Sales Strategy

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Sales Detox

Sales Detox

When Did Sales Get So Complicated?

Simple sales plan? Really?

It seems tough to open my inbox some days without getting a flood of information on new sales techniques, tips on how to be a better influencer, how to close every deal first time and make all your prospects swoon at the thought of getting a call from you…

it’s just wow…

Nearly 20 years ago I read quite a bit of this stuff. Yes, STUFF!

I was a proactive sales person, keen to be at the top of my game, every little bit helps and you can’t out earn your learning right? So I dutifully got stuck in…

Some of it worked, most didn’t. I learned a lot…how to test new approaches. Elements needed revising. Some ditching totally…but the new insights pushed me on so it was all worth while.

Now…could I do the same if I was an ambitious sales person? Not a chance.

There’s just too much information. Swamped in it. And that’s coming from someone who can scan and speed read with the best!

Too Much to Concentrate On?

Absolutely too much to concentrate on.

But should it really be that complicated?

Especially when all we’re really looking for is a simple sales plan that works for us, and that’s the same whether you’re a lone sales person looking to get a higher level of sales output (MORE BONUS), or you’re a sales leader building a sales function that delivers (MORE PROFIT, MORE MARKET SHARE. MORE CUSTOMERS).

So, after all this time, I think there are three strands at the crux of this:

  1. There is no ONE universal simple sales plan…once we get over that it’s easy to stop seeking the unicorn
  2. The only simple sales plan is the one that works for you
  3. You need to build it…and keep building it

Does that make you feel any better? Any more motivated?

Better, maybe not.

Motivated, then I hope so.

Because it’s full and total permission to create your best ever sales pitch, your best ever sales process and your world class sales funnel which will deliver the financial rewards you need, and because, well, if you don’t do it then no-one will do it for you!

Make the Most Important Thing THE Most Important Thing!

And that’s the crux of it.

But toachieve that you need total and absolute clarity on what it is you’re doing and how each activity relates to your ultimate one and only goal…because that will dictate YOUR simple sales plan.

Once you can isolate every single element of your sales recipe and the activities that sit behind it, you’d be surprised at how simple sales really is…and therefore how simple sales improvement really is

Once you have that total and absolute clarity then you can start the improvement process AND see results. Quickly.

As an individual sales person, that relies on you knowing your sales recipe, and how that relates to your results and ultimately your bonus.

As a sales leader, it still relates to your sales recipe – but this time it’s reflected in the activities of your whole sales team.

To fully understand more about the Sales Recipe and what it means for you – check this out The Sales Recipe – What Sales Metrics to Use

The Simple Sales Plan

Once you’ve developed your simple sales plan, the plan that works for your, gives you the sales results you want, when you want them, as often as you won’t them…then you’re in danger of becoming legendary.

Now doesn’t that sound better than the alternative?

Happy Selling

Carol

p.s. If you’re looking for a massive step up and embedding this in your business you can check out Sales Insight or you can hit the phone/email on 0779 002 1885 or carol@mortonkyle.com

Relevant Sales Activity and the Equal Odds Rule

Relevant Sales Activity and the Equal Odds Rule

In Sales YOU have as much chance of winning as losing.

Where you engage in meaningful and relevant sales activity…

You have as much chance of getting a customer as getting a rejection.

You have as much chance of succeeding as failing.

Your chances are equal.

Need more proof?

The Equal Odds Rule was published by a Harvard psychologist, Keith Simonton in 1977.

Check out James Clear for more information.

Here’s my 3 line take:

  • Sales is actually a numbers game.

So get dialing! Get talking! Networking! Profile Building!

  • You have to be in it to win it!

If you’re not dialing, talking, networking, profile building you’re not in it!

  • Your chance of failure AND success increases with your level of activity

Extra dials, the more rejections you’ll suffer, therefore the more success you’ll enjoy.

So What?

The Equal Odds Rule is simple. You’ve as much chance of success as failure, and it’s really that complicated, or that simple, depending on how your brain is programmed.

BUT too many sales people aren’t even in the game, not at all. They just think they are, and that’s where it’s dangerous, for them, their employers and their sales forecasts.

They don’t believe that the harder the dial, the more they dial, the more people they speak with, the more people they meet with, the more networking they do (online and offline)…they just don’t get the Equal Odds Rule and it’s predictor of their fate… or their success

Cutting to the Chase

It’s not about saying no to maxing the level of activity, it’s now about just one thing…

Maxing Out the Level of Relevant Sales Activity

Activity = Failure/Success can be replaced by Relevant Activity = Failure/Success

What Does Relevant Sales Activity Look Like?

What’s your WEEKLY relevant activity schedule look like? For example…

How much time do you spend

  • talking with customers to get referrals?
  • with customers building relationships?
  • engaging with prospects?
  • with influencers in your industry?
  • encouraging dialogue and courting referrers?
  • nurturing relationships in your LinkedIn Groups, Facebook communities, Twitter sphere?
  • scouring LinkedIn and other such data sources to build comprehensive family trees of suitable organisations with relevant contacts?

Plus:

  • What efforts did you invest in working towards being recognised as a ‘go to expert’ in your industry?
  • How many educational posts did you put out this week?
  • Count the people in your personal/professional network your helped this week?
  • How much goodwill did you create via referrals/introductions across your network?
  • Did you spend enough time leveraging your personal network for your benefit and for the benefit of people who know you?

It’s not my job to point the finger and tell you what you should do or even what your Relevant Sales Activity should be, because I have no idea about you, your ambitions or how you currently work, instead I’d ask you to reflect on how you spend your time and how you could better spend your time to make sure you weight the odds in your favour in the Equal Odds Rule.

You have as much chance of winning as losing…you just have to be in the game.

To what extent are you really in the game?

Here’s the Truth about Relevant Sales Activity

Whether you believe the Equal Odds Rule or not, just think about it, there is an inevitable fact.

The more you are out there as a proactive sales person, the better you will get at your craft, the greater your skill, the better your professional profile, the higher your status, the better your sales skills will be.

You’ll get all of your ‘failures’ out of the way, by default, you’ll improve your chances of winning.

Work the Equal Odds Rule because you can’t lose.

You can take control of your own sales career now and focus on the absolute and critical sales success factors, and create your own relevant sales activity – just hit the link here – tell me more

Strategy – Cheap or Fast…What’s Your Choice?

Strategy – Cheap or Fast…What’s Your Choice?

Strategy and Sales Business Plans – Questioning the Reality

Strategy Overload, Strategy BS and Strategy Words Without Meaning!! I’ve seen it all over the last 4 months.

I spent three weeks in summer looking through some very ambitious sales strategy and business plans for a company that has huge ambition and even bigger potential.

Huge potential. In fact, off the scale potential.

Little competition. Great product. Demonstrable ability to deliver. Fabulous reputation. Outstanding service ethos.

Strategy – Why Bother?

As you would expect when the business needs to break through to the next level, then their senior business leaders put tremendous effort into pulling the business plans together.

That’s cost serious time and serious money.

We drafted, redrafted, discussed, argued, challenged, tested, refined, redesigned, road mapped, reflected, showcased and shredded…until the final business plan was alive and kicking.

At which point, the senior business leaders confirmed they’d all created a plan they knew they could achieve, something they could have faith in, fully recognising that if they didn’t take action now, then one of their hungry competitors would.

The value of a well designed sales strategy is not just making sure that it works on paper. That’s one aspect.

But it’s also about seeking alignment in the thinking of the key players.

It’s a chance for everyone to have their input into the sales strategy, everyone can say their piece, share their concerns before reaching a workable consensus.

So, by the time everyone has signed off on the sales strategy, you know everyone is on board.

That’s it. Committed to. In love with. Totally sold on what needs to be done…

Sales Strategy – That’s All?

No!

None of that is as important as the bit that comes next.

This is the most important bit.

It’s this question.

One single question.

That question comes when it’s time for action.

Time to make the dreams come true.

This is when I know whether the senior business team are really in, or if they’re just saying they’re in.

The question?

At this stage boards will ask one of two questions:

How cheaply can we get this done?

or

How quickly can we get this done?

Two completely different mind sets and two completely different trajectories to success (or not).

Of course, the ideal sits somewhere in the middle of the extremes…well, you’d like to think that, in an ideal world.

Because this is the truth, if you’re wholeheartedly behind what you’re going to do and you’ve been sensible, realistic and conservative with your projections, transparent in your risk analysis and have a business model you truly believe in them money is rarely as big an issue as time is.

Either way – the point of this: are you asking yourself the right questions?

Because the best sales strategy in the world is pointless if you don’t believe in it enough to make it go as far and as fast as possible.

Action is key. Action drives everything else. Action matters when the words are just words.

Think about it next time you have to commit to business changing actions.

In the meantime:

You can download a selection of free reports on how to improve your sales performance – just hit the link on our blog 

Plus you can sign up to a free weekly digest of practical and proven sales and business development improvement strategies – hit the link – The Advanced Business Achiever.

 

Not Just Sales People – Value Added Problem Solvers

Not Just Sales People – Value Added Problem Solvers

Changing Times

Sales and the art of selling is changing….just like everything else.

New theories, practices and reworked ideas come around again and again.

Some of them stick, some of them fade.

Many work, some don’t.

Some we’ve seen before, maybe under a different name, and some are genuinely original, just check this out regarding B2B sales

One thing that’s been around for ages, but always there in the background, as something that good (and great) business development professionals have know is this.

Sales Is Not About Selling…And It Never Has Been

And that’s even more true today than it’s ever been.

It is not about taking the order, being a walking brochure or even pitching harder than the competitor.

Customers, Buyer, Prospects and Procurement teams have no use for that sort of sales person any more.

The sales person that succeeds today is the sales person that out performs his competitors. Who secures the business. Whot leaves his sales persona at the door and picks up the position of the Buyer’s problem solver.

That means your business development and customer facing target carrying team may need to have a slightly different skill set than you’d imagined.

Instead of thinking about the value of their address book, the length of service in your industry, the length of their business development career, maybe there are additional things to think about.

The Sales Skills Tool Box

Critical thinking skills – their ability to grasp complex situations, issues and constraints and see the Buyer’s issues for what they are and the impact they have on the Buyer

Team building – to build cooperation around creating a suitable solution with the relevant internal and external parties

Problem solving capabilities – the ability to see the real problem and it’s implications as opposed to just seeing the manifestation of that problem

Rapport building – to gain trust quickly and establish expert status with the Buyer and their influencers

Listening skills – genuine listening skills, listening to understand and not listening simply to sell

Communication skills – how good are they are respectfully pushing boundaries in the Buyer’s thinking. How good are they at being able to coherently present ideas, discuss scenarios whilst having all parties keep an open mind

Ability to prioritise – their ability to differentiate between the urgent and important and respond accordingly

Negotiation skills – their ability to compromise and to broker compromise across different parties, different solutions

Resilience – in the face of challenges, objections, resistance, nay-sayers and group think

Creativity – seeing solutions that are not evident to the Buyer. Conveying those solutions with high levels of confidence and credibility

Belief – do they have it, can they convey and transmit their true belief in their solution

The Future of Sales People

Business development might have historically been thought of as a trade that people ‘fall into’.

Ask any 5 year old what they want to be when they grow up and I’ll bet few of them say ‘sales person’.

Sales people can be nurtured to be better business development people, that’s true.

What’s also true is that most great sales people are born with a certain skill set that they invest in to make better.

So, anyone can be a business developer?

I don’t think so.

What do you think?

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

If you’re looking for further support and guidance on how to recruit the best sales talent for your business – check out these two Free Guides:

Beware of the Twins – How to Recruit the Best Business Development Talent in Your Business…and minimise the costly risks associated with recruitment.

Wait! Is your New Business Development Recruit Really That Good – Your Top 10 Check List

And this Blog Post

How to Recruit High Performing Business Development Professionals

 

How to Improve Sales Performance: The Friday Sales Rant

How to Improve Sales Performance: The Friday Sales Rant

How to Improve Sales Performance: The Friday Sales Rant!

You’d be surprised what businesses will do to improve sales performance.

You’d be surprised the lengths they’ll go to, the resources they’ll commit and the efforts they’ll expend all in an effort to improve sales performance.

Selling their soul? No…but not far off.

So, why, why, why, why do business owners and sales leaders miss this one simple trick? Continue reading

Sales Performance Improvement – Habit Beats Knowledge Every Time

Sales Performance Improvement – Habit Beats Knowledge Every Time

Sales Performance Improvement – Habit Beats Knowledge Every Time

Sales Performance Improvement is the key driver for continuous sales improvement…better results, bigger results, faster.

If you’re in sales, sales management or running your own business then chances are you’ll be looking for ways to continually boost your sales performance. You’ll be looking for more customers, more profitable clients, in less time, bigger orders, larger average order values, higher conversions…

That’s business. It’s also human nature to ask…is this the best we can do? Can we do it better, easier, faster?

Plus, in sales, it’s a competitive environment. You’re forced to ask these questions. Your shareholders, competitors, stakeholders and bank will be asking you the same.

Here’s the truth about seeking continuous sales performance improvement:

”Once a certain level of skill, knowledge and competence is acquired, then driving Continuous Sales Performance Improvement has more to do with changing habits than increasing knowledge and skills”

You see, if you’ve been in a sales or sales leadership role for any time, you’ll most likely know everything there is to know and that you need to know…and your performance will reflect that.

That might be enough for you, your business, your clients.

But what about what you don’t know?

How important is that?

In his book –The Checklist Manifesto – Atul Gawande strongly, and with good reason once you read his research, advocates the use of extensive check-lists to improve performance.

Sales Performance Improvement works the same way.

Gawande’s background is in medicine. Having piloted and then rolled out his check-list based methodology across many hospitals and medical facilities he details how a simple check-list has saved 100’s of thousands of lives.  He proposes his way of working, the same methodology can be transferred to other industries – and I for one, strongly agree with him.

In truth, anything that saves that number of lives has to be worth a good look at. You’ll agree when you read his evidence. Simply put, if a humble check-list can save that many lives…what could the same do for your business, your sales performance and your sales results?

Worth a look?

So This Relates to Sales Performance Improvement How?

Here’s the premise:

No-one needs a check list for the simple stuff, where there are few variables, when the outcome is low risk, it’s a predictable action with a predictable outcome…

But check-lists have a distinct advantage in those situations where there is a higher level of complexity, more risk, a handful of variables and no guaranteed outcome.

This is the first and last time you’ll see me compare sales to heart surgery but there you go. You’ll see where I’m going with this…

In both, the risks are high, lots of complexity, variables, high levels of unpredictability, opportunity for errors and failure are all present.

So whilst we’re not talking about losing lives, we are risking something. Maybe losing margin, turnover, market share, customer confidence, shareholder confidence, brand value.

Digging deeper, Gawande makes the distinction between two types of error:

Ignorance – mistakes we make because we don’t know enough.

Ineptitude – mistakes we make because we don’t use the skills and knowledge we have in the right way.

He concludes that most errors happen because of the latter – ineptitude.

This suggests that the person actually knows all they need to know, they have all the skills they need to know.

Moreover, this ineptitude exists in simple and complex tasks.

Let me explain, the problems occur when old habits, entrenched ways of working. When the ‘that’s how we’ve always done it’ mindsets overtake them. Or when the body is on auto pilot. Almost like conscious competence, but not quite as competent as one imagines.

That’s a perfect breeding ground for errors to take place. For example, the patient has complications or the sale derails. Simply because of lack of good habits, rather than lack of skills, knowledge or competence.

This is where the Sales Performance Improvement Check-list comes into it’s own.

It’s a check-list to use. A list to refer to when the sales process with a client is going off track. It’s literally a step by step guide in what to do to rescue it, bring it back on track, get it motoring in the right direction.

How simple is that?

Here’s an example:

In  his book Gawande uses examples of Dr’s and medical staff not washing their hands as frequently as they should. Or as frequently as they thought they did.

Pay attention to that last statement. It’s very important because how many times do we think we’ve done something when actually we haven’t? Especially those repetitive tasks, the small tasks that matter but don’t really register at the time?

Gawande references the Dr’s failing to ask a simple question of the patient, or washing hands.

It’s the same in a sales environment, it could be remembering to ask the budget question early on, or finding out if this is a price comparison exercise or a genuine need with the client.

These are seemingly inconsequential questions at the time that have a HUGE impact on the quality of the sale and the chances of profitable conversion.

On a real life basis – if you’ve ever kept a food diary – you know that your ‘good food days’ were more like ‘ok food days’ and your ‘ok food days’ really should be called ‘oh hell! food days’! The power of the check-list in another format!

So, there’s no two ways about it when you’re thinking about sales performance improvement, or even better, continuous sales performance improvement then – Habit Beats Knowledge every time.

Summary: Sales Performance Improvement 

Gawande concludes that having and rigorously using check-lists improves the chances of success and improves performance across the board.

My take away, is much bigger and more important than simply improving sales performance and here’s why.

Such a check-list based methodology actually changes habits. That is exciting because if you’re adopting this in your sales team, your business and your customer facing environment you’ve just created your baseline for continuous sales performance improvement.

That’s priceless.

One more thing:

If you’re putting this system in place, it dramatically changes the function of your sales manager…or Sales Performance Coach. Both functions now act as part auditor, part coach, part sales performance improvement specialist…which is how it should be…but more on that another day…

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

07790021885

If you want regular sales and business development information – hit the link here. It’s totally free and great for helping you boost your sales efforts. Many subscribers use it to power and energise their sales meetings. Try it out, there’s an unsubscribe button if you don’t like it after a few weeks…

Sales Performance – What Do You Really, Really Want?

Sales Performance – What Do You Really, Really Want?

Sales Performance – What Do You Really, Really Want?

Sales Performance – the puzzle for anyone in sales management.

Bigger? More? Faster?

But what does Sales Performance means to you, and how do you measure it?

I ask this question a lot.

Every business and sales leader I know wants better sales performance. Every single one.

Ask those same people to define what ‘better sales performance’ means and it gets more complicated.

It turns out a simple question generates a very long list, all under the heading of ‘better’

The mind-blowing thing is that the long list is long because it’s pointless!

While we’re on the subject of sales performance – interesting article on this very subject here – well worth a read.

Sales Performance – What Do We Mean?

Bottom line, for most businesses they want more customers, spending more money, more frequently.

They also want short sales cycles, decent margins and a flowing sales pipeline.

You and I can buy into that. It makes sense.

BUT, here’s what happens in reality.

The key person, or group of people, responsible for bringing on board more customers, encouraging them to spend more money, more frequently, are also the same people that are often handling customer account, queries, complaints, emails, and all manner of other functions that actually STOP them achieving their goal of recruiting  more customers, spending more money, more frequently.

What?!?

But it’s true.

How to ACE Sales Performance – The Plug and Play Sales Model 

Rule Number 1 – let the sales team do what they are good at.

Let the sales team so what you recruited them to do and what you want them to do! 

You wouldn’t expect a top level chef to wash the kitchen down at the end of the night, or have a major fashion designer order stationery…it’s not playing to their strengths and the truth is they’d be the most expensive cleaner and office junior imaginable.

It doesn’t happen.

Yet, it happens so frequently in sales teams – it’s almost like we imagine that anything to do with the customer is ‘sale’s job’

It’s not.

A slick sales operation has sales people selling 100% percent of the time.

Sales people don’t manage accounts – that’s for account managers.

Sales people don’t handle customer complaints – that’s for customer service

You get it so….I won’t go on

Rule Number 2 – isolate every function in your sales pipeline if you want real sales performance clarity.

Who’s generating the leads?

Then, who’s contacting the customer to sell?

And, who’s managing the existing customer accounts?

know this – Sales in a production line.

Think about the car manufacture production line – if the same guy that bolts the chassis is also running to the end of the line to polish the car before dispatch – well, guess how many cars get made and finished that day? NONE!

It’s the same with your sales production line – when everybody does everything – nothing gets done! Or if it does, it gets done more slowly than it should, which means it’s also more costly.

Even worse – if you do have sales performance issues…can you identify them in a heart beat? Not a chance.

Can you solve them easily? That would be no!

Having true clear transparency around every sales function in the sales production line with real time KPI’s and sales metrics can see your sales rocket.

It’s the fastest way to get your sales engine roaring.

Rule number 3 – monitor and manage your sales metrics religiously.

KPI’s at each of the gates in your sales process will let you see where you’re wasting resources – that might be time, leads, conversions or profits….or maybe all three.

Keeping a close eye on your key metrics is vital if you’re driving for optimum sales performance.

Sales is very scientific in that you can have a process of Continuous Sales Improvement – hour by hour, day by day, week by week…then all of a sudden you’ve had your best quarter yet because this the only way to consistently drive improved sales performance

Sales Performance – Quick Summary

Make sure your sales guys do what only your sales guys can do! Multitasking will kill your productivity and chances of success in a heart beat, because your sales people will never be your best administrators!

Have a very transparent sales function process with key metrics at each stage because that’s the fastest way to see where your sales leakage is taking place. Hit the link here if you want to know what sales metrics to monitor in your sales team.

This might mean having a research team, an appointment setting team, a sales team, a customer service team. Or maybe your team equates to just one person in each function. You can do the maths, moreover separate functions work best because you get total clarity along your whole sales process.

And Finally:

Know your numbers at each of the gates in the sales process because that way, if the sales results aren’t what you expect you can IMMEDIATELY see where the leak is…and that usually means a speedy fix too.

If you’d like to discuss your sales team and sales performance – do contact me on the details below, because every day wasted in sub standard sales mode costs you money.

Happy Selling

Carol

carol@mortonkyle.com

0779 002 1885

Plus check out my blog for further sales and business development insights because it’s the fastest and easiest way to start boosting sales performance.

Competitive Strategy – Do You Just Drop Your Price?

Competitive Strategy – Do You Just Drop Your Price?

Competitive strategy allows you lots of options.

Competitive strategy takes more than simply dropping the price.

Discover how lowering price is not the best differentiator when you’re trying to boost sales, profits and market share, and why simply distracting the market with cheaper prices is the last thing you should do.

Continue reading