Thursday, June 25, 2009

First, Let Your Customer Finish Their Sentence, Then Ask Three Questions

Yesterday, I had a discussion with "Mark." Mark is one of the best sales/business development professionals I have ever met. In the market segments in which he sells, he is truly an expert. He's spent many years in understanding the industry, the players, the key issues facing everyone in the value delivery chain. Customers seek and respect Mark's opinion. He's helped customers achieve great things with his company's solutions.

Coupled with that, Mark has a very high level of enthusiasm and energy---it's infectious. Meeting with Mark, or seeing customers with him is always interesting. It's often hard to keep up with the ideas.

Imagine my surprise when Mark asked me for some advice today. While he is the highest performer in his company, he was having some challenges with closing deals. He said he was getting sales to a certain point and then they seem to stall. We were talking about what was going wrong.

Fortunately, I had been on some calls with Mark. I've seen how he interacted with customers. I've also seen Mark in conversations with his peers in his company and we had had many conversations between ourselves.

Mark has a problem---it's a problem I've seen many bright, high energy, and high performing sales professionals have. I noticed that Mark rarely lets anyone complete their thoughts. Mark's mind is racing ahead of the conversation. Before the customer has had a chance to state their issues, Mark knows the answer and is presenting a solution. He's eager to solve the issue, his enthusiasm and energy causes him to interrupt and to start presenting a solution.

Since Mark is truly an expert in the industry, more often than not, he is focusing on the right issue and presenting a powerful solution. However, this creates a real problem -- one the Mark is totally unconscious about.

The customer never gets to tell their story, the customer never really feels that she is being heard. Mark has not given them the chance to explain their issues.

The problem gets worse. A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with Mark and one of his customers. A few sentences into the discussion, Mark could read where things were going and jumped in to talk about the issues, their impact on the customer and their customers and potential solutions to resolve the issues. He wasn't pitching, but speaking from his expertise and experience --- an in many senses was very credible.

The problem, however, was that wasn't the issue that was bothering the customer. By interrupting the customer, Mark had cut off the chance to hear the real issues that were bothering the customer and address those. While Mark eventually discovered this and corrected it, it took some time. Fortunately the customer was generous and forgiving, giving Mark the opportunity to explore the real issues.

I see the same scenario too many times, with some of the best, most knowledgeable and experienced sales people.

Going back to Mark's and my discussion. He asked me what to do. I started to tell him, then he jumped in......

After I stopped the discussion, I said: "Mark, here is your new mantra: 'Let the customer complete their sentence or thought. Never, never, under any circumstances interrupt her. Then, before you respond to the customer, ask her three questions. If you do this, you will see profound changes in your effectiveness.'"

Mark paused and thought about it. He made a few comments, stopped himself and said he was being defensive. We started discussing it. Somethings we concluded:

    • Everyone wants to be heard--they want the chance to express their views and know
      they are being listened to. They want the chance to tell their story---and they
      need to tell their story to someone who is listening.

    • As smart as we are, until we have heard the customer's view, until it comes from their mouths, we are just assuming---and we know what assumptions make us.
      If we give the customer a chance to complete their thoughts, we will learn something new.

    • If we ask the customer three questions before responding, the quality of both our listening and our knowledge increases exponentially. We can then respond more
      appropriately and have an engaged customer.
I could tell Mark took it to heart. He wrote it down on the front cover of his notebook. He wanted to see it before each call with a customer.

Before we concluded, Mark asked me, "What are the three questions I should ask?" I have a specific answer for this, but I'd like your ideas and views---so please comment.

For any of you who are very curious---email me, I'll give you the three key questions you might ask in these situations. Just send a request to me at dabrock@excellenc.com.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Table Stakes Are Changing -- How Do We Up The Ante?


I just finished a conversation with a client. He is the EVP of Sales for a high performing sales organization. We were talking about the challenge of setting his company's offerings apart from the competition---continuing to differentiate their solutions.

For a few moments, we spoke about the "good old days." We reflected on how things had changed, what used to set them apart is now a common expectation---all the competitors deliver the same capability or experience, the customers now have new expectations -- the table stakes have changed!

Table stakes are constantly changing, the ante is continually increasing. If we aren't changing--in fact driving the change, we will not win. Thinking about the good old days doesn't close sales.

The new reality of competing in sales, the new (or at least today's) table stakes are:

  • Customers are better informed than ever before and will continue to be well
    informed. Before you have ever met with the customer, they have "pre-screened"
    you through Internet research--you won't get in the door unless your company has
    represented itself well in the electronic-Sale 2.0 world.

  • Your product/service doesn't count. By the time you are meeting with your customer,
    probably any of the alternatives they have "short listed" will meet their need.
    Focusing on pitching features, functions, feeds and speeds just wastes their and
    your time.

  • Some of the other things we relied about in the past like quality, delivery, logistics may not be the differentiators they once were.

When you are invited to the table, all of these are already on the table and roughly equal for all participants, how do you up the ante? Some thoughts:

  • The biggest: What do you do for the customer---both the enterprise and the individuals involved in the decision? How do you help increase profits, grow their business, increase the loyalty of their customers? Frankly, the customers don't care about you, your products and company, they care about what you can do for them.

  • How do you create a compelling customer buying experience? Customer experience is the rage in product development and design. As sales professionals we need to start thinking about the customer experience in the buying process. How do we become facilitators in the buying process? How do we create a hassle free experience---both in the buying and the implementation processes?

  • How do we, as sales professionals, become the differentiator that causes our companies to win?

Table stakes have changed, if we aren't constantly thinking about how we can up the ante, we will have to fold our hands, we may not even be dealt in. What ideas to you have to raise the ante?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sales Is Changing, Are You Maximizing Your Impact?

Webinar: Driving Demand in a Demanding Market

July 15 11 AM PST / 2 PM EST

As a sales executive, you know how difficult it is to increase revenue while decreasing costs in today's selling environment. You’re under pressure to produce sales. Missed deals are costing you money. You need new ways to get smarter and more productive quickly – not more of the same. But which new sales strategies will help you uncover hidden demand and maximize revenue potential without breaking the bank?Tune in to our live webcast to hear a panel of experts discuss strategies on how to boost sales and cut costs to impact your bottom line right now.Join our panel of specialists to discover:

Tips to get your sales team smarter and more productive
How to identify the right deals and avoid wasting time on dead ends
Tools that help manage and measure critical sales performance metrics
The role Technology can play in making an impact on your bottom line

Brent Leary is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger. He is co-founder and Partner of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta based CRM advisory firm offering tools and strategies for improving business relationships, with a client list including RIM, Sage, Microsoft, Intuit, and Cisco. Recognized by InsideCRM as one of 2007's 25 most influential industry leaders, Leary is also a past recipient of CRM Magazine's Most Influential Leader Award. Leary blogs at http://brentleary.com/.


Dave Brock is President and CEO of Partners In EXCELLENCE, a global consulting company focused on performance improvement in sales, marketing and business strategy. Partners In EXCELLENCE has trained over 100,000 sales professionals, globally, in how to outsell and outperform their competition. Dave is a trusted advisor to executives in the high technology, industrial products, and professional services, and has worked with the largest organizations in those sectors as well as start-ups. Brock blogs at http://partnersinexcellence.blogspot.com/, Partners In EXCELLENCE website is http://www.excellenc.com/.


David Bonnette is Group Vice President of Oracle's North American CRM sales organization, overseeing Oracle’s market-leading CRM portfolio for North American commercial markets. He leads a team of nearly 150 people and has built his organization around industry, segment, and product specialization. In transforming the culture to emphasize Innovation, Collaboration, his team is acutely focused on developing communities that create sustainable, material value for Oracle’s customers.

To register for this Webinar, click on this link: The Sales Game Has Changed, Are You Playing To Win?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Delivering Value Through Channel Partners

To many sales and business executives, developing channels, reseller relationships, or other similar partnerships is driven by finding cost effective means to covering markets or geographies. While this is compelling, I'd like to suggest a more effective strategy for developing and implementing your channel and partner strategies---if well executed, it will also be a cost effective way of reaching your customers.

Partners can be a key differentiator in developing, communicating, and delivering value to your customers. Today, no organization can deliver everything the customers need. Partners and resellers can be effective in adding to your total value proposition, better addressing your customer's needs and further differentiating your total offering from the competition. They can help fill holes in your value proposition, extending the strength of the total offering to your target customers.

In designing a value based channel,you should start with your target customer segments and work backwards. Make sure the value delivery chain you put in place adds to the value your offerings. Each partner should add value that complements yours and creates a greater value for the total offering to your customers. The picture below shows an example.



If your partners are not adding value and improving the total value proposition to the customers, they are adding cost --- detracting from your value proposition and competitiveness.

There are many ways partners might add value: relationships with customers is one area. Skills and capabilities that complement yours--for example implementation, installation of your products, local support, the ability to integrate complementary products for a richer solution, and others all represent potential value they might provide.

When building a channel that complements and enhances the total value of your offerings, make sure you understand one other element of value. What is the value that you provide your partners? If you are not providing them value, it is very unlikely the relationship will produce results. A way to think about this is illustrated below.



The decision to use partners should be driven primarily by filling gaps in your value proposition. If your partners add value in reaching your customers, and you add value to them, you will probably have an effective, efficient and high performing channel--creating great results for your mutual customers as well as for each other.

Partners In EXCELLENCE is the recognized leader in helping organizations develop and communicate differentiated value propositions. We are also recognized for our expertise in developing and implementing high impact partnering and channel strategies.

If you need to sharpen your tools, processes, thinking, and skills in value propositions, look at our Value Proposition Solutions, follow the link. For a copy of our free Value Proposition eBook, follow the link.

For our eBook, Partnering for Profitability, follow the linkg

For any other information about how Partners In EXCELLENCE can improve your organization’s capabilities in understanding, developing, communicating and delivering differentiated value, or i ndeveloping and implementing your channel strategies, please contact us at +1-949-305-7146 or dabrock@excellenc.com

Friday, June 12, 2009

People Don't Like To Be Sold---But They Do Like To Buy!

This is the quandary of the traditional sales person---they sell, but we all know people don't like to be sold! What we forget about this concept is that while people don't like to be sold, they really do like buying!

I'll say it again--people like to buy. People need to buy to achieve their goals. A problem is that people don't necessarily know how to buy! Solving this problem for customers is the real opportunity for sales professionals, it's the opportunity for sales to add value to the customer's buying process.

The role of the sales professional is to facilitate the customer's buying process. We can do this in many ways. Traditionally, a critical role of the sales person is to educate and inform the customer. Today's customers are much better informed---thanks to the Internet and all the resources available, but there is still a "last mile" challenge with many things so the role of educating and informing the customer is a critical function of the sales professional, the bar is just higher.

For the B2B sales professional there is a tremendous opportunity to create value for the customer by helping to facilitate their buying process. Think about it for a moment. As an example, how many times in a CIO's or CFO's career do they purchase and implement an ERP or Financial System? For most complex systems solutions, the buyers may only purchase a handful of times -- and each buying decision is separated (hopefully) by many years.

On the other hand, the sales person goes through this cycle many times a year. In the course of the year, sales people go through this process more times than most people go through in a lifetime, we are experts in the process. We know what organizations should be looking for in a solution, we know the errors organizations can make in selecting and implementing a solution. While our view is naturally biased, we can create great value in facilitating the customer's buying process.

How do we facilitate the customer's buying process? It's a few simple things, but that can have great meaning to the customer---again much is focused on educating and informing. Things like: What are the questions they should be asking---of you and of your competitors? What should their expectations of a solution be? Are they realistic, unrealistic? What are the pitfalls involved in selecting a solution? What are the things they should be considering, but not thinking about? How can they sell their management on the solution and providing budgets for it? The list can go on.

It's pretty easy once you start thinking about it. Just get out of your "sales" role and put yourself in the customer's shoes. If you were buying a solution, how would you go about it? What would you do? Share this with your customers and help guide them through the process as they execute it.

Another thing every sales professional can do is to make the process "easy" for the customer. Often, I meet with sales teams with convoluted, complex strategies to "sell" to the customer. We over think and over complicate the process--primarily because we are thinking about our competitors and not about our customers. If we just focus on making our solutions easy to buy, we will help our customers tremendously.

The role of the sales professional is to facilitate the customer's buying process. Customers love to buy, we just have to make it easy and productive for them to do this!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Creating Value---Business And Personal

I've been writing about creating differentiated value for your customers. Let me focus on a couple of elements of value---in this you will discover why "generic" value propositions miss the mark.

Value has many dimensions. As business and sales professionals, we tend to focus on the business elements of value--how much we can reduce costs, how much we can improve revenues, how much we can improve quality, and so forth. Business value, particularly when quantified is critical in sales.

There is another dimension of value that we often miss, but which can be the most important and differentiating element of your value proposition. It's personal value--what you bring to each customer you work with.

My friend, Charles Green, wrote a post on
Two Questions. It's an outstanding post and part of it talks about personal value. He talks about asking the question: "How are you doing?"

Personal value is all about the individual, asking "How are you doing" helps you discover what your customer values and how you can help hat person. By exploring this aspect of value you learn about your customer's goals, dreams, and aspirations. You learn about their frustrations, problems and needs. You develop a relationship with the customer, showing that you are really interested and that you care about them---as individuals.

Elements of personal value can be very simple, but have a profound impact on your customer. It could be as simple as "get my boss off my back," "let me get home at a reasonable hour so I can spend more time with my family." It may be, "get me a promotion," or "get me a bonus." Until, you explore the personal side of value with each individual involved in the decision making process, you don't know how you can make a difference for each of them.

We talk about sales being about relationships, but without exploring the personal element of value, it is impossible to develop deep relationships with your customers.

Personal value is an important part of your value proposition. We have seen, many times, that the business aspects of our value proposition are roughly equal to those of the competition. From a business point of view, our value proposition is not differentiated. However, customers make the decision for us because of the personal element of the value proposition--they know we really care.

Before concluding, let me add a warning note. Developing and delivering personal value requires commitment on your part. It must be genuine, it must endure beyond the "deal." If you don't care, if you aren't committed to developing deep, genuine relationships with your customers, you are being manipulative. Customers will see through this quickly and you will never achieve your goals.

As you build your value proposition, think of your real differentiator--it is the deep relationships and trust you build with your customers. It is how you make a difference in their lives. This is the most sustainable and differentiated element of value anyone can create.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Setting Yourself Apart, Developing and Communicating Differentiated Value

A compelling and differentiated value proposition is critical in selling—we all know this, yet this remains one of the biggest challenges facing sales professionals.

This post examines 5 critical elements about developing and communicating differentiated value propositions.

1. Numbers count, quantifying your value is critical. We know the structure of value proposition, it states a problem area or issue your customer has, addresses what you can do about it, and ideally provides quantification of the result.

For example, in working with sales executives, I often say: "We can reduce the number of calls your people have to make on each deal by 30-40%, dramatically improving productivity." Sales productivity and the effective use of time is usually a high priority for sales people and executives, and a 30-40% call reduction is usually compelling to the executive, they usually want to hear what we say.

While most sales people know the structure of a value proposition, very often, we don’t see sales people quantifying the magnitude of improvement or result the customer might expect to achieve. They present the product feature and generalized benefits, but leave it to the customer to guess at what improvement will result. The best sales people make this result very obvious as a part of their value proposition.

2. If your value proposition isn’t differentiated, the only differentiation apparent to customers is price. Product based value propositions are undifferentiated. Today, differences between competitive offerings are often very small. Too often, I see sales people developing value propositions based on the features, functions, and benefit of their products -- but they look similar to the competition’s.

Do this test: Look at a product in your company’s web site and how its value is presented. Go to your top 3 competitors and look at their value propositions---are they almost exactly the same as yours?

To differentiate yourself, you have to take a broader look at your offering. Elements that drive differentiation include company reputation, ease of doing business, the total customer experience through the buying and implementation process, your personal relationship with the customer, and many other issues.

3. The value proposition must change as you progress through the customer buying cycle. Early in the cycle, a relatively generic or undifferentiated value proposition is perfectly sufficient. All you are trying to do is to get the customer interested in you and to commit to consider your offering, along with competition.

Too often, though, sales people stick with these generic value propositions. To win, the value proposition must change. As you discover the customers’ most critical issues, problems and priorities, you must adjust your value proposition to address those specific issues, in the customer terms.

For example in my sales productivity above, as I work with the customer, I might change my value proposition to: "Based on our discussions with you, we have found your people are spending too much time pursuing unqualified or bad deals. We believe by helping your people better disqualify bad opportunities, we can improve your win rates by as much as 15%, and improve resource utilization by 22%."

In the beginning of the deal, the general sales productivity improvement was interesting enough for the customer to consider us. As we understood the customer‘s challenges, we focused on a specific issue impacting their performance and our value proposition focused on the results in addressing their specific issues.

4. You have to address the customers’ top priorities and issues. We tend to treat the customer as the enterprise or company. People make decisions, not enterprises. To be effective, our value propositions must address the priorities and needs for each person involved in the decision making process---in their terms. While they may have some common priorities, there will always be differences.

Using my value proposition example, the sales executive is most concerned with win rates, resource utilization, and cost of selling. A regional sales manager might be concerned with win rates, and improving the quality of the funnel. A training manager will be more concerned with the delivery of the program, the coaching and sustainability, and the learning pedagogy.

To be effective as a sales person you have to focus on each person involved on the decision and address their top priorities and requirements. The one individual you have not satisfied may be enough to cause you not to win a deal.

5. You win by focusing on each customer’s top 5 priorities. I talk to people who have generated long laundry lists of issues they have to address. While you can’t ignore all the issues, generally addressing the top 5 priorities for each customer and setting yourself apart in those areas will be what causes you to win. Make sure you have compelling and differentiated value propositions for those and make sure your customer acknowledges them. Addressing their 20th issue is not likely going to be what causes you to win or lose the deal.

However, be careful to re-validate the customer priorities through their buying cycle, their priorities may change and you will have to change your focus to stay aligned.

6. Bonus---I couldn’t resist giving you a bonus tip: None of this counts until the customer acknowledges the value, confirms that it is differentiated and agrees it addresses their most critical needs. However differentiated and valuable you think you are, until it comes from the customer’s mouth, you are just guessing.

Partners In EXCELLENCE is the recognized leader in helping organizations develop and communicate differentiated value propositions. If you need to sharpen your tools, processes, thinking, and skills in this area, look at our
Value Proposition Solutions, follow the link. For a copy of our free Value Proposition eBook, follow the link.

For any other information about how Partners In EXCELLENCE can improve your organization’s capabilities in understanding, developing, communicating and delivering differentiated value, please contact us at +1-949-305-7146 or valueprop@excellenc.com

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Sales Game Has Changed, Are You Playing To Win?

Webinar: Driving Demand in a Demanding Market
July 15 11 AM PST / 2 PM EST

As a sales executive, you know how difficult it is to increase revenue while decreasing costs in today's selling environment. You’re under pressure to produce sales. Missed deals are costing you money. You need new ways to get smarter and more productive quickly – not more of the same. But which new sales strategies will help you uncover hidden demand and maximize revenue potential without breaking the bank?

Tune in to our live webcast to hear a panel of experts discuss strategies on how to boost sales and cut costs to impact your bottom line right now.

Join our panel of specialists to discover:

  • Tips to get your sales team smarter and more productive
  • How to identify the right deals and avoid wasting time on dead ends
  • Tools that help manage and measure critical sales performance metrics
  • The role Technology can play in making an impact on your bottom line

Brent Leary is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger. He is co-founder and Partner of CRM Essentials LLC, an Atlanta based CRM advisory firm offering tools and strategies for improving business relationships, with a client list including RIM, Sage, Microsoft, Intuit, and Cisco. Recognized by InsideCRM as one of 2007's 25 most influential industry leaders, Leary is also a past recipient of CRM Magazine's Most Influential Leader Award. Leary blogs at http://brentleary.com/.



Dave Brock is President and CEO of Partners In EXCELLENCE, a global consulting company focused on performance improvement in sales, marketing and business strategy. Partners In EXCELLENCE has trained over 100,000 sales professionals, globally, in how to outsell and outperform their competition. Dave is a trusted advisor to executives in the high technology, industrial products, and professional services, and has worked with the largest organizations in those sectors as well as start-ups. Brock blogs at http://partnersinexcellence.blogspot.com, Partners In EXCELLENCE website is www.excellenc.com.


David Bonnette is Group Vice President of Oracle's North American CRM sales organization, overseeing Oracle’s market-leading CRM portfolio for North American commercial markets. He leads a team of nearly 150 people and has built his organization around industry, segment, and product specialization. In transforming the culture to emphasize Innovation, Collaboration, his team is acutely focused on developing communities that create sustainable, material value for Oracle’s
customers.
To register for this Webinar, click on this link: The Sales Game Has Changed, Are You Playing To Win?

Friday, June 05, 2009

Fixing Sales Training, Chicken Or Egg?



I've been quietly following my friend Dave Stein's posts, tweets, and rants about the state of sales training this week. I guess the ASTD conference set him off, but I've been quietly cheering him along.

Sales training seems to be one of those things people constantly complain about --- management, sales people, training people --- yet somehow we are content in not doing anything about it. Billions of dollars/euros/yuan are spent, with little impact; but those dollars will be spent next year (maybe a little less) and the same complaints will persist.

Where does the fault lie? I'm not sure, I'm not sure I care. Training is blamed a lot of the time, often justifiably, but often their hands are tied. Management is not engaged as they should be, but given their time pressures, finding time may be difficult.

I want to focus more on solutions, how do we break this conundrum. Some thoughts:

1. Nothing will be changed until sales management recognizes the biggest leverage to improving sales effectiveness and productivity is to make the development of their people their number 1 priority.

I've written a lot about management's role in coaching and developing people. I continue to believe the highest impact management activity is actively engaging their sales people, individually and as teams, in developing their people.

Management --- sales leadership is not about administration. It is an aspect of the job, but it is a cost driver not an enhancement of the sales function. There are increasing numbers of very powerful tools that can help managers do the administration. Sales executives must focus on business process simplification to reduce the time managers have to spend on administration.

Management ---- sales leadership is not about being a Super Salesperson. Sales managers have to be strong sales people, but their job isn't to drive deals or to swoop into save the day. If they were super salespeople as individual contributors, they probably were fully consumed time-wise. Giving them broader responsibility managing more people, a larger territory, provides no leverage on their time so expecting them to do more is unrealistic.
Management --- sales leadership is about getting things done through people. Yet many managers don't know this is their job, they don't have the skills to do it, their performance is not measured on people development, and they may be afraid. Sales executives must realize their most leveraged activity is to set the a standard for people development, to hold their people accountable for it, to measure it, and to do it themselves---coaching and developing their own management team.

The bottom line here is: It's simple, there is no more important or highly leveraged activity to driving sales results and effectiveness than developing and coaching your people--managers and individual contributors -- to reach the highest levels of performance.

2. Sales training is too important to be left to the sales trainers. I'm not criticizing people in the training organization (well maybe a little), but we are asking them to step up to something that is beyond their experience base---and this is a management problem.

Years ago, when I was at IBM, high potential leaders always spent some part of their careers in training and development. Every sales training class I went to was led by someone who had been a sales person, the value of "been there, done that" is so important in driving relevance into training.

Moving high potential sales leaders into a training function also improves their ability as managers and leaders. To be effective in training, they have to learn how to be effective in coaching and development. They spend time in developing their skills on what will be the most important thing they can do in the future as managers and sales leaders.

We see many large companies doing this as part of their OJT management development and in providing relevant training to sales. Organizations that staff their sales training organizations with training professionals are disadvantaged -- and it's not the trainer's fault. I think professional trainers are very good and make great contributions, but I think the contribution is improved my mixing the training organization with high potential sales practitioners.

Small and medium companies may not have this luxury, they may not even have a training department. This mandates that sales managers and executives take an active role in developing and executing the training programs. They must set objectives, they must evaluate alternatives, and they must make sure the training is integrated into their overall business management process. The process of doing this will both improve the results of training and will help managers develop their own capabilities.

Bottom line: Sales management has to own and engage in setting the training strategy and even in training delivery. It is a fast way for them to develop their own skills.

3. Training needs to stand up to sales management. Often, I see well meaning training professionals wanting to do the right job, but not feeling empowered to do this. Recently, I was involved (unsuccessfully) with the training organization of a large company. They had an impossible task.

Sales management had mandated some innovative training programs and dumped it in the laps of the training organization. The training department had real concerns about the programs. There were some budgetary concerns, but those weren't central. The training organization had seen millions invested in training on these specific skills in the past, with no result. They were concerned about replicating the same thing. One of their tasks was to develop management coaching training. Yet, managers were not held accountable and many did not believe that coaching was part of their responsibility.

Bottom line: It takes courage, but training needs to stand up to management, forcing them to do the right thing, and to be engaged. Frankly, this is a matter of self preservation for training. If they don't this death spiral discussion will continue.

4. Be careful how you are being sold---manage your vendors. My friend Niall Devitt has been having a very active discussion about selling sales training. Go to that discussion and learn from it. There are a lot of quality suppliers of sales training, but there are even more hucksters.
If you call a vendor in and ask them for training and the price, not letting them engage you, you deserve what you get.

Be careful of people talking about the silver bullet or focusing on the 10 clever techniques of doing something. If the vendor isn't asking you a lot of questions about your markets, your sales processes, your people, the challenges, performance expectations, and so on--then they aren't concerned about making a difference, they just want to separate you from your money.

Watch how you are being sold. Many years ago, I was EVP of sales for a large organization. I went through the final interviews of sales training vendors. They were basically selling the same thing-- a process based, customer/consultative focus managing the complex sales process. At a surface level, it was hard to distinguish between vendors.

What I inspected was how they were selling me and how they had sold my people. Interestingly, of 4 major firms (big name companies) we considered, only one of the sales people was using their process in selling us. It caused me to think, "If their process wasn't good enough for them to use, then why was it good enough for me?" I chose the one vendor who was using their own process in selling us. In working with our clients, a number of people have commented on the same---we use our process in working with them, many other don't.

Bottom line: Be aware you are being sold -- and sales people are susceptible to being sold. Perhaps paraphrasing the golden rule: "They should sell unto you, as you would like to sell unto your customers." Hmmm-not sure that works, but you get it.

I'll stop here, you know I can get into long winded discussions. What suggestions would you add so that we can break this death spiral on the effectiveness of sales training?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

How Important Are Partnerships To Your Sales Strategies?

I have written a lot about Strategic Partnerships and Alliances as part of your sales strategies. Over the past tow weeks we have been conducting a survey on the importance of partnering to sales strategies. We gotten good participation and, on a preliminary basis, some very intriguing results. Some of the results are actually a bit of a surprise to me---I think people will be quite intrigued with what the final outcome.

We will be closing the survey on June 12 and publishing the results soon afterwards. We wanted to give people a final chance to participate in this important research. To take the survey, please click on this link:
Survey On Customer Partnering And Supply Chain Relationships.

The survey should take less than 15 minutes to complete. Everyone completing the survey and requesting a copy of the results will get a copy of the report at no charge. As an additional incentive, we will be conducting a drawing for a winner to choose one of the following, a 32GB iPod Touch or Kindle 2. One of those will be awarded to the winner.

Again, please take the time to complete this survey. All results are completely anonymous. Follow the link:
Survey On Customer Partnering And Supply Chain Relationships.

Thanks for your help with this survey. It is open for anyone to take, please forward this mail to colleagues, customers, and suppliers who may be interested in this issue. We will close it on June 12 and all participants will receive a free copy of the final report afterwards.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Oh So True---An Amusing Diversion.

Many of you who follow me or know me, know that I am an avid road bicyclist. Today, I saw this from Jessica Hagy's ThisIndexed blog and couldn't stop laughing. It is so true---I've spent a lot of time picking bugs from my teeth, learning when you do a fast down and are surrounded by fields, keep your mouth closed.

Her title was so appropriate: Mmmmmm---Protein!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Top Sales Expert Sales Community


Top Sales Experts Is Building THE Most Significant WorldwideSales Community on the Internet. I've been one of the "experts" in this group and gotten great value out of the associations I have developed in the organization. I'd like to invite you to join.

Here is some interesting data about TSE:

  • 64: the number of experts committed to your success -- well 63 experts and me.
  • 1500: the number of years of experience our experts bring you.
  • 2200: the number of articles you’ll find in our Article Vault--including many from our website and a few that we have not published at the website.
  • 100: the number of Masterclasses you can attend.
  • 200: the number of “How To” guides you’re able to access.
  • 100: the number of Podcasts you can download.
  • 12: the number of Roundtables you can attend this year
  • $30,000: the dollar value of all of all of these products.
  • 30: the number of Sales Blogs from which you can choose, mine included.
  • 30: the number of days in your Free Trial.
  • $25: the dollar investment to be part of something this big.(No, It’s not a typo.
    $25. Crazy, huh?)

Life is about choices. So are sales. There are a couple of options for you to join in the discussion.

OPTION A: Register for FREE and you get access to:

  • The Article Vault (2200 articles)
  • How to Guides• Podcasts
  • Best Sales Blogs in the World
  • Newsletter
  • Jobs Board
  • Shop
  • 25% Discount on all Webinars (usually $59.50)
  • 25% Discount on Roundtables (usually $99.50)


OPTION B: The VIP Zone:$49.50 per year OR $25.00 if you join us through a TSE team member, like me. You will also receive:

  • FREE Masterclass Registrations
  • FREE Roundtable Registrations
  • FREE TSE Quarterly eBooks
  • FREE TSE Assessment Tools
  • FREE access to “Ask the Experts”
  • FREE Invitation to join the TSE LinkedIn group
  • PLUS 10% Discount on all purchases from the new TSE Shop, which will debut in July...
  • And... We’ll even give you a 30 day FREE trial.

BONUS: With every monthly TSE Newsletter, you will get a $100.00 gift.


Register For FREE

or


Take the VIP Tour Today