Posted tagged ‘SALES’

Disintermediation, The Sales Cycle, Relationship Prospecting & YOU

August 16, 2013

By

Michael Fanghella

Managing Director

Integrated Management Services, llc

San Diego, CA

 Developing a sales pipeline is often judged on its size and based upon the qualities’ portrayed of incoming business over a 9-18 month period. The realities of business to expect it quicker using a traditional pipeline development strategy would not bare support although owners often want it so.  Therefore either you change your strategy or sit and wait.  The quality of what you are working on in your pipeline has the greatest long-term impact on your business and controlling what goes into your pipeline is essential. Maintaining quality and understanding its timing includes:

  • focusing on and defining your niche targets and working solely within that niche;
  • focusing on “non customer prospects” that have good business practices and are industry leaders who work in a parallel industry to team up with; and,
  • then prioritizing opportunities based on the quality of the existing relationships you derive from these non customer prospects and the relationship they have with your ultimate end users.

Consider these figures: fewer than 10% of sales meetings end in a sale, 81% of all business is brought to a successful close in the sales process after the 5th interaction, and 75% of sales pipelines are unhealthy. These figures are indicators of the flaws in our expectations of our sales and business development activities. These numbers hold true for businesses both large and small.(1)  Quantity, quality, timing, knowing who to prospect to reach your ultimate client and persistence are 4 critical factors in developing a sales pipeline that is directed to your current sales cycle. Understanding what has changed in today’s business environment as to how customers/clients (“end users”) approach their purchasing decisions will help you get your business where you want it to go, when you want to get there is your next step in your strategic plan. Like most good things it takes a commitment to this new environment.

Four key components that compose a sales pipeline have traditionally been:

  • Qualifiers
  • Timing
  • Interest level
  • Sales stage

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HOW TO MANAGE A SALES DEPARTMENT

October 13, 2012

HOW TO MANAGE A SALES DEPARTMENT

By

Michael Fanghella

October 13th 2012

My perspective in managing a sales department is from having from as small a sales cadre of 5 sales personnel to over 150 under my direct report that produced results from $10 million in sales to over $1 billion.  The reality is in today’s multi tasking leveraged world is that sales professionals sell and if they are expected to be handling things other than sales you have diluted their time resource and effectively limit their earnings as well as their attention.  So establishing the Desired Results (Goals) that effectively consider what they will earn a living doing is paramount.

I believe that once the desired results (mutual goals defined), as relayed and defined through senior management and accepted by the sales team jointly and severally, are established the following are the issues under the managing control of its leader. They are as follows:

  •  The Procedural Guidelines established to follow to achieve those desired results for in this way when the results aren’t forthcoming you have a understood methodology to analyze the sales persons effort and either get them back on track; and
  • Resource management in that when prior establishment of the desired results were made along with that a clear path of who they can go to for information, aid in knowledge based sales technique, solution selling issues. This includes training sessions and open discussions as to objections and solutions as facilitated by the manager. This allows the team to see and know that if they choose not to utilize these resources (management, tech support, books, web based information services, etc.) they have effectively limited their opportunity to succeed; and
  • Accountability, which is often misunderstood, is where we as a team or an individual take the time to assess performance against the prior stated desired results.  At this time the measuring sticks are if the personnel are following the procedural guidelines as laid out to succeed and if not make corrections and also for the manger to be assessed by his team if he/she is doing what he laid out where his/her procedural guidelines to be the effective voice and manager they need to perform. These meeting occur throughout the time but can be done both as a team and on an individual basis; and

Ultimately this effort constantly is taking their performance issue to hand and allowing for adjustments and improvement that hold both sides of the team accountable to each other. What you find is that your sales personnel know how they are doing well before anyone else and as a manager you can see if they are putting an effort (procedurally) that accomplishes what they themselves outlined they wanted. The natural consequence of this process is defined by those results made by the individual team members. This reduces complaints, and focuses sale managements’ attention on helping not pointing fingers at personnel which makes all sales personnel in the team nervous. Sales personnel can’t be effective if they are looking over their shoulders. As sales manager if you can’t help (mentor) them you are a non event to their desired results and ultimately your authority is diminished.

o How to effectively turn prospects into clients –

  •  All prospects are somewhere in the sales funnel, the question is where, and once understood aids in defining how you handle them. So I have some basic rules to analyze them (prospects) by they are as follows:
  •  If a warm prospect seek first to understand before asking to be listened to-
  1. Who are they, what do they do, how large are they. Often this can be done rather casually ; then
  2. Establish their needs and how that takes them to what they want, then
  3. Qualify them in terms of their resources and expectations, decision making authority and their financial expectations (authority & financial qualification are the determining factors as to whether you proceed aggressively or not;  then
  4. Either move forward and or invite their superior to the next level of discussion to insure a clear line to closing the effort. or
  5. If they are that person and financial consideration are defined and acceptable; then
  6. Take them to a solution sales consideration that identifies how your product/service meets their needs; then
  7. Demo. track to close
  •  While this is a simplistic format and is always subject to the variables that a good sales person will sense, but it is a format that keeps time and expectation in alliance with the desired results to succeed.
  •  If a cold prospect, establish a listening relationship but get to qualifying them and whether they have the decision making capability or not to ascertain whether they move to the next level with you. If qualified see how quickly they want to move toward the next obviously level of discussion and or get their superior involved in the next discussion or demo.

o How to manage 3 projects at once –

I currently manage over 10 projects and attend to past clients who had projects with us but who have residual issues that need to be attended to.  Priorities are often misunderstood.  They are often misdiagnosed as crisis management, but are not.  They are things you do everyday because to effectively manage projects and the key elements as determined prior that are to be attended to each day by design.  The above referenced crisis management is then handled in the course as an adjustment but not as the day to day management.  This means phone management, time and resource management and trust basis a clear understanding of both the talent pool around you for delegation and what management expects and allows you to resolve without having to go one step up the management ladder are clearly understood.

 o How to motivate and inspire employees-

Understanding who you hire and their skill set is foremost. Imagine putting a 150 batting average person in clean up doesn’t make him a great hitter by design. So go back to how I hire and manage my sales teams in that I have a clear and understandable desired results from people who can clearly articulate them to me. If they can’t do that then they are not connected to the process of selling and haven’t thought about that prior other than wanting a job.  Ultimately this is what will pull the team both they and their supervisor into accountability with each other in terms of what they have to do for this effort to be successful.  This is paramount because if they don’t believe in what we are doing you will lose them as their first failure.

But beyond that motivational goals have to be offered in short terms expectations so that someone achieves those goals quickly and others see it as well as its attainability. Making them such that other voluntary stakeholders in this process (Family and maybe significant others) share in its acknowledgement.  While I don’t ascribe to knowing the families of our sales personnel, I do want them to see this as a positive process and are supportive of what we will ask of our sales personnel.

Having certain motivating factors that allow success to occur at different levels so that newer members of the team can execute and succeed also as they build their aptitude and base of knowledge and sales.

Napoleon stated; that soldiers die for honor (medals) as much as to win the battle”. Sales personnel are not much different so open communication, a developed effort to keep them aligned with what they decided in agreement with management to perform and their acknowledgement in the accountably meeting I stated earlier to, is always aided by that which we promised to them we would in turn provide.

Ergo, management above the sales manager never criticizes the team openly or to their face. That is left to their manager with whom they have a defined solution oriented process. Anyone can identify a problem, but a good manager attends to the problem by bringing forth and mentoring a solution.  Senior management above this level are the good guys.  They should never see your fears or even hear them. They (Sales Personnel) will want to be your friend only because if they don’t have this defined management solution process, they will seek that relationship because they believe it will effect their employment stability.

Consistency in the effort, the product/service surviving whatever due diligence the prospect has with it will give confidence and build momentum better than drinks after work or high fives when a sale gets made. The point is they have high expectations of themselves, so motivating them is an adjustment made often and done for their attitude, not their success.

You can comment or contact me directly if you want additional information on this or other subjects or contact me by clicking www.santafeadvisoryservices.com . 858.880.8650.