When You Know It’s Time For Change in Sales

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 @ 15:04 PM


ball imageRecently, I had the great pleasure of giving the keynote address to a group of product distribution business companies.  All of them built successful businesses and succeeded in a tough marketplace.  The topic was sales improvement and how changes in the sales landscape put pressure on companies to optimize their sales organizations.

We started with a video about the SawStop company, which invented a way to stop a table saw blade within a few thousandths of a second, and thereby prevent operator accidents.  In the video, the inventor put his own finger into the moving blade’s rotation to demonstrate that his invention works.  At this, the audience could only gasp!

The resulting message for us is, as a CEO or executive, what is your saw blade and what must you do that scares you to ensure the growth of your company.  Managing a sales force today requires that you transition your salespeople from account managers to proactive hunters, and from presenters to consultative sellers.

Achieving this means overcoming many obstacles including the motivation of your salespeople, changing the way that they sell and teaching them new skills which they either don’t have or haven’t used in a while.

The fastest way to accomplish this is to invest time, money, effort and resources in your sales leaders.  Making the decision to do this involves your own investment.

I asked the audience a series of questions:

  • How many of you are great at holding people accountable?
  • What percentage of your 2011 revenue came from brand new accounts?
  • How many of you love sales leadership?
  • Can you grow your business without a more effective sales leadership function?
  • Do you feel like your salespeople are holding you hostage?
  • How much time do your sales leaders spend developing their people?
  • Who is responsibility for this change?
  • Why haven’t you changed?

Not surprisingly, the answers raised much introspection and soul-searching.  CEO’s, presidents and business leaders have succeeded in growing their businesses despite not having optimized their sales organizations.  Much of this is due to phenomenal efforts to improve operations, financial management, acquisitions and other business operation functions.  The time of sales improvement is now upon us.  We need to treat the sales force with the same level of professionalism that we do with other departments.  We need to align and develop the systems and processes that support the sales department and, most importantly, we need to raise our standards for what is expected and acceptable.  To do this, you need to invest in the people who are the lifeblood of your company’s growth.

Kurlan and Associates, Inc. is hosting a two-day Sales Leadership Intensive in May designed to help you accomplish this.



Topics: salespeople failing to meet expectations, sales resistance, ownership of sales growth

Recession Insures Greater Competition- Sales Professionals Beware

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 @ 14:08 PM


Frank Belzer's post about Chinese work ethic and competition highlights something most people don't want to think about. The competitive landscape has changed forever.

Putting aside the impact of increased globalization, and the rise of China and India, America's challenges with the deficit, tax and monetary policy and unemployment just to mention a few:  they aren't going away anytime soon.

People are smarter and more cautious, armed with information which may well be inaccurate.  Witness the healthcare debate, under tremendous pressure to make the "correct decision", fearful about losing their jobs and feeling stressed out and overwhelmed.

Competition comes in many forms and from different places. It's direct or indirect, external and internal, foreign or domestic, price based or value based and outside your control or self-inflected. Success will be more difficult to achieve than ever before and, like the economic situation, this won't change anytime soon. 

I'll leave you with some questions to ask and find answers to:

  • How do prospects and customers see you, as vendors or someone of higher value?
  • Do you and your company position yourselves as advisors and, if so, do you act the part?
  • Do you know specifically what your competition does better than you?
  • Are you doing everything you can to impact the sales process even when you are not in control?
  • How has your value proposition been affected by the economy?
  • Are you mentally and emotionally tough enough to fight through these changing conditions to ultimately prosper?

Topics: sales culture, sales management, discouragement, declining sales, chris mott, sales resistance

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