The Sales Expeditor

What Untrainable Salespeople Sound Like and What That Means to You

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Sep 09, 2015 @ 09:09 AM

When a salesperson needs help, but appears to be untrainable or uncoachable, it's like they are a fish out of water. We know that selling has changed dramtically since 2009. The pressure on companies to adapt to these changes are greater than ever. Unfortunately, a measurable percentage of salespeople lack the personal incentive to change. All too frequently this includes top performers. Building a great sales force requires a core of people who are fundamentally sound and committed to improving their skills and effectiveness. In the video below I discuss what it sounds like when salespeople aren't Coachable and/or Trainable.         

If you want to learn more about your salesforce and how much better it can be click on the link below. 

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Topics: sales training, sales motivation, chris mott, coaching salespeople

Getting Pushback on Your CRM Adoption?

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 @ 13:01 PM

crm, sales coaching, sales pipeline, sales management best practices, sales lessons, sales funnel, recruiting sales people, sales training, sales competencies

This is the 11th article in a January series on the Architecture of the Sales Force.  Here are the others:

In a recent conversation with a CEO, we discussed his use of CRM.  While his intention was to increase focus and visibility into new business development, the primary usage had become tracking client and delivery activities on large, existing projects.  Little attention was paid to tracking the flow and evolution of new opportunities.

In his case, significant non-sales events had diverted his attention.  Because his business was driven by large long-term projects, profitability and cash flow had stayed positive.

Last week, during a Sales Recruiting program, we discussed reasons why the recruiting and startup process failed to work.  I asked the management team whether their CRM system tracks the internal milestones needed to do business with someone, or a sales process that leads to a prospect wanting to buy from them.  After some silence, they acknowledged that it was the former.

These scenarios illustrate ways in which CRM is misused and underused.  While sales technology tools have grown significantly in the last several years and companies are investing in them, it is important to look at adoption, usage, and most importantly, outcomes.

What are some of the desired outcomes of using a CRM platform?

  • Better data on the status of opportunities,
  • Greater accuracy of forecasting,
  • Retaining institutional knowledge on clients and prospects,
  • More accurate metrics and KPI’s,
  • Insight into the sales process,
  • Sales Coaching,
  • Increased productivity, and
  • Earlier adjustments to strategy.

Most salespeople won’t optimize their efforts without proactive debriefing and strategy development.  In virtually all cases, this requires the sales leader.  Well-planned, adopted and utilized CRM is necessary for this.

I reached out to our partners at Membrain, a world-class CRM tool, for their thoughts. Recently, they were named Best Sales CRM in the 2013 Top Sales Awards.

Leadership adoption is critical.  This doesn’t mean just talking about the virtues and critical reasons for using CRM.  In the movie “We Were Soldiers”, Mel Gibson tells his troops that the paratroopers have a rule: the officer is always the first one out of the plane.  If sales leadership uses the tool daily, the team will be more inclined and encouraged to do so.  If the CEO uses it and makes this known, people will pay attention.  However, if leadership fails to do this, the initiative will very likely fail.

Many salespeople don’t make the connection between using CRM and it’s value.  They see it as an unnecessary burden.  Much of this derives from their often unstructured and non-detailed styles.  Leadership has to work tirelessly to close this gap and show the salespeople that it’s not just a reporting tool.  All efforts should go toward ensuring that it helps the sales team execute the sales strategy, follow their process, get better coaching and win more profitable and satisfied clients.

It must be incredibly easy to use.  When used properly, it will impact their workday tremendously.  It cannot be an obstacle for the sales people.

It can't be seen as stand-alone software, it needs to tie into and support the overall sales strategy, reinforce the training programs and encourage best-practice behavior.

Visibility and awareness are crucial.  Salespeople need to know the rules and have a clear, accurate picture of where they stand.  Combining this with healthy competition helps.  Spend time discussing with your team (group and individually) what the conversion ratios are, what the optimum sales cycle is, who is getting traction quickly and who’s moving opportunities through the process more consistently.  Send out daily updates, based on your observations of the data.

For those of you who may be interested in learning more about being an effective sales leader, our expert team at Kurlan & Associates is presenting an upcoming, complimentary webinar on February 5:  "Leading Your Ideal Sales Force - Part 1" at 11:00AM Eastern Time.  Please do consider registering.

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales management best practices, recruiting sales people, sales training, Sales Coaching, sales pipeline, sales lessons, crm, sales funnel

College Professors and Sales Leaders Have it Backward

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, May 03, 2013 @ 14:05 PM

Bored PeopleI was listening to a public radio program recently on how online learning will continue to alter radically the traditional notion of college learning.  They were talking about the Khan Academy which is a pioneer in the “almost free” space.  Ironically, a quick search of their website yields nothing under “sales”.

One of the guests asked a fabulous question about college.  Why do we listen to lectures in class and do homework at home?  Shouldn’t we do homework in class and listen to lectures at home?  Putting aside the student for a moment, the most important person in the room is the teacher or professor.  They are the subject matter expert and skilled at explaining the content, but more importantly, making it come alive and helping people who struggle to learn the material.

I suspect that like sales head trash, “you can’t ask a direct question without offending a prospect”.  College head trash such as “I’m not smart enough to understand these concepts” is a significant obstacle to successful learning.  The teacher or professor should be, and likely is many times, the best-equipped person to help someone through these challenges.  We can argue over how well-prepared the average professor is and what changes are needed to make this work, but the idea of leverging a professor's core skills is valid.

In a typical sales meeting (weekly, monthly or annual), much time is spent on delivering information.  This includes product knowledge and application, marketing efforts and strategy, and positioning.  How much time is spent on “homework”?  I define homework here as practice, role-play, live demo’s and presentations, objection management, mock cold-calling, etc.  Most of us would probable agree that the answer is not enough.  Companies do bring in motivational speakers to talk about limiting beliefs, commitment, tenacity, being open-minded and singularly purposed.  These are all good, but when the master (teacher, sales leader or trainer) is in the house, we should take advantage of this opportunity to leverage their expertise.  Adults learn by watching others.  In sales, without a live demonstration of how to make cold calls, handle a thorny objection or find the issue behind the symptom, it’s academic.  The more that we role-play, the greater the value to our team.

What percentage of your sales meetings is spent on practice and role-play?  How much telling versus asking do you do?  How effective are your sales managers at debriefing a sales call?  Is it safe in your organization for someone to screw up and learn from their mistakes?

Take a few minutes to take our Sales Force Grader.  It will help you better understand where your opportunities for improvement are.

 

To learn more about selling effectively, please consider 2 of Kurlan & Associates' upcoming events for C-Levels, VP's and Managers:    

  1. Annual Boston Area Executive Luncheon on May 21st.  Contact me and I'll work on getting you a discount code for free registration.
     
  2. Annual Sales Leadership Intensive also in Boston, MA on May 14-15.  Contact me if you have questions about getting registered.  

Topics: sales management best practices, sales training, sales force development, Sales Coaching, business development, booking appointments, sales lessons, alignment, better salespeople, cold calling

Traffic Jams, Ice Flows and Sales Process

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 @ 11:04 AM

traffic jam, sales processOn a recent trip for the Inbound Marketing Summit, getting out of New York City was a painful process.  We left by 3pm expecting to beat the traffic, but had an entirely different experience on the return trip to Boston.

You may be wondering how traffic and ice relate to sales process.  Before I discuss this, I want to comment on the Summit.  If you haven’t been paying attention to “Inbound Marketing”, I suggest that you do.  Consider what I heard: 80% of the world’s data has been created in the last 2 years.  Assuming this number is off by 30%, it’s still a head-popping statistic.  Recent research shows that prospects have made up to 60% of their buying decisions prior to speaking with a salesperson.

Consider the implications of these data points and the profound impact which they have on the sales profession.   I ask sales and sales leadership professionals this question:  When they first begin talking to a prospect, “How often do their prospects have incomplete and or inaccurate opinions about the best way to solve their problems?”  The answer is always, “Very frequently.” 

If 60% of the buying decision has been made prior to the salesperson entering the conversation and the prospect's planned solution is lacking, salespeople must first help prospects to understand what they missed in their research.  Said differently, they need to unsell them prior to helping them determine what the best solution is.

How many of your salespeople, even the most productive ones, can do this consistently and effectively?

Now back to ice, traffic and sales process.  What frustrated us the most was how one minute we were whizzing along at 70mph only to be stuck in bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic the next minute.  This continued for close to 100 miles.

Several years ago, there was a study which reported that ice freezing in streams is a good model for predicting traffic congestion.  Ice forms first in the slow moving, shallower pools along the banks.  A small disruption in the flow of water there changes the main current and causes it to cycle through, slowing down and accelerating.

Back to the sales process.  Many of the delays experienced when attempting to close a sale can be attributed to 2 things: 

  • The prospect lacked a compelling reason to buy and
  • Something changed.

The most impactful elements which we can control are:

  • A properly defined sales process,
  • Consistent execution of the process,
  • Great sales coaching in the context of the process and
  • Improved recruiting and onboarding of new salespeople.

The best way to determine how effective your salespeople really are, is to accompany them on random, unplanned sales calls and only observe.  Experience shows the following will happen.

  • If there was a call strategy, it will be only partially executed.
  • Major milestones will be skip or missed.
  • Your sales process will not be executed consistently.
  • Your salespeople will begin presenting much too early.
  • Follow-up questions will go unasked or will be ineffective.
  • The prospect will control the process.

The biggest problem will be how the salespeople interpret the results when the call ends.  In virtually all cases, their perspective of how the call went will be overly optimistic.

Selling has changed and sales organizations must adapt.  Science and process need to become the new norm.  Sales leaders must be excellent coaches and embrace sales infrastructure with an operational mindset and your sales organizations must move toward a more process-oriented approach.

We have a few upcoming events targeted toward CEO's, VP's and Managers.  At a minimum, they will be great events to learn about the services which we offer.  The first one is our Annual Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston, MA on May 14-15.  Contact me if you have questions about getting registered.

The second is our Annual Boston Area Executive Luncheon on May 21st.  If you are going to be in the Boston area, please plan on joining us.  Contact me and I'll work on getting you a discount code for free registration.

 

Topics: sales management best practices, sales process, sales training, sales force development, effective sales coaching

How Well Will You Adapt? – The Sales Seismic Shift

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

A client of mine sent me an article recently from the Harvard Business Review titled The End of Solution Selling.  It is a long, well-researched piece which challenges the status quo.

A key premise is that customers now are investing a significant amount of time and energy before they engage salespeople to diagnose their own problems and identify the solution. Salespeople, who historically have focused on finding a problem and identifying the solution, now increasingly are seen as unnecessary and redundant. 

Many salespeople view themselves as facilitators of a buying process, which they frequently allow the prospect to design and control. They spend much time explaining why people should buy from them instead of helping the prospect identify the potential flaws in their logic and decision-making. They get lost in the details and miss the opportunity to discuss the big picture, including industry change, disruptive events and how this aligns with or may undermine the potential customer’s strategy.

Yesterday, I spoke to a recently hired sales leader. In our conversation, he shared that while improving the effectiveness of his sales force was an important priority, the bigger issue was getting senior management to understand that “sales” is as important as operations and that great products don’t sell themselves. This comes from a company with over 500 employees.

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Developing salespeople, from presenters of a value proposition to proactive hunters with great consultative selling ability, is the biggest and most important challenge facing the sales industry today. The days of building a relationship and presenting a solution are gone forever. Unfortunately, most salespeople don’t know that a seismic shift has already taken place and they’re not prepared for what’s coming.

Great salespeople love when prospects push back. They relish the idea of being challenged and engaging prospects. They understand that their real value comes from dialogue and their ability to change people’s thinking and perception. In Baseline Selling terms, they spend much time between first and second base, building SOB quality. Remember that SOB means that the prospect is paying more attention to you than anyone else because you have helped them discover new challenges, opportunities and concerns which need to be addressed.

Which percentage of your salespeople are proactive hunters who excel at consultative selling? How many lean in when their prospects push back, not out of frustration but because they naturally engage in honest two-way conversations? Lastly, how effective are your sales leadership skills in developing your salespeople in these critical areas?

Kurlan & Associates, Inc. is holding a two-day Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston on October 3-4. The program is for CEO’s, President’s, GM’s and Sales Leaders committed to excellence.

Topics: sales culture, Consultative Selling, sales model, sales methodology, sales training, harvard business review, solution selling, hbr blog, chris mott

Sales Pain - Are you Creating Enough

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 @ 15:08 PM

Yesterday was my weekly personal trainer appointment.  Tony, my trainer, has been teaching me the fundamentals of Olympic power lifting.  His belief is that training this way addresses more muscle groups and builds explosiveness. My interest beyond physical fitness is to be a better bicycle rider and being explosive should improve my ability to climb hills.

So there I was, sweating away, attempting to get the form right.  It turns out that lifting heavy weights requires strength but it's the form and process that makes it possible.  The most difficult part is learning to literally throw your body under the bar as the weight reaches your chest.

I was out of my element, over-thinking everything, and today I'm sore.  The sales question is, are you pushing your salespeople outside of their comfort zone and forcing them to "throw" themselves into situations that make them hurt?

If you're not, then you aren't effectively doing your job and you are doing them a disservice.  The truth is, we don't really grow as people and practitioners until we force ourselves, or get forced into situations where, we may know they are good for us but we avoid them because we aren't comfortable being outside our comfort zone.

 

In the current economic times it's harder than ever to succeed and my view is that only the people who change and adapt will thrive. So what's your choice?

Topics: sales training, sales performance, sales improvement, selling tips

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