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What the heck can that mean? Maybe you need something with a little more heft (and expense) to get your sales and margins up. A sticky note? How is that for a high tech tool? No software, no hardware, no tricky program or slight of hand, workbooks or homework or a shot at being the next best selling business book. I don’t think so. Thats not much of a sales plan. Maybe you need a fresh look at your sales plan – team – efforts – markets – resources. I use large sticky notes and a Sharpie when I work with my clients and their sales teams. In this session we build the foundation by taking a new look at where they have been, what they are doing now and where they want to go. No sense throwing the baby out with the bath water. I facilitate this among the ones who know what is happening in your market. Your sales team. So what happens after a few hours in an audit or discovery session? We end up with a wall of ideas, most good, some out of the box and some not so good. Now we have a base or foundation to work from. Here is a short example of the categories that we uncover and explore. The we leverage this data into a simple sales plan template.

  • Markets served/not served and why.
  • Concentrics, Clones or “Look A-likes”
  • Most “growable” accounts and markets.
  • Areas of resistance to success.
  • Tools
  • Sales Plan Template
  • Word Development – An Elevator Statement, a value proposition and the beginnings of scripting for emails, letters and phone calls.
  • Objections.
  • Best practices.
  • Underutilized assets.

From there we can see the “gaps” that exist in the current plan. Now we have a beginning road map out to a desired goal. Simple, defined and accountable. I finished this exercise recently with a sales team in two meetings and reviewed it with my client. When I asked him if I delivered the value he expected, his response was “I got much more than I anticipated”. That made me VERY happy.

If you don’t have a Simple Sales Plan that works consider purchasing my low cost ($149.00) 100 % GUARANTEED Training Video with all the tools, templates you need to execute for yourself or a sales team.

If it doesn’t work for you, I will refund your investment NO QUESTIONS asked.
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I learned to sell from Dr. W. Edwards Deming the American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. Strange huh? Dr. Deming is known for saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. I learned that effective and efficient sales training and management requires measurements throughout a defined sales pipeline..

I have had an opportunity in my career to look into many small and mid-size companies. Often I see sales management operating with limited tools, subjective decision-making, fragmented communication, limited accountability and a missmash of sales training programs.  If product development, engineering, administration, manufacturing or services departments had product failures or customer complaints they would quickly gain the attention of upper management and corrective action would quickly be forthcoming. Often not so much with sales.

An example is how a “lead” is managed. A “lead” has value. It cost money to exist and will cost more to nurture. And if it is an unqualified lead, the more time, money and effort that is extended, the more under-performing it becomes. What of that solid lead or potential account that has been or is being “worked on” or “I left a message” without delivering results? What about that “great” lead that is chased down only to find at the RFQ stage you can’t meet the price point or you just found out that the buyer’s sister is your competitor.

Managing a lead through a defined pipeline is essential to leveraging the value of that lead. A process supports accurate qualification; that the prospect buys what you sell, allows sales management to see a lead as it progresses, institute corrective action and creative solutions if it gets stuck and provides tools and content for seven touches through a DEFINED pipeline or stages. Then sales management can identify how and when to apply the appropriate sales training to create corrective action.

Sales Management through a thought-through strategy: tools,management and the appropriate sales training provides growth potential and protects sales resources. Ultimately it also does what it is intended to do. Sell more of your product.

If you don’t have a Simple Sales Plan that works consider purchasing my low cost ($149.00) 100 % GUARANTEED Training Video with all the instruction, tools and a simple sales template that you need to execute for a sales team or individual.

If it doesn’t work for you, I will refund 100% of your investment NO QUESTIONS asked. 
a simple sales plan

Bob Davis is the President of simple.sales.strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training and holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

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I was thinking the other day about my consulting practice and what others are doing in the sales training space. I was wondering what I do that keeps my clients engaged (and paying my invoices!). The answer is that I provide a strategic sales strategy with specific tactical sales training that works dependent on what is going on in the sales pipeline. I do simple, common sense, chop wood – carry water strategic and tactical sales training.

Other trainers do a lot more tactical stuff and a ton of it is great. The questions I have are when do use a tactics like, scripts for appointment setting, objection handling, trail closing questions and so forth? How do you coach effectively a team where there is naturally a difference in skill set and personality?

So back to strategic and tactical. What the heck does that mean?  What is the difference between tactical and strategic? Now the truth is that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so for that answer I turned to someone a bunch smarter than me… my wife! (it’s way true).  She said think of it this way.  During a war, there is a strategy set by leaders with an overall goal in mind.  Tactics are the individual actions necessary to carry out the strategy that moves you incrementally towards that goal.  Tactics are the substance of strategy and require solid management and leadership. Ah ha!

I tell my clients that they need to be careful not to confuse the activity with results. Very likely they are confusing the tactics with the sales strategy. Are we arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic? How do we keep from getting caught in this dilemma? Simply, by keeping a keen eye on the sales strategy with incremental key measurements towards the goal and then adjusting and sales training around the tactics that support it. All of the best tactics in the world won’t get you there with a flawed strategy. A simple sales strategy defines and measures the tactics that create a successful outcome, not the other way around.

If you don’t have a Simple Sales Plan that works consider purchasing my low cost ($149.00) 100 % GUARANTEED Training Video with all the tools, templates you need to execute for yourself or a sales team.

If it doesn’t work for you, I will refund your investment NO QUESTIONS asked.
a simple sales plan

Bob Davis is the President of simple.sales.strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training and holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com



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Sales Training Tiger

I love to tell the story of my typical client. She builds a company on a real passion for the widget. The passion is her sales strategy. She is so passionate and enthusiastic she brings down a few accounts and starts to grow. She has not had a day of sales training.

The pressures of the business keep her inside in manufacturing, operations and management activities, all necessary but taking away from her sales activities. Ah! The Solution! Hire a sales person, “my widget practically sells itself!” So she reaches out to find a sales person. Let the sales training begin!

A candidate is found, good resume, sold some stuff before, has a nice personality and a bonus, she likes him. The hire is completed, her new rep is sent into the business for a few weeks to learn the ins and outs of widgets. The next step is to travel around meeting clients to learn why they buy this particular widget. Now it is time to show the rep to his new office to belly up to the phone, boot up and thumb through this year’s Austin Business Journal Book of Lists to research leads. As she leaves his office she will say (9 out of 10 times this happens!) “Go Get em’ Tiger!” End of the sales training.

Fast forward 6 months later and well…. It’s surprising how many small and medium businesses (and startups) are guilty of this action plan–and the problem is that many business owners wonder why it didn’t work and then become concerned (rightfully) about the cost of training and salaries (there is no or little commission!) that they invest in unsuccessful sales hires.

The Fix? A PLAN– based on clear action steps, understanding your best clients/prospects, knowing that most reps quit at 3 calls and having a system to contact prospects 7-8 times (that’s when they buy), performance metrics that drive accountability, appropriate training and corrective action while systematically driving a series of prospects down a structured pipeline and as a result – booking business.

Motivating your sales force is a necessity–but what separates small businesses from larger businesses is a true sales plan, based on clear action steps, building a pipeline, and holding sales people accountable for either closing deals, moving prospects to close and managing profitable business.

The good news is that building a sales plan is not difficult–but it does take management and persistence. So you shouldn’t be surprised to know that is what I do and I do it well. Let me know how I can serve you.

If you don’t have a Simple Sales Plan that works consider purchasing my low cost ($149.00) 100 % GUARANTEED Training Video with all the tools, templates you need to execute for yourself or a sales team.

If it doesn’t work for you, I will refund your investment NO QUESTIONS asked.
a simple sales plan

Bob Davis is the President of simple.sales.strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training, strategy and holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

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In my sales trainings I’ve noted that most reps often consider sales objections as a negative. A quick look at the other side of the coin will allow you to see that they are positive part of the sales process.

Consider this idea. Sales objections are part of the communication. Often they are a “stall”, used in an effort to get you off the phone. In many other cases objections are “signals”. In either circumstance they are valuable if you use them to your advantage. How?

Here are some thoughts, guidelines and scripts to consider.

While there is no way to anticipate all combination of sales objections and responses, it is important that you make a list of the common sales objections (there are a lot less than you might think) and have a series of questions and responses that help you move the conversation towards your value proposition. In this way the conversation will allow you to differentiate yourself and company, creating an “impression” with the prospect.

Plan it out, anticipate and role play. The goal is to address the objection in a way that creates enough interest in the prospect to set an appointment, demo or next step that keeps the prospect and conversation alive or qualifies them as a lesser prospect for your product or services so you can move on to more valued prospects.

In general there are two types. “Buying Signal” or the “Brush Aside or Stall”

Buying Signal Objection Guidelines

  • Empathize. – Acknowledge that you understood.
  • Repeat – Confirm your understanding.
  • Question – Based on the objection, question or probe to flush out the reason for the objection.
  • Listen – Carefully listen to determine if your product/service has a differentiating value.
  • Respond – Reply with your value proposition. Try not to sell on the phone (unless that is your current process).
  • Ask – Ask for an opportunity to set an appointment to discuss in detail your product/service and to learn more about your prospects needs.

Here is an example of how I handle a “Buying Signal” objection in my business.

simple.sales.strategy  Intro: “Good morning Mr. Prospect, My name is Bob Davis with simple.sales.strategy – I help businesses such as yours develop and execute a sustainable and simple sales plan.  I have engaged with over 30 companies in Austin and they speak highly of my work, I have helped them increase revenue and margin while building a strong and effective sales team.”

Prospect Objection (aka sales objections): “We have done sales training in the past and it didn’t work for us.”
(Note: What I’m really hoping for is … “Who are you working with?” Then I have stories that illustrate my value.)

S3:  “Mr. Prospect.. I understand. What about that training was disappointing?”

Prospect Objection (aka sales objections): “We did not realize sustainable improvement.”

SSS: “Mr. Prospect, many of my clients have had that same experience with other sales training programs. What they found in working with me is that I first develop a sustainable strategy that is simple and scalable, and then we move towards tactical execution. Our strategy creates consistency and measurable results over time.”

Pause and await other sales objections and if so.. handle. If not ask for the appointment in this way.

S3: “Mr. Prospect I know your time is valuable as is mine, what I would like to suggest is that we spend a half hour together so I can learn more about your challenges and share why my services will add value to your business. If I can’t do that in a half hour, I will pack up and go.”

If you determine it is a “Brush Aside” A few examples are

“I don’t have time for you now”
“I don’t need your services”
“We are all taken care of”

How about something like this?

S3 “You know Mr. Prospect… some of my best customers said that the first time we spoke and after they met with me they realized that I deliver a simple, scalable and affordable sales solution. I have created value for companies like Best Star Foods, Big Tex Investment and Austin Internet. I have strong referrals to owners and testimonials of the value that I deliver.”

Pause and handle any other sales objections and then ask for the appointment

S3: “Mr. Prospect I know your time is valuable as is mine, what I would like to suggest is that we spend a half hour together so I can learn more about your challenges and share why my services will add value to your business. If I can’t do that in a half hour, I will pack up and go.”

Summary

If you take the time to list your most common objections and plan your responses you will find that in many cases you can respond naturally while engaging your prospect into a dialogue that will allow you to define your value and purpose as well as keep the sales process moving forward. You won’t be able to convert all your calls to an appointment, the idea is to improve your percentages and leave an “impression” with your prospect of your value and brand.

If you don’t have a Simple Sales Plan that works consider purchasing my low cost ($149.00) 100 % GUARANTEED Training Video with all the tools, templates you need to execute for yourself or a sales team.

If it doesn’t work for you, I will refund your investment NO QUESTIONS asked.
a simple sales plan

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Bob Davis is the founder and president of simple.sales strategy in Austin, TX providing effective sales training and support to small and medium size businesses and individuals by building an effective, simple and proven systematic sales process that is scalable, sustainable and sane.
He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

When I was growing up in New York my team was the NY Yankees. The Yankees had a second baseman named Willie Randolph.  I always admired Willy because every time I turned on the TV to watch a game there was Willie doing his thing; hitting, fielding, stealing bases, making double plays. Willie was on the field early and then he headed home to the family not the night club. Willie was doing the basics day in day out, chopping wood and carrying water for 18 years in the Pros*.  Not much “Rock Star” about Willie. You never saw Willie in the gossip pages or mug shots.

Contrast that with the “Rock Star”. You don’t have to think too hard to get my drift. I would take a team of “Willies” any day. So that is what I look for; consistent, measurable progress and results. Continuous improvement and corrective action measures when necessary. I like a full balanced sales pipeline, even, fair and honest communication with clients, prospects, management and employees. No pop sales psychology, no manipulations, no tricks, no hard closes.

Hiring Sales People

So how do you get there? Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Hire reps that test well on personality assessments for sales skills and take the time to review the results to make sure they fit YOUR culture.
  2. Understand that past performance (or non-performance) is the best indicator, not the only, but the best indicator of future performance.
  3. Build a sales plan that outlines sales stages incrementally through the sales cycle; from qualification, appointment setting, presenting, proposals and closing percentages.
  4. Develop a set of key performance metrics or indicators on the stages above that are simple to measure and review.
  5. Manage sales challenges and skill sets based on the performance indicators, develop sales skills like trial closing, probing, qualifying, objection handling and consistently coach “stuck” accounts.
  6. Create “teams” not individual players. Create competition that supports the good of the whole.
  7. Watch their feet – Not the words. Measure, Measure, Measure.

Look at Willies stats below. Now think of your favorite rock star. How are they measured? Again, not too difficult to get my point. But what is the ultimate upside? You won’t end up with a trashed hotel room on their expense account!

* Willy ranked fifth in major league history in games at second base (2,152), ninth in putouts (4,859), seventh in assists (6,336), eighth in total chances (11,429), and third in double plays (1,547).

If you don’t have a Simple Sales Plan that works consider purchasing my low cost ($149.00) 100 % GUARANTEED Training Video with all the tools, templates you need to execute for yourself or a sales team.

If it doesn’t work for you, I will refund your investment NO QUESTIONS asked. 
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Managing the Sales Team

Managing a Sales Team

On July 19, 2011, in hiring, Sales Management, by bob davis
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Many owners of small businesses fall into the same trap–they hire sales people because of a compelling interview about the individual’s “sales prowess” and on day one they are given a Book of Lists from the Business Journal, introduced to the sales team and then the encouragement…“Go Get ‘Em Tiger!” Several months go by, and there’s very little sales activity, and the business owner has spent money, time and energy and gotten results that are far below expectations. They often find great difficulty in effectively managing a sales team.

The problem is that this type of management style is that it has no measurement for activity prior to the quotations/proposals/RFQ stage–so you’re well into the sales cycle before any corrective action can take place. (And in fact, it’s really no management style at all–but that’s another post).

The solution to this problem is to build reporting into the stages from the time that a target is deemed a “suspect” to the point that it can be closed. (Coffee is for closers).

But I hear you saying, “selling is a numbers game” right?

In reality, it’s not the raw number of calls, presentations, proposals and closes–It’s the quality of the targets, the sales skills sets (or lack of) in each of the Stages. Every great sales team has defined stages and accountability metrics–and that’s where the numbers game really applies.

When you look at the following, notice that there are activities, disciplines, skills and behaviors that are unique between the steps:

Typical Pipeline Stages and Associated Discipline
1. Suspect – Qualification through a Defined Funnel.
2. Qualified Prospect – Ranking A-B-C-D. and Confirming
3. Introduction –Appointment Setting – Objection Handling – Value Proposition Positioning.
4. Appointment – Presentation – Value Qualification – Probing for Pain – Trial Closing – Building Consensus
5. Action – Relationship Building, Value Building and Confirmation.
6. RFQ – Proposal Building, ROI Statements and Pricing Strategy.
7. Closing – Culmination on confirmation of Trail Closing in previous Stages.
8. Maturity – Building a Valued and High Margin Customer.

When you are able to measure the activity between each stage you have an average. (i.e Introduction Call to set Appointment = 40%.)

With this information you can manage each member of your team effectively, provide specific training (corrective action) in areas where they are weak, encourage an upward goal for continuous improvement and identify tools, content and training that adds value to their efforts and ultimately your bottom line. The bottom line.. you are now effectively managing the sales team.

Anything less is a waste of time and money–but as an entrepreneur, you’ve got plenty of both, right?

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Bob Davis is the principle of simple.sales strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training, sales strategy and structure while holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

 

Most successful business owners have a good handle on their assets versus liabilities, but some don’t consider that their most important asset is people. For the purpose of this post it is your sales people.

If you’re not making right investments in your people (especially sales), they can quickly be moved to that liability column, and you can’t afford that. From a human capital perspective, time is of the essence.

Usually, when I perform assessments on sales teams, I explore the areas of resistance, and time management is always at the top of the list. So how do you measure and maximize time? Evaluate your sales tools – CRM systems like ZOHOcrm and Salesforce are great because they come with built with a ranking systems– pipeline, tasks, assets, reminders. It is simple to build your own measurements in the pipeline.

These tools allow sales people to make the calls, note the actions, send emails that are linked to a asset library, and set reminders. I call this the “RONCO” effect – “Set It and Forget It” and move on to the next task. CRM systems also allow you to review the sales process as it happens so you can pinpoint areas of resistance and fix the problems accordingly.

Review your Call Scripts – A practice around scripting can improve results drastically. Developing a series of call scripts that support the value your company brings to the market. Practice and consistency build confidence and erode resistance, and allows you to consistently improve on your message based on real world results.

Set Goals – Setting goals is important in keeping your sales people on track. Set a number of calls per day, target numbers of introductions per day, and numbers of appointments per week. Also pay attention to the number of quotes per month. It’s not necessarily a numbers game, but goal setting and tracking is the only way to understand real world results.

Ensure that your sales people are taking advantage of the Selling Window - If it all starts with a call, you obviously need to call when you have a high probability of reaching the prospect. So if reps are doing administration functions between 8:30 – 12:00 and 1:00 – 5:00 you are likely not going to get the results. Stop that. Protect the window.

There are many more tools and strategies, but it’s important to understand that your most valuable asset is time, and what activities and tracking mechanisms you apply is the most important first steps.

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Bob Davis is the President of simple.sales.strategy in Austin, TX providing sales training and holding sales people accountable to a proven, systematic sales system. He can be reached at 512.658.9500 or rsdavis@simplesalesstrategy.com

 

Sales Management – No Instant Pudding!

On October 7, 2010, in Sales Management, by bob davis
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The quote above is attributed to Dr. W. Edwards Deming the American statistician, college professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. Another quote often attributed to Dr. Deming is “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”, while it might not be accurate to apply this quote to Dr. Deming , many of us have experienced a time when our company did not deliver do to a process breakdown! Effective and efficient sales management requires measurements throughout the sales pipeline, from suspect to closed business.

I have had an opportunity in my career to look into many small and mid-size companies and see sales management that drives sales. Often, if I saw management operate with limited tools, subjective decision-making, fragmented communication and limited accountability that a sales team is managed,  product failures or customer complaints would quickly gain the attention of upper management and corrective action would quickly be forthcoming.

Sales has often been considered an “art” as opposed to a process, and while there is a certain truth in that, process certainly plays an important part. Consider an under performing manufacturing asset such as a delivivery vehicle, computer system, or a key supplier. Underperformance would quickly get the attention of those responsible for those assets and action to correct the situation would be implemented. Does this happen when we consider sales as an “art” but not a process? Yet sales management can be loose and “touchy feely”,

An example is how a “lead” is managed. A “lead” has value. It cost money to exist and will cost more to nurture. And if it is an unqualified lead, the more time, money and effort that is extended, the more underperforming it becomes. What of that solid lead or potential account that has been or is being “worked on” or “I left a message” without delivering results? What about that “great” lead that is chased down only to find at the RFQ stage you can’t meet the price point or you just found out that the buyer’s sister is your competitor. Managing a lead through a defined pipeline is essential to leveraging the value of that lead.

So what does this all have to do with instant pudding; measuring, sales management and selling? It is commonly said that most buyers buy after seven touches or “impressions”, it is also commonly known that most reps quit at three. They are looking for the instant pudding. A process supports  accurate qualification; that the prospect buys what you sell, allows sales management to see a lead as it progresses, institute corrective action and creative solutions if it gets stuck and provides tools and content for seven touches. In a competitive environment being top of mind and at very least positioned as a secondary source is the appropriate investment in a valuable asset of your business, a lead.

Sales Management through a thought through strategy, tools and management provides growth potential and protects sales resources. Ultimately it also does what it is intended to do. Sell more of your product.

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Sales is Stupid

On September 21, 2010, in Sales Plan, by bob davis
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Lets face it. Sales is simple. There is not a lot to it really. Another bold statement possibly? Then why are so few really good at it? If I were to really get down with it and ask “”What is sales?” I would answer:

It is about whom you are speaking to, what you are saying and when.

Say the right things to the wrong person or say the wrong things to the right person, say it at the wrong time or not often enought and my bet is that you are not getting the results you would like.

So how do you fix that? You could reach out to the high priced process engineers, sales gurus, spin meisters, formula sellers and get results for the short term or do more of the same and expect a different result.

How about a sustainable and affordable solution with measurable results?

That is what I do. I help you build a sustainable, scalable, cost efficient sales plan. It starts with a simple look at your business. What is working, what is not, clones of your best accounts, qualified key prospects, most grow-able existing accounts and why, distilling these prospects into a ranking and a sales pipeline from suspect to closing … the WHO.

From that information we develop the content in the form of an elevator statement, value proposition and call scripts that support the sales activity and the value of your business. Then we prepare to deliver our message with content, case studies, probing questions and objection handling….  the WORDS.

WHEN do we say it? Answer. Often. Most buyers buy after 7-9 “impressions” of you and your brand and most reps quit at…. guess?…. Three!

We then wrap it into an effective cost efficient tool to manage all of these assets. From there it is continuing to improve on the process, providing coaching and tools for the “gaps” in skill sets and message that leverages the power of your team. Cost efficient and effective.

If you are not now doing this consistently and effectively across your team and would like an affordable solution to this challenge, call me. I will dedicate an hour with you at no cost, no obligation.

Simple and Sustainable Improvement.

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