Sales Coaching: Where You Put Your Coaching Attention Counts

I have fond memories of 4th of July holidays as a kid, mostly because of the famous Black Cat firecrackers.

My friends and I would spend the months leading up to the 4th earning saving what I could. I’d look for money lost in the couch, I’d skip lunch and pocket the buck fifty, and I’d mow lawns or caddy, all to buy Black Cat firecrackers. Black Cats were the king of the bang, better than all the rest. They were like what digital is to analog, or what HD is to old TV.

The potential to make a big bang and have fun with the Black Cats was high but the margin of error could be very small. If you’re weren’t careful, that little thing could cause a lot of damage.

Coaching salespeople seems to be like the Black Cat. If you’re a great coach you can make a big difference in someone’s life, but if you’re average or worse you sure can make a mess of things for people.   Some of it has to do with where you put your coaching attention.

Is this where your coaching attention is?

  • Are sales tracking to plan?
  • What’s the forecast look like this month?
  • How can we accelerate the sales process?
  • What do I need to do to get my salespeople to prospect more?
  • How can I find better candidates for the two open territories I need to fill?

By all means these are important issues. But how much coaching attention do you put to these things below?

  • Is anyone on my team not motivated to work hard right now? What can I do to understand that better?
  • Does anyone feel like I don’t listen well?
  • Does anyone feel neglected?
  • Is anyone feeling that I’m not fully recognizing his or her efforts?
  • Should I reach out to Mary after being pretty hard on her at the last region conference call?
  • Is anyone waiting to get some feedback they should have been given already?
  • Am I doing enough to understand the personal goals of my salespeople?

I showed these questions to a client and he said the former set is more about business issues, or outcomes while the latter set is more about personal issues, or inputs. I’ll buy that.

I’m not asking you to choose to focus on ‘inputs vs ‘outputs. Your people need you to give attention to both don’t they?

Some of you might be thinking you don’t have this luxury. You’re putting out fires, trying to protect business at risk, you’re trying to fill an open territory, you’re spending weekends creating the forecast to send to your boss, you’re onboarding a new rep, you’re preparing for an upcoming regional meeting. I can’t say I know how you feel but I know how my sales managers feel when they’re loaded down.

I saw a quote last year at a conference I attended on sales coaching that read “salespeople don’t leave their companies, they leave their managers.” Why do they leave their managers?   Is it because their managers don’t have a healthy balance of paying attention to ‘outputs’ and ‘inputs’?

This week when you talk with your salespeople, ask them at least one question that has more to do with how they’re feeling, how’s their mindset, their motivation, even how’s their physical health. Show them you sincerely care. Even dare to be vulnerable and let your people see the full ‘you’.

If you liked this tip and want to learn more I encourage you to contact me at the information on the screen. I’d really enjoy hearing from you.

As always, I wish you the best success, and good selling.

Mark Sellers

Sales Trainer, Coach, Consultant

Author The Funnel Principle – Buy It Here

Book a meeting with Mark here

 

 

Selling to the Financial Decision Maker

Welcome to another Breakthrough Sales Tip.

You ever find yourself reluctant to ‘take the next step?’

I’m talking about some important decisions you’ve considered. Maybe join the gym? Take your first yoga class? Join a group at church? Decide to downsize? Decide to buy a house?

Taking the next step can be hard for the people you’re selling to. Especially the people we call PFAs. The PFA is the person with financial authority for a purchase. Think final approval. Veto power. Obviously, a very important stakeholder to your sales success.

One way to improve your success in selling to the PFA is to learn about ‘risk’, learn how risky the PFA believes it is to take the next step.

Recently I was with a client that sells mechanical services and major project services to the energy and construction industries.

One of the salesmen shared his approach to a deal he was working on. At a sales call recently his prospect said they needed a cooling solution for a server room. The salesperson threw out a number to the PFA, a ballpark price to see how the he would react.

Another salesman in our meeting suggested a different approach. He said why not ask the PFA questions about risk?   Is there a problem now with cooling, or is something happening that could become a problem? For example, if the business need is because the company is growing and wanting to attract more customers, then the risk of not having a solution is not growing. That sounds pretty important. And how’d you like to be the one stakeholder ultimately responsible for getting in the way of growth?

I also recommend acknowledging the risk, not discounting it. When people feel nervous about something, telling them to not feel nervous, or worse telling them they have nothing to worry about, doesn’t make them feel any better. You’re not going to make any emotional connections with that approach. When you acknowledge the PFA’s concerns about risk, you’ll gain the PFA’s respect.

In our Funnel Principle Selling system we see the PFA’s risk as a ‘stage 2’ issue. The PFA hasn’t committed to spending money on ANY solution yet. There needs to be a compelling enough risk of doing nothing, or, he can choose the less risky option, do nothing.

In my experience risk is always tied closely to emotional and personal issues. It’s not about the money for example; rather, it’s about being seen as making a poor decision with the company’s money. See the distinction?

If you liked this tip and want to learn more I encourage you to contact me at the information on the screen. I’d really enjoy hearing from you.

As always, I wish you the best success, and good selling.

Mark Sellers

Author The Funnel Principle

Book a meeting with Mark using Calendly

4 Tips for Making Better Sales Calls

Welcome to another Breakthrough Sales Tip.

I’m a consultative salesperson with a confession to make: For years I thought my line of selling was somehow a notch above the world of transactional selling. It was more complicated. More challenging. It required more skill and technique and intelligence. Shame on me.

To all you exceptional transactional sellers, I apologize. I realize I can learn from you. I’ve been observing and learning how the best transactional sellers get it done. And I’m blown away.

First, a quick definition. By consultative selling I mean the type of selling that usually takes more than one call to close and often requires calling on more than one stakeholder.

By transactional selling I mean the type of selling that often takes only one call to close and where only one stakeholder is involved. I realize both of these are very simplistic but nonetheless directionally suitable for this column.

Here are 4 things I’ve been learning about exceptional transactional salespeople:

  1. They make a connection. Excellent transactional sellers get it that the emotional drive leads the logical drive. So they make it a priority to connect with that emotion. Often they only get one chance right, in a one-call sale? Unless they’re laser focused on looking for that connection they’ll likely miss it and maybe lose a sale.   An excellent book on this is by John Maxwell, Everyone Communicates Few Connect.
  1. They make you feel like you’re the only thing that matters right now. Think of how easy it is to be distracted by your over booked calendar and pressure to perform. It’s hard to fake this ‘you matter’ thing. Think of when someone sold to you and you felt his or her total attention on you. When it happens it’s special.
  1. They create a path to purchase.   Transactional sellers need to make a living too. What impresses me about the exceptional ones is how they respect my buying process but still keep the sale moving. Their call strategies seem designed to put the customer buying process milestones in front of the customer and then let the customer decide if and when she’s ready to proceed.
  1. They give me control. With exceptional transactional sellers I never feel like I’m being railroaded or backed into a features-benefit corner. They seem to have intuitive pacing around how I want to buy. This is the ultimate show of respect. Wow, what a way to build credibility.

So go out there today and make your next sales call really count – for your customer. If you succeed, it will really count too for you.

As always, I wish you the best success, and good selling.

Mark

get on Mark’s calendar here

buy The Funnel Principle here

Why Salespeople Should Know Their Win Rate

As someone who has spent the last 15 years exploring, learning and training and consulting on the sales funnel, I often get asked ‘how important is it to know your win rate’?

It’s very important. When you know your win rate you’re able to know how big your sales funnel should be to hit your quota.

For example if you have a 1M quota and you have a 50% win rate, you should have $2M of funnel value. We call funnel value TVR, or Total Viable Revenue.

But if you have a 33% win rate then your funnel TVR should be $3m.

And if your win rate is 25% your funnel TVR should be $4M.

Those are some big variations in funnel value, aren’t they? Not knowing your win rate could mean you could easily miss judge this by a mile.

Unfortunately I have a feeling that few salespeople and their sales organizations really know their win rate.

It’s easy to calculate. Create a list of all of the sales opportunities you try to win. Then list the ones you do win. The number of sales you win divided by the number you try to win is your win rate.  For example if you win 3 but try to win 10 then your win rate is 30%.

This next part is really important. When you calculate your funnel value you don’t want to add up the dollar value of all sales opportunities at all stages. Instead you want to add up only the deals at the mid to late stages where the customer has committed to making a change. That means they commit to either replacing what they’re using with something else, commit to add to what they’re using, or commit to using a different approach altogether.

When you think of your sales funnel right now, you can probably think of deals that haven’t gotten that far in the customer decision process yet, can’t you? These deals might still be very much worth your time to keep working on, just don’t count them as funnel value TVR.

If your sales funnel doesn’t have enough of these mid to late ‘commit funding’ opportunities, it’s too small, and now you’re under pressure to have a higher win rate to still make your quota.  That’s not a strategy I would encourage.

If you liked this tip and want to learn more I encourage you to contact me at the information on the screen. I’d really enjoy hearing from you.

I wish you the best success, and good selling.

Mark Sellers

614.571.8267

Buy The Funnel Principle here

get on Mark’s calendar here

Know Your Win Rate

 

Below is a transcript of this week’s video sales tip.  

As someone who has spent the last 15 years exploring, learning, training and consulting on the sales funnel, I often get asked ‘how important is it to know your win rate’?

It’s very important. When you know your win rate you’re able to know how big your sales funnel should be to hit your quota.

For example if you have a 1M quota and you have a 50% win rate, you should have $2M of funnel value. We call funnel value TVR, Total Viable Revenue.

But if you have a 33% win rate then your funnel should be $3m.

And if your win rate is 25% your funnel should be $4M.

Those are some big variations in funnel value, aren’t they? You don’t want to miss this by a mile.

Unfortunately I have learned that few salespeople and their sales organizations really know their win rates.

It’s easy to calculate. Create a list of all of the sales opportunities you try to win. Then list the ones you do win. The number of sales you win divided by the number you try to win is your win rate.

For example if you win 3 but try to win 10 then your win rate is 30%.

Now what I’m about to say is really important. When you calculate your funnel value you don’t want to just add up the dollar value of all sales opportunities at all stages. You add up only the deals at the mid to late stages because with these opportunities the customer has committed to making a change. That means they commit to either replacing what they’re using with something else, commit to add to what they’re using, or commit to using a different approach altogether.

If you think of your sales funnel right now, you can probably think of deals that haven’t gotten to the customer commitment stage yet, can’t you? These deals might still be very much worth your time to keep working on, just don’t count them toward funnel value.

The problem comes when your sales funnel doesn’t have enough of these ‘commit funding’ opportunities. Your funnel value is too small.  Your focus and priority is to get more funnel value, TVR.

If you liked this tip and want to learn more I encourage you to contact me at the information on the screen. I’d really enjoy hearing from you.

As always, I wish you the best success, and good selling.

Mark

get on Mark’s calendar here

buy The Funnel Principle here

614.571.8267

 

Work The (Sales) Process

I know sports is an often over used reference for analogies and making points in the business world, but when I see a brilliant, even courageous example I’ve just got to share it.

Maybe you saw it too.  It was the New England Patriots’ performance in the 2nd half of this year’s Super Bowl.  (disqualifier:  I’m not a Patriot’s fan, but I am a fan of winners)

Two things took place in the second half.

The first was something that was missing.   Maybe you saw it too.  Panic.

The Tom Brady-led offense marched down the field in typical, grinding Patriot fashion and scored.  I think that drive took 7 or 8 minutes.  That’s a lot of time off the clock.  The defense then did its job. Then the offense marched down and scored again.  And of course the rest is history.

Instead of panicking the Patriots committed to their process . The one that brought them to the dance. The one that has brought five rings for team Brady and Belichick.

There are two occasions where committing to a sales process pays off. One is when you’re down and need a comeback kind of year. Best to double down on the process. It’s really the only thing you do that you can control.

The other occasion is when you’re up and having a great year. Doubling down on your sales process prevents you from forgetting that effort, not luck will make you successful, year after year.

The second thing that took place at the Super Bowl second half was adjustments. Belichick didn’t do exactly the same game plan used in the first half because it wasn’t working in the first half. Adjustments were made within the process.

If your salespeople are struggling, you might need to coach to some adjustments, maybe related to target accounts, or messaging for sales calls, or even pricing strategies. But I hope you keep those adjustments within your sales process. Be sure your salespeople understand that’s what’s going on .

Good Selling,

Mark Sellers

Author The Funnel Principle (buy it here)

Next book: Blindspots: The Hidden Killer of Sales Coaching

Interview of Mark by Red Cap Consulting Hugh Liddle

Interview of Mark by Linked In Guru Ted Prodromou

 

 

 

 

 

Sales Funnel Movement

Below is a transcript of this week’s video sales tip.

A key to any sales funnel success is movement – funnel sales opportunities moving closer to the ultimate objective – a close. Without movement of funnel opportunities your funnel is like a kitchen pantry full of old, stale food that’s no longer fit to eat.

Movement is when a sales opportunity changes stages, like moving from stage 2 to stage 3, or from stage 4 to stage 5. Adding a sales opportunity to your funnel is also movement.

Opportunities can move in the other direction, like from stage 4 to stage 2. Usually that’s not the kind of movement you want.

NOW HERE’S THE KEY TO MOVEMENT – it’s not what YOU do that defines movement, it’s what the customer does.

For example, if you deliver a proposal to a customer you might be tempted to say that the opportunity has moved to the ‘proposal delivered’ stage.

But your customer hasn’t done anything. They just received your proposal. Go ahead and test this. Have you ever delivered a proposal and the customer didn’t get back to you right away with any kind of answer? Or if they did answer was it 6 months later and they said they changed their minds?

It’s the same thing with a sample or a product trial or even a demo. You’re the one doing all the work. No movement.

The key to driving sales opportunities through your funnel – getting movement – is getting your customers to commit to doing things.

When customers commit they have skin in the game. When they commit they invest time, they invest political capital, and sometimes even money.

Even getting little commitments is important. Little commitments often lead to bigger commitments and to the biggest customer commitment of all – they purchase.

So, when you define your 30 day sales funnel plan each month, you really want to define what customer commitments you’re going to seek with each opportunity on your funnel.

At my company we call these Goals. It’s just a term that can mean different things, but for clients that use The Funnel Principle they know that a Goal is the customer commitment the salesperson is seeking with each opportunity on his or her funnel.

Let’s wrap up by going back to the proposal example. What would a Goal look like? How about this: Only deliver your proposal if the customer commits to reviewing it with you. Or, if a customer wants to trial your product agree to, but ask the customer to commit to discussing with you after the trial how the trial went and maybe even communicating the results with other key stakeholders.

If you found this tip helpful and you’d like more information I encourage you to contact me through the link below.

I wish you the best success, good selling!

Mark

614.571.8267

Buy The Funnel Principle here

get on Mark’s calendar here