10 Sales Kickoff Meeting Ideas for 2012

We're nearing that time when we need to start preparing 2012 budgets, new compensation plans and something most sales managers don't take enough time in developing: their 2012 sales kickoff meeting.  

Already, many larger organizations are booking their sales conferences for the first quarter. That's where they will invite their sales teams, vendors, resellers and partners to hear their plans to make 2012 the best year ever. Keynote speakers, breakout sessions, new marketing plans and product demonstrations will all be coordinated to boost enthusiasm and excitement in what the new year will bring. I know this because I am booked for five events already.  More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on November 14, 20111 comments

Don't Mourn the Salesperson Yet

I read a recent article in the Economist titled "The Art of Selling: The Death of the Salesman Has Been Greatly Exaggerated." Speaking as a salesperson for many years, a sales leader for 15 years and a sales management consultant for the past 14 years, this article went right to the point of what many of us write already know.

Quick example: Recently, I purchased an iPhone from AT&T. The AT&T retail facility had great service. They welcomed me to the store, shared friendly conversation, helped me save money on my existing account, and the salesperson even walked me to the door on each of my two visits. AT&T even responded to my e-mails. Overall, a well-organized retail customer approach. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on November 07, 20110 comments

Making Mondays Marvelous

In past blogs, I have written about eating pizza, "gourmet living" and many ideas that are designed to improve the operations, culture and productivity of your sales team, as well as the sales manager's. 

As I sat in the airport on a recent Monday morning on my way to New York City to speak at an event, it occurred to me that those first two or three hours on Monday are critical to setting the tone for the week. However, as a sales leader, you need to be prepared before that alarm goes off on Monday. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 31, 20110 comments

Time To Ramp Up Your Recruiting

I have often stated that a sales manager should spend between 15 percent and 20 percent of their time recruiting and interviewing, but as you move through October into November, you'll need to increase your recruiting focus.

Around this time of the year, like it or not, every salesperson is assessing their current status, their organization, what they are selling and a pending new compensation plan in 2012.  By increasing your recruiting now, you will capture the attention of potential salespeople. And by adding them now or even at the first of the year, you will be in position to exceed your 2012 sales goals. What should you do? More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 24, 20110 comments

Zen and Art of Golf

One of my more popular blogs last winter was "Zen and Art of Snow Shoveling" based on the famous book Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. After yesterday, I thought I might leverage that title one more time.

Yesterday was a lovely fall day in the Smoky Mountains. The sky was bright blue with no clouds, the leaves were changing into brilliant colors, the air was warm, and I had a 1 p.m. tee time. Unbeknownst to me, another couple had signed up to play with my wife and I. As a not-great golfer, I became concerned when I saw the other man, Ed, begin to boom his shots on the driving range. On the first hole I was still somewhat nervous, but made a double bogey on a long par 5. Moving to the second hole, I hit a great drive. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 17, 20110 comments

'Corporate Entrepreneurship': Good for Small and Large Businesses

My normal reading pattern normally is a "business book," then a "fun book," and then back to a "business book." This routine lets me read a diverse array of books, and keeps me current and thinking creatively. The latest business book I finished is titled Corporate Entrepreneurship: How To Create a Thriving Entrepreneurial Spirit Throughout Your Company. While the book is aimed at corporate America, it is also helpful for small businesses. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 10, 20110 comments

Align Sales Compensation with Your Goals

This week's blog is an excerpt from my new book, "Creating High Performance Sales Compensation Plans."

When it comes to how businesses pay their salespeople, there's no one-size-fits-all approach. That's especially true for any company that is diverse. Each has its own business, margins and 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. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 03, 20110 comments

Sales Leadership as an Economic Stimulus

Most people fix their eyes on Washington, D.C. and Wall Street when they want to assess the health of the economy (or propose ways to fix it). But everyone who reads this blog knows that nothing happens unless a salesperson sells something.

I am firmly convinced that VPs of sales, sales directors and sales managers are the linchpins that drive growth in any organization. They set the direction and culture and create the intensity required for success. In the current economy, it is the sales team's responsibility to jumpstart their business. That will, in turn, impact other organizations and eventually the economy.  More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 20, 20110 comments

Plan, Plan, Plan (and Be Efficient)

As a former Eagle Scout, I can attest to usefulness of the motto, "Be prepared." Especially after last Sunday.

Sunday was Boom's Day, the largest fireworks display in the United States, which occurs each Labor Day weekend in Knoxville, Tenn. An estimated 400,000 people flock to the riverfront to watch the event -- boats on the river, people lined up on the docks and roads, and every home, parking lot and condo packed with friends and neighbors. It's 45 minutes of noise, color and lots of "Ooohs" and "Aaahs." And the potential of rain. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 09, 20110 comments

Sprint to the Finish: Sales Tips for a Strong Close to 2011

A shaky banking industry. Roller-coaster days on Wall Street. Budgets being cut. Purchasing decisions being delayed. The economic domino effect is hitting all of us as 2011 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: More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 31, 20110 comments

Down to the Wire: Sales Training and Education

As we move into the final months of the year, it's critical to ensure that your sales teams are professional and properly trained in order to meet -- and exceed -- your goals. With that in mind, here is an excerpt from a chapter in my latest book, Leading High-Performance Teams. The key takeaway, as I write in the book, is that "Developing well-coordinated training programs for new salespeople and existing salespeople alike can provide tremendous ROI."  More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 25, 20110 comments

Improving Your Win/Lose Sales Record

Last week, I spoke to a group of executives about improving their business planning process by increasing their consideration of strategic issues, market dynamics and resource/employee development.

One of the other elements in effective business planning is holding a formal quarterly review process where the management team evaluates the quality of business execution and operations, marketing and sales scorecards. During the session, I revealed a variety of metrics we use to assist our clients on improving their sales and profits. The first sales-related metric I recommend is the "won/lost ratio," or the number of proposals delivered versus the number of opportunities won. This is measured by your sales team and by individual salesperson. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 08, 20110 comments