During the past few months, I have been consulting with several clients on a variety of issues and coaching others via our new "Acumen Project" (more on that later). In both environments I have begun to revert to a similar sales management technique to achieve the desired results. For this week's blog, I thought I should share this fundamental concept with you. If you are attempting to bring an increase in focus on weekly sales and activity and on exceeding your monthly sales goals, this idea will help you.
First, you should be using Acumen's Sales Meeting Template. When you get to the sales forecast section and opportunity discussion, note your monthly sales objective (for example, $250,000). You can either go to the "white board" or via Excel and a PC projector to do this.
Second, ask each salesperson to forecast each account and dollar value on all sales opportunities with greater than 75 percent probability of closure. Write each entry underneath your sales goal.
Third, total the overall sales to see if they exceed your sales goal. If they don't, list all additional opportunities with greater than 50 percent probability of closure. If you still don't have enough opportunities and potential sales to exceed your quota, you are in trouble.
Fourth, discuss each opportunity as a team to ensure the salesperson has the next TWO sales steps planned to close the opportunity for this month.
Fifth, perform this exercise each week in the month (save the list) and as certain opportunities closed or are postponed, work to move other sales opportunities to the close list. The "50 percent" list becomes your "upside" list.
Six, track what your individual salespeople forecasted at the first of each month and what they actually ended up selling. This is called the "forecast accuracy ratio," a great way to better understand your team's ability to forecast and understand their prospects' buying reality. You will be in a great position not only to forecast pipeline values to your management team with this historical view, but be a better coach for your sales team.
Seven, each week, each salesperson should be prepared to report on specific weekly activities. While this will vary by type of sales organization, by having a weekly reporting function, salespeople will have to be accountable. As a rule, we ask each salesperson to rate their previous week on a scale of 1-5 at the beginning of each sales meeting. In other teams, each salesperson must earn 25 points a week by performing a certain level of variety of activity. If you would like to see a sample of the 25-point list, send me an e-mail at Ken@AcumenMgmt.com.
What's the bottom line? It's fundamentals and back-to-basics. Salespeople pay attention to what sales management pays attention to. Discipline of focus is always the payoff to success. What is your commitment to success? Let me know your ideas to drive performance.
As for Acumen Project...
I was watching the Golf Channel several months ago -- specifically, a show called "The Haney Project," where a golf coach would take a well-known celebrity for six weeks and provide customized coaching to improve their game. While it was somewhat a reality show, it had positive results. I thought about that program and have now created the Acumen Project. Using our online Interactive Sales Management Tool Kit, my books, DVDs and 12 hours a month of consulting services over five months, we will turn executives or sales managers into leaders of sales teams. We cover the strategies and tactics of successful sales management: recruiting, compensation, reporting and coaching and much, much more. For more details, e-mail Ken@AcumenMgmt.com
Posted by Ken Thoreson on January 21, 2013 at 12:01 PM0 comments
I woke up in rural Wisconsin on Christmas morning. When I peeked out the window of my mother-in-law's home it was seven-below on the thermometer. I grew up in rural Wisconsin -- that is how it is supposed to be on Christmas morning.
What do I mean by rural? Well, driving the last seven miles on a twisting county road during a blizzard means no plowing, drifting snow and no actual idea where the road was. Rural also means no cell phone coverage or e-mail connections unless I drove 15 miles to a McDonalds to find a wireless connection.
But what rural really means is making time to talk to my 89-year-old mother-in-law recovering from knee replacement surgery. Every morning, I would wake and the coffee would be ready, a Danish would be on a plate and we would sit in our chairs and watch TV. Or she would read a daily devotional and we would talk -- just good conversation -- until she dozed off. In the afternoon I might nap or drive to the local small-town (population 268) bar and order pizza or sandwiches for dinner. While I waited, I would sip a beer and chat with the one or two folks at the bar about the upcoming Packers game.
On two days, I went for a walk. It had gotten up to 20 degrees and the snow was still crunchy but the air was crisp, clear, almost light. If you have not felt that kind of Wisconsin fresh air, you are missing out. I had forgotten what it does to your nose and lungs -- it is a cleansing experience.
As I trudged down the street the people in the few cars that went by waved as if they knew me. It is what you do in small towns. One day, I walked into the Pigeon Falls, Wisc. meat market to buy meatball mix and lefse (Norwegian tortillas) and the owner came up to me and said, "You're Thoreson, right? I saw you on Facebook!" Amazing.
It was a quiet few days to reflect, reunite with family and friends, share laughs and stories, and end with warm hugs and big smiles. It is where I come from.
There were other experiences, as well, but what I returned with is a continued reinforcement of the blessings we have, knowing that many others in this world don't have them. I have a continued commitment to do what I can to help others improve their lives and inspire them to succeed. In a recent speech, I talked about the impact others had on my life -- but the reality is the more you impact the lives of others, the more personally successful you will be.
Posted by Ken Thoreson on December 28, 2012 at 11:07 AM0 comments
During most of my keynote programs, I discuss my three rules for creating a "gourmet life." In most of my client engagements I've also been discussing the elements for creating a culture of high performance. In both situations I like to reinforce that there is a need to align the soul of your team to goals of the organization.
Focusing on the soul is critical for creating an environment that drives success. Certainly, building emotion is a major objective in leadership; having it and creating it must be a focus for all leaders. In previous blogs I discussed "Building Belief" (if you want a copy of it, send me an e-mail at Ken@Acumenmgmt.com). While that blog discussed how to build belief in your product/service and company, I also believe there needs to be a focus on the greater good.
In my keynote program I show a PowerPoint slide that displays a Hall of Fame list of people -- some whom I know and some I don't -- who have made a difference in others' lives. I personally believe the more you contribute to the success of others, the more successful you will be. Getting others to feel good about their professional and personal success is part of the job of sales leadership.
On my Hall of Fame list is a man in New Hampshire who takes his guitar to hospice patients and sings to them. Another is the man who started Habit for Humanity. There are the two sisters who started The Love Kitchen, which cooks for the homeless or less fortunate. Then there's the family that once a year asks their grandchildren to present their ideas for how they will choose their charity for the year. How can you bring this idea to your organization?
During your 2013 sales kickoff meeting, ask "How can we impact our community?" It would be a great session where individuals can contribute their ideas, thoughts and actions. The outcome? Assign three people to a task force, give them 45 days and ask them to present their ideas to you and then to your company's management team. Build a complete action plan where everyone becomes committed, involved and excited.
Getting your team together and working on an ongoing community project to improve the world will build team work, morale and improve the good feelings everyone has regarding your company. This action becomes the bond and feel-good element in building a high-performance sales team. Today there are many ways to impact your community, your world and your people. Start with being a better person.
I normally close my keynote with the following three words: "And then some." These three little words are the secret to success. They are the difference between average people and top people in most companies. The top people always do what I expected...and then some.
They are thoughtful of others; they are considerate and kind...and then some.
They met their obligations and responsibilities fairly and squarely...and then some.
They are good friends and helpful neighbors...and then some.
They can be counted on in an emergency...and then some.
I am thankful for people like this, for they make the world move livable. Their spirit of service is summed up on these little words...and then some.
What is your cause for 2013?
Posted by Ken Thoreson on December 17, 2012 at 3:50 PM0 comments
Last week, I was speaking at a conference on "Building and Maintaining Sales Motivation." After the program, several people came up to discuss my concept of a "drive statement."
At this time of the year, everyone is working on their sales business plans for 2013 and finishing budgets and forecasts. While every plan should include goals and objectives for training, marketing and sales incentive programs, this is also the perfect time to consider how you will maintain your sales team's emotional focus on exceeding your goals. Creating a drive statement can assist you.
A drive statement is a series of words or a sentence that describes your overall theme for your sales team for an entire year. This statement is reinforced at every potential opportunity. It may appear on your internal letterhead or made into a banner and hung in your sales area. It's used to reinforce your training programs.
For example, I have seen one that was simply "Growth!" This word reinforced the company's focus on sales growth, professional growth, market share growth and company growth. Another was "Brilliant Execution." This particular company wanted to reinforce the sales process and sales strategy execution, as well as increase the focus on customer service. The company had defined specific steps to improve all aspects of the sales function and it wanted everyone to know that it expected brilliant execution!
A more complex statement was "We will dominate our market with an assertive approach and create a unique experience." This company wanted to make the statement that becoming No.1 in the market was important. Using the word "assertive" meant the company wanted a more aggressive attitude within its sales and marketing departments; the additional use of "unique experience" meant a touch of creativity or the opportunity to stand out was important.
Think through your goals for 2013. What approach and attitude do you want your sales team to consider or act on throughout the year? Then engage several team members to assist you in developing a sales theme or drive statement. I encourage you to share your thoughts on this topic in the blog comments below.
At your 2013 sales kickoff meeting, create an atmosphere of excitement when you unveil a well-planned-out business plan where sales, marketing and operations are coordinated and your sales team leaves the meeting motivated to exceed their goals. Plan a fun event but make sure your team knows your drive statement and how it relates to your vision for the year.
If you would like a few ideas on creating a sales kickoff meeting send me an e-mail at Ken@AcumenMgmt.com.
Posted by Ken Thoreson on December 03, 2012 at 3:35 PM0 comments
On a recent flight to Seattle, I pondered what this week's blog might contain. While reflecting on the past year and looking forward toward 2013, it occurred to me that a quick summary of a few basic actions sales leadership must take to succeed would be of value.
Step One: Build an Active Recruiting Plan
Most sales managers get fired for not hitting the desired sales goals. Normally, the reason is because they have a lack of salespeople selling their products/services. You must know your average transaction value versus your yearly or monthly sales objectives. The key question is: "Do you have enough salespeople on board to achieve your monthly number of required sales transactions?"
A sales manager must look ahead by 90 to 120 days at future potential revenue objectives and understand your manpower requirements. Recruiting is sales leadership's marketing campaign for sales leads. Build an ongoing program to ensure you have the right talent in place to exceed your goals.
Step Two: Know Your Pipeline Metrics
This is something I have written about before but it is what can bite the sales manager. You must know the accurate value of the pipeline 90 to 120 days out (depending upon your sales cycle). The question you must ask is: "Do you have enough number of opportunities both in value and number of opportunities to achieve your upcoming monthly quota?"If not, what can you do to ensure you build up the pipeline values so that you will have enough opportunities to achieve the monthly objective? It's November; what is your February pipeline value? Do you have the necessary values to achieve February's goals when it's Feb. 1?
Step Three: Is Your Team Trained?
Recently, one of my new clients, a technical team member and myself listened in as two of their salespeople gave a demonstration to a major new client sales opportunity. It became obvious to the president that the salespeople were not professional or even capable of handling the meeting. It was enlightening and a crucial step toward increasing the need for continued focus on sales training. The sales team had been neglecting our recommendations for how to improve their skill level, and now there will be an increased buy-in by management and peer levels to focus on sales skills.
- Make more sales calls with your team.
- Build in a quarterly salesperson skills-evaluation process.
- Increase more role-playing in your sales-training meetings.
- Build a quarterly sales-training program.
Step Four: Improve Your Professional Business Acumen
Make sure you read the local business sections in your local papers, The Wall Street Journal, business magazines and Web sites. Read three business books a year and join a sales leadership "peer group" of other sales managers to learn how others are increasing their leadership skills. This step will improve your ability to discuss the business trends of the day with prospects and your sales team, increase your stature within your management team and improve how you manage your team.
Follow these four steps and your odds of surviving the usual 18-month window that most sales leaders live under will improve. If you have not downloaded our whitepaper, "Top 40 Sales Management Actions To Build Predictable Revenue" from our Web site, send me an e-mail at Ken@AcumenMgmt.com and I will send it to you.
Posted by Ken Thoreson on November 26, 2012 at 2:11 PM0 comments
My speaking and sales leadership consulting practice causes me to work with many people who are experiencing stressful situations, like having to learn to manage a sales team for the first time or realizing that their organizations are not performing at optimal levels.
James Robbins, the author of Nine Minutes on Monday, captures the reader immediately by building on the story of him climbing a mountain -- at one point, almost at the summit, he becomes unsure if he can make it to the top. As the book moves forward, Robbins continues to share stories that make his points and describe his easy-to-follow plan to enhance your leadership and the performance of your team.
While any student of management and leadership may be familiar with a few of Robbins' tactics, what makes his book a must-read for all management levels is his formula and his challenge to simply spend nine minutes each Monday to consider nine simple questions. An example is: "How can I promote a feeling of autonomy in one employee this week?" Each question is simple, but profound in its potential impact on your team.
Too many times in this fast-paced world -- especially if you're a sales manager -- we neglect the basics of leadership and the need to build the appropriate culture that drives performance. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that this is a favorite topic of mine. Robbins can provide you a pathway to becoming the real leader you need to be in any sales leadership position.
The author builds his case for his formula by beginning to address the fundamental needs of all employees and yet provides answers and direction with examples of individuals who have applied his techniques. One of his nine points is "The Need to Play." In that chapter, he describes the importance of having fun...with an example from a funeral home!
At the end of each chapter is a "Summary" page that recaps the chapter's lessons and provides one of the nine questions to consider and a key action step. At Robbins' Web site you can download other tools, as well. Buy the book, read it, apply Robbins' plan and find out how in the end, he made it to the top of the summit by learning the ultimate leadership lesson.
Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 22, 2012 at 2:02 PM0 comments
An upcoming election, roller-coaster days on Wall Street, Middle East issues, budgets being cut...there are many distractions.
With that economic domino effect hitting us all as 2012 begins to wind down, ending the year on a high note will be more challenging than ever. At Acumen, we've been offering the following advice to our clients and their sales teams:
- Keep it in perspective. Recognize that if you are in the IT sector, it is the best place to be in tough economic times. You sell what's especially in demand right now -- solutions that can increase efficiency, cut costs and enhance customer relationships.
- Stay optimistic. Remember that clients and prospects are seeking help and you're in a position to both reassure and assist them.
- Work harder. (Sorry, but that's what's needed.) Try to stretch yourself both in terms of attracting new customers and better serving existing ones. Sell professionally; execute brilliantly.
Meanwhile, the standard end-of-year scenario still applies, too. As always, this is when accelerated compensation programs kick in. More importantly, it's when many management bonus systems take effect, rewarding executives for driving certain levels of pretax income to the bottom line or attaining their revenue targets. And it's no wonder that, just like every year at this time, sales teams feel like they're in the last 100 yards of a big race.
Following are five additional steps to help you stay out in front as you approach the 2012 finish line:
- Count the days. In the same way that consumers track holiday shopping days, know how long you've got left to sell this year. Doing the countdown adds urgency to the process for you and your prospects. (Hint: How can you use the remaining weekends to boost business?)
- Consider all your resources. Can you turn to colleagues to strategize about opportunities and develop winning tactics? How about doing site visits? Can an existing client or a vendor contact help create credibility with prospects?
- Plot closing strategies. Think about why prospects need your solution and exactly how they'll benefit from implementing it, whether it's generating revenues, improving productivity or better serving customers. Then figure out a reason for them to act now. You may have a sense of urgency driven by end-of-year deadlines for quotas or bonuses, but you need to show prospects how moving forward at this point will benefit them.
- Make contact twice weekly. Never let a week slip by between meetings with prospects. If you see them on Tuesday, see them again on Thursday. Stop by at a convenient time, but always have a valuable reason to visit, such as providing an implementation plan or a reference letter.
- Keep prospecting. Sales organizations often drain their pipelines by the end of December. January may be strong with leftover business, but February, March and April typically lag. It's important to ensure that marketing and prospecting levels remain constantly focused on future pipeline development. We recommend that you take your calendar and block out specific times for prospecting between now and year's end.
One last tip for coping with today's economy: In the downturn following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, I developed a short personal motto that successfully reinforced the need to keep moving forward. It was: "Take action. Stay positive." I suggest that you develop a similar slogan to help you navigate these difficult times. Having a strong foundation can make all the difference in how you end the year and position yourself for 2013
Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM0 comments
During the past few days, I have been suggesting to my clients several ideas to ensure they finish off the year in a strong style. I thought I would offer them below and ask for more ideas from our team of readers.
- Increase the number of days per week you perform one-on-one sales strategy coaching to verify that all salespeople know where they are in the sales cycle and have asked the proper questions. Make an extra phone call where you can coach and question sales actions.
- Encourage your salespeople to work together on challenging each other's sales strategies. Team them up.
- Create an end-of-year sales contest with individual and team goals.
- Add two mornings of telephone blitz days for prospecting. Invite people to a November seminar/business breakfast meeting. Increase your prospecting ratio to load up December and January pipelines.
- Create a fun event -- Halloween parties, fall seasonal events and so on. There is a lot of stress and pressure in the end-of-year push. Thank your own team.
- Assign a certain number of customers (say, 10) to each salesperson each week. Make sure they have a good reason/strategy and product/service offering for each client. Make sure they make the calls to the appropriate person at the client's office. Inspect this!
Setting Up November
- It's the Thanksgiving month! Create a Customer Appreciation Event. Via a postcard or a letter from the president, invite everyone to your offices. Add a few vendors, as well, and offer additional services/product offerings. Invite your best end-of-year prospects, too.
- For those early-stage prospects in October who will make a decision in November, a special Thanksgiving discount/promotion code that ends on Nov. 23 can be suggested and then launched in November.
- Roll out a 25-point weekly sales game where each salesperson must earn 25 points a week based upon activity (for example, 5 points for a presentation, 5 points for an order, 5 points for prospecting, and so on). Send me an e-mail and I will send you a sample.
- Make each salesperson review their entire 2012 calendars from January to October. Ask them to look for missed appointments, suspects that did not make a decision or any networking individuals that need to be follow up with.
Let me hear what other ideas you might have -- e-mail me or leave a comment below. Let's all work together to make 2012 finish strong!
Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 08, 2012 at 11:06 AM0 comments
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in another conference -- my 14th of the year. Conferences are always a great time to hear other speakers, learn new ideas and meet new people. During the session, I led a panel discussion titled "Killer Strategies for Prospecting" and spoke separately on "Leveraging Your Business by Partnering." I thought I would highlight a few points from both sessions since they are pertinent for everyone as we move into 2013.
There were four panelists, all with real-world experience in selling and marketing. We talked about a variety of topics, but specifically discussed the topic of what marketing's contribution and responsibility to growing the sales funnel is versus what is expected from the sales team. As you would expect, there was a lot of give and take and great audience interaction on this topic.
Some thought that marketing was simply meant to build awareness of the products and company to soften the entry for a salesperson. Others believed it was to increase the relationship position, as prospects today more knowledgeable because of Web site and Internet access (see "The Well-Equipped Prospect"). Still others believed sales must prospect and any leads from marketing were simply "gifts."
The key element, I believe, is to realize that there is a relationship between the marketing funnel and the sales funnel. Both are responsible for keeping the sales funnel full and adding X number of prospects into the funnel each month. Some thought that it was a four-to-one ratio.
Here are some other tips:
- Your Web site must be a sales tool. Make sure your salespeople use it in your sales process and that it includes customer testimonials.
- Instead of lunch workshops, making them "business breakfast sessions," especially for net new prospects.
- Develop a select profile of who you want to market to.
- Direct mail is back (compared to e-mail blasts).
Leveraging Your Business by Partnering
In this session, I encouraged my audience to recognize that prospects are looking for longer-term relationships from fewer vendors and they want their purchasing decisions made easier. It must also be recognized that as businesspeople, we cannot possibly offer every solution to every client.
However, by learning to partner with other organizations, we can increase the value to our prospects. I proposed, based on my experience, that working a partnering model will bring your organization one salesperson's quota per year without absorbing the cost of sales in hiring another person.
The key element is that from an executive level, every organization should develop three to five "business-eco systems partners." These are defined as organizations that sell non-competitive but related products and services to the same markets you address.
The model for a successful partnering program should include the following:
- It must be based upon trust and a true win-win approach.
- A written plan that includes metrics for six, 12 and 18 months must be agreed upon by all partnering members.
- Cross-training of sales teams and cross-marketing programs must be developed.
- Executives must meet quarterly to review the program's success.
- It is critical to select the right partners that fit your culture and market profile.
- Salespeople should also continue to develop their network of referral sales.
If you would like a copy of Acumen's Partner Analysis Guide book, send me an e-mail at Ken@AcumenMgmt.com.
Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 01, 2012 at 10:47 AM0 comments
This occurs almost every time I speak or at every initial client visit. Whether the organization is using CRM or not, chances are it has not taken the time to define, write out and train the sales team on how to use prescriptive a sales process.
Why is this important enough to write about? A sales process gets results!
Recently, a client and I spent about two hours simply documenting what a salesperson should do on each of the various steps of the sales process. It enlightened the sales manager and created the beginning of a new sales-driven culture for the company. What happened?
- In thinking through the logical progression and the actual actions the salesperson should take, we altered the second step and changed what the salesperson was to say and sell during that stage.
- We created one additional professional service product that could be re-sold.
- The sales manager began to fully understand not only what the steps in the sales process were, but more importantly why the salesperson needs to execute on them.
- Actual definitions of each action within each stage were specifically defined. Why is this important? Pipeline values become more accurate. Let me describe this in more detail: Let's assume there is a "demonstration" stage in your sales cycle. Ask yourself when do your salespeople move the prospect to the demo stage. When it is scheduled? Or after it is completed? This is an example of the kinds of details that will come out during the process.
- During the sales process your company's value proposition must be proven. You can build a step or an action that takes place at the appropriate stage that can validate your messaging. We created what we expect to be a unique idea for the client to prove theirs.
- One of the most important aspects of creating a prescriptive sales process is changing the sales process! What I mean is, if you and your competitors use the basic sales stages in the same sequence and say and do the same things, no one stands out and the prospect becomes confused. When there is confusion, generally there is no decision. Change your sales process to stand out, be different and make the customer remember you. Refer to my previous blog on the end of solution sales.
- We added a last step: a follow-up at 90 days post-implementation or -installation to validate customer satisfaction and ask for a reference letter.
The next step is for the sales manager to teach the salespeople how to execute and then "inspect what you expect" -- that is, make sure the sales team is using the process as it is defined. Set a 90-day plan in place to implement and evaluate the results. Create four or five metrics to measure its effectiveness, validate it is being used and to listen to your team. If it needs to be altered to increase effectiveness, that is OK. But before you change, make sure you are fully understand the impact.
Let me know your thoughts on creating a sales process. What has worked for you? What hasn't? Leave a comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 24, 2012 at 1:15 PM0 comments
Last Tuesday around 10 p.m., after getting back to my home from a neighborhood activity, I turned on the TV to catch the last news of the day and checked my phone for e-mail. The latter is not an unusual routine for me as our client base can be in multiple time zones around the world. On that night, I had two e-mails from a sales manager from the Eastern time zone that had come in after 9 p.m.
While there are always instances where our jobs require us to put in the extra time, it is important to find balance -- the time to clear your mind and seek fresh air.
After I responded to the client, I received two e-mail responses in return; it was now 10:30 p.m. While the week had been stressful for him -- he let go a salesperson, hired another major position and discovered a few major problems -- I sent back an e-mail: "Rest, sleep, you will need more fresh air in the morning!"
With the day-to-day stress levels that sales leaders face, it is critical to focus on your personal self as well as the health of your team and company. The most successful sales leaders are creative, have high levels of energy and are mentally alert to the variety of situations they face each day. If you are stressed out, you burn out and become ineffective.
I have written often in my monthly newsletter, Why Sales Managers Succeed, on the various responsibilities of the sales leader. Maintaining a personal and fresh perspective is the most important. If you are tired, you will not coach effectively or think clearly when working on various sales strategies with your team, and you will not provide the leadership that is necessary to propel you revenues to the next level.
Each of us must find a means to "open up the brain" (I always say that the brain is like an umbrella -- it only works when it is open). I know in my professional life, I need quiet time to recharge. Some need physical activity while others need people or games to let them find that fresh air.
In my keynote program, "Gourmet Living: Building a Personal and Professional Recipe for Success," I provide a variety of ideas to help individuals build a better life. When you have fresh air, your life will be in balance and success will follow. Check out my YouTube.com videos to listen to my thoughts on life.
How do you find your fresh air? Love to hear your ideas -- share them below or e-mail me at email@example.com.
Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 18, 2012 at 12:50 PM0 comments
Over the Labor Day weekend, I picked up a book titled Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World's Sales Leaders. It was authored by Thomas Baumgartner, Homayoun Hatami and Jon Vander Ark, with a foreword written by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff.
What makes this a great read for sales leaders at any size organization is the real case-study examples the authors used to prove their strategies. Within each defined strategy, the authors broke out the specific steps required to achieve the stated goal. This provided a detailed description of how specific sales leaders approached a problem.
The authors, all consultants from McKinsey and Company, took data elements and individual interviews to produce almost a handbook-style guide that should be on every sales leader's shelf. When I read these kinds of books, I tend to have a pen in my hand and fold over the page corners where I find the key important points; after 225 pages of this book, I counted 19 pages folded!
While many of the authors' examples are from enterprise and global organizations, the concepts and lessons are appropriate for any sales organization. The first key point that I came across is in a section called "Sales Experience Matters." There, the authors emphasized the importance of the customer's sales experience. They challenged sales leaders to ask themselves, "What do my customers want from the sales experience?" I know that when I craft sales process maps for clients, this question is always considered, and I always focus on creating some sales action or tool that is unique and that our competition is not doing.
The second point I picked up on was the need to focus on improving sales operations. That's all operations including all non-quota-carrying activities that support quota-carrying activities. What are you doing is this area?
Lastly, the authors focus on changing the culture within the organization. They highlight several great examples of sales leaders building momentum and driving new program initiatives. Examples included increasing the tempo within the sales team, increasing the coaching and sales management interaction, and demanding results, results, results!
The last chapter includes a great table with 12 questions that can be used to assess your sales organization. Within each question, the authors define "Good" and "Great" best practices.
Overall, this is a good read with many ideas that will keep you occupied during any airplane ride or a day on the dock! What good business-oriented book have you read recently?
Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 06, 2012 at 3:03 PM0 comments