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August 2011

In the Battle for Sales, Salespeople Should Walk Softly

I once discussed the similarities between the art of sales and warfare in an interview (see video below) with Steve W. Martin, author of Heavy Hitter Selling. In his book, Steve explored the lessons salespeople can learn from great military strategists. For example: If salespeople stride into the prospect's territory and spew bullets of information in all directions, they'll do a lot of damage to themselves -- but the competition will walk away unscathed.

While the head-on assault is a time-honored tradition of military strategy, this approach is almost guaranteed to be an ill-conceived plan of attack in sales. This conclusion seems like a no-brainer, but there are a few reasons salespeople fall into full frontal-attack mode over and over:

  1. They get fired up right before a presentation or a client meeting. When your adrenaline is pumping, it's difficult to slow down and listen. 
  2. They've prepared for weeks, months, even years for this moment. All their instincts are telling them to give this moment all they've got. 
  3. They've got an entire arsenal at their disposal. Many salespeople tend to err on the side of exerting more force then necessary, simply becuase it's there. 
  4. They're ready to crush the competition. Salespeople stay motivated in part by making a deep psychological investment in rivalries. 

If handled correctly, these characteristics can help a salesperson succeed. In many cases, however, these all become ways that a client's voice and needs end up getting lost in the sales process. Salespeople who learn how to walk softly on the battlefield of sales will start seeing more wins instead of casualties. 

 

Special note: I'm looking forward to joining forces with Steve W. Martin again on September 7 during our live Webinar, during which we'll discuss the mechanics of implementing a successful, virtual sales kickoff meeting. Register today and bring your thoughts and questions to the table. 

 


How to Write a Sales Territory Plan

Ron-snyder Today's post was written by Ron Snyder, president of Plan2Win Software. Plan2Win Software provides territory and strategic account planning apps that run in SalesForce.com. Ron has helped companies improve results in competitive, high-value, complex selling environments. 


What are the critical steps in writing a successful Sales Territory Plan?

You may be wondering, "Where do I start?" The key is asking the right questions to harness the insights you need to create a winning plan. Use this checklist as a guide.

1.    Analyze Your Territory/Business

Start with what is going on in your territory/vertical market.

        What are the key trends in your geography/market?
        Who are your top prospects and customers?
        What are customers buying?
        Based on your conversion rates, how much business do you need in your funnel?
        What is the gap between what you need in your funnel and what you have now?

2.    Understand What Drives Customers to Buy

 You must understand why they are buying or not buying your products.

What are the characteristics of your high-payoff customers/prospects?
Are there verticals that you are winning in more than others? Why?
What "pain" or business issues do you solve?
What compelling events drive the purchase?
Are there specific products/services that you are selling more than others? Why?
Why do they not buy your products/services?

3.    Clarify Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)

Conduct a SWOT analysis that examines the following:

What Strengths will you build upon (for example, a unique business model or capabilities)?
Which Weaknesses do you need to respond to? This includes the strengths of competitive and alternative solutions.
Which Opportunities in your marketplace will you take advantage of? How do you uniquely meet your buyers' compelling needs?
What Threats in your selling environment will you defend against? Consider competitive moves, changes in technology, industry and regulatory standards.
What is your unique selling (value) proposition

4.    Determine Your Objectives

Consolidate the above trends into a few powerful objectives. Write specific, measurable goals (i.e. "I will add 5 new accounts in this vertical market").

Which vertical markets or geographies will you focus on?
Based on the characteristics of your high-payoff customers/prospects, which accounts/opportunities will you concentrate on?
What products/services/capabilities do you need to highlight in your plan?
At your average selling price, how many opportunities do you need to add to your funnel?

5.    Develop Strategies to Accomplish Your Goals

Generate the top strategies to succeed.

How will you further penetrate current accounts?
What is your strategy to leverage current successes?
What will you do to generate new leads?
How will you improve your conversion rates?
Where do you need to improve your selling process?

6.    Engage the Resources You Need

Enroll the people and gather the knowledge you need.

Which internal resources have the skills/connections you need?
Who inside the account can help you win?
Are there external resources who can support you (partners, people "in the know")?
What additional product/industry information do you need? What sources can provide it?
How could you improve your selling and territory/account management skills?

7.    Create an Action Plan

List the key tactics.

What are the high-leverage actions?
Which resources are needed for each task?
What are the due dates and key milestones?

8.    Work Your Plan

Use your plan as a guide to proactively produce your intended results.

Do you take action and fine-tune the plan on a regular basis?
Are you engaging your management, internal and partner teams?

"It's not the will to win that matters...everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."

–Paul "Bear" Bryant

Creating and implementing a well-thought-out plan greatly improves your probability of success!

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Get The Big 'Sales Mo'

15021_1282462664779_1326475351_30738870_6663584_n Today's post was written by Sam Caucci, founder of the Sales Huddle, a sports sales education company. Sam focuses on improving the way that professionals sell in the sports industry. He also guest lectures and consults in the areas of sports sales and marketing at several universities and organizations across the globe. 

According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, a televised baseball game results in: 10.9% action, 7.5% replay and 68.6% standing around! Sounds like a typical day for most sales people. How much time do you spend just sitting around?

Action is key if you want to be better than most in sales. The fact is it doesn't take a genius to tell you that the more face-time you have, the more sales you have the opportunity to make. The reality is that most strive for minimum output and maximum return. Not a great model!

A sales day is all about building MO-mentum. On the sports field, momentum is something that is constantly pursued. It is pursued to the point that once a team has it on their side, they are more likely to take calculated risks that often turn into big results. As a sales professional, you are constantly trying to build momentum as you move your customer toward your final close. Are you focused on getting momentum on your side every day?

Here are 5 actions you can take daily to get the big 'Sales MO' on your side, and keep it:

1. Write your lineup. Your first ten minutes at work is a closed door one-on-one with yourself. Selling is a results-focused game. Set the top five things you will accomplish today and then prepare to make sure your schedule is aligned with achieving those goals.

2. Control your game. Your time is valuable! Set your schedule daily. And I don't mean just confirm your appointments or meetings. You need to plan your breaks (change your environment every 90 minutes), schedule when you make your outbound calls, book thinking time and leave no room on your calendar to chance. Fumbles kill a team's drive down the field, and they also destroy momentum.

3. Turn Two. Maximizing the opportunities you have is a key to ensuring that you keep momentum on your side. You will have face time with potential or current clients at some point. Are you asking for referrals? Are you promoting the latest promotions? Are you maximizing every interaction? Every 'YES' starts with a question. Are you asking?

4. Be 'Next Play' Minded. Some sales will not close. You know that. You also know salespeople that spend the rest of their day complaining about the customer that said "no". Momentum is not a friend to negative people. If you miss, move on. Embrace the reality that every miss will positively prepare you for your next play.

5. Always Celebrate. When you make a sale it is a big thing. You scored! Now you don't have to be emotional and drench yourself in a Gatorade bath, but you do have to recognize your win. Be the sales professional that is willing to celebrate his/her own accomplishments, and also remember to celebrate the successes of the rest of the team. 

True sales professionals are masters of getting and keeping momentum on their side. The reality of taking on any new improvement is that it really is the start that stops most people. Are you ready to take the next step? Momentum is all about taking action, putting your blinders on and being relentless until a sale happens.

If selling is about energy than closing is about building that energy up into a tidal wave of momentum. It takes work. It takes discipline. And it makes sales!

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Facebook – Your Social-Selling Platform

Kevin-crop-black-shirt-150x150 51jpM0vSzaL._SL110_Today' s post is by guest blogger Kevin Knebl, speaker, trainer, advisor to Fortune 500 companies, and coauthor of The Social Media Sales Revolution.

 

 

Facebook is The Beatles of the 21st century. It's everywhere, it's getting bigger, and it's not going away. Sharp salespeople realize this and capitalize on it.

As a salesperson, you know, as Bob Burg so famously says, "All things being equal, people do business with and refer business to people they know, like, and trust." Facebook enables us to create "know/like/trust" relationships with prospects, clients, and referral sources in ways that even a few years ago would have amazed us.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you're using Facebook in your sales efforts:

  • Your Wall is the place to build a sense of community with your fans and where you should be interacting with them in a "non-salesy" manner.
  • Use Facebook Ads to reach a very targeted demographic of potential buyers.
  • You can create ads that only target your existing fans, and the number one reason people become fans is to take advantage of promotional offers.

Many salespeople in my audiences are asking when and how frequently they should be posting. They're already very busy and don't want the additional burden of having to become a 24/7/365 social-media maven. The good news is that, just like in real life, no one wants to be inundated with a barrage of information. Post once a day or once every other day. That's enough.

Remember that most people are checking Facebook after work, so schedule your posts for the early evening and weekends. People will be more relaxed at those times and more receptive to your messages.

As you're thinking of the type of content to post, keep in mind topics that are popular, in the news, and at first may appear to have no relation to your business. When you figure out a way to mention these topics in your posts, it drives more engagement from your fans. 

Think of your Facebook posts as kind of like your sales funnel. It's wide at the top, and you should be posting things that a large number of people may find interest in. Folks "like" your page, and over time you're looking to move them through the pipeline by posting a mix of broad messages and also specific, targeted information that your ideal clients will find valuable. In this manner, you're constantly bringing new people into your community and also adding more value to existing fans.

Above all, have fun. Seriously. No one has the Rosetta Stone on social media. The irony is that social media isn't about technology; it's about sociology. Salespeople who realize that adults are just kids with long, hairy legs who just want to be happy can deliver value to their prospects and referral sources.

Facebook is allowing us to connect and interconnect in wonderful ways. What goes around comes around. At the speed of light. Literally. Seek to be a value generator in everything you do, and in a more-and-more-interconnected, overcaffeinated, hypercompetitive, Mach-5-with-your-receding-hairline-on-fire world, that pay-it-forward spirit will serve you well.

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Mobile Apps for Sales

Lauren Today's post was written by Lauren Carlson, a writer and market analyst out of Austin, Texas. She focuses on enterprise technology in the area of customer relationship management. She has been mentioned on Forbes.com and other notable Websites. You can see her articles regularly on the Software Advice blog.

 

In an increasingly mobile business world, professionals operate day-to-day on their mobile devices. Because of this, vendors have worked to develop the best apps that can bring all the necessary business functionality to an individual on the go. One profession that stands to benefit most from these apps is sales. Software Advice decided to see what is available on mobile devices to match the needs of a mobile sales force, and we were honestly amazed at the great tools we found. We highlight some of our favorites below.

Networking
Hashable_Image Hashable Mobile: With everything else going digital, why shouldn't business cards? Hashable has developed a neat app that basically allows you to track everyone you meet. If you can gather an email address or Twitter handle, the app will do the rest. It logs the individual, along with where you met him or her. It allows you to make contact notes, set reminders to follow up, and track phone calls and meetings. Everything can sync back to your calendar and/or email to help keep you organized. Hashable Mobile is free and available for iPhone and Android.

Presentations
Sooner-image Soonr: Soonr brings file collaboration to your mobile device. Not only can you create and edit PowerPoint presentations, but Soonr allows you to access and share more than 40 different types of files, from spreadsheets to MP3s. Because Soonr operates in the cloud, any changes made from your mobile device are automatically saved and synced back to your desktop. Another cool feature is the SMS notification. Whenever a file is updated or edited, anyone who has access to that file will receive a text. This way, you always know what is going on with your files, even if you are thousands of miles from the office. Soonr is $9.95/user/month and is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Android tablets.

Travel
Ftpro_image FlightTrack Pro: One of the biggest pain points in a traveling profession is, you guessed it, traveling! FlightTrack Pro was developed by Mobiata to ease some of that pain. This is probably one of my favorite apps. It allows you to sync your travel itinerary and then sends you push notifications about any itinerary changes – delayed flights, change of gates, etc. It also has a really neat map feature that allows you to track your flight on a visually stunning graphic map. FlightTrack Pro is $9.99 in the App Store and is available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Hoovers-image Hoover's Near Here: This app from Hoover's provides lead generation on the go. Sales professionals can access location-based business and contact information about companies anywhere in the United States and Canada. This is extremely useful for those times when you head out on a sales call, only to have the prospect cancel at the last minute. Instead of counting that time as wasted, you can use the Near Here app to see if there are any other prospects in the vicinity. Turn that loss into a possible win. Hoover's Near Here is free and available on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

These are just a sampling of the apps. For more information on each one and to see more choices for each category, check out the original article here: http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/crm/apps-for-the-mobile-sales-force-1072811/.


Mobile Apps for Sales

In an increasingly mobile business world, professionals operate day-to-day on their mobile devices. Because of this, vendors have worked to develop the best apps that can bring all the necessary business functionality to an individual on the go. One profession that stands to benefit most from these apps is sales. Software Advice decided to see what is available on mobile devices to match the needs of a mobile sales force, and we were honestly amazed at the great tools we found. We highlight some of our favorites below.

Networking
Hashable Mobile: With everything else going digital, why shouldn't business cards? Hashable has developed a neat app that basically allows you to track everyone you meet. If you can gather an email address or Twitter handle, the app will do the rest. It logs the individual, along with where you met him or her. It allows you to make contact notes, set reminders to follow up, and track phone calls and meetings. Everything can sync back to your calendar and/or email to help keep you organized. Hashable Mobile is free and available for iPhone and Android.

Presentations
Soonr: Soonr brings file collaboration to your mobile device. Not only can you create and edit PowerPoint presentations, but Soonr allows you to access and share more than 40 different types of files, from spreadsheets to MP3s. Because Soonr operates in the cloud, any changes made from your mobile device are automatically saved and synced back to your desktop. Another cool feature is the SMS notification. Whenever a file is updated or edited, anyone who has access to that file will receive a text. This way, you always know what is going on with your files, even if you are thousands of miles from the office. Soonr is $9.95/user/month and is available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Android tablets.

Travel
FlightTrack Pro: One of the biggest pain points in a traveling profession is, you guessed it, traveling! FlightTrack Pro was developed by Mobiata to ease some of that pain. This is probably one of my favorite apps. It allows you to sync your travel itinerary and then sends you push notifications about any itinerary changes – delayed flights, change of gates, etc. It also has a really neat map feature that allows you to track your flight on a visually stunning graphic map. FlightTrack Pro is $9.99 in the App Store and is available for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Hoover's Near Here: This app from Hoover's provides lead generation on the go. Sales professionals can access location-based business and contact information about companies anywhere in the United States and Canada. This is extremely useful for those times when you head out on a sales call, only to have the prospect cancel at the last minute. Instead of counting that time as wasted, you can use the Near Here app to see if there are any other prospects in the vicinity. Turn that loss into a possible win. Hoover's Near Here is free and available on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

These are just a sampling of the apps. For more information on each one and to see more choices for each category, check out the original article here: http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/crm/apps-for-the-mobile-sales-force-1072811/.

Lauren Carlson is a writer and market analyst out of Austin, Texas. She focuses on enterprise technology in the area of customer relationship management. She has been mentioned on Forbes.com and other notable Websites. You can see her articles regularly on the Software Advice blog.

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