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Powerful Questions for Sales People (Part II)

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Questions for Sales PeopleThe following are eleven great questions for sales people. At times, to be an effective salesperson, it’s not necessarily regarding knowing all the correct answers, but more about knowing the correct questions to ask.

6. What do you want to do next?

Commonly, sales people push prospects to move forward. Partly, this is trying to have the prospect do what the sales person would like to do next as far as meeting, looking at a demo, reviewing paperwork, etc.

Sometimes it is more powerful to ask the prospect what they would like to do next. You can suggest some directions in which to go, but checking in, obtaining the prospect’s opinion as well as making the forward direction initiate from them, is a healthy direction to go in regards to building relationships and creating good, quality leads.

7. When would you like to meet again?

Like the last question, asking the prospect when they want to meet again or in what pace they would like to move is a good direction to go.

A large majority of sales people will push prospects to meet and move as fast as possible which makes this question powerful. In retrospect, letting the prospect decide how quickly to move can be one of the questions for sales people that will have a positive impact.

8. Currently, how do you feel about your system/provider on a scale from 1 to 10?

Most likely, your prospect is already using something in your area. Whenever that’s the case, you want to find out how things are going with that. For example, are things great, are things OK, or could things be better? By finding this out you are helping with your efforts to create leads as well as qualify prospects.

It is not best to spend too much of your time with prospects that state they’re doing great because they might be tough to get to change. You want to be looking for those prospects that are just OK or could be better. This is one of the questions for sales people that will assist with that.

9. What is the decision making process?

You will always want to find out how much decision making power the prospect has as well as who is the ultimate decision maker. Sometimes, this can be a bit of a touchy subject to bring up, but by simply asking what the decision making process is and mapping it out will significantly help you in identifying where the authority lies.

10. Is there a budget approved for the purchase?

Identifying if the prospect has the budget to spend money is another key area to look at when qualifying prospects. Some questions for sales people which assist with this are to ask if there’s a budget that has been approved for the purchase in which the prospect is considering.

11. What is the range of your budget that you’re trying to stay within?

Finding out how much the prospect is looking to spend is another important area you want to look into. It can be tough, but one way to approach this is by being very direct and asking what the current budget range is that they’re trying to stay within.

Launch Pad Solutions provides a sales script tool that provides questions for sales people.


Challenges with Managing via the Sales Funnel

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

sales funnel The concept of a sales funnel is one of the most common models for managing sales activities and teams.  You put in an amount of activity into the top of the funnel and out of that you get a certain number of conversations.  Then, from those conversations, you’ll obtain a certain number of firm appointments.  Out of the appointments set, you’ll get a certain amount of sales leads.  This pattern continues leading up to the fact that a percentage of leads produced should be closed and this is what comes out of the bottom of the sales funnel.

There are three pitfalls that can limit the reliability and consistency of this model.

1.   Assuming Effort = Results

When subscribing to the sales funnel model, we’re believing that putting in an amount of activity in the top of the funnel will lead to some amount of results.  But, effort alone is not guaranteed to lead to any results in the world of sales.  With hard work and a high level of effort, but bad messaging and technique, we could see little or no results.  The business world is very competitive and if we come in second, we won’t get any kudos for trying real hard.  In conclusion, if we put just any amount of activity in the funnel with an expectation that results will be produced, we are creating an expectation built on a weak foundation.

2.  Assuming Ratios are Static

Believing the ratios throughout the sales funnel are somewhat fixed and should be the same for everybody is another pitfall we can fall into.  This would hint that the expectation for everyone on the sales team should be to have the same conversion rates throughout the funnel – creating conversations from cold calls, converting conversations to meetings, and for converting leads to closed deals. It would be unrealistic to have expectations for different members of a sales team to have similar funnel shapes due to there are many factors involved as well as every sales person is unique.

Also, we can get caught up on assuming the conversion rates are what they are as well as there are not a lot of things we can do to improve them.  There may be belief that hit rates, lead rates, and close rates are possibly fixed.  In addition, it may be believed that the main variable we need to focus on and manage is activity level that is put into the top of the sales funnel.

3.  Only looking at the top of the funnel

We can easily get caught up on only focusing on the top of the sales funnel and the level of activity that we’re putting in.  Because we need more sales, we throw more callers and actual dials at the problem. Obviously, we need to make calls because we can’t just wait around for prospects to call us, but this strategy is flawed if our message or our technique is off.  We could be doing more of a misdirected approach and the extra effort might not yield results which is a waste of time and money.

Launch Pad Solutions provides sales consulting helping managers to improve the sales funnel.


How to Measure Sales Effectiveness

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

The management of a sales team can be greatly improved by knowing how to measure sales effectiveness. You will not have the information you need to make the minor adjustments to help increase your sales, if you don’t know what individuals are doing well and what areas need improvement. Following are six areas to observe when measuring sales effectiveness.

1. Sales Revenue

The obvious point is to use sales revenue to measure results. Every sales manager presently uses this metric to measure performance. Importantly, where the problem lies is that many sales leaders only look at this metric when managing a sales team.

There could be negative impacts in the areas of turnover and employee development due to a manager only rewarding and reprimanding based on sales revenue results. Long-term sales revenue will not be maximized when turnover is high and employees are not growing.

2. Activity Levels

When figuring out how to measure sales effectiveness, we can look at activity levels. Where the number of cold calls leads to a number of appointments which leads to the level of lead generation there’s definitely a sales funnel at play.

One way to provide very valuable data that should be factored in when measuring sales performance is to use a system to monitor and track activity levels in terms of calls made, appointments set and completed, and leads produced.

3. Hours Worked

How much is the sales resource working? This is a key question as many sales positions have certain amounts of freedom from a lack of fixed hours and schedule. Is the sales resource putting in the right amount of hours per week or taking advantage of this freedom?

Of course, a manager might not care how much time is being put in if the sales resource’s performance is well. If performance could be better, this is an area that could explain what is going and is fairly easy to adjust.

4. Productivity

You get a metric of productivity by dividing the activity by the hours worked. A very important metric to look at is how to measure sales effectiveness as it can show if the resource is efficient and working hard.

There may be a reason to look into what the employee is doing if the activity levels are high, but it takes too many hours to get there.

5. Sales Messaging

It’s not enough to just look at how hard and how much the sales resource is working. It is also necessary to measure as well as monitor what they’re doing while they’re working in terms of sales messaging.

When talking with prospects, are they saying the right points and asking the right questions? Having the wrong messaging, no matter how hard they have worked, will not yield the best results.

6. Tactics and Techniques

Lastly, the thing to look at with how to measure sales effectiveness is identifying if the sales resource is using the right tactics and techniques. Is the resource utilizing the tactics and techniques they have been trained on?

Launch Pad Solutions provides a sales script tool that helps with how to measure sales.

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Three Reasons to Look Externally for Sales Coaching

Friday, January 13th, 2012

It is not hard to see how sales coaching can help with a sales team’s results.  Although, a company has two different options for delivering coaching as it can either be delivered by internal management or it can be outsourced to an external sales coach.  The latter has some benefits and those are summarized below.

1.  More open lines of communication

It is critical to have an extremely open channel of communication between client and coach for effective coaching.  The person being coached must feel comfortable opening up and talking about what is going on.  Without this, the coaching process will be disadvantaged and this will decrease the results and effectiveness of the attempt to drive improvements.

With internal coaching, a sales person might be fairly reluctant to be completely open.  With an external resource, there will be a more open line of communication.  This is due to the fact that not only is there usually a confidential agreement between coach and client, but also because the coach is not part of the management structure that the employee reports into.

2.  Lack of shared goals

When a sales manager provides sales coaching, he or she will bring shared goals to the process as they will likely get rewarded when the sales person is successful.  And while this may sound like a good thing, it is actually a significant challenge for effective coaching as the manager will have a difficult time being objective and unbiased during the coaching session.

3.  Core expertise in coaching

Internal sales managers will likely have great knowledge and expertise.  But they may not have core expertise in the area of coaching.  Even if they have been trained in the area of coaching, it is likely that they just simply do not deliver a tremendous amount of coaching as part of their daily routine and as a result, they may not have core expertise in the area of coaching.

By using an external coach, a company will likely be using a resource that does nothing but coaching and as a result, they are much more of an expert at coaching individuals and driving results.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales coaching helping sales pros to improve results.

Five Challenges of being an Inside Sales Manager

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

There are many challenges that come with being an inside sales manager and effectively dealing with those can directly lead to success.

1.  Interviewing

Finding good and right resources for inside sales positions can be challenging.  Cold calling and selling over the phone takes a particular type of person and you really never know how a sales resource is going to develop in terms of results and length of employment.

By finding a way to improve the interview process, a sales manager can create a tremendous improvement on the operation and results.  Using tools and processes to effectively screen applicants to identify the best matched applicants will help with the interviewing challenge.

2.  Training

Training is not something that will just need to be handled with newly hired sales resources.  It is also something that will need to be done on a continual basis.

There will always be some level of turnover so an inside sales manager does not want to spend too much time and money training a new inside sales rep as you do not know how long they will be around.

One way to improve the area of sales training is to automate as much as possible through e-learning.  From there, there can be a division between upfront training then additional training that can be delivered later as the rep gets going.

3.  Productivity

Inside sales resources can be expensive when you factor in compensation, overhead, and the opportunity cost for their position.  Due to this, it is critical to get as much productivity out of each resource as possible.

An inside sales manager can use quantitative metrics like dials, calls answered, talk time, number of hits, etc. to manage and increase inside sales productivity.

4.  Effectiveness

In addition to making sure resources are productive, it is also important to manage their level of effectiveness.  Using tools like sales role-play, call monitoring, and sales coaching can help an inside sales manager to ensure that inside sales resources are embracing the sales training concepts and following the plan and strategy that has been developed.

5.  Retention

This cost of sales staff turnover is tremendous, especially when you factor in the cost opportunity cost from all the lost business while the position is open and new resources are being ramped up.  As a result, an inside sales manager can create positive results by minimizing finding a way to control and decrease sales staff turnover.  Managing and leading with clear goals, sufficient training, recurring coaching, and an attention on results can help in this area.

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Launch Pad Solutions provides sales coaching help an inside sales manager to improve results.