Business Development Rants and Resources

Quantum Mechanics in Sales Forecasting

I am not sure that this doesnt simply qualify as a Rant. I mean, I feel like I am ranting, but that is a common feeling for me as I am pounding at my keyboard.

Often when working with a sales or marketing manager in setting up their SalesinSync Lead Management System system I will suggest setting up their Probability (of close) percentages in increments of 10, i.e. 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, etc. Every once in while someone will say, “oh, come on, nobody can guess that close. Gimme 0%, 10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%.” Sometimes the choices are even more limited, like 0, 35, 50, 80.

Okay now I KNOW that this is a rant because it doesn’t happen often. But when it does it is irritating. The point of ALLOWING SALESPEOPLE TO GIVE THEIR BEST GUESSES is that, collectively, the data will be more accurate and precise. This is a simple statistical exercise. This will always be the case unless some extremely weird mechanism is in place due to bad management elsewhere. The sum of all these supposedly problematic uncertainties makes for a the BEST guess, most of the time!

So why not have a dropdown that allows 1 percentagepoint increments? Simply because then it becomes a bit of a farce and salespeople will not like using the interface. Our suggestion is to provide to the sales force the highest level of granularity that is reasonable. Maybe it is in 5 point increments. Who knows? There is simply no reason to force someone to select a number that does not reflect what they feel. Frankly, it can be frustrating and cause the user to question the process, as well as the value of the information. Once that starts happening, the game is lost because salespeople want to be making money and not punching numbers into a system they don’t believe in

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Lead Management and CRM | , , , | Leave a comment

Pitfalls for Energetic Entrepreneurs

“Focus, Focus, Focus.” This is a mantra common in the world of entrepreneurship and small business startup. I have a friend (let’s say “Kevin”) who runs a multimedia production business. He is a brilliant, personable guy, who is very technical. His business focused initially on development of training programs. He is no salesman nor a sales process guru, and where his new business in the area of multimedia training came from was really a mystery. Like a lot of us, he probably just had some faithful connections. He branched off into some web development because a lot of the talent and tools that he had on hand for multimedia lent themselves to that area. So Kevin threw paint on another wall, and the incremental revenue from web allowed him to keep the doors open. I mean, throw some paint here and there, and a passerby will see it and something might happen.

Fast forward about eight or so years, and Kevin and I get together to see what each other has been up to. He shows me a new CRM product that he has developed – a competitor to SalesInSync – for tracking the sales process (not sure if he used it himself!), and then a complementary offering that does lead generation. Mind you, nothing has changed in his business, fundamentally. He still has the same business size. He still does multimedia training, and a web site or two. But more paint on the walls means he doesn’t need to sell as much multimedia training to maintain his revenue. On top of that, Kevin showed me customer support offering that he also had developed. I am not sure that he has sold any of that as of yet, but that was a major streak of paint on another wall. The we go back into a production area where an employee is working on – you guessed it – a multimedia training program, and he shows me a 3D rendering of a modern office building, with cutaways and wiring diagrams and equipment layouts that just knocked my socks off.  I said, “you know Kevin, I’ll bet architectural firms would drool over that.”  He got excited and said “Yes! That is something we should go after!” I thought to myself as I left, “Man, what on earth is he DOING!?”

When I got home I noticed a pilots supplies catalog on my coffee table which really only had been used for putting my feet on if I had shoes on and my wife was around, and I took a stack of those mini PostIt notes and marked every page where there was some multimedia training program being sold. The catalog was absolutely thick with them, and I thought that if Kevin could just sell to ONE of those companies, he could increase his business tenfold. So I have lunch planned with him and I am bringing my dogeared catalog.

So what is focus? It isn’t necessarily sticking to one area. I mean, if you have the talent and tools, why not branch out, as long as you can maintain an identity that is not confusing. Paint those walls, but don’t throw it all over the place! Finish one room before going on to the other. Have a plan for success here before moving there. Or at leastbe willing to abandon here and go there with renewed energy. Just about anyone can look at their business and determine quite readily if they have the processes and resources to be successful on many fronts. Most smaller companies cannot. So therein lies the Focus mantra.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Business Building | Leave a comment

Handling the Price Objection

Saying the price is too high, or we cant afford, it is the easiest way to get rid of a novice sales person. If there is value in your product or service, it is priced to reflect the value, and the sales person knows how to communicate the value, theres no reason you have to drop your price – ever.

I bought an email marketing list a year ago. I wanted the list and the price was right. I was just really busy at the time and didn’t have time to make the purchase. A week went by since I received the quote. The salesperson called and dropped the price by 40%. 40%!! I was willing to pay the first price, I thought it was fair. When the price is discounted that much it feels to the consumer like there was a lot of fluff in the pricing and that theyre getting ripped off. Not good for building trust and customer retention.

I recently tried to contact that list company to buy another list. The company is gone. Perhaps they sold services at below cost. This is never a good idea no matter what marketing gurus or analysts will tell you. If you use your common sense, its clear. Never sell at below cost, ever.The salesperson has to understand the value before they can sell it. Do they understand the competitors? Do they understand their strengths and weaknesses? Don’t kid yourself, your competitors have weaknesses. Do they understand your own company’s strengths and weaknesses? A key point – do they really –LISTEN– to the prospect?

If my list salesperson listened to me he wouldve presented ways to make the sale easier for me, managing my time constraints. Instead, as so many sales people do, he gave the product away.I love to help organizations teach their people how to overcome the Price Ojbection. If you listen to the prospect, its the easiest one to overcome.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Business Building | , | Leave a comment

Doing it Right

Earlier this month I talked about “earning the right” in a sales process. Recently, I was at an event where I met a salesman who did exactly that. A person with solid sales skills just warms my new business development heart, so I had to share the story with you.

I joined a sailing club. Since I’m a small business owner I spend a good amount of time working. When I’m working I’m totally devoted and committed to what I’m doing. 100% of my time and attention is focused on my goal. My time off is my time off. I was really looking forward to sailing. When I’m out socially I am very vague about my business. I’m not there to sell. I’m there to connect with people and have a good time. I’m in my figurative fuzzy slippers. The captain of the sail boat and the organizer of the event is a broker for marketing services. Hmmm we made the connection pretty quickly that there were business synergies. We did NOT however talk about it on the boat. We talked about sailing, connections, the food we’d have later, the trips he’d been on in the past, the great people that were in the group and enjoyed Chicago’s exquisite skyline in the spring. Our crew consisted of an IT professional, marketing pro, a helicopter pilot, and a high level manager at American Airlines. No one was exchanging business cards. What a relief.

A week or so later, I received a Linked in Connection from the marketing services broker. “yes, I thought.this guy gets it”. We’ve since connected and formally established our mutual synergies. I look forward to doing business with this man for a long, long time.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Business Building | Leave a comment

A Compliment

I was training one of my callers on a new program. We are helping to increase attendance for seminar that a consultant is holding. His target is companies that do not have performance management systems in place.

I was explaining to my caller that the Consultant wanted to use his own staff to call. I talked him out of it. Calling is a special skill. While I wouldve trained his employees, they wouldve never achieved the results our callers would achieve. They’re not dedicated callers and their skill set would not mirror our professional callers after a few hours of training. My caller replied, “Wow, Alicia, you should be in sales.”

The compliment to me is that my caller doesnt realize that I –am– in sales. My style is to listen to the prospect and then collaborate on the best decision possible. The best decision often includes one of my products or services. Im not selling or manipulating them. Were coming to a joint conclusion. If I provide the product or service, I make a fair profit. The prospect understands that. Neither party feels exploited. This process makes my work fun. When its done well, it seems effortless. I was feeling pretty good the day Karen recommended I go into sales.

May 6, 2012 Posted by | Lead Management and CRM | Leave a comment