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Frequently Asked Questions

Themes

    1. Sales Management Performance
    2. Below Par Sales Performance
    3. Sales Capability
    4. Sales Revenue Production/Plans
    5. Effective Sales Process
    6. Value Selling
    7. Conversion & Sales Ratios
    8. Retention & Motivation of Top Producing Salespeople

    Sales Management Performance

    Issue: I have never been “officially” trained as a Sales Manager and most of what I do is modelled on the way I was managed as a salesperson. I get the feeling that there’s a lot of “good oil” that I am missing.
    Solution: Sales Performance Coaching

    Issue: I grapple with costly, wasteful, and ineffective sales practices (e.g., low yield on direct marketing & tradeshow efforts, low close ratios, lengthy sales cycles, etc.).
    Solution: Other than learning from your own previous experiences or from Sales Managers you have had in the past, how do you know what good sales practice really looks like?  How much exposure have you had to best practice Sales and Sales Management processes? Find out about the 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders.

    Issue: I am under constant competitive and market pressure for more customers, increased revenues, and greater profits. There are times when I am just not sure where to begin!
    Solution: In life, you don’t know what you don’t know.  It’s tough when you are expected to know all the answers. But, how do you learn sales management? If you are like the majority of Sales Managers, you have very likely modelled your style and delivery practices on your past Sales Managers, both good and bad. The sad truth is that those very same managers learned the same way you did.  Most Sales Managers have been promoted without ever having learned and followed a “best practice” Sales Management process. Is it any wonder you are not sure how to move forward? Find out about the 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders.

    Issue: I am under constant pressure for my marketing and sales execution strategy to produce a steady stream of top line results for business growth. It seems to get tougher and tougher by the month.
    Solution: There is no question that business today is tough! Constantly changing products, markets, competitors… and on top of that you are still expected to motivate and keep high performing Sales People. If you are like the majority of Sales Managers, you have very likely modelled your style and delivery practices on your past Sales Managers, both good and bad. The sad truth is that those very same managers learned the same way you did.  Most Sales Managers have been promoted without ever having learned and followed a “best practice” Sales Management process. Is it any wonder you are not sure how to move forward? Find out about the 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders.

    Issue: I struggle to find the time I need to improve the business because I am flat out working in the business chasing my tail, following up on others, and putting out fires.
    Solution:At the end of the day, there are only 24 hours in a day. So, you probably wonder how do others manage? How did your previous Sales Manger manage? If you are like the majority of Sales Managers, you have very likely modelled your style and delivery practices on your past Sales Managers, both good and bad. The sad truth is that those very same managers learned the same way you did.  Most Sales Managers have been promoted without ever having learned and followed a “best practice” Sales Management process. Is it any wonder you are not sure how to move forward? Find out about the 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders.

    Issue: When I look at my own sales career I have been promoted without ever having learned or consciously followed a specific and effectively designed sales process.
    Solution: In life, you don’t know what you don’t know.  It’s tough when you are expected to know all the answers. But, how do you learn sales management? If you are like the majority of Sales Managers, you have very likely modelled your style and delivery practices on your past Sales Managers, both good and bad. The sad truth is that those very same managers learned the same way you did.  Most Sales Managers have been promoted without ever having learned and followed a “best practice” Sales Management process. Is it any wonder you are not sure how to move forward? Find out about the 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders.

    Issue: Due to the environment in which I work, I find my time being chewed up with low value administration and interventions between my company’s operations, shipping, finance and customer service departments.
    Solution: “Too much to do and not enough time” is the biggest single problem facing most Sales Managers today. With tightening budgets, staff reductions, downsizing, and ongoing competitive pressures, Sales Managers are finding that their plates get fuller and fuller as they take on more and more work. Then, a majority of their time is spent on administration and interventions between their company’s operations, shipping, finance and customer service departments However, developing the self-discipline to organise your work and focus on the highest value tasks is the starting point to get your time under control and lower your stress levels. Sales Managers only have a limited number of levers they can pull to drive profitable sales growth. One of the most accessible and powerful levers they can pull is to optimise the sales effort of their Sales Team, by providing them with the coaching, process and tools to increase productivity. This means that for Sales Leadership, the highest leverage activity they can invest in is working one on one with each of their individual Sales People. Find out about the 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders.

    Below Par Sales Performance

    Issue
    : We are struggling to achieve our sales budgets with no real strategy to turn things around in sight!
    Solution: It’s kind of tough when you are expected to know all the answers, after all isn’t that why they are paying you? Let’s face it, if you knew better you would be doing better! If you are like the majority of Sales Managers, you have very likely modelled your style and delivery practices on your past Sales Managers, both good and bad. The sad truth is that those very same managers learned the same way you did.  Most Sales Managers have been promoted without ever having learned and followed a “best practice” Sales Management process. Is it any wonder you are not sure how to move forward?

    Issue: I have Sales People who consistently struggle to achieve their sales targets/budgets/quotas.
    Solution: The 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders

    Issue: I have Sales People who only achieve incremental or limited improvements in their results.
    SolutionThe 5 Critical Skills of Sales Leaders

    Issue: I have Sales People who are under-performing because of fear – stuck in their comfort zone, reluctant to cold call, failure to reach high level decision makers or simply just coasting.
    Solution: Who ever said that the role of a Sales Manager was an easy one? If you are like the majority of Sales Managers, you have very likely modelled your style and delivery practices on your past Sales Managers, both good and bad. The sad truth is that those very same managers learned the same way you did. Most Sales Managers have been promoted without ever having learned and followed a “best practice” Sales Management process. Is it any wonder you are not sure how to move forward?

    Issue: I know my sales efforts need help – I am just not sure where to begin.
    Solution: It’s kind of tough when you are expected to know all the answers, after all isn’t that why they are paying you? Let’s face it, if you knew better you would be doing better! If you are like the majority of Sales Managers, you have very likely modelled your style and delivery practices on your past Sales Managers, both good and bad. The sad truth is that those very same managers learned the same way you did. Most Sales Managers have been promoted without ever having learned and followed a “best practice” Sales Management process. Is it any wonder you are not sure how to move forward?

    Sales Capability

    Issue: My people need sales training but in my experience, selling skills training only delivers short-term results and doesn’t warrant the investment of time and money.
    Solution: You’ve been to the Sales training workshops; you’ve seen first hand that whilst they tend to get you hyped with new ideas and concepts, at the end of the day very little seems to change. It’s not long before you’re back to doing things the same old way and achieving the same results. So why bother making the investment? How do other companies manage to get their salespeople to change dysfunctional behaviours and start increasing revenue? 

    Issue: My salespeople don’t mind product training but they resent selling skills & role-playing training sessions during sales meetings. 
    Solution: You’ve tried to teach selling skills at sales meetings before, but you always seem to get the old skeptical, “here we go again” attitude from your Sales Team. You know that if you could just get them to do things differently and use more effective selling skills, it would make a huge difference to them, bringing in those sales that forever seem to fall through the cracks.

    Issue: My salespeople leave sales lying on the table because they depend too heavily on the capabilities of the product/service to win business.
    Solution: Product knowledge is vitally important to the success of your Sales Team. Accordingly, you have invested the time and resources to train your salespeople on the particular products/services you sell. The problem is that you have salespeople who overload the customers with their knowledge about the product because they lack the selling and influencing skills to close the sale. They seem to be so focused on what they need to know that they tend to forget why they need to know it!

    Issue: My salespeople miss many sales opportunities because they are far too willing to jump in at the opportunity to do a proposal, demo, presentation, etc.
    Solution: Average salespeople are so willing to jump through hoops to get the opportunity to do proposals that they often end up wasting their time and company resources. They allow the prospect to take total control of the sales process. They eagerly:

    • Give their information, becoming free educators, teaching their prospects enough to help them effectively purchase from their competitor
    • Make commitments and unneeded concessions without getting anything in return Waste precious company resources chasing deals that will never close
    • How many proposals resulted in thousands of dollars of unbilled time and effort because there was a poor job of qualifying the prospective client early on in the screening process?

    Issue: My salespeople lose sales because they have inferior listening and needs diagnosis skills.
    Solution: Prospects buy for their reasons, not the sales rep's reasons. Too many Sales People talk instead of listen. They monopolise the time they have in front of the prospect, “spending five minutes selling their products/services and fifty-five minutes buying them back!”. The professional salesperson asks questions up-front to ensure a complete understanding of the prospect's perspective. 80% of training provided for salespeople is product focused. Salespeople become so eager to share this information that the focus is placed on their product/service and not on the buyer and his or her problem. Knowing this and changing the sales paradigm and behaviour of your salespeople are too very different things.

    Issue: My salespeople lose sales because they lack the skill and are unable to articulate “value” and show the cost benefit.
    Solution: Selling Value

    Issue: I have Sales People who fail to ask for and gain customer commitment.
    Solution: The best salespeople know how to ask questions that go beyond product needs. The best salespeople know how to listen and drill down and ask questions that allow them to understand their client's strategic objectives, issues and concerns as well as personal needs and aspirations. Gaining this kind of client information requires salespeople to ask challenging questions.

    Issue: My salespeople struggle to engage all parties involved in the purchase of my product/services.
    Solution: It's never been harder for your salespeople to meet and question all the parties involved in the decision making process. Many of these people are very busy and have little time to meet with sellers to discuss their needs or learn about your offerings. To enable a favorable decision means that your salespeople must be able to sell and gather the information for a cost/benefit justification based on the real needs and wants of all the decision influencers relating to the purchase of your solution. This capability is both a critical and invaluable skill. When mastered, your salespeople will not only gain critical information your competitors won't have, they will also further connect with their clients across the breadth of the organization and strengthen the relationship between your company and theirs. So how do you improve their capability in this area? Practice, drill and rehearse best practice!

    Issue: I have salespeople who find it hard to get appointments when making cold calls because they suffer from call reluctance.
    Solution: Skills of Outstanding Sales People

    Issue: My salespeople waste a lot of time, effort and resources because they struggle to ask the hard questions up front.
    Solution: The best salespeople know how to ask questions that go beyond product needs. The best salespeople know how to listen and drill down and ask questions that allow them to understand their client's strategic objectives, issues and concerns as well as personal needs and aspirations. Gaining this kind of client information requires salespeople to ask challenging questions.

    Issue: My salespeople are struggling to engage all parties in the purchase of our product/service with more and more gate keepers, buying committees, tendering processes, RFPs, etc, preventing them from gaining access to decision makers.
    Solution: How to engage all parties in the buying process.

    Issue: The message I hear from customers over and over is "Your competitor can do it faster, smaller (or bigger), and cheaper."
    Solution: When average salespeople hear objections like “Your competitor can do it faster, smaller (or bigger), and cheaper," they are quick and willing to jump in with their best “OBJECTION HANDLING” technique. Often this is too late. The horse has already bolted the stable.   In most cases the objections, which always seem to come at the end of the sales process, should have been determined at the front end of the sales process. Find out how to wrap up the sale.

    Issue: “Give us a quote" is the common response my salespeople are hearing these days. Unfortunately, my salespeople often put together proposals for prospects that have no real intention of buying from us.
    Solution: When average salespeople hear “give us a quote" they are so eager for the opportunity to complete a proposal that they don’t stop to qualify and ask further questions of the prospect. As a result, they often end up wasting their own time and precious company resources on business that has no likelihood of closing. Think about the amount of proposals your company has completed where thousands of dollars of unbilled time and effort were spent, simply because there was a poor job upfront early on in the screening process.However, knowing this and changing your salespeople’s selling behaviour of are two very different things. Where do you begin?

    Issue: My salespeople lose sales because they are weak at qualification and waste time and resources by spending too much time with prospects who can’t and/or won’t buy.
    Solution: Increase your salespeople's diagnostic acuity with these techniques.

     

    Sales/Revenue Production Plans

    Issue: I have salespeople who plan and manage their time and territory by the seat of their pants – They don’t have a comprehensive game plan/ strategy to win.
    Solution: Do you have a healthy obsession with planning? Do you focus on ensuring that those plans are well executed by your salespeople in order for them to reach their targets? How important is sales planning?

    Issue: I have Sales People who render insufficient call activity and little or no pre-call/presentation preparation.
    Solution: As a Sales Manager, you only have a limited number of levers you can pull to drive profitable sales growth. One of the most accessible and powerful levers you can pull is to optimise the sales effort of your Sales Team by providing them with the coaching, process and tools to drive productivity. Simply reviewing their weekly activity stats is not enough to drive true sales activity. How sales performance coaching can help focus your salespeople.

    Issue: I have salespeople who run inferior sales records and sales call histories and don’t have a dependable follow up system.
    Solution: Many Sales Managers with people who run inferior sales records and sales call histories and don’t have a dependable follow up systems tend to do one of three things. 1 – Send the offender to a time management and organisation program and trust that the problem is fixed; 2 - Over supervise to ensure compliance and then feel like a “nag”; or 3 – Beat around the bush with hints and the like and hope the problem will go away. Workplace learning research reports that 75% of workplace learning takes place on the job.  Regular meetings with the Sales Manager in the offender’s working environment, holding them accountable and focusing on the critical actions needed to improve, will eventuate a turn around in their performance.

    Issue: My margins are too low and my cost of sales too high.
    Solution: There is a saying amongst real estate moguls, “You make your money when you buy the property!” meaning that through effective negotiation the money they save on the purchase price can sometimes out weigh the profit they will make when they sell the property. In sales it’s the same thing. If you have effective plans on how to maintain or grow your margins, problems will rarely surface during the sales call. Most salespeople don’t start out with a Margin Maximization Plan; they simply try to get their product sold for the best price they can get.  If your cost of sales is too high, this could mean that your pipeline is taking too long to “spit out the fruit”. What sort of plans or tactical strategies do your salespeople have to reel in their proposals?With effective planning and coaching by the Sales Manager, you can dramatically reduce your cost of sale and increase your margins.

    Issue: My salespeople don’t have a sales “Sales Game Plan” strategy that includes both increased territory revenues and margins.
    Solution: Sales Optimisation Planning can help

    Issue: My salespeople lose sales because they are weak in the areas of preparation and planning.
    Solution: How much of an emphasis should Sales Managers place on preparation and pre-call planning? According to the 2004 Miller Heiman Effectiveness Study, 63.4% of sales leaders agree that their teams do not qualify leads as well as they should. Additionally, 55.9% of sales leaders agree that their sales team wastes time pursuing poor sales leads and opportunities. Good pre-call planning is critical to qualifying leads and, ultimately, closing more sales yet many salespeople shun pre-call planning even though failure to invest time in pre-call planning is likened to a boxer going into a match with one arm tied behind their back. Turning up for a sales call with no advance planning and not much knowledge about the prospect is unacceptable in today’s highly competitive and information-filled market. As a Sales Manager it is critical to ensure that your salespeople are following their High Performance Sales Plan and have all the solid pre-call planning information they can muster at call.

    Effective Sales Process

    Issue: Every sales situation is handled differently with no repeatable formula for winning sales consistently.
    Solution: Once in operation, a well-designed and managed sales process helps to drive sales execution and discipline whilst improving pipeline visibility making it easier to mange and coach your Sales Team to improve sales production.

    Issue: I am are forced to rely on anecdotal evidence, gut feel and hunches regarding the progress of sales opportunities through the sales funnel because I lack clear “sales funnel visibility”.
    Solution: Once in operation, a well-designed and managed sales process helps to drive sales execution and discipline whilst improving pipeline visibility making it easier to mange and coach your Sales Team to improve sales production.

    Issue: I have yet to develop a sales process that determines which sales tools are to be used by my salespeople, and when they are to be used.
    Solution: Once in operation, a well-designed and managed sales process helps to drive sales execution and discipline whilst improving pipeline visibility making it easier to mange and coach your Sales Team to improve sales production.

    Issue: I have yet to develop a system that helps me determine whether our below par sales results are as a result of a sales problem or a marketing problem? 
    Solution: Once in operation, a well-designed and managed sales process helps to drive sales execution and discipline whilst improving pipeline visibility making it easier to mange and coach your Sales Team to improve sales production.

    Issue: When I look at my Sales Team’s sales activity (things like cold calls, letters, demonstrations and proposals), I see lots of effort but poor sales results.
    Solution: Once in operation, a well-designed and managed sales process helps to drive sales execution and discipline whilst improving pipeline visibility making it easier to mange and coach your Sales Team to improve sales production.

    Issue: I monitor things like cold calls, letters, demonstrations and proposals rather than the actual progress of the sales activity, e.g. the quality of the specific sales activity.
    Solution: Once in operation, a well-designed and managed sales process helps to drive sales execution and discipline whilst improving pipeline visibility making it easier to mange and coach your Sales Team to improve sales production.

    Issue: Our biggest challenge is to grow our revenue in a predictable, consistent manner and sustain our sales performance over an extended period of time.
    Solution: When your biggest challenge is to grow revenue in a predictable, consistent manner, the key is to leverage off a well-designed and easily manageable sales process.

    Value Selling

    Issue: I have salespeople who get outsold by others competing for the same piece of business or budget.
    Solution: How to sell value

    Issue: It’s becoming increasingly tough out there in the marketplace and my salespeople are falling prey to “discounting” to bring home the sales.
    Solution: How to sell value

    Issue: I know that shorter sales cycles mean lower selling costs, but my salespeople struggle to speed up the buying process and close more deals more often.
    Solution: How to sell value

    Issue: I have salespeople who’s “terrific” sales presentations and proposals only ever culminate in excuses and reasons, not deals.
    Solution: How to sell value

    Issue: My sales funnel flows too slowly.
    Solution: You are probably tired of seeing the same opportunities listed on your salespeople's forecasts and pipelines. How many of the opportunities have been stalled at the same step in the sales cycle for weeks…or months? When your salespeople learn to sell value effectively it has a major impact on the speed and flow of your sales funnel. Selling value also helps to defeat price competition, budget limitations and even down market conditions.

    Issue: Whilst my Sales Team completely understands the functions of our products/services, they would struggle to effectively differentiate themselves from the competition by creating compelling and credible ROI value justifications in terms of money, risk and time.
    Solution: How to sell value

    Issue: We work in a market where we are faced with selling products that have become commodities. We are trying to sell value but get beat up on price.
    Solution: How to sell value

    Conversion and Sales Ratios

    Issue: I grapple with costly, wasteful, and ineffective sales practices (e.g., low yield on direct marketing, low close ratios, high costs for branding, tradeshows, or product development).
    Solution: You are investing all this great marketing money for what seems to be very little return. Your salespeople need to improve their Sales Conversion rates. In other words, of all the potential customers they have spoken to, how many have bought?

    Issue: My salespeople don’t have a plan for improving their key sales performance ratios.
    Solution: Improving sales conversion ratios

    Issue: My salespeople don’t have a “Sales Game Plan” strategy for increasing the dollar size of their average deal.
    Solution: Improving sales conversion ratios

    Retention and Motivation Top Producing Salespeople

     

    Issue: Why is it that some Sales Managers are able to find and keep quality salespeople, while I seem to have a revolving door? 
    Solution: How to retain and motivate your top salespeople.

    Issue: It’s a constant struggle to find and keep top sales producers.
    Solution: How to retain and motivate your top salespeople.

    Issue: My Sales Team needs me to be constantly motivating them seem to lack passion, focus and commitment.
    Solution: How to retain and motivate your top salespeople.

    Issue: I feel like my good salespeople hold me hostage.
    Solution: How to retain and motivate your top salespeople.

    Issue: I recognise that if money alone were a sufficient motivation, salespeople would simply sell more without additional enticement. I just don’t know what else to do to get them going.
    Solution: How to retain and motivate your top salespeople.

    © Ian Segail

     

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