I met someone a few years ago who told me his business was so successful that he couldn’t imagine it being any better. I didn’t believe him but told him if that was the case then he should sell it.
I have certainly never seen perfection, and I might struggle to say that I have seen the excellence that companies are apparently all looking to achieve.
One of the benefits of doing what we do is that we get to have a look under the hoods of many different companies to see who is doing well in the world of sales, and who isn’t doing particularly well.
Several years ago my wife and I enlisted a real estate agent to sell a house. The transaction went well, however, the agent made one fundamental mistake that taught me a valuable lesson and cost him any future referrals from us. As soon as the transaction was finished, we never saw that agent again. No thank you card, no wine, not even a thanks for your business. The last time I spoke to him was on the phone at the lawyer’s office to confirm the completion of the deal. We believe the agent made a mistake with his lack of follow through on what was obviously a significant transaction for us. It was a small thing, but something we haven’t forgotten even 10 years on. We have told that story many times and I can guarantee it has cost this agent opportunities.
The MD of a company recently approached us and was frustrated with his sales team’s performance. He believed when he started the business he had more sales success than his team, even though he only spent 10 percent of his time on selling. He couldn’t understand why his team wasn’t performing better.
Another recent conversation was with the CEO of another business who was frustrated at the quality of the clients the sales team were introducing. Ostensibly there didn’t appear to be major issues as the business was growing nicely, but it was on the back of industry growth rather than quality sales work. Simple analysis showed the sales team spent a huge amount of their time visiting clients who were small and purchased tiny amounts, and had very little room for growth. Every time the salesperson visited these clients it was costing the company money.
There was recently a story in the media about an advertising man who took a clown into his redundancy meeting. While the meeting took place, the clown made balloon animals and when he was delivered his redundancy papers the clown pretended to cry.
There was also the story of the well-known NZ businessman (you will figure it out) who apparently walked into a meeting with heavy-hitting investors and dropped hundreds of bouncing balls onto the board room table. He then delivered his message to say this is how many rockets they are going to launch into space in the next few years.
We recently heard a story of the history of a 3rd generation NZ family business. It was a story many in this company and none of their clients had heard but talked about how the business began, and the twists and turns experienced on the way to creating what it is today.
Sales is a rollercoaster of emotions. When you’re “on fire” life is good, you love what you do, the company you do it for and the people you interact with. Life is harder when sales are down, your manager is not helping by demanding more sales and even that great prospect you talked with last week you really can’t be bothered talking to. You don’t even consider picking up the phone to make a cold call. This is the time when salespeople start asking the questions about their career and the company they work for. This is the time when performance and productivity fall through the floor. Everyone in sales will recognise these emotions.
There was a famous car salesperson by the name of Joe Girard who sold 13,001 cars at a Chevrolet dealership between 1963 and 1978, including the world record of 1425 cars in one year.
How did he do it?
By all accounts, he would never sell to someone walking in off the street. Instead, he would only sell to personal referrals or to his existing clients & their families.
Joe used to run a rolodex better than anyone and knew his customers intimately. He would look to know as much about his customers as he could so that he could support him or her in their needs and wants. The number one thing however that contributed to his success was that he always made sure they got a fair deal. One that was fair for him and fair for his customer.
Joe was a great example of someone who built fantastic partnerships with his clients.
The Sales Syndicate community was recently treated to a workshop by corporate anthropologist, Michael Henderson.
Michael has a passion for unlocking the true potential of people and organisations. With more than 25 years’ experience working locally and internationally and as the author of 8 books on the subject, Michael knows a thing or two about culture.
Michael shared with us many significant and confronting messages. Most of us have heard the now famous Peter Drucker quote, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’. But Michael is insistent that in his experience having the right culture is 8 times more important than strategy; particularly so with Sales Teams.
That raises a very good question. If culture is that important, then why don’t we as sales Leaders spend more time developing culture? Is it because we just don’t recognise the value of how important culture is or is it because we don’t know how to go about it?
We were fortunate recently to have Dean Mannix with us at Sales Syndicate who challenged us to think about ‘McDonald-ising’ our sales team.
From generation to generation McDonald’s keeps outperforming the competitors by running consistent processes that means a Big Mac is the same in Auckland as it is in Cairo, they ask us if we want fries with that in 119 countries and over 34,000 stores.
They have built a sales machine that has enabled them to scale.
Is your company a sales machine? Do you have a set of systems and processes that allow your company to be better than your competitors and to create scalable and repeatable sales? Or, are you leaving your success to chance?
The most successful B2B sales people all focus on 3 key areas:
Incorporating these 3 disciplines into your daily, weekly and monthly activity will immediately separate you from the 50% plus of sales people who reportedly do not hit their targets. We see it time and again at our Sales Academy Programme that once sales people start focusing on these 3 key areas they start to unlock their real potential.
Have you ever worked out how much it costs to run a sales meeting? Not just the direct cost of having all your team in the room together, which by itself is expensive, but what about the opportunity cost of missing out on improved sales performance or having a detrimental impact on sales culture?
Many sales meetings are not only costing companies a fortune but may also be causing a negative return. Meaning that many sales meetings are not only delivering little in value but more importantly they could be causing a negative impact on sales culture and sales performance.
When our friends from Sales ITV surveyed 1500 sales leaders and sales people they found that 69% of sales leaders used their sales meetings as a primary motivational strategy for the sales team but 57% of sales people stated that they found their sales meetings de-motivational! Wow that is a significant disconnect.
As the new year begins, we’ve reflected on 2018 and would like to share five key insights on what we’ve seen in the world of sales. Through working with hundreds of sales leaders, sales people and companies in 2018, we get a unique view as to what’s working and what’s not.
What is the purpose of a sales person?
A good question to ask yourself or your team is what is the purpose of a sales person? If you’re only thinking about your company then you might say the purpose is to drive revenue to the business. I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that this isn’t part of the answer, but if this is the only answer then my suggestion is your positive revenue outcomes may be short term.
I’m half way through an interesting book by Daniel Pink – DRIVE! It’s very interesting and worth a read.
Daniel says the model of incentivizing people with money is outmoded and “rooted more in folklore than in science”.
My initial reaction to this (and I stress this is solely my personal opinion, it’s not based upon research) is “that’s just not right”. It just doesn’t align with what I’ve observed over many years in, and running sales teams. Money talks. (IMHO) – especially for the good reps.
Is my reaction biased because I’m a very coin operated person? Maybe yes. Maybe I’m an outlier to his research.
But then I realized that Daniel’s research wasn’t for salespeople, it was for the population as a “whole” (my speech marks).
Ok, so that may make more sense – I think sales people are different to the general population. That’s what often makes them sales people.
And maybe I should qualify this position even more –maybe my position is even better suited to hunters – the Bus Dev people! The “outside” team. And not so much (still is , just not so much) to “farmers”.
So, what am I saying?
Indicator has gained some valuable sales industry insights over the past three years, having worked with over 250 sales leaders, collectively responsible for over $8 billion in revenue.
To support our anecdotal findings, we surveyed 138 sales leaders during the 2017/2018 year to compile trends for the latest Mood of the Sales Leader survey.
Now, at the mid point of 2018, here are our five main reflections:
Who is it for?
Sales Training course for up to intermediate B2B sales people.
To increase the capability of B2B sales people enabling them to increase skills, their focused activity and conversion rates. A gap of one month between each session will provide participants with the opportunity to trial new learnings and report back to the group.
Managers will be made aware of the content to be covered on each session so that they can support participants to implement new learnings.
So your sales team is not performing as well as you’d like them to. What can you do? If you’re like most sales managers, you will know that training is one of your biggest tools (beyond changing out people – but who says you’ll recruit better this time!) to drive better performance, which is so often the key to how to improve sales. But how do you make sales skills training effective?
One of the most fundamental components of a successful business is a high-performance sales team. By having qualified personnel selling your brand to clients, you can increase your bottom line and minimise cost-cutting measures.
But what is your current sales productivity like? Is your sales team performing at the rate that they should? Do you know where it should be right now? For many businesses, the idea of a productive sales team sounds nice, but implementing a comprehensive strategy is beyond their grasp.
Sales effectiveness drives the world around – economy, business, and relationships.
Business might be disrupted, markets may collapse, artificial intelligence may replace many jobs but a great sales person will always thrive. As a profession salespeople are brilliant at training and development with a long, proud history.
In this article, we explore the next frontier through the lens of biology. We ask the questions: can we get any better at sales? What has been achieved in sports and elite combat teams over the past 30 years is startling. Shouldn’t we be striving for the same things – Faster, Higher, Stronger? But not only in individual performance, as a team. Consider the power of modern teams such as the All Blacks, Team NZ and Navy Seals.
Sourcing and recruiting sales staff who are superstars is just half of the puzzle. If you don’t have a robust and effective onboarding process for your sales staff, you might never get them to perform to their full potential. Worse still, you might not retain them for the long term. We’re going to share five tips with you today that will see you ramp up your new sales staff, and get them performing to the best of their ability, faster and more effectively.
We all know the different sales skills and attributes of hunters and farmers.
Hunters are your sales people who love the thrill of the chase, they have to get up every morning and decide where, who and which technique to use for the hunt. Farmers on the other hand are your account managers who love building fruitful (and profitable), long-term relationships. They know where their fields are – they just need to go and get the most from them.
How many times have you heard:
“We got the deal but had to give away a bit to close it”.
Actually, if it was just ‘a bit’, that’s probably okay – but when it’s more than a ‘bit’ it starts to affect the all-important business margins.
Just about every single time I have seen a company’s sales slump or slow down I can go back to the sales cycle duration, and see a corresponding slump in leads or prospects.
Who is it for?
Designed for sales people, sales managers and executives who need to operate in a highly productive state.
Presence, Flow and Eudaimonia
As a young doctor, I saw that the medicine applied to save lives, might have another purpose. Medical and biological sciences could be applied to improve and optimise life. The vision took me into Sports Medicine and then Resilience.
Easy - the sales manager’s job is to drive their team to make sales. It’s that simple, right? Wrong. It’s big and it’s complex.
Here are our 5 recommended reads on sales strategy and management, sales prospecting and more. If you have a suggestion to add to the list, we'd love to hear your recommendations too - please let us know or add your comments below.
How well is your team executing strategy and do they even get it?
The company away day workshop, done well, is one of the biggest value creators you can invest your executive team’s time in. How well are you leading and communicating your plan, what are your great wins, how well are your values providing a compass for guiding decision making, is there a positive culture and determination around your plans and budgets? These meetings are not talkfests – they’re discussions to get plan refinement, reinvention and most importantly - engagement.
How many times in a sales process do you hear this?
I was emailing a guy the other day promoting a sales course I’m running and his response on the first email was “What’s the price?” My response was; Lesson number one in sales - never talk price too early. In fact, never talk price until you (the seller) are ready.
Indicator and NZ Leaders recently joined forces with special guest presenter, LinkedIn guru Chris J Reed, to host an evening in Westhaven.
Many Sales people are recruited and managed by non-sales people. Not surprisingly mistakes are sometimes made in the recruitment process.
More often, a non-sales person thinks that “all salespeople are the same” and then fails to understand why the appointment hasn’t worked.
Hardie Fasteners was founded in 1997 by Joseph Hardie and supplies the marine, manufacturing, engineering and construction industry with quality fasteners.
Since the late 1990's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been the go-to response for business looking to get control of their sales effort, better manage their opportunities, and deliver growth.
This is an interesting question as the answer is everything and nothing. Everything - because we are all, always, trying to sell more, find new customers or channels ; Nothing - in that the CEO needs the confidence to rely on their sales team to generate revenue, drive quarterly growth and replace lost or churning customers, but overall, grow the business with profitable revenue.
However, most CEOs don't have a lot of sales knowledge - or ability. Sales in many organisations can be looked upon as the sleazy, pushy, used car salesman type role in the company (for more on this read Daniel Pink's book, To Sell is Human), and most CEOs don't come from this background.
Why is this? The answer is relatively sensible. Traditionally, people without tertiary education, but maybe with “the gift of the gab”, have tended to get into sales. People don’t necessarily need formal training or skills for a sales role, and while this has made the path easier, the lack of education can be a disadvantage for progress to a general management role - especially in a corporate or bigger company.
Anyway, back to the story.
Actually, the first question is, does your company have a sales model? From my experience it’s unlikely. Well, not a formalised one that’s followed by all the team.
MD of GrabOne and self described "hustler who gets stuff done", Ryan Watkins joined the Sales Syndicate social evening to candidly share his insights on Salesmanship, Sales Team Management and Innovation. Here's a brief synopsis of what we took out of his entertaining and engaging presentation.
With a livestock solutions business strongly leveraged to dairy, Tru-Test, has been challenged by the industry downturn as much as anyone. Shane Nolan, the company’s national Sales Manager for weighing, EID and fencing solutions, joined Sales Syndicate’s monthly support and development sessions about a year ago and says the benefits to date have been unquestionable.
Firstly, when over 50 Sales Managers were asked about it at our recent Indicator: Sales Syndicate meetings, everyone said there was a form of disruption going on in their businesses and industries. For most, it isn’t an Uber or AirBNB like disruption, but for some it’s close, for others its longer term – but it affects everyone.
That can’t be a real question can it? Doesn’t it apply to everything?
The days of hitting the phones trying to get sales meetings from cold prospects are not yet dead, but certainly, they seem to be dying. This will cause some sales people to breathe a little easier, as most hate the thought of cold calls, but others will be left wondering how to reach out to new sales prospects.
At Indicator's Sales Syndicate we were recently treated to a presentation from Bruce Rasmussen of Carpe Diem about disruptive selling, and why it is so important in today’s B2B sales world. The week before I was also lucky enough to hear Brent Adamson at Dreamforce. He was talking about what CEB (Corporate Executive Board) have found in recent research about two sales approach models – the responsive approach and the prescriptive approach. Both topics resonated strongly with me.
So the temptation is to get in front of a prospect, give them a pitch - any pitch - explain how it works and why they should buy it…and so on.
The success of any plan is all in the design but no matter how well your plan is designed it’s ineffective without appropriate, measurable performance goals and regular objective reviews.