September 29th, 2016

Sales Prospecting Tips: How to Turn Suspects into Prospects

Sales Prospecting Tips

Years ago, I was talking with someone about useful sales prospecting tips, and he made a point to learn how to differentiate between suspects and prospects.

A suspect is anyone you’re not currently doing business with that you (A) believe has a need for what you offer, or (B) believe you should be doing business with. Hypothetically, every company in the industries you sell to is a suspect. A prospect, on the other hand, is someone who has been qualified to an initial degree. Further, there are small “p” prospects — those that meet your criteria but you haven’t yet talked with — and capital “P” Prospects, which are those that you’ve started the conversation with and are moving closer to an opportunity. Turning Suspects into Sales Prospects

Moving a suspect to the prospect category depends on your qualifying criteria. The approach I use has three “buckets” and questions that need to be answered within each one.

Industries:

Consider the industries that are most likely to buy from your organization. It could be that there are three or five target industries that are prime candidates, or you could have a broad industry portfolio. The next step is to ask yourself:

“What industry changes are going on that might be disruptive and create problems for organizations within these target industries?”

This disruptive force — whether it is technology, economy, globalization, etc. — might cause your suspects to revamp how they do » Continue Reading.

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September 27th, 2016

Content Innovation: New Modalities for New Learners

New Sales Training Content for New Learners Perferences

I often talk about today’s multi-generational sales organizations and the challenges presented by millennial learners. I ask clients:

“What will it take to engage your learners?”

From London to New York to San Francisco, the answers are surprisingly similar, and whether I’m talking with sales leaders or corporate learning leaders, there is broad consensus about what is required:

To engage today’s learners, training has to be flexible, personalized, bite-sized, relevant, provide meaningful data, and be accessible on demand across a wide range of platforms and devices.

As I discussed in the first post in this series, The Future of Sales Training: Innovation for a Salesforce in Transition, there are more millennials in the U.S. workforce than any other generation. They have a very different relationship with information and technology than previous generations, and they want relevant content delivered to them in ways they recognize and can access easily and quickly.

New Learners Expect Higher Levels of Quality

The answer to accelerating learning across generations is to meet learner’s expectations when it comes to the types and quality of content in training programs. Younger learners have higher expectations about the quality of video content, course materials, and the online learning experience – the same stale training materials won’t cut it for the new generation.

Meeting the expectations of these new learners doesn’t mean throwing away all past » Continue Reading.

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September 22nd, 2016

The Future of Sales Training: Innovation for a Salesforce in Transition

The Future of Sales Training

Whenever I speak at conferences or with clients their training needs, I ask this question:

“What will it take to engage your learners?”

From London to New York to San Francisco, the answers are surprisingly similar, and whether I’m talking with sales leaders or corporate learning leaders, there is broad consensus about what is required:

To engage today’s learners, training has to be flexible, personalized, bite-sized, relevant, provide meaningful data, and be accessible on demand across a wide range of platforms and devices.

Significant innovation is necessary in corporate training in order to meet these expectations and address the changing needs of today’s sales organizations.

Not only are learners changing, but the business environment has changed significantly as well. Over the 37 years that Richardson has been helping organizations improve sales performances, the pace of business has grown faster, ultra-informed buyers come to the table having already researched their desired solutions, and productivity demands on sales professionals are considerably greater. Time has never been a more precious commodity, and sales professionals must spend it wisely, maximizing interactions with customers and minimizing days away from the field sitting in training classrooms. This makes it more important than ever to deploy the latest technology to efficiently train sales people and drive rapid, sustained, and measurable behavior change.

A Salesforce in Transition

A driving force behind the need for change is an emerging multi-generational salesforce increasingly comprised of members of the » Continue Reading.

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September 19th, 2016

It’s Time to Execute Your Account Management Strategy

Account Management Strategy

If you win accounts only to lose them at contract renewal, you are not managing your accounts well, if at all. There are three components of an effective account management strategy:

The creation of a plan The tools to support the plan Execution

In my previous posts, I addressed the  creation of a sales account management plan and the account management tools to support it; now I’ll focus on execution.

Let’s say you have written account management plans for accounts that warrant them and you have the tools to make those plans happen. What’s left? As Nike would say, “Just do it.”

But going out and doing it is where many sales professionals fall short. They’re too busy doing other important things: chasing after new business, prospecting, doing internal reports, or going to meetings.

Executing and Account Management Strategy

I tell sales professionals, “You are the CEO of your own territory.” It is your responsibility to hold your own feet to the fire to make sure you’re doing the right things to maintain and grow your accounts.

It’s more than relationship building; although, that’s a large piece of it. Stepping back, you have to diligently work your plan month by month and year by year. You also have to look at the competition as part of your overall plan. You want to find out how often competitors visit » Continue Reading.

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September 16th, 2016

Are You Tapping the Right Tools to Support Account Management?

Sales Account Management Tools

Sales account management tools like relationship maps, CRM solutions, and social networking sites are a great way to support your account management strategy. Selecting and using the right tools is an important part of successfully implementing an account management plan in your organization.

The three major components of account management are:

The creation of a plan The tools to support the plan Execution

In my previous post, I addressed developing a sales account management plan; now I’ll focus on sales account management tools.

Sales Account Management Tools Relationship Maps

A major element of account management is focusing on relationships — building them, maintaining them, and growing them.

Are you contacting the right people?

Do you know all the stakeholders in the buying process?

How would you know?

This is where relationship maps become useful tools.

Much like an organizational chart, a relationship map provides a visual reference of the people within the customer organization and who reports to whom. The more detail you add, the more helpful the map. Some people color-code names on their maps, identifying decision makers, influencers, and gatekeepers. Others also identify allies, coaches, detractors, supporters of competitors, and even neutral stakeholders.

The value of a relationship map is that it shows you where you are potentially vulnerable in a customer’s organization. Consider this point of view: “My contacts are mostly at the director level, and maybe I get to see a vice president » Continue Reading.

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September 14th, 2016

Do You Have a Plan for Sales Account Management ?

Developing a sales account management plan

As the “quiet Beatle” George Harrison sang, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” But if you have a destination, you need to plan your route. The same is true with sales account management. To keep your book of business growing smoothly while you focus on all of your other sales activities, you need to invest the time to plan properly.

I think about account management often because the subject comes up with every group of sales professionals in every training class, no matter what company they’re from. It was a big part of my 20-year sales career, and it should be part of every seller’s world. The reason it doesn’t get a lot of attention is because most companies are focused on driving new revenue and bringing new customers through the door.

Know What Business You’re Losing

What account management does is work to make sure the new customers coming in the front door are not slipping away out the back door. It is both an art and a science, as sales professionals strive to keep their existing accounts and ideally, grow them, while also adding new accounts. What I ask sales professionals is this:

“Do you know what the retention rate is in your territory?”

Too many give me deer-in-the-headlights looks as they confess:

“No, my company doesn’t share that information with me.”

To this, I reply:

“You should always know what » Continue Reading.

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September 7th, 2016

Engaging Sales Leaders in The Process of Changing Behaviors

sales leaders

Back in the day, sales organizations would identify the need for training, schedule a learning event, conduct training, and then wonder why nothing changed. The trouble is many companies still do this. The problem then as now is lack of sustainment of learning. And the answer then as now is engaging the sales leader in the transformation process. Sales organizations continually fall short in this area. And if sales leaders are not engaged in the training and in changing behavior in the field, they can either sabotage the training or watch as the learning is quickly forgotten and old ways return.

Most often sales leaders were exemplary sellers who were promoted for their selling skills. If they’re not actively engaged in change—if they don’t see what their people are learning and understand the desired new behaviors and skills—they tend to default to how they did things way back when: “You know, this is not how I learned to do things. I’ve had a lot of success with the old way, and it got me where I am today, so we’re going back to the way that worked for me.”

When that happens, any attempt at transformation is thwarted. So what was the point of the training exercise?

Turning Sales Leaders into Sales Coaches

Sales leaders need to be a fundamental part of the process, and that involves teaching them how to become coaches. Sales coaching is » Continue Reading.

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