February 2012 | Click links (>>) below to read articles
  • Sales Managers: 10 Tips to Optimize Your Sales Team Results by Jill Harrington >>
  • Achieving Sales Targets by Michael Nick >>
  • The Ten Steps to Effective and Healthy Delegation by Keith Rosen >>
  • Dealing With High-Maintenance Salespeople by Brian Jeffrey, CSP >>
  • Giving Same Rate of Pay Increase to All Employees by Bill Lee >>


Sales Managers: 10 Tips to Optimize Your Sales Team Results
by Jill Harrington

Sales management is not a power position. It’s a service position. If serving your people interests you, it will be a highly rewarding position. If it doesn’t interest you, it won’t. Simple as that.

1. Focus on your people, and the numbers will follow

Remember – you are accountable, not responsible, for sales results. Your team is responsible for producing the numbers. You are responsible for “enabling” your team by providing the environment, resources and skills for them to succeed, and eliminating the barriers that will impede this success.

2. Know when to advise and when to coach

Ever wonder why some reps don’t follow your sage advice? It’s because they aren’t you. What you would do in a specific situation won’t necessarily work for them. Coach your people from the insideout, i.e. take time to understand the individuals within your team. Have the right questions rather than the right answers and help them identify strategies and solutions that work for them.

3. Observe > Learn > Develop

At the very least, 20% of your time should be spent in the field / on the phone observing and supporting your reps. Take time after each observation to get input from your rep, acknowledge their strengths, and provide developmental (not judgmental) feedback on behaviors observed.

4. Leverage peer successes

Create a forum or system for reps to share successes and best practices. Have them share positive results along with the specific actions they took to achieve the outcome. Sales managers who leverage the strengths of their team accelerate sales results and free up valuable leadership time.

5. Assure alignment

Is your sales approach aligned with how your market buys? Or is your team using outdated sales methodology that simply extends the length of the sales cycle and, worse still, has them working on undesirable opportunities. Make sure your sales process and your reps’ actions are in sync with how your prospects buy today and tomorrow.

6. Set expectations and hold to these standards

Clearly communicate the company’s, and your, expectations of your reps. Solicit input on your rep’s
expectations of you as their manager. Gain mutual agreement and commitment. And hold your team and yourself accountable to these standards.

7. Learn and build from every win and loss

Create a team that systematically asks for customer feedback when they lose and when they win business opportunities. Teach them to do a thorough discovery to obtain all reasons – not just the first offered. Use this business intelligence to tighten your value proposition, proposals and marketing messages.

8. Optimize the value of your sales meetings

Eliminate mind-numbing agendas that can be dealt with via e-mail. Leverage this community time to focus on account strategy development, collaborate on (or role play) difficult customer cases, reinforce new skills, and share best practices.

9. Leverage your non-sales resources

Develop a powerful sales culture by providing consultative sales skills to all of your non-sales employees who interface with customers and have the potential to enhance profits or uncover new revenue opportunities. And reward them for this activity.

10. Hire the right people for the job

The world has changed dramatically. Past experience is no longer a precursor for future sales success. Accurately define the role you wish to fill. Outline the required skills, knowledge and attitudinal attributes. Then ruthlessly test for these in your hiring process. Put the right person in the right job.

About Jill:

Jill Harrington masterfully shifts the thinking and actions of sales pros and business owners so they achieve bigger sales results, faster, in highly competitive markets. A respected sales expert, speaker, and trainer, she instills the skills and confidence required to get the attention, time and long-term business of today’s busy buyer.

Visit her website at: http://www.salesshift.ca/

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Achieving Sales Targets
by Michael Nick

Achieving your sales targets is a primary goal of all sales organizations as well as sales professionals. Today I want to discuss a way to audit how well you provide guidance and direction to your salesforce through sales targets and sales compensation programs.

- Have you set sales quotas for your sales force?
It should go without saying but each sales professional needs to have goals. It is in their DNA to work against a goal. The delicate balance however is the key to success here. That balance being high enough to challenge without discouraging the sales person.

- Have you set different targets for different levels of sales professionals?
Often overlooked is the need to adjust quotas based on factors beyond your control. For example, if you sell a product in San Francisco and your colleague works in Enid Oklahoma, clearly the sales quota should be higher in the larger territory. Unless the product you are selling is specific to the oil rigs. The point is simple, look at the territories and determine the areas that have the best opportunity to succeed. In fact it is not unusual to set quotas by geography. For example, this territory should produce x revenue and a different geography should produce a certain revenue stream. Then assign people to the geography and they adopt the quota that is attached. This is fair and it words quite well if you do your homework upfront.

- Are the quota’s you have set attainable?
All too often companies assign crazy quotas based on the corporations need to achieve a revenue goal. I have seen companies simply say, “We should do $20 million” and then split that number up between the sales force. Think this through. You need to assign a logical quota based on research and fact.

- How did you determine the sales targets?

I touched on this earlier. There are many ways to determine quotas. Geography, historical achievement, market research, competitors actual sales, etc. You need to select a method or methods and stick to it. Be logical, practical and assign targets that can be achieved.

- Have you projected how these targets are going to be met? In other words, what percent of your revenue is going to come when throughout the year?
A great exercise to go through is to look at five years of history as to when you created your revenue flow. Average the totals over 12 months and you are able to typically forecast when the revenue should flow into the organization. Many companies do the majority of their revenue in the first and last quarter. Others most of the revenue at the end of the year. This is a stat every sales manager needs to know so you can manage to it.

- How often do you measure quota attainment?
Please, Please don’t tell me you only measure once a year. Quotas should actually be set on an annual, and at a minimum quarterly basis. Depending upon what you sell, it is critical to monitor each and every sales professionals journey to quota attainment. I always liked to meet with my team quarterly and discuss what they are doing to reach their numbers. This practice will save you a lot of headaches at the year end.

- Do you offer incentives once quota is attained?
Every compensation programs for sales professionals needs to have bonus bumps when they achieve quota. We have seen extra percentage points added for all revenue above quota, we have seen bonus percentage points paid backward on the revenue already generated, we have seen cash bonuses and even goods like cars and Rolex’s. It really doesn’t matter, you need a carrot out there for the best of the best.

- Have you determined a sales professionals total compensation based on quota attainment, and relayed that figure to them?
Compensation and target setting 101. Do it for you and do it for them. I would bet your CFO already did it.

- Have you laid out a clear path to achieving their quota?
It amazes me that you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on sales professionals and you don’t put the tools in their hands to succeed. Just because you hired a hot shot, you still need to provide a path to success for them. Give them the tools, (ROI, Discovery Questionnaires, Research tools, Proposals, Business Case, etc.) and then a clear path to success. Train them on your process, tools and products. If you fail in any of these areas, it will negatively affect the opportunity to achieve their quota.

- Have you determined the consequences for not achieving quota?
One of my favorite stories of Siebel is when Tom Siebel every quarter fired the bottom 5% of the sales team and turned their leads over to the top achievers. Have a plan and let everyone know what the consequences are if they fail to achieve their quotas. After a while they just quit, knowing their fate.

Setting sales targets is a delicate exercise in science, logic, and personality. You need to take your time when determining sales goals and their impact on the compensation program.

About The Author:

Michael Nick is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in the world on the subject of value estimation selling. Michael’s first book, ROI Selling (Dearborn Publishing ©2004) was a business best seller. In 2010, Simon & Schuster picked up the reprint rights giving ROI Selling another five years of availability in the market.

Over the past 13 years Michael has worked with Companies like, HP, Autodesk, Fiserv, Ingersol Rand, Trane, NEC, Checkfree, Bomgar, Rockwell Automation, Oracle, Great Plains,and more.

Visit him at: http://www.roi4sales.com

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The Ten Steps to Effective and Healthy Delegation
by Keith Rosen

Managers are often left feeling frustrated when their staff doesn't perform a task the way they expected. This can be eliminated by sharpening your communication and filling in the gaps that are often left open for interpretation. Here are some guidelines.

Step 1. Know what the task is.

Step 2. Have the end result/desired outcome you want to produce in mind.

Step 3. Find the person you need to delegate to and give them the task.

Step 4. Share with them the results you desire.

Step 5. Ask and inform them why it's important. Making someone feel needed, included and part of the team helps them do a better job, rather than simply telling them what to do.

Step 6. What is the advantage for them to take care of this task? Acknowledge not only their role but how performing this will benefit them.

Step 7. Ask them how it's going to get done. Ask questions such as, "What do you feel is the best way to handle/complete this?" "How have you handled something like this in the past?" The answers to these questions will determine if they are comfortable performing this task and whether or not they have the right tools/information/strategy needed to complete it. (Caution: while doing this, be careful not to sound condescending. I.e.: "So repeat back what I just told you.")

Step 8. Determine the exact time frame that you want the task finished by. "When do you feel you can complete this?" This creates ownership in the person's mind to get it done, since they are creating the time line themselves. (If the time they choose isn't appropriate, ask what would have to happen for the task to be completed sooner.)

Step 9. Reconfirm: That can sound like, "Okay great, then you will be able to have ______done by........ ?" Or "So, I can expect the paperwork on my desk by tomorrow at….?"

Step 10. Most importantly, make sure you follow up at the anticipated time the task was to be completed to ensure it was done. Otherwise, you run the risk of training the person not to be accountable by sending the message that it's okay for tasks not to be completed.

Keith Rosen – Executive Sales Coach, Author and Global Authority on Sales and Leadership

Keith Rosen is fanatical about increasing your sales, improving your business and helping you achieve what matters most. That's why more top global sales organizations today chose Keith’s sales training and management coach training solutions to drive more sales. Keith addresses the specific challenges and objectives unique to your company, then moves beyond traditional training by coaching your salespeople and managers around best practices and best thinking which develops true champions. A globally recognized authority on sales and leadership, Keith is the CEO of Profit Builders, named the Best Sales Training and Coaching Company Worldwide. Keith has written several best sellers on time management, selling, prospecting and leadership coaching, including the widely acclaimed Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, winner of Five International Best Book Awards. He was also inducted in the inaugural group of the Top Sales Hall of Fame in recognition for his outstanding contributions to professional selling and sales leadership. Often featured in the media, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most influential executive coaches.

For more information on sales coaching, executive coaching, his award winning sales training or management coach training programs or to subscribe to his newsletter, The Winners Path, visit  http://www.profitbuilders.com/winnerspath.htm, email us at info(at)profitbuilders.com or call 516-771-1444 . Find more sales and management coach training videos and podcasts on www.ProfitBuilders.com.

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Dealing With High-Maintenance Salespeople
by Brian Jeffrey, CSP

Having a high-maintenance salesperson around is like owning an older car that requires constant tinkering to keep operating. Unfortunately you can't give a high-maintenance salesperson an oil change or replace a few parts, although I've often felt that a dynamite enema might just do the job!

In case you're wondering what a high-maintenance salesperson is, it's one of those people who seem to require almost constant attention to keep operating properly. Sometimes it's not a matter of the person needing attention, it's more a matter of the person wanting attention.

Wants to Talk
Highly social salespeople fall into this latter category. These are usually bright, cheery individuals who like people and like talking to people. Sometimes, when they don't have anything of real substance to talk about, they'll chat about anything or simply make up problems and situations that require the advice of someone else, usually you.

These people will often go into long, drawn-out explanations of situations and then seemingly ask for advice. I say seemingly because if you look into their eyes, they're not listening to you. They're waiting for their next opportunity to talk. In other words, they're not looking for a solution to their real or imagined problem; they just want to talk about it.

Unfortunately, these types of salespeople take the same approach with their customers. They prefer to talk than listen and miss key information and buying signals. This can result in lost sales, the wrong thing being sold, product returns, disgruntled customers, and a small multitude of other sales management aggravations.

Many of us end up with salespeople like this because we hired them. They seemed charming and outgoing during the hiring interview and you felt they would really get along with people, both inside and outside the company. And you're right, they do. In fact, that's often all they do! They don't sell; they just make friends.

Then the question becomes, What do I do now? The salesperson's job is to sell, which is a measurable activity. Being measurable means you can set measurements (sales and activity quotas) that need to be met or exceeded if the person is to maintain his or her eligibility for employment.

Needs Help
What about the second type of high-maintenance salesperson — the one who needs rather than wants attention? These people are usually suffering from one of three ailments: lack of experience, lack of skills, or lack of confidence.

Sales managers occasionally end up with this type of salesperson because they were sloppy in their hiring process or they were desperate for a warm body and this person came along at the right time for the salesperson and the wrong time for the sales manager. The salesperson got the job and the sales manager got the problem.

If the constant need for attention comes from lack of experience, shame on you. Why did you hire someone without relevant experience? I know, I know, selling looks easy and anyone should be able to do it. Well, selling isn't easy and not everyone is suited for the job. It's better to hire someone who has been out there banging his head against the selling wall and who brings some selling street smarts to the job.

If lack of skill is the problem, train 'em! I figure that over 80 percent of salespeople have had no formal sales training. That doesn't mean they can't sell, it just means they're doing it instinctively and that may or may not work. When it does, they're successful. When it doesn't, they are ripe to receive some formal sales training.

If the person has the experience and the skill but he's still camped on your doorstep asking questions and seeking direction four times a day, he probably has a self-confidence problem. He's unsure of himself and afraid to make mistakes.

Give people permission to make mistakes. That's how they grow, learn, and gain experience. Now if they keep making the same mistakes over and over again, you have yet another problem.

If you have a salesperson with a self-confidence problem, I recommend The Dale Carnegie Course, the Christopher Course or perhaps Toastmasters. Any one of these programs will boost a person's self-esteem, self-worth, and self-confidence. They're a great investment in personal growth for any individual.

The End is in Sight
When you find your job as sales manager and coach turning into one of simply a shoulder to cry upon, it's time to change the rules. Help your people help themselves. This may mean giving someone a new career opportunity in another company or simply giving them the tools and the freedom to go to the next level of personal growth.

About The Author:

Brian Jeffrey has over 40 years experience in sales, sales management, sales training, and business consulting. He is the co-founder and past president of SalesForce Training & Consulting Inc, as well as Salesforce Assessments Ltd. Having sold both those companies, his focus is now on sharing his over 40 years of sales and sales management experience with companies and individuals who want help managing their sales.

In addition to running his own sales management consulting businesses, Brian is the author of 18 ebooks and over 100 articles on sales and sales management. He is also the author of the “5-Minute Sales Trainer” and “The SalesWizard’s Secrets of Sales Management” (now out of print).

Visit his website at: http://www.quintarra.com/

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Giving Same Rate of Pay Increase to All Employees
By Bill Lee

Believe it or not, one of the worst messages a manager can send to the company's employees sometimes comes in the form of their annual pay raise. When all employees receive an identical pay increase -- whether it's the same dollar amount or the same percentage increase -- management is sending the message that every employee in the company has performed equally well or equally poorly.

Rule #1: All pay raises should be tied to merit. And the best way to determine what an employee's merit raise should be is to make it perfectly clear on what measurable criteria each employee's raise will be based. In other words, what must this employee accomplish in measurable terms to earn a larger-than-average raise in pay?

In my consulting practice, I typically ask the employees I interview this question: what is a typical pay raise that you might expect? In recent years, the typical answer is in the neighborhood of 2% to 3%.

My next question is: what would you have to do to earn double the typical raise that over the years you've come to expect? The typical answer is, "I have no idea." Or, "I don't have a clue." Or, "You tell me, I'd like to know."

This kind of answer is a serious indictment of the professionalism of the company's management team. And on top of that, such a company is missing out on one of its best opportunities to improve organizational productivity, one employee at a time.

I realize that I repeat this statement quite often, but employees must understand that their raise will not become effective until they do. This means that the amount of each merit increase should be tied to something measurable that both the employee and his or her manager have agreed upon. It is only via this methodology that money motivated employees can be in control of their economic destiny.

This is one reason that as a salesperson I have always enjoyed being employed in positions that paid me a commission tied to sales and gross margin.

Or as a manager, my bonus might be tied to how much money I could put on the bottom line compared to plan. When this has been the case, I never felt that I had been mistreated by management; I knew what I had to do to improve my level of compensation. The sky was the limit. But in reality, my talent and my willingness to work on improving my level of productivity were the only limitations I had to deal with.

So if you wish to make pay raises a motivator, make sure your people understand specifically what they have to do to earn a BIG one.

About The Author:
Bill Lee is president of Lee Resources, Inc., a consulting and training firm that works with owners and general managers who want to earn optimal bottom line profits and with salespeople who want to increase their sales and improve their gross margin.

Bill’s national clients include: Ace Hardware, Amarok, American Wholesale, Andersen Window Corporation, BMA, BMC-West, BSC Corp., Budget Car Rental, Blue Tarp Financial, Building Suppliers Corp., CALPLY, ENAP, Stock Lumber, Datastream Corporation, Diamond Hill Plywood, Do-It Best Corporation, Drake Group, Home Depot, Equipment Resources, Lanoga Corp., LMC, Lowe’s Companies, Lumberman’s Merchandising Corporation, National Gypsum Company, National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, Nextel, Owens Corning Fiberglas, True Value Hardware, and Zep Manufacturing.

Bill can be reached at 800-277-7888 or at blee3paris@aol.com.
Website: http://www.BillLeeOnline.com

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