOL. MIA. Radio silence.

What is going on?

Manners, etiquette and social politesse aside, the sum of the situation is that the selling party has received his or her answer. The customer is either not interested in moving forward or is not quite ready yet.

These pages have written about the actions that need to transpire before this point:

  • Salespersons must ask the ‘why’ question
  • Salespersons must be well acquainted with their customer (and if your prospect does not allow for it then the action speaks for itself)
  • Salespersons must interact with at least three employees at the customer’s company.
  • Customer must have demonstrated the MAN acronym, which is comprised of Money, Authority and Need (Desire).

As it turns out humans like to succumb to inertia and dislike change (ironically, hence the million and one quotations about how change is normal). The customer has decided to stick with the status quo, do nothing and let inaction prevail. So, the question really becomes ‘what does it take for you/customer to undertake a change?’ and ‘do you/your employer want to change the situation?’

Either a customer can answer the question to both parties’ satisfaction or the answer comes indirectly through conversation, questions, change action and triangulation. Do not allow your sales pipeline resemble a menagerie of company names.

In addition, it is important to track the customer’s decisions and choices online in the same manner that one listens for indirect verbal cues. Which one of your marketing activities is engaging the customers? Which e-mail campaigns elicited clicks from your customers?  Which of your web pages or assets is the customer touching and in which other websites are they engaged? That is, hopefully, your marketing team is tracking the online world for you. Are they?

*Things That Need To Go Away: Lack of Bi-Directional Communication

standby

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Mar 022016
 

You may have come across the phrase ‘sales strategy’ or ‘sales process’ on this site. Moreover, several book reviews on the website contemplate and discuss the subjects. Either way, you have seen or read about the same elsewhere.

I have come to understand that the difference between the two is not always clear however. A sales organization or department needs both complementary concepts to function or, at least, to do so well. Here are the distinctions:

Sales Strategy

  • Organizational goals and plans especially vis-a-vis customers
  • Your objective SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threats) analysis
  • Financial actuals and reality
  • Interaction with other departments
  • What is the internal and external story that aligns to, and addresses, your SWOT

Sales Process

  • How the sales strategy is executed
  • How do the junior and senior, inside and outside, farmers and hunters, pre, post-sales, sales professionals and their hierarchy do their job? Moreover, are roles and responsibilities clear to everyone?
  • The degree of autonomy and self-management versus scripted and regimented methodology
  • Which tools and skills are required and leveraged in the sales organization

*Things That Need To Go Away: Expectation of success without a sales strategy, process and consultation with sales.

sales process and strategy

Be Sociable, Share!
Jun 072012
 

What does your prospect think about? It depends on the customer’s role. Salespeople who target that position’s specific thoughts and concerns will be more successful. This is called role-based selling. For the purpose of this article I am skipping two crucial discussions. First, Assistants need to be marketed to as well. A salesperson must believe he or she deserves the executive’s time. After all, you are not wasting time, are you? Two, the approach to C-level and V-level roles needs to be personalized and stand out. More on those elsewhere as well as in future discussions. In the meantime, align your sales to the position’s objectives, while ensuring you are speaking correctly to the right ‘C’ (‘Chief’ title) or ‘V’ (‘Vice”-President title).

Peruse the below, but ultimately they need to tell you how to sell to them by telling you about their needs. This is why questions are important. This is why preparation in advance according to the below is important.

President or CEO

What? Grow and lead the company

Pains and Concerns:

  • Grow revenue
  • More profitability/declining profitability
  • Shareholder value
  • Happier and more productive employees
  • Company reputation and
  • Determining strategy and direction

Financial Managers (VP Of Finance, CFO, Controller, Treasurer)

What? Financial management

Pains and Concerns:

  • Knowing and measuring financial drivers,
  • Profitability,
  • Information and reports to manage events and conditions,
  • Reducing costs,
  • Return on investments and return on assets
  • Accounts reconciliation and forecasting (treasurer)
  • Business value (controller)
  • Shortening transaction times,
  • Line of business accountability
  • Closing books faster or consistently having them ‘closed,’
  • Ensuring consistency among territories, divisions and currencies,
  • Drive operational efficiencies,
  • Better, more consistent and more centralized reporting
  • Make better decisions faster and
  • Analyze and predict.

Human Resources Managers (VP Of Human Resources)

What? Manage the business’ people. A business’ most valuable asset is its people. Everything the company does or wishes to achieve is tied to its people’s skills and abilities.

Pains and Concerns:

  • Business and society, and employees, constantly change.
  • Doing more with the same or less,
  • Improving productivity,
  • Delivering and tracking education that is related to work,
  • Budgeting for, finding, hiring and calculating the cost and return on employees,
  • Enabling employee self-service for faster and more efficient control and removing bottlenecks and
  • Local currency and regulations.

Manufacturing Management (VP Of Manufacturing, Chief Operating Officer)

What? Producing timely goods at the lowest cost

Concerns:

  • Manufacturing on demand with the shortest possible lead time,
  • Manufacturing to order,
  • Forecasting demand,
  • Customizing and configuring to order,
  • Collaborate and communicate with supply chain including suppliers, sub-contractors and distributors including view into demand and inventory via EDI or the web,
  • Track costs,
  • Operational justification to understand where cutting cost won’t impact operations
  • Analyze efficiencies,
  • Predict inventory cycle and
  • Eliminate waste.

Sales and Marketing (VP Of Sales, VP Of Marketing, CMO)

What? Increasing sales, improving top and bottom-line and tracking to forecast

Concerns:

  • Knowing the customers,
  • Sales growth,
  • Customer satisfaction/customer turnover
  • Margin growth and maintenance,
  • Forecast accuracy and visibility,
  • Company profitability,
  • Monitoring sales channels and trend analysis,
  • New customer acquisition
  • Company image
  • Productivity of sales and marketing staff,
  • Effectiveness of marketing programs and motions,
  • Positioning products, services or people
  • Efficiency of different types of marketing (such as promotions, web, channels, viral, etc.),
  • Campaign budgets and ROI (Return On Investment),
  • Anticipating trends and consumption,
  • Lead management and visibility into each representative’s achievements and pipeline.
  • See http://www.alighaemi.com/wp/?p=846 for different types of marketing.

Information Technology (VP of IT, CTO, CIO)

What? Lead the company’s information technology

Pains and Concerns:

  • Running the company’s information technology
  • Which hardware, software and service
  • Enabling productivity
  • Interoperability among internal and external customers
  • Flexible systems that can scale up or down with the business
  • Saving the company money
  • Eliminating disparate systems

Be Sociable, Share!
Jun 052012
 

I firmly ‘believe’ that having belief is one of the keys to success. This is not some spiritual intangible. It is an imperative. Wayne Gretzky, a Canadian hockey player, is often quoted as saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” It is as simple as that. Believing is about doing. Time and time again when a salespersons is convinced that an effort is futile it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Successful salespeople know that when all hope is lost the worst possible thing to (not) do is to give up. One last e-mail beseeching customers, one more call exploring alternatives, one strategic question to a prospect may turn things around.

One needs belief however. The belief that something may happen. Ironically, it is the more experienced and tenured salespeople that often fall victim to a lack of belief. They internalize the mistakes, failures and objections and project them into various current situations. It should be the opposite. The more pertinent question invoking belief is ‘have I sold before?” or ‘have I interviewed for such a job successfully before?’ or ‘Did I win in a similar situation in the last year?’… then why not again?

Your believing not only determines what you do, but it also determines that you do it. Moreover, it is the duty of the management and company to give, instill and maintain that belief. Salespeople are humans. They need support as much as anybody.

 

Be Sociable, Share!