Hunting Big Sales with Tom Searcy

Weekly Tip: Increasing Your Company’s “Sellability”

Increasing Your Company’s “Sellability

The economy is picking up. I can tell because clients are starting to get bought or are buying other companies and these are typically for a premium above the industry-rate, usually some flat multiple of earnings.

The desire for any business owner at the point that they sell is to seek a price above the market rate. It’s part of a report card as to how you have run your business compared to your competitors, as demonstrated by what price a buyer is willing to pay for it.

We have always emphasized the importance of having a clear sales process that increases confidence that your growth wasn’t a result of luck but is the product of an asset in your business.

Recently I viewed some videos by a friend who I believe does a nice job in talking about the other things you have to develop and measure to achieve a premium if you sell your company. Enjoy.

Watch the videos here.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: My Best Customer Just Re-Organized, Now What?

It happens all the time…your best customer goes through a significant change in its structure and you lose supporters. The mechanism can be acquisition, merger, headcount cuts, shuffle-the-deck of leadership…there are others, it doesn’t really matter, the outcome is the same. You are in trouble.

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  1. Don’t Panic – It’s natural to hear fire alarms, especially if this is a very big customer. The fact is that this happens a lot and you have seen it before.
  2. React Fast – You must get on the calendar and in front of your customer’s people, new or old. You can’t sit and wait, even if they tell you to. You must manufacture a reason to see them and connect.
  3. Establish Contact – When changes happen fast, it is not unusual for there to be a little confusion as to whom you should be connecting. For this reason, you need to go wide with your efforts and contact as many people as you can to gather reconnaissance and establish a picture of the customer’s new world order.
  4. Start Over – Assume that you will need to re-sell your solution. This does not mean that you ignore all that has been accomplished. Instead, you outline the history of why you were selected, the highlights of your value and the nature of the current working relationship.
  5. Expect Change – Re-organization initiatives do not happen to keep things the same, they occur to shake things up. Your relationship will change as a byproduct of this effort. Get ready for it.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: The Power of Back Channels

Political negotiators have known the power of back channels forever. These are people with whom unofficial communication can be routed between two negotiating parties while official communication is managed in front of the camera. Why not just put it all out in the open? Because there are delicate issues that need a level of both transparency and discretion in order for the negotiations to make progress behind the scenes while posturing can occur in front of the scrutiny of the public eye.

Selling large contracts that involve processes and personnel who are only tangentially involved requires you to have back channels. Put another way, your buyer might very well be willing to provide you inside information and back channel insight during a process managed by the Purchasing department. Your buyer needs to live with the result of the decision, while Purchasing just cares about the adherence to the process. For your own sake, you need to establish access to information through back channels early and often in a large contract sale so that you can get the information you need.

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  1. Intention – Back channels are for both organizations’ benefit. You need to find someone who is looking to have a freer access than the process or supervision allows.
  2. Give to get – This is an exchange of information along the way, so you will need to decide what to share.
  3. Test to verify – You must make certain that the information you are getting from them is both reliable and unique, or otherwise they are not a back channel.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: The Pendulum Has Swung Away from Price

I spent some time recently looking at the data from my friends at SalesForensics’s most recent report on the buying thought processes and selling practices of companies in their 2014 initial study. A continuing and accelerating trend away from price being the primary concern of companies buying products and services is showing. Thank God, right? Aren’t you exhausted of the constant drone of the drones on price?

If it’s not price, (and price is still high on the list, it’s just no longer first), what are the emerging trends?

  1. Relevance – How close the selected company’s solution matches the requirements and nuances of the need of the buyers.
  2. Business Understanding – How much demonstrated understanding the selling company shows of the buying company’s business and market issues.
  3. Sales Team Chemistry and Sales Process Effectiveness – Do the members of both sides connect and trust each other?

I don’t think that price is going away as a motivator in buying choices. However, with the availability of comparative information between competitors, it is less of a surprise between the finalists and so other criteria come to the surface.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: Chefs Eat Their Own Food

Would you eat at a restaurant that the chef of the restaurant didn’t? Of course not! I expect the chef to know where the ingredients came from, have established the recipes, kitchen practices, hired the staff, set standards for the plating of the food and to be there on a regular basis to check on all of these things.

When I ask VP’s of Sales about their involvement in their sales process, prospects and pipeline, I often get very different answers than I would think. There is a belief that prospecting and selling is something for sales people and that strategy, structure and only key deals are their jobs. Wrong. You are the chef. You have to oversee as the core standard of quality, a regular and strong sampling of every element of your kitchen.

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  1. Prospecting – Beyond setting a contact target, you need to be listening to the efforts, attending the trade shows as well as overseeing the lead generation campaign designs and outcomes.  These are the ingredients.
  2. First meetings – Especially with new sales people, but from time to time with all sales people, you need to be in the field, in the meetings, providing feedback and coaching.
  3. Presentations – Getting sales leaders to attend sales presentations is not usually the highest challenge- who doesn’t like to be at the pitch? The problem is that VP’s want to be at the “sure thing” presentation. Your staff needs to see you in the uncertain presentation moments to get better, not just in the highly likely.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: Hire Right, Higher Profits

A friend of mine, Lee Salz, wrote a book recently titled,“Hire Right, Higher Profits”. I interviewed him for an article and you can find that recording here.

I took a lot from the book and the conversation. Here are a couple of thoughts when you are considering adding new members to your sales team: 

  1. Don’t hire jockeys to drive NASCAR – One of the mistakes in hiring that is often missed is that performance data that is longer ago than 5 years is no longer indicative. *SPOILER ALERT* The world of selling has changed. That’s right, it’s not the same, not even a little bit. So, if the candidate has not been successful in the new world, pass.
  2. Time and scale relevance are key – “Never hire someone to sell every day a sale bigger than their biggest sale ever.” This is a maximum of our family because of its historical truth. Adding a zero or two to a sales reps’ size of average sale amount expectation is not just a scale shift, it is a mindset shift. Likewise, if they are used to closing deals in thirty days, they will fail if the hunt cycle is really six months in your industry or market. Mindset is critical, and you need to be very careful that you don’t hire someone with the wrong mindset.
  3. Team is the new performance model – Complexity has shifted the ability of sales people to operate as solo artists. They have to be able to coordinate, facilitate and project manage.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Uncategorized, Weekly Tips.

5 Steps to Solid Strategic Planning

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with John Myrna about his new book The Chemistry of Strategy. We discussed what it means to have a strategy and why a strategic plan is differs from an operational plan.

Myrna defines business strategy as “knowing what you want to be in the future, where you are today, and what your annual strategic goals are, so that you’ll change from who you are to who you want to become.”

Your strategy must be set forth in attainable, measurable goals, which means being specific is a must. It’s also important to know the difference between an operational goal, which by and large lives in the here and now, and a strategic one, which resides in the future. Here, Myrna shares five ways to implement a business strategy and carve your path to the future:

Make a pledge

Get together with your team and make a simple pledge regarding your goals. Say it aloud, together: “We commit to this plan.” 

Gather your team

Meet with your executive council to manage this plan. When rounding out your team, keep in mind they must be able to visualize and help realize goals. They should intend on being there whether the goal is met or not, and they need to be diverse, both in experience and in passions. These are the people who will ensure your entire team buys into this plan, because a true strategic goal affects your whole company, from top to bottom. 

Outline a process

A good strategic plan isn’t a one-day thing.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.

Weekly Tip: There is No “HOLD” Button for the Sales Pipeline

The world went crazy again- I feel like Han Solo in the Star Wars movie when he says, “I’m out of things for a little while and everybody starts getting delusions of grandeur!”

Recently I have heard a number of CEOs saying, “We have to stop selling for awhile and get caught up…” or something to that effect. What they seem to have forgotten is that a sales pipeline is not controlled by an ON/OFF switch. If you shut it down with a command on a given date, you will have a very hard time getting it re-started. The market, like an ignored spouse, is unforgiving of your lack of attention. But, there are occasions when your organization’s capacity of its vendors, cash, operations or other resources is at maximum volume. Now what?

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1)   Trim the least desirable – There are accounts that need to be pruned for the growth of the business. This is a good time to do that. Those whom are trimmed can be replaced by the new and most desirable of your new prospects.

2)   Strengthen your filter – It’s possible that your pipeline is full not just because of great sales process and offering, it is also possible that you are hunting targets that are not a perfect fit for your company. When you are full, seeking a higher quality prospect is possible in a way that it is not when you are hungry.

3)   Increase your capacity – You have to make the decision at some point as to whether you are just lucky in this window of time, or if you have developed a predictable sales process that will continue to bring you growth opportunities.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: A Work at Home Day

 

The newest CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, stopped the long time practice of employees working from home within a few months of joining the company. A high-tech company forcing their workers to come into the office instead of using the at-distance work tools that are available was sacrilege. Her studies of productivity proved what most bosses have believed for a long time; employees who work from home get less done. Is that always true? I don’t think so, but I do believe there are some rules to follow that make a difference for when you take a day to work from home.
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  • Produce – When you work from home, you need to produce an outcome significant enough that it requires you not to be at the office. Writing a proposal, completing a contract, developing a plan or completing the annual reviews. There has to be a project that you COMPLETE and being isolated helps. That’s the reason you took the day to work from home.
  • Communicate – Let your boss know when you are working from home, why, and what you will get done before you start working from home.
  • Don’t break trust – When your kids say they are going to be one place and you find out they are somewhere else, that’s a life lesson for them with consequences. Same thing for working at home, you need to be working. Running errands, cleaning your house while on the conference call, inaccessible when you are supposed to be available are all trust-breakers.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Weekly Tip: Secret trust-breakers that are giving your competitors an advantage

 

Integrity in the world of business starts with just simply doing what you say you will do. If you have a good customer relationship, you have trust that you meet this requirement. Yet, long-standing relationships often get upended by a competitor. How does that happen with our best customers? The easy answer is “price” or “politics.” I submit that your competitor found a chink in the armor and you may have left it their for them.

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Here are simple things you need to do to keep your customer protected from your competitors:

  • Close the loop – Follow up on all emails and phone calls to make certain that they are received. It’s an easy mistake to make over time that you don’t check on receipt – big opening for a competitor to look more reliable.
  • New ideas – Are you bringing them new ideas? This was listed by buyers in recent research as one of the top 5 reasons that competitors replaced incumbents – the competitors brought new ideas.
  • Disconnection – When the frequency of conversation and interaction starts to decrease, the customer feels like they are not important.
  • Changing touch-points – Customers get uncomfortable when they see changes in their account team on your side. It makes them feel vulnerable, so they start to look for an alternative that looks more stable.

When you make these little mistakes you undo enough of the trust between you and a customer not to stop your relationship, but rather you open the door for a competitor to get a foothold.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.