Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Defining Sales Success – The Art and Science of A Sales Managed Environment®

Tags: Sales Tracking, sales performance coaching, responsibilities of sales manager, how to hit goals in sales

I'm sure someone from the Harvard Business Review or the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business could prove otherwise, but when it comes to defining success, I don’t believe there is an art to it.

Artbusiness.com

  • DeWitt Cheng, freelance art writer and critic, Bay Area, CA: Jorge Luis Borges wrote," Art has become, in the experimental 20th and 21st centuries, impossible to define."
  • Robert Berman, Robert Berman Gallery, Los Angeles: "Reality is by agreement. The reality of art is usually by some kind of agreement. The arbiters are the museums, the museum curators, the people who spend their lives and their time actually being critical of what they see and judging what they see. If you add in four or five art critics who are then able to write about it, if you get four or five major collectors who are passionate about what they collect to patronize it, and several major auction houses to auction it, then a consensus or vetting process begins to unfold."cat art.png

I don’t have the space to include, and you don’t have time to continue to read, all the articles available when I google "What Makes a Work of Art Successful", so we’ll let these two quotes validate that, when it comes to defining sales success, it is best not to be arbitrary or hope for a consensus.

Science Defined by Merriam Webster:

1:  the state of knowing :  knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding

2a :  a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study the science of theology  b :  something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge have it down to a science.

It is safe to say that if, within your sales managed environment®, you have "defining success" down to a science, then you will be in a better position to identify:

  • Metrics that determine success
  • What leading indicators lead to success (kind of like a math problem – although there are a multitude of formulas you could use to arrive at the number 4, there are probably only a couple that people would use:
    • 2 +2
    • 3 +1
    • The square root of 16
  • Define the goal to be achieved – it’s a number or a definitive outcome.

But…

Maybe there is something beside the math/science that has to go into it.  I’m not sure it’s art (so I would love to hear from you what you think it is…) but here is what’s been noodling in my head for a couple of days.

This basketball season, Northwestern University of the Big Ten Conference, beat Michigan (Sorry, Jack, Mark and Marty...) with a buzzer beater full court pass and short jump shot.  Take a look here:  NCAA Video

In the aftermath, every sportscaster was talking about how this was the most wins in NWU history, it will be the first time EVER that the school has made it to the NCAA tournament and the coach, Chris Collins, has increased the number of wins every year he has been the head coach at the University.  With the win over Michigan, they recorded their 21st win of the season.  This information would lead us to believe that Coach Collins is successful because you are comparing his results to a standard that is generally accepted as success:  Winning 20 games a season and qualifying for the NCAA tournament.

The head coach at Columbia University with the most wins is Lou Little.  Lou coached the Lions to 110 victories!  When Coach Ray Tellier retired from Columbia in 2002, the article announcing his retirement declared that he was the 2nd all-time “winningest” coach in Columbia’s history behind Lou Little.  When I read this, I was impressed and happy for him; Coach Tellier was an assistant coach at the University of Connecticut when I played there.

What I didn’t know at the time of the article, but found out later, was that Coach Tellier, over a 13-year period, lead his teams to victory 42 times - a 30.7% winning record.  And he was second on the list at Columbia.  Coach Little, with the most wins, had a winning percentage of 48.8% and averaged just over 4 wins a season over a 26-year career as the head coach at Columbia.

What does this have to do with selling and determining sales success? Everything.

Companies collect lots of data and sales managers do their very best to spin a good story when outcomes are not equal to or greater than expectations (goals).  Here are some examples of how outcomes are described when attempting to put a good spin on a bad outcome:

  • We are trending the right direction
  • Our year over year production is positive
  • We are outperforming our peer group
  • We have gone from #____ in stack ranking to #______
  • We will finish in the top percentile of our district
  • _____% of our team will qualify for incentive compensation

Those descriptions tell you nothing about how a team is actually performing.

What to do instead:

  • Identify metrics that are critical success factors for your organization. (In most organization the #1 metric is revenue – it pays the bills.)
  • Establish standards for those metrics that exceed previous performance levels and are consistent with what the market will allow. (You wouldn’t expect an operating unit in Bangor Maine to produce the same loan revenue as you would an operating unit in Manhattan.)
  • Make sure you are looking at execution metrics so that your success is duplicable and you can identify choke points when there is failure.

Do this now:

  • Call me about Scorecards for sales opportunities – 513.226.3913

Why Do Sales People Leave Companies? - Management

Tags: sales talent acquisition, sales performance coaching, responsibilities of sales manager

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR A $450 BILLION PROBLEM

According to the article, People Leave Managers, Not Companies by Victor Lipman, the research is unanimous in the premise that managers are directly responsible for the productivity of the people they manage.

Gallup data shows 30% of employees “engaged.” Towers Watson data shows 35% “highly engaged.” Dale Carnegie data shows 29% “fully engaged.” And these aren’t small studies; the Gallup survey includes more than 350,000 respondents and the Towers Watson survey includes more than 32,000. Gallup goes on to estimate an annual cost in lost U.S. productivity of more than $450 billion. This is a staggering figure. Even if it’s imprecise, it gives a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

INTERESTED IS NOT ENGAGED

My mandolin teacher is a better player than he is a teacher. I’ve not had music lessons before so I may not be an accurate judge of what makes a good music teacher, but I have been taught and coached before.  The best ones have always engaged me by first understanding what I wanted to accomplish, getting a feel for my current state (skill level) and assessing my commitment to being better.  I’ve not had this discussion with John at all. The starting point in my lessons was him jumping in and telling me about keys, chords, progressions and scales.  I might as well take Greek lessons.  I was interested… but not engaged.

lessons-playing.jpg

“LOSING THE SCHOLARSHIP”

I will not seek out another instructor… nor will I tell him he’s ineffective as a teacher because he spends his time showing off stuff that will take me years to learn while I pick my way through the Godfather Theme for the 1000th time.  Why?  Because I don’t have time to seek out someone else, I am learning something and, most importantly, I'm not going to “lose my scholarship” if I don’t get Country Boy by John Denver.

What does this have to do with managers, specifically sales managers? Everything.

I will admit that I just signed up for the music instructor that they had available.

  • Kind of like a salesperson taking a job and really not knowing the qualifications of the manager that will be leading them to success.

I will admit that I’m approaching music as a pastime and not like my life or my retirement plans depend on my music skills.

  • Kind of like a salesperson taking a new sales role and really not understanding what the expectations are for success in the first 90 days
  • Kind of like salespeople already on the staff that are “at leasters” and aren’t worried about their position because, as long as there are people below them on the stack ranking, they won’t “lose their scholarship” (job).

TWO POSSIBILITIES… ONE EVENTUAL OUTCOME

Eventually, one of two things happen:

  1. The company catches up with the WITALAIITUs and the salespeople get put on PIPs. They respond well enough to keep their job or they immediately start looking for a new one.
  2. Or they get fed up with the hassles of performing better without any significant support, training or coaching to help them get better and so they leave.

THE PROBLEM PERSISTS BECAUSE BUSINESS ALLOWS IT

At the end of the day, the turnover ratios in the company continue to put a drain on profitability. HR and hiring managers explain it all away as “the nature of our business”. 

It’s the nature of the business only because business allows it to be so. They allow ineffective recruiting, poor on-boarding, sloppy or missing solid performance management and last, but not least, the continuation of ineffective of coaching.

3 SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM NOW

What to do?  These three things will get you started:

  1. Start with Better Ingredients - Like the cooking analogies I’ve used before, start with fresh ingredients. In this case, I mean start with better people.  I don’t mean people that are just better from a moral or ethical perspective, although that's normally pretty important.  In this case, I mean start with people that fit your culture and will do well on the scorecard for success.

Sample Scorecard For Success:

scorecard-2.png

  1. Have a Supportive Sales Managed Environment® - You have to have the structure in place so that the person in charge of running the show won’t have excuses or reasons to fail.  Essentially, you need to have systems in place for:
    1. Performance management
    2. Upgrading the sales force
    3. Motivating the sales team
    4. Coaching for success
    5. Recruiting top talent
  2. Management with a Coaching Bias - Phil Jensen spoke of the 3rd factor (as it relates to coaching) several years ago at an Ecsell Institute Sales Management Summit. The concept is simple.  There are two factors that most of us rely on to function and succeed – Nature and Nurture.  Jensen suggest that people also rely on a third factor – in the case of successful managers, they have a “coaching bias”. That is their 3rd factor.  They care more about developing people than they do anything else.  They experience success as a result of the success of the people they are coaching.

Additional Resources:

No More Hiring Mistakes. Guaranteed! – http://www.hirebettersalespeople.com

Identify Your Systems and Processes – Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis Sample

Intentional Sales Coaching – You Can’t Coach "Tall"

Tags: improve sales, sales performance coaching, development of sales, sales recruiitment

YOUR BIGGEST UNDETECTED CHALLENGE

One of the biggest challenges, mostly an undetected challenge, is providing coaching that is customized and intentional to the individual need.  I say “undetected” because most, if not all, of the time coaching is done based on symptoms:

symptom-chart1.png

I could add another 10 symptoms to the list, but I’m sure this has already caused you some nausea.  It doesn’t matter if you are a sales manager attempting to do the coaching or the sales person on the receiving end of the coaching, you probably feel the same way.  I’m tired of sales training, I’m tired of going to the same classes over and over again, I’m tired of telling my people they have to do a better job at cross-selling, getting introductions, networking and asking for the business.

In the end, everyone is sick and tired because, after all the training time, after all the role-playing and after all the investment of money, you look at the results and not a lot has changed.  How come? Well, because you can’t coach TALL.

YOU CAN’T COACH “TALL”

My daughter (recently engaged - thank you) played basketball in 7th grade.  She then tried volleyball but found her love of performing in front of others, not on the fields or courts of athletics, but on the stage of music and theatre. 

I was watching her basketball practice one day and was thinking she had a chance to be a player on the high school team, but she would need a lot of work on the fundamentals: handling the ball, keeping the ball up when rebounding and pivoting while in the low post.  After practice, I went to the coach and asked him what he thought. 

Like a lot of coaches who have to address parents when they ask about their child’s skill and potential, he couched his remarks carefully.  He stated what I had been thinking about her skills and fundamentals and then he said that she would still probably be a starter.  Somewhat surprised, I asked, “How come?”  He said, “You can’t teach tall.”

You see, Alex in 7th grade was already almost 6’ tall.  She could out rebound people because they simply couldn’t reach the balls that she could reach.  She was good enough on defense and blocked out well so she had some things going for her that helped her overcome any weaknesses she had that might have kept a shorter player from being a starter. (Watch this exception to the rule.)  Besides, she had dad, a former coach, to keep her working hard and disciplined. 

Alex-tall.png

 **Note:  Alex’s height created an interesting sight on the stage when she played the queen in Cinderella.  With her hair pushed up on her head and a crown she was at least 6’4”.  The leading man… about 5’4”.  It was funny.

INTENTIONAL COACHING IS ALL ABOUT THE ROOT

The thing about intentional coaching is that, in order to get changes in behaviors and improvement in skills, you have to understand the root cause of the problem:

symptom-chart2.png

The coaching required to address the symptoms is not teaching them a new technique or process.  It is not enrolling them in a wealth certification program.  It is not having them take a time management course.  The coaching required has to address the root issue.  For example...

Problem: I don’t have time to prospect. I have too much account management work to do.

Solution(s):  Assign account managers (and they still won’t prospect, they’ll just find another excuse) or enroll them in a time management class.

ADDRESSING THE ROOT CAUSE IS REALLY THIS SIMPLE

SO…that isn’t the answer for dealing with excuses (audio). 

The solution is to ask them, “If I didn't let you use that as an excuse, what would you be doing differently?”

This addresses the root issue.  I can guess that you’re thinking that it cannot be that simple. I assure you can call anyone of the hundreds of salespeople we’ve coached or salespeople we’ve trained and they will ALL tell you that IT makes a difference.  It changes things because you’re now dealing with the correct end of the problem!

KNOW ABOUT ROOT ISSUES WHEN HIRING

Finally, think about the candidates that you are hiring. There are things they have to come to the table with that you cannot coach or you don't have time to coach. Take a look at this screen shot of the sample pre-hire assessment we use to guarantee no more hiring mistakes:

omg-pic-2.pngWouldn’t you want to know in advance that they had desire and commitment to be successful in SELLING?  How helpful would it be to know in advance that they will struggle with rejections but they will be great talking about money?  Take a look at the next shot:omg-pic-3.png

Even though there are some obvious areas of weakness, this candidate is recommended for hire. (When a hire is made based on a "recommended for hire" finding, like this candidate, 92% of the time that candidate will be a successful sales person.) The benefit of having this information is that, if you were to hire this individual, you would know the extent of your "project" and exactly what you would need to do to help them be successful in your organization.

However, having said that, there are still factors that need to be considered. Look at the work that has to be done... AND notice this: the findins say they are trainable but are not considered coachable.  Do you want to take that on? Do you have the bandwidth to take that on?  If not, then this is a hire that shouldn’t be made.  Now, consider how many of your people today might look like this and what’s that costing you?

Additional Resources:

Why Sales Coaching is to Growing Like Low & Slow is to Tasty BBQ

Tags: Sales Tracking, Sales Coaching, sales performance coaching, sales productivity

It’s this simple:  If you want great barbeque ribs, brisket or chicken, the key is low temperature and slow cooking. Having said that, if you want maximum flavor and tenderness, make sure you sear or char the meat first, then go low and slow.  This is an undeniable truth.  Just read the Science of Cooking and discover all the neat things you can do to improve the outcome of any meal.

EXPERIENCE DOESN'T GUARANTEE FUTURE SUCCESS

20 years in sales does not guarantee future success.  Just ask anyone that has lost a sale at any time in their career.  Something always happens just a little bit differently.  If there isn’t an adjustment, a lesson or some learning as a result, then the salesperson is prone to repeating the sames mistakes or errors over and over again.

When you effectively coach your people, they will get better.  When they get better, you will close more business, more quickly at higher margins.  This is undeniable as well.  Just look at the information provided by The Sales Management Association.  **FYI - it’s also undeniable that a lack of coaching has a negative impact on sales success and talent development!

(Bob Rotella – coach to PGA Tour Players – Author – How Champions Think)

golf-coach.jpg

THERE IS ALWAYS TIME TO COACH

In our Sales Management Certification Program, we discuss 5 Keys to Coaching for Success in our coaching module. These 5 keys cover what to do and how to do it when you are face-to-face with your salespeople. Many managers, before going through our certification, complain/tell me/make excuses that there isn’t enough time to effectively coach their people.  I don’t buy it. There are several opportunities for coaching without adding to an already busy schedule:

  1. Sales meetings
    1. Segment on sales training
    2. Role-playing phone calls to get appointments
    3. Role-playing conversations to get appointments with internal partners
    4. Role-play how to position financial planning
    5. Overcoming objections
    6. Appropriately dealing with questions, and stalls.
  2. Pre–call strategy sessions
  3. Post-call debriefing sessions
  4. 1-on-1 intentional coaching sessions
  5. Ad-hoc moments when they ask you if you have a minute
  6. Every time they give you an excuse for lack of effort or execution

IN-THE-MOMENT COACHING VS. COACHING FOR SUCCESS

Coaching does take place today, but most of it is in the moment. Kind of like when a coach calls a time out in a game. The team is gathered around the coach and a strategy is developed to take advantage of the “in the moment” opportunity. Normally, that’s the type of coaching that takes place in sales – in the moment.  That type of coaching helps close a sale, get an appointment, and/or move an opportunity through the pipeline, but it does nothing to change behavior or improve skills!

Do you find yourself or your sales managers constantly covering the same ground to close deals, improve effort or refine execution?  Are opportunities getting stuck in the pipeline in the same spot for the same reasons over and over?  When you look at the performance (effectiveness and productivity, not just the results), do you see actual improvement in sales ratios like average size sale, conversion ratios from opportunities to closes and average production for each quintile in the team?

Those are the types of metrics that determine if your coaching is effective!  Failure to collect that data leads to failure of the effectiveness of your sales manager and your sales team.  Collecting the data and then doing nothing about it leads to lackluster enthusiasm for entering data, thus limiting the integrity of your forecasting.

THE 5 KEYS FOR COACHING SUCCESS

So, let’s assume for a second that 1) you are collecting data and  2) you are creating opportunities to coach people.  We can now discuss The 5 Keys for Coaching for Success.

  1. Gain insight from data points: Your data points have to include data (numbers representing leading and lagging indicators), observational opportunities via joint calls, and observations made during role plays in meetings.

    The data points you have should not be a secret to your people. Share with them what you know and what you’ve observed.  Prior to meeting with them, call them to set up the coaching meeting. Tell them that the data you have indicates there might be some problems with them hitting their established extraordinary goal.  (Remember the extraordinary goal discussion?) Then tell them that you want to meet with them during your established coaching hours. Set the appointment.
  1. Provide feedback: Now that you both have the date, you don’t have to ask the worse possible question in your meeting, “So, Joe, what’s going on?”  Instead, you acknowledge that you’ve looked at the numbers and they’ve looked at the numbers and then you ask a question about the problem that you see.

    Let’s pretend that you see a choke point where his conversion of conversations isn’t leading to the assumed number of appointments. All the other assumptions look good, but - because the conversion is off - the number of appointments isn’t meeting the goal.  Without this information, the only coaching you can do is to tell Joe that he needs to see more people. But, with all the data, you see that the effort is there – the dials and discussions – but that effort isn’t leading to appointments.

    Instead of pointing that out, you ask Joe what he sees when he looks at the conversation ratio compared to the model in the success formula.  Assuming Joe sees the same thing as you, you are now in a position to ask further questions.  The key here is that both parties must agree as to what the problem is.

  2. Demonstrate what you expect to be done: In this case, you would listen to Joe’s approach to converting conversations to appointments.  You would identify areas where he might need to change or improve his approach and you demonstrate what that would look/sound like.

  3. Role–play: Now that you’ve demonstrated what you expect, you role-play various situations with Joe giving him several different responses.

  1. Action step: It is critical that every coaching session ends with an action step.  An example of that would be to agree to a number of calls that Joe is going to make over a short period of time (i.e. by the end of the day or week) and then instruct him to report back to you (on a specific day and time) the outcome of his effort.

(Click here for 9 critical coaching skills)

STOP WASTING YOUR MONEY ON SALES TRAINING

Understand that this might be an ongoing process for Joe, and you may have to take a more disciplined approach to his coaching and execution of the skills he is struggling with.  At the end of the day, the key is to recognize that improvement is vital for sales growth.  You cannot expect to grow sales without improving effort and/or execution. If you want to improve sales, invest your money in developing your sales managers and stop wasting money on sales training until your managers can and will coach.

Additional Resources:

Demo online Sales Learning Module

Sales Managed Environment® Certification Module – Free Document

Overcoming the Sales Goal Deficit – The Tom Brady Version of Sales Management

Tags: sales performance coaching, how increase sales, responsibilities of sales manager, teamwork coaching

Super Bowl LI was something special to watch - unless you are a Falcons fan and then it was a disaster.  You could see it happen right before your eyes. The Patriots struggled in the first quarter while the Falcons had complete control of every aspect of the game.  And then… it happened.

Depending on what expert you listen to, there are a variety of plays in the game that you could point to and declare, “That was the turning point!” Even though I played a lot of football (13 years), coached a lot of football (6 years) and watched a lot of football (50+ years), I’m no expert – but I believe the play below was the turning point in the game.  (Click to view on Youtube.)

Falcons-Patriots-youtube.png

In my opinion, it happened in the third quarter.  As you can see in the upper left hand corner of the picture, it’s 3rd and 8 with 4:49 left in the quarter and the Patriots are down 28-3.  So far in the game, they hadn’t had much success at all.  In their five possessions in the first half, they had punted 3 times and had 2 turnovers.  On this play, with no one open to throw to, Brady did something he rarely does – he ran with the ball.

2016

New England Patriots

12

28

2.3

64

2.3

5.3

0

15

10

35.7

0

0

1

Brady’s record shows that he had only run with the ball 28 times in 12 games.  That’s a mere 2.3 rushes per game with a total of only 5.3 yards per game.  His longest run in 15 years accounted for nearly 25% of the total yards he gained the entire season… and he fumbled once.  If you were going to run the ball to gain 8 yards for a critical 1st down, the last guy you would call on to do that would be Tom Brady. If, however, the game is on the line and you needed to call on someone that wants the ball when the game is on the line - and you want a guy that will get the job done again as he has in the past - then you would call on Tom Brady.

Why Tom Brady?  Well, in the words of Beth Mooney, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Key Bank, it boils down to this – The Shadow of the Leader.

The jobs of sales management (video) are many, but when it comes down to it, the primary roles fall into three categories:

  • Lead for Results
  • Manage Activities
  • Coach Behaviors

These roles make up the cornerstone, so to speak, in our Sales Managed Environment® Certification program.  Everything that you do or need to be doing day in and day out as a manager should be an activity that supports one of these three contributing factors to sales growth.

  • Lead for Results – This requires that your vision for your team supports the overall vision of the organization, but it is also a vison that your people support and are motivated by. Yes, we know by using the Objective Management Group Sales Force Evaluation that close to 70% of all sales people are motivated internally, but that internal motivation is often tied to the place where they work.  They want to feel like the work they do is meaningful. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments. They want to feel that they are making progress personally and professionally. They rely on work to make their personal dreams come true. They need someone – you – to lead them to places they don’t think are possible and to lead them when the odds seem to be against them.  (Down 25 points with 20 minutes left in the game.  No team in the Super Bowl Championship has ever overcome even a 10-point deficit!)
  • Manage Activities – These activities get the results you want. Everything starts with belief and belief controls your activities.  At half time, according to Tom, the discussion was not about “What do we do now?”  The discussion was about “This is what we’ve done.”:
    • We’ve moved the ball.
    • We’ve controlled the clock.
    • We’ve allowed them to move the ball the full length of the field for a touchdown.

We’ve been doing a lot of things right.  And we’ve made a couple of mistakes, but it isn’t like they are stopping us or completely running over us.  Let’s stay the course, do what we do best, control what we can control and - when the time comes - we’ll make the plays we need to win.

  • Coach Behaviors – There wasn’t a whole lot of “in-the-moment” coaching going on during the game. Yes, there were a couple of situations where Tom made a motion for a receiver to break his route and run deep and then Tom delivered the ball for a long gain. Yes, there were adjustments made to blocking schemes and defensive fronts, but those adjustments were easy to execute because of all the practice prior to the game.  Recently, I was listening to a talk radio show where they were discussing how the Patriots go about practicing pass patterns for when Brady has to scramble out of the pocket. These aren’t plays that just happen by accident.  They are due to hours of specific practice where the offensive team run through scenarios they might encounter in a game.  And they have to learn those plays on the practice field so that, in a real game when the lights are on and everyone is watching, they can execute them and make them look “easy”.  That's what Tom Brady and Bill Belichick demand and that is why the team performed so well under pressure to overcome a historic deficit and win Super Bowl LI.

Additional Resources:

Are You Wasting Sales Training Dollars?

Do Your Sales Growth Strategies Exceed The Limits of Your Sales Team?

Are You Drafting The Right People For The Right Roles?

Sales and Sales Management Scorecards – How Can They Drive Sales Growth?

Tags: sales performance coaching, predictable sales growth, how to hit goals in sales, salesforce evaluation

SCORECARDS DO NOT DRIVE SALES GROWTH

I don’t believe that scorecards drive sales growth. I say “believe” because I don’t have any definitive proof one way or another and I’m not about to sort through over a million responses from Google search to find out.  But, instead, I will tell you about my experience and exposure to scorecards and the impact they can have.

scorecard.png

TRACKING THE RIGHT INFORMATION FOR IMPROVEMENT

My golf experience would not indicate that scorecards improve my golf game.  However, many years ago, I decided to do more than just keep score.  I also tracked fairways and greens hit in regulation and the number of putts I took on each hole.  (Full disclosure here:  I am a lifetime mid 90s’ golfer which gives me a handicap in the low to mid 20s.) The year I decided to track more information, I set a goal to get under a 20 handicap.  At that time, I didn’t play a lot of golf – no more than 20 times a year, but I managed to end the season at an 18.  I believe that tracking the RIGHT information on the scorecard AND setting a goal AND working to improve metrics are what led to meeting the goal of making improvement.

I’ve been in two meetings this week where scorecards for performance were presented.  One scorecard was really a financial data update reporting on actual performance against goal and year over year.  The other scorecard reported on various initiatives and the current stage of completion. The stages were reported as:

  • Green – on track or completed
  • Yellow – close to being on track or completed
  • Red – not on track to be completed by deadline

THE REASON SCORECARDS DO NOT ALWAYS WORK

When Alan Mullaly left Boeing to take over Ford (see scorecard info), he implemented the Green, Yellow, Red scorecard concept that served him so well at Boeing.  If you read the book, American Icon (a GREAT read, by the way…), you find out one of the reasons they cannot be directly connected to sales growth.  Spoiler alert – not everyone reporting the status of the project is courageous enough to tell the new CEO when his or her project is not on target.

Alan met with the leaders of his production teams every week to get an update on progress being made.  The leaders had to report on what they were responsible for as Green, Yellow or Red.  For months, there was never a Red status on any project.  Alan knew that this could not possibly be true, but he let it ride.  He was certain that, sooner or later, someone in the group was going to step up and be willing to take some bullets.

Sure enough, a car launch that was scheduled for the holiday season was behind schedule and was in jeopardy of missing the launch date entirely.  The manager of that division decided that he’d rather take the bullets now rather than later and so he reported RED!.

(Back to my meeting…)

Nothing on the scorecard was RED.  As I sat there and calculated numbers on some of the various metrics, I saw that the levels of achievement year to date were in the 33% range when, to be on target, they needed to be in the 50% range.  I’m new on the committee, so I was a little uncertain as the newbie and I thought,”Should I speak up?  Is this something that has been addressed before and clarified?  Does the RED indicator show up when something is 30% or less?”  Finally, the gentleman sitting next to me asked the question, “How come we don’t see any RED?” The reasons given to the committee were both evasive and vague. 

HOW TO MAKE SCORECARDS WORK TO DRIVE SALES GROWTH

What happened next is what can happen to make a scorecard report contribute to sales growth.

  • Questions were asked about the various projects in YELLOW
  • Clarity was gained on the exact status
  • A series of What, Why, Who, When, How, Now What questions were asked
  • We arrived at standards that would change a status from Yellow to Red

The point is this:  If you are going to build and use scorecards to impact sales growth, the following has to happen:

  • You have to have metrics that are both leading and lagging
  • Standards have to be set and they have to be set high enough to allow growth and eliminate mediocrity
    • At or above 100% - GREEN - Good
    • At a maximum 90 to 99% - Yellow - Poor
    • Anything under 90% is RED – AND you have to be willing to call it FAILING.
  • You have to have established confidence and trust in your team so that they are comfortable being truthful about the status or production, pipeline, sales activity and forecasting.

YOU HAVE TO KNOW "WHY"

Finally, if you want to be able to answer, “Yes, our scorecards contribute to sales growth” you have to understand that the scorecard is like the meteorologist reporting the weather.  Normally, when it comes to weather, that’s all most of us care about. But, when it comes to sales growth, you better want to know why it is sunny or rainy!  That is Performance Management! To make your scorecards more effective always, ALWAYS be prepared to ask questions about outcomes that are either positive or negative:

  • Why are we getting this result?
  • When did we know this was going to happen? (I assure you it was known, or should have been known, way before the report was generated if you are collecting leading indicator sales activities via huddles.)
  • Who is or who are the DRI(s) – Directly Responsible Individual(s)?
  • What did we do/you do/they do the moment they knew?
  • What actions have been implemented to 1) duplicate this success 2) eliminate the problem and/or 3) slow down the negative trend?
  • What is happening now? What is the current status?

Having this type of discussion is what leads to sales growth not the scorecard alone!

Additional Resources: 

How well is your team doing? Try the free Sales Achievement Grader

 

 

Growing Sales and the Peanut Butter & Jam Sandwich

Tags: pareto principle, sales performance coaching, sales productivity, salesforce evalutation

pbj_sand2.jpg

Okay… so I know you might be thinking, “What the heck does growing sales have to do with a peanut butter and jam sandwich… AND why jam and not jelly?”

Not “jelly” because… well, I really don’t like jelly. I grew up with my Mom’s homemade strawberry jam.  And, for years, I would just eat jam sandwiches because I didn’t like peanut butter. But then…

THE SALES GROWTH & PB&J CONNECTION

In 1973, I was offered a full scholarship to play football at Boston University. I accepted and signed my letter of intent but, later in the year, that coaching staff left BU and went to UConn and so I followed. 

As a senior offensive lineman at Hammonton High School in New Jersey, I was 6’4” and 170 lbs. on a heavy day.  I was instructed to consume more calories, lift more weights and ingest lots of protein to build muscle.  Peanut butter was now part of my dietary intake.  During the summer leading up to my freshman year at UConn, I would consume 10,000 calories a day.  That included breakfast and then 5 peanut butter and jam sandwiches between breakfast and lunch.  So, there you go.

As any peanut butter and jelly/jam aficionado knows, when making the perfect sandwich, you want to spread both ingredients all the way to the edges of the bread.  No bread uncovered.  You spread peanut butter on one slice, jam/jelly on the other slice and then smash the two slices together so that the combination of ingredients oozes out of the sides of the sandwich.  Then, just cut in half and eat!

The first time I heard the expression, “Let’s not spread our training program dollars around like peanut butter” was from George Emmons, then president of the community bank at Key Bank.  I asked him what he meant by that.  He said, “Tony, we have limited resources to get this done and so we have to be judicious in how we use our dollars.  We have markets like Seattle that are our highest potential growth market and then we have a market like Vermont.  Vermont is a great market for us - very strong - but we already enjoy sizable market share there, so our ROI isn’t going to be as great.   We need to invest our dollars where we get can get our greatest return.”

And there, my friend, is the connection between building a sales growth sales team and making a peanut butter and jam sandwich!

Now, on to growing sales …

“PEANUT BUTTER” AND YOUR SALESPEOPLE

When you think about your sales team, the collective book of business and the market pool, you have to be more intentional in your investment of time money and effort.  Not all of your salespeople are equal, not all of the clients represented in the book of business are equal and not all of the businesses/people/prospects that are available in the market place can bring you the same revenue, value or profit.  Given the variability, you cannot (and should not) spread your resources like peanut butter.

In my previous articles and blog posts, I’ve talked about the 80/20 principle - the simple concept that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  You can substitute efforts with people - salespeople, client people, people in the market, etc.  Having said that, I highly recommend you follow Perry Marshalls process of the 80/20 of the 80/20.  Simply stated:  Do the 80/20 math again with the remaining salespeople, clients and prospects.  See below as an example of how to segment a revenue book.  (click here to read the detailed article about the 80/20 of the 80/20).

pbj-chart.png

I believe the chart is easy enough to follow.  The key things here to recognize are:

  1. About 96% of your results are coming from just 36% of your team
  2. That 36% isn’t tapped out – the top 3 might be, but if you add admin and support staff, you can probably get them to double productivity – spend “peanut butter” differently for this group than for the rest of the group.
  3. You have great opportunity/potential in the 2nd group of 80/20 – the next 3 salespeople (next quintile). Lots of “peanut butter” (intentional coaching) here in training, development, management, marketing/lead generation resources.
  4. The last quintile - the bottom 3 people - are not going to get you to the mountaintop based on their current productivity. Unless they are brand new, they not only get zero “peanut butter”, but they also get the opportunity for alternative employment.
  5. Some of the people in the bottom quintile might be there because they are new to the organization, so don't’ abandon them; however, make sure you have a very intense on-boarding program to make sure they climb into the next quintile and beyond quickly. Lots of “peanut butter” here.
  6. Your middle quintiles - salespeople in the middle 33% of the company - need to get lots of attention (“peanut butter”) for a short period of time because they have to demonstrate that they can actually produce the way you thought they would when you hired them… or they unfortunately validate that you made a hiring mistake.

WHEN TO USE A LOT OF “PEANUT BUTTER”

Follow this same process when analyzing the individual books of business for each salesperson.  Your salespeople should not be treating them all the same. The top 33% of the book brings over 90% of the revenue – treat them that way – with LOTS of “peanut butter”.

And, finally, when approaching the market place, use the information/data from the analysis above when looking at the individual books of business.  Identify the common characteristics in the top 33% of the book of business and then look for new opportunities that look like your top 33%. Stop spending time, money, effort and peanut butter pursuing anybody in the market place that doesn't (or have any chance to) look like your top 33% of your current clients.  (There us a great book on this concept, Selling to Zebras)

Additional Resources:

NO MORE HIRING MISTAKES - Hirebettersalespeople.com

Why is It So #%&@ Hard to Solve the Sales Growth Problem? – The 5 Constraints to Growing Sales – Part III

Tags: sales leadership development, sales performance coaching, sales productivity, predictable sales growth, sales management responsibilities, sales motivation

obstacles-money.jpg

In my series (see previous posts) regarding the constraints to growing sales, the two remaining topics are:

  • Ineffective motivation of the sales team
  • The “just enough is good enough” approach to hitting setting and hitting goals

THE POWER OF THE “RIGHT” MOTIVATION

Ineffective motivation of the sales team is not uncommon and it is the subject of one of the more frequent questions people ask me: “Tony, how do I keep my sales people motivated?”  My first response is normally a question in return:  “Do you know what motivates your people?”  The most common answer: “Well, uh, yeah, I think so.”  I cannot help myself when I ask, “Do you know or do you think you know?”  Their most common answer: “I think I know.”

With that in mind, how do you possibly motivate people when you just think you know what motivates them?

What we know about motivating salespeople is that it has changed over the years.  When we first started evaluating sales teams using the #1 Sales Evaluation Assessment – Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation and Impact Analysis – the findings told us that people were externally motivated.  Motivation was money and the things money can provide.  Today, however, we see a different set of results (Read this HBR article on motivating salespeople).

The current findings tell us that sales teams are highly motivated to succeed, but the source of motivation is internal rather than external.  They are motivated by a job well done. They want to be recognized for success and they are motivated by achieving their own personal standards for success and achievement.

I was 9 years old when I walked off the football field the very first time.  I had just finished practice and my dad was waiting on the sideline for me.  He asked me what I thought and I told him I loved it.  “Someday I’m going to go to college to play football.”  Dad asked me if I was sure and I said “yes.”  He then told me, “College football players are in great shape so, if you are going to play college football, you’ll have to be in great shape. Take off your helmet and shoulder pads and start running some laps.”  I followed his advice and I ran laps every night after practice to get in shape to play college football.  In February of 1973, I signed my letter of intent to go to the University of Connecticut to play football.

My dad - my manager - knew my goal and used that occasionally to keep me on track.  Occasionally, when I would fall off the training wagon, he would ask me if I still planned on playing college football.  I would always answer, “Sure!”  He would then say, “Well, I wasn’t sure. I haven’t seen you run or lift weights in a while.”  That’s all he needed to say.  Off I went.

When you know what motivates your people, you can then have the appropriate discussions to keep them on track.

 

“JUST ENOUGH” IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH

“Just enough is good enough.” THIS MINDSET DRIVES ME CRAZY!  How do you know that this is your culture?

  • Year over year growth is one of the metrics you use to determine if you are getting better
  • Comparing one unit in your organization against another is the way you communicate to the teams about which ones are having success – stack ranking and comparing the rank of one team against the others as a way to explain, “If they can go from #22 to #15, then so can you!”
  • Hitting sales goals on the backs of the few
  • You have people on your sales team who - month after month, quarter after quarter and year over year - fail to hit their sales goal.
    • I don’t mean those that are at 99% one year and 101% the next and then 95% the third
    • I mean those that consistently perform in the low 90’s or high 80’s.
    • Those people that fail to perform still earn incentive comp, are not subject to any disciplined approach to improving skills or changing behaviors
    • There is never a discussion that sounds like, “What happened to the superstar sales person I thought I hired ____ number of years ago?”

I understand how this happens. There is so much pressure to just hit the numbers that, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how you hit the numbers; you just have to hit them.  But what are the long-term consequences of this sales environment?

  • Turn over of really good producers that are tired of carrying the load
  • Producers who are close to being really successful manage themselves downward instead of upward.
    • They witness that there are no consequences for failure
    • They become “at leasters” – “I’m not as good as Julie, but at least I’m not as bad as John.”
  • Recruiting top talent is difficult because, when they talk to your top performers, they tell them that there will be a lot of pressure to perform because nothing happens to the slackers and the company depends on the top producers to make up the difference.
  • When goal setting time comes around, people at the top get more heaped on them and those in the middle to bottom of pack argue that the goal you give them was never one they bought into.

 

SETTING THE BAR FOR SUCCESS

Bottom line is:

  • Organizations have to have a mind-shift first about what it means to be successful in the organization.
  • There have to be systems and processes in place to catch failure before it happens rather than when it actually happens. Failure never happens all at once. It’s gradual; however, instead of addressing the issues when they appear, managers put salespeople on “double secret probation.”
  • The metrics used to determine success have to include diagnostics of the improvement of quintiles year over year. (See chart below for a snapshot of quintile performance.)  The idea is that when you take the snapshot next year, the numbers for each quintile have to be better than the previous quarter, year, etc.
  • A willingness and commitment to set the bar higher for success and then hold people accountable to actually DOING the THINGS required to be successful rather than just looking at training data.

quintile-chart-2017.png

I will continue to explore and discuss these constraints to consistent and predictable sales growth.

Additional Resources:

The 80/20 of the 80/20 - What it means for your company and next steps

Get a FREE TRIAL of the #1 Sales Candidate Assessment

 

Why is It So #%&@ Hard to Solve the Sales Growth Problem? – The 5 Constraints to Growing Sales – Part I

Tags: Sales Tracking, sales performance coaching, sales productivity, how increase sales, predictable sales growth

I’ve written on this subject, talked about it at workshops/keynotes and presented it to our clients in our Sales Managed Environment® Certification program for over 20 years.  But, here I go again and for good reason – it’s still a problem.  It’s still in the news.  It’s still something that we get asked about when we present at the Community Bank CEO Network and other venues.  It’s a problem that doesn’t seem to have a solution.

Wrong!

Let’s take a minute first to analyze the problem or to help you identify if you have a problem.  (This will be kind of like Jeff Foxworthy’s “You know you're a redneck if” routine.)

foxworth.png

You know you have a sales growth problem if…:

  • You cannot consistently and accurately predict future sales GROWTH
  • You recognize that most of the sales (90% or so) are being generated by 33-45% of the sales team.
  • Less than 10% of the sales are being generated by over 50% of the team
  • You have salespeople in the middle of the sales performance bell curve that are not performing as you expected. (Did you really hire those people to only perform like the average sales person on your team?)
  • Your new hires are not ramping up fast enough
  • Your cost of “ghosts” (people that you hire and are no longer there) is a 2-comma problem
  • You seem to be coaching the same stuff over and over and over again
  • Your people continually make excuses for lack of outcomes, performance results.

I could go on, but why?

I first recognized the sales growth problem in sales organizations many years ago when I was working with Anthem Blue Shield and Blue Cross here in Ohio. I was meeting with Jim Barone, who is currently the National Vice President – Business Development for Lincoln National.  At the time, he held a regional sales management position for Anthem and he and I were scheduled to meet in Cleveland with his sales team for a training session and sales meeting.

In preparation for the meeting, I reviewed the production report year-to-date for the team (about 25 reps). I had not yet read any Perry Marshall material on The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing (The book hadn’t been published yet…) and, though I had heard of the Pareto Principle, I really didn’t understand it like I do today.  When looking at the numbers, I discovered that roughly 20% of the reps were responsible for about 80% of the results.  That was startling. But, not nearly as startling as what I discovered next.

The bottom 20% of the team – about 5 reps – were responsible for less than 1% of the results and the bottom 33% of the team was responsible for less than 10% of the results.  The first question I was going to ask Jim was, “Why are these people still with you?” (CLICK HERE here to get rid of the 80/20 in your organization.)

Over a year ago, I did the same type of analysis for a large nationally-based broker dealer specializing in serving the credit union market.  We looked at 100 advisors.  What we were looking for was data to support the position that, in order for a financial advisor to break through the upper limits of their productivity, they had to segment their book. 

As I looked at the collective data, it became very obvious that every advisor in every quintile had a book that had a similarity – 36% of the clients represented in their client base (as many as 1,000 clients) were responsible for 94% of their total AUM (assets under management).  Furthermore, when we analyzed the bottom 36%, that group only represented less than 5% of the total revenue.  Taking one more step, we uncovered that it would take 16 sales from the lower 36% to equal the average AUM from the top 20% of the book.

We thought we knew this, but now we had the data to prove it. 

Just for fun, I looked at the AUM from the 100 advisors for the broker dealer and guess what I found?  You guessed it – 36% of the advisors were responsible for over 90% of the total AUM.  Again, the questions have to be – Why do you have the other 64% of the advisors?  Why do they perform so poorly?  Were they hired this way – to perform at this level?  What was missing in the on-boarding, training and management of those advisors?

One of the easy reactions to the data is this – “Tony, you have to understand that some of the advisors we were looking at don't have the same tenure as those in the top 36%.”  Okay, I will buy that.  But, are you telling me that is the case from #1 all the way to #100?  The answer is no.  In the mix of the top 1/3, there are less tenured advisors, and in the bottom 1/3, there are very senior advisors. 

The tenure argument doesn’t work. The economy argument doesn’t work. The competition argument doesn’t work. The compensation argument doesn’t work and, finally, the DoL regulation or regs of any sort argument doesn’t work.  In every instance, the numbers hold up.

So, what is the problem?  What are the constraints to sales growth? Why is it so $%^&* hard to solve the sales growth problem?  There are five reasons I want to discuss, but first, let’s agree to some assumptions:

  • Your organization has a solid strategic plan to gain market share. (If not, contact Gazelles.  Verne Harnish is a genius and the concepts in his book, Scaling Up, will change your business.)
  • Everyone is either rising or sinking with the economic tide.
  • Your company’s compensation plan fits with in the suggested range of the industry. (Contact Peter Bielen or Scott Stathis to discuss compensation.)
  • You have access to the products and services that the ideal prospects identified in your strategic plan want and need
  • Your support partners provide you the backend client services that you need.

Again, the list can go on – in general, let’s assume that the basics to start and sustain a business are in place.  But, something is missing year in and year out that makes sales growth so difficult.  Here are the 5 constraints to consistent and predictable sales growth:

  1. Weak or lack of Performance Management. Understand what performance management is NOT – setting goals and then telling people that they have to work harder if they are not hitting the goals.  It is NOT using PIPS as a way to get people to perform.  A solid performance management structure and strategy requires a couple of steps, systems, and processes.
    1. Identifies the right metrics to measure success
    2. Creates benchmarks that force salespeople to work harder and better
    3. Holds people accountable to the THINGS they need to do to get sales growth results
    4. In addition to the items listed above, the executor (sales manager, sales coach, sales leader) needs to have the right sales management behaviors and skills
  2. Any coaching is in-the-moment coaching rather than Coaching for Success. Coaching for Success is intentional/planned coaching.  It is based on what the data identifies as choke points in executions or lack of effort.  In-the-moment coaching does not focus on changing behavior and improving skills. It’s kind of like what happens in a time-out in most sports.  There is a situation in the game that requires some additional thought and strategy.  The coach calls a time-out to discuss the strategy and lay out a plan to execute “in the now.”  That type of coaching is designed to solve the in-the-moment problem, but it virtually does nothing to change behavior or improve skill overall.  Coaching for Success requires:
    1. Data points established as a result of the performance management success formula (The metrics that define success identified in your performance management strategy)
    2. Data collection
    3. Reporting that identifies the variance in actual performance from goal performance
    4. Gaining business intelligence from the data report
    5. Effective coaching skills http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.bisanet.org/resource/resmgr/onesource/9_skills_to_coaching_success.pdf, systems and processes
    6. A consistent process of disciplined coaching designed to help the advisor get on track and stay on track because behaviors change and skills improve.

The remaining constraints are:

  1. Hiring sales people based on the wrong criteria with the wrong processes and systems. To Hire Better SalesPeople, you have to have a better way to attract better people and a better way to eliminate those 90% that will not do 100% of what you need them to do.
  2. Ineffective motivation via culture, sales meetings and recognition. Most sales managers don’t know what motivates their people.  If you are going to Motivate for Success, it is important to know what motivates them.
  3. Inadequate hiring. When just enough is good enough, the sales organization fails to regularly Upgrade the Sales Force.

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