No Foolin': Sales Leadership Should Be Thinking Summer

April 1 is right around the corner and I want all of you reading to avoid being this year's fool.

Recently, during a consulting session with a client's president and sales manager, we discussed two points that I thought would be good items to bring up in this week's blog. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 29, 20120 comments

Sales Leadership and Management in a Recovering Economy

During the past few months, the stock market has taken off and the papers have started shouting about positive economic indicators: Rents are heading up, monthly job creation rates hit 200,000, et cetera. What is your perception? More importantly, what are you doing to lead and manage your organization and prepare for better times?

In today's economic times, the companies most likely to thrive are those that invest time in scrutinizing their strategic sales-management plans. They review everything from their forecasts to their pipelines, looking hard at important numbers such as cost of sales, percentage of market share, salesperson-effectiveness ratios and customer lifetime value. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 19, 20120 comments

The Sales Manager Who Does It All

First of all, the title of this blog is misleading. Second of all, even if it weren't, it wouldn't be a good thing.

No matter how big their sales organizations are, sales leaders who assume they are responsible for solving every problem generally fail to achieve the ultimate objective. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 12, 20120 comments

Taking Advantage of Opportunity

I was at a sales conference in Puerto Rico several years ago. While I was waiting for my return flight, I started to converse with another flier. He was British and just finishing his holiday. We discussed mutual occupations and experiences. When he learned that I had just addressed a sales conference, he asked about the topic and purpose of the event. After I explained, he said to me, "Take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, during the lifetime of the opportunity!" I loved that comment and I have used quite often ever since.

As I approach another birthday, that quote is even more important to me. Each of us only has a certain of number of "opportunities of a lifetime" to experience. These opportunities can be professional as well as personal. The challenge I see is that too many individuals are simply moving through life rather than experiencing life. I am firmly convinced that learning to impact the lives of others through service, trying new things, being kind and simply having fun put more zest in your life and a bounce in your step. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 06, 20120 comments

The Future of Sales and Social Media

While in the process of writing a magazine column on the future of sales and social media I interviewed three people and posed several questions in order to get their views. I thought for this week's blog I would also introduce you to my current thinking and I would really enjoy hearing your thoughts on the direction of sales and the use of social media.

In the traditional sense of a new product introduction, social media is moving through various stages. It is my opinion we have obviously crossed the chasm from Stage 1 into full-blown Stage 2 product acceptance and, in most cases, salespeople and sales leadership have accepted and become comfortable in using forms of social media for their personal lives as well as in a limited business environments. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on February 27, 20120 comments

Book Review: 'Executive Toughness'

This week's blog is a review of a book titled Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance by Dr. Jason Selk and published by McGraw Hill. 

When it comes to reading, I like to switch between business books focused on some aspect of my profession and then another book for personal enjoyment. Why did this book catch my eye? After writing four books myself, I found Executive Toughness to be a terrific read that can reveal to new managers or experienced business leaders something new to improve upon. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on February 14, 20120 comments

Webinar Alert: Learn How To Take Emotion Out of the Hiring Process

Hiring. It's the No. 1 job of sales management but it's also the most difficult.

If you hire effectively, the job of sales management becomes much easier. But if you hire the wrong salesperson, it may cost you four times what you ended up paying that person while they were on your team. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on February 06, 20120 comments

A Sales Manager's Recipe: What's Cooking in 2012?

After giving a keynote program called "Gourmet Living" recently, an attendee came up to me and discussed her challenges as a sales manager.  The last three years have been tough and she was looking for new ideas for 2012 to excite her team and also to simply change up the routine.

Since my keynote program had been about creating a "menu for your life" and used many cooking metaphors, I started thinking about what her sales management recipe should be. If 2011 left a bad taste in your mouth, use the following ingredients to create a new recipe to make 2012 your best year ever. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on January 24, 20120 comments

How Far Has CRM Come?

As a sales leadership consultant, I think this article by Lauren Carlson, "SFA 15 Years Later: Now Every Rep's Best Friend," hits on many valid points. The cloud and CRM usability are key elements in the acceptance of CRM, as is the price/cost issue, especially for the SMB market. The marketing campaign features are extremely important and the interface to accounting/ERP systems greatly improves the customer service aspect, as well as gives a more 360-degree view. They make CRM more than a salesperson's tool.

One other element that should be recognized is the "tech savvy" nature of reps today versus even 10 years ago. This has made CRM acceptance so much easier. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on January 17, 20120 comments

A Walkthrough of a Broken Sales Organization

Strategic sales management is often a weak link in solution provider companies. For the past 14 years, I have been working all across North America and internationally, meeting, speaking and consulting with organizations of all sizes and areas of focus. While every client engagement is unique, some problems are common to many corporate cultures and tend to prevent a company from reaching its business potential.

This month, let's take a walk through a hypothetical client site that illustrates many of the problems I've encountered over the years. We'll use "Law and Order" rules: "Although inspired in part by true incidents, the following story is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event." More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on January 10, 20120 comments

Creating Your 2012 Sales Plan

It's a little late to begin planning your 2012 sales plan, but in a conversation last week with a reader of this blog, I realized there may be others who have not formalized their 2012 plan. Here are some questions you should consider when you start: More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on January 03, 20120 comments

2012: The Times Are A-Changing (Are You?)

At the end of each year, I write down my personal and business goals for the new year in seven different categories. The challenging part of that exercise is I have to review the goals that I had set from the past year and grade my performance. I have saved these sheets from the previous 20-plus years and it's a telling experience: I have found there are always good goals, but sometimes unrealistic timeframes.

Review your performance over the past 12 months. Ask yourself, "Have I changed or improved my organization?" If you are a new reader make sure you review all of my previous blogs for ideas and tips to improve your personal or professional performance. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on December 29, 20110 comments