Posts Tagged 'revenue.optimizing'

Are your salespeople “knowledge brokers”?

As a businessman, would you say that “maximizing” your sales revenue important?

If it is, you need to make certain your sales (and marketing) folks are “knowledge brokers”.

I have been reading a lot lately about how sales people need to be “challengers” and that there is no time left for relationship building with buyer’s busy schedules. My perspective is slightly different, but I understand where others may be coming from.

The power of the internet has clearly changed the buyer-seller dynamic and a new approach to selling is required. The buyer suddenly does not need to rely on the salesperson for much of their information gathering. They simply go to the web and conduct research. They communicate with peers about solutions and ROI. By the time the salesperson gets engaged in the process, the buyer is often on their way to a final decision. For additional insight in the “buyer’s journey”, listen to Christine Crandell’s presentation (http://bit.ly/tvENtn)

So, what is the role of the salesperson on today’s marketplace? I believe it is one of maturing to a higher level of competence.

I have been selling for more years than I care to discuss and throughout my career, my position has always been to act as a “knowledge broker”. It was (and is) always important to have some amount of information about my product or service that the buyer could not get easily. In the early days, it was all about features, functions and benefits. Now it is much more about how the product or service fits into the buyer’s business, how it works for other industry leaders. It is about how to implement it quickly easily and with as little business interruption as possible. It is about value added partnering.

Additionally, the salesperson of today needs to have enough business background to demonstrate competence and make the buyer feel like he/she is working with someone who understands their business.

The competencies required to mature and become a “knowledge broker” include:

                        Knowledge

                                    Of general business process and strategies

                                    Of the prospect’s business process and strategies

                                    Of the industry’s needs and direction

                                    Of the competition’s offering and how it is different

                        Questioning and Listening Skills (selling – not telling)

                        Strategic Thinking

                        Conviction, Confidence and Integrity

                        A Higher Level of Relationship Skills

 

So, if you want to “maximize” your sales revenue, you can begin by assessing your sales organization’s qualifications based on the requirements above.  If you are not sure how to do that or don’t have the time, there are professionals available to guide you through the process and confirm your present impressions.

In my next BLOG we will discuss what the marketing department needs to do to become “knowledge brokers” as well.

Thanks!

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Sales Force Optimization – The First Step to Maximizing Sales Revenue

Are you interested in Maximizing Your Sales Revenue? …If you are, the first thing to do is “optimize the sales force”.

Your sales force is responsible delivering the majority of the revenue to your company. Therefore you need to be certain that your sales organization is competent, focused, and well managed and coached and they are spending their time in the area where they can make their maximum contribution. There is always room for improvement in any sales organization.

Assessments:

Before you can begin to optimize the sales force, you need to conduct an assessment of the team as a whole as well as each individual. If the team has been in place for some time and the sales manager is competent, the assessment is probably fairly complete already. Often however, the assessment resides in the manager’s head and not in any formal document. You need to get the assessments down on paper for use as you continue this process because they are important to use in developing a coaching plan.

If some or all of the team is new, or if you are experiencing high turnover, it will be wise to utilize some testing programs that are used for competence (skill) and attitude assessment. Some sales specialists believe that competence can be measured through “personality” testing. I disagree with that premise because I have regularly seen people with outgoing personalities do poorly and vice versa. I feel a better measure is how focused and tenacious they are given the objective laid out for them along with their attitude toward customer service.

These assessments will help you to create training and/or coaching plan. I have often seen situations where the testing served to convince the manager or owner that his gut instinct was right regarding the reps real capability.

Structure:

Following the assessment phase, you need to look at the “structure” of the sales organization to determine if the team is well organized to go to market. You should confirm that there is a specific (written and understood) sales process in place. You must confirm that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.

Different types of companies will have very different sales processes defined. These depend on the product or service they are selling, the customer makeup and if they are utilizing multiple channels to go to market. All processes however should clearly define the sales steps and how they are to interact with the marketing organization (See Alignment in next week’s post) and the customer’s buying process. The sales process is very dependent on the corporate strategy which needs to be defined by top management and understood by anyone in the company who touches the customer.

Sales Management:

The sales force needs to be well managed by providing specific goals along with the metrics that will be used to test their success. Often managers feel that the compensation plan drives performance, but again, I disagree to the extent that money is not usually the strongest motivator. Continual coaching is a better method for maximizing sales rather than intermittent sales training sessions and compensation plans.

The sales manager’s role is usually divided into four activities. These include:

  • Selling Time with Reps in the Field
  • Forecast Management and Sales Projections (Pipelines)
  • Internal Training, Coaching and Strategic Reviews
  • Internal Meetings with Management Peers

The sales manager’s needs to become deeply involved in each of these activities and I could develop several posts on sales management alone. I am simply working with a broad brush in this article to lay out the structure of sales optimization. If your sales manager is not spending time in these four areas and you are experiencing low revenue production, it may be time to conduct an assessment at this level.

In conclusion, if you can refine these three key elements, you will be well on your way to “maximizing sales revenue”.  In my next post I will discuss the “Second Key” of this process which is “Marketing Alignment”.

Please stay tuned.


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