Is Your Sales System Clogged with Accumulated Gunk?

The quickest way to improve a sales team’s productivity is to improve their time management. - Dave Kahle

By Dave Kahle

Recently, one of the sales people with whom I was working volunteered that he often obtained demonstration samples by coming into the office, visiting the warehouse, opening a box of the product he wanted to sell, taking one out, and re-closing the box. When it comes to good time management for sales people practices, this was at the bottom of the list.

As you can imagine, this gave the warehouse manager fits.  However, there were more consequences to this practice than a furious warehouse manager.  This is an example of sales system GUNK!

What’s gunk?

Any practice that detracts from the sales person spending time with customers.  In other words, other things the outside sales people do instead of meeting with customers.

When we boil down the job of the typical outside sales person to its essence, it is clear that the one thing we want of them, the one place that they bring value to the organization, the one thing they do that is the essential reason we have them, is interact with the customers.  Everything else is a means to that end.

Most drainage pipes, over time, accumulate layers of gunk that clog up the system.  So, too, most sales systems, over time, accumulate layers of habit and practice that erode the time the sales person spends in front of the customer.

Here are some examples of sales system gunk.

In the example above…

not only did the sales person detract from the purity of the inventory, cause needless stress for the warehouse manager, and potentially short ship a customer, he also spent time doing something that took him out of his territory.

In a gunk-less sales system, the sales person would call or e-mail the person who was responsible for maintaining samples, and ask for the appropriate sample to be sent.  It should have taken two minutes to send an e-mail instead of an hour driving back and forth to the office.

Sales literature.

In a gunked-up system, the sales people drive into the office regularly and collect the literature they need from a variety of sources.

In a gunkless system, they maintain literature inventories in their cars or home offices, and regularly replace their inventory by e-mailed or faxed requests.

Emergency shipments.

I was recently scheduled to interview a number of sales people for one of my clients.  We had sessions scheduled every hour.  One of the sales people didn’t make the appointment.  The reason?  He had to drive home, change cars with his wife, use the larger car to drive to the warehouse, pick up an emergency shipment, and deliver it to a customer.

While on one hand we can applaud the sales person for taking care of the customer, on the other hand, we need to recognize that this practice is extremely costly gunk.

This whole episode probably took the better part of a half-day of the sales person’s time.  Not only was that an extremely expensive delivery, but the episode detracted from the sales person’s time and focus.

That’s several sales calls that were not made because the sales person was acting as the company’s highest paid delivery driver.  The company could have hired a limousine service to deliver the product in a stretch Lincoln for less.

In a gunkless sales system, an inside person expedites backorders and arranges for emergency shipments so that the sales people are free to concentrate on interacting with the customer.

Office time.

This is one of the largest contributors of sales system gunk, depositing large clumps of smelly sticky stuff whenever it occurs.

In a gunked-up system, sales people come into the office regularly.  Maybe they start every day there.  That time in the office is generally their least productive time.  There is coffee to be drunk, phone calls to take, mail boxes to empty, colleagues to talk with – all gunky practices that take up expensive selling time.

This is such a large issue, that I have even developed a law, similar in scope and dependability to Einstein’s law of relativity.  I call it Kahle’s Law of Office Time.  It states that,  “Whenever a sales person has 30 minutes of work to do at the office, it will always take two hours to do it.”

In a gunk-free system, sales people are not allowed in the office before 4:30 PM on Fridays.

The list of examples of gunk can go on and on.  But you have the idea.  Gunk is any habit or practice within your sales organization that detracts from the sales person spending time in front of the customers.

From my experience, gunk is inevitable, and often hardly visible.  Gunk habits develop with time and become part of the unwritten rules about how things are done in your organization.  Yet, they suck valuable time and energy out of your sales system.

One sure way to improve the productivity of your sales system is to clean out the gunk, freeing the sales people to spend their time and energy on the essence of their job and the activity that will bring you revenue – being in front of the customers.

Here are five steps to de-gunk your system.

  1. Identify the gunk. Have someone interview the sales people, asking them to recall a blow-by-blow description of how they spent their day or week.  Look for gunk.  Sometimes, gunk is so deeply ingrained in the sales force’s habits and routines that they don’t even recognize it.  So, it may work better to have someone spend a day with each sales person, making notes about all the gunk.  Make a list of all of the things that the sales people do that could be done better or cheaper by someone else.
  2. Work with a team of inside people and sales people to develop alternate ways of handling each of those activities.
  3. Create policies and written procedures. Job descriptions may have to change.
  4. Roll out the new procedures in a sales meeting. Start with the big picture.  Explain why you’re making these changes, and how it will help them and the company to be more productive.  Talk through some scenarios, answer their questions, and then chisel the new program in granite.
  5. Appoint someone to watch over the implementation of the changes. Remember, we’re talking about habits here, and habits are hard to change.  Someone needs to monitor the new program, reminding everyone involved of the new way to do things.

Once you’ve augered out the drainage pipes in your home, you can probably rest easy for a year or so.  So too with sales system gunk.  Once you’ve gone through this process and cleaned it up, you won’t need to revisit the issue for a while.

Rest easy, you’ve just made your sales system more productive.

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Copyright MMV
Originally published on davekahle.com

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:
http://www.thesalesresourcecenter.com

40 Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management 2017

UPDATE: We are pleased to announce Larry Caretsky, President of Commence Corporation, has been named one of the 40 Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management for 2017.  Congratulations to all the winners!

2017 Winners for Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management

When it comes to helping small to mid-size companies understand and implement programs to improve sales execution, Commence CEO Larry Caretsky is a recognized leader.  Author of an eBook “Practices That Pay” and more than a hundred articles pertaining to lead management and sales execution, he leads a CRM software company that is helping businesses create and automate the internal business processes that impact sales execution.

“When a sales team is not performing well it’s often due to a lack of sales infrastructure” says Caretsky.  “There is no methodology or process in place for managing the sales cycle and the staff does not have access to the tools and collateral they need to interact with customers and prospects in a real time environment.  Many companies turn to CRM software to address this void and in almost all cases it doesn’t work.  The reason why is clear. CRM is a component of improving sales execution, but it’s just a tool. It doesn’t run your business – people do, and in order to develop an effective sales organization you need a program that integrates people, processes and technology.  We call this our Sales Enablement Program” says Caretsky, “and it’s designed to help businesses define, implement and automate the internal business processes that improve sales performance.   It’s the key differentiator between Commence and those that just sell CRM software.”

If you want to learn more about how you can team up with Commence and implement a successful sales enablement program that will drive more business, visit commence.com/sales-enablement or e-mail sales@commence.com.

I’ll Just Be Gone for a Minute

This is a Sandler Weekly Sales Tip from guest poster Shulman & Associates.
No one leaves unless the building is on fire. | Sandler Sales Training

The STORY:

“This is an important meeting today,” said Mike.  “As you know, we’ve heard that the home office is changing the way commissions are calculated.”

“Does that mean I make more or less?” asked Greg from the side of the room.

Mike stared at Greg without speaking for a moment.  He needed to get the annoyance he felt under control.  All of the other salespeople had shaped up during meetings.  Except Greg.

“Greg…I have no idea.  Please don’t interrupt me again.  There is a lot to cover, and everyone in this room has to decide on one of two commission plans.”

“Take it easy, Mike.  Just trying to lighten the mood up a bit.”

“Fine.  As I was saying…”  Mike began describing the first commission plan in detail.  After 10 minutes, a beeper went off.

“Mike, I swear I didn’t plan this,” said Greg, looking at the beeper on his belt.

“I’m sure,” was all that Mike managed to say.

“Looks like I’ve got to call O’Donnell,” said Greg getting up to leave.

“Where are you going?” asked Mike.

“O’Donnell told me that his board was meeting this morning to decide on that huge proposal I gave him.  He said he’d beep me if it was running into trouble.”

“So, call him back later.”

“Mike, I’ve got seven months into this one.  For all you know, it could be a stupid little question that has to be answered.  I’ll just be gone for a minute.”

“Go,” said Mike.  “You’ve got one minute.”
Five minutes later, still without Greg reappearing, Mike went on with the meeting.  Unfortunately, he had to spend 10 minutes he didn’t have re-explaining the first commission plan.

Twenty-five minutes later Greg reappeared and once more interrupted Mike.  “Sorry it took so long.  I think this one’s a done deal.  What happened here?”

It took 10 minutes to recap what had gone on.  Unfortunately, by then, the meeting time was used up.

The RESULT:

Mike did not cover all of the material he had planned on.  Either it would be pushed to the next meeting or dropped.  And O’Donnell still hadn’t bought.

DISCUSSION:

Almost without exception, the moment a person “has to” leave the meeting, he misses crucial information.  The chairperson can either let him go or forbid him to leave.

If the person leaves, this raises two additional situations.  First, the person misses the information that is conveyed and any ensuing discussion.  It is impossible to convey all that information to that person at a later date.  It is also difficult to explain the reasoning behind any decisions that were made.  Therefore the “missing person” views the decisions as arbitrary.  “I didn’t get my viewpoint heard, and had they heard my viewpoint, the decision would have been different.”  The result is a person who may or may not follow through.  The purpose of the meeting, for this person, has not been met.

The second problem is what does the group leader do when the person comes back?  It always takes longer than a minute.  He has two choices.  He can continue and ignore his return.  He can backpedal and bring him up-to-date.  If he backpedals, he wastes everyone else’s time.  If he ignores him, the person almost always asks, “What did I miss?”  So he backpedals anyway.  And wastes time.

Consider, for a moment, the perception of others if you allow the person to leave and then on his return, backpedal.  They have all just shut off their brains while you recap.  Their attention to task is gone.  You now have to refocus them all over again.

All this because he’d only be gone for a minute.

APPROACH:

The solution is simple and requires the meeting leader to convey, prior to the meeting, his absolute commitment that no interruptions will be tolerated unless the building is on fire.  This is not a popular stand to take if you have tolerated interruptions in the past.  In your favor is that the people who will want to be excused for a minute are almost always the same ones at every meeting.  You will only have to deal with this small group.  The rest of the group will silently thank you – they like the interruptions less than you do.

THOUGHT:

Meetings are held to communicate and resolve issues vital to those attending.  Why should anyone leave?

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.

Want New Customers? Try a Sales Blitz.

Want new customers? Try a sales blitz. | DaveKahle.com

by Dave Kahle

One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is this: “I can’t seem to motivate the salespeople to call on prospects and develop them into new customers.

There is a relatively simple, fun and inexpensive way to remedy this situation. It’s called a sales blitz. Unfortunately, few companies are even aware of it, and fewer yet use it.

Here’s the problem. Most B2B sales efforts are organized around a sales rep who is responsible for a specific set of accounts, or a specific geographical area. Typically, that rep is expected to grow the business with the current customers as well as to identify and develop new customers. Clearly, most sales people are better at one part of this two-part responsibility than the other. Usually, developing new customers takes second place in the salesperson’s priorities. Staying within their comfort zones and focusing on keeping the current customers happy becomes a higher priority on a day-to-day basis. As a result, few new customers are developed, and sales management is continually frustrated with the company’s poor performance. Rather than continue beating a dead horse by trying to motivate the sales force to create new customers, one alternate approach is to implement a sales blitz.

What’s a sales blitz? It’s an organized effort by the company to focus all of its sales force on a specific task in one specific territory. The most common task is to identify, qualify and engage potential new customers. But, a sales blitz could also be used to quickly communicate some hot new product or service to a market.

A sales blitz has the advantage of focusing the entire sales force on a specific task. That alone will bring you far greater results than if you’d just left it to each salesperson to do on their own.

But there are some additional fringe benefits. For example, the preparation for a sales blitz provides you an opportunity to thoroughly train the sales force in one identifiable step in the sales process. Their competency thus improves. Additionally, you can usually measure their activities more specifically than normal. So, they become more competent and confident, and you more knowledgeable in the activities of your sales force.

Let me illustrate with an example. Let’s say that you have group of eight salespeople who are each expected to build the business with current customers as well as create new ones. You are continually frustrated with their performance in creating new customers. Out of the group of eight people, you’re lucky to have one new customer a month. Since you are not satisfied with this, you decide to do a sales blitz for new customers.

So, you select one geographical area or market segment on which to focus. In this case, let’s say one of your salespeople has a relatively new territory, so you select that territory as your focus. You decide that for a period of three days, you are going to pull your entire sales force out of their territories and direct them into the new salesperson’s territory.

You bring them together, and explain the project. Their task is to identify, qualify and engage as many prospects as possible. The information gained and the doors opened in the process will then be provided to the territory rep, who will be expected to follow up and turn a significant number of these qualified prospects into customers.

You create a form for each salesperson. They must collect the information specified on the form from each prospect. The information could include such basics as the name and title of the key contact person, some information about the account, and a sense of the opportunity for your company.

You then train the sales force in how to do just that one aspect of the sales process – make a cold call, collect some qualifying information, and fill in the form. You spend a day role-playing and practicing.

Next, you provide them with a list of current customers (off limits) and a list of potential customers. You break the group into four teams of two people each, and on the map, outline four different areas for each. You announce that at the end of each day, you’ll hold a short meeting. At that meeting, you’ll recount success stories, share information and tactics that have worked for various team members, and count up the number of contacts made and forms filled out by each team. The team with the most completed forms will be the day’s winner, and each member of the winning team will be awarded a gift certificate for dinner for him and his spouse.

At this point, you have organized the group’s efforts by identifying the specific job to be done, provided the tools (forms and company literature), trained them in the task, focused them on a specific area, and added some structured time to learn and to be recognized.

On each day of the blitz, you stay in cell phone contact with each group, encouraging them throughout the course of the day.

At the end of the three days, you will probably have accumulated more prospects for your territory rep to follow up on than he/she would have done on his own in the course of a year or two.

Turn them over to the rep, keep a copy yourself, and watch the progress he/she makes in each account.

What have you accomplished? A number of powerful things:

  • You’ve created more qualified leads for the territory rep in a few days than he/she would have created on his own in a few years.
  • You’ve created a fun experience for all your reps.
  • Each rep has learned some new skills as they focused on just one part of the sales process and repeated it over and over. They will be better at creating new customers in their own territory as a result of this learning experience.

That’s a sales blitz.

Keep in mind that there is nothing new about this approach. It may be new to you, but it’s a time-tested, proven best practice. When I was 17 years old, I attained my first sales job working summers for the Jewel Tea Company. They were using sales blitzes as a regular part of their sales efforts. I won’t tell you how long ago that was, but you can measure the time duration in decades.

A couple of years ago, when I was working with one of my clients to establish a new sales force, we routinely used sales blitzes, rotating the blitz every other month from one territory to another. In the first two years, six sales people created 638 new accounts.

Here are some dos and don’ts of organizing a sales blitz:

  • Have a specific task in mind, and make it as simple as possible. In the example above, the salespeople were to engage a prospective account, and fill out a form that indicated whether or not the account was worth the time. They collected some information, and attempted to have an introductory conversation about the company in order to raise some interest on the part of the account. So, in other words, the task was a cold call to qualify a prospect.
  • Focus everyone on a specific area or market segment.
  • Equip each person with the tools necessary to accomplish this task.
  • Thoroughly train them. Even with an experienced sales group, I’d spend at least one day role-playing, critiquing and practicing. Remember, cold calls are probably not the strength of any of your salespeople. Ignore their protests that they “know how to do it,” and train them as if they were brand new. You may be surprised at how far many of them have to come in order to be competent at it.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Three days in my example.
  • Break the group up into pairs or teams, and create a competition among them.
  • Have some kind of daily debriefing. A half hour meeting at the end of each day was my choice.
  • Offer a daily recognition and reward.
  • Post the results, and follow through on the leads created to make sure that they are not squandered.

A sales blitz, well designed and well managed, can solve one of your company’s biggest shortcomings and spin off a number of valuable fringe benefits.

Copyright MMV
Originally published on davekahle.com

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every salesperson at every level. To connect to the Sales Resource Center use this link:
http://www.thesalesresourcecenter.com

Have a CRM but Sales Haven’t Improved? We Have the Answer

Because you have to GET leads before you can MANAGE leads

Thousands of small to mid-size businesses have adopted CRM software with the belief that they would generate more new business opportunities and would be able to keep those opportunities from falling through cracks.  Unfortunately, they have failed to realize this, so if you feel this way you are not alone.

CRM can be a valuable tool, but it’s valueless if you don’t have a platform in place for generating new business opportunities.  CRM is a component of the platform, but it needs to be coupled with a mix of marketing activity designed to drive new business opportunities. Here is an analogy to describe what I mean. Many startup companies are proud that they have created a modern cosmetically appealing website, but months later they are perplexed as to why they are not getting any visitors. Well the answer is simple. It’s like holding up a sign in the desert.  There is no one there!  CRM is no different. You cannot properly manage new sales opportunities if you don’t have any.  Your website is not going to produce them nor is your CRM system.  What you need is a company that can provide not only the CRM tools to manage new leads, but a program to get you the leads.

One company that has taken a leadership position with this is Commence Corporation. Commence sells CRM software like many other CRM solution providers, but what makes Commence unique is that they are assisting customers with creating marketing programs designed to drive new business.  The company’s professional services staff is helping companies to identify who are their best customers, what are their competing alternatives and how can they can proactively target them.  Once the leads are generated, the CRM software then ranks and color codes each opportunity based on specific qualification criteria and provides the ability to manage the opportunity from the initial introduction to closure.  It’s this combination of effective lead generation programs coupled with a top-rated CRM solution that is enabling Commence customers to improve sales execution and impact the bottom line.

Want to learn more about Commence?  Contact Commence Sales at 1-877–266-6362 or visit the company’s web site at commence.com.