Posts Tagged ‘ sales ’

You’re PERFECT! Now Change!

I’ve hired hundreds of employees over the years and a lot have been sales reps. I’ve always tried to find the right person for the right job. Don’t we all? However, once we’ve spent all that time and money finding and then hiring the right person, what do we do once they start? We ask them to change.

“ok, I know you were really successful selling your way, but spend the first 30 days learning our sales processes, methodologies and systems.” Sound familiar?

Why change high performing reps?

What made the last five high performing sales reps you hired great? Was it that they could follow a process really well? Take orders? Do what they are told to do? Or were they highly motivated, engaged reps who delivered results no matter what? They probably did things their own way and not the way everyone else did the job. You hire great salespeople because they can SELL. Not because they can do administrative tasks really well and keep their forecasts up-to-date.

So why do we always ask sales people to bend to the will of the process? If we are honest with ourselves, it’s because we want good forecasts. We want better visibility into activity, pipeline and manage a predictable revenue stream. That’s the dream, that’s why we buy expensive CRM systems. It’s not for the reps to be more productive, even though that’s what we tell ourselves and the team. Don’t get me wrong, CRM systems will increase productivity. CRM’s are vital for high volume, transactional, inside sale roles. But you don’t hire high-priced sales talent to fill those roles. Complex sales cycles demand that you hire performing sales reps that can navigate and manage a complex sales cycle. So, why would you try to change great sales reps and mess with the process that got them to that performance level in the first place?

Isn’t there a better way?

As someone having built and led many sales teams, I asked myself;

“how can I get the information I need, without changing the way reps work? How can we get technology out of their way?

“The best sales reps that I know have a laptop and a smart phone. They live in email, on prospecting calls and in client meetings. That’s exactly where I want them to spend their time. ”

To get the returns companies need on their sales rep investment, sales people must focus on what they do best – selling. Frustrating systems and time updating the CRM and massaging forecasts is valuable sales time – wasted.

Do your reps have to change the way they work to get you the information you need for a trustworthy forecast? What strategies, systems, or processes have you deployed to be able to forecast accurately, and how is it working out?

How is cloud content management different?

Differentiation is a pretty important topic. I spend a lot of time talking to people who never tell me why they are different from the rest of the world.
“What is the one thing you want prospects or investors to remember about your business?”
Try to remember that specs are not a replacement for differentiation. Good differentiation is active, intentional and well debated. Boil it down. Discover your unique value proposition. In other words, what exactly makes you so different that I will spend my hard-earned cash on you.
Oh, and make sure what makes you different is a good thing. Being the only garage that doesn’t insist their mechanics are certified is not a good differentiator.

Sales, marketing and cloud…audit your processes first!

I don't want an audit.

Hear no evil!

Every business owner loves being audited. (no they don’t) Financial audits are necessary for compliance reasons and help protect your business from undue risk. Some would say they are a necessary evil, but my wife spent her early career as an auditor for Earnst & Young and I don’t associate her with evil. (Happy wife, happy life is my motto!)
So, when was the last time you audited your business practices? Not your books, your business.
  • Why do you do things the way you do them?
  • Are you selling to the right audience?
  • Are your sales and marketing efforts working?
  • Are you spending too much for too little return?
  • Do you have the right mix of talent to meet your goals?
  • Why do your customers buy from you? Why won’t they buy more?
  • Are the things you are doing working?

Are you are satisfied with your results and see a history and a future of steadily increasing profits? Then you are golden. Don’t change a thing. If not, you need an audit. Here are a few more audit questions to ask yourself:

  • who are your partners? why are they your partners? What value do they add?
  • who specifically is your target market? why?
  • how much do you spend trying to get new business?
  • where do you spend the most of your money? why? what’s the ROI?
  • what activities, expenses or programs are helping to sell more? how are they doing it?
  • what activities, expenses or programs are pure overhead? can they be eliminated?
If you can’t answer these basic questions, you are running your business at less than potential profitability. There is a reason companies get audited by impartial third parties. Objectivity & purpose. Ask the tough questions and look for things you didn’t think about that can help your business. You can turn to your management consulting or accounting firm for some questions.
When it comes to asking tough sales, marketing and business development questions to help you sell more, who can you turn to?
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