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Revenue is down. Sales are slowing. The CEO looks up from the business plan and realizes that the company wont meet analysts expectations. Focusing on the organizations sales leader, the stage is set for sacrificing a scapegoat.Upon who else should the axe fall when the sales organization

Don't Shoot the Sales Team

DonRevenue is down. Sales are slowing. The CEO looks up from the business plan and realizes that the company wont meet analysts expectations. Focusing on the organizations sales leader, the stage is set for sacrificing a scapegoat.Upon who else should the axe fall when the sales organization misses revenue targets? After all, arent sales and revenue the responsibility of the sales leader? The answer may be as easily forgotten as it is obvious.To one degree or another everyone in an organization impacts the revenue generating process. The strategic plan of the board of directors and the CEO provides the overall strategy for revenue generation. The marketing department provides crucial demographic and psychographic customer or client information on which the sales department relies in formulating industry and account strategies. Manufacturing, finance, legal, customer service and all other departments facilitate or constrain the process of generating revenue, each in their own peculiar way.The sales organizations influence in enterprise revenue generation is con-centrated in the sales pipeline. Identifying bona fide sales opportunities, managing those opportunities through the sales pipeline until they produce revenue, and then managing customer or client relationships are the primary responsibilities of the sales and sales management teams. Rarely, if ever, does the sales organization control the resources of manufacturing, marketing, finance, legal and customer service.The picture most companies present to the world show the sales organization out there, in front of customers and clients and in front of the rest of the companys departments. Even marketing, the first cousin of sales, is more often than not as disconnected from sales as are the other departments. The sales group leads the company charge, and the other departments take up rear support positions, providing tangible and intangible support.Revenue generation is a cross functional, company-wide process that involves every department and all employees in the organization. The CEO and the Board of Directors set corporate strategy and everyone else in the organization executes that strategy. We have never observed a situation where the sales organization is in disarray while all the other business segments are humming along with little or no friction. In those rare cases where the failure or underperformance of an enterprises revenue generation process lies within the sales organization, the appropriate sales executives, managers and sales professionals should be held accountable and should suffer the requisite consequences. Before CEOs shoot their sales teams, however, they might want to take a critical look at the entire revenue generation process and how each business segment contributes to or detracts from the success of the process. Like Americas favorite psychologist, Dr. Phil, would advise: Every department in an organization either contributes to the companys revenue generation process or contaminates it.

A Tickler File For Sales And Networking

A Tickler File For Sales And Networking

If you are involved in sales, fundraising or just an active networker, you have probably tried a variety of tools to manage your contact list and remind yourself to stay in touch with all of the prospects and people you meet. This tickler file is designed to be an inexpensive, effective, tool that can be used by salespeople in a variety of different types of organizations. This tickler file uses inexpensive index cards and a simple file box. You will need the following items to create your own index card sales tool. I found everything I needed at my local office supply store. The total cost was around $25.00.- A box to store the index cards - Monthly 3" by 5" index tabs - Daily (1-31) 3" by 5" index tabs- Alphabetical 3" by 5" index tabs- A ton of white ruled 3" by 5" index cards (you don't need a photo, right?) - A bunch of colored 3" by 5" index cards (pick your favorite color) - A small case to carry your in your pocketOnce you have purchased the required supplies, you can organize your 3X5. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume that you are assembling your 3X5 on January 1st. If this is the case you would first organize your tabs in the order below (front to back):- January tab - Daily tabs 1-31 - February - December monthly tabs - A-Z alphabetical tabs - Blank index cards - white and your favorite colorAll of your cards should now be in the file box and the first thing you should see is the January tab. Next, you should start creating cards for your leads. In the beginning, this is going to take some time (assuming you have a lot of leads). You might choose to use one color card for prospects, one color for customers, another for personal contacts, etc. If you are not going to organize your contacts by color, you will only need white cards. Nonetheless, you can either copy your contacts information onto the cards or simply staple their business card to one of the index cards.The system works like this.Let's imagine it is January 1st. and you attend a networking event where you meet a potential client. You get this lead's business card at the event and you want to contact him/her on the 2nd., so when you get to your office, you staple the leads business card to a white index card and drop it behind the "2" tab and then go home for the day. After all, it is new years day and you have been working hard to create your new sales system and you attended a networking event. So, you arrive at work on January 2nd. and open up your tickler file. The first thing you should do is move the "1" tab back behind the February tab. You will always be rolling the system forward like this, so that the first tab you see in the box represents the most current month, then the most current day. Now, you go to the tab for today (Jan 2nd.) and find the card for the lead that you met at the networking event yesterday. You call the lead and learn that he/she is out of town until January 6th. so you make a note which says, "1/2/05 - Mr. Lead is on vacation till 1/6". Now you drop the card behind the "6" tab for the month of January. You will continue to roll this lead forward in the system, making notes at each step, until the lead either turns into a customer or asks you to leave them alone. When the lead turns into a customer, I staple their business card to a colored card and place it behind the appropriate alphabetical tab. If their is another opportunity with this client, I move the colored card back to the dated section and move them through the process again.Of course, as you add more people to your pipeline, you might not get to contact everyone on the day you have them slotted for. Just move them to the next day's slot at the end of the current day so you contact them tomorrow.You will not want to carry around a huge metal box full of index cards, which is why you want to have a small index card wallet or box, so if you are going to be on the road or out of the office, you can simply grab your cards for the day and go. Not just for salespeople.While the system is great for salespeople, it also is a great tool for those of us who are focusing on networking. I actually use three different colored cards and use white for leads, blue for clients and red for my networking contacts (patriotic, I know). On the red cards, I write either 7, 14, 30, 45, 60, etc in the upper right hand corner of the index card to remind myself how frequently I want to contact the person, so I simply move the card forward based on the number on the card. If I want to contact someone every seven days, I move the card ahead a week after I make contact.I hope this system works well for you. If you have any suggestions, please don't hesitate to send them to me through my website (http://www.stephenlabuda.com).

Follow Up With Your Customer

Follow Up With Your Customer

Follow Up With Your CustomerAfter you go through a sales session with a customer, wether you sell them a product or not, follow up with them. Otherwise, your time was all but wasted.Every part of a sales process from the initial contact, to the presentation of the product, to the final step, following up, are all equally important.The following up process is an important element of the sales process for many key reasons, here are just a few:1. Following up makes your customers feel important.When a customer walks into your office, or calls you on the telephone, they do not want to be thought of as a statistic. They want to be treated as though they are the only customer you have.By following up after your initial contact, it tells the customer that you are serious about doing business with them. They will appreciate the phone call, and this will be a clear message to them that they werent just another sale on your way to meeting your goal.2. Following up with your customer shows that you care.Another reason to follow up with your customer is to find out how they are doing, and how their new product is benefitting them.Ask questions about the product and the experience they have had with you and your company.It is always good to get feedback, good and bad. This way you can correct anything that your customer was not happy with, learn from your mistake, and be sure not to let it happen again with your next customer.If their feedback is negative or they just are not happy with the product, find out their reasons, be empathetic, and try to resolve the problem as best you can.3. Follow up with your customer for more sales opportunities.After your initial meeting with your customer, one of two things happened. Either you got the sale, or your customer left still undecided.If you got the sale, following up with your customer is important for reasons stated in number two, and also, you now have an opportunity to up-sell. While they are on the phone, ask for permission to go over some of your other products you believe they may be interested in.If your customer left you still undecided, than this is the perfect opportunity to see if they have come to a decision. If they havent, ask if there is anything they would like you to go over again, or, if they thought of any more questions they would like to ask.A final note . . . Before a customer leaves your desk or hangs up the phone, make your customer aware of your intentions to follow up with them. If your sales session went well, this should not be a problem.Following up with your customers is a great opportunity to keep in contact with them, and there is no law that says you cant follow up more than once. The more you stay in contact with your customers, the stronger your relationship with them becomes. The stronger the relationship, the more business and referrals you can expect from them. So follow up, Always.This article may be reproduced by anyone at any time, as long as the authors name and reference links are kept in tact and active.

Christmas 2005: Bargains Galore!

Christmas 2005: Bargains Galore!

If you are one of the many millions of Americans who will be shopping this holiday season for gifts for loved ones, friends, and business associates, you are in the drivers seat when it comes to finding the best prices. Several events this past year have merchants scrambling to set prices low enough so that you will shop and shop big. Lets take a look at how these events are shaping the retailing landscape and how you can make it all work to your advantage.High Oil Prices Hurricanes Katrina and Rita pushed already high fuel prices to record levels. Although off of their peak levels, prices are still too high for many consumers who feel pinched and are likely to cut back on spending. Factor in Hurricane Wilma and this will be a tough year for many.Rising Mortgage Rates Incremental increases in mortgage rates means that mortgage bills are going up, taking away from money that could be used elsewhere. Home sales remain steady, so companies like Home Depot are likely to benefit, while department stores will be scrambling.Credit Card Changes Our nations new bankruptcy laws coupled with credit card companies requiring higher minimum payments will certainly put the squeeze on for some. Not necessarily a bad thing to require higher payments, but the timing couldnt be worse.Online retailers have a great opportunity to capitalize on consumers reticence. With lower overheads, free shipping, and access to a large pool of inventory, look for online shopping to jump up again this year.For brick and mortar retailers, expect that the motto, If you cut prices sharply, they will come, to hold true. Stagnant inventories cost money to maintain; moved merchandise means money that can be applied to the bottom line. Look for aggressive sales and even price wars this holiday season as merchants redouble their efforts to reel you in. They have to; for some their very survival depends on your patronage.Shop wisely!

How to Recognize Your True Sales Performance Competencies

Lets first define what we mean by a core competency. We will then introduce the 3 Core Competencies, and spend our time understanding how they can dramatically increase your success.The term Core Competencies refers to those essential elements in the sales process that most directly impact your success. These elements are controllable and measurable, and sales professionals can be trained to be proficient in these areas. Unfortunately, many sales organizations and individuals lose focus distracted by peripheral activities or sophisticated systems that track dozens of different activities when only a handful really matters.Without a foundation built upon these essential elements or Core Competencies, and because of all the distractions and roadblocks an organization is susceptible to today, results can be mediocre or less. Take a look at the following list of items that are prevalent in the sales cycle, and select the items that you believe are absolutely essential to your success. -Closing Sales-Developing Prospect Lists-Setting Appointments-Running 1st Appointments-Working Qualified Prospects through the Sales Pipeline-Post-Sale Marketing-Developing Referrals-Reporting and Paperwork-Documenting TestimonialsMany of these tasks are important, but they are not all sales performance competencies. Yes, it is important and useful to ask for referrals and develop testimonials from satisfied customers, but your success hinges mostly on the mastery of and attention to the Core sales Competencies.One simple way to determine whether an activity, routine or task is truly a core sales competency is to ask what activities are directly linked to revenue. After all, revenue is how we sales people measure success. Thats our scorecard at the end of the month.We can do that through a series of questions listed below.Is it an essential component to the sales mission or is it just an ingredient in the recipe? Separate necessary tasks in your sales day from key competencies.Consider a golfers essential competencies from tee-off to last putt. Is the core competency the ball or the club? Or is it the golf swing and putting stroke? As an example, Prospecting for new business is a necessary sales system to put in place for routine success. Within your Prospecting system are individual components for lead generation; things like customer referral programs, vendor collaboration programs, affinity programs, target information seminars and association programs. These are not authentic sales competencies but tactical vehicles for lead generation.The actual sales competency is the Act of communicating the Business Reason to Meet once you are given the opportunity to have a face-to-face or telephone conversation with your intended target prospect. And the measurement of that competency, or key performance indicator, is the Conversation-to-appointment ratio; how many times you ask for the business appointment versus how many times you achieve it.Can it be measured routinely and accurately with a napkin, pencil, and calculator?Just as measuring your Conversation-to-appointment ratio; how many times you ask for the business appointment versus how many times you achieve it, your first appointment to proposal ration is a key performance indicator which make it also an essential "sales performance" competency, because the objective of your first appointment is advancing your sales process to the next step. That might be a demonstration, a site visit, a survey or a proposal. The degree that you perform your 1st appointment sales process to achieve your Next Step objective is measurable and will give you diagnostic feedback to your competency level parallel to your 1st appointment methodology and process.Can you set a realistic performance benchmark tied to revenue goals? Lets say you have diagnosed your sales performance competencies as converting target prospect conversations to appointments, converting 1st appointments to the next step in your sales process and then closing the business from there. So thats (3) sales performance competencies; Conversation-to-appointment ratio, 1st appointment to proposal ratio and closing ratio.How would you go about setting realistic performance benchmarks that the team can aspire to and measure themselves against?To do so you need (3) more sales performance numbers; your average revenue per sale, your monthly revenue objective and your weekly activity number. Your weekly activity number is a derivative of your (3) sales performance competencies and your average revenue per sale parallel to your monthly revenue objective. Heres an example of a sales manager in the document management industry. Her teams average revenue per sale is $3400. She calculates she needs to maintain a 1st appointment to proposal ratio of 65%. The closing ratio is set at 40%. Their individual monthly revenue goal is $25,000. The derivative of these performance numbers is a weekly activity goal of (7) new appointments per rep, on average. Next is the reality check. Are these performance numbers realistic to meet? Do they have the necessary skill-set and supporting tools to meet all the benchmarks and achieve the performance ratios and activity goal? If not, what adjustments are needed in line with the benchmarks and what training is needed to achieve them?Can you apply Pin-point Training and Powerful Routines around each core competency? We know what training is, but do we understand why training fails? Timely training is NOT a seminar or one-time event. It requires appropriate structures for learning and application, defining useful short-term objectives, measuring progress, working closely with qualified trainers for follow-up and support, and most importantly, organizational commitment from the Top down. Timely training is focused on one sales performance competency at a time until the appropriate benchmark of performance is realized. So if you can say it is directly tied to revenue (or your end result), is a skill set that can be trained to for improvement, and can be easily measured, it is a Sales Performance Competency.Perhaps a golf analogy will help illustrate the power of the Business of Core Competencies. A self-professed poor golfer with a chronic slice might attempt to correct the problem by adjusting his stance actually aiming away from the fairway so that the slice hopefully lands the ball in the middle. In contrast, a low handicap golfer with a persistent slice might address the problem by adjusting their grip, rotating their hips, or the adjusting the arc of their swing. In other words, the good golfers address the core competencies of the swing vs. adjusting peripheral elements. Off the golf course, in the sales arena, the opportunity for you is to identify, train to and measure sales performance competencies and performance metrics, and not just chase after quota.

Getting Passed the Gate Keeper

We all know the feeling of going out to make our cold calls, only to be shot down by the person at the front desk who looks at us as nothing more than a solicitor.These front desk people would be otherwise known as the gate keepers.Lets face it, getting passed the gate keeper can be tough, we are on their turf, what they say goes. Any slight resistance could end up with them making a call to security.Here are few really good tips on getting passed the gate keeper that have been proven to work.1. Ask to speak with someone in the sales department.The next time you are out cold calling, the last thing you want to do is walk into an office building, approach the front desk, and immediately try to sell your product.Instead, try this approach. Walk up to the receptionist counter, introduce yourself verbally and with a business card, and ask if you may speak with someone in their sales or retail department.By asking to speak with someone in a specialized department, the receptionist will believe you are there on official business and put you in contact with that department.Now that you are in front of someone in the same area of work as yourself, they will most assuredly be sensitive to your needs, and understand your situation.These are the people in the company that will point you in the direction you want to go, and in the direction of the people you want to speak with about your products and services.2. Call ahead before you go.Before you go out to make your calls, place a telephone call to the companies you plan on visiting to let them know that you will be stopping by.Tell them something like this.Hello, my name is Jim Smith and I will be in your neighborhood this afternoon. I just wanted to let you know that I will be stopping by between the hours of twelve and two to introduce myself. Thats it, stop right there.Do not ask for permission to stop by. This will give them the opportunity to say no.Once you arrive at their office, you can than reintroduce yourself as the person that had called earlier in the day. This technique makes the transition from gate keeper to decision maker much smoother.Getting passed the gate keeper can be very tricky, but it can be done. By following the two examples I described above, you should find yourself talking with more decision makers. Good luck.This article may be reproduced by anyone at any time, as long as the authors name and reference links are kept in tact and active.

Summary

Revenue is down. Sales are slowing. The CEO looks up from the business plan and realizes that the company wont meet analysts expectations. Focusing on the organizations sales leader, the stage is set for sacrificing a scapegoat.Upon who else should the axe fall when the sales organization