Friday, March 17, 2017

Shotguns are for home defense...not funnel managementt

There are FOUR primary variables you can control that DIRECTLY influence your Sales Success....as measured by REVENUE and GROSS PROFIT in a period of time.

They are as follows:
  • # of Opportunities (0)
  • Deal Size (S)
  • Win Rate (W)
  • Length of the Sales Cycle (L)

Your current Success Rate is 1....derived by multiplying O*S*W and then dividing this by L...in other words CURRENTLY your (1*1*1)/1...this is your AS IT IS NOW position. These four levers are how you INCREASE or decrease your REVENUE and GROSS PROFIT from your current position.

It's a simple exercise...if you increase O, S, & W by 5%, the cumulative effect is to increase your REVENUE & GROSS PROFIT by 15.76%...NOW, suppose you FOCUS on what's winnable, not the quantity; and by doing this you increase your WIN RATE (W) and you increase your DEAL SIZE (S) both by a factor of 10%. Coincidentally, since you are more FOCUSED, your projects close FASTER, by a factor of 4%. But in the process of CULLING THE HERD, you drop your # of Opportunities by 20%...how does the math work out.

  • (.8 * 1.1 * 1.1)/.96 = 1.01

What does this mean...it means if  you REDUCE the number of Opportunities in your funnel by 20%, but increase the Deal Size and your Win Rate by 10%, expecting to reduce your Length of Sale Cycle by 4%, then you end up 1% HIGHER than your CURRENT REVENUE & GROSS PROFIT position.

Now...suppose you REDUCE the number of Opportunities in your funnel by 10% to .9, INCREASE of DEAL SIZE and WIN RATE by 10%...with your CURRENT Length of Sales Cycle

  • (.9 * 1.1 * 1.1)/1.0 = 1.09

You've INCREASED your REVENUE and GROSS PROFIT by 9% by FOCUSING on what's winnable and improving your chances to WIN by FOCUSING. Here's a few more examples, just for Grins & Giggles.

  • (1 * 1.1 * 1.05) / 1 = 1.16
  • (.9 * 1.2 * 1.1) / 1 = 1.19
  • My Favorite (.9 * 1.05 * 1.3)/.95 = 1.29

Shotguns are for birds and home defense, not for managing your funnel!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Wisdom of Mike Weinberg

Mike Weinberg is a speaker of truths, a man unafraid to call a fig a fig and a trough a trough (ancient Greek reference...via Google search). It's Saturday night ... yes Saturday night, I am recovering from a three day bought of the flu and rather than drill more holes in my brain watching TV I pulled Mike's book from my briefcase and continued reading.

Mike's book, Sales Management Simplified, is full of reminders that the basics never go out of style, that "old school" ways taught invaluable lessons, and we who wish to be successful leaders and sellers in today's market place have to continue working at our craft.

Lately I have stressing to my team the no holds barred requirement to work our Sales Process. We do not quote projects, rather we provide solutions that enable the successful completion of Business Objectives. Problems lead to Issues, which lead to an Objective being established to remove the Issues by solving, thus eliminating, the Problems. We have to be proactive, we have to ensure we don't end up "playing catchup".

Mike's book does a terrific job in Chapter 15 of talking to both Sales Leaders and Sales People. I wish it was Monday so I could call my team members and have a Touchpoint session with them to again reinforce and check that their work is oriented toward solving Business Objectives.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

An email to my Team....

Ok - 

Sunday night sucked!  I didn’t expect Atlanta to win the Super Bowl…with the lead they had at one point I thought they might, but I never let go of the idea in the back of my head that NE was just too prepared for the game. They had too much experience as an organization to not be an immovable force.  So for three quarters I drank and yelled (in a Bar)…and for a long time I was thrilled to be in the moment of “maybe” winning.

And that Sucked!  I don’t like the feeling of MAYBE winning. I like the feeling of knowing you can win…that’s the feeling I never had for Atlanta. Until you achieve something, the conjecture that you “might” is just that…conjecture, possibility, perhaps, and so forth. New England never quit, not that ATL did (and I am not accusing them of quitting at all) - to me it is a case of NE finally played like the professionals they are – while Atlanta may have played to not lose. Again, IDK, sports metaphors are mostly CRAP anyway.  How many of you want to “take one for the team”?  That’s what I thought.

I do like knowing that we can win (stupid business decisions by the customer and cronyism aside) I like feeling that we can win, so I don’t want you/us chasing opportunity that you can MAYBE win. 

I’m going to keep pushing you to CHANGE how you look at Opportunity  - getting you to FOCUS on the OBJECTIVE your customer or opportunity is attempting to achieve. This is for both your existing clients and your new opportunities. Q&A’s can be asked that help you FULLY understand the business goals of a project. This division IS NOT solely anything other than the UC arm of a very capable System Integrator. We’re not Avaya, or Unity, or NEC, or Mitel, or whatever….Our Sales Process is one that identifies Problems, Issues, and the Business Objective that will address them. We know who the key players are and WHY they care (or don’t) about the Objective. You have to know your VALUE to an Opportunity.  When we directly apply our VALUE to a customer’s Business Objective then I know we can win…not that we MIGHT win.

Next Year’s SB is in Minnesota…Go Falcons!

Friday, February 3, 2017

New Ideas come from Old Ideas

I am a Cover Band Sales Leader - there is not a single thing unique about what I do. In fact I am certain that everything I do as a Sales Leader is learned from the best practices, writings, and recommendations of others. I believe that even my "ideas" for things I want to do are not unique to me; they have been written about and utilized for years by others. So what does this mean, aside from me potentially being a serial plagiarist??

Well, if you believe that all the sound principles of Sales Leadership have already been discussed and written about then you agree with me, but if you believe the changing landscape of B2B sales (because of the Internet) is changing the way Sales Leaders need to approach their team then you likely also agree with me. I think I am right and here's why.

The fundamentals never change. No matter how cute or innovative we may feel we are it all comes back to the basics:

  1. Identify the Opportunity
  2. Know whether you have a solution
  3. Identify the Key Players in the decision
  4. Understand each Key Players motivation
  5. Position your solution to address the Opportunity and each Key Player's motivation
Has the IoT changed this? No
Has the advent of LinkedIn for Cold Calling changed this?

I don't think so...I think that IoT, LinkedIn, and any other technology, networking, or marketing tool that is based on technology is an automation of that which already existed in analog format. 

Question - how in LinkedIn different that a Lead Sharing Group for prospecting?  Sure, the net is wider, but you still require a contact to make an introduction.

Question - when was the last time (or the first time) you made a T-visit?  What is it?  It where you "stop in" the businesses on either sales of your current sales appointment.  Think of a strip shopping center. You have an appointment with a business located in that center - your "drop in" the business on either side AFTER your appointment to introduce yourself, leave a card, and try to get the name of the person "responsible for making the decisions about (insert what you do here)".  Even better, did you ask the person you were meeting with if they KNOW their positional-peers at the businesses on either side? Maybe that business park has its own professional network group.

Question - when the person who last fixed your (insert large-home-appliance name here) did they leave you with a magnet and ask that you let your neighbors know how well they fixed your whatever? Do YOU ask for referrals?

Question - Do you know WHY your clients buy from you over and over again? Do you know WHY they only bought once? Did you know that feedback is a gift, it truly is (BSA WoodBadge)?

I have to remind myself every day to not forget the basics - I want to get immersed in the possibility of technology and a magic CRM making my day automated. The truth is technology will never ever ever replace a handshake and a conversation about what's important to you client conducted in a face to face situation. Some things that were complex have become commodities...but last I looked technology is still complex. Raising the capabilities of our technology does not make extinct the need for fundamentals. Deep Learning and Data Mining will not by themselves sell your quota this month. Only YOU can do that, and by remembers the practicing the Fundamentals you will surely outpace those who spend their day in front of their PC....it has become the Fax Machine of the 80's.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

We are our HABITS!

We are NOT the end result of the goals we set for ourselves! At least I do not want to be defined this way. Rather I believe we are the HABITS in our lives because they perfectly capture "what" we do and how we do this "what". For example are you a hiker if once every year you walk 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, with the goal of walking the entire trail in your lifetime? My answer would be yes, even if this is your only hiking activity for the year. Why? Because the work and preparation it requires to walk 200 miles requires a HABIT in your life that prepares you for this activity. So, while we may be recognized for having "hiked the AT", those who are hikers are going to be aware of the effort you put forth in preparation, as much as the completion of the act. In other words, those who KNOW the effort of your goal define you to themselves more by your HABITS of preparation than the achievement, because the HABIT enabled the achievement; and those in the "know" understand what it took for the achievement to be realized.

I walked the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim to Rim (r2r2r) last September with one of my brothers ( have two) and one of my sons (I have three). We did it for the "bucket list" achievement of being able to say (BRAG!!) that we'd done it. And we did do it, 46.3 miles, over 110,000 steps, 22,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, and over 12K calories burned in 22 hours. There are a few people that I know who are aware of the training routine we three hikers followed, so they have an appreciation of the effort it took for this achievement. That effort has established HABITs for me that I expect to last a life time. I eat better, I exercise regularly although not the same extent I did training for our r2r2r, I got to feel again the satisfaction of a long period of hard work paying off, and I spent some terrific time with family members creating a story that will last my lifetime and perhaps longer. (My father immortalized our trip in the family Christmas letter, including a picture of us a the South Rim). Most people will look at this trip as the singular activity of making the hike, I see it as the culmination of months of effort, achieved by having HABITs.

Like you I have professional achievements I want to realize, I have a host of others that are personal that I also want to complete, and I have hobbies that are wonderful diversions from work and life. I am able to enjoy all of them because I prioritize all of them. The HABITs I have help me with the structure I need - because they are also time bound. Getting something done within a certain period of time requires effort and focus. The HABIT of putting the important and essential on my calendar ensures that I block time in my "professional" day to work on that which enables success. But I also have HABITs that support my strategic and long term interests.

For example I have another hobby, model trains. I have a HO gauge layout at my office. I like running trains, but more than that I like building the layout. This hobby can be as simple or as complex as you desire (go to YouTube and search for Model Train Layouts...you'll see what I mean). Space is a great limiting factor for running model trains, my space is limited to 5 feet by 9 feet, but by layering and using the vertical space available to me ,as well as the horizontal, I have crafted a hobby space that enables me to experiment and craft with carpentry, electricity, arts and crafts (think diorama and you'll understand), and patience. Nothing teaches patience like running small plastic and metal cars on a hand built layout. I used to set time frame goals for finishing part of my layout, but I never get to them because somewhere in the process I wandered down an unexpected path of learning and spend time on a different aspect of the hobby. My point?? simply that this HABIT provides an escape that is not time bound because hobbies are lifetime activities and this HABIT is simply about taking take to have fun, not "finish".

My work life is very different because it is very much time bound. Months, Quarters, and Years all measure success and achievement. Revenue leads to Profit and this pays the bills, at the company and for my family. Work in Sales Leadership cannot be 100% It-Will-Happen-When-It-Happens, this will not keep the lights turned on. Sales Leadership requires HABITs that reinforce the time bound; it takes repetition and improvement - HABIT. So this is where it all comes together. I didn't make it across and back in our r2r2r by deciding three weeks before the trip to "get in shape". We worked for months practicing, getting stronger, trying new ideas, eating different foods, figuring out how to get more effort into an hour than we were able to put forth a few weeks earlier. Our HABITs enabled our success because they enabled the preparation and effort that lead to achievement. I hiked over 1,000 miles of training distance for that one day (I went up/down Stone Mountain 10 times one Saturday, back to back to back to ....). 

I know that if you do not have HABITs in your day then you do not have the structure in your approach to reach the achievements you desire for yourself, your team, or your company. Be known by those who understand for your HABITs, as they are ones who truly understand what your achievements really represent.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

We = Important to Me!

(Note: This was previously posted by me in another blog that is no longer active)

When "we" need to change we're in the act together. We means "us"..."you and I"..."together".  When you need one of your sales reps to make a change I've found that it helps to use the word "we". Remember, I'm a Cover Band so this is not original to me. I probably got this from marriage counseling or a guest speaker at a conference. So why use "we"? Actually there are several good reasons. 

First, if only they (your Rep) needs to make a change, as in "You need to improve your...." then there is something broken on only one side of the Sales Leader/Sales Rep equation for success. Your people need to know you're committed to their success, they won't follow you otherwise. So put yourself on their side, let them know how their success is key to your success. I learned from Michael Hyatt to set a goal for myself of each of my reps making their year end bonus. Their success enables my success.

Now of course there are changes which are entirely on them, truly a  "you need to change", but I think most conversations which will discuss a change that begin with the word "you" are going to be quickly followed by the words "are fired". Because whatever it was the "you" did is unrecoverable. However, if it is a performance or growth related issue and you're beginning to work with your rep on a change, then a Sales Leader has to put themselves in the resolution equation.

Change requests when made with empathy have a greater impact and a higher probability of success. Using "we" lets your Rep know that you the Sales Leader are going to work alongside them. Naturally your side of the work could ultimately be firing them if they don't make the change, but in most cases the "we" for a Sales Leader is the plan for improvement. The LEADERSHIP part of our title. Most struggling reps don't want to be in that position and are trying as best they can to improve, if not and they've given up, your conversation is going to start with the word "you". A rep who has quit on the job is poison to the rest of the team and needs to be gone immediately.

So when you're working with your Reps try thinking and speaking in terms of "we" - such as...."We need to work on improving your..." or "We need to change how ..." If it's a "We" then I'm in the investment  - so it has to be important to me as well. Words without actions are useless when leading type A Sales Reps. So whatever your "we", make sure it's important to "ME". Your reps will smell through BS and the latest motivational line before you get it out of your mouth, if they don't....fire them because they can't read their clients intentions. If your people cannot tell when you're being sincere they need to find another career.

Good Luck and remember....Nothing happens until something gets sold!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Asking Questions in the right places

Right now my country (United States) is in the midst of a transition of responsibility from a Democrat President to a Republican. I specifically use the word responsibility because I do not want to use the word power. I do not believe our Government has power over us, they may feel they do, but as long as I have a passport and means, then I am a willing participant in this democracy and can choose to leave - so they do not have power over me. Anyway, back to my point today, the US is in the midst of a transition and the "news" outlets are reporting to us that the outgoing guy's approval rating is increasing and the incoming guy's approval rating is sinking. These polls have been appearing regularly in the news for the last couple of weeks and whenever they do I have wondered to myself how they can be correct given what we know about the outcome of the election (Electoral College results), the popular vote totals, and how polls are conducted.

It occurs to me that this current polling environment is very similar to gathering information from an organization - your answers are going to vary greatly depending upon who you ask and where they are located. I'll explain...

The incoming guy lost to popular vote in the last election for several million votes. News stories have identified an interesting fact, if you exclude California from the voting then the incoming guy WINS the popular vote. The premise here is that California with its huge population, and being a Democratic leaning state (which is why the new guy choose to not campaign there), its sheer size and number of voters had a significant statistical impact on the percentages that make up the Popular Vote count. We are NOT going to discuss the merits of the Electoral College as this point, this is not a civics blog. However I can draw a comparison between California's population, polling, and finding answers. If you exclude the most populous and "left-leaning-never-voting-Republican" state from your poll, you end up with a truer picture of the past election. California is an outlier, statistically manipulating the results, influencing data with marginal impact on the outcome and true situation. This is not a shot at California - beautiful state and everyone should go visit. If you live there, please enjoy the scenery every chance you get.

My theory is this - polls in our current state of political division need to be weighted in the samples based on the election results. Specifically, don't over-poll in California (for example) if you want to get a true gauge on how the entire country feels about the new guy. While I am not saying this is what's being done, I am saying this is a bad idea and maybe these polls are not adequately weighting the sample sizes to include the "deplorables" who chose to vote for the new guy, rather than the old guy's successor. Fact checking and data gathering inside an organization as you seek to identify the true priorities and understand the aims of a company's Business Objectives ALSO requires a diverse sample size. This is true UNLESS there is a single decision maker and he or she has directly told you "I will make this decisions and will buy what I want". But we know that smart business managers are evenly distributing blame and responsibility by putting together teams to evaluate vendors, so it is highly likely you will not find too many Pattons during your sales calls.

By focusing rigidly on the opinions and desires of those we agree with it can become apparent to you that your plan, solution, pricing, and smile are the thing for which your client has been vainly searching until your arrival and you are the solution to all their problems. But, if you keep your sample size restricted to those who already agree with you, the ones to whom you have easy access, or those who are not "challenging" then there is a great possibility that you are missing key contributors and likely do not have the true picture of the situation. As a professional it is important to understand that those who disagree with you or have a different approach or opinion are not wrong. They are making decisions based on the facts as THEY see and understand them to be. Is there information here for you? Very likely there is and it's possible that their insights can enable you to add value beyond where you currently see your solution.

"Sherlock Holmes is an addict who gets high by solving crimes" (I have lifted this quote from the recent BBC series, Season 4, Episode 3). Sales Professionals are addicts who get high by winning, and stay buzzed for quite a while by winning big and winning the unexpected. Poll where your opinions are not the same as the person you are polling and stay buzzed longer than you thought possible.