Climbing the Mount Everest of Sales

Climbing Mount Everest takes skills, planning, a strong team and luck. But it's how people work together that matters the most.

The same applies in business. While I was in Hong Kong leading a two-day sales leadership workshop, I picked up a Chinese newspaper where there was a lengthy article on this very topic in the business section. Immediately, I knew it would be a good topic for the blog. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 13, 20121 comments

The 3 Strategies of Top Reps and 'The End of Solution Sales'

Recently, I spoke at a major software vendor's partner and client conference. A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from one of the attendees suggesting I blog about an article published in the Harvard Business Review's July/August 2012 issue titled "The End of Solution Sales."

During a 16-hour flight to Hong Kong where I was going to lead a client's sales leadership workshop, I pulled out the article to read. At 35,000 feet, it woke me up. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 03, 20120 comments

Getting a Head Start on 2013

Yes, I am fully aware it is still 2012 and there are five months left in this year to exceed your quota (and hopefully, you are well-positioned to achieve your goals). But this week I want you to turn your thinking toward growing overall company revenues for next year and making sure you have the proper number of salespeople contributing on your sales team.

If you follow U.S. college football or basketball, you know there is constant recruitment news -- various camps, college campus visits, athlete commitments and coaches fanning" out across the country to recruit both next year's and the following year's athletes. After all, those with the best players seem to win championships. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on July 30, 20120 comments

WPC 2012 Session Recap

It's been a busy time. Last week, I flew into Toronto to speak at the week-long Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. During the week I participated in four programs that I'm going to recap for this blog. (If you want any follow-up details, simply send me an e-mail).

The first program, "50 Marketing Tips in 50 Minutes," was so successful, the meeting room was moved to accommodate the massive number of people who signed up for it -- over 450 people attended the session! Each of the six panelists spoke about: More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on July 17, 20120 comments

Make Monday-Morning Meetings Count

When we at Acumen undertake consulting engagements, we always sit in on clients' Monday-morning sales meetings.

That's because we know from experience that a weekly kick-off meeting is among the best ways to build a high-performance sales organization. A well-run Monday meeting puts everyone on the right track for the week ahead and helps the sales manager establish the discipline, control and accountability that every team needs. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on July 02, 20120 comments

Book Review: 'Rules of the Hunt' by Michael Dalton Johnson

Over the weekend, I picked up the book Rules of the Hunt: Real-World Advice for Entrepreneurial and Business Success by Michael Dalton Johnson, founder of It was a great weekend read -- from the book, you can tell Johnson has been there and done that! It is full of tips, reminders and real-world stories on the topics that every entrepreneur and small-business person either has faced or will face. In fact, I would label this a must-read for every manager in every small business.

The book's topics cover leadership, relationships, sales, marketing, technology, operations, foresight and survival. Within each category Johnson shares his philosophies and experiences that will help any businessperson move forward faster in their career development. Examples could fill this blog, but I found myself underlining section after section with gems. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 25, 20120 comments

Closing Summer Business

Summer can be a difficult time to lock down that extra business that ensues you exceed your monthly objectives; pipelines are thinner, vacations occur and even people are less focused.

Now in reality, working the sales process effectively, increasing the number of opportunities and creating creative sales strategies are the fundamentals for a successful summer. But just in case you need some help, here are a few ideas to get you started: More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 19, 20120 comments

Tips for Attending an Industry Conference

Last week I was in Charlotte, N.C. Today I'm in Orlando, Fla., and tomorrow in Chicago. I have been speaking at a variety of industry trade shows delivering keynote programs, educational breakout sessions and general networking opportunities.

As I sit in the lobby of this very nice hotel, I can view 15 or so people watching a soccer game, a few others holding one-on-one meetings and other folks seemingly wandering the hallways or even walking outside by the pool. It's 1:45 p.m. There are education breakout sessions going on and the Exhibit Expo is open. Why are so many people wasting this opportunity? They have invested time and money to fly here and yet I see this at the 20 or so trade shows I attend each year. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 11, 20120 comments

Planning for the Second Half of the Year

Last week, after meeting with a new client, I laid out a project plan to identify the various challenges we need to address to increase the performance of the entire company. One of the first items was the lack of accurate monthly forecasting by the sales team and the lack of accountability of the sales leadership team.

Since it is June and the company is on a calendar basis, we decided to begin to change the culture and improve performance by having each salesperson create a six-month personal business plan for themselves. However, instead of simply asking for a WAG forecast, I created a special format. Each salesperson has three weeks to fine-tune their personal business plan, gain their sales manager's approval and then be ready to present it at the second-half Sales Kickoff Meeting in July. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 04, 20120 comments

Increasing Wallet Share with Cross-Sell, Up-Sell Strategies

During a recent meeting with a new client's sales team, I discussed ideas to drive additional revenue. The meeting began with what products and services the client currently had to offer followed by a discussion on the concept of "cross-sell and up-sell."

Throughout my years as a sales leader and consultant, whenever potential sales looked weak, my first action would be to analyze all existing clients -- specifically, what products and services they currently use or have implemented. Next, I would determine what logical new or additional products and services I could offer them. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on May 21, 20120 comments

Creativity Is Critical for Sales Leaders

In many of my writings and workshops, I have often spoken on the need for hiring creative salespeople and for sales management to offer creative solutions to problems. I believe creativity is critical to building a sales culture of high performance. The good news is "creativity" can be learned and enhanced in everyone.

I recently read a book titled Perfect Phrases for Creativity and Innovation by Karen Eriksen, published by McGraw Hill. I picked up the book because in my keynote program, "Gourmet Living," I normally mention adding creativity to your life to enhance both personal and professional success. Reading this book quickly added ideas and insights that can be easily implemented immediately. This is a sample of the first four chapters: More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on April 16, 20120 comments

How To Gain Insight Like a CEO

Most sales leaders have a lot of confidence, which is good -- but many don't have access to what many CEO have: insights and help from other CEOs. Worse, many organizations never gain real insights or help from their own customers.

What can you do to improve on these critical blind spots? Create a "Client Advisory Board" and a "Sales Management Advisory Board." These will help improve your business operations and provide a source of insight and accountability. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on April 02, 20120 comments