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Another Take on Sales Management -1 September 3, 2015

Posted by David Dirks in Building A Sales Organization.
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David Dirks

David Dirks

What is the biggest ally and also the biggest enemy of the professional sales person?  In my view, it’s time.  Time is that precious commodity which is used up at a constant rate and can never be reversed.  Sales professionals have two choices: Either maximize the time they have every day  or squander the time.  Let’s first look at the ways time is squandered:

  • Natural procrastination.  We all have inside of us some level of procrastination with some people endowed with more if it than others.  As sales managers, we have to realize that some level of procrastination is necessary – it’s a tool we humans often use to give ourselves a break between assignments or stressful events.  Other times it’s just a way for some to give way to their natural level of laziness. Either way, recognize that it exists and cannot be wished away.
  • Focusing on what we like to do.  But not spending much time on those elements of our sales profession that perhaps we like less.  In other words, what comes easier to us is often a joy to do – what doesn’t come easy feels like a drag – even if we know it’s the path to sales success.
  • No ability to prioritize effectively.  Prioritizing by itself isn’t hard – anyone can randomly prioritize.  Are they prioritizing their sales process in the order that gets them closing more deals?
  • No consistent sales process.  Some sales people develop their own sales process that allows them to maximize their time and efforts.  Then again, some don’t and seemingly flit around doing things differently every time.  As sales managers, we have to be able to understand how each of our sales team members sells and why they do it the way they do.  This applies mostly to those who are average or sub par in their sales results.  The peak sales performers have their sales process and work it consistently.
  • Little or no sales coaching or trainingConsistent sales performance is honed over time and requires and investment of time on the part of the sales manager.  Just letting them go off into the distance without regular coaching equals opportunity lost and time squandered.
  • Sales compensation that doesn’t motivate in the optimal ways. You have to ask yourself: Is our sales compensation plan calibrated to get our sales teams focused on the best practices that result in the best sales results?  Great sales organizations are those that understand that they have unique “best practices” – those habits that have proven themselves successful over time.  And they find ways to train and compensate their sales teams to following along and implement what works best.
  • Round peg, square hole. Some people just aren’t suited to sales.  Help them move on and find a satisfying career field somewhere else.  You are squandering their time and yours.

 

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On Building A Sales Organization – 2 July 24, 2013

Posted by David Dirks in Building A Sales Organization, Sales Management, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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DirksProPhotoNote: This is the second in an ongoing series on building an effective sales organization/team for a small business.

So you want to build your sales organization…make it strong…faster…better…at finding and creating new business for you?  No problem – as long as you recognize, acknowledge and are able to execute with the ability meet several criteria.  I’ll deal with the first in this post: targeting, hiring and training the right sales people.

Here’s how I laid it out in the first post on this subject:

Willing to either hire experienced sales talent or willing to invest in the sales training required to help entry-level sales personnel become productive in a reasonably short time period.  Doesn’t much matter how great your sales opportunity is if you aren’t willing to either hire successful, experienced talent or hire the best & brightest entry-level talent – and then be willing to support them with the best-in-class sales and product training you can afford.

Here’s how:

  • Develop a list of job responsibilities – the tasks they would need to implement day-in-day out to accomplish their sales mission.  Then you need to articulate exactly what they are accountable for in the sales job.  Making sure you have thought through exactly what you need this person to do and what they are being held accountable isn’t as obvious as it sounds.

Example of a job responsibility:

Research and target potential prospects that fit our customer profile within the sales territory assigned.

Example of a job accountability:

Meets monthly, quarterly and annual sales targets for specific product categories as assigned.

Job responsibilities lead to the fulfillment of job accountabilities – those measurable end results that count.  They add real value to the business…in sales and revenues.

Now let’s talk about the minimum amount of sales experience you need.  You may only need a college graduate – fresh from the ceremony – for the kind of business and industry you’re in.  Or you may need someone with specific kinds of industry experience.

For example, a John Deere dealer will most definitely need a sales staff that understands agriculture, farming and the machinery that makes it all work.  A company that sells specialty software to banks and other financial institutions will want someone with banking industry experience that relates well to their product line.

Be clear about the minimum amount of bonafide sales and industry experience you need for their success and yours.

  • Well before you think of placing an ad (based on your well thought-out job description), think through what kind of initial and follow-on training will be necessary to give your new sales hire the best chance of a strong start.

Setting anyone…experienced or not…on their own without much attention to the amount of initial product, service and sales training they’ll need to become productive, is not effective.  The first 30 to 60 days of any sales persons life in your business is critical.  So it’s worth the time and effort it takes to prepare and initial your sales hire with the right amount of product and sales training that will boost their initial productivity.

Target the right hire. Train them well. Watch them grow.

On Building A Sales Organization – 1 July 20, 2013

Posted by David Dirks in Building A Sales Organization, Sales Management, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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David Dirks

David Dirks

Note: This is the first in an ongoing series on building an effective sales organization/team for a small business.

There comes a time that some successful small businesses find themselves in.  It’s the time to consider the need to build more revenue by engineering a sales organization.  What does a vibrant, dynamic and proactive sales force give you?  How about the ability to scale your revenues by adding more boots on the ground?  Now I’m NOT talking about going from 1 or 2 sales people to 20 overnight.  The first step is recognizing that the only way you can scale revenues in a northerly direction is by building a sales organization starting from ground zero.

But let me save you the money, time and resources it takes to build a sales organization and culture in your small business.  It’s simple from my experience.  If you are willing to do ALL of the following, you have the right stuff to really create a viable and revenue contributing sales organization whether with 1 or 20 people:

  • Willing to either hire experienced sales talent or willing to invest in the sales training required to help entry-level sales personnel become productive in a reasonably short time period.  Doesn’t much matter how great your sales opportunity is if you aren’t willing to either hire successful, experienced talent or hire the best & brightest entry-level talent – and then be willing to support them with the best-in-class sales and product training you can afford.
  • Willing to create a sales compensation plan that truly rewards people for their efforts but doesn’t leave them wondering how they are going to eat while they ramp up & beyond.  Whether you hire experienced or entry-level sale people, be prepared to compensate them within the range of what is at least the standard for you industry.  Going cheap on the compensation plan equals  consistently high turnover.  At best, you’ll be a good place for someone to get some training and experience before they go off and find a real sales organization to make a living off of.
  • Willing to support your sales team with the resources they will need to get the job done.  That includes providing them with professionally created sales collateral (brochures, catalogs, product info sheets, etc.) – and not material created by your niece or nephew who calls themselves a “graphic designer”.  Sure, they’ll work on the cheap for you but more often than not, their work is substandard.  Hire professionals with a bonafide track record.

So, if you’re truly committed to hiring quality, providing compensation that motivates and allows someone to earn a better than average living, and support them with the sales tools they’ll need to be successful – you can entertain building a real sales organization.