Get Proactive About Referrals

Kendra Lee, President, KLA Group, suggests that once you’ve set up a Referral Rewards Program, the next step is to get proactive and make asking for referrals a part of your sales and account management processes. This way you aren’t waiting for clients to think of you to offer them up. With a good process in place, you create a steady stream of referral prospects while letting your customers know how important referrals are to you.
Once you take a proactive approach and make referral gathering part of your sales and account management process your team will get comfortable asking and you’ll have a steady flow of warm prospects. Combine this with your Referral Rewards Program and you have a referral strategy for success!

4 Ways to Avoid the “Just Friends” Speech in Sales

As the recipient of his fair share of “just friends” speeches, David Tyner can tell you for a fact that they stink.  Similar to the hope of finding love in a relationship, is the expectation that a hiring manager has for a new sales representative.  With hopeful expectation, a manager asks you to begin a relationship with their product by applying the same passion you showed for getting the job in the first place to your daily selling activities.

Here are some ideas on how to stop being “just friends” with your product.

“The Sales Revolution”

This week’s blog is by Mike Moore, a leader, teacher and motivator, helping people live and work to their personal best. He is the Co-Founder of Making Customers, Inc., a full service consulting and business education company.
We have radically changed most business processes over the past 30 years but left the sales process alone and watched as it damaged the buyer and seller relationship. It is the most important relationship any business can cultivate. The relationship needed to grow healthy, profitable businesses. It’s time to change our intentions, update the sales process and heal the dysfunctional buyer and seller relationship.

Consumers are ready! They tell us by their behavior everyday that they want salespeople and companies to change. Everyone I speak to, even salespeople, admit as consumers they don’t want to talk to a salesperson whose intentions are to sell them something. In survey after survey consumers say they want help from salespeople but don’t feel they get it.

Salespeople tell us they are ready. In fact, they are weary from the daily grind of trying to sell everyone they talk to. When salespeople experience the freedom from the oppression of traditional selling intentions and the burden of the expectation to sell everyone they talk to, their sales increase and they make customers.

Sales managers are ready. When they implement a sales strategy and train salespeople to find the people who want what they are selling, instead of trying to teach them what to say, to sell everyone they talk to, they become revolutionary sales leaders.  They become sales managers who make a real difference to their salespeople, companies and consumers by increasing sales, creating growth and customer loyalty.

For years, companies have asked their salespeople to go get orders and then complain that their salespeople have become order takers.  Most companies and sales executives resist changing their sales intentions and process which has sabotaged the buyer and seller relationship. They do this by keeping their salespeople’s sole focus on, “How many orders did you write today?” Then, when orders slow down, they increase the pressure on their sales managers and salespeople to go get orders. It’s this traditional sales behavior that has brought us to the brink of disaster, created the dysfunctional relationship between buyers and sellers and made companies ready for “The Sales Revolution”.

Most executives and sales managers agree they need to improve the sales profession.  Many agree it is time for a change. These same executives and sales managers know they need to train their salespeople but either continue to use the traditional methods or cut training budgets because of the frustration of not being able to measure the results.

It isn’t easy to acknowledge something you have been doing for a long time is wrong, but you cannot fix what you don’t acknowledge. Real transformational change will take a revolution. The status quo and established traditions must be overthrown to heal the dysfunctional buyer and seller relationship and generate new improved results.

Make no mistake! This will be a battle with the establishment, as all revolutions or transformations are. New thinking is needed and most people won’t lead.  They will follow the committed few who move forward without fear or doubt to establish the new sales intentions and process needed today to serve people or become casualties of “The Sales Revolution”.

If you are in a leadership position today, it’s time to decide if you will lead or follow. Before you decide, think about the consequences. The danger in following is that there are casualties in every revolution. When the new intentions and sales process are established, if you waited, will you still be in your position or will you be a casualty of “The Sale Revolution”? Are you willing to take that risk or do you want to experience the freedom and reward of being a leader in “The Sales Revolution”?

Like most revolutions, “The Sales Revolution” starts with a vision of something better and is carried forward by a few committed people who share the vision and know it’s time for a change. Revolutionaries are people convinced if they keep doing what they’ve been doing things will not improve. A revolution is led by people who are willing to face off with the establishment to improve things for everyone. It happens when it cannot be stopped because everyone is ready.

“The Sales Revolution” has begun and it’s leaders draw courage from the words of Albert Einstein, “Great spirits have always met violent opposition from mediocre minds”. The question is, “Are you a great spirit?”

Happy Sales People Are Better Performing Sales People?

Yes, it is a question and not a declarative.  Tony Cole was going through his google reader, and spied Verne Harnish’s intriguing headline:  What Makes Us Happy:  Seven Questions for a Client Centered Proposal and clicked to read more. Hence the question: Are you a happy sales person?  Tony will let you read the rest of the article actually written by NY Times columnist, David Brooks, but until you do, here are some of his own questions about sales happiness and sales results.

Nonverbal Communications: Escape the Pitfalls

Monster Contributing Writer Carole Martin reminds us to not underestimate the value of a smile. In addition to the enthusiasm it expresses to the interviewer, smiling often makes you feel better about yourself. Read about other nonverbal messages here.

Preparing what you have to say is important, but practicing how you will say it is imperative. The nonverbal message can speak louder than the verbal message you’re sending.

Featured Company Q&A: Econiq

This month’s Featured Company Q&A is with Joe Blake, SVP Sales & Marketing for Econiq, who shares with us his focus for the coming year and strategies for sales success.

What do you enjoy most about working for Econiq?

Econiq is a young organization going through a period of rapid growth, and this presents a variety of challenges every day for me and the whole team.  I enjoy working in such a fast paced environment with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals, where we are focused on delivering great solutions for our clients and building the Econiq brand in parallel.

What unique quality separates Econiq from your competitors?

That’s simple – the Econiq solution is groundbreaking.
No other solution in the marketplace today will double frontline sales activity in 3 months with a return on investment in 3-6 months.

We are all coming off of a challenging year, how has Econiq handled it?

It has been a very challenging year for the industry as a whole where IT budgets have been reduced and many projects postponed or even cancelled. This has actually presented a significant market opportunity for Econiq.  It has enabled us to clearly demonstrate why we are different by making firm commitments to our clients to deliver hard dollar ROI in 3 – 6 months. These are the types of projects that are generally being approved in the current climate over those with longer pay back cycles and less firm business cases. We have taken a slightly different approach to most software solution providers in our space by working much more closely with clients to define business requirements in a very precise way with absolute focus on hard dollar return on investment.  We then partner with our clients to ensure that the financial benefits are achieved, which correlates into success for both parties involved.

What would you like readers to know about Econiq?

Ground breaking technology to address the biggest issue facing most organizations today – how to better understand your customers in order to cross sell more products and services that meet their needs. Our clients are able to double their sales activity in 3 months!

What specific goals, including those related to your specific position within the company, have you established for 2010?

We have put in place ambitious growth targets for the year ahead in terms of revenue and client acquisition.  I am glad to say that we are well ahead on this front for the year to date.
In parallel, it is also important for us to develop the Econiq brand, and this is more long term goal.

What creative strategies have you used to encourage/influence your sales team?

During a period of rapid growth, I find it is easier to motivate the sales team.  Apart from the obvious monetary benefits, people get a great sense of fulfillment by being successful and delivering successful projects. Internally, people can also see opportunities for personal growth and career advancement in a growing organization. Additionally, our CEO is committed to ensuring that all Econiq employees benefit from the company growth through our Employee Equity Program.
What is your favorite methodology in sales training and/or business enhancement?

I am not fixed on any one particular methodology but I have a couple of thoughts in relation to how many organizations spend training budget.  The most effective training programs are those that:

  • are delivered to address each individual’s  personal requirements and areas for development and not broad brush topic based training
  • training plans should be directly linked to an individual’s performance, assessed using hard metrics
  • the impact of training should be measured using the same hard numbers – the return on investment in training and development needs to be measured in the same way as other significant business investments

Are there any books, sales related or leadership related, that you use as a guide and/or would recommend?

I think Super Crunchers by Ian Ayers is a good read.  Access to relevant, high quality data to support sensible decision making has never been more pressing than today.  We see a large part of our role within Econiq being to help organizations to put data on all aspects of their sales process and in doing so enabling them to measure and manage each step to drive major uplift.
Do you have a mentor that you contribute your leadership success to? Do you feel it is important to have a mentor?

I have been fortunate to work with a number of exceptional leaders over the years and have made a very conscious effort to observe them and learn from them.  I see this as a crucial skill for anyone who wants to continually learn and progress in life. I also like to tap into some of the more obvious world leaders across a variety of industries and disciplines.  In particular, Steve Jobbs for his creativity, passion and energy, Jack Welch for absolute focus on execution and numbers and Edward de Bono for his tremendous logic and dispassionate problem solving.

What characteristics do you look for in a sales professional?

By far the greatest skill that I look for is the ability to ask sensible questions and listen to the answers.  It never fails to amaze me how many sales people find it so difficult to stay quiet and listen to their customers!

Do you feel a sales professional must have experience in the industry they are selling in order to be successful?

Industry knowledge can be a help in the short term but at some point, we are all required to swim in unfamiliar waters and we need to have the skills to cope.  I prefer to see people develop broader business skills that will stand the test of time and enable them to succeed in differing environments.

If an individual or the team as a whole is not meeting goals, what is your approach to nurture this?

The obvious thing is to find out “why?”  Often, the default reaction is to press the eject button.  Sometimes this is the right decision but it can also be a convenient way to ignore deeper business issues. A whole team not meeting goals is clearly different from an individual underperforming as it might reflect myriad factors including market condition, company value proposition, competitive issues and so on. Coaching an individual who is under performing needs to be a very clear, two way process where measurable expectations are agreed with set timelines.  I always try to get to the route causes and deal with them, whether they be skill based, level of effort, support processes or otherwise.  The key is (a) clarity by focusing on the data, (b) fairness to the individual as well as the company and (c) a clear timeframe.

How much time do you need to know if a new sales hire will “make it”? What are some indicators/behaviors?

Again, this becomes a lot easier for a sales manager if they have put in place the right numbers by which to manage the sales process and can access the data.  All too often, sales performance is predominantly measured by deals closed and revenue which are outputs or lag indicators.  It is vital that leading indicators are put in place for each step in the sales process and in particular, the earlier steps, to reflect how the business and individuals are performing.  This way, managers can intervene earlier and take appropriate steps.