Tag Archives: Sales

Getting Sales from Point A to Point B …

Rich-Lucia-SpeakerIt’s the time of the year where, as a Sales speaker and Consultant, I reflect on the people and companies I have worked with in the last twelve months and ask myself, Did I make a Difference? Rather than sending out my usual New Year announcements about Sales Kickoff meetings and consulting availability, I wanted to share an experience I had this past year with one manufacturer that stands out for their willingness to change and their achievement of organization, increasing sales, specifically more profitable revenue.

This manufacturing company, let’s call them Manny Inc. has been in business for over 50 years and hired me last year to speak at their sales kickoff meeting. Prior to the meeting, I asked the owner, “What would they like to achieve in the upcoming year”? He told me sales had been flat for the past several years and with a downturn in the economy he feared reduced sales in the future.

He shared with me that what he really wanted was to move his company forward from Point A to Point B. After a few more questions and observations, I spoke at their meeting on “Selling in the Now”. I talked about how times have changed and how customers get and process information has changed, yet many sales organizations still sell the same way they did in the past. It just doesn’t work anymore. Sure, their product was sound and their ability to scale manufacturing was available, however, each day their sales force continued to skate where the puck was, only to find when they got there it had moved on.

After the kickoff meeting I was invited back to see if I could make a difference. Now, one year later, profitable sales are up and Manny Inc. is well positioned to have another phenomenal year.

It began with organizing sales efforts. A newer more simplified CRM was implemented. One that helps sales people sell and not act as an electronic baby sitter service. Then, we did a deep dive into the customer base to find the attributes of their best customers. Existing customers are often overlooked for examples of “best fit” for new customers and lead generation.

Vince Lombardi said that his only competition was time, and that is so is true of selling. We organized sales efforts and how time is spent and with whom. All customers need to be touched, however, how we touch them can maximize our Return on Effort (ROE). Which customers would benefit from a face-to-face interaction and which ones are better served with an email or a telephone call and which ones are covered nicely with well-constructed digital marketing campaigns.

We worked on the sales call approach. How we interacted with a customer needed attention. As manufacturer that sold through distributors, Manny, Inc. was prone to using the “Needamore” selling technique. That is where you just show up and ask. “Need any more Product”? That is not selling; that is just very expensive order taking.

We worked long and hard on becoming valuable resources to people and achieving that trusted advisor status. The internet has locked many doors for sales people as customers feel they can get all the information they need there. With proper planning and Selling in the Now techniques we found the right doors and got them unlocked.

Views and actions regarding objections and competition were modified to explain, “Best Fit” vs. Competitive Knock-offs. The whole management philosophy was re-positioned from catching people doing something wrong to catching them doing something right.

Internally, we put a great deal of effort into sharing each sales rep’s strengths and abilities. It is so amazing how the talent within an organization can, with very little effort, can be joined to build a true winning team. With a new selling strategy in place, we looked at the existing compensation plan. We found in many cases we were not only blazing a path in the wrong direction but we were compensating handsomely to do so. Congruency in mission, vision and implementation is key to getting the results you seek and the attrition you don’t.

As I look past 2016, I consider myself fortunate to have worked with Manny Inc.  Both of our lives are richer for the experience. Sales people do not generate revenue. They uncover needs that turn into sales that generate revenue. Once a sales rep understands that their job is to ‘Move the Needle’ then their methodical journey begins towards success. The role of a sales rep is an important one. A company’s success or failure rides on the balance and all company employees are counting on sales getting it right.

I am eagerly looking forward to 2017 and beyond to help organizations with my passion, “Getting it Right”.

What are you looking forward to? Where do you want to be this time next year?

Why not give me a call to see if I can help you get where you need to go.  After a quick conversation, I can help identify your issues and determine if I am the one to help you.  Call me at 484.831.5485 or send an email to Rich@RichLucia.com.

Author: Rich Lucia

#CONV15 03.16.15 – Rich Lucia Presenting at MS Convergence 2015

Microsoft Convergence 2015Join Rich Lucia in Atlanta, Georgia for Microsoft Convergence where leaders will gather to explore, share and experience business solutions. Rich will be presenting Don’t Get Stuck in the Past: Three Keys to Selling in the Now

Event Details:
What: MS Convergence 2015
Where: Atlanta, Georgia
When: March 16th at 11:00 in B406

Where do you turn when sales aren’t where they should be? To your sales tools that have been used with great success for years? Not so quick. Your customers have changed the way they buy. If the mission is to win the game of today, then you must use the tools that customers respond to NOW. Join Rich Lucia, Business Development Specialist, to learn how to sell in the now by finding your ideal customer profile, driving them to your door, and nurturing them to close the deal.

Key Learning #1:  Understand how buyers now bring more diverse motivations, values and perceptions
Key Learning #2:  Learn how and why customers buy in today’s world
Key Learning #3:  Get three critical tips for selling to today’s customer

See you March 16th from 11:00 – 12:00 in Room B406! #CONV15

Learn More

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

It’s in the news – the economy is coming back. You’re looking forward to a rise in revenue as you watch your sales organization begin to clap at the prospect of long awaited sales. But don’t expect the revenue to just start pouring in. If you send your sales force out there with the same approach as last year, I’m afraid the results will be like the sound of one hand clapping – nothing!

Dollars are not plentiful, and we may never see the spending frenzy of yesteryear. Your salespeople will now face the challenge of their lives: competition. And it won’t be another company that sells a product or service similar to your own, but a new competitor – everyone! Your sales force must be ready to compete for your customers’ entire budget, mind share and attention. This will require a new set of skills. Skills not in asking the questions, “Do you need any?” or “Do you need more?” but skills in understanding your prospects’ and customers’ organizations – their goals, objectives and challenges.

Relationship building has never been more important. Gone are the days of being the “salesperson” for XYZ Company. Customers have grown tired of the order-taking robot whose appearance generates an under-the-breath, “Ughhhhh.” Customers want, no need, a “Trusted Advisor.” Someone who can see the world through their eyes and feel their pain. Someone who will actually help them get their mission accomplished.

A good “Trusted Advisor” knows his prospects’ business and knows his customer. How does this happen? Relationship Building. By building a close working relationship with your prospects, you can be that Trusted Advisor and be in the best possible position to have them take advantage of your products and services. This just might require a different mindset and skill set when you’re with your customer or prospect. It begins with caring. Caring about what your customers and prospects care about and listening intently to learn. I was asked once, “What technique or trick can I use to make the customer think I really care?” I responded, “There is no trick. You just need to really care.”

So, sales managers, before you dust off your call reporting system to increase the number of sales calls through micro management; before you fill the arms of sales reps with glossy brochures and tell them to “Ask for the order, often;” step back and take a look around. It’s a new world out there. A different time and place. A different culture. The selling skills of the past just won’t work anymore. Before we can win the sale, we have to relearn how to earn the right to present our product or solution. Is the economy bouncing back? Sure it is. But save the applause. Customers have changed. If we want results, there’s work to be done. Sales development now requires a holistic approach. Sure there are new social selling tools but used together without regard to how they might be in conflict can be as dangerous as mixing medications. Look into Integrated Social Selling to achieve the success you seek.

Author: Rich Lucia

Selling is Not a Rodeo

Did you ever notice how, for years, sales training has been closely matched to a rodeo event? Sales reps are taught to chase after and rope prospects like mindless steer before they get away. We call that cold calling. When the rope is secure around their neck, we move into a trained sales pitch. If they fight to get loose, we break out another rope and tie their feet. We call that handling objections. The process of both roping steer and selling assumes that your target doesn’t want to interact with you and getting trained in clever verbal ropes will bring them to their knees.

Prospects are not mindless steer. Thanks to the Internet, they are more knowledgeable than ever and are more guarded from anyone who is a self-serving roper. Knowledgeable prospects are 60 to 75 percent through the order cycle before they even interact with a sales person.

So why to we continue this annoying random cold calling, roping selling technique to close business? Prospects today don’t want to be roped or sold; however they do want to buy. Selling in the Now takes into account today’s buyers, how they want to buy and from whom.

Using social media as a cold calling replacement is a Selling in the Now technique that is more aligned with the world today. Another is focusing on prospects that are already predisposed to buy from you. This results in a more valuable customer and doesn’t waste selling time on trying to close someone who will never buy from you. So leave your rodeo sales training home and tune in to your prospects and how they buy today.

Author: Rich Lucia

When Hiring for Sales, Replace Your Open Door With a Screen

I live in a wooded area and I take great care in making sure my garage door is kept closed. It’s not that I don’t want neighbors, friends and family to visit, just the opposite. What I don’t want field mice, raccoons or numerous squirrels wandering in to set up home. When that happens I have to stop what I’m doing and take the time to remove them, hoping they haven’t done too much damage.

How many of us see this same scenario when hiring a sales representative? We quickly open our company’s doors to whomever wishes to wander in. Sure, we want to fill the position with the best quality candidate as quickly as possible, however we have to have the skills and time to sort through the numerous people to find that best fit from all the wildlife that is out there. Tragically, if we do wind up with a squirrel, can we afford the lengthy process of damage control and removal? Don’t even compute the lost opportunity cost and the time to repeat a flawed methodology.

Before we just accept this as an avoidable business risk, consider a better way. Replace your open door with one with a screen. Yes, outsource your hunting process. Let a qualified recruiter screen out the wildlife and present you with the best fit. A qualified recruiter has the experience and skills to filter out the field mice, raccoons and squirrels. I have had fabulous results from using great recruiters to allow me to focus on what I do best while they do what they do best. They successfully do this every day, you don’t. You may know the ideal prospect profile, so tell them, and let them sort out the herd.

I know what your thinking, “Why should I pay to get sales candidates, there are so many available out there”. There is a reason; there are just too many frogs out there to kiss to find your prince or princess. Screening candidates is not your daily focus and you might allow someone to join your organization that might look great but is really a squirrel in disguise. I learned years ago, that when a candidate had an exceptional interview and after being hired was a poor performer, they were probably good at the job seeking process because they did it often.

So before you post your open sales position on the Internet and populate the social media world, consider the outcome. You will get a bunch, a huge bunch of responses from people looking for work. Evaluate your time, risk and overall importance of filling this position. If the evaluation reads high to very high, replace your open door with one that has a good screen.

Author: Rich Lucia

Is It CRM or MIS?

Let’s set the record straight. CRM is supposed to stand for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. But with current CRM that’s just about where the relationship to your customer ends. If you believe knowing your customer and understanding their needs gives you a greater chance you to solve their problems with your solution then what’s on the market today will be of little or no help. The original CRM systems were founded on the belief that if you could see the world through your customer’s eyes, then you will know what they buy and how they buy. Early CRM captured relevant information about your customer. Their likes, dislikes, family names and birthdates, hobbies, past buying experiences, how they are evaluated and compensated, personal preferences etc. were all kept on record. These systems got you closer to your customers and help you build a relationship by keeping in touch with their world through their eyes. They truly helped you manage the relationship.
However, CRM companies started catering to the check writers: Management. The benefits of capturing and sorting customer profiles data were part of why CRM existed, yet it yielded to a more immediate need to measure: What is going on? Customer relationship building data was replaced with pipelines, forecasting, probability of close and activity documentation. All of which are geared around the end result of an action, not how to achieve success. Let’s face it. CRM is now an MIS, Management Inspection System. I had a sales manager once tell me that he loved their new CRM system as it gave him everything he needed to manage his team. He said, “No one can make a move without me knowing about it. I can see how much and what they are working on, as well as their activity and forecast accuracy.” I asked, “How does that help them sell more”? He responded. “They know I’m watching”. Customer Relation Management System, I don’t think so: Management Inspection Systems, most definitely.
Other than the practice of trying to catch someone doing something wrong, these new MIS systems might be necessary in running a well-managed, reportable sales organization. They do not, however, deserve the title of Customer Relationship Management Systems. Moreover, emphasis on these mislabeled CRM systems have taken us on a different path than getting to see the world through a customer’s eyes. Knowledge to build a strong relationship has been replaced with pie and bar charts of results or forecasted results. Sadly, not only have the check writers prioritized their needs over the CRM mission but they have also sent the message to their sales force that knowing your customer takes a back seat to data entry that answers, ”What are you doing?”
I posed this dilemma to several CRM companies and other than them telling me I can customize their fields to capture more data, they had little understanding of what it takes help their clients make that sale. So, if current CRM has become a post-activity data collection system, then who is concerned with what a sales person needs to know in order to close more sales? There just may be hope as LinkedIn is getting ready to announce a new contact management system. LinkedIn has always been a believer in the power of connections and relationships. Who is better positioned to merge that power with a contact management system?
While the modern sales process has changed in many ways, the fundamentals are the same. The tricky part is merging the past and future together. Visit richlucia.com to learn more about forging ahead in today’s sales environment and May the Sale be With You.

Author: Rich Lucia

Don’t Train the Person Out of the Salesperson

Have you ever noticed that when you hire salespeople, you do your absolute best to find someone who has great communication skills? We all tend to make our decisions based upon the candidate’s ability to demonstrate superior listening skills, as well as a keen interest in our organization, and a strong desire to understand the mission ahead.

We look for a person who can relate well to our customers (and potential customers), while honestly gaining trust and an eventual commitment for our product or service. Though we have the best of intentions, once the hiring is accomplished, we begin to train the actual person out of the salesperson we hired.

We begin our sales training process much like a recipe that has been passed down through generations. Unfortunately, the end product just might be a cake that no one wants to eat.
We start with a full cup of the standard one-size-fits-all list of the product’s features and benefits. Then we add two canned pitches that can be memorized, along with a heaping tablespoon of what we call an “elevator pitch.” (It’s called that because if you only had a short time, like in an elevator ride, you could give the short version of the lengthy pitch.) Our training recipe wouldn’t be complete without half a cup of pre-written retorts, providing some automatic responses in case the prospect has an objection. Add a teaspoon of “pointing prospects to the website” for more one-size-fits-all benefits, and just a pinch of the “template of a standard proposal,” and you have it.

But wait, what has happened to our newly hired salespeople? We have given them all the standard sales tools, and they have memorized and practiced until their presentations are flawless. However, with this recipe, we have discouraged them from being the people we hired. No need for them to listen intently as they did in the interview, for we have trained them to believe that what a customer says will not change what we present. Why else would we send them into a sales call with a pre-written pitch book or the same PowerPoint presentation that everyone gets? No need to relate specific benefits to their prospects, as the memorized version includes everything anyone would ever want. All the qualities we hired for now take a backseat to a bucket of one-size-fits-all presentations. We have successfully trained the person out of the salesperson.

Sure we need to train our hires on our product or service, but if we can’t train them to choose their benefits and presentations carefully, we are creating a recipe for failure. A feature or benefit that has no interest to someone is not only ineffective, but can add a nuance factor that will send your prospect running. Instead, spend your training efforts on teaching salespeople how to customize presentations to prospects. Throw away standard one-size-fits-all presentations. You know, those presentations that when they don’t work, you teach the salesperson to just give it to more people.
So put your training to the test. Sure it must provide product and service information, but does it compliment the communication skills of the person you hired? Does it reinforce the practice of not only carefully listening, but taking that gathered information and building trust? Does your training focus on how to relate specific benefits that are of key interest to that individual prospect? If you can keep on track and understand the recipe for adding a productive, valued sales resource, you will have a greater chance of serving a cake that your customers will return for again and again.
Hire well, train to what you hired, and avoid training the person out of your salesperson.