Category Archives: Uncategorized

You’ve made your bed.  Now sleep in it.

LinkedIn is for Business!

Salespeople have tools.  Just like a carpenter, electrician or roofer.  LinkedIn is one of Sale’s tools.  If you decided to build a LinkedIn profile, then understand what you’ve gotten yourself into.

At least once a week I read a post from a non-Sales executive complaining that they are being contacted unsolicited by someone trying to sell them something.  No kidding!  What a shock?

It’s as if they think that the sales reps at the company they work for aren’t doing the same thing to others on LinkedIn.  But that’s OK.  As long as a sales rep doesn’t contact me.  My guys can do it.  But don’t bother me.

I know I’ll be barraged by the “pick up the phone” gang.  And maybe from the email marketing contingent.  I get that.  As I said, LinkedIn is one tool in the belt.  It can’t be relied on to make quota.  Every mode of communication must be applied to pipeline building and sales in general.

But LinkedIn will be used by sales reps to contact people they don’t know.  It’s a fact of your professional networking life.  If you are in the position of influencing a sale or happen to be a decision maker, change your thinking.  You put yourself out there by building a profile.  Just because you only did it to get a better job doesn’t mean a sales rep is going to ignore you.

One last point.  Since you thought that accepting every invitation you ever received was such a clever idea, we’re going to contact you to get to your network.  So those 5,000 people you’ve never met, spoke with or even know, we’re going to contact you for that too.

Sweet dreams.

Sales Is Not an Island

Sales versus Revenue

How well do ALL of your employees support revenue growth?

I ask my clients to do a bit of self-analysis when working with them to increase revenue. Man on IslandExecutive Teams, in general, view the Sales Team as the driver of revenue rather than the entire company.

When discussing sales with start-up CEOs, they believe that by simply cold calling contacts in their primary market segment they will find the customers necessary to generate the next round of funding.

In both cases, an assessment of how the entire company is supporting the revenue generation process is essential. How well is Marketing providing interested parties willing to consider your solution? What level of testing has Product done to ensure your offering satisfies the pain points of your prospects? Are revenue expectations developed by Finance reasonable? How well is Support communicating with Sales to uncover up-sell opportunities within the customer base?

Sales is not an island. They cannot do it alone.

CEOs and Executive Teams should be constantly asking themselves how well they are doing at supporting the revenue process. Unfortunately, my experience has shown that a company’s ability to internally analyze themselves is a challenge. Existing process and pressure can get in the way of objectivity.

When was the last time you did an in-depth analysis of your company’s revenue generation process?

Are you trying to build a generic sales process?

It’s not about reinventing the wheel. Invent your own wheel.

Sometimes I marvel at how generic people are when trying to increase sales. I read WheelLinkedIn posts all the time that ask for the “top 3 qualifying questions to qualify a lead”. How would anyone know the top 3 three questions for a product they haven’t seen?

“What are the best questions you ask to identify a need for your product?” That’s not going to help you build a sales process.

A sales process starts with the buying process. How do people/companies buy your product/service? Who are these people? What are their roles? How do they evaluate vendors like you? Products like yours? Who’s budget? The functional department? IT? Marketing? How strategic is your product (think software) versus an operational solution to an everyday issue (think paper).

There are no generic sales processes. There are no generic questions to be asked. Each company must create a sales process from scratch. Don’t think of it as reinventing the wheel. The wheel doesn’t exist yet. You need to create a process that is unique to your company, product, and target customers.

Would you post a request on LinkedIn for the best presentation someone has used? Of course not. It has to be specific to your company and product.

Just like your sales process.

Salesforce Usage Analyzer Applango Partners With SalesClinic to Grow Revenues

Applango LogoSalesClinic, through dozens of Salesforce implementations has discovered that there is one constant with most Salesforce customers. User adoption is a challenge.

Why is it so difficult to understand the accuracy of activities, pipeline and forecasts?

It’s difficult because Salesforce Admins and Sales Management have no idea who is properly using Salesforce. Until now there has been no way to gauge if users are actually using the tool or simply signing on and getting phone numbers and addresses.

To address this very common problem, SalesClinic has partnered with Applango.

Applango has a solution to this challenge through a usage analyzer that provides all of the data and information required for Admins and Management to identify users that may need additional coaching and training. It also identifies how well processes within the Salesforce application are being adhered to by the users.

Applango for Adoption Infographic

SalesClinic’s analysis and testing of Applango’s market from a sales perspective has resulted in a better, segmented sales strategy, with a plan and process that are now resulting in significant revenue pipeline growth. By supplying Telesales and Field Sales resources for hands on selling, SalesClinic has provided both strategic and logistical sales support.

As part of SalesClinic’s sales process development, we’ve been able to change the expectation of prospects from a “free trial” to a Salesforce Usage Analysis that actually provides value in the first two weeks. Most SaaS solutions allow you to attempt using their solution as a test. Applango’s sales process provides actionable user data for their prospects.

SalesClinic continues to work with Applango to identify and close potential customers. Our hands-on experience allows us to recommend adjustments to the sales process to ensure Applango exceeds its revenue goals moving forward.

If someone winks at you at a bar, do you tell your friends you got married?

Woman WinkingAt what point does Marketing become a fantasy?

Software companies often build freemium business models. Those who may or may not work for well-known brands have the ability to subscribe to use the software for free. Marketing, in its quest to achieve credibility, scrapes the logo of that major brand from the site and posts it on the software company’s site to announce the major brand is now a happy client.

Where does this fall on your integrity spectrum?

Imagine that you work for H&R Block as an IT Analyst and you subscribe to a free version of a SaaS solution. Would you want to assume the liability associated with the use of the H&R Block trademarked logo?

Now fast forward to a sales rep’s conversation with a new prospect who’s just reviewed the vendor’s web site. How does that rep respond when asked about H&R Block’s use of the software? Is it ethical to put a sales rep in a position to have to justify Marketing’s position that a free “user” (and I use that term lightly) is an actual “customer”?

Sales reps are often in very challenging positions. Their employers are obligated to provide strong, credible support and collateral materials in an effort to support the sales process. This provides funding for all functional areas of the company.

Don’t compromise the integrity of your sales department in an effort to impress analysts or investors. It’s simply not good business and of course, should you be discovered, good luck explaining the significant benefits the national brand is realizing.

One free user does not a customer make.

Are you still recruiting like it’s 1945?

Flight Attendants

If so, you’re going to have to try harder. Times have changed, people have changed and attracting great people requires revised strategies. Have you looked at some of your job descriptions recently? Below is a sample of a random, sales rep JD. I ask you, “Who would want this job?” There are 42 individual requirements!

When constructing JD’s, enlist the help of your marketing department in addition to HR. Make the job attractive while keeping it realistic…as in “truth in advertising”. I always wonder why the simplest of jobs becomes so incredibly complex. When hiring a sales rep, consider that you are not the only potential employer. Speak to company culture, advancement opportunities and the chance to become part of something great. If you can’t sell, then you aren’t in a position to hire a great sales rep. Select an “evangelist” within your organization to become part of the recruiting process and have her weigh in on the process and potentially “sell” the candidate. In any event, it’s important to realize that we fly jets nowadays, not propeller aircraft.

Job Description – Outside Sales Representative

Title: Outside Sales Representative

Reports To: Sales Supervisor

Summary

The Outside Sales Representative is responsible for selling corporate products or services through the achievement of opportunity-based sales quotas. The Outside Sales Representative will reach his or her business targets through effective management of designated territories and physical visits to customer sites. This individual will also develop ongoing, profitable relationships with customers and continually maintain a professional image of the company. Integrity, passion, and in-person presentational skills are essential for this role.

Job Duties

  1. Conduct a minimum of 5 sales presentations per week by physical visits to customer locations.
  2. Perform professional presentations or demonstrations of company product(s)/service(s) while on-site.
  3. Penetrate all targeted accounts and radiate sales from within client base.
  4. Overcome objections of prospective customers.
  5. Emphasize product/service features and benefits, quote prices, discuss credit terms, and prepare sales order forms and/or reports.
  6. Build and foster a network of referrals to create new opportunities for revenue growth.
  7. Generate and develop new customer accounts to increase revenue, by cold-calling if necessary.
  8. Ensure follow-up by passing leads to Account Managers with calls-to-action, dates, complete profile information, sources, and so on.
  9. Always maintain professionalism, tact, diplomacy, and sensitivity to portray the company in a positive manner.
  10. Actively manage call schedule to adequately cover assigned territory in a time-efficient manner.
  11. Use marketing data using applicable sales management software tools to maximize sales efficiency and effectiveness.
  12. Maintain accurate records, including sales call reports, expense reimbursement forms, billing invoices, and other documentation.
  13. Assist in creating RFP responses to potential clients.
  14. Periodically conduct information-only presentations, such as seminars, trade show demonstrations, and other efforts.
  15. Make front-line assessment of market conditions and advise company Account Managers and marketing staff of findings.
  16. Build and maintain ongoing awareness of new products and services, competitor activities, and other research.
  17. Requirements
  18. University or college degree in Computer Science, Marketing, or an acceptable combination of education and experience.
  19. 3 years of direct work experience in an external sales capacity.
  20. Demonstrated ability to convert prospects and close deals while maintaining established sales quotas.
  21. Professional demeanor, selling style, and appearance.
  22. Solid experience in opportunity qualification, pre-visit planning, call control, account development, and time and territory management.
  23. Success in qualifying opportunities involving multiple key decision makers.
  24. Strong knowledge of retail and/or wholesale sales principles, methods, practices, and techniques.
  25. Strong problem identification and objection resolution skills.
  26. Able to build and maintain lasting relationships with customers.
  27. Exceptional verbal communication and presentation skills.
  28. Excellent listening skills.
  29. Strong written communication skills.
  30. Self-motivated, with high energy and an engaging level of enthusiasm.
  31. Able to perform basic calculations and mathematical figures.
  32. Ability to work individually and as part of a team.
  33. High level of integrity and work ethic.
  34. Must possess a valid driver’s license and/or passport.
  35. Experience with customer relationship management software.
  36. Working Conditions
  37. Frequent travel is required, often up to several hours of driving per day.
  38. Ability to travel to, attend, and conduct presentations.
  39. Manual dexterity required to use desktop computer and peripherals.
  40. Occasional lifting of items up to 50 lbs.
  41. Overtime as required.
  42. Exposure to variable weather conditions is likely

Culture…it’s not you, it’s me

s

I live in Texas and everyone has an idea of what “culture” means in Texas. It’s all “big, cowboy, line dancin’ and oil rich”. That one is easy. But do you know what the culture of your company is? …probably not.

As a seasoned consultant, I’ve visited hundreds of companies and always ask, “What is the culture around here?” The answer is never simple. I search for companies which embody a culture of success. Think about Real Estate:  ReMax, Century21, etc. When is the last time you contracted one of their agents to show you a new home? Did she arrive to pick you up in a BMW, Lexus, Mercedes or similar? Or did he arrive in a beat up old junker with a hole in the floorboard? No need to answer.  When you met them, you were probably impressed with image, knowledge and history of success. That’s what builds a culture; people who understand that success is not an option.

Employees often tend to believe that “culture” is directed from the top. Many CEO’s struggle with developing a culture within the organization and I understand the challenge. Sometimes we just make things too hard. Think about traveling to London or Paris or Rome. You can probably easily identify the culture by meeting with the people. Seldom will you have the opportunity to meet with their Governments.  So who drives culture? The citizens.

When you think about the culture of your organization, keep in mind that it is driven by the people who work for you. When they are gratified, happy and passionate, they tend to develop a culture which exudes success. When they are struggling, micro-managed and living under the auspices of fear, the culture devolves into something entirely different.

Simple solutions are easy choices. Celebrate success; hire the passionate, build a positive vibe. The culture of your organization is determined by the passion of your people. It’s not you, it’s me!

Don Corleone – Without the crime, death and stuff

A Networking Strategy

Don Corleone gained the trust of his network and made a mark on his industry by employing a simple philosophy.

If you do for others, you will get something in return. It’s only a matter of time.

When networking to generate business for you or your company, providing an introduction, reviewing and critiquing a document, or simply providing a sounding board for an idea costs little to nothing. Helping out someone in your network or even a colleague of someone in your network is always a good thing.

Identifying and contacting executives who may be decision makers is critical in Sales. One strategy that has consistently worked for me was offering my experience, contacts and expertise to my colleagues when asked. Perhaps someone wants an introduction from me. Or they have an idea in which they want a salesperson’s perspective. I’m always happy to provide whatever I can reasonably do to help. Reciprocation is usually available when requested.

I have found that, for the most part, professionals understand the Don Corleone brand of networking. Negative responses when requesting similar acts from colleagues are few and far between.

Don Corleone’s empire was built on this premise along with some questionable business practices. Still, we can learn a lot from his networking skills.

Are you a Sales Manager or the Top Sales Rep?

Firefighter NetYou manage salespeople. A component of your job is to go out on sales calls with your sales representatives. It is your job to sell if you are in the sales call, right?

Not necessarily. Through untold ride-alongs I’ve experienced with sales reps it has become apparent that sales reps sometimes lose control of sales calls during a sales manager’s ride-along.

Watching the dynamics between sales management and their salespeople for 20 years has caused me to stop talking on ride-alongs. As a sales consultant I spend hours in sales calls assessing the performance of the rep.

As the “coach”, most sales managers would agree that managing a sales organization can sometimes be painful. It’s reminiscent of a baseball coach watching his star hitter swing at a pitch that is obviously a ball. So does a sales manager get that queasy feeling in their gut when a sales rep misses a buying sign or starts doing a data dump without tying product features to the benefits of the product?

Sales Managers must understand that they are both Top Sales Rep AND Sales Manager. Sales Managers should view themselves as a firefighter’s net. When the fire starts moving towards the mother in the window on the fifth floor, the net comes out to catch her before she gets hurt. Similarly, does the Sales Manager save the sales call when the rep appears to be heading for a professional crash and burn.

Imagine if you will a sales call that is lost. Dead. Buried. There is no chance of a save. As painful as this may sound, it is OK to sit back and watch your rep fall flat on their face. I witnessed a few flame outs in my time. Some I saved. Others I used as a learning experience. The conversation in the car afterwards went like this:

Me: “So how’d that feel?”

Rep: “Not so good. Why didn’t you say anything?”

Me: “Will I be here next time? The time after that? Probably not. Let’s replay it and figure out how it went wrong.”

Just as it’s OK to let you child fail sometimes to learn how it feels and understand what went wrong, it’s OK to let your sales rep feel the pain of a really bad sales call. Now you wouldn’t allow this to happen with an important client. But a prospect who you determine to be a lost cause, for whatever reason, can be very useful as an educational exercise.

Sales reps inherently get better as they increase activity over time. Every sales call should be a learning experience. Your role is to make sure they learn something each time. This may come from their own success, you taking over the call demonstrating best practices or having the rep fail miserably. In every case, you’re the coach.

How personal are your business relationships?

Four pairs of feet in a bedWhen has a business relationship gone beyond business? If your mind has just gone into the gutter as you read this, please crawl out. That’s not the kind of relationship I’m referring to.

Are you so close to your business contacts that you can’t ask hard questions? Are you so close to your direct reports that you can’t put them on a Performance Improvement Plan?

Some sales reps fall into a trap of going beyond the rep/prospect or rep/customer level. When this happens, transactions become favors. Going to a prospect’s boss is nearly impossible. Negotiating contract terms can turn into a spat rather than a professional give and take.

A more dangerous scenario is when a Sales Manager becomes “friends” with their reps.

Business relationships need to walk a very fine line. Keeping a relationship both professional and personal at the same time is critical to actually doing business. The personal aspect of your business relationships should help you in business, not hinder the progress of a business transaction.

If you find yourself challenged by the personal relationship you have with a business contact, think about how you can begin to distance yourself a bit. The depth of your relationship will dictate your ability to do business and affect your level of success.