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Break the vicious cycle of weak sales performance.

Many companies world-wide want to know how much liquidity is needed to sit out this unpleasant situation and what can be done to reverse sinking profits or rising losses. One of most obvious answers to all of these inquiries is this: Stop careless spending; increase selling!

In times past, sales have been easier to come by; with sufficient revenue income, mediocre sales performance from a few on staff was somehow tolerable. But as sales cycles get longer and purchasing decisions get further delayed, the term ‘mediocre’ gets a whole new meaning in value. Less value. Entire sales floors are taking a deep dive, based on last year’s performance. The fruits of success are hanging much higher in today’s economy, and companies unprepared to meet these new conditions will go on a wild ride in a dangerous and vicious cycle.

Jeff Gitomer is an author/writer, speaker and business trainer.

Sales Gone Bad, Blame it on the Customers

You hired a new sales person and for unexplained reasons, they cannot perform. They had all of the references, met quota since the dawn of time, etc. When you ask them about it,  they blame it on the customers not buying in this economy. Good companies grow even during recesssions and with over 17 years in marketing, sales, and product management roles, Matthew Rosenhaft grew sales 280% over one year in the last recession. “You have to work harder, smarter, hire good people, and be more innovative.”

It is a tough market, but… Follow the link to discover how good sales support from marketing allows the sales person to focus on the heavy lifting around the relationship; providing the support tools to do the communication of the concept, value proposition, and credential the organization.

How to Increase Sales By Building High Performance Teams

Meeting organization goals is a top priority for sales executives today. These goals include increasing revenue, improving business efficiency, creating competitive advantage, improving customer satisfaction, controlling costs and leveraging intellectual assets. The first question asked is “How” can this be accomplished. Many organizations have struggled with this answer and very few have found an answer that is successful, until now. Business performance improvement specialist, Dennis Sommer shares: The answer lies in the development of a “High Performance Sales Team”.

Is Your Sales Team Suffering From Call Reluctance?

* Do your salespeople make excuses instead of getting out and developing new business?
* Do your salespeople spend more time “being busy” than making contacts?
* Do you have salespeople who always seem to be “putting out fires” rather than prospecting for new business?
* Do they always have something else to do other than make prospecting calls?
* Can your salespeople give you a dozen reasons why the market is down?

If these questions rang true for you then your poor sales results may be more a problem of call reluctance® than a failing economy!  

Follow the link above to read Sales Tutor, Ian Segail’s ideas on how to combat this sales destroying roadblock.

How Good is Your Sales Management Program?

This week’s blog is by Matt Sharrers, Principal, Sales Benchmark Index.

In business today, you will hear the expressions “we need to take care of our people” and “it is all about having A Players” more times than you can possibly imagine. Running parallel to these statements is the fundamental question: How good is your Talent Management program? 

How do you as a leader or company pick the best? What process do you use to train them? How do you help them develop into larger roles?

Hire, train and develop. Master these big rocks of talent management and watch your results take off.

The term “A Player” is often thrown around loosely in companies. In our book Topgrading for Sales, Dr. Bradford Smart  and co-author Greg Alexander define an A Player as somebody who has a 90% chance of being in the top 10% in that particular role for the compensation available.

With this as your guide, a great sales leader must understand how many of the 55 key sales competencies their top performers must have. Secondly, they should always conduct reference interviews vs. old fashioned reference checks. The reference interview should be a 30-45 minute discussion with at least three of the candidate’s former bosses. A Players never have a problem getting former bosses to vouch for them. 

If you have a hiring process that includes these crucial steps, you will find A Players seeking out your organization and you will improve your odds of picking true performers.

After you have the A Players in your organization, getting them ramped up to full productivity is the next big challenge.  For a company to spend all this time and money on attracting A Players and then abandon them at the door is the worst thing they can do. 

There are seven key categories that need to be covered in any on boarding process:

  1. Pre-hire (email, payroll)
  2. Administration (HR, benefits)
  3. Company Information (value proposition, industry)
  4. Product (competitive advantage, features)
  5. Competitors (strengths/weaknesses)
  6. Internal Processes (sales support, sales operations)
  7. Sales Methodology (selling process)

Within each of these areas are four key stages: objectives, duration, activities and verification.

If the initial training is executed in this fashion, three things happen. First, you will have consistency across your sales organization and a way to ensure knowledge is transferred the right way, in the right environment and by the right people. Second, you will be able to look back and see what areas are potentially lacking if people are not ramping up as you would like and know what to improve.

Last, and most important, the perception the new hire has of their new company increases. They feel excited that a documented, well thought out process is in place and it will motivate them to perform for a company that is giving so much so soon.

Great players do not always make great coaches. And sometimes, above average performers become wonderful coaches. A world class sales force should have a robust, defined system for succession planning that effectively identifies who can lead and who cannot.

Upon identifying a person who appears to have a desire to lead, there are three things that need to be done to prepare them for a possible leadership role. First, set proper expectations that criteria will be made up of results, methods (how they sell, CRM usage), company culture fit and leadership ability. Second, provide a list of activities beginning as far out as two years from when you envision the potential promotion date and have them work through them (i.e. shadow interviews, mentoring a new hire, running a meeting). Last, push them to read and educate themselves. If you notice a positive response, begin guiding them to a reading list that helps them build knowledge in the key leadership areas (strategy, challenging leadership, change management).

 A combination of these three tasks will give you a great forward-looking view of whether or not your top rep can indeed take the next step.

Hire A Players; people who have a 90% chance of being in the top 10% for the job available at the compensation range. Train them meticulously, with checkpoints along the way in all areas of their role. Develop and invest in them through a series of activities that get them ready for the next job before they are in that job.

If you execute talent management through these three prisms, engagement will be high and your results will soar.

Selling Techniques: Relevance

Tim J. M. Rohrer has been observing sales calls for a long time and, lately, he’s become more and more dissatisfied with the dialog coming from the sales side of the table.  “Our words sound rehearsed and they lack passion.” But, something else is missing and its taken awhile for him to figure it out. It was relevance. In sales, relevance means that when the customer says something to you about their needs, objectives or desires, you say something back that is connected to that which they just said.  The key to coming up with something relevant is listening and understanding.  Follow this link to read about obtaining relevance in your sales process.

How To Convert Your Ideal Prospects Into Clients

Learning how to identify and attract your ideal clients is good and important information to discover and be clear about. But until the big step of exchanging dollars for your goods or services is taken, your ideal clients are really just ideal prospects.

So the next question becomes, “How do you convert your ideal clients into actual clients?” Lisa Almeida, founder of Planit Production answers this question.