Charting your Course for 2023!

By Patrick McClure

It’s common in the winter time to hear company executives complain about the holiday season. I can just hear them now:

“OMG, we only have two weeks in December, and the rest of the month is a waste of time. No one will be at their desks, and we won’t be able to sell anything!”

“Everyone has visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, and all they’re thinking about is what presents to buy for their loved ones. How in the world can we get them to focus on MC900439256[1]business?”

“I wish Thanksgiving and Christmas never existed! Arggghhhhh!”

Granted, for most companies December is a short month. Except for retailers, December is severely impacted by the holiday season and by vacations. However, December is an ideal time to put the finishing touches on your sales plan for the new year, so take advantage of this month to create a stellar plan for success in the new year.

Creating Your Sales Plan

The first step in creating your sales plan for the new year is to review your performance in the past year. For some tips on how to do this, you can read the 7 Step Sales Diagnosis Plan from our blog. If you’ve completed that review, you’ll have a solid grasp of the following essential elements:

  1. Sales Objectives and your performance results for the last year
  2. Highlights & Lowlights for the year
  3. SWOT Analysis updated
  4. Top 3 Problem areas to Fix
  5. Top 3 Opportunities for Growth

If your review of the last year is complete, you’re already ahead of the game. Now your attention can shift to goals and objectives for the new year, and how to make them a reality. Here’s a recommended process to get this done:

1. Write down your Objectives for the new year.

Casey Stengel said it best when he told his teams:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

Without a defined specific and written objective, you are flying blind. You can’t hit a target if it is not defined, so get your targets written down.

Your key sales objectives will support the overall business plan for the new year, and will define the “big picture” objectives for your team. Some examples might be:

“To grow our market share from 10% to 20%”
“To increase total revenue by 30% by the end of the new year.”
“To launch our new system into the marketplace and to generate $1 MM in revenue”
“To reduce selling expenses by ________________”

2. Strategic Positioning

Given the defined sales objectives for the next year, you will now consider the best positioning your company needs to give yourself the best possibility of success. Think about questions like these:

♦  Identifying where the best market opportunity resides (which of the market segments offer the most potential given your differentiators).
♦  Which sales method to use?
♦  How should your sales organization be structured for maximum effectiveness?
♦  Who are your top competitors and how can they be eclipsed, neutralized or controlled?
♦  Who are the key partners and alliances?

3. Territory/Market Analysis

Given your objectives and your strategic positioning, deepen the analysis to define or refine your intended selling geographies or industries. This analysis would reveal:bizpeople on chessbd

♦  Size of territory, Industry specialization, key locations
♦  Installed Base Customers & Location
♦  # of Prospects, their industry, and their location

4. Unique Value Proposition

This will be a quick review for most companies because it will simply validate the selling propositions that have been effectively used in the past year. However, if results from the last year were dismal, now is the time to really re-examine your unique selling propositions. You need to absolutely define with clarity and precision the following:

♦  Features, Benefits, and Value of your products/services.
♦  What exactly is unique about your company and what you deliver to the marketplace?
♦  Why should people do business with you, versus everyone else?
♦  What’s so special about our company?

5. Sales Forecast

This will be a detailed analysis, generally broken into quarters or monthly, of the following:

♦  Total Sales Revenue
♦  Total # of New Accounts
♦  Total Revenue for New Accounts
♦  Revenue for existing accounts
♦  Profitability
♦  Any other targets?

bizpeople in huddleYour CRM system or Sales Forecast system will be loaded on a month-to-month basis with these factors. Depending on your industry, and any seasonality, you can simply target equally month-to-month or vary the targets based upon time of year.

It’s always a good idea to get the salespeople to actively contribute to this forecast, and to make sure they are absolutely in agreement with the targets. They must be committed to achieving these targets and there must be a realistic expectation that the targets can be achieved and exceeded.

6. Detailed Sales Pipeline Analysis

This is the most important element of your Sales Plan for the new year. This is the detail on exactly how you intend to achieve your goals. Take the sales objectives, analyze your pipeline and ratios, and come up with specific sales activities that are needed to accomplish your annual selling goals. These may include (but are not limited to) the following:

♦  What is your Lead Tracking System (Excel, Paper-based, automated SFA?)
♦  Total Named Prospects to Develop
♦  Total # of Opportunities in your Territory
♦  Total # of Qualified Opportunities in your assigned Industry
♦  # of Referrals from Installed Base Customers
♦  # or Leads required to feed the Sales Pipeline
♦  Where are the leads coming from? (Lead Sources report)
♦  Estimated # of Prospecting Phone Calls by rep by month
♦  Estimated # of F2F Calls needed by rep by month
♦  # of Sales Presentations needed by rep and by month

Your pipeline analysis should include Lead Sources. You should know precisely the origination point for every sale you’ve made in the past year. This will be critical information in planning where you would most productively spend your time in the remainder of the year.

When this analysis is complete, you will now know exactly the selling activities that are needed in order to achieve your targets. For instance, if your sales reps typically enjoy a 20 % close ratio for every sales presentation delivered, they will need to deliver 5 presentations to achieve one sale. All the standard selling ratios should be captured in an Excel spreadsheet and handed out to the reps. You will almost always discover that the sales team is NOT doing enough prospecting for new business!

7. Sales Process

This is a fast review of your normal sales process, fine tuning for the coming year. If it was successful in the previous year, don’t change much! If it was NOT successful, you will need man looking at mapsto change it! Along the way, you need to identify “Best Practice” sales methodologies and identify weaknesses in the process (where are sales lost?)

In addition, you might want to review your initial business development process, particularly how opportunities are qualified to begin with.

♦  Where are sales being lost? At what point in your sales process do you fail?
♦  What’s the plan to eliminate the losses?
♦  How can the process be made more efficient and effective?

8. Key Success Factors (KSFs)

This is the most important sections of the sales plan for the manager and executive because it lists the top three KSFs that, if achieved, will guarantee achievement of the plan. One of my managers used to refer to these as the “critical few” which makes allowance for the absolute importance of them.

The KSFs are developed after considering all the foregoing sections for the sales plan. Based on an analysis of the preceding sections, ask the following:

♦  What must we do to ensure success?
♦  What does top management need to do to support us?
♦  What does our company need to help us with?

9. Resource Needs

Now that your plan is complete, it’s time to spell out the resources you need to achieve success. This may include people, support, materials, logistics, management, coaching, training and so on. If you are missing a key skill or resource, this is where you would list it.

Since you’ve developed a careful and concise analysis, you will be prepared to review with management and to request critical resources and support from other departments, such as Marketing, Human Resources, IT and Customer Support. Everyone in the company should be “in the loop” with your sales plan and they should fully support it. After all, everyone sells!

10. Sales Operations Assessment

Patrick is offering complimentary 30 minutes over the phone to identify likely root causes of sales productivity issues with at least three actionable ideas.  You will discover critical problem areas, recognize underlying causes of these issues, learn at least three new ideas to implement and begin a plan of action.  To learn more, email patrick@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patrick McClure is a Master Sales Coach, expert in Selling Across Generations, a Sr. Sales Consultant and a Sr. Sales, Marketing and Customer Service and Practice Head for Lighthouse Consulting Services. Over the past 30 years, Patrick has trained salespeople and managers to drive breakthrough sales results using innovative and practical techniques. He has a knack for reducing the most complex problems to utter simplicity and showing his audience exactly how start winning new clients. During his corporate career, Mr. McClure sold over $250 MM worth of products and services at corporate giants such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EDS and Digital Equipment. He is a black-belt master at selling complex business solutions to C-Level executives, and today he will share his secrets with small companies hoping to crack into the Fortune 1000. As the author of 3 books on selling, Patrick passionately and patiently serves up his wisdom to readers, clients, and audiences. He caters to both small and large firms seeking to close more business. You can contact Patrick at patrickm@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.  To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Correct your Sales Oversight: Where are the GAPS?

By Patrick McClure

CEOs, board members, and sales leadership are often faced with a terrible dilemma: how to accurately evaluate sales performance without having much experience or preparation for the task! Unless they came up through the ranks “carrying a bag”, they wouldn’t have the experience or skills needed to properly diagnose the efficiency and effectiveness of their sales team.

Too many, measuring sales performance is similar to Voodoo or guesswork. What should we look for? How can we benchmark our team against the competition? What factors should we examine? Are we fooling ourselves about our sales performance, just taking everything for granted? How can we evaluate —with accuracy – where we really stand?

Sales Diagnostics

Before a full GAP Analysis is performed, it is useful to perform a quick assessment of your sales organization’s Health. Using a unique and proprietary Sales Performance Diagnostic tool, we can accurately assess how your sales team stacks up against the “best of the best” in three key areas:

1. Sales Leadership
2. Forecast Accuracy
3. Drive for Improvement

The results of this assessment often result in an immediate boost in sales performance because the mystery of why sales are down has been narrowed to specific areas. Which of these critical areas were deficient, and where should management be spending their time correcting, coaching, and improving performance?

Gap Analysis

After the Sales Diagnostic has been performed, you are ready to move into the full GAP Analysis, which will give a more complete and company-wide view into Sales & Marketing.

The GAP is performed to review and analyze the current sales operational processes and performance, determines the process and performance required to achieve a desired level, and develops and recommends alternative solutions to eliminate the gap between the current and desired position. Three aspects of a business need to be considered during a GAP:

1. Current performance environment
2. Desired performance environment
3. Skills and processes required to implement the desired outcome

Gap Analysis Methodology

To establish the baseline data, our team works closely with management and key executives to develop an interview schedule and key questions for all stakeholders and key groups involved in the operation (internal & external). During the data-gathering phase of a Gap Analysis, we focus on the following critical areas:

Gap Analysis of Current & Desired Performance Environment

Business Environment and Needs
Product/Service Offerings
Market position — Strengths & Weaknesses
Core Competencies/Key Values Delivered
Target Markets
Sales Performance & Analysis
The Competitive Environment
Desired level of performance and skills required

Gap Analysis Deliverables

The original survey data is correlated and analyzed, comparison is made with industry benchmarks and competition, and the final report is prepared and delivered. Highlights include:

Develop and Document the Optimum Selling Process
Skills Required for Desired Outcome
Identify the organizational structure required
Recommend appropriate Sales methodology
Sales Performance Measurement
Recommended Program of Training & Coaching

Benefits from a GAP Analysis

There are several benefits companies experience from this valuable service. The most relevant benefits include the following:

An accurate assessment by a sales performance expert with detailed findings and recommendations
All the “sacred cows” become visible
An outsider can ask the difficult questions and avoid the internal politics and posturing
The GAPS are exposed, and it is now possible to write a sales plan that will be effective.
Our methodology highlights Best Practices and we can fairly evaluate where your company meets or exceeds
Corrective actions are now effective, since they are targeting the real problems
An effective training program can be developed to reskill your team and arm them with the latest tools & techniques
Sales processes and procedures can be revamped for maximum effectiveness

When the key recommendations from a GAP are implemented, your sales efficiency and effectiveness will surge, and revenue and profitability will soar……in a very short time!

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

Patrick McClure is a Master Sales Coach, expert in Selling Across Generations and a Sr. Sales Consultant for Lighthouse Consulting Services: – Over the past 30 years, Patrick has trained salespeople and managers to drive breakthrough sales results using innovative and practical techniques. He has a knack for reducing the most complex problems to utter simplicity and showing his audience exactly how start winning new clients. During his corporate career, Mr. McClure sold over $250 MM worth of products and services at corporate giants such as IBM, Hitachi Data Systems, EDS and Digital Equipment. He is a black-belt master at selling complex business solutions to C-Level executives, and today he will share his secrets with small companies hoping to crack into the Fortune 1000. As the author of 3 books on selling, Patrick passionately and patiently serves up his wisdom to readers, clients, and audiences. He caters to both small and large firms seeking to close more business. You can contact Patrick at patrickm@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

The Future of Sales

By Dana Borowka, MA

Not all sales and marketing people are created equal. In a challenging economy, you want to hire people who are creative, image001innovative and can get results despite the roadblocks. After all, today is a new day with new opportunities for those that are open to them. To improve hiring decisions, many companies have found out how to crack the personality code by using robust in-depth work style personality testing. Work style assessments are a standard recruiting practice for many branches of the government and military, as well as many Fortune 500 companies when assessing potential hires for key or critical positions.

Our research for our book, Cracking the Personality Code, reveals that this is not guesswork or an untested science. Here are eight proven ways to use in-depth work style personality testing to hire the right sales and marketing people who are willing to fight for market share.

1. Compare Their Resume Against Your Job Description

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Surprising how easy it is to blow right past this step in the hiring process. Past experience alone is not what you are looking for when you review the resume. You are looking at how well they performed, what were their successes, and how adaptable they might be to the job that needs to be done for your organization. Experience is nice, but it is results that really count.

2. Assess Their Problem-Solving Resources

Is this person a problem solver? If so, what kind of problem solver? Each of us has unique problem-solving resources on which we rely. You will want to determine what the person’s strengths are when it comes to problem solving. What are the usual approaches this person will use to resolve these problems?

3. Determine Their Patterns For Coping With Stress

Stress is a force that tends to distort the body, a factor that induces bodily or mental tension, or an automatic physical reaction to a danger or demand in the environment. As one physician stated, “Stress is any demand, either internal, external or both, that causes us to mentally and physically readjust in order to maintain a sense of balance within our life.”

Without a doubt, stress is a fact of life in today’s work world. So determining a candidate’s or employee’s ability to cope with stress is critical for a manager.

4. Examine Their Interpersonal Interaction Styles

Breakdowns in communication are never good for an organization. So take a good look at the individual’s style for relating and communicating with others. How do they usually react in dealing with others? What is their comfort level in interacting and personal connection with others? Personality assessments can tell you the person’s major sources of gratification and satisfaction when building relationships with each other.

This is the time to identify potential red flags. A personality assessment can discover issues that are sometimes overlooked during the traditional interviewing process and can quantifybizman opening door a hunch or feeling the interviewer may have about a particular candidate. Knowing interpersonal interaction styles can also help understand how to manage individuals for greater work performance. A comparison of the interpersonal dynamics of teams, departments, employees and candidates is well worth the effort.

5. Analyze Career Activity Interests

Certain personality tests help you gain information which may either support the person’s present career choices or assist them to explore, consider and plan for another career direction. This is not to say you will be recommending another career choice to someone you are considering hiring or currently managing. Rather, you are using this information to determine fit. All organizations want to ensure that they have the right people in the right positions and effectively distribute these human assets and talents.

6. Assess How They Respond To Tests

You should also use tests with scales for what is known as “impression management.” This is necessary in order to understand the accuracy of results and whether someone is trying to “fake good” or misrepresent themselves. A critical element in predicting a potential candidate’s success is measuring real personality and style in an interview. An in-depth work style and personality assessment presents a fairly accurate picture of a candidate’s personality, work style and fit within a company’s culture.

If a profile does not have an impression management scale, then it is difficult to tell how accurate the data is. A profile needs to have at least 165 questions in order to gather enough data for this scale.

7. Chronicle Strengths & Weakness Ledger

Benjamin Franklin reportedly had a decision-making process when he was faced with important challenges. Franklin divided a sheet of paper into two columns, and on the left side listed the reasons for doing something and on the right side the reasons against. Much like a bank ledger with credits and debits, this simple tool greatly aided the analysis of information. Often a quick scan of the two lists gave him the information he needed to make the right choice.

We recommend you do the same for the personality of a job candidate or an employee under your supervision. Like a bank ledger, every credit should have a corresponding debit. That is because for every strength a person possesses there is a corresponding weakness. Being assertive is a strength; however, that personality can be too assertive and off putting for some people they deal with.

8. Create Personality Probing Interview Questions

So, what have you learned about the job candidate so far through personality assessments? What remains to learn? To find out, developinterview questions that probe facets of the personality you need more details on

pen on bookForget those old standby questions like, ‘Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses’. Instead, let’s say you wanted to determine how they cope with stress. You might ask the candidate to give an example of when they made a terrible mistake and how they handled it. Ask them how they think others perceive them when they are under stress. For making a mistake, did they blame others or take responsibility for the outcome? Listen for their process. Do they ask for help? Watch body language and tone of voice to see how much insecurity the candidate expresses at the idea of making a mistake or having stress..

As consultants trained in psychology, this is something we help our clients create for new candidates. To help you create questions, here are some preliminary interview questions for a candidate. Naturally, these are not meant to be questions to ask all candidates, but are indicative of the types of questions you might ask:

What process do you think helps you to learn? Give an example of how you learn a very complex system or skill and what your process was?

How would you handle a situation that brought up many different changes? How do you like to see change take place? Give an example when change was implemented and it just didn’t work out.

Have you ever worked with individuals who are abstract thinkers? How did you deal with that kind of thought process?

Give an example of when you have had to make an exception to the guidelines or rules. How have you handled that?

What was the most challenging sales situation you have ever faced and won? Give an example of when you lost a sale and what you could have done differently.

Whew, seems like a lot to worry about. As with any business decision, having and organizing the right information is critical. Work style and personality assessment testing can key in door lockprovide insight into potential hires, as well as the current workforce. The trick is to gather the information and then look at it in an organized fashion.

 

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2022

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and his organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your business”. They do this through the use of in-depth work style & personality assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division. Dana has over 30 years of business consulting experience and is a nationally renowned speaker, radio and TV personality on many topics. He is the co-author of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”. To order the books, please visit www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style & personality assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication, stress & time management, sales & customer service training and negotiation skills as well as our full-service Business Consulting Division.

Grow Your Business! 10 Winning Strategies for the New Decade

By Patrick McClure

Congratulations, and welcome to the New Decade.

Today we start writing the history of YOUR business in the 2020’s. What will it include? Will we see spectacular growth, stellar revenue production and champagne toasts? Or will your decade be filled with lost business deals, declining revenue and sour grapes? The outcome is up to you, and now is the time to plan for your future.

Much of the future is uncertain, of course, but one thing we know for certain. Every one of us just got a year older! And every one of our customers and prospects got a year older. Time marched on for all of us, and this means we need to recalibrate, refocus, and refine our plans. What worked in the 2010’s will need to change to match the 2020’s. And if we don’t change, we risk getting run over by the onrush of technology, ideas, and youth.

In this spirit, we’ve put together this article to help prepare you for the future decade. After considerable research (both past and future), consultation with our focus groups (including millennials and Gen-Z), and getting feedback from industry peers, we are now prepared to put together the following list of the TOP 10 WINNING STRATEGIES FOR THE NEW DECADE.

Here they are:

1. Correct Target Market & Cohort

There are 4 major cohorts in today’s Marketplace, and it’s vital that you understand these generations and the changing buying patterns they bring. Here’s a quick snapshot of the essential features:

You can’t sell anything unless you understand your target market and who is doing their buying. This means understanding the environment they grew up in, the events that shaped their lives, their age, what they’re challenged by, and what’s important to them.
It’s also important to document the buying process at your key prospects. Oftentimes, you will find the actual buyer is a Baby Boomer or a Gen X, but the influencers are really Millennials or Gen Z. Typically, the busy executive will have “someone on their staff” research new products or directions and bring back a short list of what they found. If you are not influencing these younger influencers, you might never make the short list!

2. Unique Value Proposition

We don’t sell products anymore, and we don’t really sell benefits. The world has gone way beyond product details (unless you’re selling highly technical products). Buyers today are constantly asking “What’s in it for me,” or what will it do for my business and my bottom line. This means we need to shift our focus to the Unique Value of our product or service.
If there’s nothing unique about our product, we need to go back to the drawing boards and figure out WHY people are buying from us. Sometimes, the best way to understand your unique value proposition is to ask your buyers.

The key is to understand your UVP, and then BRAND your product with it. And for heaven’s sake make sure that you solve an actual problem for your customers. Don’t make the mistake of creating a “me too” product that doesn’t really solve a problem!

3. Marketing across Generations

If you understand the generations, you’ll appreciate something called “screen size.” Baby Boomers grew up with the television, and some of them were there when color screens were first introduced. They viewed the world through the lens of a television screen, and they received news on 3 major channels only.

Generation X (age 38-54) grew up with television, but increasingly their attention shifted to computer screens. First the desktop with an attached screen of varying sizes, then in later parts of the cohort this transitioned into laptop devices. The screen became smaller, and cable TV was introduced which expanded the number of channels.

Millennials (age 25-39) grew up with laptops and tablets, but their screen now included cell phones which now included email, texting, and web access as well as making phone calls. The screen size was now even smaller. And the next cohort, the sons and daughters of millennials (age 12-25) can seamlessly split their time across all 5 screens but are mostly focused on their cell phones. Indeed, 46% of their waking hours are spent peering at their cell phone screen, which is now leading to multiple medical problems and cell phone addiction (nomophobia).

If important for marketeers to understand their target market and concentrate their efforts on the best screen for their market. If you’re selling to Gen-Z, then you wouldn’t spend your marketing dollars on printed brochures or email campaigns! Conversely if your target market is baby boomers, you wouldn’t feature google ads or gaming consoles. You must match your marketing dollars to the correct screen!

4. Selling in the “New Normal”

Sales today occur at light speed. Buyers are demanding short, concise, value-based branding and gives them an instant WIFM (what’s in it for me). Everything today has accelerated, and you don’t have time for complicated messages. Keep it direct, simple, relevant, and compelling and don’t waste your buyers time!

5. Replace Cold Calling with Warm Calling

The years of cold calling or cold visits are pretty much over. In fact, one of my associates has written a best seller entitled “Never Cold Call Again,” (Frank Rumbauskas) in which he argues that cold calling is not only ineffective, but it damages credibility and drives away potential customers! My advice is simple: if you’re going to be using the phone for sales, make sure you are making “warm calls.” Research your prospects in advance, know their names and their company, and figure out a way to make the call valuable and not a waste of time. Pre-stage your calls by sending a text in advance (if you know their cell phone #), research them on LinkedIn, and try to get a warm referral from an associate or networking partner.

6. Deliver what they REALLY want at light speed

Speed of delivery is incredibly important. Customers are used to near-instantaneous results. They can order product and have it on their doorstep the next day (Amazon Prime), they can purchase and download movies and play them NOW, they can have groceries and products delivered by Wal-Mart or Target within minutes. They are used to near-immediate gratification and simple interfaces. If you have delays in your order fulfillment process, your customers will not tolerate it. Fix it!

7. Use Free as a Strategy

I can remember marketing a Presentation Skills training course for a bargain rate of $499 for an entire day of training. It was a killer price and always sold out in the past! But after renting a hotel room and filling it with 3 attendees (OUCH) I did my research and discovered that one of my competitors was offering a one-day class that same day in that same town for FREE!

The new selling strategy has evolved. Savvy marketeers are now enticing customers to try it out for free or nearly free, and then making their margins on upselling the next step. For instance, SalesForce.Com (the dominant CRM vendor) will happily give away a version of their CRM software to individual users. You can download it for free and use it if you like, and it works just fine. However, when you expand and want to add users or implement more advanced features of the software, you must upgrade (for a hefty fee).

On the retail side, visit Costco and cruise their aisles, and you can try dozens of samples. Of course, this drives huge incremental sales. Ergo Free as a strategy can really work!

8. Replace Selling with Influencing

Millennials and Gen-Z do not like the term “selling.” No one likes to be sold anything, but we all like to buy. The modern sales model uses a lot of “influencers” to generate brand awareness and buzz. Many influencers have hundreds and thousands of followers, and when they endorse a product (via Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or shapchat) it can lead to massive sales and profits.

One of the biggest influencers in social media today are performers. For instance, pop singer Selena Gomez (age 27 net worth $75MM) has 123 MILLION followers on Instagram! BTW, the last we checked her fee for simply mentioning your product in a post (implied endorsement) was over $1 MM.

Of course, you may not be able to afford a superstar endorsement, but your sales planning needs to include a strategy to attract influencers and get their support for your product/service.

9. Take advantage of Technology

Of course, make sure you’re taking full advantage of any technology at your disposal. Depending on your target market, divide your sales & marketing budget accordingly. There are huge benefits to be tapped into with social media, web design, social media marketing, gaming, virtual reality, and online advertising.

10. Hire a Gen-Z or Gen-Y

In order to fully implement technology, my best advice is to hire a Gen-Y (Millennial) or a Gen-Z for your marketing department. First job is to have them review your marketing plan for 2020 and tell you what’s wrong with it! They will not back off from their honest opinions, and they’ll probably give you some great advice.

You might have to bite your tongue and learn to tolerate a younger brash employee who expresses their opinion freely with no filter, but it will be worth it. Especially if you want to connect with a younger target market, it pays you to listen well.

So, there you are! 10 quick strategies for survival in the new decade. Good luck and let me know your success with these tips!

Permission is needed from Patrick McClure and Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Patrick McClure is a senior sales consultant with Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC as well as speaker, trainer and author who enjoys working with individuals and corporations to help them achieve maximum performance. He has dedicated his practice to helping others become more successful and specializes in sales training. To learn more and receive Patrick’s free newsletter, please email Patrick at patrick@lighthouseconsulting.com. Or call him at 310-453-6556, ext 415.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code”, “Cracking the Business Code” and “Cracking the High-Performance Team Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Upset Clients? How to Flip Frowns Upside Down

By Eden Gillott Bowe

You’re a seasoned business traveler. There’s no traffic on your way to the airport because you know all the shortcuts. TSA waves you through with a smile. You even snag a spot for your luggage in the overhead compartment. All is wonderful in your world.

Then you hear an altercation, which turns into screaming and pleading. Welcome to United’s Flight 3411 from O’Hare to Louisville: a classic case of exactly how not to treat customers or clients.

THINGS TO CONSIDER

Practice mindful listening. Think back to the last time you felt truly listened to. Made you feel pretty good, right? In today’s hyper-connected world, people want results immediately and attention spans are shorter than ever. Train yourself to focus your attention on your clients. Make sure you’re truly listening rather than simply waiting for your turn to speak.

Put yourself in the client’s shoes. Based on what you hear, you’re better equipped to see things from their point of view. A multitude of things could be going on in their lives, and it’s up to you to cut through the noise and figure it out. What might they be going through? Are they directing their aggression towards you even though it’s really meant for someone else? Is it their busy season, so they’re complaining about having “yet another thing on my plate”?

Treat others like you’d like to be treated. This goes hand-in-hand with putting yourself in the client’s shoes. Don’t you prefer when someone listens to you and helps get to the bottom of an issue instead of treating you like an inconvenience?

No one wants to be on the receiving end of an angry email. One wedding caterer ended up in the hot seat after an employee went off on a client over “excessive” demands. The client then took to the internet to show the world what shockingly horrible customer service the company had. After months of bad press, word of mouth, and slumping business, the company threw in the towel and shuttered itself.

Some people simply enjoy complaining and won’t be happy with anything. Sometimes no matter how nice you are to clients, they have a permanently bad attitude. They don’t always channel their feelings properly. As a result, a domino effect of bad vibes ripples through their lives. Don’t pass it on.

Be careful what you put into writing. This is a double-edged sword and can be extremely dangerous if it’s not wielded properly. On one side, it’s good to document actions that were taken in order to CYA. On the other (more dangerous) side, committing things to writing may come back to bite you later. For example, don’t put confidential information in an email to someone who isn’t covered under privilege. Nor should you talk negatively about another person because, unbeknownst to you, they may be BCC’d when you hit Reply All.

WHAT TO DISCUSS WITH YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM

What’s your current protocols for responding to unhappy clients? If you don’t have a system, get one fast.

Who’s responsible for responding to complaints? Does it make the most sense for the account manager or owner to respond? It depends on the nature of the situation. To the extent possible, empower those who work directly with clients with the flexibility to make decisions and take corrective action.

What form(s) is most appropriate? Automated email, personalized email, or telephone? Depending on the situation, it may also be beneficial have a combination.

What are you willing to do for the client? When’s it better to change vs. incurring the cost of attracting a new client? Does this vary depending on the client? If so, what are the cutoffs or metrics?

Are you receiving multiple complaints about the same thing? If so, how do you improve your offerings? Is this an opportunity for growth or a new service line? Can you reduce returns of defective products by looking at production?

Are clients researching you beforehand or are they pre-sold? More and more, clients are looking at online review sites such as Google, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, Trip Advisors, etc. Hence the first time potential clients “meet” you is online. Make sure your pages properly reflect your level of service.

NOW WHAT?

Breathe. If you feel you’re ready for battle or stressed out, take a moment to recalibrate.

Listen. You’d be amazed what you learn. There’s a reason you have two ears and one mouth.

Don’t take it personally (even if it is). This is especially hard when it’s about a decision you made, initiative you spearheaded, or a company you started. It’s your baby.

Don’t be defensive. No one wants to talk to someone who is confrontational.

Repeat back what you heard (or think you understand). Make sure the conversation is based on clarity. This reduces or eliminates miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Prepare (or refine) your customer service response plan. Now that you’ve brainstormed with your management team, put it into action.

Enhance your service and product offerings based on client feedback. Take customer service lemons and turn them into lemonade.

Learn more from wins and misses. When you document clients’ complaints/frustrations, don’t let them sit in a drawer and gather dust. Learn from them and make improvements.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Eden Gillott Bowe is President of strategic communications firm Gillott Communications http://www.gillottcommunications.com/ and is a former business professor. She resolves issues both in and outside the media’s glare — from celebrity scandals and corporate fraud to criminal and civil litigation. Eden’s been interviewed about brands in crisis by the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, the Washington Post, and Forbes. She’s worked in Manhattan, Seoul, and Los Angeles. She is the author of A Board Member’s Guide to Crisis PR and A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Our Sino-Am Leadership Program helps executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, https://lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.  We also have an affiliate in the UK who covers all of Europe so we are now a true multi-national company that can support our clients globally.

Ten Surefire Ways to Improve Your Sales Calls to Meet Monthly & Quarterly Goals

By Rob Hupp

In pursuing and successfully closing business with prospective clients or customers, it is often necessary to conduct one or more sales calls. Depending on the nature of your business (and location of your prospect), these calls can be biz man phone callconducted in person or by phone. The experience and information shared in this article are applicable to either type of sales call.

The purpose of the sales call is for both seller and buyer to determine whether or not there is sufficient overlap between the buyer’s needs and seller’s capabilities to merit considering doing business together. If this critical overlap is present, there are a number of questions, issues and challenges that both parties need to discuss and work out to achieve a mutually-beneficial business arrangement. The ten tips in this article are for sellers endeavoring to conduct more effective sales calls with their prospective buyers. (That said, prospective buyers, these tips are also relevant to you and your purchases.)

1) Follow a communications and discovery process and share the process with your prospect

Enlighten your prospect as to how you suggest going about determining whether or not it makes sense to work together. Outline the steps in the process and solicit their input and concurrence. “Typically when I first meet with the owner of a firm like yours, it makes sense to discuss Item A, Item B, and Item C. Are there any additional items for today’s meeting and do you agree with this list?”

As adults, surprises do not generally lead to positive outcomes. When both parties know what is going to happen next, it reduces anxiety and increases ability to focus resulting in enhanced communication.

2) Know what you want to accomplish in each meeting

Specifically what do you need to determine and communicate in your next meeting with a prospect? Just keeping the dialogue going is probably not a sufficiently specific goal for the upcoming call. You may need to determine delivery timeframes, budgetary constraints, and approval process.

There are usually two facets of communication and discovery that are going on here: first, substantive discussion of needs and potential solutions and second, based on this interaction, do we believe we can work together effectively? Most sales calls focus on the substance of the discussion and often minimize the significance of assessing ability to work together. If after several meetings you have misgivings about your ability to work together, it probably makes sense to address this concern in one of several ways.

3) Set an Up-front Contract for each meeting with the prospect

An Up-front Contract is more than a meeting agenda, but an agenda is a good start. In addition, it is worthwhile to explicitly identify beforehand the purpose of the meeting, how much time is set aside, attendees and acceptable outcomes of the meeting. The Up-front Contract is reviewed with the prospect and agreed to in advance of the meeting. It helps to eliminate those pesky surprises such as walking into a boardroom full of people when you expected to meet only with your prospect and the firm’s marketing director.

4) Prepare your list of questions and discussion paths beforehand

It is advantageous to formulate your list of key questions and discussion items prior to the meeting. By being prepared, biz woman with listyou are less likely to forget raising a very key item. More importantly, you are better able to focus your energy, intellect and attention on really listening to and absorbing what the prospect is saying. If you are less worried about what you are going to say or ask next, your listening and bonding and rapport are heightened.

5) Dial in to the prospect’s communication style and cues

As we are reminded, communication is more than merely words exchanged. Tonality and non-verbal cues such as body language can convey critical feedback. If you sense your buyer is being increasingly uncomfortable, take the heat yourself and offer up “I may be reading the situation incorrectly, but I am sensing you are uncomfortable with this discussion. Do I have this right, and what can we do to alleviate your discomfort?”

6) Follow the 70/30 rule

The rule is simple to state and more challenging to implement consistently: listen 70% of the time and talk 30% of the time. Use your 30% ‘talk time’ to ask the questions you prepared as well as to pose additional clarifying questions based on the prospect’s responses.

Sales calls are not the place to inundate the prospect with features, benefits, history of your company, etc. Sales calls are for you and your prospect to discover his problems/issues, constraints, etc. and agree on an approach to solve. By asking great questions, really listening, and seeking further clarification, you are facilitating more effective discovery and agreement. (Your prospect will not feel like he is being ‘sold.’)

7) Resist the urge to dispense free advice

As a professional in your field, you possess a wealth of knowledge and experience you are anxious to share with the world. STOP! At this preliminary stage of discussion, you may not yet know enough to accurately diagnose the prospect’s problem(s). You may be doing your prospective client and yourself a disservice. If you do solve the problem now or the prospect thinks you have offered up a solution, chances are you’re done and out.

Complete your discovery discussion with the prospect prior to proposing a solution, even if this means holding multiple sales call meetings. If the prospect pushes you for information prior to completing discovery, indicate you will summarize key findings at the end of each sales call.

8) Validate your assumptions and question what does not make sense

question mark manPattern recognition that comes with experience is a powerful tool in solving problems and offering solutions. That said, validate your key assumptions with this prospect. For example, if your prospect is going to have to undergo an extensive financial review to get approval for financing, determine your approach and timing for discussing this with him. Don’t assume everyone already understands such requirements and associated processes.

If in the course of discussion, you hear statements or assertions from the prospect that do not make sense based on your experience or industry practice, respectfully ask for clarification. Don’t provoke an argument but be brave and seek to achieve clarity.

9) Recap and summarize the results of the sales call with the prospect

At the end of the sales call meeting, compare notes with the prospect. Did you both hear the same things and reach the same conclusions? Are there specific issues or differences of opinion or perspective that need to be further analyzed and discussed? What will probably happen next in the discovery process? Can we set an Up-Front Contract for our next meeting or agree to a process and timeframe to set the next Up-front Contract?

10) Debrief the sales call just completed

Congratulations. Together we have made it to Number Ten. After each sales call, sit down with a colleague, an growing moneyaccountability partner, or just yourself and objectively debrief the call. How did you perform on the previous Nine Tip Areas summarized in this article? From the list of nine, identify 2 areas where you performed well and 2 areas for improvement. Be specific as possible. Additionally, review and handle follow-up items from the sales call meeting with your prospect.

Regardless of your business or profession, conducting effective sales calls is a critical skill to acquiring, developing and retaining customers. Don’t leave these important interactions to chance. Follow these steps and watch the impact on your business.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC and author of “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”, hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on hiring, please click here to see an article on this subject.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Rob Hupp is President of Roth|Hupp Growth Partners, Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in helping organizations and individuals increase their revenues through more effective sales and management practices. Rob can be reached at 310.890.3704 or via e-mail at rhupp@rhgp.com.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to  www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Your Secret Sales Machine (It’s Not What You Think)

By Tom FitzGerald & Linda Brakeall

It all began simply enough when a branch of Heartmann Woods (72 employees, two in sales) performed an audit of telephone calls.money catch biz woman

This was part of a biennial cost containment drive. The audit revealed that while the two sales people made about 40 calls a day, the other 70 non-sales people were making 200 calls a day, 1,000 calls a week, 50,000 a year.

Nearly all those outgoing calls were to clients. The 70 non-sales people received just as many incoming calls from clients. That totaled 400 calls a day, 2,000 calls a week, 100,000 a year. Previously all these calls were viewed as interfering with the serene production of information.

But this time a new thought occurred: Could those calls be an opportunity?

The 70 non-sales people understood at the gut level that when they connected with clients they reached people who wanted to talk, were willing, even eager, to make relationships. These clients were serious buyers and influentials — but did not think so. The 70 were inside the corporate defenses, inside the barriers to sales.

Every call, every conversation, contains the seed of a sale. A seed that extends the business relationship. A seed that identifies the influentials and the real buyers. A seed that uncovers new needs.

Recognizing this opportunity, the 100,000 seeds now fell on fertile ground. A new secret sales machine had been born — with 70 “stealth marketers” at the wheel.

Within two years that 70 became 300.

The Concepts of the Stealth Marketers

As with all successful business concepts, stealth marketing is profoundly simple. Underlying it are just six ideas:

1. Every “non-sales” call has already bypassed the corporate sales defenses.
2. The best source of business is current clients.
3. Every person in a client organization is a buyer, whether they know it or not.
4. Every person in your organization is a salesman, whether they know it or not.
5. Every call is a sales call.
6. Sell is not a four letter word.

The Hurdles

Stealth marketing requires:

1. An environment of continuing sales to existing customers. Most companies fit into this category.
2. A volume of customer contacts that exceeds official sales calls by a factor of five or better.
3. A commitment by the CEO to have all members of staff participate in and feel responsible for company sales.
4. A little ingenuity.

But when it came time to implement stealth marketing at Heartmann Woods, one difficulty could have stopped it cold: People were afraid to sell.

machineThough the company had been talking “sales” and “sales culture” for more than 15 years, most people still didn’t like the idea. Their resistance showed mostly in body language and performance but it was often articulated in words like, “What? I’m not in sales!”

Fortunately, the CEO had embraced the idea and encouraged managers to become entrepreneurs. But to get stealth marketing through the all too human inertia and built-in prejudice against selling, something extraordinary had to happen.

How to Start the Secret Sales Machine

The process can begin simply enough. Here’s how it worked at Heartmann Woods:

1. Non-sales staff, section by section, reviewed and tallied up how many human-to-human connections they made.
2. Non-sales staff listed their contacts and described how those contacts might buy for and influence their companies.
3. The boss introduced the raw numbers that underlie the company’s sales function — the first time most people had ever seen them.
4. The sales people told real stories. They described how difficult it is for a salesperson to get through on the phone. How nearly impossible it can be to get a prospect to disclose anything that they can use to begin a sale.

As the two salespeople opened up, the non-sales staff grew in awareness and sympathy. It became a kind of therapy for the sales department.

After that things got easier. The concept of the easiest sale being with current clients began to be understood at the gut level. The “non-sales” people could feel what such sales could do to the bottom line. And their paychecks.

Gradually, the “non-sales” 70 began to talk of the two sales people as “outside sales” and sidled up to the idea of themselves as “inside sales.” Non-sales as a term disappeared from use.

How to Overcome the Fear of Sales

For over 50 years, most people who are not in sales (and many who are!) have felt that selling is somehow distasteful. It is a feeling that many do not express, even to themselves. Unless that attitude is changed, major sales increases won’t happen.

If you doubt it, just ask your people what comes immediately to mind when you say “salesman.” The answer can be scary.

Here’s how Heartmann Woods overcame the bias:

1. Everyone took an anonymous “Sales Readiness” survey.
2. Each department got together with a sales person. The responses to the survey were the launching point for discussion. The deepest feelings, the hidden prejudices were brought into the open.
3. The discussion helped transform distorted beliefs.
4. Each section “adopted” a sales person to become his or her support system. She became their mentor.
5. Every section, every worker, discovered a way to contribute to the effort.
6. Supervisors helped refine the process.

One by one the departments accepted the challenge. They faced the truth about themselves and selling. They transformed their attitudes. They brainstormed and wrote scripts. They practiced. They called. And the clients loved it.

Rewards helped. And recognition, especially recognition, fueled the fire.end of rainbow

Almost from the first day, sales began to grow. Just a little at a time. But a month later, their average order had increased with almost every major client. Success bred optimism. Optimism bred success. Profits grew. Paychecks grew. It was a fun place to work.

Almost every company owns a gold mine of opportunity — a secret sales machine. It exists buried in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of daily calls to and from existing clients, to and from people who think of themselves as “non-sales.”

Stealth marketing generates good will and sales. It gives staff a sense of deep participation in the life and future of their company. And it is fun.

Created for Vistage View. Copyright 2014, Vistage International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tom FitzGerald is President of FitzGerald Associates (www.ManagementConsultants.com) headquartered in Lake Forest, IL. FitzGerald Associates specialize in Profit/Productivity Improvement, Corporate Performance Prediction, Corporate Renewal and Preemptive and Early Decline Turnaround. They have worked in this arena since 1976. Tom is the author of Fire in the Corporate Belly: Renewing the Company – Body, Soul & Bottom Line. Tom can be contacted at Fitz@ManagementConsultants.com or 847-599-9960.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners.  How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Paying for Sales Results

By Karen Jorgensen

Sales is the easiest part of the business model to incentivize. Despite this apparent ease or maybe because of it, it doesn’t take much experience to see that sales is the business function that most decision makers incentivize poorly.

The dynamics of sales continue to change even faster than changing times. With a global economy, technological advances, business expansions and mergers, the sales biz man on dockfunction is constantly adapting to new ways of operation. Cell phones, point of sales computers and telemarketing improve the sales effort and require new ways of doing business.

The sales function does not operate as independently as in the past. In fact, the sales function must work in close relationship with customer service, market research, engineering and advertising. A good salesperson knows how to expedite products and has important relationships with the company.

Client/Customer relationships have become key to the sales function. The emphasis in many businesses has shifted to a relationship sell. The sales person must nurture relationships with existing customers who aren’t ordering at the same time he or she is working with the customers who are ordering.

How Do You Compensate Sales Performance?

Clearly stated objectives are critical to developing sales team compensation. Do you want the compensation plan to encourage increased volume, specific products, profitability, new business, relationships or retention? The objectives of a sales plan should change at least yearly based on market opportunities, competition, new products and technology. Prior to developing any sales team incentives, the objectives must be clearly identified and agreed upon by all key executives.

Pay philosophy must take into account the technical know-how of the sales personnel, as well as the difficulty of the sale, training and risk of the business. A small business or a start-up is going to be riskier for a salesperson. An unknown product from a new company is harder to sell.

Smaller companies with less established products tend to pay sales personnel higher base salaries. Bigger, more established firms have lower base pay. The lower pay of big companies is offset by training, benefits, promotional opportunities, a known product and service, and more perks.

Pay philosophy also must establish who is the sales team. What is the role of marketing, customer service, advertising or installation in the sales process? Are there non-sales functions that require time from the sales team, such as maintaining relationships, servicing accounts or providing technical information?

Individual sales goals create competition, not cooperation. A company needs to evaluate how much reward or incentive should be tied to the total team. The trend in most industries is toward more team-related sales incentives.

Simple Sales Goals

Competitive pay practices are an important factor in setting sales compensation. Researching what is happening in the industry, the expected average profits of other companies and predicted sales growth is very important.

biz woman watering plantIn designing sales incentives, sales personnel input can be very valuable. Discussing goals and expectations with sales personnel also can help overcome their resistance to change. Of all types of work teams, the sales function understands reward processes the best. These team members usually have excellent input into what needs to change, how measurements can be improved and what team expectations need to be rewarded.

A sales incentive questionnaire can be used to gather information from the sales force. This can be done one-on-one or in a focus group. All members of the sales team should participate.

When rolling out a new sales plan, we recommend the new plan be designed to be more lucrative if goals are met than the old plan. We also feel that if you obtain sales input during the research phase, the actual rollout and acceptance of the plan will be easier.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

JorgensenHR is a BestPRACTICES human resource solutions firm that helps clients create additional value in their business or organization through well-designed, customized human resources management solutions. These include our BestHRSolutions products and services for HR outsourcing, training, affirmative action, investigations, policies, compensation, recruitment, HR assessments, and We Want to Know Hotline. For more information, please contact Linda Harris at (661)600-2070, email her at lharris@jorgensenhr.com or visit the company website, http://jorgensenhr.com/

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Would You Like Some Fries with That Sales Hire?

By Barry Deutsch

We’ve put over 25,000 hiring executives and managers through our Hire With Your Head workshop in the last 7-8 years. Our executive search firm has been involved in thousands of executive searches over the last 20 years. We’ve collected an impressive array of anecdotal and quantifiable data on the success and failure of hiring practices in many different companies. One of the most difficult hires for an entrepreneurial or middle-market company is either choosing an internal sales hire or picking an independent rep organization.bldg fries

The most interesting trend we continually observe is that hiring executives and managers often approach the hiring or selection process as though they were ordering fast food at the drive-through, particularly for sales hires. First they scan the menu to see what’s offered, then they pick the top three or four things they want. “I’ll take one MBA, with a BSME, a 3.5 GPA or better, and don’t forget three years of sales experience in the machine tool sector.” While ordering this way at local hamburger joint almost always produces exactly what you want, it doesn’t work nearly as well for hiring.

When I teach hiring executives and managers about the hiring or selection process, whether they are picking internal sales people or external reps, I always ask, “How many of you have ever hired a partially competent sales person?” The answer is frequently YES for a majority of the workshop participants. Why? Because the current process of defining what the hiring executive or manager is looking for is hopelessly flawed.

The typical hiring executive or manager, and in truth many recruiters, approach each new hiring assignment with a list of qualifications. This list becomes codified in the official job description which includes some level of education (an MBA from UCLA), some level of experience (three years of sales experience), and some core traits or characteristics (self-starter or good communicator). What they don’t tell you is what the person actually needs to DO in the job to be a superior performer. As it turns out, these lists of attributes are poor substitutes for superior performance.

For example, the typical job description for a sales rep position might include a list of criteria such as: MBA, five years sales experience in a particular industry, good product knowledge, an available “rolodex”, good organization skills and closing capability. Each of these descriptors focuses on the candidate HAVING certain skills or levels of experience. But the don’t say anything about what the candidate has been actually DOING. And it’s PAST PERFORMANCE, not past experience, that is THE BEST PREDICTOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.

The next time you recruit for a new position, particularly in sales, try this first:

Take a list of the HAVING job criteria and convert it into a DOING-oriented statement, covering how you expect the candidate to actually perform.

When you take this approach, everything changes. Instead of asking in the interview, “Do you have five years of sales experience in our particular industry?” you can now ask something much more revealing: ” Can you give me an example where you joined a new company and had to come up to speed on their product offerings in an abbreviated timeframe, and where you had to quickly develop a plan in the first 30 days to meet quota. The answer to the second question will uncover true past performance faster — and much more accurately — than simply checking off a list of HAVING-oriented job criteria.

Taking the time to define superior performance allows you to focus on what a candidate has done in the past that is directly relevant to the job you are asking them to do for you.

Here are some hints to help you get started defining superior performance:

First, make a list of the top 5-8 things a person must DO to be successful in the job. These are called performance objectives, and could include some of the following key areas:

  • Management or Organizational Issues
  • Changes and Improvements you’d like to see implementedtreasure crest keys
  • Problems that might arise (or ones that already exist)
  • Technical Issues
  • Team and People Issues
  • Projects and Deliverables

Once you have a list of objective you need to prioritize them.

Focus only on major objectives and the interim steps necessary to achieve them. We call these S.M.A.R.T. objectives (S for Specific, M for Measurable, A for Action-oriented, R for Results, T for Time-based).  An example of a sales objective might be: Develop a plan of action within 60 days to increase sales by 15% at the top 20% of accounts within the Western Region within 12 months. Another objective might be: Be prepared within 30 days of start date to make a formal 30 minute Powerpoint presentation to your first major customer – create a fast-track learning process to fully understand the customer benefits of our equipment within the first 2 weeks.

Writing SMART objectives isn’t as easy as ordering fast food . It takes practice, some effort, and a little time. But it’s well worth the investment. Your definition of superior performance becomes the basis for writing great ads, assessing true competency during the interview, and courting the right candidates. And you’re hiring mistakes won’t have you reaching for the Tums so often in the middle of the night. 

Barry Deutsch, MA is a well-known thought leader in hiring and peak performance management. He is a frequent and sought-after speaker for management meetings, trade associations, and CEO forums, such as Vistage International, formerly known as TEC, a worldwide CEO membership organization of more than 15,000 CEOs and senior executives. Many of his clients view him as their virtual Chief Talent Officer. Vistage International named Barry “IMPACT Speaker of the Year”… Barry is also frequently asked to present IMPACT Hiring Solutions award-winning programs on hiring, retention, and motivating top talent and leverages a vast knowledge base of 25 years in the executive search field, with a track record of successful placements in multi-billion dollar Fortune 100 companies, entrepreneurial firms, and middle-market high-growth businesses. He has worked closely with thousands of CEOs and key executives to help improve hiring success, leverage human capital, and raise the bar on talent acquisition. Barry earned his BA and MA from the American University in Washington, D.C. Prior to his executive search career, Barry held positions of responsibility in Finance and General Management with Mattel, Beatrice Foods, and Westinghouse Cable. Barry is a co-author of the book, You’re Not The Person I Hired. You can reach him at barry@impacthiringsolutions.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article.  © 2014   

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

 

5 Tips for Making Smart Marketing Decisions

By Bob Hougland

Just about every business is impacted in some way during challenging times, but businesses often lack the wiggle room to adapt. Consider the following as you look at your own situation:

1. Don’t make hurried, short-term decisions.

In a financial crunch, businesses often slash or eliminate expenses for things they can “do without.” In most cases, this can prove to be a short-term action with detrimental long-term consequences. First, if it’s something you can truly do without, it’s not likely that you would have been paying for it all along. Second, if you cut or eliminate something just telescope teamto save money without considering the impact on your overall operations, you’re selling yourself short. Rather than drop anything completely, consider reducing your expenditures in several areas to achieve the necessary economy. Consider involving at least your key people, if not your entire staff, in discussion of economization. You may be surprised by some of the ideas they have, and you’ll help maintain morale if they understand your situation and are given the opportunity to kick in their thoughts.

2. Don’t try to take up all the slack.

Part of the entrepreneurial spirit is rolling up your sleeves and doing whatever needs to be done. That’s certainly a viable position in difficult times, but don’t let it go too far. Your job is to stay focused on the big picture and to guide your company into the future, and you can’t do that if you’re bogged down for extended period in day-to-day details. Maintain your position at the helm, but pitch in where you can be most effective. Also, make sure that time-consuming activities are being performed by someone at the lowest appropriate cost-per-hour.

3. Tweak, rather than slash, your marketing program.

Over the years, I’ve seen countless companies dramatically curtail or even drop some or all of their marketing plans when finances are tight. Most often, I’ve seen advertising cut or even stopped entirely. That’s a false economy. First, there are still prospects and customers out there. That means opportunities to develop your existing accounts and generate new accounts out of what remains of your market. As some of your non-accounts become dissatisfied with their present suppliers because of cutbacks that competitor has made, they become qualified prospects for you. You need to maintain your presence in the marketplace and demonstrate your stability and reliability under any market conditions. Second, your competitors are still in place, and they will react to changes in the economy in various ways. Some will cut their advertising or reduce their services. Others will bite the bullet and maintain their marketing activities. Either way, don’t lose sight of the reality that you need to maintain your slice of the pie (i.e., your market share) regardless of the size of that pie, and you can actually carve out a bigger slice in down times by acquiring new accounts from your competitors. So, what about advertising? You can economize on advertising by decreasing your frequency. If you’re running an ad every week or every month, drop back to every other week or month. Cutting your frequency in half doesn’t cut your impact in half, and some people may not even notice the difference. Take a critical look at where you’re advertising. It’s likely that all of the media you are using aren’t equal in their penetration of your most important kinds of prospects, so make larger cuts among the least effective media. Don’t drop any one ad medium entirely since multi-media advertising is proven to provide the most bang for your buck. Cut back on each medium, but keep all in play. Also, maintain your memberships in trade associations and other organizations which get you and your company exposure. Continue to be seen and heard by your marketplace. Look for new opportunities to be interviewed or to publish articles in your area of expertise. That kind of exposure can have greater impact than paid advertising.

4. Keep your sales program alive.

One of my active clients has begun picking up some new accounts in recent weeks because a competitor has pulled his sales force off of all accounts below a certain dollar value and has ordered his sales staff to cut their travel in half. Some of their customers have reacted with resentment at not being seen as “important enough,” while others see a loss of the former level of customer service. Yes, some limits on travel can probably be made, but don’t do anything drastic which will be seen by your marketplace as pulling back. Your customers will understand less frequent sales calls, especially with the cost of gas. Keep your sales incentives in place and discuss with your sales staff the tactics and appeals to win over new customers from among those becoming dissatisfied with one of your competitors. Rather than dropping your prices, consider premiums or freebees to add value to your transactions.

5. Do seize on the opportunity to prepare for the future.

Take a step back with a critical look at your operation. Are you really organized for peak performance and optimum efficiency? Are there improvements you could make that will better your bottom line permanently? I remember from my military officer training that they stressed the best decisions are those which are made calmly and rationally before the map and manneed to implement them arises. Are your difficulties in dealing with a slow market perhaps due to your lack of advanced contingency planning? Business, like the economy, always goes in cycles. How well have you already prepared for a down cycle? Often, job descriptions have evolved from the skills of the people in the particular positions rather than from the functional needs of the business. Are you set up on a strict, vertical department basis? That may work, but you may also be missing opportunities to improve your overall processes so that there is better coverage of an entire process during a temporary or permanent absence. Have you effectively delegated both authority and accountability? If not, you’re missing an important means of optimizing your company’s performance. If you don’t have a Business Plan or Marketing Plan, create one now. Why? Studies have shown that we’re all most careful about what we commit to paper. A documented plan gives you a roadmap through good and bad times by making you think through your activities. General Eisenhower said that the planning for D-Day in WWII was obsolete when the attack was actually launched, but that it was all of the thinking and discussion that went into the plan that prepared our forces for victory.

Look at economic changes as opportunity rather than a problem. A glass-half-full approach will get you farther than a glass-half-empty start.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Bob Hougland holds a BA in Psychology and is a Vietnam vet with almost 5 years’ USAF active duty. He began his business career in the fast-track executive development program at AT&T, but sought out smaller employers. For most of a decade, he held sales management positions at L.A. radio stations KIIS, 93KHJ, and K-EARTH101, and created a successful marketing consulting division for RKO General Radio. With both sales management and marketing management awards under his belt, he founded RGH MARKETING. He now is the Owner/Consultant at SuperTemp where he continues his career of helping good organizations be better, new ones to get off the ground and bringing some back from the brink of failure. He is a strategist who sees opportunities where others see problems and bring lessons learned in a wide range of industries to bear on new situations. He can be reached at 803-774-7777 or SuperTemp@pacbell.net or you can read his blog at http://businessguy.biz/.

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance – Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant. We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz? Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to Contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.