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Do You Know Your A-B-C Clients?

Depending on the client's situation, one of the top five actions we take is to perform an A-B-C analysis of their customer base. This exercise can be valuable for many reasons that impact sales, marketing and operations. 

If you are unfamiliar with this concept, essentially, the client generates a list of all of their customers showing total combined revenues and margin over a recent three- or five-year period. After this report is created, the next step is to perform a lifetime value analysis. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 23, 2014 at 11:31 AM0 comments


Creating a Sales Compensation Plan

When it comes to how businesses pay their salespeople, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. That's especially true for many companies with diverse products and services that include a mix of products and services. Some pay commission based on sales, while others only pay on margin; still others blend both with incentives and special bonus plans.

No matter which approach you use, success depends on awareness. Your sales management team must understand your company's overall goals and structure compensation to align with them. In short, sales compensation should be not just a tactical focus for your organization, but a strategic one, as well. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 07, 2014 at 11:43 AM0 comments


Should Salespeople Prospect Anymore?

Last week, during a client's sales meeting, we got into a discussion regarding pipeline values. Needless to say, the number of prospects and dollar values were insufficient to achieve the overall corporate revenue objectives. Several of the salespeople blamed marketing for not generating enough quality leads (ever hear that before?)  and, as the discussion of "territory development" evolved, several of the salespeople said they simply didn't feel it was their responsibility to prospect because of the futility of cold calling/phone calling and event marketing. 

In many organizations, marketing is expected to develop leads via a well-messaged, nurturing campaign with a quality database with an objective to set up the salesperson with a highly qualified opportunity. In this format, there may be a series of marketing campaigns, telesales people and a well-designed CRM reporting system. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 29, 2014 at 11:55 AM0 comments


Be a Top Performer...And Then Some

Whether it is a January kickoff event, a Monday morning sales meeting or a quarterly salesperson review session, sales managers must sell the need to plan for success.

Planning for success means you build a sales organization that is not opportunistic in account management, prospecting, et cetera, but focused on a methodology to ensure success. It also means that there is an expectation or attitude from management that is transmitted to the team that "we" will be successful, "we" are winners, "we" are better and "we" work together. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 11, 2014 at 1:30 PM0 comments


What's Your Motivation?

A friend of mine recently asked me where I had been lately. When I mentioned that in July I had been in San Diego, Washington, D.C. and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and that I was leaving again this week for Las Vegas, he just shook his head and said, "I don't know now how you do it!"

I seem to have a lot to juggle, as do many people, but what keeps me on a fairly busy travel schedule is more than simply work -- it's a passion. It has been 16-and-a-half years since I started Acumen Management Group and the basis behind the company still drives me. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on July 28, 2014 at 3:10 PM0 comments


Creativity for Leaders

One of the traits that leaders must have or develop is a mind that is creative. In many of my keynote programs, I discuss creativity and the need to "break out and grow" as you build a "Gourmet Life."

The day-to-day pressures and various situations that you face are ever-changing and appear at a rapid pace. The ability to consider various options, offer unique perspectives or provide your team with fresh ideas is critical to your success. The great news is that you can develop your ability to be creative.  More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on July 07, 2014 at 3:28 PM0 comments


Slammed: The First-Time Sales Manager

In my eight years selling for two different companies, I experienced four or five sales managers. As you can imagine, they each had a different style, patience and skill level. I can remember that those first six months as a new sales manager were a challenge. I took over from two previous sales managers who were now reporting to me and three other salespeople, for a total of five on my team.

I had participated in various sales training programs and I had a few perceptions of what a sales manager should do, but obviously I was scrambling and, at the same time, trying to achieve sales objectives. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 10, 2014 at 9:47 AM0 comments


Creating a Sense of Urgency at the End of June

How do you capture the attention of your sales team on a Monday-morning sales meeting? You need to plan the meeting effectively and make sure your opening has impact. Today, I announced: "There are only 10 days left in June!" I did this for several reasons:

  1. I wanted to wake up and shake up everyone's thinking at the outset of the meeting.
  2. It was important to create a sense of urgency in everyone.
  3. I created a theme for the month.

If you are a first-time sales manager or even an experienced one, having a Monday-morning sales call for any size team takes preparation. You cannot begin without thinking about the outcome and intent of the meeting. With my clients, we use a sales meeting agenda and stick with a standard format. This keeps everyone on task. Also, keeping everyone involved is important and getting to the point is critical.   More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 02, 2014 at 9:58 AM0 comments


Life Enrichment: Giving Back

"Giving back" means how you help make the world a better place. People who use the mantra understand that doing what is expected -- and then some -- makes the difference in improving others' lives, as well as their own.

During the last few months, I have been writing about life enrichment, which is a descriptor for the general message of my keynote program, "Gourmet Living: Building a Menu for Your Life." This week, as I fly to San Diego, I'm reflecting on the "giving back" portion of life enrichment. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on May 05, 2014 at 2:20 PM0 comments


Time for Summer Pipeline Building

This week, I had two conversations reminding clients to make sure that they are focused on building their summer pipeline. In one case, the client was excited about the event it just completed and the opportunities it found, but it had no events scheduled for May or June.

It is the job of sales leadership to have a 90-day-and-beyond vision into their company's pipeline and planning. Now is the time to make sure you are making extra efforts in your sales and marketing plans to increase your visibility. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on April 29, 2014 at 2:28 PM0 comments


'Make It Happen Now' as a Sales Mantra

A sense of urgency and creating momentum are critical to the success of any sales organization. As a daily mantra for my clients' sales teams, I like to suggest "What can you do today to create an order?"

Many sales teams wait for situations to occur to eventually close an order. Great sales teams create situations that cause orders to occur. These situations may be chaotic or a well-planned series of events, others are developed with the skill of a brain surgeon during discovery, and others are just plain salesmanship. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on April 21, 2014 at 1:00 PM0 comments


Creating a Culture of High Performance: 6 Pointers

For the past 10-plus years, I have focused on improving the performance of organizations, emphasizing their business strategy and sales leadership function. The end result is creating a culture of high performance throughout the organization.

In preparation for a keynote program, I tried to identify what high-performing organizations look like. One, their leadership team communicates openly. Two, they seem to have their personal and professional lives in balance. I have written often of my personal/professional pizza analogy, so I won't bother you with that, but if you have not taken my pizza test, send me a request. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 18, 2014 at 1:26 PM0 comments