Posts Tagged improve sales
About top performers: by definition, they are already at the ‘top of the totem pole’. They already set the benchmark, for what is acheivable through exemplary performance, in their respective organisations. They shape the belief systems about what’s acheivable. They thus have potentially far more influence than the management infrastructure who are trying to lead your company to greater success – through wisdom, carrot or stick.
(I’ll use B2B sales as an example, but I could be talking about executive officers, sports professionals, lawyers, managers, consultants, you-name-it.)
Top performers’ challenge to climbing greater heights is two fold…
- Top performers may struggle to find assistance from people, more experienced or better than they, to teach or mentor them in their sales performance. And although I can mentor salespeople, that’s not the line I usually go down, apart from maybe suggesting the odd reframe. I don’t mentor so much; I coach.
Mentoring and coaching are completely different and require, by and large, different (but not mutually exclusive) mindsets: expert/directive/intellectual and non-expert/non-directive/emotional – respectively. Top people benefit more from the latter because….
- A step change upwards in performance, for them, is not so much an intellectual challenge. It’s emotional. These people are smart. If their challenge was purely intellectual, they would have figured out what to do differently already – and be doing it. What they require, to step up, is someone to help them bypass the emotional blocks (the deepest of which they are unaware of) with which they allow to hold themselves back.
Change is a journey that’s two parts emotional to one part intellectual.
I’ve spent the best part of the last 18 years working with top performers, in global organisations, to help them express how to be 30%+ more effective. They figure the ‘what’ to do differently, to be 30%+ more effective, for themselves as part of the coaching process. What I do is equip them with the emotional framework to go do it – for that is what they require.
[That’s my guarantee, by the way. If you do the coaching, and do all the work assigned on time, you will become 30%+ more effective at whatever you are focusing on.]
Paul C Burr
Facebook: Beowulf (>15,000 followers)
My latest booklet, Quick Guide III – How to Bridge the Pillars of Successful Relationships (QG3), focuses on complex, inter- and intra- corporate, many-people-to-many-people, business relationships.
There are sound, logical, rewarding, tangible and emotional reasons for building healthy relationships. These very same reasons apply equally to personal relationships.
Here’s an extract from QG3…
Logic – less cost
Research shows that once you’ve established a customer relationship based on mutual trust and value, it takes five times the effort to build the same relationship with a new customer as it does to maintain it with your current customer.
When the cost of new prospect sales is five times that of existing satisfied customer sales, you don’t need a certificate in mathematics to appreciate the importance of satisfying, if not exceeding, the expectations of existing customers irrespective of the premium you earn from brand loyalty.
Premium – higher earnings
A reputable brand image makes selling a lot easier. I had no problem whatsoever getting to see new clients when I worked for IBM. Cold-calling for an organisation that isn’t a ‘household’ name, however, was a real ‘eye-opener’ for me after I made the switch.
The value of your reputation is the premium that customers will pay to do business with you over and above what they will pay your competitors, all else being equal, plus the cost reduction in sales your brand reputation affords you.
A simple example: ‘Household-name’, supplier A, renowned for its high quality products and services, sells a PC. ‘Relatively-unknown’ supplier, B, clones A’s PC with the exact same components, guarantees and terms of service. Intrinsically there’s no difference between PCs from either supplier. The cost of production and distribution of each product is the same.
Look at the buying/selling process from a customer perspective. All else being equal…
- What price difference will a customer pay (for the increased: reassurance, sense of status or another emotional, differential source of value they feel) for a PC from supplier A over supplier B?
- Reduction in sales cycle time and resourcing: how quicker and easier is it for a seller to convince a customer of the quality of a PC from supplier A compared with supplier B?
Brand value = [(what customers pay you) – (what customers pay for the exact same product/service from your competitors)] + (increase in productivity/cost-reduction in sales afforded by your brand)
Legacy – higher contribution
How do you want to look back on your time in sales and management at the end of your career? How do you want to be remembered? As a seller, buyer or leader: do you want to feel you’ve kept (or at least strived to keep) the agreements you made?
Maybe a business world forged with 100% truthful relationships is somewhat of a pipe dream, but as you look at the world’s economy and the ‘wars’ for limited resources right now, what choice do we have? And we have to imagine something before necessity will mother its invention – do we not?
‘You’ can either contribute to a world where wealth and power are shared through equitable negotiation – or not, truth or illusion/deception, abundance or scarcity, oneness or separateness, love or fear. ‘You’ choose! (But this is the topic contained in another book of mine, Defrag your Soul.)
Paul C Burr
Combined extracts from two business articles:
Quick Guide II – Learn How to Spot, Mimic and Become a Top Salesperson (coming soon)
“When you’re selling at board level it’s about taking the customer on a journey that’s both fantastic and believable. That is, no matter how complex that journey is…, it’s about breaking it down into manageable chunks. You create a pathway into the future that is as clearly marked out as possible. There will be uncharted territory. So it’s about discerning all the parts of the map that are known from those unknown.
It’s then about pinpointing all the ‘dots on the chart of the unknown’. That is, answering all the ‘what if this happens’ questions.
In effect, you join the dots of the unknown with customer as best you can.”
Top UK salesperson for a global top 10 IT company
Images courtesy of http://misswhit-tany.blogspot.co.uk/
What CEOs value:
The ‘science’ to determine value discovers what’s important to the CEO. And once you understand the customer’s priorities – how do you stack up (against your competitors) to deliver against them?
Here are sources of value (business drivers and problems to fix) that CEOs look for:
• Cash – Will your proposal improve our cash position?
• Cost Down – Will we reduce costs?
• Revenue/Market Share Up – Will we make competitive gains?
• Agility/Speed – Can we move, reshape, transcend quickly?
• Security – Will we be better protected?
• Governance – Am I compliant with Company Law?
• Product/Service/Cost Leadership – Will our own customers notice and value the changes in our organisation that your proposal offers?
• Innovation (e.g. Technology, New Business Models) – Do I want (to be seen) to be first in the marketplace, to do something differently? Does your proposal accelerate the process?
• Personal Credibility – Can I use your proposal to advance my own prospects and standing?
• People – Will your proposal raise the effectiveness and job satisfaction of people?
• Something else? – If you don’t know, ask “What else do you feel is important for me to know?” Even if you feel you know, ask anyway.
Put concisely, you need to understand profoundly what’s important in the heart and mind of your CEO client and convey the value you bring to the table in their language, not yours.
At this stage you may have provided sufficient verifiable value for the CEO to progress the sale. And there’s often a temptation to press on. In doing so, you may miss another, often unspoken, factor that weighs heavily in the CEO’s mind (as well as most of us) – fear.
The more you earn a customer’s trust, the more fears they share with you. They give you more power deliberately to help them.
My thanks go to Professor Colin-Coulson Thomas who shared with me the bounty of a minute fraction of his wisdom, and made a significant contribution to the following list.
What CEOs fear:
• Bad earnings news: the most likely and quickest sign of departure.
• Corporate programs don’t deliver: mergers and acquisitions “achieve 70% of their potential” at best.
• Failure to turnaround ailing sales quick enough.
• Change takes too long: ‘corporate firewalls’ prevent people from getting it done.
• Investors don’t understand: a CEO spends 40% of their time articulating strategy and some argue that’s not enough.
• Personal wealth at risk: e.g. missed deadlines can lead to private investors swallowing up the shareholding of a company
• Lack of innovation: playing it safe is no longer an option these days. Competitors and customers are moving too quickly.
• Talent gaps in performance: e.g. 20% of the sales-force bring in 80% of the revenue.
• Conflict in the boardroom: too much time spent looking inwards leaves too little time to focus on the customer.
• Personal credibility at risk: any of the above means less likelihood of stepping up the ladder of success and/or lack of a legacy of note. These in turn can lead to…
• Personal health at risk: where the stressed mind-body connection can have serious consequences. I know of one CEO who, after missing targets set by investors, developed terrible eye problems because he didn’t like what he saw. Another developed disabling back pain through a lack of self-esteem. Another who was deemed too rigid and inflexible developed problems with their joints.
Your task is to earn the right to zig-zag; to take the CEO on a journey whereby they see your solution working in their organisation and have allayed any fears they once had.
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
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