Hunting Big Sales with Tom Searcy

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.

Weekly Tip: Be the “Go To” for Best Practices


Every industry is seeking a voice of innovation and the platinum standard of best practices that will provide insights for gaining advantage. As gaining advantage and MAINTAINING advantage has become harder because of the ease of gathering information and so much transparency, this effort has become intense. For sales people, gaining a reputation as the best source for best practices in your customer’s marketplace and the industry in general allows you to stay relevant and valuable, gaining you access and face to face time. Being the best source for best practices is a part of being the best sales person.
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1) Define your area of expertise - You have to become known as the answer person regarding a definable segment of your collective customers’ and prospects’ business issues. Choose a segment about which you are passionate and curious. One of my clients sells to big box stores. She became an expert in store layout psychology and its impact on purchasing patterns. This gained her lots of access because it was valuable to her clients. 
  
2) Stay current - Being current is not hard if you leverage technology. The internet and available tools will scour data and present it back to you regularly, giving you insights on trends, changes, regulations and technologies. It’s your responsibility to keep up by making it a regular part of your weekly work. 
  
3) Implications trump data - Just knowing the data makes you annoying if you can’t translate the data into actionable recommendations. By mapping data to implications you become conversationally more relevant and valuable to buyers, which means you get more attention and access. 
  
I believe becoming an expert on best practices is a major differentiator of the best sales people today. 
  
Our friends at the RAIN Group recently posed the question: “What are the winners of actual sales opportunities doing differently than sellers who come in second place?” They have presented their findings in a new book, Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently, where bestselling authors Mike Schultz and John Doerr teach you exactly how sellers do it.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

4 Steps to Hiring an All-Star

One of the things I often hear from companies recruiting candidates is that there’s a talent shortage. But award-winning author and sales management expert Lee Salz views it differently: The talent is out there, you just have to know what you want (and how to find it). 

Lee Salz wrote the book Hire Right, Higher Profits, which I highly recommend. Too often, he says, companies focus on people, not processes. The days of receiving a gold watch for 25 years of loyal service have come and gone and Generation Y is anything but loyal. However, it is possible to find loyal talent. Here, then, are four steps from Lee to help you recruit the right candidates. 

Always Be Recruiting. 

Much like grocery shopping when hungry, a big mistake is looking for candidates when you desperately need to hire them. Always be recruiting and open to networking. You never know where it will lead. 

Use the Tools Correctly.

Assessment companies provide data about a candidate, but it’s up to you to interpret it and combine it with nuances gleaned from those in-person interviews. The same goes for tracking systems, which are designed to make the hiring process more efficient. The problem is setting too many filters, which can shut out some great candidates. So manage these tools correctly and consider them part of the overall process, not the end-all be-all.

Do Your Homework.

When considering a candidate, be sure to assess all the factors that will help that person succeed or fail, as the case may be.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.

How to Write a Killer Resume

A resume alone will never help you get hired. It has to be relevant and compelling enough to get your foot in the door. Having reviewed thousands of resumes myself, I’ve found that most of them read like a cross between an obituary and a museum exhibit timeline. 

First, let’s debunk a couple of resume myths. Resumes are not read, at least not at first. They are scanned, scored and sorted. Second, a good resume is not critical to getting you hired. It is only critical in landing an interview. Third, the real purpose of a resume is to catch someone’s eye. HR departments use resumes as a job-matching tool. They are trying to find a fit, and in this way they are solving a problem. 

Most executives agree that you should never start with HR, so if you write your resume to match a job, then you’re writing for the wrong audience. Here, then, are four tricks to get the people with hiring power to notice you:

State what problems you’ll solve.

Executives are focused on solving challenges of time, money, and risk. When reviewing a resume, they want someone who’s overcome challenges in at least one of these areas, if not all three. 

Explain who you helped. 

Many resumes include companies that are not household names so add a short explanation. “Top 10 international provider of heavy construction equipment components,” for example, will give your performance some context.

Say what difference you made. 

Here, I’m talking about specific measures you took to solve a problem.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.

Weekly Tip: Are You Helping Your Buyer’s Professional Brand?

Making the Executive Sponsor a hero is one of the goals that we have as vendors, suppliers or partners. We know that if we do, it is good for us. Sometimes we do the impossible and it just does not seem to get us much credit. Other times, we do good work but nothing extraordinary and the customer is ecstatic. These reactions in part have something to do with how the executive in our customer’s company is trying to brand himself or herself. To get promoted, each executive is trying to create an image to the company of what type of a performer he or she is. There are four core categories for performance upon which an executive wants to be viewed:

  • Operational expert – Keeps the operation humming
  • Revenue generator – Sales or business development, they make the money
  • Problem solver – They get brought in to fix things when there is a mess
  • Ideas person – They want to be seen as the visionary, creative approaches person

Arguably, every executive wants to demonstrate all of these, but the executive is building his or her reputation on being exceptional in one of these areas. If what you do for that executive fits in that area, you are aligned with building the executive’s personal brand. If what you are doing is in another area, the benefit you provide is less valued.

If you can determine the value your buyer is trying to show and be a part of that brand effort, you have a greater chance of decisions favoring your company.

Posted by Katelyn Marando in Weekly Tips.

Team Players Vs. All-Stars: Who Matters More?

Business is like baseball in so many ways, none more so than when you set out to build a great team. You want the best players, like that insanely great sales leader, but that’s not how the game is played.

Every company, like a ball club, is out to win as many games as possible. But every company is filled from the bottom up with two distinct types of players: You’ve got your organizational types and your all-star types. A good leader knows the difference.

This is not to disparage those people who get the job done day-in and day-out. This is to help you know that once-in-a-lifetime talent can take your business to the next level. As much as you want a workplace where everyone feels equal, as George Orwell wrote: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.”

So, what are the characteristics of all-stars? For one thing, they’re innately talented and possess leadership ability. They’re also ambitious and strive to achieve. Beyond that, they’re engaged, and constantly developing themselves personally and professionally.

To help them fully harness their natural talents–because nothing is worse than talent going to waste–here are three simple, yet effective ways to keep them engaged at your company: 

Challenge them. Give them the tough assignments, urging them to aim for greatness.

Spend time with them. Pass along your wisdom, helping them to develop big goals. Then find out not only who they long to be but when they hope to get to that point.

Posted by Tom Searcy in Inc.com.