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.

Enterprise Mobility

“Waiting for Godot”

I have a Google Alert for Enterprise Mobility.  It’s left over from a time in my career when I thought, along with a lot of so-called visionaries, that mobile devices would replace laptops for most large company employees.  The promise of providing access to business data, CRM and ERP functions, etc. was touted as being just around the corner by CEO’s of software vendors and the many analysts they paid to agree with them.  Even the CEO I worked with told us at one point just before our Chapter 11 filing that we were in a “tornado” market.  Yea, OK.

So here I am.  Nine years after drinking the Cool-Aid and four years after giving up on pushing the Enterprise Mobility Jell-O up the enterprise decision making hill.

And what are the headlines from today’s Enterprise Mobility Google Alert?

The Enterprise Mobility Conundrum: How to Control the Data?

Enterprise mobility now more of an “apps play” in Australia

IT Managers Increasingly Pressured by the Growing Complexities to Deliver Enterprise Mobility

Majority of enterprise mobility usage described as ‘entry level’ or ‘opportunistic’

Microsoft asks What is Happening Inside Enterprise Mobility?

These headlines are very familiar.  If I went back into the archives, I’d imagine I’d find very similar headlines in 2008, 2009, etc.  The only one missing is, “iPhone will overtake BlackBerry in the Enterprise”.  That headline drove a lot of people’s heads into the sand.  This included our CTO who wanted an iPhone deal before he would put an engineer on building an iPhone version.  Like BlackBerry, we had a hard time learning from the likes of Polaroid or Kodak.

Why did I bother to write this post when my business is helping companies grow their revenues?  I wrote it because I care about the salespeople and sales management that are sometimes sold a bill of goods by analysts, software executives and journalists that talk and write about unrealistic market opportunities.

As salespeople, we’ll never really know if the hype will lead to revenue.  Just because some Angel Investors throw their disposable capital into a venture (over and over) does not validate a start-up or a market.  And based on the Enterprise Mobility market, even VC money may not be enough.

Salespeople and sales management need to dig deep to understand if the company’s solution is a fad or a trend.  Understanding the difference and where the market is in its evolution is critical.  And if you find that the hype is not matching reality, get out.  Your talent will be appreciated by others with real market potential.

Finally, if buyers of a solution view implementing your technology as a burden and have questions that can’t be answered, beware.  Apparently 2017 is no different than 2008.  The Enterprise Mobility market is still “Waiting for Godot”.

Just say “No”

A sales person’s lamentYes-No-Maybe

What has happened to business in America? I never thought I’d be espousing Nancy Reagan’s philosophy, but business executives simply don’t say “No” anymore.

I first noticed this in the early 2000’s. I was selling an online solution for buying and selling films between the studios and movie theatre owners. Most of the people I met loved the solution (at least that’s what they said). I spent the better part of a year following up with the decision makers. Although they never bought a thing, they never said “No”.

Why? Why take calls from someone you’ll never buy from? Just say “No”. And watch how quickly the phone calls and emails stop.

And then there are the no shows. These “professionals” tell you to follow up because they’re interested in doing business with you. When you do, they ignore calls, emails and text messages. What is the point? Tell me “No”. Let me move on.

I heard a sales executive recently say that she doesn’t chase people that don’t want to be chased. I completely agree. I’ve learned to cut bait after exerting a reasonable amount of effort to get a response.

My hypothesis for business people not saying “No” is that they’ve never had to sell anything. I propose that every new hire, as part of their on-boarding process, be put in a sales environment to observe the frustration that comes from being told “Yes” or “Maybe” and then watching the sales rep be lead into the abyss of radio silence.

Radio silence is the most frustrating part of this new reality. Part of the problem is the sales rep’s fault. Sales reps need to secure a specific date and time for a follow up conversation. “I’ll call you next week” doesn’t cut it anymore. Closing for the next interaction has become an imperative if you don’t want to lose your buyer in the myriad emails and meetings they have to handle day to day.

If you’re reading this as a non-salesperson, please take heed. Give us reason and we will chase you.  If the answer is no, tell us.  We’ll all benefit from the communication.

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.

When does a start-up become a company?

I’ve worked or consulted for start-ups since 1984. Back in ’84 we called a new company a Woman_Holding_Globe“new company”. That’s because it was “a company”. It had a product, personnel, funding, sales, a market and people operated it. It was kind of like IBM, AT&T or any other company, but new and smaller.

Fast forward to 2015 and it’s not exciting enough to work for a company. If you want excitement and challenge, work for a start-up. But when does a start-up become a company?

I spent six years working for a SaaS provider that called itself a start-up. When I joined, the company had already been in business for eight years. Start-up? At 14 years old. If it was a Jewish boy he would have already been Bar Mitzvah. In 1984 we would have called it a failed company with some really uninformed investors. Not a start-up.

A lot of people in the start-up community believe that a company that relies on VC money for operating and growth capital is a start-up. And they behave that way.

Many start-ups that think like start-ups, rather than companies, forego spending time on the basics. Things like sales strategies and process, marketing strategies and plans are secondary to building a culture to attract the required technical talent.

A start-up IS a company. Start-up CEOs must give equal time to sales, marketing and other functions of their company. Concentrating on providing a fun culture of challenging coding problems is only part of the responsibility of a company’s CEO and Exec Team.

If you think and act like you’re running a company instead of a start-up, especially at 14, you’ll find the road to being self-sufficient somewhat smoother to navigate. And perhaps sometime before deciding you don’t need the VCs any longer, you’ll call yourself a company rather than a start-up.

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!

Urgent Care for your Sales Organization