Jun 282018
 

 

 

 

Dave Brock is a California, USA-based author, coach and consultant who founded and acts as the president of Partners In Excellence. He focuses on the sales, management and corporate culture domains. Given his activities he has a busy schedule and it was pleasantly fortuitous to sit down with him for a chat and pick his brain about the aforementioned topics. The questions were posed both based on professional interest and his area of expertise and his answers were additionally appreciated because he took them spontaneously and answered without advance preparation.

 

Dave, thank-you for your time and allowing me to pose several questions. Could you please introduce yourself and tell our readers what makes you an expert in sales and management.

I am the CEO of Partners In EXCELLENCE, a consulting company focused on business strategy, strategic alliance, sales and marketing.  I am also the author of Sales Manager Survival Guide. I am a theoretical physicist by training. I got into selling after being Chief Product Officer at a failed start-up. I realized there is more to business than great products. I started selling mainframe computers to money centre banks in New York City. I went up the food chain with increasing managerial and executive responsibilities at IBM and then went on to do turnarounds of several tech companies as EVP of sales or CEO.

 

Could you tell us more about Partners In EXCELLENCE. What do you do and how long has it been around?

I started the company in 1991.  We have fifteen partners scattered around the world today.  We focus primarily on helping Global 750 organizations improve performance and execute their business strategies at the highest levels.  About fifty percent of our clients are in technology and industrial products, about twenty-five percent are in professional services and the rest are in the not-for-profit, retail, CPG, basic materials, et cetra.

 

Could you speak about the book Sales Manager Survival Guide? Which topic does it zoom in on?

The book focuses on the role of the Front Line Sales Managers. For all the literature on sales out there there is very little that helps sales managers. It’s a practical guide on how to maximize the performance of their teams.  This fall I am following it with the Sales Executive Survival Guide, which focuses on the top executive and how to achieve overall organizational excellence.

 

In cases where the sales numbers disappoint, is it sales managers who fail more often or is it their teams which fail? I know the goals are one and the same, but where do the fault lines lie?

The right answer is, it depends. If there is a failure at an individual level it is both the sales manager and the individual.  The sales managers may have hired the wrong person or may not be coaching and helping the person achieve the highest levels of performance. It is usually a systemic failure attributable to the sales manager or higher up in the organization If the whole team fails.

 

 

One thing I want to ask you about is regarding sales managers who sell without having a personal quota – as opposed to helping their teams sell. You write about this topic. The sales manager often sees no choice and is faced with quarterly and annual deadlines and pressure, as you know.

The only way the manager achieves his numbers is if everyone on the team achieves their goals. If the manager dives in to try to do all the deals himself he will ultimately fail.  The sheer volume of the deals will kill him, he loses the respect of his team, et cetra.  His job is to maximize the performance of the team period. He doesn’t do that if he takes away the selling responsibility.

 

I believe this may be a manager self-consoling and rationalizing, but what about managers’ feeling that by doing they are also coaching? That is, his or her team members can see them in action, learn and emulate them in the future.

There is a certain amount of showing that is helpful, particularly if you are looking at new capabilities, but at some point the salesperson has to practice, execute and be coached about how to improve. More importantly, the manager has to help the salesperson learn how to think and figure things out themselves.

 

This is quite true and we agree, Dave. I have seen the power of what you say in action with my teams and it is a near-universal truth. One of my favourite topics is sales enablement. Could you give us your definition of this concept and expand on what you see as the most important elements that companies and managers need to provide their sales teams in this regard?

Sales enablement is a very broad topic and not just limited to the sales enablement function. In a very real sense, the entire company must enable sales. For example, develop great products, serve customers well, and create great customer experiences, et cetra. The manager is really at the lead of enabling his team.  The sales enablement function supports sales with training, tools, programs and content. I disagree with the trend of many sales enablement organizations which are trying to displace the sales manager in doing those things.

 

Another perennial favourite of mine: it seems to me that often companies trip themselves up and get in their own way through rivalries, politics, jealousy and people not wanting to look bad and the C-level doesn’t seems to care enough to put an end to these distractions and to focus the team on the mission or is powerless to do so. How do you see this issue within the corporate and selling department context?

There are many organizations that are covertly or overtly anti sales. This is an attitude driven from the top and ultimately leads the organization to perform at a level far below its potential. There are other organizations that have terrible cultures that don’t promote collaboration, team work, accountability; they perform below their potential. There are organizations that inadvertently ‘love their sales people to death.’  By this I mean they try to be so helpful they actually detract from time that salespeople spend selling. This relates to one of the biggest issues we see in organizations which is internal complexity creating a huge sales burden. It’s well intended, but it detracts from sales productivity.

We recently worked with a Global 50 organization. Their salespeople had nine percent time available for selling! The rest was spent getting things done on behalf of the customer or deals internally. They didn’t realize this happened and figured out how to be helpful but free up the salesperson to sell. Large sales organizations have complexities in selling. People do their jobs, but the internal complexities detract.

 

That nine-percent statistic is astounding. I have often had to go to argue and make a case in my own career for either my team or my own ability to be able to sell efficiently, but still nine-percent is such an extreme. With that said, when you write covertly or overtly do you mean unintentionally or intentionally?

Perhaps that’s another way to do that. No organization will ever say they are anti sales, but when you look at behaviours, priorities, et cetra they are anti sales. Too often, they think it’s their “hot product” that is driving success, not realizing that hot products aren’t sustainable and don’t drive growth.

 

As a follow-up let’s talk about how companies, in my experience, understand that commissions, bonuses and other incentives are motivating, but do not understand how aforementioned issues and corporate challenges are demotivating. I have seen one too many eager and energetic folks enter the sales department and end up becoming jaded. Is this something you think about? How do sales leaders or organizations take positive individuals and turn them upside down? Or perhaps you like to put the responsibility back on the shoulder of the individual salesperson?

I think non salespeople, as well as many sales managers, get distracted by compensation and what sales people earn. They need to look at what salespeople produce and assess how they would be able to do the same without salespeople.  If they can achieve the same results, with a lower cost of selling, then they need to do that. But too often it’s an irrational emotional reaction. For example, I’ve encountered CEOs who refuse to let a salesperson be paid more than they are. They are just cutting their nose off to spite their face and limiting the company’s ability to grow and succeed – assuming the compensation plan has been well constructed in the first place.

Most non sale executives have little experience or empathy with what it takes to be very successful in selling. They tend to think of it as transactional whereas in most B2B cases we see it is far different than that perception.

 

I am fully aware that it is an unfair question perhaps that doesn’t do the topic justice, but when you go into companies with these “anti sales,” as you put it, challenges what would be the one thing you first and foremost suggest as a Band-Aid?

It depends. Often, the companies I go into with this anti sales attitude are in a turnaround mode and I’ve been brought in by the board. In many cases, those execs are the problem and I replace them. In some it’s a culture issue and you have to get management to commit to a cultural change. Again, usually they get to this point because they are troubled and failing. Cultural change takes a long time and deep commitment from the top. Some just don’t have the time.

This is a bad answer, but often I won’t waste my time, if they have the wrong attitude, the wrong culture and won’t change it. I’ll deal with the management team that replaces them. There is no silver bullet or a magic solution however.

 

Dave, it was a pleasure chatting and discussing these topics. Why don’t you say a few words about Sales Executive Survival Guide?

Yes, the book will come out in the fall. It’s targeted at CEOs and Top Sales Execs. Where SMSG (Sales Manager Survival Guide) focused on individual and team performance, SESG focuses on organizational excellence. It will address issues like culture, people and talent, complexity, frameworks and systems’ thinking, organizational-growth oriented mindsets, creating a culture of relentless obsessive learning and relentless execution.

 

 

 

 

Partners in EXCELLENCE’s website is at www.partnersinexcellenceblog.com.

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Jun 262018
 

I have written about objections and red flags in the past. They are not bad events. Since a red flag suggests sudden death perhaps a better name for them is ‘amber flags.’ Red flags are not fatal blows in the course of a sales process, but they are markers and a sign that a sales professional is doing his or her job. Rather salespersons need to think of them as signposts that should be interpreted as the means to help them identify what they do not know and should, what they have not addressed and should, who they have not met and should, et cetra. Red flags are like road constructions signage that guides the driver to not crash or burn or to meet a pothole. Red flags are like the poles on the slope for the slalom skier to know where to go and where to avoid. Looked at this way, they are actually handy because the alternative may be sticking one’s head in the sand and no ostrich has ever made an enterprise sale*.

 

Salespersons need to actively look for red flags, recognize them as such and proactively react to them where they have not been pre-empted. In my experience, salespersons who cannot identify red flags are in as a precarious position vis-à-vis their sale as those who either do not know how to react to them or, worse, choose to do nothing.

 

There is a myriad of examples my teams and myself have come across over the years, but here is one example of a red flag to paint a picture. A new executive/technical person/user of what is being sold has been hired and his point-of-view is unclear. His or her opinion is important and valid and should be known and considered. Sales needs to communicate with the person.

 

*That is to the best of my knowledge. Let me know if you understand otherwise.

*Things That Need to go away: managers who are unhappy when a salesperson steps forward to discuss a red flag he or she has discovered.

Photograph Credit: terimakasih0

 

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May 092018
 

Photograph Credit: Mediamodifier

There is a question among suppliers regarding the tender and procurement websites that are available in Canada. In order to clarify the muddle and compare and contrast the options here is an explanation on the options in Canada.

There are several portals for accessing, participating in, bidding and winning business, which is advertised through a RFx, which is an acronym that is a variation on RFP, RFI or its lesser-used sibling RFQ. Suppliers can access competitive contracts and bid for the business available publically.

The majority of this business is centred on the Public Sector as the government, and its related entities and organizations, is bound by legislation to offer its business openly, but on occasion private business is offered to bidders and suppliers on the private portals as well.

 

  • Name: Biddingo (www.biddingo.com)
  • Cost: $250 (annual)

Toronto-based Biddingo competes with Merx and roughly provides the same service. It hosts tenders for provincial, territorial and municipal governments as well as related pubic sector contracts. It also scours the Internet for a limited number of private sector procurement bids. As of this writing Biddingo showed 1,884 tenders available for the last 30 days.

 

The Government Of Canada began making its tenders available on this portal beginning June 1, 2013. It is a free portal that hosts all current (and expired) Federal Government tenders and does not require registration. However, by registering a supplier could leave a profile behind and obtain its Procurement Business Number. Once an organization wins a contract the organization can get on a Standing Offer. The portal is run by Public Works And Government Services Canada (PWGSC). More recently, the government made moves to decentralize some purchases away from Public Works, but this portal remains the main source for procuring government needs. Since the government has various laws and international trade agreements it abides by there is a minimum threshold for bids which must appear on the website. As such, contracts for lesser amounts (typically less than $25,000) may or may not appear on the website.

 

  • Name: Merx (www.merx.com)
  • Cost: $233 (annual)

Ottawa-based Merx was previously the sole portal for hosting the Federal Government Of Canada’s tenders. This contract ended on May 31, 2013 and the Government Of Canada moved its tenders to Buyandsell.gc.ca. It hosts provincial and other government tenders now as it competes with Biddingo. As of this writing Merx showed 2,998 tenders available for the last 30 days. The portal is a unit of Montreal-based Mediagrif.

 

  • Name: Ontario Tenders Portal (https://ontariotenders.bravosolution.com)
  • Cost: Free

Here is a bonus inclusion as it is pertains to only one province. The Ontario Tenders’ Portal is run by US-based BravoSolution since April 1, 2014, which was recently acquired by Jaggaer. This website hosts Ontario Provincial government’s tenders. Its interface and search capability are archaic, but is the source for tenders for Canada’s largest province. Moreover, as of April 1, 2018 vendors will no longer be required to pay user fees for online bid submissions on the Ontario Tenders Portal.

 

All the abovementioned websites offer search and e-mail notification services.

Post it in the Comments’ section if you have a question about any of these and I can help.

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Apr 292018
 

 

Has anyone ever asked to see proof of your educational background? It occurs to me that twenty years on no company has asked to verify the degrees and certificates on my resume. Mind you, I have worked at larger and globally recognized multinational corporations and never been asked to actually submit proof of my degrees. Companies either are trusting or take the resume’s education section for granted. This came to me when reading an article about people who claim university degrees when in fact they took partial course loads or abandoned the quest for the degree prior to graduation. That article itself came a couple of months after a CBC TV investigative program about bogus degrees and universities a.k.a. degree mills. According to the program, the phony credentials are issued by impressive sounding universities like Harvey University, Barkley University and Nixon University. What is more the program claimed over a million of these phony degrees have been sold. It occurred to me that not only no one has ever asked me for proof, but, to the best of my recollection, as an interviewer and hiring manager I myself have never asked or challenged a candidate or one of my employees for proof of their credentials. I doubt my recruiters have either. While no one is asking for proof the coursework has certainly been helpful to me. There is no question that employers too rightly care for the experience and knowledge that legitimate education offers, but what of the sales and management professions specifically?

These have been operating on an ‘experience only’ basis far too often. That is, hiring and training for these jobs seem to rely on tenure and learning as one goes. Perhaps this is because traditionally people have thought of salespeople as reliant on their demenaour and charming people skills as opposed to having methodical skills. With products and services becoming more varied and advanced and buyers gaining more sophistication such elemental thinking has to make way for something more somber.

Things need not be that way. Yet, how many salespersons do you know who have studied ‘Sales’? The profession obviously would be more effective and respected were it reliant on more formal education. Compare this with a Marketing degree, which is considered more of a science and have been omnipresent at schools. There is a discussion to be had regarding why such an important role does not attract its own formal program. In fact, things sometimes seem to be going in the other direction. I completed a management program and curriculum in Ontario called OMDP (Ontario Management Degree Program), which was later cancelled. Salespersons and their employers have thus been largely reliant on the plethora of sales books, courses and certifications on offer.

There are attempts at change and advancement out there however. Below is a listing of some of the better known certifications (as opposed to sales methodologies some of whose books you can find reviewed here).

  • The Canadian Professional Sales Association offers three certifications. These are:
    • Certified Sales Associates (CSA),
    • Certified Sales Professionals (CSP) and
    • Certified Sales Leaders (CSL).
  • Certified Inside Sales Professional (CISP) through AA-ISP is a series of 11 courses.
  • Certified Professional Sales Person (CPSP) through The National Association of Sales Professionals’ (NASP) is a 45-day online course.
  • HubSpot Academy offers a number of free sales and marketing courses through its online portal.

More recently accredited schools have introduced programs to give salespersons and the profession training and the credentials that go with it. See these:

There are even offers out there for free workshops:

Other related reading:

What do you think about the topic? Which one of these programs or resources is the better one and which is worth the money?

 

*Things That Need to go away: Salespeople who think more about their power tie than what the customer needs.

 

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Mar 132018
 

Toronto-based Chris Herbert of PrimeTime Recruiting is a recruiter specializing in sales positions. It would not be an exaggeration to say that nearly every sales professional – as well as other professionals – has worked with either an internal, or like Chris, external recruiter. I posed a few questions to Chris to get a recruiter’s perspective.

Could you introduce yourself and what you do?

My name is Chris Herbert. I am the President of PrimeTime Recruiting Services. We are a boutique recruiting company dedicated to B2B technology Sales professionals.

What can a candidate/hiring manager expect when working with you?

We pride ourselves on being honest and transparent. I respect the candidate’s time. I try and help them whether the opportunity is with a client of ours or not.

What are the tips to better work with a recruiter? What a- do you look for in a candidate specifically and b- what do your requisitions generally seek in an ideal candidate?

Do your research before speaking with a recruiter. If you are interested in an engineering role at a manufacturer, for example, I know nothing about that and will not be able to help in any way. Find a recruiter that is experienced in the role that you are interested in. Have a good idea what your ideal career looks like before speaking with the recruiter. The more specific you can be about your goals and objectives, the better the chances are they will find a great opportunity for you. Be clear and honest with the recruiter. It is a two-way street.

What are the most glaring mistakes candidates commit when contacting or working with recruiters?

Polish your resume and LinkedIn profile before you reach out to a recruiter. Of course, make sure your resume and LinkedIn profiles align. Do your homework first and have a realistic expectation of compensation and experience.

Could you highlight and pinpoint any hiring or employment trends. Are there any newer developments or trends you have noticed?

There is lots of opportunities out there, however the rule of thumb is that the better the opportunity the stiffer the competition. I believe this is accurate. It is my opinion there are lots of hiring managers that are risk-averse. If you make a bad hire it is very expensive in more ways than one. That being said doing nothing will not help them either so it is challenge they have to face.

One often hears about a lack of follow-up from the recruitment industry in general. Do you feel there is validity to this? How do you see the issue?

The follow-up is often a case of the hiring person being busy or overwhelmed with many responsibilities. The same can be said for the recruiter. I always ask the candidate to follow up with me if they have not received an update in 2 to 4 days.

Thanks for your time and answering our questions. This is hopefully helpful to the candidates and job seekers out there. Chris, Feel free to add any comments you wish here to end the interview.

My suggestion to the hiring organizations would also be to do your homework first. Is the recruiter highly knowledgeable in that industry or vertical? Do they have a deep understanding of the role? Can they provide guidance or advice to you regarding the position or a suitable compensation structure? In my experience, when you select the recruiter by fee only you often get what you pay for.

 

Chris Herbert can be reached by calling 1 416 998 4168 or by visiting http://primetimerecruitingservices.com

Photo Credit: FotografieLink

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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

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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

 

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Sep 272017
 

TechTarget has added an article called See The Top ERP Systems And Decide Which Best Fits Your Business. While it does not actually feature the promised “see’ part it does present a succinct listing and elaboration on the bigger names in the market.

The article does include succinct information on the availability of different environments (on-premises, hybrid and Cloud) and indicative pricing for the software.

Several comments are worthwhile here. Despite the wave of consolidation undertaken by participants big and small the pie remains fragmented and customers still have ample choice. There are eight listings, although several fall under the ‘Oracle’ banner. What is more companies like Unit4 (the old Agresso software) or Aptean (the old Made2Manage and Ross software) are not even included in the article. Small business ERP, which is mostly newer born in the Cloud companies, like Zoho and Xero and also QuickBooks, are also excluded. Microsoft has made the transition to its Dynamics 365 monicker and dropped the old nomenclature and designations (like GP, AX, etc.) although the software is obviously still there. There are also two categories of ERP, which are omitted. The first is the vertical products that serve specific industries. Those abound. The second are the myriad of solutions devised by regional SIs (system integrator) and ISVs (Independent Software Vendor) out there.

Finally, noteworthy is how the open source ERP vendors that were taking shape ten years ago have come to naught. Compiere, for example, was absorbed by Aptean. Opentaps is still out there however.

Photo Credit: Geralt

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Aug 272017
 

In Sales and sales management circles few would argue that compensation, a major component of which is income, is trivial or a minor issue. Modern management theories tell us that not only happy workers stay longer, but also they are more productive. We know that pay is often top of mind for employees, but other factors also chart well. When one is not caught in the vice of low or unsatisfactory pay, one is enjoying his or her work and is therefore engaged, committed and sees a future.

In the book The Code of The Extraordinary Mind the author speaks to Richard Branson about the secret to the billionaire’s serial success. Branson tells the author the secret is to have a vision, hire great people to execute it and then get out of their way. Notice, he didn’t say pay them 30%, or whatever, in commissions.

Imagine now for a moment all this evidence, wisdom, research and information out there and next to none of it is applied to the profession of sales by the responsible management and the companies at which they work. The whole thing is on autopilot, has been for years and clichés abound. The conventional wisdom hangs like an albatross around the neck of management and human resources. In the well-argued book Drive author Daniel Pink makes an evidence-based case for not paying salespeople commission and SPIF when creativity is required.

Is any company taking heed of the applicable information? All indications point to the answer being ‘no.’ This website has long argued that people management has to be personalized for the individual and one size does not fit all. Why are so many sales departments and companies struggling, and why does anyone need extra pushing and shoving, if salespeople uniformly respond to extra commission and variable incentive? The answer is that salespeople do not and like any other profession and group individuals respond differently and have different motivations. We even wrote about motivation for salespeople as a function of their cultural background on this site in November, 2016.

Why then are companies not overhauling how they compensate their employees in general and sales department in particular and instead prolapse to the same old? We know now that as a matter of random statistics a portion of the sales team likely responds better to and is more responsive to things other than being paid on commission. How about looking at 100% salary entitlement? There is also this, which likely lead to companies taking action like this.  In addition to the above arguments, there must be a reckoning that today’s customers are better informed and sales is becoming more of a team sport. A successful sales team is not only comprised of different people (inside, outside, technical, post-sales consultancy..), but also requires adapting to customers’ buying process, which is an outward outlook and not necessarily satisfied by internal necessities.

ventilation pipe (flexibility)

Photo Credit: Bilderjet

Instead could individuals be motivated and double their efforts for:

  • Peer and employee recognition
  • Additional time off
  • Health, or other, club membership
  • A gift card for the salesperson’s significant other
  • Paid learning opportunity or mentorship
  • Paid-for recreational classes such as cooking, climbing or arts and crafts,
  • Job promotion (with a caveat)

Keep a higher emphasis on variable compensation for those who are actually and demonstrably motivated by it and remove the yoke from those who just do not care for it and either do not perform better given the scheme or do so only marginally.

There is no doubt that driving sales and winning deals is the raison d’etre of any sales organization. The question we should be asking is what actually drives performance versus what we have always accepted drives performance.

Indeed, sales management must measure all that leads to a sales win (could be customer engagements, presentations, customer meetings, marketing response rates, etc.) and develop a compensation plan based on low and upside potential calculations, team alignment, composition and of course how all of this is being measured, but understand that the drive to create the components of success is propelled by different means among individuals.

 

*Things That Need To Go Away: We Do It That Way Because It Is Always Done That Way

 

Individual

Photo Credit: Geralt

 

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Jul 032017
 

American business channel CNBC has an article on the state of vacation days taken and untaken in the United States and the picture is not pretty. The article quotes a study by a “coalition” that advocates for taking time off and using one’s vacation days.

A quick detour and a couple of remarks should come first. Firstly, the article is timely. Summer is primetime for vacation days. Many people take time off to enjoy the weather and travel, children are off and parents coordinate with that. Over in Europe many citizens enjoy vacations allowances ranging from four to eight weeks. This article’s publisher being CNBC is also quite interesting. CNBC is a pro-business and corporate outlet. It is not one to advocate for employee and workers’ rights. Finally, Project: Time Off has its own agenda. The study, on which the article is based, seems to have followed a scientific methodology, but it is always prudent to read these studies in the context of its provider.

Photo Credit: Atlas Green

On to the study and it demonstrates that taking one’s vacation days are advantageous for those seeking to obtain a promotion or a raise at work. It coins the term “work martyrs”. The studies are US-based, but it would not be a surprise if the results apply to the rest of a world that is fast becoming increasingly industrialized. Quoting the article, “people who use their vacation days are more likely to get a promotion or a raise.” The study demonstrates two things:

  • Only 23 percent of those who forfeited their days were promoted in the last year, compared to 27 percent of “non-forfeiters.”
  • The study also found that 78 percent of forfeiters received a raise or a bonus in the past three years, compared to 84 percent of those who did use all of their paid time off.

The numbers are close with respectively four and six percent difference between the samples, but even if the percentages were identical it would be illustrative that people taking their vacations are not harming their prospects at work. The study asserts that folk who take their vacations are recharged, more creative, ironically harder workers, etc. For salespeople it is good to remember that the top indicator of success is working hard. Finally, remember those vacationing Europeans? There have been multiple studies over the years that they are more productive than Americans, Canadians and everybody else.

*Things That Need To Go Away: karoshi

woman by the water

Photo Credit: Danka Peter

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