Sales Practices: Question and Answer #6

This is a Sales Question and Answer article about sales best practices from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

By Dave Kahle

Q. What do I do when my goals don’t match the company’s goals for me?

A.  I can look at this is in two ways – expressing two different situations.  In the first, there is a legitimate difference in the expectations for a sales person, but a basic agreement on the issues on which to be focused, as well as the values of the organization.  In the second, there is a deeper and more significant difference of opinion.

A little reality check

tired and dirtyLet’s consider each separately.  In the first scenario, the sales person and the company differ on the degree of what is possible.  The sales person expects a 10% increase, while the company thinks 15% is reasonable.  Both agree that sales growth is reasonable, but the amount of growth is the issue.  What do you, the sales person, do in this case?

Persuade and negotiate.  Try to convince your boss that your perspective is more accurate than his/hers.  Don’t just assert that, be convincing.  Back up your beliefs with substance.  Describe specific situations and accounts, and explain why you think about them the way you do.  Prove your point.

At some point in this process, there is going to be a resolution.  There will be a quota or a goal.  Whether it is your idea of what it should be, or your manager’s version, or some compromise, it doesn’t matter.  At that point, when the issue is resolved and the number is set, your job is to give all of your best efforts to doing what your company wants you to do.

You are, after all, an employee of the company.  Your job is to do what your company wants you to do.  That’s what they pay you for.

Sometimes sales people can get a little too convinced of their own importance.  I succumbed to that temptation more than once when I was selling full time.  We think that we really are in business for ourselves, that we own our customers, and that we know what is best for the company and the customer.  So, therefore, we become agitated and upset when the company asks for a 15% increase and we think 5% is reasonable.  We are tempted to go off mumbling under our breath about the screwy management, and we decide we are going to do what we want to do instead.

A little reality check is in order under these circumstances.  If you worked in the warehouse, would you be able to decide what you wanted to do today?  If you were a customer service rep, would you get to determine how best to spend your day, and which parts of your job you’d really do?  If you were in the purchasing department, if you didn’t like the company’s direction, would you have the freedom to ignore it?

So what makes you think you are so special?  Answer — nothing.  Let’s put the freedom that we enjoy and the money that we make in perspective.  We are, when all is said and done, employees of the company.  And, I believe, we have a moral obligation to give our best efforts to that company for as long as we accept a paycheck.

Sometimes the price is high

Sour LemonWhich brings us to the second situation.  You have some major difference of opinion in not only the degree of what is expected, but a deep-seated difference of opinion in the basic issues themselves.  I’m not talking about issues like you think you need to focus on your current customers and your company wants you to sell new customers.  Those are relatively superficial issues that fit into the previous discussion.

Instead, I’m talking about differences in fundamental values and ethics.  Here’s an example from my own experience.  I once worked for a company that introduced a new product, and developed a quota for each of us to sell that product.  The problem was, the product never worked.  It didn’t do what the company said it was going to do.  We, the sales people, knew it, and the company knew it.  Yet, they still wanted us to sell it.  We were given quotas and strongly directed to go out and get orders at all costs.  They directed us to, in effect, lie to our customers.

I left the company shortly thereafter.

The issue wasn’t “Do I sell 100 or 130 of these?”  That’s an issue of degree.  Instead, the issue was, “Do I lie to my customers?”  That’s an ethical issue.

If it’s an ethical issue, then I think you have only one choice.  Find another job.  Life is too short to spend it violating your ethics and compromising your integrity.

That sounds simple, and it rarely is that black and white.  It almost never happens that your manager sends you an email that says, “From this day forward you will lie to your customers.”  Instead, it is more likely that a pattern emerges over a period of time.  One incident is generally not representative of a character flaw.  But, when you see a pattern of cutting ethical corners, of disdain for integrity, of fuzzy moral boundaries, then you can conclude that those are expressions of a corporate character flaw.

In my situation, the “lie to your customers” direction was not the first indication of a lack of moral compatibility between me and the company.  It was, however, the final one for me – the most recent and blatant of a string of incidents that made me feel uncomfortable with myself for being a part of it.

Also, sometimes the price is high.  The position I left was the most fun, most challenging, best paying job I ever had.  It was 15 years before I made the kind of money again that I made in that job.  Believe me, leaving that job for ethical reasons was a difficult decision.

Money is just money.  It comes and it goes.  People, and sales people particularly, who will do anything for money, who evidence no compulsion and no moral boundaries, are sad characters.  They have succumbed to the most superficial of temptations and displayed themselves to all those around them as people with little integrity.  They are unfortunate examples to their families, friends, and all who know them.

You only have to read the newspapers over the last year or so to see multiple examples of the damage that greed, un-tempered by morality, can do.  The real damage, though, is not the highly visible corporate crooks that we read about every day.  The real tragedy is all the less visible managers and sales people who we don’t read about – those business people who share the same “money at all costs” attitude – whose legacy is not as public, but none-the-less still damaging.

I would hope that you would not be one of those.  That you would have the strength of character to disassociate yourself from a situation that comprised your integrity.

So, when it becomes an issue of morality, I think it’s time to leave.

Good luck.  Sell well.

P.S. I expect that my comments may generate some responses.  Feel free to email a comment to me.

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You may want to dig deeper into the issues uncovered in this article.  I’d recommend the book, “Take Your Performance Up-a-Notch.”

If you are a member of The Sales Resource Center ™  consider reviewing these lessons:  Pod-21: “Goal-Setting,” or  Pod-34: “Ethics for the Professional Sales Person.”

Image “tired and dirty” owned by Rennett Stowe (cc)
Image “Sour Lemon” owned by Alan Maddox (cc)

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leadng sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and eight countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations.  Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog.  For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.

Copyright MMXI by Dave Kahle

All Rights Reserved.

A Good CRM System Can Help Determine Who’s Buying and Who’s Not

Efficient VERSUS Effective
Don't waste valuable time chasing tire kickers

Management of the Sales Cycle

CRM software is often looked upon as an extension of contact management and sales automation software. While this is certainly true, several CRM solution providers have taken CRM to a whole new level, using it to implement a structured approach to lead management and management of the sales cycle.  One of these companies, Commence Corporation has developed a unique Automated Business Process that  automates the lead qualification process and helps sales organizations better determine who’s buying and who’s not.

Automated Business Process

The structured process offers the ability to create a series of buying criteria built right into the CRM software such as;

  • Prospect displays a high level of interest
  • Needs have been established and documented
  • Budget has been approved
  • Buying or evaluation criteria have been established
  • There is a specific time frame for a decision
  • The internal selection process has been shared with you

Sales representatives answer the questions and the system rates and color codes each new opportunity based on the results, with red being a hot opportunity, yellow a warm one and blue cold.   The questions are completely customizable and you can even establish percentages if you feel one question is more important than another.

CRM Lead Management

This structured lead qualification process built into the Commence CRM software has proven to reduce sales cycles and improve close ratios.  This is because with Commence CRM, sales representatives become laser focused on the most qualified opportunities versus spending valuable time chasing tire kickers.

For more information about the automated lead qualification process click here.

[Image “Efficient VERSUS Effective” by Laura Dantonio on Flickr under Creative Commons license]

CRM Cloud Computing a Smart Choice for Small to Mid-Size Businesses

Nick dismantles the workroom computers.
Hiring an on-site computer technician can be costly

The current economic uncertainty has forced many small to mid-size businesses to seek ways to reduce their operational cost. Many have downsized their operations and have had to reduce their staff.  One of the areas hardest hit is the IT department. Companies that once had technology people on staff no longer do and the local computer guy that could help out in a pinch is no longer in business.  These companies now find themselves working with dated computer hardware and software and nowhere to turn if problems occur.

Cloud computing seems to be just what the doctor ordered if you can come to grips with the fact that someone else will be managing and maintaining your data outside your facility.  CRM software programs that run in the cloud are web based, which means they operate over the Internet.  There are no specific hardware requirements and no software to install.  This alleviates the need to hire costly technicians or outside consultants.  The cloud has many other benefits as well. Typically, software updates are included in the monthly or annual service fee which ensures that you are always working with the latest supportable version of the vendor’s software.  The data center and hardware used by top tier hosting providers is also best in class and traditionally offers back-up and data recovery services that are far superior to anything the customer may have had on-site.  In addition, the systems are managed 24/7 by well-trained engineers.

One of the companies that is helping companies transition to the world of cloud computing and cloud based software is Commence Corporation, a provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software .  Commence, best known for their client server based desktop software, now offers CRM for the cloud and is helping both existing and new customers take advantage of the new cloud computing environment. To learn more about Commence CRM for the cloud, visit commence.com

Image by Manchester Library, on Flickr available under a Creative Commons license