How One Simple Question Dramatically Transformed a Decision-Maker’s Opinion of a Sales Rep

trust-in-salesWorking across the country, Anthony had successfully implemented his company’s products and services in 12 of the 32 territories for a Fortune 1000 company. Somehow, though, he had a feeling that the next territory was going to be a challenge.

When he first arrived at the office, everyone seemed to be nervously awaiting Diane’s arrival – the Regional Vice President. When she arrived, it was easy to see why. After several years in her position, Diane had surrounded herself with sycophants—what used to be called “yes men”. Everyone—young and old, men and women—agreed wholeheartedly with anything she said – no questions asked.

That told Anthony that her management team was reactive, and that was going to be a problem. The new process emphasized proactivity. Unfortunately, everything about his interactions with the team led him to believe that they were anything but proactive. They were obviously riding a strong brand reputation to overcome serious gaps on their team.

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3 Self-Induced Reasons for Lost Sales

lost-salesOne of the most misunderstood phrases in our business is the ‘lost sale’. Sales managers criticize reps for ‘lost’ sales to hot prospects that the reps cannot understand, much less explain. What neither comprehends is that well over half the time, the sale was never yours to lose.

A lost sale means that you had a legitimate opportunity and you got outsold, outbid, or outmaneuvered. If you never had an actual shot because something kicked you out of the running before a proposal was ever written, that’s not a lost sale, even if you submitted a quote or a contract.

If you’re failing to close more deals than you’d like, there are three things you should look at first—and they have very little to do with the buyer.

1. Sales rep did not qualify. Just because someone was willing to meet with your sales rep doesn’t mean that they had a desire or an interest to buy. The sales rep must thoroughly qualify prospects, rather than engage in a “quote and hope” sales process. As a sales manager, you cannot promote this “quote anyone” mentality either. Sales reps waste valuable time managing prospects that will rarely buy. Therefore, the sale wasn’t, in fact, lost; your sales rep never had a shot in the first place. Throwing proposals against the wall because something’s bound to stick is not ‘selling’. It’s wishful thinking.
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How to Overcome 4 Roadblocks That Can Cause Your Sales to Crash and Burn

roadblockHow many of these obstacles does your sales team have to overcome?

Not long ago, I received a call from the new VP Sales of a midsized. She had 150 sales reps spread across the country. She needed to make some changes to improve sales performance. The previous administration left the sales team without the structure, support, or systems needed to remain competitive.

After we agreed to work together on this project, we sat down for our Discovery. From her feedback about the sales division and team she inherited, I narrowed down the project to overcoming four specific roadblocks. These were quite common, so I assured her that they were fixable with the proper attention, time, and willingness to change.

I presented each roadblock to the VP Sales in the form of a question:

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Successful Salespeople Avoid This Mistake At All Costs

cofident-salespersonWhatever products and services you sell, someone is competing with you. That’s true even when your company is first to market with a new product and able to charge a premium for it because your competition hasn’t caught up. Not yet. But they will.

Whatever you can create, someone else can too.

Bottom line: you will never create a long-term differential advantage in the marketplace when it comes to your product or service. Successful salespeople know this, so they don’t lead with their products or services. If they did, they know they would become a commodity – someone with no discernable difference from competing sales reps. Continue reading

In Sales, Leadership Always Comes First

dv1492001Every organization needs to know where it’s going. The job of the sales leader is to define and communicate the team’s high-level sales goals that serve the organization as a fixed point of reference—a destination. What value will you bring to the marketplace, how will you approach the marketplace, where you will fit into competitive landscape of your industry considering which direction the economy is headed? The sales leader must provide clear answers to these big picture questions.

Once that vision has been established, it remains a reference point unless some considerable change—in competition, market, technology, or something similar—renders an adjustment necessary. Leadership then redirects focus onto what needs to be done and goes to work aligning and creating a motivated sales team. If the change has negative implications for the organization—the entrant of a new, major competitor into the marketplace, for example—leadership may need to reframe that negative into a positive, focusing on the new challenge and opportunity and your team’s ability to do what needs to be done. Continue reading

Rent B2B Lists Or Build Your Own?

Rent B2B Lists or BuildI often receive questions from managers and executives regarding the idea of business to business lists for sales and whether this data should be built by these individuals or taken from an outside source.

The answer can depend on the type of list that a company is looking for, the business structure for the firm and whether this information needs to be gathered immediately or developed over time.

I would advise businesses to try to take an organic approach to building a database, as your own list will be comprised of the most relevant information that is out there. Continue reading

Experience Vs. Education – Where Is The Sweet Spot?

Experience V EducationThe hiring of effective salespeople can save a sales management team a significant amount of effort due to the amount of time that is spent on coaching their representatives.

A sales management team has to determine the type of role that their representatives will be entering, and identify how important education and experience are for the position.

According to Heather Kivett, president of Resolution Systems, Inc., while education and experience are important for establishing a foundation for beginning a career, finding the right personality is often more important for managers. Continue reading

Sales Coaching Do’s And Dont’s For A New Manager

Sales Coaching Dos and Don'tsA new sales manager has to be able to adapt to the position quickly, as the amount of time that they take to get used to the position can effect their overall performance.

A sales management team needs to have effective leadership throughout, and new managers have to be able to provide their employees with the same level of effective training that other leaders in the company give to their representatives.

According to Heather Kivett, president of Resolution Systems, Inc., managers need to step into the role with the mindset that they are a coach and not a parental figure. These individuals have to ask questions instead of give orders to be effective. Continue reading

Tips For Managing A Sales Team Remotely

Remote Management of Sales TeamIn the modern business world it is sometimes necessary for a company to operate in a remote manner, as operations may be in different cities or regions.

A sales management team has to ensure that they are able to remotely manage their representatives if the situation calls for it.

Technology

With the advances in technology and the availability of video and voice conferencing software, managers have to be able to adapt to certain situations and be able to help their representatives, even when they aren’t in the office, according to Heather Kivett, president of Resolution Systems, Inc. Continue reading

Lead Nurturing Best Practices

Nurturing LeadsThe idea of nurturing leads is one that is not lost on sales managers, as they understand the importance of using this period of correspondence to acquire new business or a potential client in the future.

A sales management team has to make sure that their representatives understand how to nurture leads in a way that minimizes the effort that is put in while at the same time keeps the customer interested.

Although there are many methods that are touted as the specific best way to generate more business by nurturing leads, there is no tried and true way that is agreed upon, according to Heather Kivett, president of Resolution Systems, Inc., a sales training and consulting firm. Continue reading