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Did It Get Done?

That is a question most executives worry about and often have to ask their direct reports. This is especially true when thinking about sales management. In some situations, the president of the company may be responsible for managing the sales team or maybe they are attempting to manage a sales manager(s). In either case, attaining revenue objectives becomes a critical success factor -- to the point where it might be distracting from achieving other responsibilities of sales management.

However, the job of sales leadership demands more than revenue focus. In fact, in my training programs and client consulting engagements, I tell my clients that it is not sales management's job to achieve quota -- that is the salesperson's job! It is the job of sales leadership to hire, train and manage the team properly and position them for success. That is why "Did it get done?" becomes a critical question. Ensuring that the necessary basic foundations are being achieved becomes important. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 27, 2015 at 12:39 PM0 comments

Build Predictable Revenue

In recent years, organizations have gotten better at analyzing financial statements, refining manufacturing procedures, re-engineering business systems and improving marketing effectiveness. CEOs have strengthened their balance sheets with better asset management, reduced their inventory and cost levels with just-in-time methodologies, and increased direct mail and advertising effectiveness through thorough testing and reporting methods. But one area where additional improvements still can be made is the sales organization.

Smart companies are scrutinizing their strategic sales management plans, taking a closer look at everything from their pipelines to their forecasts. They are also taking a closer look at lifetime values, cost of sales, market share, sales processes and salesperson effectiveness. The reason is simple: All organizations, regardless of whether their sales are shrinking or growing, are under pressure to create a sales distribution organization that generates predictable, consistent, profitable results. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 13, 2015 at 12:06 PM0 comments

11 Actions Sales Management Must Take Now

Sound investment portfolio-management advice ranges from "hold firm with your existing stocks" to "take advantage of a great opportunity to buy at today's basement prices." Holding firm assumes that your existing portfolio contains quality securities, is properly diversified and has been managed with an appropriate, long-term perspective.

For our sales management world, let's make the same positive assumptions -- our sales team consists of quality people with good attitudes and successful track records, and has been properly managed. However, there's one big difference. Sales leaders must continually keep their sales teams focused on goals and activities that make their teams and companies successful. Therefore, their perspective must be short-term revenue generation. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on October 06, 2015 at 3:14 PM0 comments

What Happened at the End of a Sales Workshop

There was an interesting outcome at the end of a two-day sales management training workshop last week.

We discussed the role of sales management and what strategies sales managers can take, and focused on the execution of sales management tactics. Ten people went through the program, all from one client but from five different offices. While it was personalized to their specific requirements, we did cover the following topics: More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 21, 2015 at 2:56 PM0 comments

One Action You Can Do To Exceed Your Quota

Exceeding quota is never easy. In fact, studies have shown that large percentages of salespeople never achieve 100 percent of their assigned quotas.

However, if you are in a position of sales leadership, what can you do to improve your odds of success? More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 08, 2015 at 2:40 PM0 comments

Hiring High-Performance Sales Teams: Part 2

"If you can find good people, they can always change the product/service. Nearly every mistake I've made has been in picking the wrong people, not the wrong idea. Most entrepreneurs have no problem coming up with a good strategy, but they usually need all the help they can get in developing and implementing the tactics that will make them successful in the long run." --Arthur Rock, Harvard Business Review, 1987

Selecting sales personnel is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenges of any organization. Failure to achieve revenue targets, manage customer relations and deliver service can be traced directly to hiring people unequipped to carry out their assigned roles. Recruiting is a commitment; it should consume about a fifth of the sales leader's time, and the process should be as well-organized as the company's sales methodology and forecasting systems. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on September 01, 2015 at 2:32 PM0 comments

Hiring High-Performance Sales Teams: Part 1

You've got sales quotas, plans and deadlines. You can't reach your sales goals without a complete staff, so when someone leaves, it's terribly tempting to hire the first person available to fill the job.

Yet, a helter-skelter, frantic approach leads to hiring the wrong person. That adds expense, disrupts your sales team and, potentially, creates a customer service disaster. As Harvey Mackay says, "The worst mistake a manager can make, especially a sales manager, is to make a bad hire. You can't build a business if you have a revolving door." More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on August 25, 2015 at 2:19 PM0 comments

Structure vs. Creativity and Flexibility

I recently wrote a post titled "The Need for Creativity" that covered why sales managers must develop their levels of creativity to solve the multitude of problems they face and the need to assist their salespeople in developing better sales strategies. In the blog, I also laid out the 10 actions one can take to improve their personal creativity. 

In other posts, I have also discussed the need for a variety of formal, structured systems that are reviewed and executed on a regular cadence -- e.g., account plans, training schedules and salesperson business planning. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 15, 2015 at 4:04 PM0 comments

'Trade Shows Don't Work'

I have heard the phrase "trade shows don't work" and similar comments from people when discussing why they don't include trade shows in their marketing programs.

In reality, the reason many organizations do not gain a payback from their trade show investment is that they don't work the trade show. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on June 01, 2015 at 3:50 PM0 comments

Are You the Maestro of Your Sales Team?

This was a musical weekend. On Friday evening, we went to the Knoxville Symphony, which was featuring the final program by Lucas Richman, who has led the symphony for the past 12 years. Sunday was Music Sunday at our church, with bell choirs, guest musicians, the adult and children's choirs and many ensembles -- it was a festive morning. In both situations, there was no doubt as to who was in charge and who knew the details: the maestro.

As I listened and felt the music, I was intrigued by how the maestros in both events led their respective teams. They anticipated the next movement or group to contribute and kept the pace that was required to succeed. They were always just ahead or anticipating the next phase. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on May 19, 2015 at 10:52 AM0 comments

The Need for Creativity

This past week, I had opportunity to work with a great client at its worldwide sales conference in Miami. During those two days, I spent several hours with the client's sales management team and four hours with its salespeople. The company has a great sales culture and you could feel the attitude in the room.

In the post-meeting evaluations, several reactions to the programs came out: 1) the importance of understanding the various personality styles, 2) the need to be "greedy with your time" and time management and 3) the fact that an individual's creativity can be learned or enhanced. More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on April 29, 2015 at 11:04 AM0 comments

'Why Can't I Get an Accurate Forecast?'

Just last week, I heard that very comment from the president of a new client. Frankly, it is a common phrase I have often heard from CFOs, presidents and vice presidents of sales. So what's the answer?

Many consultants would drag out their scorecards or methodology to fix the issue. Instead, let's first learn to diagnose the signs and why the problem exists. This is what I generally see or hear when I begin to poke at the problem: More

Posted by Ken Thoreson on April 23, 2015 at 11:26 AM0 comments