Over the past 14 years NABC has been consulting with sales organizations and sales professionals. One theme that is very consistently voiced is the allocation and utilization of time. Interestingly, this is also the same concern captured in countless books, articles, and seminars globally for sales optimization.
To use a sports analogy, there is always talk about “clock management”; how to handle the last two minutes of the game, who will take the last shot, what play will be executed?
There is often an over focus on the end of the process / game. In reality the effective use of time is critical at each step of the game.
If we are selecting the right customers for the right reasons and allocating our precious time accordingly, we have a higher probability of achieving our desired sales outcome.
The problem with all of us is, “stuff” gets in the way! The relative importance (value) of that “stuff” at any point of time is indeed debatable.
Today’s business world is even more challenging because of the omnipresence of technology, that affords us 24/7 exposure to so much “stuff”.
The intrusions into our day come in many forms: e-mails, voice mails, IMs, texts, phone calls, meetings, webinars etc. These interruptions emanate from both business and personal sources.
Some of us have developed an almost obsessive need to read and respond to every communication regardless of its source or importance. The smart phone is ringing playing the “siren’s” seductive lament!
We become driven to clear in boxes that are cluttered with apparent nuggets of gold, waiting to be mined; we are compelled to sift through the debris.
This forces us to filter through a veritable morass of “stuff” to determine what are the trivial many vs. the vital few?
Has all this “stuff” and the accompanying time, energy, and anxiety truly contributed to helping you sell more?
My point is not an indictment of technology, but rather controlling it vs. it controlling you.
Your use of technology can be a competitive advantage and a marvelous tool to help you schedule, track, focus and respond in a timely fashion to your internal responsibilities, as well as your external customers.
On the other hand, it can be an insidious monster sucking the life blood of your precious time.
What is the answer? There is no one simplistic answer, however there are some actions that have proven useful to many sales professionals around the globe.
One valuable exercise we use that produces the awareness, is to create a daily log in 15 minute increments. The log captures how you spend your day. It often is a sobering visual that serves as the foundation for prioritization of critical sales activities and avoiding “time traps”.
Thus allocating your time where you get the biggest bang for your sales effort.
If you would like to learn more about sales time management, give NABC a call at 480-229-7800 or email email@example.com.
When I played football in college my coach wanted me to get stronger. I was a smallish fleet footed wide receiver and cornerback, thus he introduced me to the weight room! Reluctantly and very skeptically I engaged in the regime and found after a couple of weeks I couldn’t lift the weight I could when I first started.I complained to the coach that things were worse and the pain was not worth the effort.
I remember distinctly his response, “Son there is simply no gain without pain in any endeavor in life, you will see retrogression before progression, now get your butt into the training room and pay the price for success!”
It seems in today’s world everything needs to be instantaneous, the here and now is all that matters!
I want to look good for the reunion; go on a crash diet, get liposuction, get a tummy tuck, get a brow lift, a shot of Botox, etc.
Oh ho, the annual golf outing is coming up next month; get new clubs, get some lessons to drop 10 strokes off your handicap, get a new outfit etc.
The owner wants more profits by the end of the next quarter; reduce cost, get new customers, improve productivity, hire some sales people, etc.
Of course in all cases expectations are to be magically accomplished as we speak, with no cost or pain to the organization.
Am I exaggerating? Are these realistic expectations? Is this a slice of human nature? Does this happen every day in life and businesses?
Unfortunately the answers are no, no, yes, and yes.
If you take a step back and evaluate any changes in life or business that are sustainable and actually generates “real” results the following is most often true:
Most departments within an organization view themselves as the end all and almost collectively perceive sales as some sort of unprofessional activity. Sales people are often conceived of as “Sharks” that unfortunately are necessary predators, but the rest of the organization is the “real deal” and certainly PC and above reproach.This sentiment is tacitly espoused by our academic community including prestigious business schools. They proudly highlight Marketing, Finance, HR, Statistics, and Operational courses but for the most part are strangely void of a sales curriculum.
The inference is that sales isn’t a “real” discipline, but some strange amalgamation of art, hocus pocus, smoke and mirrors, and simply unfathomable to the scientific community. Thus it can’t be capture or replicated, much less taught.
Robert Herjavec notably from the Shark Tank TV hit show recently wrote a book entitled, “You Don’t Have to be a Shark: Creating Your Own Success”, his book correlates with Harvey MacKay’s book, “Swimming With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.”
Both books have multiple positive sales/ business themes that debunk academia much less intra - organizational misconceptions. There are two messages that resonates with me:
The TSO approach underscores that all departments and employees are truly involved in selling and achieving full customer satisfaction. Thus, strategically the entire enterprise must be committed and engaged in executing the business plan and collectively accountable for results.
Managing a successful company through the trouble waters of today’s fast paced and every changing market place requires bringing the “sales sharks” and the rest of an organization resources together as one!
Give NABC a call for a free assessment to see if TSO is right for you.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are today’s marvelous technological tools that supports a company’s sales process. They have multiple benefits:
As the old saying goes, “Information is power!” the corollary is; timely / real time information is absolutely necessary in today’s warp speed business environment.
Accurate and timely information regarding customers and their respective needs and current situation is vital to keeping pace and staying competitive.
There are multiple CRM system available in the market place to choose from the key is determining in advance what information is critical for ensuring a strategic sales /business plan is achieved.
Doing your homework before selecting a specific CRM system will increase the probability of an acceptable ROI on the technology.
Give NABC a call at 602-510 -5797 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free CRM assessment and receive the 10 reasons sales professionals use CRM, the 10 reasons management uses CRM, and the 10 reasons CRM systems fail.
It is an axiom of sales to find the decision maker and the person who signs the checks and you will increase your probability of success.
The counterpart to that axiom is you must develop a relationship with the decision maker as well!
At a sales meeting I attended, a sales person said he ran into the new CEO of one of his accounts at a local restaurant and they had a brief conversation. Apparently the accounts CEO was looking to buy a home in the area that ironically the sales person’s CEO lived.
As the story goes, the sales person was struggling at the account with a small percentage of the total business available. He asked how he might capitalize on his chance meeting with the new CEO.
I suggested asking his CEO to call the new CEO, welcome him to the community and offer to share his experiences as a home owner in the desired area.
The two CEOs met and instantly hit it off with the focus on purchasing a home as the center piece of their discussions. Their common ground over time led to conversations about the business and as you would expect things improved relative to the sales person securing a greater percentage of the business.
The take away is that sales people need to look for opportunities to connect with customers and prospects on a human / personal level. The higher up these connections are the greater the probability of positively influencing business relationships.
The principle is sales people need to put aside their egos and use senior management whenever possible to develop relationships with their counterparts at critical customers and prospects. The strategy of having deep and wide relationships with your accounts is a fundamental of world class selling.
This principle would apply to the “What the blankety blank happened” in our lead Newsletter article. Getting senior management involved early in the sales process to develop a relationship with key decision makers, thus increasing the probability of not being torpedoed later is a very practical and function sales tactic.
In sales training sessions and consultations with sales managers and sales professionals they frequently lament the following scenario:
We have been pursuing this targeted prospect for 6 months, expended a great deal of sales and managements time addressing the prospect’s needs and our cost effective solutions.
The buyer encouraged us and things appeared to be moving along very well. The buyer indicated our solutions were very interesting and indeed seemed to address their concerns.
Meetings, lunches, samples, tours, and a proposal all ensued.
Then communications went a little, “0 dark 30”, no response to inquiries for feedback about the status of the proposal. We were left hanging, anticipating a deal, but essentially bewildered!
Then we received a brief email saying they decided to stay with their current vendor, no thanks for our ideas, time spent, much less a cogent explanation for not getting the business.
Thus we were left scratching our collective heads; what the “blankety blank” happened? The sales person was baffled, the sales manager was embarrassed, and senior management demanded to know why we didn’t get the deal?
Everybody felt we were “had” and were simply used as leverage to get the current vendor in line!
Obviously all is fair in love, war, and sales! The prospect / customer has no legal obligation to tell you anything.
What can you do?
The best course of action is to anticipate this early on in the sales process. Then discuss the required activities/ expectations necessary to acquire the business in advance before spending time, energy, and money.
In essence, getting the prospect to at least verbalize and agree in principle to awarding the business if outlined expectations: price, quality, delivery time, new product, solutions etc. are met.
This early discussion in the sales process also includes a commitment to making the final proposal to the key decision makers in person or as a minimum via video conference call.
In practical terms you are getting “mini closes” as you progress through the sales process to ensure you and the buyer are on the same page.
Prior to the formal written proposal you might pose a trial close highlighting the critical points in the yet to be finalized proposal to test the waters.
Mrs. Smith you approached us about finding a solution to your current product in terms or quality, price, and timely deliveries. You indicated your current vendor although a long term partner was not getting the job done.
We have spent two months exploring solutions and have informally presented options to you and your operations people, the feedback so far has been encouraging.
The price point you desired has been agreed to, the quality metrics and delivery sequence is in place. Before we finalize our proposal is there any other information you require?
When can we schedule the presentation of the proposal?
One last question, since everything you asked for appears to be covered, is there any reason why we couldn’t expect signing an agreement after the final proposal is presented?
If a buyer equivocates at any of the initial steps, trial closes, presentation of proposal, or ultimate commitment to change vendors, a very bright caution light should begin to flash and be immediately addressed.
Sales professionals have these conversations well before the …”What the blankety blank happened” pronouncement!
Give us a call at 480-229-7800 or email email@example.com to explore more details about handling this ever present sales problem.
Very often in our day to day consultation with clients the question arises about what their respective customers are thinking and what they want.Inevitably they say something like, “Our customers are zigging when we’re zagging, it’s hard to be on the same page, and I wish they would just tell us what they want!"
There is a widely held notion that as a vendor you must out think your customers and somehow keep two steps ahead of them. Vendors engage in all kinds of strategies and tactics to address this supposition. The strategies and tactics are often devised by the senior management team behind closed doors.
The clandestine strategizing takes on a “cloak and dagger” approach pitting them (customer) against us (vendor) mentality. The exercise seems like a chess match with moves and counter moves, a game of wits!
Where’s Sherlock Holmes when you need him?
In reality true business partnerships or for that matter any human relationship is forge on a foundation of a mutual and understood agendas. Thus open communication about what impacts the relationship keep everyone on the same page.
The answer to the question, where are they going and what they want, is simply to ask them!
Asking the customer in a straight forward manner without subterfuge or masked nuances, something like:
” We have been doing business together for the past 3 years and it appears from all indications things are going very well, we are very interested in expanding our business and relationship, how would we do that”?
“During a senior management team meeting the other day your company came up in the discussion because your business represents a significant part of our portfolio. The team wanted to ensure that we were on the same page with you regarding your future direction and needs. Could you help me understand our relationship and the future as you see it”?
Research demonstrates that when a straight forward request for help is expressed in a sincere manner in the vast majority of the cases (85 %) the person will respond in kind.
This means a question put forth with respect and sincerity is most likely to be followed by a straight forward and sincere response. This then is the foundation of subsequent conversations based on open communication.
Not to imply the whole world and everybody in it is reasonable and straight forward, it does imply hedging our behavior with the best odds, thus when in doubts ask!
NABC has a very specific process to engage in meaningful partnership discussions with major customers called CAP (Customer Assessment Process). Contact Dave Neal at 480-229-7800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
On occasion I select an author then immerse myself in the tranquility of fiction. Last week I chose Louis L ’Amour and galloped through 542 pages of frontier stories from the wild- west.Inevitably the hero rides in on a trusty steed with six guns blazing and saves the day! We love these stories and the simplistic solution where the good guys always wins.
The other day I met with a potential client who needed to increase top line revenue fast. He related the following story.
The management team determined the answer was securing an experienced sales professional “hired gun” to come in and save the day. They went to the wanted posters, AKA “social media” to find the talent they were looking for. Awed by the resume, one reference and the LinkedIn self-aggrandizement (500+ Contacts), the hero was hired, paid extremely well, and set free to deliver the goods!
The hired “sales slinger” was a figment of his own imagination and within 6 months he was unceremoniously let out to pasture and the search for the new hero started all over again.
Unfortunately, the similarity to the Louis L’ Amour western myth is not an exaggeration and is repeated at high noon every day in big and small businesses around the country.
Finding a sales professional or for that matter a sales manager to cure all is a very seductive temptation. The reality is very few if any of Mr. L’ Amour’s heroes actually ever existed. And very few sales saviors actually have the ability to single handedly turn a sales organization around.
The answer to improving top line performance is not all that complicated, but a tad more comprehensive then the “hired gun” strategy:
Over the past few years, we have been focused on transforming our CRM offerings to leverage the full power of Microsoft – harnessing the strength of the intelligent cloud to help companies deliver amazing customer experiences across the breadth of sales, service, marketing and social engagements. Our strategy is clear: to enable organizations to personalize customer experiences – engaging customers at the right time, in the right place and with the right content; to give them the tools to be more proactive, and to empower them with the intelligence to be able to predict trends and identify patterns -- to know what the customer needs and wants before they do.Available both as CRM Online and on-premises in 130 markets and 44 languages, Dynamics CRM 2016 is focused on empowering employees to deliver the optimal experiences to customers, as well as engaging customers across all channels. We’re bringing all Microsoft has to offer in productivity and intelligence into a single experience. We’re bringing the advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities of the Cortana Analytics Suite to preview our first intelligent, adaptive processes for sales, customer service and social:
Intelligent customer engagement is here with Dynamics CRM 2016. This comprehensive release further strengthens our position as a leader in the CRM market and most importantly, brings even more value to our customers. We can’t wait for everyone to give our new capabilities a try!
Original Post: http://community.dynamics.com/b/msftdynamicsblog/archive/2015/11/30/microsoft-dynamics-crm-2016-now-available-ushering-in-a-new-era-of-intelligent-customer-engagement
Author: By Jujhar Singh on 11/30/2015 8:30:00 AM
When people are asked what they fear the usual list is something like; snakes, dentist, public speaking, in-law visits and job interviews. The nemesis of generations for sales professionals has been and remains the fear, reluctance, and outright abhorrence for prospecting.
The bane of any sales organization, as well as sales professionals is not having enough prospects filling the proverbial pipeline. Company owners and sales managers universally grapple with this phenomena.
In Arthur Miller’s classic book “Death of a Salesman” Willie Loman is portrayed as the stereotypical sales person whose techniques and tools have become passé.
Generations of psychologist and sales consultants have sought to advise the business community regarding best practices to circumvent this problem.
Today businesses continue to search for the magic elixir which includes:
Begin with the recognition that the fear of prospecting is present to some degree in everyone. Even the best performing sales professionals go through slumps akin to a professional athlete. The results of the behavior is an anemic or totally empty pipeline.
The second step is a frank conversation with sales management and individual sales professionals using their real numbers. We suggest NABC proprietary LAP$ Calculator to assist in the discussion to establish baseline expectations:
The next step is an assessment of the current prospecting method being employed and why it is not producing desired results. Often this can be accomplished by setting up a log of actual time spent prospecting, as well as call prospect monitoring. These two together help diagnosis the problem.
Invariably time management, prospecting technique, and skill become very apparent. These can then be addressed in training and coaching sessions.
The final step is a plan to execute prospecting on a routine basis with built in accountabilities using a tracking (technology) mechanism usually manifested in one of the many CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system currently available in the market place.
If you are interested in improving your sales organization’s performance give NABC a call at 480-229-7800 or email email@example.com for a free discussion and assessment.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.