Read This if You are A Sales Executive or a Sales Leader: Best Among What I Read – Sales Edition

Best Among What I Read by Mukesh Gupta

If you know me at all, you would already know that I read a lot of stuff – right from business topics like (Sales, Innovation, Leadership, Marketing) to personal topics like philosophy, religion, psychology, habit formation, economics and the lot.

I used to share a collection of articles that I really thought were well written or were thought provoking for me, almost everyday till a few months back. Some of my readers have indicated that they miss those collections in place, that it saves them time and requested that I start posting these collection of content again.

So, here we go. Below is a list of posts that I think were really the best among a lot of content on sales that i read in the recent past. So, here we go:

Things I Admire In a Sales Force

In this blog post, Anthony Iannarino shares a list of attributes that he admires in a sales force. I really think that if there were a sales team that wanted to create a team manifesto for them to live by, this list would be a great starting point. I particularly like the attribute about helping their team mates succeed.

This is something that is not very common in sales teams at all, but can play a significant role in the overall success of the sales team. I did write about it earlier myself. You can read my post here.

If you are a sales leader and want to inspire your team and get them to rally around together, this is a set of attributes that you should aspire your team to achieve.

Dealing with Your Irrational Competitor

Another blog post by Anthony (I seem to really like his posts, of late). In this one, he shares his insights on how to deal with your irrational competitor. Every sales team faces some irrational competitor who wants to take away market share at any cost, who is willing to go to any lengths, give irrational discounts, make promises that they already know that can’t be fulfilled and take your customers away.

So, how do you deal with such competitors? Not the usual way. For Anthony’s insights on this, read the post here.

Is ignorance the problem?

In his inimitable style Seth Godin brings forth a very important question that all of us as sales executives or sales leaders need to address. Whenever there is a customer who stalls or questions the value that our solutions bring to them, we default to providing them more information – more use cases, more business case, sharing more examples of how and where your solutions have succeeded.

We are assuming that the customer is stalling due to lack of information. What if that is not true? In my experience, most of the times it is not true. The reason the customer is stalling could be because they are not sure, they are afraid of making the commitment required on their part, they are afraid that you might not deliver what you promise to deliver. The issue could be trust or something else.

Mostly, ignorance is not the problem. You can read his really short blog (maybe even shorter than my preamble here) here.

Why You Need An If-Then Storytelling Strategy

Once you have identified that ignorance is not the problem and shoving more information will not help, what do you do? This is where, I really liked a blog post written by Bernadette Jiwa. In this post she talks about having a if-then (storytelling) strategy.

This strategy can be helpful in any environment, retail or otherwise. Can we identify certain situations or triggers in our sales process and have a ready story to tell in those situations. These emotional triggers need emotional responses and stories do it really well. Great sales executives do this intuitively, but this is really a skill that can be learnt and taught.

Do you have a if-then story for emotional triggers in your sales process.? If not, try and develop one. It’s your job as the sales leader to do this.

Stop Complaining That You Have Clients

Once we win customers, then it is time to deliver our commitments and promises. As a sales executive, it might not be you who delivers what was promised. But you are indeed the person who committed the deliverables to your customers.

They trusted you and now it is your job to ensure that your commitments are honoured. When they are not being honoured, either in spirit or in letter, customers will hold you responsible and accountable.

They will write to you about the issues they have with the service standards, about challenges that they have working with someone on your team or about any other random thing that irks them. I have seen sales executives continue to complain about all these emails that they keep getting from their customers, the expectations that the customer is having off them, even though they realise that its not part of their job.

In this insightful and critical post, Anthony (again) shares a perspective that all sales executives who complain forget – which is complacency, neglect and Entitlement kills a sales executives future. Read the post and honestly think about your behaviour towards your customers.

Are you complaining that they are your customers? If so, think again? And more importantly, CHANGE.

Conclusion: 

I do hope that you liked this collection of blog posts that I really liked on the topic of sales and selling. I will see you soon in another edition of the Best Among What I Read on a different topic sometime soon.

PS: Here is how you can follow the people I have quoted in this post.

  • You can follow Anthony and his phenomenal content here.
  • You can follow Bernadette Jiwa and her insightful thoughts on branding and brand storytelling here.
  • You can follow Seth Godin and his insightful commentary on his random observations here.

 

 

 

PBTO7: The Importance of Doing it Right over Getting it Done for Sales Leaders

Matt Heinz
Matt Heinz
Matt Heinz

In this episode, we host Matt Heinz. Matt is President at Heinz Marketing and brings more than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes. His career has focused on delivering measurable results for his employers and clients in the way of greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

In 2007, Matt began Heinz Marketing to help clients focus their business on market and customer opportunities, then execute a plan to scale revenue and customer growth.

This episode in a way is very useful for sales leaders and aspiring sales leaders. We cover some very important topics like:

  1. What are some of the most common mistakes sales leaders commit
  2. What can sales managers do to help their teams to become more productive?
  3. How should sales managers should be measured on (Getting it done and doing it right)
  4. Social Selling in a B2B context & what can sales organizations do to benefit from the social selling processes..
  5. Relevance of marketing and their role in the new world & how can marketing help make the sales teams more effective
  6. How should Sales & marketing teams could work together better
  7. Marketing folks who understand technology or techies who understand marketing?
  8. What role does the CEO play in the overall sales success?
  9. How do you look for when you hire your sales reps?
  10. One mistake that sales managers commit which is so obvious to others but could be difficult for themselves to realize?

Listen in to the interesting conversation and enjoy the ride.

 

This is the Time to Re-design Your Sales Planning Process

Right now is the most important time of the year for a sales leader. Its the time when you not only are trying to support your teams to meet their annual quotas, but also supposedly need to be in the planning mode to make decisions on the sales quotas for the subsequent years.

If you are like most sales leaders that I have known, you are finding it difficult to maintain a balance among both these activities. And in most cases, the closure of the year takes more precedence than planning for the next year, which would be best to avoid by better planning at the start of the year.

So, how do you decide what sales figures you want to aspire for and how do you allocate the sales quotas?

Do you decide on a % increase on the current year sales figures as the aspiration? Say 15% year-on-year growth in top-line. Is this handed down to you by the CEO or the board of directors? Do you then add some cushion and divide this among your direct reports based on the markets and volumes that they currently run, who in turn do the same to their direct reports and this continues till you have reached the sales executive and communicated his quotas. There is always some negotiation at every level. Since both the parties know that this is a given, it loses its validity and people plan for these push-backs in the original quotas being suggested.

Now the sales executives are left to create a sales plan that can help them achieve their quotas. Smart sales executives create a plan for atleast 40% more revenue to ensure that there are no surprises at the end of the year and starts executing the plan with his set of accounts.

Now imagine that you also do the following exercise at the start of the year:

In November, you get your sales teams to take a day or two off and block it for planning. You could get the entire sales team do this on the same day or spread this out for different days for different teams. You inform all your sales executives to look at the accounts that they manage and come up with sales plays with each of these accounts. Then they identify the potential revenue from each of these sales plays. They create 3 estimates – Best case, Worst Case and Probable case. Based on the sales play, current macro conditions and the relationship with the customer, also estimate where they are in their buying process. Repeat this process with all their customers. Then you add the revenue potential for all the three scenarios from all the sales executives and also know the stage in which each account is in the sales process. This gives you a good idea of your pipeline from your existing customers/prospects. You also ask each one of your sales executives to come up with a list of 10-15 accounts in their market whom they would like to do business with and what would be the potential sales plays for those accounts, if they could come up with one. You would need to then take this list to your marketing teams and get them to create a plan on how they could support your team to get these customers interested in your products and services. You then set the quotas of the sales executives based on the worst case scenario and if you have to set sales quotas for the sales managers, set them based on the most probable or best case scenarios. Alternately, you could set the sales quotas of your sales executives based on the most probable scenario and measure your sales manages based on the % of their direct reports who achieve their quotas.

If your organization is like most organizations that I have come across, you would find that the revenue potential is much higher than any percentage increase in revenue that you had originally planned to achieve. In addition to that, you now also have a sales play defined for each one of your existing customers and the prospects already in the pipeline.

Now, it is very important for you as a sales leader to do this exercise in the last quarter of the year so that the entire team realizes that the planning process is as important as the sales closure for the quarter. This is the cultural shift that you could effect. Also, this ensures that the entire team is involved in the planning process and not just the sales leaders. This entire process will also ensure that you hit the ground running when the year starts. This process also ensures that your sales executives will not just concentrate on customers where there are current deals being planned but also continue to build his relationship with all his customers.

These are my thoughts. What do you think? Is this level of planning achievable? Do share your thoughts by commenting below or by tweeting your thoughts to me at @rmukeshgupta.