Why a “Sales System” is Essential

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The fast-paced, connected world of today makes a Sales System a success imperative. As customers gain more and more sales decision making independence, businesses need to seriously adjust their approach to cope. For the best outcomes, your system needs coherence and consistency to deal with the changing demands of the market. Only a systematic approach can produce this.

 

So Why a Sales System?

Your sale system is all the principles, processes and tools you set up to deliver revenue for your business. Every business, no matter how big or small has to give some consideration to this. The more attention and the more focus this component of your business receives, the better the sales function will be. Many businesses never develop this to the level of sophistication they need for it to run smoothly and productively, providing them the peace of mind they crave and the ability to fuel their business’s growth.

In a business where there is no formalised sales system, it is difficult to coordinate, harmonise and optimise the actions of the various people and processes involved in the various aspects of sales. In these situations, sales people operate in an uncoordinated fashion, sometimes independently and sometimes in isolation. This creates inconsistencies for customers, complications for management and erratic and unpredictable results. Above all, this approach does not scale. The management challenge will always be to improve the performance of the sales operation as a whole. Unless systematised, this is difficult, inefficient and time consuming.

The benefits of having a sales systgears_gray_smallem in place are:

  • A clearly understood (documented) process so that every person involved in it can know their responsibilities and be accountable for them
  • The ability to measure the performance of each element of the process, so that low performing elements can be identified and fixed
  • A scalable entity that can grow with the business
  • A structure that is well suited to a team environment and able to capitalise on the diverse abilities of its members
  • A manageable entity that can be effectively tuned to the environment it operates in
  • Lowers the organisation’s need for highly skilled sales people
  • Performance consistency over time. Team members coma and go. A system keeps running.

 

Let’s illustrate this by means of a case study:

Company X was selling a range of software products that addressed the needs of corporate human resources management. The products all addressed similar issues but there were different versions to suite the varying needs of different organisations. The sales cycle varied from product to product and was considerably longer and more complex for the more costly versions. These were subject to more stringent requirements and more detailed examination by prospective customers.

The business was owned by a software engineer who understood each product intimately. In order to achieve their sales objectives, a team of 4 was required. They all reported to the owner. The business had a basic web site and promoted their products principally at industry conferences. Website traffic was quite good but it was poor at generating leads.

Each sales person was responsible for their own prospecting which comprised following up leads collected at conferences and also cold calling companies off a list that had been compiled for this purpose.

Their sales process was basic: Find a lead – someone who expressed interest in a product. Prepare a proposal and submit to the prospect. Arrange a demonstration and keep following up until a sale was made or the sales person gave up in frustration.

The average cost of each customer acquisition was 9.4% of revenue.

The problems:

  • No standard proposal documents. Apart from pricing, each sales person tried their hand at writing a convincing piece about the product and the benefits to the customerOffice chaos
  • Sales people were expected to do prospecting by phone – which they all detested. As a result, there were too few prospects in the pipeline
  • Each salesperson followed up their own leads – irrespective of the product or customer
  • Salespeople crossed paths in the market often
  • Ineffective follow up saw many sales fall through, especially when they were busy
  • The overall conversion rate was too low
  • Other than revenue and conversion rate by sales person, no additional statistics were measured

The analysis

  • Too few sales opportunities being generated => too few opportunities at any given moment
  • Inadequate qualification => Opportunity quality too low, conversion rate too low
  • Inconsistent and erratic sales process => difficult to improve efficacy
  • Inefficient use of resources. 20% of sales people’s time spent selling, 80% spent prospecting. Should be the reverse
  • Too expensive. Acquisition cost should be much lower

The System solution

  • Focus on improving efficiency by standardising the process and all collateral, reduce time spent in non customer-facing activity
  • Employ dedicated telephone prospecting specialists; cheaper than sales people and more productive. Liberate 80% of sales people’s time
  • Introduce clear qualification criteria for prospects so that time is not wasted on poor quality opportunities
  • Organise the sales team by product/market and avoid crossover.
  • Redesign the website for better conversion and pace the manual sales process in line with customer’s time line.
  • Introduce multiple measuring points throughout the sales process to make it easy to identify inefficiencies and make it more manageable.

These steps made getting a better result much easier and far less costly. Over a 12 month period, the following results were recorded:Sales Growth

  • Conversion rate improved by 36%
  • Acquisition cost was reduced by 23%
  • Sales revenues improved by 32%
  • Month by month revenues were stabilised

A major benefit of introducing a proper sales system was the reduction in stress of all people engaged in sales. The morale improved and the business owner was considerably relieved.

If you are involved in the running of a sales operation, is this something you have given enough attention to?

Five Steps to Qualifying Sales Leads

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You may not have thought about the need for qualifying  sales leads much; in fact you may be rather a good salesperson but for the fact that you’ve never focussed on qualification.  Qualifying sales leads is a threshold issue: it defines a true prospect, and without paying due attention to it, selling can be an exercise of abject frustration.

Overselling

Have you ever had the experience where you have been cornered by a salesperson, who has gone on to oversell you, when you had absolutely no intention of buying from him? The salesperson thought you were going to buy and was disappointed when you did not? This is an example of not qualifying the prospect.

Selling nowadays is more subtle and sophisticated than in the example above, but the principle remains the same. Companies invest a lot in setting up an effective sales system to maximise their opportunities and ROI. They will build a sales “funnel” that is fuelled by qualified prospects. If the leads that are tipped into the funnel are not qualified, nothing will work.

We live in an age of super specialised products, each focussed on a particular niche where they can stand out as being the best. There is an abundance of choice available to the buyer. To make a sale there needs to be a good match between function and requirements, otherwise the probability of making the sale is low.

Maximising the probability of the sale is what qualification is all about. With every sales transaction attempt conducted, whether face to face, over the phone or on-line, there is an associated financial and time cost. Minimising those costs is a consideration, making qualification all the more important.

Qualifying sales leads can be achieved simply by following a simple five step process:

  1. Positioning.
    Understanding where the product or service fits in the market and defining the ideal customer for the product or service. This will help to most efficiently direct one’s efforts; looking for opportunities where they are most abundant and least expensive
  2. Need.
    Developing a set of questions aimed at testing the fit between the prospects needs and the product or service’s capabilities. This requires a proper understanding of product capabilities and usage cases. If the customer does not have a clearly identifiable need, then all the selling in the world will not fill it, and no sale will take place.
  3. Authority.
    Some sales can have a long cycle-time and may require protracted effort and negotiation. So it really pays to make sure that the person that is being sold to is in fact the right person – the decision maker, before embarking on the journey. If not, you are effectively delegating the sale to someone else, and surrendering control of the sales process to an agent of your customer. Not good. Qualifying the contacts authority should ideally take place as close to the beginning of the sales process as possible. If the person is not the decision maker, then the sales strategy should reflect this, and the real, hard selling reserved until access to the decision maker is possible.
  4. Budget
    Clearly, whatever the product or service, it must be affordable to the customer, otherwise no sale can go ahead. Note that budget is not the same as price. Whilst at first glance, the customer may not have the cash, there are always ways to structure a sale to fit the budget constraints of the customer.
  5. Time-line
    Often a prospect will appear, and in all other respects may look like a good opportunity. If their time-line is outside of your parameters, then pursuing a sale is not prudent until there is a time-line fit.

Points 2-5 can effectively be viewed as a Qualification Checklist.  Unless all four items check, then the lead is unqualified, and further sales effort will not produce a sale.

Qualifying correctly makes your sales process efficient and un-complicated. Selling to unqualified prospects is demotivating, costly and frustrating. Make sure that all sales efforts are preceded with proper qualification as described above.

Why You Need a Good Value Proposition

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Whenever a selling opportunity arises, whether face-to-face or online, there is a critical moment of truth… It’s at this moment that your value proposition needs to score a bullseye in relation to your potential customer. This is arguably the most important instant in your sales process – the first red-light-green-light moment that will either see the process moving forward or stopping dead in it’s tracks.

Nowadays people generally are spoiled for choice when it comes to making purchases. One can buy virtually anything you want from a variety of suppliers, local or international. So, as a seller,  you have to be able to show, clearly and quickly, why anyone should buy from you and not from someone else. It’s your value proposition that will be key in determining their next move.

So what is a value proposition?

Simply put: a value proposition is a promise of value to be delivered.

It usually takes the form of a statement that states:

  • how your product solves a problem or produces a desired result

  • how the customer will benefit

  • differentiates your product from alternatives available in the market

What are the common mistakes people make when they present?

As simple as it sounds, unless you have payed special attention to crafting your value proposition, chances are you may botch it.

Firstly, get clear about what in fact your value proposition is. Hard facts. Not words. Don’t set out to compose something. Set out to identify what it is that you do that represents value to your customer. Only when you have that can you start to work out how to best communicate it.

Secondly, your value proposition should not be confused with other branding statements such as your vision, mission or other slogans. Clearly the piece below is not a value proposition.

 

Whereas:

“Harley-Davidson stands for independence, freedom, individuality, expressing oneself, adventure on the open road, and experiencing life to its fullest.” Joanne Bischman, VP of marketing for Harley-Davidson.

Clearly a value proposition.

Thirdly, your value proposition must be written from the point of view of the customer, almost as if he/she was saying it. So avoid using words like “We pride ourselves…..”. You see, the customer is already thinking about your product in their terms, your value proposition must fit in neatly with that internal conversation.

The format of a value proposition

There are no rules here; you can do whatever fits best, as long as it is clear and succinct. It could be a single sentence, a couple of sentences, a heading and two or three bullet points or even a visual image. Avoid cliches.

Why is it important that you have a formal value proposition?

Anyone looking to buy something is looking to get the best value they can for their hard earned dollar. The buying trigger will only be pulled when the balance between value and price tips towards value in their mind. A well articulated value proposition will do that job for you.

So have a look at how you present to new prospects, do you have this covered?

Will your Trade Show be a Triumph or a Tragedy?

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Ever presided over a trade show participation that turns out to be a tragedy when you hoped it would be a triumph? It would not be an uncommon occurrence.  There are so many details to worry about, sometimes you can loose your perspective. Where do you direct your effort and how do you make the most of it overall?

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Your Trade Show Purpose

Clearly, every company participating in a trade show has their own objectives and work accordingly. Some are happy to simply wave the corporate flag and do a PR exercise, whilst on the other extreme, some are selling off-the-booth, as hard as they can. Most however, exhibit at a trade show hoping to recruit new prospects, who they will then follow- up in the hope of making a sale further down the track, or perhaps gaining a steady customer who will continue to do business for a long time.

 

It is often said that participating in a trade show will bring out the best and the worst of your business. Its best abilities and worst failures. Trade shows are like a business Petri-dish, a temporary laboratory where all the potential business gremlins duke it out. It all happens in a very small space, in a very short time. You meet many people. They often appear enthusiastic and keen. Thy ask all kinds of “buying signal” type questions that get you excited. Then they vanish.

 

Clear Process

Any business worth it’s salt will have a well defined sales process designed to move sales opportunities along a path that will culminate in a sale. It all starts by qualifying the opportunity according to predefined criteria. Selling to unqualified prospects is a waste of time and effort. This is a fundamental principle of sales. Trade show visitors often look, sound, even perhaps smell qualified, but may not be. You see, a considerable proportion of trade show visitors are really just browsing with no intent to ever buy.They ask questions and want details. They look keen, they sound promising. The conversations you have are short and sharp. They give their details, you promise to follow up…..  Qualified? Well, didn’t quite get there so to be on the safe side – we’ll just follow them up. Seen this movie before?

 

Many exhibitors at Australian trade shows are small to medium businesses. They don’t have big teams or big budgets.  The guys who plan the stand, build the stand and man it. They are there for the entire show. They then take everything down, pack it up and go home with their enquiry sheets and business cards. They are beat. It’s a big effort. But the real work has not really begun.

 

The Follow-up

The “real work” is all about how you follow up and who you follow up.  Typically there are lot’s of “leads”; more, many more than you normally get in a similar time period. Following up is time and effort consuming. Uncoordinated or badly planned follow-up will have your sales team haphazardly chasing lots of red-herrings simply because the follow-up process is not properly worked out, coordinated or properly resourced and many of the “leads” are poorly qualified to begin with.

 

If you look at where the planning and effort goes in preparation for trade show participation, most of it is organising and preparing the exhibit. Getting the latest products and equipment organised and coordinating a myriad of details. It’s typically a big rush. The follow-up planning is left for later.

 

Here’s how it should work:

  1. Start your trade show planning by planning the follow-up first. To be effective, your follow-up will require thoroughness and solid implementation. If you take too long to follow up on a genuine buyer, you may find that you are too late. They will have returned to their normal routine and may have lost interest.
  2. Design your exhibition strategy such that it understands and dovetails with the follow up strategy. You will be able to get away with less booth effort and less cost.
  3. Devise a reliable classification system that will identify the A, B and C opportunities that your follow-up system will systematically deal with.
  4. Start following up on the day the enquiry was made at the show. Nothing impresses a trade show visitor more than receiving your first follow-up the very next day. You will stand out.
  5. When you follow up, never use the words “follow up”.

 

Don’t over invest in the exhibiting part of the trade show at the expense of the follow-up. Balance your efforts carefully so that you can shine when you get in contact with those trade show prospects after the show.  A good follow-up process will be well organised and coordinated. It will understand the buyers journey and engage the prospect. The bonus you get when you implement a good follow-up process for a trade show, is that you get a good process to use all year round. Your trade show Petri-dish prototype develops into a fully fledged treatment; a tonic for you sales effort.

 

Do You Have These Issues In Your Family Business?

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When it comes to small to medium business, one almost automatically conjures up the image of a Family Business. The term is reminiscent of a sitcom and sometimes can be just like one!

Complex Relationships

Working with close family members or even more distant relatives presents many challenges. These relationships have unique complexities that are often beyond the ability of those involved to deal with. Over time some of these relationships collapse, some thrive and the businesses fortunes usually follow suite.

Approximately one third of companies in the S&P 500 index are family controlled. News Corporation, The Ford Motor Company, Wall-Mart and Mars are some of the better known family businesses on this list. But these are sophisticated businesses that have overcome some of the issues that many small businesses have to contend with.

Most smaller family businesses don’t follow a formalised management structure and so there are going to be issues.

These are the issues that may result:

  1. No clear, shared Vision for the business. Without this, there can be no documented strategic plan and therefore long term sustainable growth will be difficult. If the business is in a competitive market, then it could become very challenging as better organised businesses gradually erode their market share.
  2. Lack of properly trained and qualified future leaders. Top positions are held for family members who may be given opportunities beyond their abilities. The original founder or retiring owner may find that their anticipated long term future income from the business may be far less than they bargained for.
  3. Family issues affecting communication. Close family members working together sometimes take their work issues home and bring their private family issues with them to work. Typically, spousal relationships create the biggest problem. Non-emotional business communication becomes a challenge and the business suffers. Tension in the workplace can spill over and affect other staff members.
  4. Family jealousy. Sometimes the eldest son say, may be chosen to run the business whilst an equally capable sibling may be passed over. Family politics ensue creating tension and strife within the family.
  5. Lack of interest in the business by successor generations. Younger family members are often predestined to go into the family business, irregardless of their preferences or proclivities. As they are given greater and greater responsibility, their lack of interest and enthusiasm can jeopardise the business and the livelihoods of the non-family employees.
  6. Lack of formal business structures and documentation. Without these, efficient operations may be difficult and growth and competitiveness is hampered. If retired family members are relying on the business to fund their retirement, they may have no choice but to remain involved to keep things running smoothly and thereby safeguard their income.
  7. Lack of formal planning and budgeting.
  8. Preference given to family members for senior management and leadership positions when they are not the best candidates. Even when not intentional, old fashioned nepotism undermines the system of merit we all expect. Family member can end up in senior positions, displacing better qualified, non-family members. Also, other staff members can become disillusioned or frustrated with the lack of promotion opportunitues and leave.
  9. No formal succession planning. Unfortunately business acumen and natural ability of the older generations is not always passed on genetically (or otherwise). Without formal succession planning, proper contingencies may not be taken and the businesses future could be jeopardised.
  10. Tunnel Vision. Without outside input, family business can isolate themselves from valuable fresh thinking and innovation.

There are surely a great many issues in addition to those above.

Other phenomena

In family businesses where there is ongoing tension between family members, often far too much energy gets invested in the internal issues. This distracts people from their mission and the business can whither. Another phenomenon that occurs, particularly when husbands and wives who are working together and are quarrelling, is sabotage. In these situations one or the other will deliberately do something that will harm the business, to cause the other spouse upset, stress or anxiety – irrespective of the financial or business implications.

What should one do if you are in a family business where some of the above is occurring?

If you are a family member: A good option is to involve an interested but non-family professional who is a forthright, straight-talker and someone with a robust constitution. This person can act as the voice of reason and help the family to do the right things that will keep the business moving forward.

If you are not a family member you have a difficult situation. If you have the family’s confidence and you can be candid with them, then suggest the option above. If not, you will have to bide your time and deal with whatever happens.

If you are involved with a family business, what interesting scenarios have you come up against?

Are you a business owner or entrepreneur?

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Occasionally interchanged, business owner and entrepreneur are two different beasts. Two different mindsets. An entrepreneur concerns him/herself with creating the future; synthesising an enterprise from a concept using their smarts, their ability to impress, motivate and sell. The entrepreneurial mindset is about creating, building, innovating and organising,  in the determined hope of overcoming the inherent risks and going on to make a fortune.

 

The business owner’s mindset is focussed on managing and mitigating risk; improving efficiency and minimising mistakes. He is interested in sustainable and measured growth, whilst keeping everything as stable as possible.

 

The popular stories in the news and in books are usually about entrepreneurs who beat the incredible odds and become successful.  Yet the reality is that most successful entrepreneurs go on to be business owners.  You see, whilst there is  a romance and mystique about being an entrepreneur, as a business owner, the pay cheques are bigger and life is a lot less stressful. Not to mention the fact that all of those people that followed the entrepreneur to help build his dream have school fees and mortgages.

 

Make no mistake, there is plenty of opportunity for business owners to innovate and build. So do erstwhile entrepreneurs make the best business owners? What’s your view?

 

Do you have business mastery or are you headed for demise?

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I don’t think anyone would argue that success in business requires a high degree of mastery. Mastery over your environment. Your success will be in no small measure dependent on the dimensions and extent of your mastery.

The Free Online Dictionary defines mastery as “full command or understanding of a subject”. In business, that could encompass a wide range of things that could vary from business to business. Whatever they are, there is a minimum level of knowledge needed to achieve mastery, and there would be knowledge beyond that level too. The minimum level is what would be required to stay in business.

As time goes by, business conditions and the business environment gets more complicated and more sophisticated. This is not a linear progression but exponential. Just consider what has happened over the past 20 years. The advent of the internet has accelerated the pace of change of technology and business at a rate that would boggle the mind of most successful business people 50 years ago. Buckmaster Fuller observed that up till 1900, human knowledge doubled every century. By the end of World War II, it was doubling every 25 years. According to IBM, the build out of the Internet of Things will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours!

So what would have been considered a state of mastery 25 years ago, would unquestionably be well below what is required to thrive in business today.

Business Mastery

What are the main areas of mastery? These can be divided into two sections: domain mastery and business mastery. Domain mastery refers to all those industry specific topics that one needs to know to successfully operate in a particular field e.g. carpentry if you are a carpenter, Photoshop if you are a graphic designer etc. The education system is really very good at providing adequate domain mastery.

The other key business mastery topics are: Delivery Mastery, Time Mastery, Financial Mastery and Destination Mastery.

Delivery Mastery

Even in this day and age, one comes across glaring examples of the absence of delivery mastery, often when the human factor is involved. Delivery mastery is the ability to deliver on time, on price and on quality, every time. Bigger businesses engineer this into their process as do some smaller businesses. But it is quite common to encounter poor delivery mastery when dealing with small, local businesses. Businesses with these issues will find it increasingly difficult to compete as the world gets smaller. There is no longer safety in the notion that it is too hard for people to patronise more distant businesses. Customers nowadays have limited tolerance for poor delivery and will vote with their mice.

Time Mastery

People and labour are usually the largest expense of a business. So it is incumbent on management to see that they are used carefully and judiciously. This is far less of a problem where there is a fixed labour cost per unit of production than when people are paid for their time. Time mastery is concerned with getting maximum results within the minimum time. It deals with topics such as planning, scheduling, prioritisation, delegation, attitudes and mindset.

Financial Mastery

A business is nothing more than a systematic arrangement for making money. As simple as this sounds, it can become very complex and elaborate with many moving parts operating with various degrees of independence. Making sense of such a system can be difficult. Financial Mastery is the ability to gain clarity from this and to use information gained through appropriate measurements to make better management decisions. Of course it includes your standard financial reports and statements, but goes further to include operational measurements as well.

Destination Mastery

To a great degree the outcomes that a business can obtain largely depend on how the business vision was hatched and developed. Developing a clear picture of the end result and then a plan to get there are what destination mastery is all about. Nowadays, we tend to put a lot of energy into conceptualising and planning, simply because it is easier, quicker and cheaper to do it that way than just forging ahead through trial and error. But it takes effort and know-how, and so, many people in business don’t do it and end up underachieving.

Business Mastery and Growth

Business Mastery and Growth

Business Mastery can be thought of as the measure of our response to the demands of the business environment. Where our mastery exceeds that of the needs of the environment, we will thrive; when it is insufficient, the pressure of the environment will work to diminish our prosperity. The astute business leader will work to keep his level of mastery at a level where his knowledge exceeds the threshold needs, thus affording him an opportunity to build wealth.

What you need in a Sales Manager

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By Evan Rubenstein

Of the myriad issues faced by business owners, the job of sales manager is the one that most think they have under control, where in fact this can be very far from the truth. Depending on your business and the type of selling required, this could be an issue of major significance. Whilst not always easy to achieve, a professionally run sales operation is a thing of beauty.

 

In may cases, the sales manager often ends up being promoted from the ranks of the sales team. But as many have learned, the skill set and often the personality profile required to be a good salesman is very different to that required for sales management. In many cases, previously successful sales people fail to make the transition into management. In many cases training, education and coaching may be necessary to accomplish this; in others it may never work out.

The job of a sales manager is understood and practised differently by different people, and differently by different organisations. The parameters and philosophies of sales management vary a lot depending very much on the knowledge and experience of those practising it. If you were comparing sales manager training programs, you would find a great deal of variation between the various offerings available. So what is right for your organisation? If the sales manager reports to you, then what do you need to know to provide the leadership required to ensure that you are getting the best from your sales manager?

Wikipedia defines sales management as “a business discipline which is focused on the practical application of sales techniques and the management of a firm’s sales operations.

It can be divided up into the following main areas:

  • Sales Strategy and Planning
  • Sales Team Recruitment
  • Sales Training
  • Sales Performance Improvement

These are in themselves big topics.

Sales Strategy

As with most things in business, getting the strategy right is crucial. Many do not.  Most sales managers when asked to articulate their company’s sales strategy will fumble. The real pro’s will not.  In general, sales strategy tends to be addressed “after the fact”; meaning that only once it has become clear that sales efforts are not yielding the desired results does strategy receive proper attention, and even then may not past muster.

To get this right, the sales manager must address at least the following:
  • Territory management
  • Remuneration structure and incentive plan
  • Activity and Performance Standards
  • Measurement and Reporting
  • Meetings and Communications
  • Prospecting systems
  • Sales Conversion process
  • Average sale value maximisation
  • Repeat business maximisation
  • Management intervention triggers and steps

Members of a sales team can change; sometimes quite rapidly. The business needs consistent and predictable sales results. This means that a structured and consistent management approach is required and that all team members work in a similar way, otherwise the team and its outcomes become very difficult to manage. This is very much part of the sales manager’s job.

Clearly there are important decisions to be made in developing a good sales strategy and in many cases this ends up being a matter of evolution. In others, for various reasons, it remains static and business plateau’s and eventually decline in the face of stronger competition.

Sales Team Recruitment

There is no denying that certain personality types are better at sales than others. Understanding exactly what your business requires is key to building an effective sales team. An effective team takes time to build and become effective and to some extent will depend on the nature of the sales strategy being used. This aspect of sales management requires a systematic approach for consistent and reliable results.

It remains quite difficult to predict success in a sales person when recruiting. Sales roles often end up being the default career of some candidates, but for others it may be a very deliberate career choice. For the good ones, a career in sales can be extremely lucrative and a stepping stone to a business career. The really good ones, may outgrow you and leave; the poor ones will hang around too long. The reality is that selecting a good candidate that will perform and be loya,l in an interview, is not at all easy. Having candidates psychometrically tested is a very good idea. This will give you insights into how they are hard-wired and how well suited they are to a sales role.  Even then, your recruitment system should incorporate a “blow off valve” component so that you can rid of dud’s as quickly as possible.

Sales Training

Proper and ongoing sales training as an absolute must for any sales professional. Success in sales requires product knowledge, knowledge of sales techniques, a range of sales tools and aids, and a good understanding of the customer’s buying psychology.  It also requires that sales people understand and can manage their own emotions and mindset. Without the tools and techniques that training can provide, consistent results, let alone growth may be hard to come by. Continual re-education is required simply to keep up with market developments.

Sales training can take place internally or through external organisations, of which there are many. There are also many sales philosophies. You will need to make sure that the external training you choose is a good fit for your business and how you like to sell.

Sales Performance Improvement

No business wants sales to remain static. Growth is always a requirement. Without an ongoing focus on continual and never ending improvement, most sales teams will plateau at the point where their systems, knowledge and ability, reach equilibrium with market competitive forces. A good sales manager will understand this and will vigorously develop systems to keep growing.

A big role for a sales manager is to keep raising the bar on the one hand but on the other, developing the team’s capabilities through training and coaching. In fact coaching is one of the major components of a sales manager’s ongoing duties and is a powerful tool for ongoing improvement. Coaching will help the sales person to narrow the gap between how the business expects them to perform and their own ability to do so. Today’s successful sales manager should have good coaching skills as this will produce a great return for the business.

These are the basics. Many business owners do not pay enough attention to sales. Getting the sales machine working properly is arguably the most important focus for a business owner. A good sales organisation will provide good revenues. Good revenues are the precursor to good profits and with good profit comes the reward of being in business.

Why All The Fuss About Time Management

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Time management is a really old story. Sure, there have been a few interesting ideas thrown into the time-management ring every now and then, but in reality it’s really quite boring.

Well, not if you run a small business. Many of us talk-the-talk about time management but in reality, very practise it properly or indeed, at all. In most small businesses, getting high levels of productivity can be very challenging, particularly if the work environment is not tightly structured and people are left to their own devices to do their work.

It is not difficult to be very busy. You can spend each day rushing around being very,very busy. It’s another matter being productive. In my experience, most managers in small businesses look at how busy people are far more than they look at productivity. And productivity does not equal busy.

Time management is defined as the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.

It is very easy to turn up to work on Monday morning, plough through the week and provide little value to the business. What is needed is goal directed effort, and there are several ways this can be put into place:

  1. The default diary. Using this system, you work out the time needed for the various regular duties and responsibilities that you have and assign them to time slots in our diary. Then it’s down to self discipline to stick to the schedule. Pro’s: Ensures that balanced and adequate time is allocated across all areas of responsibility; once set it can be continually used. Con’s: Requires self discipline to make this work. Needs special work in the case of set events or varying duties.
  2. The weekly plan. For people whose duties vary from project to project, this is the best approach. It requires that a weekly plan is worked out every week for it to succeed, wherein time requirements can be estimated and allocated. Pro’s: Very flexible. Con’s: Needs to be done each week

As a manager, responsible for commercial outcomes, it is important that time management is in place as part of the company ethos and that attention is paid to creating an environment of effectiveness. An environment of effectiveness involves having everyone trained and respectful of each others time and need to be productive. Everyone understands the the jargon and the principles of the time management system in use.

A discussion on Time Management cannot be held without referring to the underlying need for clear goals. It is only against goals that any form of time management makes sense. By starting with a goal, this can be broken down into manageable pieces that can then be organised, prioritised and finally scheduled. In other words developed into a plan.

It could be argued that time management is at the heart of any successful human endeavour. Certainly insofar as time is a finite or “scarce” resource, it must receive attention from its users for its careful and judicious use. So despite it being an old and boring story, effective time management in business is one of the key business fundamentals.

Why Content Marketing is a Business Website’s Best Friend

By | Articles, Marketing, Sales & Marketing | No Comments
By Evan Rubenstein
Everyone (well almost everyone) in business nowadays has a website, and everyone wants more people to come to their website and give them more business. Right or right?

Not that long ago, the recipe was simple; launch a websites, throw in a meagre ration of mediocre content, add as many links as you could and allow it to rise. On the search results, that is.  In case you have not heard, that does not work any more. Google’s cadre of PhD’s have figured out how to detect and prevent schemes that artificially boost your rightful rankings. Nowadays you have to build a good website that contains high quality content that helps your market and that they value. You also need many more links than before and a lot of social shares to make you rank.

 

All in all, this is now a lot harder to do than it used to be. Building links the way you might have before is now very expensive and time consuming. What’s more, if you don’t have good material worth sharing, you wont get the social shares.
 
So what to do. How do you get natural links pointing to your site and lots of social shares?
 
In a word: Content. Or Content Marketing to give it its new, fashionable name.
 
It has become generally evident that good content produces more links, more quickly that building them manually, and what’s more, it’s cheaper. Not only that, but your quality content will be naturally shared on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ giving you a double whammie effect.
So what is quality content?:
  • Written word content
    • Articles
    • Blog Posts
    • How – To’s
    • Checklists
    • Q & A’s
    • FAQ’s
  • Video
  • Infographics
  • Slides
  • Podcasts
Those who spent substantial sums on SEO in the past would have watched in horror as algorithm update after algorithm update decimated their investment. As search rankings went into free-fall, SEO providers responded with more sophisticated schemes that cost more money, but ultimately delivered less and less.
 
You have one other thing to look forward to in this new content centric world. Content does not get affected by algorithm updates. Content is an investment in the future!

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