Just Make A Movie…
Few people realize the opportunity they have right in front of them. They think some bolt from the blue is going to hit them and change their fortunes forever.
George Lucas recognized his….
“When I was in film school, the big issue was
‘When are we going to get to make a movie?’ …
They gave us 32 feet of 16 mm film which was exactly 1 minute of film … I turned it into a 1-minute movie.
If somebody gave me 100 feet of film … I made a movie out of it. And the other kids basically didn’t. They had the same 100 feet of film. They had the same camera. And, they just said ‘When am I going to get to make a movie?’ And I just kept making them.”
…and the result was
What are you going to do with your opportunity today?
What you need in the field for a successful Sales Blitz!
In a Sales Blitz every door is an opportunity and if your salespeople aren’t properly equipped they can miss it.
5 Step Process for Increased Lead Generation with Case Study
Today I am going to layout the 5 Pillars of the S.I.T. Lead Generation process. Lead generation success comes down to follow-up and measurement. Understanding what constitutes success in lead generation is where there is misunderstanding. Frequently, people choose only 1 metric to determine success. That is no different than saying that the only thing that matters on a balance sheet is receivables or the only thing that matters in a formula is one ingredient.
The First Thing to Know
Understanding the numbers means you must understand the system behind them. The who, what, why, where, when and how of the S.I.T lead generation system not just one sole metric.
Remember, just because people are being “touched” by your lead generation machine does not mean they are going to buy. If you don’t understand the buying cycle and buying proclivities of your marketplace YOU WILL NEVER SELL ANYTHING.
If you see an ad for a cool car do you run out and buy one? If you see an ad for a great looking watch do run out and buy one? The answer in 3 parts is A) Yes if you have large disposable income B) No if you are not in the market (have a real/perceived need) or C) No if you do not have the budget.
There is absolutely NO WAY to determine without talking to someone what factors are the cases and every situation is different. What an effective lead generation program does is put your solution in as many “selling cycles” as possible without initially knowing which ones will bear immediate fruit. What you can know is what marketplaces, titles, applications etc. give you the best opportunity.
The S.I.T. lead generation program is a cumulative effect relationship where success grows with more and more “correct” contact. Make no mistake there is also lightning effect sales that happen immediately. The only caveat to remember is that if people do not have a (real/perceived) need or do not have disposable income you can be the greatest sales person since Tom Hopkins or “Don Draper” but you won’t be selling anything.
Step 1. Refine the definition of “sales-ready”
Many organizations struggle with the exact definition of “lead.” And the biggest difference of opinion usually lies between Sales and Marketing. The questions marketers should be asking are:
What do salespeople really want?
What do they need in order to sell?
Salespeople need to manage their precious time. Quota-carrying reps are acutely aware of the relationship between their time and value to the company. A rep has to continuously ask oneself, “What is the probability of this deal closing? And what is its inherent value?”
Step 2. Qualify leads based on a Universal Lead Definition (ULD)
Regardless of the model you choose, it is vital that the choice is made jointly by Sales and Marketing. Effective demand generation teams will establish a process that defines a lead, establishes a follow-up process and determines how quickly a lead must be moved further down the funnel unique to your industry.
Once a common lead definition has been found, it is the marketing team’s responsibility to filter leads accordingly. Marketing automation platforms and lead scoring processes all help to determine qualified leads for sales readiness. But sales reps will play a vital role in this process, as well. There is only so much that automated systems can accomplish without a human touch.
Step 3. Nurture early stage leads until “sales-ready”
Lead nurturing is “the process of having a relevant, consistent dialog with viable potential customers, regardless of their timing to buy.” With lead nurturing, you are strengthening the relationship you have with potential customers, by adding value, even if they never buy from you.
This is the process of becoming a “thought leader” and changing the relationship you have to the industry from vendor to resource. This one, very crucial differentiation is what determines volume of future success.
In order to nurture leads effectively, you must employ the Big 3:
Relevant Content: That which that speaks to their needs at any given time. In B2B, you nurture organizations, not people. By providing an individual with meaningful information, you are helping that person have meaningful dialogue with others in that organization.
Timing: Every organization has it cycles. There are exactly 2 ways to determine a company’s buying cycle 1) Calling and talking to everyone involved 2) Touching them periodically until the pattern emerges.
Consistency: Nature abhors a vacuum. Once you start a lead generation program you end it at peril to your organization. People begin to “expect” information from you at regular intervals. Once that information stream ceases they will find another and it will be a competitor, count on it.
Most people have always thought of lead nurturing as just an automated letter/email workflow. It is really about reaching people in whatever channels they want to be reached with information that is valuable to them. News articles, seminars/webinars, regulatory notices all are potential “touches” and while choosing multiple channels is important, The Big 3 are the Key. Marketing is a mindset, not an activity.
Step 4. Define hand-off process from Marketing to Sales
The hand-off between Marketing and Sales is crucial, and yet remains a common misstep in the process of moving leads through the funnel. In order to make the lead transition as smooth as possible, have a documented process, a process agreed upon by both Sales and Marketing. The following process should be clearly defined and followed to ensure the hand-off is effective:
Be sure the lead is “sales-ready”
Leads must clearly fit the ULD
Leads must express a desire to speak with a sales rep
Leads must be qualified, with supporting information
Be sure to have a clear handoff process
“Don’t drop the baton” — ensure that lead ownership is clear and agreed upon
Establish a quick, efficient timetable for turnaround
Tracking and accountability is key to short and long term success
Ultimately, the S.I.T. program not only increases efficiency, but also shows if your leads are actually helping your sales team convert, as well as measuring the contribution to the pipeline.
Step 5. Close the loop
Effective sales and marketing organizations are ones that communicate well. Regular meetings should be held to gauge progress and success. In these “huddles,” both teams can collaborate to review results, fix procedural errors and refine priorities moving forward.
These meetings will provide your team with honest, actionable feedback from Sales, helping you determine:
If your lead information is accurate and helpful
If your leads are in the target market
If your leads are “sales-ready” (i.e., ready for sales rep involvement)
There is detail to be filled in under each step but that detail is always going to be subject to your industry, market, product etc.
Below is an example of the success you can see with the S.I.T. process.
Case Study: Prime Coat Coatings
“We have grown the database by over 1000 contacts that we never knew existed until we started this program. We have cleaned up the existing CRM by validating contact information and accurate locations. More organizations now know of Prime Coat than ever before and as we go forward with our Prime Coat 2.0 initiative we will see the fruit from those seeds. For example Prime Coat Indiana is on pace to have a solid year, somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 million or so. To date 92% of ALL their 2010 business can be traced to lead generation touches dating as far back as 2006.
Based on information from the CRM and quote system we have quoted approximately $350,000 of business from the touch system. The touch system is defined as anybody who has received letters from us and as a result went to a trade show or called/emailed in directly to the company. We have closed close to $55,000 from the quotes. This is from jobs that are the direct result of either letters or touches that led to meetings at tradeshows.
We also have some success at Abbott that are not mentioned in the above numbers. We are seeing Dave Harvey close more in coatings business in the last few months than he has in a long time. He has been averaging approximately 50k a month in coatings business the last 2 months. This is following our lead generation efforts there. They received letters along with Dave Harvey staying in constant contact with them and as a result he should have 4 straight months of over 100k in billings.
What these numbers do not contain is all the potential business out there that we are now lining up, things that we never were going to hear or know about UNLESS we were executing this system. We are injecting ourselves into 100’s buying cycles a week and getting more and more call in’s and emails to the web site. This will lead to a continued, sustained and organic growth. And as we tighten down the rest of our systems the results will only get better.”
How To Improve Your Conversion Rate 50% When Calling Prospects Part 1 of 3
I do not believe in classically defined cold calls; Picking up the phone and calling a list of contacts that we know nothing about. We live in a digital age and those types of calls are analog. I do believe, as professional sales/business people, that we absolutely NEED to make as many calls to potential clients as possible. The question is how we do it.
There is soooo much we can do to warm up these calls and to make them more impactful than our predecessors could possibly imagine. The first part of this strategy starts with our willingness to put in the time to do research BEFORE picking up the phone. I am not talking about writing a thesis on each potential but there is work to be done BEFORE we pick up the phone.
The Library and Linked In
Almost every suburb now has state of the art library facilities that you don’t even have to go the building to use and it only costs you a trip to the library to get a library card to allow you access. They have online research tools like Reference USA, Regional Business News or Glassdoor, any one of these will give you more information than you can possibly imagine.
Then there is Linked In. This is the greatest free research tool ever invented. You can find out, in great detail, the professional specifics of virtually anybody or any company. The search tool is also top notch. What I like most is being able to search by school as well as other categories. I mean why not start with people you either went to school with or attended your school?
End of Part 1
The bottom line is with a minimal time investment you can learn gigabytes of information about potential clients before ever talking to them. All it takes is the want to on your part, the desire to differentiate yourself and services to the potential BEFORE they even know who you are.
Each piece of this process builds the needed momentum to get an increase of 50% in your conversion rate. My next post will teach you the most impactful way to get a potential client’s attention before you call.
In the meantime, you can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!
5 ½ Reasons Why You Should Include Simulations in Your Hiring and Training Processes
People are your most precious resource. Nobody WANTS to make a mistake in hiring or promotions. When it comes to training Andy Grove, the Intel visionary, said it best, “The most important charge a good manager owns is the responsibility to continuously train his/her employees.”
Below are the 5 ½ reasons why simulations should be an integral part of your hiring, promotion and training processes.
The 5 to 1 Ratio
A mis-hire/promote costs the company 5 times the candidate’s annual compensation ($50,000 salary costs the company $250,000).
With training its just as easy to see the ROI. A business parable for you:
CEO said to the CFO ‘We have to train our people to get better.’
CFO says ‘Yea but what if we invest time and money to train them and they leave us to go to our competitor?’
CEO shoots back ‘What if we don’t train them and they stay?’
Whether it is a mis-hire or a less than adequately trained employee the impact on client relations, revenue, productivity, supervision time and morale is negative and it is huge.
The Power of Proof
Have you ever had an interview where the person told you they couldn’t do the job? Or have you ever had a person who “stretched” their abilities in the interview and as a result you were cleaning their messes for days, weeks or months after?
A best practice simulation provides you “Point-to-Point Correspondence” with the job. When the activities found in the simulation are a replica of activities that are required on the job, you get an accurate portrayal of skill level.
This is also why simulations are critical to training. Do you really want salespeople “practicing” on customers? Of course you don’t! General George Patton once said “The more my troops sweat in peacetime the less they bleed during combat.” Simulations are a must in all continual development.
How do They Handle the Debrief
Once they perform in the simulation how do they respond to constructive criticism? Are they thin-skinned? Do they gloat? Is their self-confidence warranted? Many times, you find out the best and the worst of people by observing how they handle coaching.
It also opens a window to know how they learn best. Through the Debrief you will discover what they will and won’t respond to. This can be invaluable as you continue to train and develop your team.
Go to the Video
When recorded, simulations help reduce, if not remove bias and subjectivity in the hiring process in one BIG way, “The eye in the sky does not lie.” You don’t want a he said/she said situation in any business scenario, but especially in simulations.
Here’s a great example of the benefit of recording simulations: A hiring manager who got a ‘good hit’ off a candidate, in an interview, might get a completely different feeling after watching a recorded simulation. The candidate might be the most charming person in the world, but when the time came he didn’t have the skills he trumpeted. In any business, that is a disaster averted.
Recorded simulations are irreplaceable in training as well. There is nothing better than being able to go back and review specific areas for either praise or correction. Plus, reviewing with individuals their recorded progress or regression is a very powerful training tool.
Even if somebody is an A-Player it does not mean they are perfect. Too many onboarding programs fail to adapt to the candidate, thus slowing the speed to effectiveness of the new hire.
Simulations don’t just weed out bad candidates. They also help you to assess a good candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses in a hyper-accurate way. This allows you to design/implement an onboarding process to speed them to productivity. Not to mention it helps in offer decisions like salary negotiations.
5 ½. Positioning Your Company as the Best
The War for Talent is upon us and there are only so many A-Players out there. The mistake most organizations commit is purposefully making the hiring process easier out of fear of losing the candidate.
Thomas Payne said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” Being with the BEST requires paying the PRICE. Candidates learn respect for the position and respect for the company by demonstrating how seriously the company takes the hiring process. The best candidates don’t want to be with some company that just rolls over. Remember everybody wants to belong to The Club that is impossible to get in.
87% of people who voluntarily (i.e .Quit) leave a company do so because of a lack of growth and development opportunity. Its human nature to want to improve, to develop new skills, succeed and advance. If you have good people, make them better.
Use simulations to continually train and develop your team. And you know what they call the company with the top employees… they call that company the BEST!
To ensure you are hiring A-Players and for training to be impactful and ‘sticky’ both have to be closely tied to how things are actually done in your organization. This is why simulations are such a critical management tool.
The Right Way to Hold People Accountable
Hi Folks. In my previous blog post, I was talking about holding yourself accountable as a leader. Well ‘lo and behold this article pops up in my email box this morning.
It is a great piece on the topic of accountability and the 5 areas where you must BE CLEAR for real accountability to truly exist. I will be continue digging into this topic as it relates to sales leadership and management as January progresses.
Here is an excerpt from the article and the link to the entire article is below.
- Clear expectations. The first step is to be crystal clear about what you expect. This means being clear about the outcome you’re looking for, how you’ll measure success, and how people should go about achieving the objective. It doesn’t all have to come from you. In fact, the more skilled your people are, the more ideas and strategies should be coming from them. Have a genuinely two-way conversation, and before it’s over, ask the other person to summarize the important pieces — the outcome they’re going for, how they are going to achieve it, and how they’ll know whether they’re successful — to make sure you’re ending up on the same page. Writing out a summary is a good idea but doesn’t replace saying it out loud.
- Clear capability. What skills does the person need to meet the expectations? What resources will they need? If the person does not have what’s necessary, can they acquire what’s missing? If so, what’s the plan? If not, you’ll need to delegate to someone else. Otherwise you’re setting them up for failure.
- Clear measurement. Nothing frustrates leaders more than being surprised by failure. Sometimes this surprise is because the person who should be delivering is afraid to ask for help. Sometimes it comes from premature optimism on both sides. Either way, it’s completely avoidable. During the expectations conversation, you should agree on weekly milestones with clear, measurable, objective targets. If any of these targets slip, jump on it immediately. Brainstorm a solution, identify a fix, redesign the schedule, or respond in some other way that gets the person back on track.
- Clear feedback. Honest, open, ongoing feedback is critical. People should know where they stand. If you have clear expectations, capability, and measurement, the feedback can be fact-based and easy to deliver. Is the person delivering on her commitments? Is she working well with the other stakeholders? If she needs to increase her capability, is she on track? The feedback can also go both ways — is there something you can be doing to be more helpful? Give feedback weekly, and remember it’s more important to be helpful than nice.
- Clear consequences. If you’ve been clear in all of the above ways, you can be reasonably sure that you did what’s necessary to support their performance. At this point, you have three choices: repeat, reward, or release. Repeat the steps above if you feel that there is still a lack of clarity in the system. If the person succeeded, you should reward them appropriately (acknowledgement, promotion, etc.). If they have not proven accountable and you are reasonably certain that you followed the steps above, then they are not a good fit for the role, and you should release them from it (change roles, fire them, etc.).
Link to the rest of the article is right here
The Right Way to Hold People Accountable
Everybody is BUSY!
There is a great scene in Seinfeld where George is talking to a character about being busy and I’ll be dipped if it isn’t what we all would LOVE to say to our customers. You can view the clip here (Busy, Busy, Busy) Pinpoint as usual from George. Customers are always busy. We are always busy.
It is great to be busy. We have all kind of projects going on and meetings to go to. The only problem is when all that “busyness” actually holds you back from taking the next step in REALLY growing your business. Before long you blink and the 1st quarter of the year is gone. You say to yourself “well at least we closed ‘X’ amount of business” The RIGHT question is “how much business COULD you have closed?”
How & Why We Get Trapped
I have seen and been on the front-line of this very phenomenon in multiple industries, the cable (TV) industry in the late 90’s, electronic components in the mid 00’s and construction/building products in the late 00’s to name a few. Here’s the problem, you are so busy with day to day activities, doing the immediate pressing tasks you never find the time for the proactive, big picture, revenue boosting activities that can drive your sales for months and years to come.
You tell yourself you’ll get to it eventually but the sad truth is you NEVER do. You simply move on to the next immediate task all the while thinking to yourself that you feel like a hamster on an exercise wheel. The question is HOW do you break out of the rut and move things forward?
Listen to NIKE
There is NEVER an actual perfect time so do it NOW! FORCE yourself to evaluate what is going on. Decide on what activities are needed, what tactics/strategies should be employed, and then execute.
Speed is What We Need!
The effective use of speed is critical and clearly a competitive weapon. Move fast, or become HISTORY as everything you do increases your competitive position or moves you one step closer to being competitive toast.
Confronted with a constantly shifting array of customers, competitors, strategic alliances, technology and market volatility, the only hope for increased productivity lies in developing the ability to move and change at least as rapidly as your competitive environment.
The company or individual that does not embrace the importance of speed will be HAMMERED.
In fact, as a strategic weapon, speed is the equivalent of money, productivity, quality, even innovation.
Pretty simple formula, but as everything the trick is in the execution. You’re busy I get it, but it is time to make a decision. Are you too busy to improve your business or are you willing to look past the immediate and recognize what has to happen to keep your business growing?
Hiring A Sales Superstar: What We Are Looking For
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you.”
“96% of all sales managers have NO formal interview training” this quote is excerpted from an article in Selling Power Magazine. WOW, what a scary statistic! Suddenly those “hiring horror stories” make absolute sense to me.
The funny thing is, that of all job titles, I firmly believe that a sales manager, if they were successful as a sales person, should be a FANTASTIC interviewer.
Think about it…
they would be skilled at asking questions and listening
they would understand how to dig in to any area that didn’t make sense or where information was lacking
they could piece together all the elements of the hiring process so they could make a well informed decision without sacrificing their gut instinct
they would have set questions they would ask of every candidate and not “wing it” or “shoot from the hip”
and most importantly they would know what makes a “qualified” candidate based on an established list of requirements
Well, we just named our poison didn’t we? Over the course of the next couple of posts we will examine the intricacies of interviewing and what every sales manager needs to do to minimize mistakes and make sure their next hire is a Sales Superstar!
First up, we will be discussing “what” we are looking for in a sales candidate. Let’s begin by distinguishing between skill sets (SS) and talent/traits (TT). Skill sets are learned behavior that we have mastered to one level or another based on repetition, ability and success. Talent and traits are things we are born with like being tall or running fast. Both SS’s and TT’s are important but TT’s are the determining factor of a successful superstar or an also-ran. This is because either you have these things or you don’t and if you have the right TT’s you can master EVERY skill set needed to be a success in sales.
The most important TT to have is DRIVE, the need to achieve something that nobody else can. Believe me, some people just don’t have this trait. You know these folks, they are likable enough people but many times will not push that extra inch to win.
A person with DRIVE wants to win at virtually everything they do. Video games, being the most well read, making more calls than their teammates you name it they want to be the best or as Anne Elbery, a friend of mine, says “why play it unless you are in it to win it”. That, in a nutshell, is how somebody with DRIVE thinks. Be the best at everything and if you come in second there are no moral victories only winners and losers. Isn’t this EXACTLY how you want a salesperson to think and act, always optimistic of a positive result and willing to work as hard as needed to make winning happen?
Next you should be looking for INTELLIGENCE. You can’t fake smart and there is no work around to stupid. This trait allows for the sales person to be an idea generator and to be astute enough to understand complicated concepts that could effect their success. It also gives them the ability to create and use a large word inventory and, as noted in Forbes Magazine, business executives possess one of the largest vocabularies in all professions. Sales people need to be able to learn and adapt in a verbal environment. The lack of this trait would hamper their efforts at basic communication much less closing the sale.
Being NATURALLY CURIOUS is the next trait they need. A sales person must absolutely HUNGER for information. They should always wonder how thnks work, why prospects do certain things and they should always be asking another question. Sales people who don’t ask questions are called order takers or worse… unemployable. Asking questions has got to be akin to breathing for sales people.
Questions like “why would you want that” or “what does that mean” or “how does that happen” should be asked by EVERY sales person on every sales call. Being NATURALLY CURIOUS means asking the needed questions that you have not even thought of yet because these are based on the situation you are in at the time.
And one more thing, if the person you are interviewing does not avail themselves of the opportunity to ask questions and learn everything they can about your company when you give them the chance… be afraid, be very afraid and don’t invite them back to continue the hiring process.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS is next on the list. Without this, no ideas are transferred to the customer and if they were it was probably done just bad enough to ensure a missed sale. People with good COMMUNICATION SKILLS are generally great influencers of opinion, a needed ability in sales wouldn’t you agree? They also rank very high in expressive spontaneity, the ability to think on one’s feet. This very important trait allows you to capitalize on all the time, work and money put into finding prospects if on no other level than making sure their first opinion of your company is a positive one.
The final trait you absolutely need to have in a candidate is GUTS. Your sales person has got to take chances to go for the brass ring and sometimes that means pushing past their comfort zone and that takes GUTS! This trait also helps a sales person to develop their emotional intelligence (thick skin). Most, if not all, average to bad sales people take rejection personally allowing a few bad calls or appointments to keep them down while providing a near endless supply of excuses. Sales people with GUTS simply dust themselves off and start over, then DRIVE kicks in and they don’t stop until they succeed.
That’s it for today! Look for these 5 traits in ALL your candidates. The ones who have them will be a source of pride and sales for years to come. Also look for these things in your existing staff and if you weren’t hiring maybe it is time to start…