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Latest "Leadership" Posts
Guest Faculty Post by Doug Vause
Like the rest of the world, watching the Olympic games in RIO captivated me. You can’t help but be amazed by the effort, determination, and lifelong pursuit of the athletes who have worked so hard to perfect their talents, craft, and sport. I especially enjoy watching the segments that highlight an athlete and give you a glimpse into their lives and the stories behind “The Athlete.” It always amazes me that the majority of athletes come from the simplest and humblest of circumstances, and how much work and dedication have gone into their life quest to be the best at their sport.
For most, that quest began at a very young age, from then through to the present, they have had one focus, one purpose, to be the best.
Another aspect of the Olympics that stands out for me and touches a very special place in my heart are the coaches, the men and women you always see standing in the background. These individuals represent, in most cases, a lifelong partnership in the athlete’s pursuit to compete in the Olympics. They are not the ones you will see standing on the podium when a medal is won, nor the ones who receive the accolades and recognition, and they are not the ones who receive the endorsements or acknowledgment from the world for what has been accomplished.
Yet none of the athletes would have made it without the coaches who have been by their side throughout their journey.
Guest Faculty Post by Tim Searcy
As a salesperson, I did not always appreciate the value of a weekly sales meeting with my boss. I was always prepared; my boss rarely was. I spent most of my time answering questions whose answers were available in my report or defending my integrity against an onslaught of skepticism. Although my supervisor would imply that these meetings were to assist me, they were a “check the box function,” except when the overall numbers for the firm were down. If the sales team was behind, the questions became more insistent and more accusatory.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A decent weekly sales meeting can be painless, helpful and productive for your sales representatives. It requires a bit of a change in three things that HBS believes have the highest leverage: Mindset, Mechanics and Magic.
- This is not a team sport. I am opposed to team meetings in which every salesperson reports out on the previous week’s activities. Don’t waste time in-group meetings. Sales is golf, not football.
- It is not the manager’s meeting.This is your sales representative’s meeting, and the agenda items, updates, and outcomes are his or her responsibility.
- You BOTH need to be prepared.Manager and representative alike needs to be prepared, having reviewed the same information and with a clear idea of what you each want to get out of your time together.
- Preparation: Insist each representative provides an advanced report including all movements since last meeting. Important issues and information must be presented in the format of an agenda with a clear outcome that defines success.
Guest Faculty post by Doug Vause
We all know the meaning of the phrase “Walk the Talk” but “Running the Race”?
I’ve had the opportunity to run in a few marathons over the years. For those who have also run marathons you’ll chuckle at my use of the word opportunity! One that stands out in my mind was an extremely long 26.5 miles in freezing rain and sleet one early spring running in the Ogden Marathon.
I was running the race with a friend of mine who had been a good training partner, little did I know at the start of the race how important that individual would be in my completing the race. Cary was a very capable runner. He could have quite easily, got me started on my way, wished me all the best and then quickly pulled ahead in the attempt to beat his personal best time. For my benefit he chose not to do that, and to my building appreciation throughout the race, chose to stay with me and ensure that I finished the race.
Keeping the Balance -Throughout the race Cary provided the perfect combination of pacesetter, challenger, motivator and coach. Setting the pace just enough to keep me on my best time, not allowing me to slack but also tuned in to my behavior and physical condition enough to know when that pace needed to be stepped up or pulled back because he saw me hitting a wall. As a coach along the way he kept me focused on all the positive aspects of what we were running for, not allowing the realities of the moment, the freezing rain, sleet, loss of feeling in legs, arms, fatigue, freezing cold temps, our bodies, well at least mine, struggling to have enough energy to keep moving forward let alone stay warm.
Guest Faculty post by Tim Searcy
Goethe (dead, famous German guy) once said “Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.”
If you have been talking about hunting your biggest deal, or changing your sales culture to “hunt big,” you have to be bold. Four concepts we will need to keep in mind to achieve bold goals:
- The goal has to be accepted as a great idea and everyone has to be unanimously behind it.
- That’s right. If leadership can’t get behind the bold goal, then this is the wrong company for you. If everyone can jump on the bus, it will be a helluva ride! Almost every person that I have worked with in the past during these burst periods reminisces with tremendous reverence for what a small band of intrepid workers was able to produce.
- We cannot forget what brought us this far. Change is hard, and sometimes we try to burn down the village to build the city. In reality, there are business practices, cultural norms and people that got the firm to where it is. It is crucial that as we strive toward the bold goals, that we not lose the valuable past in the process. Pick the things that make sense, and hold them close while the struggle towards boldness continues.
- We can’t go much further keeping the status quo. The bar of adequacy just keeps advancing. Simply put, clients’ expectations and that of the marketplace continue to rise and their demands for improvement at the same financial rate or better continues undeterred. To be a market leader, we can’t just be adequate. We must continue to invest and improve in our service offering and professional development.
As you think about what expectations to set to help your sales force succeed in the new era of selling we find ourselves in, consider if you are valuing “motion” or “movement.”
“Motion” is a term that we use to describe all of the sales activities that occur in getting people together, having conversations, and exchanging information within a given sales stage. Whether it takes one call or five calls, one meeting or five meetings, one document or twenty documents, it doesn’t matter. All of that is motion inside a system, but is the motion helping move the sale forward?
“Movement” is a term we use to denote completion of one stage and progression to the next. In a stage-gate process, this means that all the items in one stage have been completed, so the gate opens to the next stage. Movement along a sales process indicates that you are approaching either a close or the elimination of a prospect.
How to Take Action:
When it comes to measuring performance, spend less time worrying about the number of motions being made, and more time focusing on progressing forward through “movement.” To encourage movement over motion, consider giving a value of “one” to every movement from one stage to the next in the sales process. That’s right. Whether your sales reps close a deal, move a deal off of the dashboard because they lost it, or add a deal to the dashboard, it doesn’t matter. Each one of these progressions has a value of one.
Last week I shared how sales management has changed. Today I am sharing the top three skills sales managers need to succeed in this new era of sales.
The “State of Sales Productivity 2015” study by Docurated found that only one-third of a sales rep’s day is actually spent selling, while 31% of their time is spent searching for or creating content, and 20% is spent on reporting, administrative and CRM-related tasks. Nowadays, 44% of B2B organizations do not verify if the business is valid before passing it to sales, and 50% of leads come from outside the standard process, according to a study by IKO System. This all adds up to a lot of wasted time and effort for both sellers and sales managers.
While companies may have been able to get away with wasting time in the past, companies that want to make it in this new fast-paced era of sales will have to have a laser focus on the activities that drive results. There is no room for dawdling. What’s the solution? Better sales management.
Below are three sales management skills necessary for thriving in the new era of sales.
1) Selecting targets.
There’s an adage that salespeople talk to whomever will talk to them. In the new world of selling, your responsibility is to make certain they are talking to the decision makers who can approve large opportunities that will come to fruition in the near future. Working with sales leadership, you must establish a filter that helps to define the most likely candidates for higher-opportunity sales efforts.
You’ve heard it over and over again as CEO—delegate, delegate, delegate! Learning how to delegate is crucial for every CEO, yet research shows that one of the top areas board directors say CEOs still need to work on is “sharing leadership/delegation skills.”
With all of this focus on delegation, is there such a thing as over-delegation? You are, after all, CEO—NOT Chief Delegation Officer. So while it is important to delegate some things, not everything should be delegated.
Below are 5 areas of your business that are your responsibility to always monitor closely:
1) Quality Standards
As CEO of your company, as soon as you stop paying attention to the quality of your products and services, so will the rest of your employees. While you can delegate quality control to employees, you cannot delegate setting the quality standard. That comes from the top and should be protected by the top. The quality of your product or service will only be as high as the bar you set as CEO. No one has sharper eyes, ears, and intuitive knowledge of what quality means for your company than you.
2) Financial Health
Having your accounting and reporting tasks performed by trained CFOs and accountants is necessary, but what is not necessary is to yield all decisions about your company’s future and supporting tactical initiatives to your financial team. While your financial team is your right hand, you are exclusively responsible for telling that right hand which tasks to focus on accomplishing to maintain the financial health of your business.
Recently, I met with Bill Caskey, a friend and colleague in sales performance development, caskeyone.com. We were talking about what makes for remarkable sales performers. The right balance of mindset and mechanics was our conclusion. One without the other creates an unsustainable performance recipe. I later added one more ingredient:
Here is What it Looks Like:
- Mindset sets the frame for what is possible for yourself and your team. It is not a false bravado or an artificial “rah-rah” speech. This is the lens through which remarkable performers view the world. It is abundance-based and confidence comes from the concrete and accurate view of people, process and the marketplace.
- Mechanics include all of the baseline skills necessary to connect, build trust, diagnose, advise and present solutions to prospects. In the modern sales world this requires successfully expanding the participants in the process on both sides of the buying process.
- Magic is the least tangible, but still necessary component of discerning between several choices what is the best and most productive choice to make in a variety of leadership, management and selling circumstances.
My upcoming program for senior sales leadership is called, “The 3 Ms” based on the ideas of mindset, mechanics and magic. I built it because often the least invested in position is the one of sales leadership, yet it has the highest leverage for performance. If you are interested in learning about it or the upcoming start of our next Academy sessions, click here to provide us your information and we will get right back with you.
An entrepreneur shares the 5 most important lessons he learned while undergoing through the traumatic experience of closing down his business.
My friend Richard just closed his business. He’s a smart person, creative, ethical and hard-working. It was a big blow, but he’s a positive person and now he’s back at it. I asked him to share what he learned from the experience and I found his response so encouraging I wanted to share it:
“Having closed a thirty-year old commercial plumbing contracting business that I bought from its founders in 1999, I share these lessons learned for the benefit of my fellow serial entrepreneurs.
#1. Be Careful When Choosing Partners
After previously doing two large, successful projects in partnership with another specialty trade contractor, I learned the hard way that who you select as partners matters. Really matters, as in life and death matters.
When the senior executive with whom I had done the other projects left the firm, I had no reason to think that things wouldn’t continue in the same positive manner. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Not only did the new executives take $8 million of my scope of work after we secured a big hospital deal together, I ultimately had to file a lien and lawsuit for damages approximating $1 million.
#2. Don’t Wait to Deal With Problems
When my partner company started shorting my monthly draws by $30,000 to $40,000 towards the end of the project, I should have reduced payments to my vendors in kind.
Are you playing it safe? Phoning it in? Trying not lose more than you are trying to win? When you stop pushing, testing and challenging yourself, you risk a backward slide that could be permanent. It becomes permanent for the same reason they tell a thrown rider to get back on the horse. This past few weeks have included a number of stories I have heard that showed the kind of risk-taking I am talking about:
- An owner told a prospect that they had 30 days to buy or she would take the solution to the prospect’s competitor and give that competitor the market advantage. The prospect walked and their competitor is about to be market-taker.
- A sales rep called the CEO office of a Fortune 50 company, cold, to get an appointment…and got it.
- A company fired a client that represented over 10% of their revenue because of unreasonable demands. The client backed down and re-signed under favorable terms.
- Three companies landed their biggest deals ever – 8-figure deals, setting a new watermark for what is going to be possible for their future.
What is your big risk for this week? Month? Year? Are you pushing the limits of what you think is possible, or are you staying in your comfort zone? Growth happens past the limit of what you thought was possible. Grow.
For more on how to fight your fears, gain your prospects’ trust and much, much more check out my video interview with Ago here.