Oct 182020
 

Writing a Sales Territory Plan – as opposed to a Sales Account Plan – is conceptually not difficult. As a salesperson you are handed a territory and you would like to figure out where you are (point A) and like to get to a result (point B). How to get from point A to point B is the plan.

Below and attached (Scroll To The End Of This Article to find the link) is a cheat sheet for you. Please consider several items.

  • It is important that the plan is frank and realistic.
  • It is important that the plan has specifics and is time-bound.
  • It is most important that the plan is implemented with on-going action. One too many plans are make-work projects that are ignored or forgotten thirty seconds after they are presented. The plan is there to help you succeed so you would do well to take it seriously if you take your job seriously.

Here is an outline of a Territory Plan:

Page 1: Title Page

  • Place Your Company Logo
  • Add Salesperson’s Name
  • Add Date

 

Page 2: Contents

  • Targets/Goals
  • Analysis
  • Existing Accounts
  • New/Prospect Accounts
  • Action Plan
  • Guide To Terms And Filling This Plan out

 

Page 3: Target And Target Breakdown

  • Numerical Targets/Goals
  • Break down into periods as needed
  • Existing Accounts
  • If applicable
  • Prospect Accounts
  • If applicable
  • Gap-To-Goal (based on above)

 

Page 4: Target Analysis And Insights

  • SWOT Analysis Of Territory
  • Priorities
  • How will you take advantage of the opportunities and counter the weaknesses

 

  • What works/what does not work
  • What will you do differently
  • What do you need to make it (i.e. your goals) happen?

 

Page 5: Existing Accounts

  • What does the territory look like?
  • Biggest accounts
  • Biggest account potentials
  • Break-down by size or geography or kind

 

  • Success Components
  • What needs to be done?
  • What tools are available and will work?
  • What is selling/what is not selling
  • What drives business?
  • Other

 

Page 6: New Accounts/Prospects

  • Prospect Names
  • Which industry, size or kind they are in?

 

  • Top # (insert a number here) Target Companies (Prospects)
  • Industry (if more than one applies)
  • What Do They Currently Own?
  • Have They Been Contacted by you? If not, when will you contact them, how often and in what intervals?

 

  • Other Prospects Contacted?
  • Industry?
  • Why Are They A Good Candidate for you?
  • Updates?
  • What is next and what do you need and by when?

 

Page 7: Action Plan

  • Consider SMART
  • Tactics
  • By When
  • Milestones
  • Resources Needed

 

Page 8: Guide

  • Consider SMART when thinking about the above
  • SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound: no vague inputs
  • Think in terms of milestones and break your actions down
  • Consider resources and input needed and think whether they adhere to the above concept

 

  • A Territory Plan has you starting at Point A (where you are today) and takes you to Point B (where you need to be).
  • Know your goals therefore
  • This is specific to your territory. There is not a universal formula that applies here

 

  • SWOT stands for Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat

 

Feel free to download the attached and either use directly or copy/paste it into a slide deck of your choosing.

Things That Need To Go Away: Planning That Occurs Only During The Presentation Session And Is Then Forgotten

Sep 082020
 

Sometimes salespeople assume they know what matters instead of asking. Sometimes salespeople trip themselves up by creating objections. Occasionally, salespeople speak too much and when one speaks one is not listening.

 

There are several good reasons for salespersons to speak less. Yes, speak less. It is difficult to imagine, but it is true that salespersons speak too much. It is ingrained in their DNA. Yet, this trait goes back to an older time when the customer was less informed and could not educate him or herself. The balance of power has shifted and buyers have other avenues of educating themselves. Imagine a hiring manager who interviews a sales position candidate and decides to hire the candidate who speaks less. Sounds strange, right? It should not be. Let me explain.

1- Speaking less may be a sign that the salesperson has done his or her homework and is looking for more information and more insight because there is much that he or she has already discovered. It is also respectful and beats the heck out of lecturing a customer. To be clear, that is different from a salesperson who is quiet and rarely speaks.

2- Speaking less may coincide with a candidate who asks more questions and shows a keen ability to look at responding to the challenges of the buyer (could be an interviewer). The pitch has to align to the customer’s (could be hiring manager) needs. It should not be random or assumed to hit the bull’s eye. Who does not like a person who asks good questions anyway?

3- Speaking less also reduces objections. The more one speaks the more objections may pop up. Here is an exaggerated example to illustrate the point:

  • Salesperson: May I obtain the purchase order from you today?
  • Buyer: Yes, as a matter of fact I have it ready for you.
  • Salesperson: That is fantastic …
    • … I have not received a PO in a while and could sure use this sale or
    • … You have made the right choice. We are the number one provider of widgets in the country or
    • … That is superb. I will pass it on to your account manager right away and he will contact you in the next two days.

Literally anything the salesperson says could create an issue and become an obstacle. The examples are endless, but silence would have been golden to avoid, to use the above examples, making the customer think he should not award a PO to a company that does not win any business or may be too expensive because they are #1 and hence there may be a cheaper alternative out there since the customer does not need the highest quality or give the buyer cause for a halt because they were looking forward to working with that particular salesperson and not an account manager who would replace the original salesperson from here on in.

Perhaps the best response would have been ‘… Thank-you. I will wait in your reception area for you.’ Imagine that! Quite different from the salesperson who always needs to get in extra words.

None of the above suggests the salesperson should be silent, uncommunicative or refrain from opening his or her mouth. It simply means asking questions, understanding and being targeted are better strategies than being absorbed in one’s own world at the expense of potentially tripping oneself up.

 

Things That Need to Go Away: Assuming More Words Equal More Stature, Significance Or Sales

Jun 072020
 

According to Gartner 100% of new market participants and 80% of current vendors will have a SAAS (Software As A Service) or Cloud offering by the end of this year. The market has spoken and no matter what the detractors say – and many of them have valid points – Cloud is where it is at.

This is a bona fide paradigm shift that, in the case of traditional providers, takes the whole of the company to pull off. Let us focus on sales and the available revenue streams for the purpose of this post.

1- Subscription: This is the monthly rent customers pay for use of the service. Sellers may charge by the month or for months or years in advance and make the cash flow more positive in exchange for a multi-term discount.

2- Higher Tiers: Which obviously are more expensive as they come with more features like customizations or customizations’ capability, synchronizations or integrations out of the box or higher ceilings for number of users, data and more. A higher tier may even allow a customer to work offline!

3- Resale: Your partners can resell your Cloud service just like they sold your traditional software or service. Think about all the providers for Microsoft 365 (Office 365).

4- Platform Sales: Think about Facebook’s platform that features so many third-party applications and affiliates that they easily dwarf the mothership. Google and Microsoft do a considerably worse job of this than Facebook and hence derive less revenue from third-party partners than do Salesforce via its AppExchange or Facebook. While it could be a category of its own I will throw in advertising a la Facebook or Google here too.

5- Fees: Set-up fees, support fees, data download fees, diagnostic fees, integration services fees, image fees… the list is endless.

Photograph Credit: Tumisu

SAAS may be low on margin and may offer customers the ability to churn, but you are not subsisting just on subscriptions, are you?

 

Things That Need To Go Away: Landlords Who Make Money From Monthly Rents Alone And Offering Sub-par Service

Dec 032019
 

We have often spoken about how closing a sale is less about closing techniques employed by the salesperson and more about doing the right things in a process-oriented fashion to move the buying journey along.

In this context, are you as a salesperson planning ahead hand-in-hand with the customer to move from speaking to finalizing the deal? Here is an article on this from one angle. It is natural for a buyer to covet the item being purchased as soon as possible when a sales process is advanced. The customer would like to take possession and begin enjoying the fruits of the purchase. The salesperson would also like to make the sale for revenue, for profit and for the satisfaction that comes with assisting.

However, time-lines and urgency are often not aligned.

Professional salespersons know that they need to anticipate and plan for the each of the next and final steps towards a sale and they need to do this with their customers. Planning alone is fine, but it is not as impactful without the participation of the customer and it being aligned to the customer’s real or perceived benefit.

Understand how you can help the customer buy and then what the itinerary is.

Things That Need To Go Away: Wishful Thinking

Photograph Credit: Nik Macmillan

 

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).

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

Jun 052013
 

How a decision is presented is detrimental in how the choices are perceived and considered. This is not anything new. Here is something more specific. According to an article in The Boston Globe people respond more favourably to a request if it is framed as securing a gain and not avoiding a loss. In sales it is more effective to keep a success in sales maintained and not as not having someone lose a job. The example given is of a charity. It is better to present a request to donate blood as a way to “prevent someone from dying” rather than as a way to “save someone’s life.”

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

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.

 

Jun 042012
 

People in sales and marketing might occasionally forget or possibly not be able to say what they know as succinctly as ‘fear sells,’ but unfortunately fear does sell. Think about the nightly news where the leading stories are negative items designed to instill worry, catastrophe, disaster or concern into the minds of the viewers “if it bleeds, it leads.” Think about salespeople scaring you that should you not buy X you will lose your health/pay more later/fall behind, etc.

For instance, a security alarm company will never approach homeowners with information such as “99% of houses in your area were not burglarized.” Rather, the message will go something like this: “a house down your street was burglarized. You could be next!” Cue homeowner to order security monitoring for the house.

Another related psychological imperative is the need to avoid pain. People are compelled by the need to avoid pain more instantly over seeking or finding pleasure. Think about it. Does someone want to avoid or escape a predicament first or seek a new pleasure? Pain Avoidance is a prime technique for making pressing sales and accelerating sales velocity. This instinct is inherent in our genes.

In sales the formula for success is quantifying the pain and problem and demonstrating to the customer that the solution being offered costs less than the problem it displaces.

Similarly, the sales collateral, proposals and discussions should be fashioned in the same way.

Examples (with ‘better’ prompting more urgent action than ‘good’):

  • Good: “you can sign our contract and get the product”  Better: “Get the papers out of your hair”
  • Good: “your solution will bear many years of results”  Better: “Your problems are about to disappear”
  • Good: “your promotion is likely” Better: “Your boss will immediately get off your back”
  • Good: “people will enjoy the new menu and word will spread” Better: “No more bad reviews or food poisoning”

However, and very importantly, a salesperson needs to 1- have asked about the pain 2- understood the imperatives (listening skills) 3- quantified the challenge and 4- has calculated a Return On Investment (ROI) aligned to the solution offered. As such, the above