The paperclips didn't need a sales pitch. Neither do your clients.

SELLutions

Is Your Sales Manager Managing Time well?

by GSchulz 23. September 2014 18:24
Is he or she balancing priorities properly? How do you know? A big dilemma faced by most executives is what is my sales manager doing and more importantly what should they be doing?  It is a mystery but it shouldn't be.

There are 3 priorities in my opinion that should always take the bulk of your sales managers time. Some are obvious and some not. Priority one is hiring. Yes hiring. I am tired of hearing executives say to me, “well of course we have the regular 80/20 rule; 20 percent are really good and making their numbers consistently and the other 80 percent are inconsistent, one month up one down.” Why is this ok? Why is this an accepted practice? The most common reason for this is a simple one. We have 6 territories to fill and we have sales people in each of the territories so we have no hiring need. What? Here is the question. If your sales manager or any of your salespeople told you they have a good amount of accounts right now, they are pretty happy with them and if they lose one, then they will look for another to replace it, what would you do? Most executives say to me, “Are you kidding? I would fire them.”  Well that’s what you’re doing when you allow your sales force to stay stagnant with non-performers and look for replacements when someone leaves.  

Looking for sales superstars is something that is ongoing and constant. If you found someone better then your best person tomorrow wouldn't you find a place for them in your organization? Of course you would so why are you not constantly looking for that? Your sales manager should spend no less then 30 percent of their time on all that is hiring; looking, phone interviewing, doing assessments, in-person interviewing etc.    

Priority two is coaching. Who do we coach on our team to get the most from them? Where do sales managers spend their time, with A B or C players? Most would tell you with the A players to help close deals, then they would tell you with the Cs since they need the most work. I would tell you the B players will give you the biggest bang for your buck. Though this is priority two, this should take up about 40% of your sales managers time. Lets first Identify what each of the players are.

A players are typically about 20% of your sales force. They are consistently hitting their numbers, driven to continue on that path and don’t allow excuses to get in their way. B players are good strong salespeople, have good attitudes but really need some help to reach the next level and are open to it. Probably about 40% of your group. The C players are excuse makers, blame others for their failures and are inconsistent in their sales numbers.

They make up about 20% of your sales force. Also my own observation only, I often notice these are the reps that have been around for a long time and either have fallen in success and been ok with that or have always been average at best but have been in the organization for a long time so they have simply moved along. These are typically about 20% as well. Spend time with B players. They want to learn and will take best to the coaching.

Your ‘most improved’ nominees are sitting here. Priority three is accountability. Keeping your sales people accountable is very important for several reasons. First of all if they can track what they are doing activity-wise, they can themselves track what is working what isn’t. In sales you are in some respects, in your own business.

Sales people can create the amount of money they want to make and to help them by identifying what that looks like and help them analyze successes and changes they should make for the most success is the sales managers job. Additionally, we need to know for ourselves what it truly takes to make a success in a particular area of the business to create forecasts and projections.

This should be about 10-20 % of their time. Greta Schulz is President of SchulzBusiness, a sales Consulting and Training firm. She is a best selling author of “To Sell IS Not To Sell” and works with fortune 1000 companies and entrepreneurs.

For more information or free sales tips go to www.schulzbusiness.com and sign up for ‘GretaNomics’, a weekly video tip series or email sales questions to greta@schulzbusiness.com     Click here to share this post.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

by GSchulz 6. August 2013 12:42
Ashley, a sales representative for a regional software company, makes several calls a week to new potential prospects to request a meeting to demonstrate her product. She gets lots of voice mails, speaks to lots of gatekeepers and sends a lot of emails with no response.Every once in a while — statistically five out of 100 — she will reach a potential prospect live. When she does, she is so excited that she doesn't even recognize the excuse.There are several excuses that a prospect will give a salesperson. What is most interesting is that the salesperson will likely not see them as excuses and believe them.There are some examples that are almost always an excuse and not the truth. 

Let’s look at them one by one.The excuse: “Why don’t you send me/email me something.”The translation: “It’s easier to ignore you through email.”If this prospect were truly interested, she would take at least a few minutes and talk to the salesperson right then, just to determine if there is a need.The excuse: “I’m in a meeting.”The translation: “I have no time to talk and I’m hoping this illusion of interruption will get you off the phone quickly.”I love this one. So, you are in an actual meeting in your office, you don’t know who’s calling, but you pick up the phone anyway? Seriously? Salespeople fall for this one all of the time. 

At this point, the salesperson keeps calling, but the prospect now knows the phone number through caller ID and will just avoid the call.The excuse: “We don’t have a budget/money at this time.”The translation: “I just don’t see the benefit, and having no money will make you go away, at least for a while.”Money is an interesting thing. People will find money for what they determine will bring them value. 

We often blow this one by trying to quickly show how our product will save them/make them money. The response: Yeah, right! It doesn't matter whether it’s true or not; you can’t shove your idea of value down a throat on a phone call.The excuse: “Call me after the third quarter.”The translation: “Wow! I just put you off for a few months.”Salespeople like this one because it gives them something they can follow up on — at least in their mind. This is where follow-up, in my opinion, becomes stalking. 

The salesperson keeps calling when this date arrives, and the prospect will not even remember she told you to call, let alone meant it when she said it.I say gee, thank you so much for allowing me to check back! You must really like me/be interested, etc. Yeah, right.The excuse: “I’ll think it over and let you know.”The translation: “I have no intention of reaching back out to you, but I asked for the next move to be done by me.”This is no move, but salespeople happily agree and wait and wait. 

What’s funny is they would rather take any of these excuses than hear whatever the real truth is — most commonly a no.If we, as salespeople, could get comfortable with asking right up front for a “no” as an option, we wouldn’t be wasting so much time, energy and our control of the sales process. Click here to share this post.

Selling Me A Car

by GSchulz 29. April 2012 17:27

I’m always trying to illustrate how professional sales really works -- helping your prospect self-realize that he or she needs (or in some cases, doesn’t need) your product or service. One of the best examples I’ve ever seen is one that happened to me when I decided to purchase a new Jeep.

Several years ago, I married a wonderful man who had two children. I also had a child of my own, so we were going to need a more “Brady-esque” car. After a lot of research, we decided that a Jeep Cherokee would do the trick. At that time, A Cherokee Laredo, the base model, would cost $299 a month to lease for three years with $1,000 down. A good deal for us by all accounts.

Since I know how car dealers work (or so I thought), I felt very strongly about staying emotionally detached and just purchasing the car for the price I wanted. I called the local Jeep dealership and asked for the sales manager. Richard (who I believe is still there) answered the phone. I explained to him that I wanted a Jeep Cherokee Laredo, dark green in color, and that I’d be willing to buy it today if he could match the price I wanted: $299 for a 36 month lease plus $1,000 down.

I was strong in my demand, making sure he knew I was in charge. Richard said he could match the price, but the only Cherokee Laredo he had on the lot was army green, not the dark green I wanted. Even though I was disappointed (the dark green is so much more “me”), I decided it was the route to go.

We arrived at the dealership, and I commanded my fiancée and the kids to stay in the car. “Wait here,” I said. “I’ll handle this.”

I walked into the showroom, where Richard greeted me. “You must be Greta,” he said with a sincere-looking smile.

“I am, “ I answered cautiously.

He smiled. “OK. Let’s go drive the car.”

I stopped him. “Oh no,” I exclaimed. “I want to talk money first!”

“Okay,” Richard replied. “But didn’t you say $299 for three years with $1,000 down? Since that’s what we agreed to, that’s what it is, right?”

With a half-smile on my face, I nodded proudly. “Right!”

As we walked through the lot to the army green (more of a pea green, actually) Jeep, Richard asked which car in the parking lot was mine. I pointed to the blue BMW where my fiancée and our kids waited. As we got into the Jeep, Richard made an interesting comment. “This car doesn’t have a leather interior,” he said. “It’s cloth, but that shouldn’t be a problem. I’m sure your kids don’t spill things at their age.”

“No, that’s OK,” I quickly replied.

As we pulled out of the dealership for the test drive, Richard played with the radio, then asked what kind of music I liked.

“Oh gosh, jazz. Top 40. Lot’s of different things.”

“Really?” he replied. “Do you have a lot of CDs?”

“Oh yes!” I proudly proclaimed. 

“Hmmm,” he mused. “You know this car doesn’t have a CD player, but I’m sure you’ve got cassettes.”

“Or I’ll just play the radio,” I said, not without reservation.

He smiled. “Of course you can,” he replied confidently.

As we pulled back into the dealership lot, Richard asked “So, what do you think?”

“Pretty nice,” I hesitantly replied. “It drives more like a truck, but hey, it’s not a BMW and you have to give up something, right?”

Silent, I walked into the showroom to go sign the papers.

“Hey Greta,” I heard Richard suddenly say. “That emerald green on that car down at the end of the lot…was that the color you originally asked me for?”

I felt sudden excitement. “Yes! But I thought you didn’t have one.”

“Not for a Laredo. But that’s a Grand Cherokee. It’s got all the bells and whistles, you know…CD player, leather seats and a smoother drive train. But that’s not the one you said you wanted.”

I couldn’t resist. “Ummmmm … how much more is it?”

Guess which one I drove away in (and only paid $70 more a month more for)? You got it!

And guess what I said to my fiancée when we were walking toward our new Grand Cherokee? “Honey, it’s more expensive, but I’m in sales. My car is like my office. I have to be comfortable.”

So what happened? Well, Richard did a really good job of finding out what was important to me. But he never told me those things were important. Instead, he asked the right questions that got me to self-realize that I wanted those things.

And what did I do? I made an emotional decision and justified it intellectually to my family. Remember, people love to buy, but they absolutely hate to be sold. So help them buy and stop selling them. It even worked on me, and I saw it coming.

Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, FL. She is the author of "To Sell is Not to Sell" and a columnist for business journals around the country. Greta does corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs.

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Common CEO Questions

by GSchulz 26. August 2011 15:12

I thought I would write about the most common questions I get from Presidents and CEO’s around the country about their sales organizations. It doesn’t matter the industry, the time of year or the economic outlook, these are pretty consistent.


1. Why don’t our sales people prospect more as opposed to waiting for business to come in?

Human nature is to take the path of least resistance. If enough business for them-and this might be a completely different number then for you and your goals- is walking in the door or calling on the phone, why should they prospect? Being reactive is a whole lot easier then being proactive so if you haven’t made those activity goals very clear then why should they?


Revenue goals are important but activity goals are a whole lot more important. Yep, you read this right, more important. When someone is consistency meeting their activity goals then you have the ability to track #1, are they committed to what you have asked them to do (this is huge), #2 you can help them on what they are actually saying and doing in front of  a prospect to improve their closing ratio. Without knowing the amount of calls they are making consistently, this information is completely irrelevant.


2. How do I motivate my sales team to do more?


First of all, do more then what? There needs to be goals established for them as mentioned above, for revenue and activity. You may already be doing that and congratulations if you are. They still may be falling short so I have a few questions for you to ponder.

  1. Are they making more money then they have previously either in this position or another? If so, they may not be motivated enough to work hard enough to reach a goal you want them to reach. We often take the goals we set for them last year (and the year before and the year before) and hike that number up 10% or 15%. That may be your goal, but if it isn’t necessarily theirs and if they don’t see a need to reach so high, you could be in some trouble. They can be motivated to reach that number, but you better have that discussion with them not for them. 
  2. If your salespeople don’t reach goal (whether revenue or activity) what is the consequence? Salespeople -actually all of us-are just big kids. They need what is expected of them to be clear and laid out, they need to know the benefit of reaching and exceeding those expectations and the consequences if they don’t. Be careful not to just assume that if you tell them the goals and leave them alone they will get there. They might but if they don’t, wouldn’t you rather try to help them rather then having a revolving door of salespeople through your organization?   


3. I can talk to a local business person about our product/service and sell it and I’m not even a salesperson? Why can’t they?


In order to answer this, I'm going to make a few assumptions. As the owner (president ,CEO) of an organization, a conversation you have with a colleague will be different then a sales person has because you aren’t selling anything. You are more often then not, having a conversation about some other topic as well, the local state of business, the economy, politics, take your pick, but there is a much higher level of conversation happening so it doesn’t feel like a sale. There are other factors as well. Maybe you are someone of stature or clout in the community and people look at you as an equal, a partner, maybe even someone that can help them down the road. So shouldn’t your salespeople be seen different then you? Actually, the answer is no. Every day we teach people how to treat us. If we are acting like a salesperson, they will be treated like one. You don’t act like one. So the key here is you need to get your salespeople to act as an equal, a partner not a person trying to “pitch” something. When they accomplish that, they will be able to sell like you do.


Have more questions about the best way to train your sales team? Looking for a program to help increase your sales? Need a keynote sales speaker for your next business event or conference? Contact our sales consulting company to help!

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Why Fishing and Sales are Similar

by GSchulz 30. March 2011 23:47

Being the fun-loving Floridian that I am, I absolutely love to fish! A couple weekends ago, my husband and I were out in the boat with a friend of his that happened to be a novice fisherman. Peter and I were determined to teach him the ropes.

After watching him fish for the first half of the day, I figured out what he was doing wrong. Every time he saw that he was getting a nibble, he immediately jerked the line to attempt to catch the fish. What he didn’t realize was that when he jerked the line, he was yanking the bait out of the fish’s mouth. Every real fisherman knows that when you see you’re getting a nibble, you have to let the line out a little bit in order to really allow the fish to get a hold of the bait. Then when the next nibble comes, let the line out even more to really let him grab on. Finally, when you get a really big bite, you can jerk the line, hook the fish, and reel him in.

As I was explaining all of this to Peter’s friend, I couldn’t help but to see the similarities between fishing and sales. Think about it…in fishing, the first nibble isn’t the time to reel the fish in. In sales, the first time you speak with a prospect and he shows a little interest, you can’t expect you’re going to close the deal right then and there. Just like in fishing, you have to tease your prospect a tiny bit by “letting the line out” slowly. And when the prospect bites hard, you reel in the deal.

To better understand this concept, let’s look at an example. Sue with ABC Company is meeting with James of XYZ Company to discuss potential business. When Sue begins to recommend which of her products would be best for James, he retorts with a quick “you know, I think what you’re saying might be great, but I think the company that I’m with now has a product that better fits me.”

Instead of assuming that James is 100% happy with his current company and has no interest in making a change, Sue should let the proverbial line out a little bit and reply “You know, maybe you’re right. If they have a product that better suits you, maybe you should stay with them.”

“Well, I do like the complementary products you offer, but I’m just not sure,” James says.

“We do have some great complementary products, but do you really think that if you’re not happy with the primary product that we offer, you’d be happy with us in the long run? Maybe it would be better for you to just stick with the company you’re with.”

Finally, James replies, “No. You know what, I really admire your honesty and I feel like your company is the better fit for me. How do we get started?”

The moral of the story Sue didn’t immediately give her entire “we’re great, we’re wonderful, switch to us” spiel when James showed his first bit of interest. Instead, she continued to go negative and push James away, helping him self-realize that ABC Company was the better fit for him. People don’t believe what we tell them, they believe what we ask them. If Sue were to come straight out and tell James that her products and company were the better fit for him, do you think he’d believe her? No! Sue had to help James realize for himself that ABC Company was the better fit.

So the next time your prospect starts to go negative by saying they’re not sure your company is right for them, go MORE negative. GO FISH! Let your line out! Once you get a big enough bite, hook that prospect and reel in a client!

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