How to Interpret Sales Revenue and Economic News

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 13, 2011 @ 06:06 AM

moneyI am having a disconnect with the bad economic news being reported.  Perhaps these conditions aren't like this where you live and work, but here's what I see all the time:

  • Can't find a place to park at shopping malls because they are jammed;
  • Every flight I take is full;
  • There are lines of cars waiting to purchase fuel at gas stations;
  • The restaurants are packed;
  • Sporting events are sold out;
  • Concerts are sold out;

Perhaps the disconnect between what I see and what is being reported is simply this.  While there are some isolated geographies and industries that are doing poorly, others are doing quite well.  But when we look at the overall numbers, they just don't provide an accurate reflection of what is actually taking place.

We heard that only 54,000 new jobs were created in May.  Shouldn't news of 54,000 new jobs, most created by small and mid-market businesses, be a good thing?  The reality is that there hasn't been much new job creation from blue-chip and other large companies.  The slow job growth is an isolated problem, not a widespread one.

Even the slumping stock market is only a reflection of one segment - investors - and only one kind of investor.  Obviously, the other kind is continuing to infuse huge amounts of cash into growing companies.

And I know the housing market is still slumping. But like I said before, it is a single industry and not representative of the whole.  But the three isolated numbers the government likes to provide us with, stocks, home sales and gas prices drive the overall numbers way down.

As a result, the overall numbers simply don't reflect what is really taking place.  And that brings me to sales numbers.  Do your overall sales numbers reflect what is really going on?

Take a look at your sales revenue by salesperson for the year to date.

Look at the numbers for some of your top salespeople and review the data to answer these questions:

  • What percent of the total represents sales to existing customers?
  • What percent of the total is low-margin business?
  • What percent of the total might include an unusually large, one-time sale which, if taken away, would actually make the numbers unimpressive?
  • Which of these opportunities were in the pipeline for one or two quarters too long, meaning that the revenue was not the result of a recent selling effort?
  • How many new customer opportunities are in their pipeline going forward?

Now look at the numbers for some of your mid-tier salespeople and dig through the data to find these answers:

  • What percent of the total represents brand new customers/accounts?
  • What percent of the total is higher-margin business?
  • Are there any unusually large sales that might skew the results?
  • Is their pipeline going forward looking nice and solid?

If you come up with the answers I am expecting, then you'll see that you must approach the sales revenue numbers with the same degree of skepticism and isolation as you should when listening to economic reports.  The total is not representative of what is really taking place.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales performance, CEO, sales numbers, Economy, sales revenue

10 Steps to Record-Breaking Sales Revenues

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 @ 06:06 AM

When things loosen up (and things will loosen up) and companies and consumers both begin spending money again, you could be in for a significant windfall.  You may even have some record breaking revenue months if, and it's a big if, you have your sales force doing all of the right things, even while companies and consumers aren't spending money.

Here are ten requirements for having and continuing to have record-breaking months in the not-too-distant future:

1) Over stuff the pipeline.  Just because opportunities are being placed on hold, doesn't mean that you shouldn't put more opportunities into the pipeline.  The sales pipeline is not like your stomach, you know.  It will expand infinitely.

2) Focus on a different metric. The metric that reports closing percentage is skewed right now so ignore it.  Instead, focus on the metrics that tell you how many opportunities are entering the first stage of your pipeline as well as those moving to the second stage of your pipeline.

3) Tighten up the criteria. As long as you're going to pay attention to the percentage of opportunities that move to the second stage of your pipeline, now is the time to make sure everyone understands the criteria for placing an opportunity in the second stage and make those criteria more difficult to meet.

4) Modify your incentive/reward program.  If you have decided to focus on pipeline building rather than closing, reward that behavior with recognition, awards and bonuses!

5) Don't look back.  The tendency will still be to look at closing.  The problem is that once you start looking at it, you'll want to do something about it and there may not be anything you can do. Remain focused on pipeline stuffing.

6) Two - two - two closables in one. The closable stage of your pipeline will have two types of opportunities in it today.  Closable now and closable later.  What they have in common is that for both types of closable opportunities, you have been told that they will do business.  The difference is only in the when.  The later closables need to be nurtured while the current closables need to be closed.  It's OK, even good, to make sure that the current closables don't become later closables.

7)  Diversify.  There is money out there and it is being spent.  The question is whether your target customers are the ones doing the spending.  This is a great time to move laterally into new markets.  Let's suppose you sell trade show exhibits to small and medium sized businesses.  The small size businesses not only don't have any money but they aren't even participating in shows.  The mediums have money but aren't spending it on upgrades to their look.  You can wait it out or you can target a new market segment by moving up to larger companies than your traditional sweet spot, or you can target specific industries that haven't been impacted as negatively, like food or health care.

8) Be a non-profit. When the money isn't rolling in like it's being printed just for you, there is almost a sense that you've become a non-profit.  Well....do what the non-profits are doing right now and ask for money!  You have all of those existing customers that you used to take for granted.  Put the full court press on them, find out how they're coping, learn what's changed in their business and figure out what you can do to help. And ask for money!

9)  Develop sales processes, competencies, strategies and tactics for the tough times.  Selling is not the same as it once was.  You can no longer count on success from glorified order taking and account management. Got a sales force?  You must make it strong enough and effective enough to succeed in these times, not wait for a return to the good times.  We may not see those times again. Invest in a sales development expert and let them help you now!

10) Hire great salespeople.  All of your salespeople will not be able to make this transition and this isn't the time for charity.  Replace the salespeople who won't be able to step up and aggressively hunt for new opportunities.  Replace the salespeople who won't be able to skillfully move those opportunities through the steps of your sales cycle with good questioning and listening skills.  Replace the salespeople that aren't closers. Good ones are out there and you must make the commitment to settle for nothing less.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales, sales skills, selling, Salesforce, Sales Force, hiring salespeople, Economy, sales revenue

Put on Your Helmet - 3 Great Tips for Selling in This Economy

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Sun, Jun 14, 2009 @ 22:06 PM

What a great interview I had with Bill Murray, Founder and CEO of Winning Incorporated, Friday on my Meet the Sales Experts Radio Show!  He was awesome.

Here are some of the highlights from my conversation with Bill:

His mission is to abolish mediocrity. He tells us how in the interview...

He revealed a success story where the client, a bank, achieved a 400% increase in their asset baseListen to hear what Bill did with the bank tellers!

Bill recalled his early days in sales which included getting a Jaguar for free - listen to hear how - and four transferable lessons from his very first job in sales.

He revealed the biggest obstacle he had to overcome in order to succeed - hear what it was like going from a leadership position with 2 personal assistants to a startup with zero income and....5 kids!

He had 3 great tips for helping you succeed in sales in this economy - the #2 tip was Put on Your Helmet! He explained how he named his company, and he provided this great tip:  "Find something you're passionate about and attack it."

Bill also talked about applying a 50,000 foot strategy to the real world.

How would you like to get your own sales force issues answered live on Meet the Sales Experts?  You can. The next show is this Monday, June 15, at 12 Noon ET.  You don't even have to listen to the live show - you can listen to the archived show later to get your answer.

First, email me the details of your issue. It doesn't matter what it is. It can be about your salespeople, strategy, systems, processes, challenges, or approach or even your frustration over the economy. Just send the email and I'll read your question and provide the answer on this week's show.

Next, if you're able to listen live, simply click here at 12 Noon ET on 6/15/09 and click the link to Listen Live. If you're not able to listen live, you can check back here any time after Tuesday, 6/16/09 and click the link for the 6/15/09 show.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


 

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales training, Salesforce, Sales Force, Overcoming Obstacles, winning, improve sales, sales tips, Sales Experts, bill murray, Success Stories, jaguar, Economy

Sales Cycles and Time - Is it Running Out?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 01, 2009 @ 09:06 AM

We are always focused on sales cycles.  Are they optimized?  Are they taking too long?  Can they be improved?  How many calls should they take?  Are we doing things that make the sales cycle take longer than necessary? For example, the sales cycle can be shortened in direct proportion to how high your salespeople call in the company. 

If we are have begun a sales development program, you won't see results from top line revenue until 6 months plus the length of the sales cycle have passed.

I have a couple of things to discuss today relative to sales cycle.

1) Even articles have a sales cycle.  I wrote this article around Christmas of 2007.  I just learned that it was nominated for article of the month for June of 2009 - an 18 month sales cycle.  For all the time that passed it might have well been a major account!  Anyway, as long as it was nominated, would you be kind enough to vote for it?

2) I was talking with Ed Kleinman, our director of channel development here at Objective Management Group.  He pointed out something, relative to sales cycle, that I hadn't realized and it's really important.  Here's what he said:

I have come to the realization that most top executives, whose companies have been struggling to survive, have overlooked that we have already reached the end of the 2nd calendar quarter. Our network of sales development experts are reporting that there is still a sizable group of frozen, numb executives who still haven't realized how important it is to focus on their sales organizations.  They must make sure they have people in place who can help the company thrive in this economic climate. Have they forgotten where the revenue must come from? Are they waiting for the world around them to change before they change?  Are they stuck thinking that now is not the time to do anything?

NOW IS THE TIME!

Suppose you evaluated your sales team to identify who will generate a return from a development initiative, who won't, and replace those who won't be able to improve and produce? It would take a few weeks and you would already be at the end of the second calendar quarter.

The money you save from thinning (do more with less) can be reinvested in your remaining salespeople - those who will step up and learn how to sell in this new, extremely resistant economy.  Your B players become A's from training, development, coaching, mentoring , and improved accountability. But, by the time these folks produce at the pace needed to thrive, you may be looking at the end of the 4thquarter - if you're lucky! Yes, they will grow and improve.  They will survive and thrive. Your company will return to its successful ways and more, but any start you make today, won't help until the end of the year.

The longer you wait and do nothing, the longer your flat or declining revenue continues. This is the real world. Can you afford to wait until next year to do something or are you finally fed up with what you have? What you are doing now is not working, so NOW IS THE TIME to make moves that will insure that next year with the right systems, processes, and people in place, will be a great year.

TIME is no longer on your side. If you do nothing, you will find yourself in a position that will take even longer to get to the survival stage, before returning to the thriving stage. CAN YOU WAIT?  Don't think too long, because the 3rd quarter is just four weeks away.

Assess your sales organization, hire the right people to replace those who won't get it done. Develop the sales organization by providing them with superior training and coaching to help them be more proactive, persistant and resistance-proof - skills they'll need in this economy.

There isn't much time - you know how it flies.  Commit to using your sales force to generate company changing revenue today.

Thanks Ed!

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales training, Salesforce, Sales Force, revenue, sales effectiveness, Economy, sales test

What Should You Tell Your Salespeople in this Economy?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 06, 2009 @ 09:05 AM

From time to time I have written about what you must do with your salespeople in this economy.  Would you like to hear what that actually sounds like?

I was recently interviewed on a morning talk show and you can hear my stream of thought, as I would tell you live, right here. It's less than five minutes and it might give you a better sense of what to do than reading it on the page.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, selling, Sales Coaching, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales motivation, sales tips, Economy, Sales Advice

Good News Not a Substitute for Sales Force Competencies

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Apr 08, 2009 @ 06:04 AM

Do you want to hear something crazy?

I'm a very prolific writer - not to say I'm a good writer, just that I post a lot.  And of the dozens and dozens of posts from the last three months, would you like to guess what the LEAST read post was?

It was the one where I wrote about signs that the economy was improving!  And one of the MOST read posts was the one where I wrote about the media making the economy worse.

So, would you rather read about gloom and doom?  Do you not want to know that there are indicators that say things will be turning around?  Does it make you feel better about your business if you know that things still suck everywhere else?  Does it make you feel more frightened if others are seeing things beginning to turn around and you aren't yet?

If that's you, it's an absolute side effect of hunkering down and waiting it out.  If you were taking action, doing something about developing revenue, you wouldn't feel that way.  Doing something makes you feel like you have some control over things.  Generating revenue, no matter how difficult, takes the sting out of things.  Being more proactive, making more calls, getting more referrals, adhering to the sales process, doing a better job asking questions, developing compelling reasons to buy, creating urgency, adding value, being more consultative, using your Work Style Management software, qualifying more effectively, providing better solutions and closing more effectively will solve all revenue problems in time.

We all need some good news but it's not a substitute for working harder, longer, more effectively and smarter right now, the most important competencies in these times.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, Dave Kurlan, sales process, selling, Salesforce, sales tips, recession, generating revenue, Economy

Good News About the Economy Positively Impacts the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 @ 22:03 PM

I often get to see things six to twelve months before they happen.  When manufacturing placed projects and orders on hold as they did last October, it's easy to predict that it will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months. 

The word from clients so far this week is that manufacturers are taking projects off of hold and releasing money - even in the automotive industry!  That too will trickle down and impact everyone else over the next six months.

Today I also heard from a client whose house sold in just one day.

Housing and automotive - positive signs from both camps - truly good news for everyone.

It makes your salespeople feel better, it gives them hope, and in turn it makes them work with more confidence.  When they are out there giving it their all, not letting the resistance get to them. following the sales process, using appropriate strategies and tactics, not accepting the first stall, put-off, objection or rejection that comes their way, you have a much better chance that your struggling sales force will generate some much needed revenue.

Haven't heard any good signs in your own industry yet?  Make some calls and talk with some people until you find even one example.  Then spread the good word to all of your salespeople and let them in on the win - even if it wasn't a win for your own company.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Management, Salesforce, Sales Force, declining sales, objections, increasing sales, economic crisis, sales calls, sales behaviors, recession, Economy, declining revenue

The Sales Force with Over Achievers That Don't

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Mar 25, 2009 @ 22:03 PM

Huh?

That's right. Today I heard about a CEO who told one of my colleagues that all of his salespeople over achieve.  In the same phone conversation he mentioned that sales are down 20%.  Can you imagine where sales would be if his salespeople under achieved?  

I think that many CEO's are in a time warp.

Despite the struggles of their sales force in this economy, they still view the sales force as they remember them when times were good. 

The problem with this is that even the good times did not accurately define these salespeople.  Salespeople who succeed when times are good but struggle when times get tough are not over achievers.  They are mediocre salespeople who simply don't get in their own way.  Over achievers find ways to succeed in all conditions, good and bad.

I think that many CEO's are in denial.

Despite the struggles of their sales force, they continue to look at the pipeline and say to themselves, we'll be okay as soon as these deals close.  But the deals aren't closing and with each passing day companies are less okay then they were the day before.

I think that many CEO's are scared shitless (the only truly accurate word I could type there).

Because of the struggles of their sales force, they look at the numbers, down 90%, down 75%, down 50%, down 25% and wonder how they can turn it around.  It can be turned around but they have to be proactive, not reactive.  They have to be aggressive, not passive.  They have to work on the right end of the problem - revenue - not just costs.

Truth is, our data shows that only 6% of all salespeople over achieve.  And another 20% can become over achievers.  Who do you want on your sales force and what are you willing to do to develop them or recruit them?

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan


 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, assessments, selling, Management, Sales Force, leadership, over achievement, declining sales, improve sales, assessment, sales candidates, over achieve, Under achievers, hiring salespeople, mediocrity, overachievers, sales increase, Performance, Economy, sales assessments, declining revenue

5 Things You Can Do This Month to Thrive in this Economy

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Feb 05, 2009 @ 21:02 PM

One of my clients recently completed a transformation.  I helped them transform their salespeople from account managers to hunters and closers, from order takers to consultative salespeople and from selling on price to selling at their price - all while selling into one of the markets most devastated by the recession. 

Landslide Technologieshas invited me to discuss 5 Steps that companies like yours can take in order to thrive, like this company did, during an economic downturn.  Their webinar will be held on February 18 from 1 - 2 PM ET.  During the webinar, I'll discuss the importance of:

  • Having the right people in the right sales/sales management roles; 
  • Gaining your sales team's commitment and buy-in to work harder, be tougher and do what it takes in these more difficult times; 
  • Performing a pipeline analysis and working the pipeline; 
  • Creating the necessary infrastructure. This includes an appropriate sales process, recruiting process, sales management systems, and software; 
  • Developing the salespeople on process, skills and overcoming their weaknesses.

This is a free webinar and if you would like to attend you can click here to register.

You may also be interested in attending a webinar that Business Expert Webinarshas asked me to lead.  This webinar is called How to Grow Sales by Managing Your Pipeline More Effectively. This webinar will be held on February 12 from 11:30 - 12:30 PM ET.  Click here to register for this webinar.

While we are on the subject of webinars, and help, there is an exciting new web site that will launch on February 10 called Top Sales Experts (TSE 2.0) and it will have business answers and advice from some of the Top Sales Experts from around the world, like me.  If you subscribe on February 10, the launch date, you'll receive about $1000 worth of bonus merchandise from me and my TSE colleagues - free.  Check out their site here.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

 


Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, sales training, Salesforce, Sales Force, sales pipeline, webinar, Sales Accountability, Economy, salespeople

A Call to Action for the Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Jan 21, 2009 @ 11:01 AM

Al Gore has become more famous for his call to action against global warming than he ever was as Vice President of the United States.

Pope John Paul II was noted for his "stand up for life" call to action.

The charities that you support have calls to action that either inspire you or embarass you into giving.

Yesterday, Barack Obama included a call to action in his inaugural speech.

In this week's Baseline Selling Tip, I redirected the President's call to pick yourself up and dust yourself off - to your salespeople. It might not be what they want to hear, but it sure is what they need to hear.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales motivation, call to action, Economy, Obama, selling in the recession

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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