Viewing Posts for: Nancy Sells
Sales leaders are regularly advised to have an open-door policy. An open door lets their sales professionals know they can walk in at any time to ask for help, advice, or updates. There is a lot of value in showing your team you care enough to be available when they need you.
There also is value in knowing when to shut the door.
The 60-40 Rule for Sales Leaders
In my previous posts on sales leadership, Why is sales leadership so tough? And what to do about it and 5 Tips to Help Sales Leaders Develop Top Performers, I discussed how sales leaders need to devote 60% of their time to developing their people.
What about the other 40%? Whether you are a sales manager or senior vice president, you need to spend time reviewing and reflecting on the pipeline, sales numbers, and strategy. If you’re a senior sales leader and have a target of 15% organic growth over the next two years, you need to figure out how to make that happen.
Here’s the rub. You’re busy all the time. You have a lot of plates spinning in the air and nothing can drop.
So here’s the counter-intuitive solution for being the best sales leader you can be. Make time to be reflective about strategy, about performance, about what’s working and what isn’t. If you think shutting your » Continue Reading.
There’s no denying that sales leaders have a tough job. The span of responsibility encompasses selling, coaching, setting strategy, driving the business, and hitting sales targets through the efforts of others. As a sales leader, you have to be inspirational, energetic, and take an interest in your people.
Job #1 as a Sales Leader: Developing Your People
In my previous post, Why is sales leadership so tough? And what to do about it, I talked about devoting 60% of your time as a sales leader to developing your people. Now I want talk in more detail about what this entails.
Be the boss you wish you had Just about every person I talk to has a story about a bad boss. For me, it was a senior leader at a company I worked for years ago. He was the nicest person to you in public, but when alone with him, he became someone else entirely. He would chew you up and spit you out without hesitation. What I learned from him is that I never want to be that kind of boss. He was the anti-boss, and I decided to be the opposite. Manage up or manage out Your sales professionals need several things to improve their performance. They need training. They need ongoing coaching. They need to be measured. If a seller continues to fall short—if you know and they know they aren’t going to » Continue Reading.
Sales leadership must be one of the toughest jobs in business. Just plug the term into Google, and more than 30 million results come back in about a half-second. You’ll find articles from Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Salesforce.com, and many, many others. They relay advice about the most effective habits of sales leaders, the characteristics of true sales leaders, the difference between sales leadership and sales management, and leadership behaviors that drive sales force improvement.
My advice? Read them. Not all 30 million. And not as a steady diet. But, if you are or aspire to be a sales leader, and you want to continually improve your performance, you should be well read on the topic of sales leadership.
I know firsthand about the trials of being a sales leader because I was one earlier in my career. It is a definite challenge, especially for those leading and managing change initiatives. Time and again, we at Richardson hear feedback like this from our clients:
“The most important lesson learned from this training program is the value of having executive-level support. From the CEO to the COO to the division presidents, [we have] unanimous support and vocal champions for the consultative selling approach.”1
“…the Sales VP championed what was the beginning of [our] Foundational Sales Program, an initiative to gain consistency across all sales teams in language, process, skills, and attainment of the five core competencies the company deemed most important.”2
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
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.
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.
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.
How to Overcome Sales Objections
Every sales professional in every corner of the world hears “no” or words to that effect — all the time.
“No” can come on the phone, before you’ve ever met the person, or while you’re shaking that person’s hand. Getting past “no” and learning how to overcome objections in sales is an important skill for sellers that must continually be practiced.
In sales training sessions on overcoming objections in sales, I always ask participants how they feel when someone resists or turns them down. I guide the conversation toward recognizing the opportunity in what seems like a rejection.
Some people are naturals at overcoming objections in sales; the rest of us benefit from practicing a step-by-step, client-focused model.
4 Steps to Overcome Objections in Sales Using a Client Focused Model
The best way to overcome objections is to understand the underlying concern. An effective process for doing this involves the following skills:
STEP 1: Relating — Acknowledge or Empathize By making a statement of acknowledgment or empathy, you let the client or prospect know his/her concerns have been heard. Both your tone of voice and your words should be appropriate and genuine and avoid any signs of defensiveness or frustration. This helps to reduce negativity and helps you connect with the client.
STEP 2: » Continue Reading.
Sales Prospecting Tips to Become More “Social”
To be successful in sales, you need to be vigilant in sales prospecting and looking for new leads. How to do that in the most time-efficient way is the question.
One crucial bit of information is to know your retention rate of business. If you retain, say, 80% of your business each year, that means you lose 20%. That 20% of lost business is the minimum amount that you need to replace. Knowing this number helps you be more strategic in your prospecting.
Like B2B sales, the element of prospecting has dramatically changed in today’s mobile, social, and digital world. There’s a lot of talk about the ultra-informed buyer who uses the Web for research before ever contacting a seller. Well, two can play that game. The same tools are available to buyers and sellers alike. It’s the savvy user who works them to their advantage.
In my previous blog post, I offered prospecting tips targeted to using LinkedIn: Tips for Using LinkedIn as Part of Your Prospecting Strategy. But, LinkedIn is only one of many free social tools that can amplify your prospecting results. The following are a few others, and new ones are appearing on a regular basis.
Google Alerts: This free service from Google allows you to “Monitor the web for interesting new content.” You might enter » Continue Reading.