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Stuck in the Gap? Lead Your Sales Team to Greatness!

Posted by on April 11, 2012

Sales TeamAre you stuck in the gap between truly great sales and the reality that your sales and leadership team is struggling?

Most of the data on sales success and sales best practices in the field inevitably leads to the conclusion that your sales force is only as strong as the sales leadership they get. Any lasting change has to start with the Vice President and roll like a wave all the way through the often-overlooked Regional/District Managers.

Not sure your team needs outside help? Some indicators that your sales leadership may need some intensive work on alignment and performance enhancement are:

  1. You have a high number of Region Managers that are recent field promotions, i.e. very successful sales reps that you have promoted to Region Manager positions.
  2. You have a high level of turnover at the Region/District Manager level.
  3. You get very good results on a certain set of products from one region and completely different results from another region (inconsistent execution on your product portfolio).
  4. You have too many Territory Managers/Sales Reps that underperform to their sales plan and are not engaged in an aggressive developmental plan to correct the issue.

You need a proven process for sales leadership development that will help your organization achieve better numbers on the following metrics:

  1. Percent achievement of sales plan
  2. Full product portfolio sales execution
  3. Number of conversions during product launches
  4. Reduced undesired sales rep turnover

At CGWA, the journey from mediocre to great looks something like this:

  • We do a very careful analysis of the current state of your sales leadership performance
  • We ask you to define your vision for what great would look like for your business
  • We customize a solution and get it to the sales leadership team as quickly as possible, up to the standard of performance and execution that you would like to see

Our research indicates that a lot of our potential clients are spending literally hundreds of thousands of dollars training their sales force as a whole, but spending very little to train their Region Managers, which is a sadly misdirected allocation of funds. Repeated studies into how organizations invest in sales execution lead us to this conclusion: The most important investment you can make is to ensure that your sales leadership is aligned, motivated, and focused on the right best practices and disciplines to drive successful sales to your business.

Greg Wright founded CGWA in 1977 on the principle that customized, skill-based training provides the best learning experience for employees, as it incorporates a company’s culture, business trends, and “real life” situations into the structure of the training.


Competitive Selling: Get a Leg Up! [Week 3 of 6]

Posted by on January 25, 2012


Competitive SellingLast week
, we talked about the important place Strategic Account Development holds in the world of sales execution. But once you’ve got your sales strategies in place and things are flowing smoothly, you may find yourself faced with a further challenge: convincing prospective clients to purchase from you instead of your competitor. Will you be able to prove that your product or service is superior? Is price the most important factor? Or is there something else you should be focusing on?

Selling is often described as a numbers game. Approach the right number of prospects and you will convert a certain proportion to clients and you will meet your sales goals. This is true to a certain extent, but what you really need is are skills and tools that will help you identify the best customers, convert them, and protect them against your competitors’ sales efforts.

Competitive targeting and selling is composed of three distinct processes:

  1. Profiling prospects
  2. Converting prospects to clients
  3. Evaluating your sales methodology

Profile Prospective Clients

In this stage of the process, you must examine business trends in your industry, identify potential clients, and determine their needs. Some of this profiling is done in the office but much of it is performed during the actual meeting with your prospective client.

When applied to the sales environment, the “Iceberg Theory” tells us that clients and prospects aren’t always 100% truthfulor may inadvertently leave out vital information that could significantly affect the decision-making process. To avoid this pitfall, you must ask probing questions to uncover their true needs. Although your prospect may seem to know exactly what those needs are, asking targeted questions can reveal a much clearer picture. We advocate pre-call planning: creating a customized list of questions for each prospect and client and having them on hand for every sales call.

In the end, you must understand your client’s business so that on subsequent sales calls, you can proceed immediately to the second stage of competitive selling.

Prospect Conversion Process

There are two important factors that influence a decision to choose one vendor over another. The first is perceived value. Selling value rather than just products and features differentiates you from your competition. Your client doesn’t just need a supplier of products or services. They need a real partner who can supply greater value by anticipating needs and supplying innovative solutions to meet those needs. Doing this will set your company apart from the competition.Secondly, as you scale the “strategic relationship ladder” with your client, you become an ever-more-valuable resource and are much harder for the competition to unseat. When you reach this stage, you are in the enviable position of not having to re-sell the product or service every single time. Instead, you are a trusted consultant who can “advance the sale” by offering better solutions to fit your client’s needs.

Evaluate

The final step is to use the “SMART” system we mentioned last week to evaluate and critique not only your selling skills, but also how effectively you have met your clients’ needs. Remember: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals are a must for everyone on the sales team. From this deeper level of understanding, you’ll watch your sales grow beyond anything you’ve achieved before.

In our customized Competitive Targeting and Selling workshop, we thoroughly explore these concepts, practice the skills until they are second nature, and send participants away with the tools to meet and exceed all their sales goals. At CGWA, our 5 targeted Sales Execution Workshops have each been developed, tested, and refined in the field—in response to real issues faced by even the most outstanding sales teams. Next week, we’ll talk about the third of these workshops: Sales Negotiation Skills. Be sure to come back then!


Account Development: Strategy you can’t live without [Week 2 of 6]

Posted by on January 18, 2012

Account Development

Last week, we talked about the world of sales execution. A focused, seasoned sales force can succeed on its own merits through sheer force of will. But that uphill push, with all the accompanying stress, too often leads to resignations, terminations and even total failure.

Truly strategic account development, on the other hand, will allow your team to constructively engage their clients, support each other’s efforts and—most importantly—achieve their sales goals.

So why is creating a sales strategy such a daunting task? The truth is, it doesnt need to be difficult or complicated, either in its creation or implementation. What it does require is thoughtfulness from all levels of the sales team. Strategic account development can be divided into four distinct stages:

1. Market Analysis

As in any undertaking of this sort, the process begins with data collection. Pertinent business trends, key accounts and their decision makers, plus company goals (yours and your clients’) must be identified and prioritized. Adequate time and effort must be given to this process of “account targeting” and must involve all levels of the sales team. It is the basis for everything to come.

2. Strategy Development

The development of the strategic plan requires some serious critical thinking. At the very least, it must incorporate company objectives, the strengths and weaknesses of the competition, and provide customer-centric solutions that will drive sales growth. In addition, as a sub-strategy, an account profile should be completed for every client. This profile details the tactics used and steps followed to retain and grow this specific client.

3. Solutions Presentation

Engagement is the key to success in account development. If you can prove that you understand the needs of the client, then you will inevitably move up the “strategic relationship ladder. As you do, your relationship with the client will advance from mere tolerance of your role as a salesperson to an intimate dependence on you as a solutions provider. This concept is fundamental to building and maintaining long term, lucrative clients. In addition, it’s imperative at this stage to gather further information to fine-tune solutions for your client.

4. Ongoing Evaluation

It can’t be said enough: Monthly and quarterly, critically-driven business reviews must be conducted and must include the entire sales team. Each member of the sales team has a unique perspective that bears on the whole. We apply the proven SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound) system to integrate new ideas, substrategies and goals.

All this is just a very small taste of what happens in the classroom and in the field during our Strategic Account Development workshop. At CGWA, our 5 targeted Sales Execution Workshops are each developed, tested, and refined in the field—in response to real sales execution issues faced by super-successful commercial teams. Next week, we’ll talk about the second of these workshops: Competitive Targeting and Selling. Meet me there!


Sales Execution: A World of Opportunity [Week 1 of 6]

Posted by on January 11, 2012

Sales Execution

At the risk of twisting a famous cliche, one could say that sales “make the business world go ’round.” The successful completion of business deals, also known as sales execution, is fundamental to the future of every business.

In a successful sales environment, titles are unimportant. Whether you are a freshly minted sales associate, the Senior V.P. of Sales, or anything in between, only results define success or failure.

At the lowest levels, sales is just selling, but as one progresses up the corporate ladder, sales strategy and employee development become the key priorities. The successful sales director focuses his attention on three distinct areas and on the key personnel who will implement his plans in those areas.

Business and Market Development

The first goal is to accurately identify trends, goals and sales opportunities in the sales market. With this information, a sales manager can align their area’s goals with the company’s national strategy. There is no sense in reinventing the wheel. Instead, a prudent sales manager uses the tools provided by corporate to detail the correct product and account mix to their team. This ensures optimal coverage of the area and the most efficient exploitation of its potential. Proper business planning and market development will always produce the best sales strategies.

Ensuring Sales Execution

The proper execution of the established sales strategies will always yield superior results. The sales manager’s focus should be on using proactive rather than reactive sales tools. Examining total salesafter the factyields information but allows for little further action. Instead, tracking such activities as cold calls, customer contacts and physical meetings allows a sales manager to ensure excellent sales execution while there is still time to correct any deficiencies.

Recruiting and Developing Talent

Attracting and hiring the best talent, and then implementing coaching, mentoring, and maintaining active day-to-day involvement also play a critical role in ensuring superior sales execution. As always, leading by example rather than just telling ingrains those best sales practices into the sales team. And don’t forget that consistent interaction with the sales force: It allows the sales manager to assess, coach and develop the future leaders of their team. Using this same method, the successful sales manager can identify and remove any weak links in the system.

It seems obvious that sales execution requires proper planning, active participation, and the superior talent to succeed. These three requirements should be at the forefront of the sales manager’s mind and create the foundation for all his other activities.

At CGWA, our 5 targeted Sales Execution Workshops are each developed, tested, and refined in the field—in response to real sales execution issues faced by very successful commercial teams. Next week, we’ll talk about the first of these workshops: Strategic Account Development. See you then!