Category Archives: Blog

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

elvis-rl-blogI found myself in the city of Nashville last week and had the opportunity to walk along Broadway. It was amazing. People everywhere were enjoying the city’s history as the sounds of country music filled the streets from every bar I passed. I watched the smiles as passersby soaked up the experience when there it was, a life size statue of Elvis Presley.

I could almost hear the thunderous applause followed by the King himself saying, “Thank you, Thank you very much.” I began to think, how often in sales do we take the time to say, “Thank you”? I know we live in a sales world of CRM and contacts with our customers revolve around forecasts and revenue projections, however I am talking about contact with a sole purpose and a sole purpose only, to say thank you. Not some passing thanks for the last order and then asking for another, but a face to face to just say I appreciate your business then disconnect.

Sure, using social media in sales is important, but our sole purpose for interaction with another human should not be to beat them with a URL, to drive them to your website, or deliver content that will help raise your credibility. Saying, “I appreciate your business” without another motive might just display something that is more valued than your company’s product or service, something called caring and sincerity.

So, the next time you wish to get closer to your customer don’t send them a survey, retweet or a blog, take a lesson from the King. Look them in the eye and say, “Thank you, Thank you very much.”

Author: RichLucia
www.RichLucia.com
May 24, 2017

3 Things About Millennial Business Development

Millennial

1. By the year 2020, Millennials will be over 50 percent of the workforce. That means that over 50 percent of B to B buyers as well as sellers will be Millennials.

2. Millennials don’t buy the way many of our sales training programs recommend and over 50% of Millennial sales people will not sell that way.

3. Unless you are predicting a massive movement of ‘Bring your Grandfather to work day’ then you might want to learn about this new breed of Millennial buyers and sellers.

THE MILLENNIAL
They sometimes call me entitled, and often labeled as lazy,
However, misunderstanding is the cause of vision being hazy.
My parents believed the promise of a pension and a watch of gold,
Instead layoffs were their reward for listening to what they were told.
I guess I always questioned the concept of going with the flow,
There had to be a better way to enjoy my life, be creative and grow.
I was raised on being given choices of where to vacation and where to dine.
Is it any wonder that wanting my opinion heard is such a crime?
Be patient, pay your dues, and “Suck it up” is the preferred notion,
But I rather work hard on a more viable solution.
Amazon obsoleted the 7 days waiting for a package to arrive.
Uber replaced waiting for a taxi cab and provides employment to drive.
“Suck it up”, no, not for me. Being a Millennial now means I’m free.
I don’t need sales pitches, it wastes my time.
I collaborate with my friends to make up my mind.
I believe in education and using the technology of today.
With strong beliefs and values guiding my way,
I see no need for conflict and political intuitions
I believe strongly, we are a world of diverse contributions.
So you might not find me working on things the way they used to be,
I’ll be working at my passion, making things the way they are going to be.

Author: RichLucia
www.RichLucia.com
May 3, 2017

Are You Selling Like a Four Year Old’s Soccer Game

four year old soccer This past weekend, I had the pleasure of stopping by a four-year-old’s soccer game. I watched as these boys and girls had the best time chasing a soccer ball in unison, up and down the field. There were no plays and their techniques yielded to a recurring cheer of, “get it”, kick harder”. It occurred to me, while watching, how similar this scene is to most sales organizations.

Like their four-year-old counter parts, they dress the part and there is often no lack of enthusiasm, but there is something else missing; a good strategy. Many sales teams, armed with no strategy or one that was designed for days long gone by, are also given the same recurring cheer, ‘just go get it, sell harder’.

In times of poor sales results, there is no lack of finger pointing. Blame is spread generously on the economy, pricing, sales compensation, and lack of sales training. If there ever was an example in today’s sales organizations of the similarity to four-year-olds playing soccer, it is watching companies run to one technology tool, quickly abandoning it and running to another as they play ‘just kick it’ with social media, CRM and other selling tools designed to track sales people and catch them doing something wrong.

Have you ever considered it might just be a lack of a sound sales strategy? How powerful is a sales strategy that totally understands what is happening now in your market and addresses it with an executable solution. Technology clearly has its value, but remember the key mission of any technology is to make a process more efficient. If your process is flawed, then your best case is you will achieve failure more quickly.

When was the last time you put your sales strategy under the microscope and held it accountable for the results you seek? When asked, What is your sales strategy?” do you answer it only with a goal or is there a plan attached to that goal and is that plan current?

Having a solid sales strategy is much better than selling like four-year olds playing soccer. A ‘kick it harder’ mentality may occasionally result in the ball finding a chance goal but that might not be good enough to accomplish your mission.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
April 26, 2017

Are You Approaching Sales as a Shark or an Anchovy?

sell-like-an-anchovyToday’s business development calls for a fresh look at your sales strategy. I realize we were raised on the sales mentality of being a Shark. Cover our geography and chase anything that moves. Want more catches? Swim faster.

There just might be a more effective way to ensure that buyers are more receptive. Be an Anchovy instead of a Shark.

It is said that the Anchovy is the best feed fish in the ocean. It swims under the belly of the shark and does quite well feeding on what falls out of the Shark’s mouth while it is chewing. The Anchovy is focused and has become quite good at getting endless opportunities for food. There just might be a sales lesson in this scenario.

By not trying to sell to everyone that crosses your path, it becomes smarter to understand your niche and stay put. You will begin to be an expert in that niche and today’s buyers seeking added value will gravitate toward your advice and solutions. Your niche is that intersection of your company’s product or service and the most value it provides to targeted buyers. Focusing on selling narrow and deep will maximize your efforts and help turn that outdated sales funnel into an efficient sales cylinder. Oh, you will be tempted to run after the next passing shiny object but understand it for what it is, an effort to diffuse you and your mission.

Sell like an Anchovy and stick to your focused niche. Anchovies have learned that if they can avoid getting distracted and stay under the belly of the shark, they will do just fine. Getting distracted and getting too close to the shark’s mouth will lead to an unpleasant outcome, and wandering off, chasing something outside their niche, just might get them caught and wind up on someone’s pizza.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
April 19, 2017

Selling in the NOW!

selling-in-the-nowWhere do you turn when sales aren’t where they should be? Conventional wisdom tells us to hit the sales-training road in an attempt to utilize those time-proven selling techniques. Back to the basics – you know, those sales tools that have been used with great success for years and have stood the test of time. Not so quick. They’re often repackaged, but not much has really been altered during the past twenty years. But something has changed … your customer. Many of the selling tools and techniques we still use today were created back when all customers had the same motivations, values and perceptions. At that time, creating a set of universal selling concepts that would appeal to everyone was a pretty good idea. Ultimately, a “one size fits all” sales manual was utilized to teach and appeal to the majority of the prospects out there, namely Baby Boomers. The only problem now is that Baby Boomers have begun to retire, and the incoming Generation Y and Xers don’t dance to the same drummer as the generation before them. And the Millennials who follow the Gen Y & Xers are bringing even more diverse motivations, values and perceptions to the playing field. So why are we selling in the past? It’s almost like we are skating where the puck used to be, and then surprised when we get there only to find that the game has moved to another place. If the mission is to win the game of today, then you must use the tools that customers respond to NOW. “Selling in the NOW” means recognizing that if you want to make a sale to today’s buyers, you have to be aware of how and why they buy in today’s world.

Customers are definitely different from years ago. A lot of selling concepts fit for the people who made their jobs their priority. The company’s pain was their pain. Little else mattered. Years ago when a layoff took place, the company stock went down. It was a sign of trouble. In contrast, a layoff today signals lower costs and higher profits, resulting in stock prices being driven up. I’m not saying that customers aren’t loyal and devoted to their companies as much any more, however different priorities are now in the forefront of all prospective customers’ minds.

Here’s an example. You may have a product that relieves your prospect’s company pain and would solve a major problem. However, if your solution requires that the buyer stays after work two extra hours a day for three months, watch out. It might conflict with what he perceives as his gain, which is getting home for dinner each night.

Go ahead and uncover the pain. But you also have to find the gain or you won’t make the sale. Solving pain is a defense play. No one likes pain, but in today’s world, it’s no longer the only motivator to buy something. Gain is an offense play and a motivator that brings pleasure.

Think of it this way. You won’t find people scalping appointments at the dentist’s office, but you will find people eagerly paying many times over face value for tickets to a popular concert.

If the way you present your products benefit appeals to their pain, they might have a reason to buy. If it appeals to what’s important to them, their gain, that’s motivation to buy, and you will make that sale.

“Selling in the NOW” is recognizing different generational groups. Learning to understand, test, and then validate any perceptions prospects hold that will help you relate to them, uncover their “gain” and build trust – and ultimately assist them in buying.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
April 12, 2017

Smaller Consulting Companies Play Tug of War with Customer Ownership

tug-of-war

Often, when a consulting contract is closed and the delivery phase has begun, a sigh of relief can be heard now that the competition has folded their tent and gone away. We believe the battle is over. In many cases, however, the battle has just begun. Yes, the internal battle of “Who owns the account?” “Is it sales or delivery?”

Until this point, Sales took the spotlight and, in many cases, shared it with a pre-sales consultant. They worked together to create the proper expectation and showcased their company’s capabilities. After the sale, the spotlight quickly moves to delivery where the ‘real sale’ is tested. Delivery must exceed expectations, not only to grow that customer but also to put another arrow in the salesperson’s quiver when securing referrals for new customers. Salespeople typically have a challenging time letting go and thus the sales vs. delivery ‘tug of war’ begins.

Delivery, if trained properly, can have the customer looking for more opportunities as the aura of credibility fills the customer’s to do list. Why then is the sales rep so reluctant to give the delivery person his or her moment in the spotlight? Maybe it’s a throw back from the old Sales philosophy that any account is MY ACCOUNT – hands off. The new reality is Delivery now has the customer’s faith and any reentry from the sales rep named ‘Joey Needanymore’ is not welcome.

I often see Sales trying to run internal meetings with Delivery. The concept sounds like a good effort to get everyone to work together as a team but, when Sales runs the meeting, a different outcome is the usual result. Delivery’s eyes roll and this adversarial phase now accounts for the least desirable part of their employment experience.

Times have changed. Customers want to buy but they don’t want to be sold. I will always put my money on a sales rep, using all the company resources availed to them, closing a new deal over a delivery person. However, I will always double down on a well-trained delivery person to grow that customer. I am not talking about training Delivery people to act like sales people. No way. They are much more effective doing what they do while highlighting their company’s ability to deliver. This not only must be taught but must also be integrated into the consulting company’s process or the tug of war will continue until the customer finds a new provider.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
April 5, 2017

 

In Sales, March Madness Means Something Different

March Sales MadnessA quick look at the calendar and we are aware that March Madness is upon us. Ah, March Madness, a time for college basketball and the thrill of watching, cheering, and betting on our favorite team. However, in the world of sales, March brings on a different kind of madness – the awareness that one-fourth of the year is close to closing and sales aren’t where we would like them to be.

Sure, we had our beginning-of-the-year sales kickoff meeting and passed out our previous year’s accolades. At the same time, we announced this year’s revenue expectations and assigned aggressive goals. We persevered through complaints, negations, and outright begging for lower goals as we painfully reviewed individual sales representative’s business plans. Yet, we are facing lowered expectations as we struggle through March.

March Sales Madness means those business plans are somewhere out of sight, growing moss on their north side and that sales goals are being met with excuses that range from ‘the economy is bad’ to ‘our pricing is too high’. It’s a lot like when you flush a toilet. You begin to push down on the handle and start to hear the trickle of water. It’s not a complete flush but you know the complete flush is on its way. March Sales Madness is that trickle, however there is something you can do to end the Madness and get things back on course. Clients have taken the following three steps to reverse March Sales Madness and get things on the right track:

  1. Bring someone in who is not part of your organization. Someone who can look at things through new eyes and has worked with other organizations. There are many companies that have paid dearly to make the mistakes you are about to make and have had successes that you are not aware exist.
  2. Together, go through the company strategy to market. Way to often, the sales strategy is, ‘more of the same’. In a changing market with buyers getting their information and motivation differently, ‘the same’ doesn’t cut it anymore.
  3. Re-examine those individual sales business plans and determine if they fit the mission. If they do, implement a short-term strategy, follow the plan and modify when needed. If they do not, re-create the plan and begin again with short term (30 day) monitoring.

Think of January as the ‘dreaming’ phase of a sales mission. It is a whole new year of hope and high expectations. Sales tendencies that lean more towards tactics than strategies and action plans are like seeds planted with the expectation of a fine crop to harvest. March comes along and we start to recognize that many of those seeds were never watered and in many cases were planted in the wrong place. March is the time to recommit to that garden and don’t allow March Sales Madness to carry over to another quarter.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
March 22, 2017

Are You Selling Like a Leprechaun?

Leprechaun

It’s the time of year that brings to mind the Leprechaun and how many sales people operate every day as if they were this bearded green mythical character. Like the Leprechaun, sales people are observed tap-tap-tapping their tiny cobbler hammer, driving nails into shoes, appearing they are hard at work, confusing activity with results. It is the same expected behavior and selling techniques that have been passed down for hundreds of years with the hope that it will lead to a pot of gold. There is no pot of gold using antiquated sales practices and the customer of today is in a different place. Why do we continue to follow a rainbow that has moved or doesn’t really exist?

Why then, are we teaching our sales representatives to continue to tap-tap the same way they did in the past. We have even implemented CRM technology that inspects our out of date practices when the real answer is to change the way we sell. Our customers have changed. How they get their information has changed so it just might be time to put away the cobbler hammer and start ‘Selling in the Now”. Selling is no longer folklore but a deliberate effort to keep in tune with today’s buyers and how they buy.

Let’s take the tap- tap practice of cold calling. Ancient wisdom always told us that if we tap (knock) on enough doors we will find someone who will buy from us. Behind those now locked doors are buyers who get their information from the internet and each other, yet we still address this phenomenon by just making more calls. Are we taking the time to target those prospects that are predisposed to buy? Standing at the edge of the woods, taking a shot and hoping to hit something isn’t hunting.

Why are we spending our sales training dollars on what to say when we get in front of a prospect when the new challenge of today is getting that face-to-face appointment. We work very hard tap-tap-tapping on a standard brochure or elevator pitch when buyers have ceased to be standard. We challenge our prospects when confronted with an objection, yet the buyer of today is too informed (or think they are) to let us get away with a challenger attitude. Do we fully understand that today’s buyers talk to each other to seek consensus of thought? Are we truly too busy tapping our cobbler hammer to look up and see who our new buyer is and what matters to them.

The good news is, there really is a pot of gold if you follow and understand the rainbow of today. It’s no longer how many nails you hammer but which ones and where you place them. We grew up in a world that taught sales tactics yet today’s success is embedded in the correct selling strategy. Get your sales team on the right track first, then speed up the engine.

Remember history is a great educator of what not to do in the future, so leave the Leprechauns out of your sales practices and realize your customers are no longer attracted to a tricky green man with mythical results.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
March 15, 2017

Smaller Consulting Companies Can Eat the Elephant – One Bite at a Time

elephantThere is something in a salesperson’s DNA that makes hunting the “big deal” a strong attraction. Maybe it’s the power, the recognition of a big win, or the dream of a large commission check, however when selling for a smaller consulting company it might be wise to put down the elephant gun and change your thinking. You can still get the big prize, but not today and surely not in one sitting.

Customers with a need for very large projects seem to gravitate to the big Accounting/Consulting firms. These large consulting firms consistently play the “SIZE MATTERS” card to convince customers that their size, brand, and high pricing mitigates risk. The smaller consulting firms often get trapped in the RFP game, designed to round out the field and display to the ultimate decision makers, that due diligence was served. The sales person from a smaller consulting firm spends time, effort and the mental cycles of the delivery team compiling RFP after RFP that dies on the forecast projection. Besides, in many cases winning that very large deal upfront will often but a strain on delivery resources.

The smaller consulting firm must reinvent themselves from trying to sell the huge project upfront to relying on delivery to grow the base. Call it “get your foot in the door” or start off with a small project to prove your value, it will work and is the path to long-term growth. The big boys don’t like to play in that world and their resources aren’t allocated that way. I’m not suggesting one walks away from the Elephant, just eat it one bite at a time. Demonstrated value will always win in the long run over marketing promises.

So before you go out there to hunt those huge deals, leave your Elephant gun behind and target smaller “proof of concept” opportunities that can grow when nurtured properly. If you should stumble across a very large deal, use your selling ability to convince the prospect to break it into small pieces to mitigate risk and adopt a value as you go philosophy. Take the opportunity into your backyard and leave the big boys out on the plains.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
March 7, 2017

Tried …. But Not True Anymore

millennial-seminarHow often have we heard the phrase, “Tried and True”? This phrase is a throwback from the past designed to build our confidence around, “It has always worked, so keep doing it”.

Today, nothing can be further from the truth. I watch sales organizations, desperate to increase revenue, turn to the dated wisdom from the past to teach, train and manage today’s sales force. Those business development techniques might have worked in the past, but they just don’t work anymore.

The reason why a trip down memory lane is so ineffective today and will never get you to your destination of effective selling is right in front of us.

Buyers have changed and so have your sales personal. We are now living in a world where Millennials are the largest single group in our work force. By the year 2020, Millennials will represent nearly half of all workers.

Millennials seek, receive and process information differently than their parents or grandparents do. They are much more collaborative in their decision process and are apt to continue interactions well after the normal work day. Millennials are eager to pick their projects and professions based on their passion rather than financial motivation alone. This fuels the engine of innovation and a strong desire to make a difference in their dedicated beliefs.

This explains why, when we take a page out from the old sales playbook of cold calling, stock presentations, self-interest pitches, and information dumping, it is met by the Millennial buyer as a deletable event. Also, how about your Millennial sales rep? They will just not accept using the techniques of yesteryear to sell to an audience of their peers.

Here lies the dilemma. Why continue to teach and train a salesforce, that will reject an outdated message, with the hope that they might be force-managed to use it on a Millennial buyer that will reject it. Yet, we still do this on a regular basis by jumping at that next CRM ear-pulling program to try and muscle both buyer and sellers into the past.

At this point you might be asking, “What are the more successful business development organizations doing to change with the times? First, they are gaining a true understanding of Millennials. The very capable group of Millennials, not only hold the keys to business development success, but are having a huge impact on influencing Gen Y, X and Baby Boomers. Sales organizations that have broken the code have reexamined their sales strategies and selling techniques to ensure they are congruent with the buyers and sellers of today. They label it “Selling in the Now”. At great expense, many sales organizations have come to the realization that although they have, “Tried” the old way, it just isn’t “True” anymore.  Learn how to help your organization make the shift.

Author: Rich Lucia
www.RichLucia.com
November 18, 2016