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Why Sales Coaching? #20 in a series

2014 January 21
Posted by pam

What is sales coaching?

Wikipedia defines coaching as:  a training or development process via which an individual is supported while achieving a specific personal or professional competence result or goal. The individual receiving coaching may be referred to as coachee. Occasionally, the term coaching may be applied to an informal relationship between two individuals where one has greater experience and expertise than the other and offers advice and guidance as the other goes through a learning process, but coaching differs from mentoring by focusing upon competence specifics, as opposed to general overall development.

So applying that definition, sales coaching is a process to provide training, development and support to help reach specific competencies and goals.  The goal is always to create the synergy to increase sales dollars and skills.

Why should you invest in sales coaching?

Whether you provide coaching through a staff resource or an outside partner, coaching is an investment of time and dollars.  Given that, I recommend that you create a system to measure coaching impact.  The previous blogs (#16, 17 and 18) covered measurements of sales people.  Extrapolating on that, you can measure coaching impact by reviewing the activity and dollars for each sales person who has a coach.  Better yet, graph these numbers by week starting with the first week of coaching.  An upward trend in both numbers should occur.

But coaching goes beyond the numbers.  A coaching proves should facilitate and accelerate person growth as well.  You should notice these differences in your sales staff:

  • more assertiveness
  • more confidence
  • better acumen to solve his/her own problems and challenges
  • more creativity
  • increased energy leading to possibly expanded reach into their markets
  • more efficiency
  • better interpersonal skills
  • more peer interaction and higher team participation
  • better self management
  • higher self awareness
  • stronger service orientation
  • improved relationships.

Sales coaching is akin to emotional intelligence for sales people.  You can’t have too much.

Pam Watson Korbel, 303-906-4144

SmartGrowth, Inc. (www.smartgrowth.com)

PS For a free copy of my white paper 10 Tips for Sales Success, email me at pam@smartgrowth.com.

Selling into Vertical Marketing – Sales Coaching #19

2014 January 20
Posted by pam

One maxim in time management is to group similar tasks. For example, sit down and make all your morning phone calls at the same time. In sales coaching, an important maxim to develop is selling to similar customers at the same time.

In other words, sales representatives will be more successful working one vertical market at a time.

Imagine making a series of sales cold calls in one day to: a software company, IT consultant, ad agency, rubber manufacturer, translation company, training company, marketing association and telecommunications company. How many times do you have to change up your jargon, acronyms, icons, value propositions and customer testimonials in one day?

Now, imagine make 16 calls in the same time frame to IT consultants. Sounds much easier, right?

Working deep into verticals works for all elements of communication and relationship building including newsletters, trade associations, industry event planning, blogs, media relations, etc.

The key to effective vertical selling is matching the sales representatives’ knowledge, strengths and abilities to the company’s strategy. So hire individuals with experience selling into your strategic verticals. How do you find them? Generally the trade associations provide strong networks of the “right people.” Most allow you to run ads and if you are a member, you can peruse their membership list.

On the other hand, when you want to re-focus an existing sales representative on a new vertical market, then take these steps:
• Identify markets where the representative has knowledge, experience and interest
• Quantify the opportunity in the market and compare it to the sales goal of the representative to ensure an opportunity for success
• Research common sales methodologies in the vertical market to ensure ease and appropriateness for your industry
• Use a team approach to make a final decision on the best verticals.
How many vertical markets can one representative handle? That varies with experience, company goals and market potential. Generally two or three concurrent vertical market assignments are ideal.

Pam Watson Korbel, 303-906-4144
Chief Growth Officer, SmartGrowth, Inc. (www.smartgrowth.com)

PS For a free copy of my white paper 10 Tips for Sales Success email me at pam@smartgrowth.com.

Sales activity vs. sales goal – Sales Coaching #18

2014 January 14
Posted by pam

This is the third of three blogs about goals and measurement  for sales reps.  In this blog, we pick up from the January 10 blog to use the point system described there to  calculate the amount of activity needed to reach an annual sales goal.

With a point system in hand and daily tracking preferably through a CRM, then you should be able to take the three months of must current history to calculate activity needed to reach the goal.  These numbers will be needed:

  • Total number of cold calls during 3 months
  • Total number of prospect meetings about real
    business opportunities during 3 months
  • Total number of proposals
  • Total number of sales orders
  • Total dollar value of sales orders

From there, calculate the ratios for:

  • Number of cold calls completed for every meeting
    scheduled
  • Number of meetings held for every proposal
    written
  • Number of proposals sent for every order/sales
    dollar

Here is an example…In the past three months Mary Smith, who  sells technology widgets, completed the following:

  • 750 cold calls
  • 60 meetings
  • 20 proposals
  • 5 sales for a total of $545,000

From this, we can then calculate that to achieve an annual sales goal of $2 million, the following needs to happen:

Goal $2 million annually $166,667 monthly
Cold calls 2,752 229
Meetings 220 18
Proposals 73 6

The sales
game does have a strong scientific element to it.  Generally, by measuring these numbers and ratios every three months, you will see improved efficiency.

Pam Watson
Korbel, 303-906-4144

Chief Growth
Officer, SmartGrowth, Inc. (www.smartgrowth.com)

PS For a free copy of my white paper 10 Tips for Sales Success please email pam@smartgrowth.com

Measuring daily activity – Sales Coaching #17

2014 January 10
Posted by pam

The new year is a great time to instill new behaviors in sales representatives, including increasing the quantity and quality of activity with prospective clients.  The last blog dealt with setting sales goals for each representative.  Far more important, this topic deals with calculating the amount of activity necessary to achieve the goal.

Activity measurements are considered leading indicators of results versus orders and invoices that are lagging indicators.

The simple process of measuring daily activity will lead to more…  Whatever you measure will
improve.  Looking at this maxim, suggested activity to measure includes:

  • Cold phone calls and emails
  • New contacts entered into the CRM
  • Letters and information packets
  • Handwritten note
  • Meaningful conversations
  • Requirements conversations
  • Prospect meetings
  • Proposal development time
  • Networking events
  • Speaking at a community/business event
  • Writing for a targeted industry publication or
    blog

Consider using a point system to track daily activity with a cold call (no meaningful conversation) valued at one point, and then scale points up for activities that are “closer to the dollar.”  If a sales representative has no other activity, then I assume that s/he can make 25 cold calls a day or earn 125
points a week.  After tracking points for six weeks, I might adjust the point values and number of required weekly points up or down depending on actual results but always aiming high.

The next blog will discuss the calculating activity ratios to achieve the goal.

Pam Watson Korbel, 303-906-4144

Chief Growth Officer, SmartGrowth, Inc. (www.smartgrowth.com)

PS  For a free copy of my white paper 10 Tips to Sales Success

The Art & Science of Goal Setting – Sales Coaching #16

2014 January 6

Somewhere between December 1 and January 31 most sales departments complete a flurry of goal-setting exercises.  This checklist enables sales managers to coach their protégées through an effective process:

  1. What is the company’s sales goal?
  2. Break that goal down to vertical markets and key
    accounts.
  3. How do the vertical market and key account
    numbers get assigned to each representative?
  4. Assign the vertical market and key account
    numbers to each rep and then subtotal.
  5. How does the subtotal compare to last year’s
    results?  Higher or lower?
  6. What is a reasonable “stretch” for each rep to
    grow his/her business this year?
  7. What is the representative’s track record of
    sales growth year over year
  8. “A” players can grow their accounts at the same
    rate as the industry growth average or more.
    For example, if a rep sells a technology product where the industry is
    growing 20% per year, then an “A” player representative should grow his/her
    business by at least 20%?
  9. Which is higher – the industry sales rate growth
    (#8) or the representative’s history with the company (#7)?
  10. Add in the growth factor to the subtotal created
    in #4.
  11. Add together all preliminary sales goal numbers
    for each rep.  Is it equal to or great
    than the company goal?
  12. Repeat the process until the distribution of
    individual goals meets the company’s goal.

Here’s an example:

Technology Wizard Inc. total
goal for 2014:  $8,500,000
Jon Susan Ramon
Assigned verticals $1,500,000 $1,500,000 $1,500,000
Key Accounts $500,000 $750,000 $1,800,000
Subtotal $2,000,000 $2,225,000 $3,300,000
Industry growth % 20% 20% 20%
Individual historical growth % 10% 20% 25%
Individual Estimate $2,300,000 $2,670,000 $3,960,000
Company Subtotal Individuals added together = $8,930,000
Final goal individuals $2,300,000 $2,600,000 $3,000,000

Pam Watson Korbel, 303-906-4144

Chief Growth Officer, SmartGrowth, Inc. www.smartgrowth.com

For a free copy of my white paper 10 Tips to More Sales, email me pam@smartgrowth.com.

The Art Role Playing – Sales Coaching #15

2013 September 11
Posted by pam

Both athletes and performing artists bring great disciplines to the field of sales that we can  learn from.  Athletes understand the importance of practice; from their experience, working out 10, 20, 40 hours per week for one game is the routine.  Performing artists understand the importance of tone, cadence, wording in sending their message; they too practice many hours leading up to one event just to perfect tone, cadence and wording.

And so with sales professionals, an appreciation for role playing is critical.

A colleague Colleen Stanley (www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com), says that you need to practice your sales messages 140 times each.  An exaggeration?  Maybe and maybe not.  In his book Outliers, Malcolm Baldridge cites professionals like the Beatles, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who practiced their craft more than 10,000 hours until they became professionals.

Here are some rhythms for role playing recommended for sales professionals:

  • Find an accountability buddy and practice twice a week for 10 minutes each.  Each person picks a sales situation to practice each time.
  • Sales coaches should role play weekly in every session.  Some coaches will push back that they have mastered the message but invoke the 140 times or the 10,000 hours rule.
  • Incorporate role playing into weekly sales meetings.  Choose experts on particular topics to present for the rest of the group.
  • Host one or two-hour monthly refresher trainings for all sales staff and require role playing at each session, tied to the topic.
  • Always, always, always prepare for new sales situations by role playing.

What do you role play?  Elevator talks, value propositions, handling objections, describing each product, describing the company, cold calls, warm calls, etc.

As a sales coach, I constantly reinforce these elements of selling and role playing:

  • Write our your script first.  The brain organizes the information when you write first and that helps to recall it naturally.
  • Re-write the script and always remember to minimize the number of words.
  • Incorporate emotion into verbal (and written messages).
  • Practice, practice, practice.

Pam Watson Korbel, 303-906-4144

SmartGrowth, Inc. (www.smartgrowth.com)

For a copy of my white paper 10 Tips to More Sales: more money, less work, more fun, email me, pam@smartgrowth.com

Cold Calling – Sales Coaching #14

2013 July 23
Posted by pam

Is cold calling dead?  This question always rears its head in sales coaching.  My answer:  cold calling will go away shortly before the need to sell goes away…never.

The first key to effective cold calling is understanding that selling is a “helping” profession.  How can someone take advantage of your wonderful product or service until they know what you have to offer?  Cold calls need to be positioned as communication tools.

What makes most cold calls difficult is the inability to get people on the telephone.  Therefore, strategies to be memorable on the call pay off.  For example, my colleague Colleen Stanley (www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com) teaches people to start the call like this, “Hi, John, this is Mary Smith.  You don’t know me.”  This disarming tactic often keeps people on the phone.  I suggest role playing this situation with your coachees.

Another tactic to get people on the phone is to “warm them up.”  As a suggestion, try direct mailings so that your name and company seem familiar.  As an example, I recently mailed free, 10-page white papers to CEOs in my target market.  When I followed up on the mailing (as I said I would in the letter), I talked to every contact after one phone call…about 60 percent of the time they called me back after I left a message.  Because I had sent something of value, they recognized the name and at least personally addressed their interest in talking more or not.

Additionally, a key to cold calling well is embracing the speed at which it can occur and generate results.  If sales reps are deficient in sales activity, cold calling for a day or two serves as a quick “pick-me-up.”  My rule of thumb is that with no other sales activities (meetings, proposals, networking, etc.) scheduled in a day, then a sales person should be able to make 25 cold calls per day; not all will result in conversations but the outbound record will show 25 different calls.

Lastly, remind sales staff that cold calling is a numbers game.  The more calls you make, the more follow on activity you generate.  It should be a staple of every sales person’s day.

Remember, great sales people love cold calling.

The Power of Gratitude – Sales Coaching #13

2013 July 16
Posted by pam

When was the last time you got a piece of mail that was hand-addressed with a regular stamp?  How did you feel when you got it?

Now that you have remembered the emotion that goes with that experience, how do you think hand-written notes impact your prospects and clients?  As a sales coach, I find that reinforcing the importance and value of hand-written notes is important at least once each fiscal quarter (four times a year).

Verne Harnish of Gazelles Inc. endorses the habit of sending five hand-written notes a week.  That practice, also endorsed by everyone from Deepak Chopra to my grandmother, starts the positive relationship necessary to grow a sales organization.

To whom would you send these notes and why?  Here we go:  thank a prospect for a meeting, send a newspaper clipping or article of value to a client, send your business card to a new referral source…

thank a client for their business at least once a quarter, send a suggestion to a prospective referral source, tell an employee that you enjoy working with him/her, thank the administrative assistant of a client executive…

thank a referral source for a lead, share a photo from an event, wish someone happy birthday or happy anniversary, tell someone that you are thinking about him/her, send a quote or a prayer…

Many benefits accrue from these notes including credibility, the ability reach someone on the telephone more easily, a way to stand out, a different mode of communication, a new relationship,  and maybe even a return handwritten note!

The Power of Time Blocking – Sales Coaching #12

2013 July 1
Posted by pam

Time management is an especially powerful tool in sales and an excellent topic for sales coaching.  Excellent time management generally requires these four habits:

1.  Setting intentions – Part of emotional intelligence is being intentional.  This ranges from having a 5-year and 1-year goal to being focused on your objectives for this month, this day and this meeting.  In my experience, the best sales people write out their intention for each sales meeting/event before it occurs.  Here is an example from a sales person for a catering company who was part of an exhibit at a trade event:  My intention for this event is to generate 15 leads for our new healthy lunch product so that we decrease our dependence upon Sunday catering events.  This is a good intention because it is focused on one event, it is measureable and the purpose is well-defined.   The “intention” creates both the attitude and the outcome.  When no intention is consciously set, the default is the most negative thought in the sales person’s brain.

2.  Creating a “To Do” list – The importance of creating daily, weekly, monthly “To Do” lists has been exhaustively explored by everyone from big names like Stephen Covey to my Mother and your mother.  And yet, we all need regular reminders.  For sales staff, consider setting up a monthly “To Do” list that is then broken down into weeks and then days.  This approach requires that you start with the biggest picture and keep the details in perspective.

3.  Blocking time to attack critical activities – Calendars are not just for meetings!  Great time managers block their calendars with time for critical activities as well.  The best sales people that I know block their calendars weekly to:  make cold calls, post on social media, write handwritten notes, check up on outstanding proposals, etc.

4.  Execution – The creative right brain must dominate the logical left brain when it comes to achieving the desired intentions.  Great sales people set aside time weekly to evaluate their progress and plan.  This keeps them moving into the future.

For a free copy of my Time Blocking Tool for Sales Professionals, email me at pam@smartgrowth.com

Pam Watson Korbel

Chief Growth Officer, SmartGrowth, Inc.

www.smartgrowth.com

More Communications – Sales Coaching #11

2013 June 14
Posted by pam

As a follow up to Wednesday’s post about communication preferences, this blog focuses on another communication  foundation – you must use more than one form of media to communicate effectively with your clients and prospects.  Again this is an important sales coaching topic.

Tired of calling prospects 12 times and not getting a response?  Think that your sales manager is crazy because she told you it takes 12 contacts to make a client?  Here are some tips to make communication easier and more focused on effective relationship-building because you “mix it up” to keep it interesting:

1. Write a hand-written note  and send it via snail mail – Think about it; when you open your mail, don’t you pull out the letters with hand-written addresses first.

2.  Supplement your calling campaigns with postcards highlighting your key marketing messages.  This blog from DreamWise Marketing Solutions provides some great ideas on personalizing direct mail:  http://tinyurl.com/n8wan3t.

3. Look for common acquaintances.  Can you leverage an existing relationship with your prospect?  Can the three of you have lunch or coffee?

4.  Look for common interests in organizations.  Do you belong to any of the same industry groups, associations, chambers?  Can you catch up together at one of those events?

5.  Connect on social media.  Follow the company and the individual and be sure to comment, like and share the information.

6.  For more ideas, check out the website, blog and work of Kendra Lee, klagroup.com.

Communication is a key skill for influence, persuasion and sales.  No one can work too much on communication; after all, it’s unlikely that anyone in heaven is regretting that they communicated too much.
Pam Watson Korbel – 303-906-4144
Chief Growth Officer
SmartGrowth, Inc
For a free copy of my white paper “10 tips to Fast Growth Sales Success,” email me at pam@smartgrowth.com.