Archive for category Training & Development
Any form of business improvement, be it personal or strategic, is a journey, 2 parts emotional to one part intellectual.
I was a guest of Kevin Price, on the Price of Business radio talk-in show on Thursday, 28 March 2013.
What does it take to increase the effectiveness of someone who’s already the best (or at least very experienced) at what they do?
Ebooklet – Quick Guide: How Top-performing Salespeople Sell – for new or seasoned sales professionals, managers and CEOs. You can now download this first in a forthcoming series of business articles from Smashwords.
Rather than seeing success as a specific outcome, change your focus to seeing it as a network of ’10 out of 10′ relationships. When everyone who can stop you achieving success is onside – there is no one and nothing to stop you.
Image sourced from Think Holistic, Act Personal
You cannot achieve success without forging equally successful relationships – starting with the relationship you have with yourself.
Think of a business or personal situation that’s important to you right now.
Who are all the people (include yourself) who can stop you from being successful (i.e. they have the power of veto)?
Give your relationship with each person a score out of 10, where 10 means ‘the relationship with this person is exactly where we both want it to be’.
To get the relationship to a 10, what does each person on the list want from you?
Are you willing to give it? (And what might you want in return?)
If so when?
When we are over-performing, the stage of success is filled with major players and acolytes; all accountable for their right to stand in the blazing footlights. On the other hand, when we underperform; the stage is often deserted apart from the chosen few, caught in the beam of a single spotlight, being asked to account for themselves.
The idea of measuring people to improve ‘accountability’ is also a hierarchical myth. Over-performers apart, it results in form filling to meet the ‘numbers’ and dodge the truth if needed – be it in the private (e.g. sales forecasting) or public (e.g. centralization of schools/hospitals statistics) sectors. A corporate board member of the world’s largest IT company referred this phenomenon to me as “…‘management’s perfumed pig’. What we need instead is truth!”
You, I, we, tick the boxes with answers so that hopefully, in management’s eyes, we aren’t singled out from the crowd. So where is the truth found?
Image courtesy of the Nikki Thomas Network
The journey starts by a commitment to treat successes and setbacks, as opportunities to learn what to repeat and avoid, with equanimity. Secondly, we answer fundamental questions about our behaviour and its effect:
- What is it we do that aids/abets and what is the effect of this ‘helpful’ behaviour?
- What is it we do that inhibits/hinders and what is the effect of this ‘unhelpful’ behaviour?
- In the latter case, what could we do differently and what effect might that have?
- Overall, what do we do/don’t do; knowingly/unknowingly that creates or somehow contributes to the successes and setbacks of ourselves and others?
- And even if we were wise to all the answers to the above questions, do we choose the courage to act upon ‘the wisdom from failure’?
Lack of accountability is only the symptom. The problem is fear.
People are fearful of being perceived as failing or incompetent (by themselves as much as others). People thus fear being accountable.
If management were to have only one task, it’s not about measuring, it’s about releasing the fear in their organization and filling the subsequent void created with wisdom and courage.
An organization releases its fear and gets wise one person at a time, each of their own volition.
Paul C Burr
I coached an experienced salesperson who had fallen on hard times. Sales were down.
Like all good salespeople, he worked extra hard, and made as many sales calls as he could. He crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s in abundant call reports, to demonstrate his commitment and loyalty to his bosses. Alas, all to no avail.
Image from How Stuff Works
Like most of us (I include myself) it was easy to blame the economy………………
I asked what was driving him. Back came the response “Well I’m behind in my numbers and I want to catch up. I don’t want to lose my job!”
I asked a series of questions:
Q: “So fear drives your actions?”
A:“Yeh, I’ve got a wife and kids to support” came the answer.
Q: “To what extent do your friends and colleagues share your fear?”
A:“Quite a few, it’s time like this you find out who your friends are.”
Q: “To what extent do your existing customers share in your fear?”
A: “Yeh, a few have intimated that I’m trying too hard and come across as more pushy than usual. They are a bit apprehensive about me.”
Q: “And what of new customers and prospects?”
A: “Yes again, everybody I meet seems fearful to do anything right now, even when the business case is clear cut.”
So what’s going on here? I’ve coached many people in this predicament. Here’s what I’ve seen, time and again.
What drives us, we attract. Fear attracts fear.
So in the above client’s case, the coaching focused on tools to switch out fear and replace it with what the client wanted instead: “creative confidence”.
Within weeks, despite an ailing economy, the client’s sales figures went from poor, to fair, to good, to very good. He got back on track.
Paul C Burr
I saw a definition of the word creativity recently. It went something like “linking two things together for the first time”.
I got a message from Edward de Bono. He encouraged me, to think of creativity as more than selling new things, into a new market, incurring risk (against the grain of the current economic climate). But better still to use creativity to perhaps minimise risk and cut costs. This got me thinking.
“How might we minimise risk, cut costs and increase sales?”
I proceeded to think about the role the various functions or departments play in large corporations. What is it that Marketing, Training and Development, Sales Operations (sometimes called Sales Enablement) do? What do they all try to achieve?
A simple answer could be to get a decision-making customer (the information they need) to make a favourable decision.
Each department looks out from their pigeonhole and does their bit in getting the customer’s favourable decision. The more enlightened departments work in harmony to achieve the same end. Alas, this is a rarity…..
….. because most people still look at the function of their work inside-out….. “What outputs do I create, in accord with my job specification?” For example: a flyer, a campaign, a training event. What they often don’t do is measure the ultimate goal: favourable customer decisions. Instead of looking outside-in, they look inside-out. So the sum of the parts is never the whole.
So how would it be if we merged departments: Sales Training and Development, Marketing and Sales Operations/Enablement?
How about if we created a single department called: “Getting Favourable Decisions”.
(Or something less obvious, like “Customer Enablement” for those organisations whose culture has not yet migrated to the Aquarian Age of meaningful information.)
There is an old phrase: “50% of our marketing is valuable and 50% is waste. The trouble is, which 50% is which?”
Luckily for me, I got to analyse a vast amount of data. The utilisation data of a large global IT company’s marketing materials, deposited into a single digital repository. It tracks which materials are used, by whom, where, when, and for how long. The statement “50% waste” proved to be an understatement. The data revealed it was 85%, i.e. only 15% of the material was read by anybody outside marketing i.e. sales and customers.
Likewise I’ve spoken to many sales trainers about knowledge retention. They typically reckon that when people walk away from a training course, they retain 15% of the knowledge and wisdom imparted. That’s about the going rate.
So curiously enough this number 85% crops up again. 85% of the marketing material isn’t being used, 85% of the wisdom imparted is not being retained.
So how about creating a “zero-retention” application? An application that provides on-the-job information, wisdom, knowledge, learning, call it what you will. It gives you what you want, where you want it, when you want it. It’s concise, understandable, and is already customer ready. (No more time consuming training courses, no more pedantry e-learning.)
We merge, into one repository, all the materials we need, to give customers the right information, in the right sequence, to make a favourable decision. We provide this through one single department. We merge Sales Training & Development, Marketing and Sales Operations/Enablement into one. We reduce management overheads, courses and waste (by 85%?).
Your customers and salespeople engage using (the same) articulate materials, media, dialogues, analyses, questions and messages. They all sing from the same song sheet.
Sales go up. Selling cycles shorten. More sales from less waste.
p.s. Now you know what to do. Should you want to know more on how? Get in touch :).
Paul C Burr
I coach high flying, low flying, delinquent (and some just doing ok) executives. All do the best they know how.
When we meet, I often ask the following questions:
• How much of your time do you spend managing this month’s financial numbers – and how much on where you want to be?
• To what extent are you achieving what you set out to achieve? (Test anyone who says “more than 70%”.)
• How fast are your customers’ expectations changing?
• How fast is your competition?
These lead to one question they all have in common…..
How can I make the next transition fast?”
3 Transitions: from Strategic Business Unit Manager to….
Transition 1: Manage Cross Functional Change, to….
Transition 2: Visualise/Lead Change to….
Transition 3: Innovate Change: 1st to market business models, beyond “the edge of the envelope” (eg the next “Google”, Web 4.0)
The Business Unit Manager’s (budding executive) typical, environmental characteristics:
• Known ie tangible
• Current: this month, quarter, year
• Has much historic and comparative data
• And thus considered manageable
Contrast the above list with Transition 3:
• Little or no data. Historic data of limited value.
• Future paced: Next year, 3-5 years, 100 years?
• Abstract, conceptual
So many of the personal strategies the executive used to get to “base camp” will hold her/him back. Indeed, as their positional power grows, should they continue with the same behaviours, they drive everyone nuts. “Counting the beans in the bag: by size, geography, colour (or whatever category dreamed of) does not make more beans”
What happens? (How might coaching be relevant?)
Tis all about Relationships, Relationships, Relationships….
At a Personal Level:
• A change in context; from say, a promotion (or a move into another part of the organisation), the executive finds that the personal strategies that have underpinned their success, in their careers so far, are no longer as effective.
• With each career transition; to forge new relationships in a new context fast (and existing relationships that also change) requires more flexible relationship strategies and mindset.
• It’s also about helping the executive to find out and let go of what needs to be let go of.
• There may be more/too much data to analyse, or no data. In either case there is less time. So it’s about helping the executive to create personal strategies that are effective when faced with the unknown, missing data, even the abstract.
• To summarise, I coach to get the executive to figure out what to do more of, what to do less of, what to do differently.
• It’s also about the commitment and flexible mindset required to step outside the comfort zone that has enabled the success in their career to date – and even more vital in the next level of impact.
At higher Strategic Levels
(any migration along the continuum, from: Business Unit Leader–>Manage Change–>Lead/Visualise Change–>1st to Market Business Models)
• As their network of influence spreads, the executive’s emphasis for influence transcends from personal to strategic. Despite positional authority, the executive has less face to face time “per person” whilst they visualise and lead change, as well as manage issues as they crop up.
• Two things thus become more important.
1. The success of the executive strategy depends upon on the emotional journey (strategic buy-in or resistance) it receives. So it’s about mapping and future pacing strategy, to foresee emotional blocks, leaks, politics and value shifts required, to make it happen. The logic and process for change adapts to the least path of resistance.
2. The success of the executive is a function of their “Strategic Identity” within the extended organisation. To what extent do their seniors, peers, direct and indirect reports put trust in their integrity and capability. And how does this “trust” underpin their “Strategic Identity”. Is the “Strategic Identity” effective within the current and desired corporate cultures espoused?
• Advanced Influencing: Can the executive deploy advanced influencing techniques, by being at their peak in every meeting? “Yes!”
• And beyond? Is there a space where the executive generates strategies to influence people, who at first do not wish to be influenced (because influencing everyone else then becomes relatively easy)? Once again the answer is “Yes!”
• Distinguishing Traits and Characteristics: I spent the last 10 years studying people who deal successfully with senior executives. This work consists of 100’s of interviews and workshops, around the world, for a number of major organisations including IBM and Xerox. The research points to 7 Key Traits or Characteristics. By definition, traits are nurtured (ie coached) not taught.
Should you reflect, you will see that the transitions happen in everyday life too.
1. We run our own lives as a business unit, day to day. We hopefully balance our bank account every month.
2. Every now and then we have some change passed on to us to manage (e.g. a change in tax laws, a pay rise).
3. Sometimes we visualize and lead change (e.g. we get married/divorce).
4. There are other times we may choose to completely reinvent ourselves (e.g. a new career).
So, conceptually, Executive Coaching is not a million miles away from everyday life. What differs is the context, and complexity of dealing with a vast network of people, over whom we have no direct control.
Executive Coaching needs to address our Strategic Identity as well as the Personal. It needs to address the flow of energy we put into our network of influence, and what we take out.
Paul C Burr
Killer Strategy #1
Coach Top Performers: increase your top people’s contribution by 30% (and maybe increase your total company sales by >20%)
My research over the last 20 years has found that top performers demonstrate 7 key traits or characteristics (eg curiosity: eager to learn). Top performers love to be coached, to go (not think!) outside of their comfort zones. They yearn to discover what lies above and beyond their limits of success (all-be-they high already).
I see top salespeople, whom I coach, increase their sales run rates by 30%, in a matter of weeks. For those who really trust themselves and commit to the journey, performance goes up several fold.
2 Case Studies:
- Account Director (now a Vice President): Responsible for renegotiating a £50M pa contract within 9 months. The client achieved the £50M target within 11 weeks from commencement of the coaching programme.
- Regional Manager (now a Senior Vice President): used coaching methodologies to prepare his team for a new business-services sales campaign with an Australian bank. The team won a pilot worth around $100K in the UK. Our client flew to Australia to extend the bid. He then steered the local sales team to win further contracts……“I won the big one (worth £15M!) for the Australian bank I was after….. my life has changed quite a bit (for the better) and 80% due to your help”
Lever your company’s sales revenue. The top 20% of your salespeople probably bring in 80% of your revenue. Measure, if you can, the proportion, they contribute, to your profit line. I have clients who were staggered at the results.
You can now imagine what happens to your bottom line when your top performers raise their game by 30% and more. And, 0rganisational beliefs (about what’s achievable) get smashed. Others follow. But how fast? And can they keep up the pace?
So what about the remaining 80%?
Killer Strategy #2
Raise Every Salesperson’s Results: model and spread your top performers’ traits and behaviours to everyone else
Sales effectiveness is a function of motivation, confidence, competence and curiosity.
Effectiveness = Motivation x Confidence x Competence x Curiosity
E = MC3
(No longer a Theory of Relativity, nor rocket science, get everyone winning!)
So the objective is to raise everyone’s:
- Motivation: better yourself, seek wisdom, explore below the surface, relate to people and situations, analyse facts, follow process
- Confidence (as opposed to arrogance) know, execute: when to listen (ask), when to learn (bide time) and when to advocate (articulate)
- Competence and knowledge in 4 verbs, to: Connect, Inspire, Prove and Proceed
- Curiosity (to explore below the surface) about: selling, the customer, the customer’s industry, self, technology, your company, the world, and beyond….
This is how top performers come across and do things differently to average performers?
My personal research goes back nigh on 20 years. My studies include cross industry interviews and workshops with hundreds of salespeople, sales managers, directors, consultants and customers around the world.
My purpose here, is not to tell you how to do this. My purpose is to tell you what needs to happen.
Case Study: A pan Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) survey, by a Top 5 Global IT Firm, reveals a boost in sales millions of dollars.
- UK, Regional Business Development Manager: “Sales are up because 30% more Account Managers are going out and selling solutions that otherwise wouldn’t have.
- “Middle East and Africa: Within 6 months of the launch, sales surpass $2.5M, in a region where hitherto, no Account Managers had been selling these solutions proactively.
- Q: “Score out of 10, how much has the approach contributed to the $2.5M revenue sum?”
- A: MEA Regional Business Development Manager “Contribution to sales? I’d say more than 8 out of 10.
Killer Strategy #3
Increase the Effectiveness of Sales Leaders: Equip managers to lead others, outside their zones of comfort.
I coach managers (to coach others). Many have already been “trained in coaching”. Yet, they increase their personal productivity measurably (£).
Because, for most, “training” does not engage the manager sufficiently in the emotional and insightful journey to become a great coach:
I have found that “training” gives process.
Training alone doesn’t:
- Engage the emotional journey of moving into discomfort with a fresh mindset.
- Shift the mindset from being an expert (i.e. mentoring) to a non-expert (i.e. a co-explorer)
- Shift the mindset from being directive (eg “you need to do a,b and c!”) to non-directive.
- Nurture 7 key traits, common to both coach and a top performer.
- Get managers to realise that every coachee (at some level) mirrors their own imperfections
All the above are essential skills and learnings to coach well.
A study carried out by Olivero, Bane, & Kopeirnan in 1997 demonstrated an 88% increase in management productivity when coaching and training were interwoven as opposed to a 22.4 % increase when managers were placed on a management training programme.
Top 5 Global IT Company: European Sales Management Team, Public Sector, already “trained” as coaches.
“When I do follow the coaching process it works and it fails when I don’t”
“First two sessions were particularly useful. I would not have got through that month without the 2 List System. I am more effective in how I use my time and am more prepared for important meetings. SOS helps me synchronise with people. Using 2nd position has helped enormously. Coaching isn’t an individual session; it takes place over a period of time to get to a solution. It’s made me face some demons.”
“The Coaching Process gets an A* for managing poor performers. “
“It has helped me to explore new ideas and not get hung up if they don’t work. I took away the “Preparing for Key Meetings” from the workshop and used it – it’s brilliant. I understand the coaching tools and need to get myself organised to use them on a regular basis next year.”
“I am more rigorous in the analytical and process quadrants and it’s paid off.”
“I took the material from the workshop and applied it rigorously to coaching (underperformer) X. It’s not there yet but the mountain has moved.”
The managers achieved “Top Team” status aross Europe, in the year following the coaching.
Killer Strategy #4
Lift Under-Achievers out of the Mire: Save them, your managers, and you, a lot of time and possibly grief!
What do you do with an underperformer?
- Sack them?
- Leave them alone?
- Manage as best you can?
- Invest in them?
Coach them. Why?
Corporate Sales Case Study: a highly rated salesperson was underachieving in her first year on quota. Within two months, from the start of the programme, the salesperson’s going rate of year-end target increased from 20% to 80%. Her results then went from strength to strength.
Quotation…. “I found the programme extremely beneficial: it grew my self-confidence and self-esteem tremendously, and allowed me to go and sell. I have both the ability and I have earned the right to do this. I also treat customers as human beings, realising that the best way to persuade someone to agree with you is to get on well with them. I am much more ruthless about agreeing to tasks outside the scope of my quota – unless it eventually benefits my quota in some way. I do nothing unless it progresses me closer towards meeting my targets. I am better respected amongst my peer group and managers, and I am assured of a successful career with solid progression!
Overall, I recommend this to anyone, so long as they are prepared to accept new ideas and alter their attitudes to certain ways of working.”
Sales Managers lose 26 days (5 weeks!) per year dealing with poor performers, source: “UK Managers Losing Twenty-six Days a Year to Poor Performers”, SHL GROUP plc, Business Series 2005.”
The UK’s “lost management days” figure is lower than the other regions studied apart from one. The UK figure is 7 days more than Sweden.
No coincidence: Sweden invests the most in getting people to competence. Source: “Getting the Edge in the New People Economy”, www.futurefoundation.net, Future Foundation and SHL Group plc.
Under-performers, when coached, take an emotional journey (similar to top performers) to step up to the next level. They rid themselves of sometimes deep-rooted, personal, blocks that hold them back. Sometimes, it only requires a simple shift: maybe just a reframe of their perspective. Mostly though, it involves something deeper.
I often find that training doesn’t go anywhere near these deep emotional blocks. Under-performers will not allow it to. They fear the consequences of exposing what holds them back, often unconsciously.
The irreplaceable value of coaching: from research undertaken (Trygve Roos, Mental Coaching 2002) to discover what really causes effective behavioural change. It proved that the most pervasive change happened when learners were trained in various excellent techniques, followed by personal coaching/interventions.
Corporate Sales Case Study: New to sales, and prior to coaching, an erstwhile consultant’s going rate was 40% of his year-end target. Within two months his going rate was 80% and he was looking to overachieve. We focused on sales campaigns to win new business in competitive accounts. He went on to win a contract from one of the campaigns worth about $1.5M, from a client whose spend up until the start of the campaign had been minimal.
Paul C Burr
I was researching the value of Cloud Computing. It’s still relatively new in boardroom parlance.
IT Vendors, speak of several issues to sell new technologies and services (such as Cloud Computing) to customer executives.
“How do we get our message across and understood?”
“How do we get our young salespeople to make executive calls confidently?”
“How do we skill them up, or maybe equip them, to do so?”
“How do we motivate young salespeople, who by definition aren’t experts, to call on Marketing Directors, Finance Directors, and so on?
I’ve been working with a global IT supplier. When introducing new advanced (and world-class) technologies, they had a devil of a job to get their value message across, convey trust and inspire across to its customer executives, outside the IT function
Here are the issues they encountered:
1. Only a small number of salespeople knew how to generate trust, articulate value and inspire action with senior executives in “big clients”
2. The rest avoided selling the new technology because they didn’t know how to perform Action 1.
3. If customer executives aren’t even curious about the value you can bring to planning table, you don’t get invited” to dine” there.
Now if we apply all the above principles to the SME market and Indirect Channel Sales, the whole picture gets economically fraught. In this market space people no longer sell on price and brand – and haven’t done so for years. They sell what they know how to sell.
So how do you give anybody the motivation, confidence, competence and curiosity to go sell something that’s new to the customer and new to them as well? How do you maximize cross and up selling opportunities?
Answer: You make it easy for them (and the customer) and apply an Outside-In Selling Approach.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? And so it is. Why, oh why, don’t more sales organisations apply it?
Here lies Rub #1. IT Vendors are very interested (and rightly so) in how their technology works. Customer executives are interested in the value it brings, i.e. what it does, not how it does it. By and large, customers executives are not intrinsically interested in technology.
Thus the successful sales approach requires a shift in mindset, from Inside-Out to Outside-In. For a large organization to take it on, such a shift has to be sponsored from the top. Why?
Rub #2:The traditionalists in product training and marketing will say they can do it for themselves. Well, they can’t. Because it also requires a structured approach to how customer executives want to receive information. “Less is more”. Product enthusiasts want to say more about what they are proud of. Customer executives want less. About 85% less, if I were to guess. So it’s about having a structured approach to find out which 15% of your collateral can be transmuted to inspire customer action.
“A lot of people in our organisation have supreme knowledge about our technology and what it can do for the customer, Paul. The vast majority of them, alas, don’t know how to articulate it to a customer to inspire action.
Inspiration = Knowledge + Articulation (first to self, then to others)”
– Top performing salesperson in UK for a Top 10 Global IT vendor
I leave you with a thought. I’ve checked out quite a bit of IT and IS vendors’ collateral on Cloud Computing and the like. It’s written mainly Inside-Out i.e. feature/benefit. Which means the customer has to be interested in how it works first, to see its value.
Top selling these years is applied outside in.
Paul C Burr
Since the current economic climate began, organizations have been downsizing, reshaping, restructuring, removing layers of management, centralizing, decentralizing… you name it. As conditions worsened the focus has gone from cutting costs to cash survival (+ cutting costs). I’ve observed that no-one has been harder hit than SME businesses where, even in good times, cashflow has always been a bit of a juggling act.
So we are now fours years on, this very August. Customers and vendors who get on stick through the mire. They’ve shared the pain. What’s next?
A few organizations I deal with are gearing themselves for growth. It would be nice if they could ‘farm’ that growth from existing clients. Maybe they can but they do not want to ignore the opportunities from ‘hunting’ for new clients nor be wholly dependent on the custom of existing ones.
They seek to transform themselves from Sales ‘Farmers’ into ‘Hunters’.
Here are some salient points about their journey.
- There are 18 benchmarked critical success factors an organization can invest in to become ‘winners’ in hunting for new business (“superbidders” win more than 3 out 4 major bids). More on this later.
- The F-to-H transition is more of an emotional journey than an intellectual one. It’s about making people motivated, confident and curious as well as competent. This starts by making selling (‘hunting’) as easy as possible.
- Recent years of restructuring of reporting lines and reshaping of business processes will no-doubt have been for good reason. A key question remains – what changes will customers have noticed in your people:
– More fire and enthusiasm?
– Or sloping shoulders?
- Winning over the hearts and minds of (especially remote) people comes down to making their lives easier. Again, for salespeople (who follow the path of least resistance) – it’s about ‘making selling easy’ so that they can hit their sales-targets from hunting as easy as (or easier than) they can from farming.
- Sales training in Industry, Function and Product areas will provide much of the intellectual content required but will probably have only a limited impact on all but the top 10-15% of your salesforce. Management reinforcement will help further to instill hunting practices. The research I’ve seen in this area points to single figure %age growth in sales from such training/coaching interventions. So I want to talk about 3 things that can take you well into double digit growth.
3 areas to consider should you want to go for double digit growth:
1. Benchmarking – only 4% of companies win more than 3 out of 4 major bids for new business
The largest research programme in the world into winning business (led by Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, Chairman of Cotoco Ltd [www.cotoco.com]. I declare my hand here. I’m a Non-exec Director.) has involved over 2,500 companies. This large sample size includes companies of widely differing performance in Winning Business. Overall the results are consistent industry to industry – and across sizes of organisations.
• 18 Critical Success Factors (CSFs) to winning major bids
• The top quartile: “Superbidders” win more than 3 out 4 major bids
• “Superbidders” make up less than 4% of the total population
• “Superbidders” only consider themselves to be “very effective” in 8-9 out 18 CSFs. There is plenty of headroom.
• Largest number of organisations in quartile: the median is between 1:2 and 1:3 win ratios.
• Organisations in the median or lower quartile consider themselves to be very effective in only a small number of CSFs.
The top 3 (CSFs) of the 18 differentiators are:
- Understanding the value/benefits customers expect to gain from your products/services
- Understanding the cost of ownership issues that impact customers’ decisions about your product or service
- Establishing the superiority of your products or services over those of competitors
Organisations that spread themselves too thinly don’t catch up with the winners. I find that most organizations (I introduce this benchmark to) are already tackling a broad range of the CSFs. They do not realize that improving the CSFs you are very effective in from say 2-3 to 4-5 will have a huge impact on your win rate. So it’s about knowing the vital few to invest in first.
The benchmark informs you which CSFs to go for, to get the best RoI in winning major bids.
2. E-quipping every salesperson to engage with new C-Level clients the way top performers do – and save on your face to face training costs
This approach to enabling Customer Executive (C-Level) Engagement has been used by global companies like Cisco as well as SMEs for a number of years.
Having asked the right questions and done their research beforehand, we find that top performers engage with C-Level clients far more effectively because they use compelling evidence and messages to:
- Underpin the trustworthiness of your company.
- Raise your customer executives’ curiosity to investigate the broad range of services that your company can provide
- Make it easy for regular (non C-Level) customer contacts to convey, to their own peers and senior management (that your salespeople might not get to meet), the superiority that your company has to offer.
E-quipping (as opposed to the drudgery of e-learning) takes minutes. It provides the opportunity to cut out the high costs of face to face training. This can be a huge expense saving for global companies. It also means less time away from the field for your salespeople.
3. Coaching top sales performers to make the emotional breakthroughs to increase their sales by 30%+
And what about your existing top performers? How do you take them up and beyond their current levels of performance? They are already setting your company’s benchmark for what’s achievable – are they not?
The good news is that top performers are always curious about how to improve themselves. In my experience, good in-house management coaching will improve their performance by no more than say 5-10%. Going beyond (increasing their sales by 20-30% and beyond) requires coaching which (and an experienced coach who) will take them outside their comfort zones. For the journey to 30%+ is filled with emotional blocks: limiting beliefs about themselves, their client relationships and the tasks in hand. If it were purely an intellectual journey (these people are smart) they would be there already. The experienced coach gets them to dissolve these emotional blocks. And when they commit themselves to move beyond, their sales performance escalates.
Paul C Burr
Imagine you’re in corporate sales. You have 400+ (I’ve been quoted this) items in your email and your in-mail grows by the day. What should you read? Can’t decide? Take a day off from selling or delete them all?
Imagine you have a portfolio of say 20 products and services to sell. How do you keep up to date with what is important and relevant? You can only assimilate a tiny fraction of what is available – but is it the right fraction? How would you know? How would the people sending that information know?
Now imagine you have a portfolio of over 600 products and services. What chance, of keeping up to date, have you now?
A smarter planet means everything connects: across brands,across industries, across technologies… across everything. What does this mean to the customer? And the customer could be anybody.
Now you’re a sales director.
How do enable your sales people to have the breadth of conversation with a wide range of people (architects, hospital managers, mayors, CEOs, business owners etc. rather than CIOs/technical people).
You are no longer dealing with a bucket full of information but an ocean full.
How do you enable selling across a huge range of products and services?
Throwing e-learning at it will not work – there is just too much stuff.
Each sales person needs to be like a general practitioner – which means the patient that comes through the door may have one of thousands of ailments. How can an individual sales person be an expert in all of these at the same time?
Build ‘an expert on everybody’s shoulder’ to whisper guidance in their ear. The ‘expert’ will equip each salesperson with everything they need to generate trust, articulate value and inspire action with senior customer executives. Once they get the ball rolling for a particular opportunity then, hopefully, it’s business as usual for them.
Salespeople want information but….
3 critical factors I’ve observed about your typical salesperson:
- Short attention span
- Wants everything on a plate – won’t work at it
- Wants the relevant up to date information in seconds – not minutes, hours or days
- “A common weakness: most sales support material (I come across) is designed “Inside-Out”, not from the customer’s perspective. Top performers take this material, massage it and whiteboard a powerful “Outside-In” story. This is what you capture and disseminate. (“Inside-Out” collateral lists features and benefits. “Outside-In” focuses on value, trust and evidence)
- Content needs to be vetted by top and average performers, and technical experts, to ensure it is fit for purpose – i.e. will make selling easier.
- No module of information lasts more than 90 seconds.
- Everything needs to be at their fingertips
- The approach focuses initially on getting the customer to say “tell me more”. Then it makes it easy for the customer to say ‘Yes!’. The approach e-quips the salesperson for this precise purpose. E-quipping isn’t e-learning. (Warning: e-quipping is vastly misunderstood by the Training and Development community because they look at it as learning. They don’t get it.)
Paul C Burr