Sales Coaching Blog

Managing Millennials Part 3: Selling "Selling" to Millennials

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

November 7, 2011

When talking to sales managers, the most frequent complaints about the Millennial generation are that they don't want to work hard (pay their dues), and they don't appreciate the opportunity a sales career can provide. These sales managers feel they have their backs to the wall. They know they need to hire new reps because their senior people are getting ready to retire, but they can't attract the right kind of young people to the career. Here are three suggestions to help senior sales managers make the sales career attractive to young people.

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Topics: sales producer, Employee engagement, Motivating Sales Team, Millennials

Managing Millennials. 3 Critical Management Behaviors You Need

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

October 26, 2011

Millennials are expected to compose 47 percent of the workforce by 2014, so you can’t choose to just ignore them. They bring a lot of new ideas to the table and are well trained in new practices, but quitting is always an option for them. Career advancement is no longer the top priority; instead, happiness is their primary focus. If they cannot get that with one company, they typically have no problem seeking it out from another. High employee turnover is really harmful in a tattered economy. It means more training and less actual work done. This article was written by  CEO, MyCorporation.com. Here are the highligths from her recent post titled "3 Ways To Prevent Millennial Burnout"

Here are three ways to keep your millennial workers from burning out.

1. Provide short-term projects and instant gratification

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Topics: sales producer, Employee engagement, Motivating Sales Team, Millennials

4 Hiring Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

May 30, 2011

We found this article, written by Tom Harnish, very relevant to sales managers. How challenging is it to hire a sales person who is clearly "selling himself" to you? How do you know if he/she is being real? These four hiring strategies can help you avoid making a bad hire.

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Topics: sales producer, Best Practice, talent identification & acquistion, assessment tools

5 Ideas that Add Energy to Sales Meetings

Posted by Jaime Davis-Thomas

March 28, 2011

It pays off to spend some time planning for your sales meeting. Here are a few ideas that will spark some interest and may even lead to some increased sales through the discovery of best practices.
  1. The Daily Huddle is a 20-minute call first thing in the a.m., during which each team member or participant has two minutes to list their biggest accomplishment from the previous day, what they wanted to accomplish that day, and what they needed from the team leader or someone else on the call. The secret to getting the most out of the Daily Huddle: “Keep it short. Keep it focused. And try to have it at the same time every day – first thing in the AM.”
  2. Appreciative Inquiry - select one sales rep to share the story of a recent success ahead of time. They should come prepared to share an overview of the sales process from beginning to end. Listeners question the sales person from a "what's working" frame of reference, and from an unconditional postive stance. The idea is that discoveries and best practices will be made. For more on AI, visit The Appreciative Inquiry Commons (more)
  3. Rattle Some Cages - pick a brainstorming question that will shake things up a bit. For example, "What unwritten rules within our team make it difficult to get things done quickly, efficiently, or profitably?"  For more cage rattling questions visit the Human Capital League (more)
  4. Evaluate the meeting. Make sure that you take the time to step back occasionally to have meeting attendees provide feedback. Ask “what is working?” and “what needs improvement?” This will enable you to continuously improve your meetings.
  5. Invite a Guest. You don’t want to do all the talking, and besides, it’s impossible for you to know everything all the time. Invite professionals from related fields or within your company to talk about their area of expertise and how it relates to the sales team. Be sure to save time for questions. Says Robert Aigner, a team leader for Keller Williams Beverly Hills, who frequently invites guest speakers to his sales team meetings: "It’s not that I don’t think I would bring value on my own, but having a lender talking about condos seems to shed new light."

Have you implemented any of these? How did it go? Did it catch on? What other ideas have you tried?  We'd love to hear from you!

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Topics: sales producer, Best Practice, New Leaders, Engagement, Employee engagement, goals, Motivation, Teamwork, Creativity, Accountability Coaching, sales team, sales coaching, Sales Management, collaboration

Discover the Best Lead Qualification Question

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

March 8, 2011

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Topics: sales producer, prospecting, sales coaching, sales methodology & sales skills development

Emotional Intelligence on the Sales Team

Posted by Jaime Davis-Thomas

December 22, 2010

Emotional Intelligence on the Sales Team

Jaime Davis-Thomas, EcSELL Institute Director of Research & Publications

Emotional intelligence involves “the intelligent use of emotions: you intentionally make your emotions work for you by using them to help guide your behavior and thinking in ways that enhance your results” (Weisinger, 1998).

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Topics: sales producer, Career Development, sales management research, collaborative leadership, Emotional Intelligence, sales leadership, sales coaching, sales rep peformance, EcSELL Institute, Pillars, coaching, professional development, assessment tools

Stop Competing on Price

Posted by Jaime Davis-Thomas

November 22, 2010

Stop Competing on Price

Written by EcSELL Institute's friend,  Howard Shore, Executive and Business Coach. We hope you enjoy it!

It is not unusual to find companies that have made a lot of changes to the business only to find that those changes had little impact on its ability to increase market share, or worse yet, caused market share to decline. It is also common to go into companies and find only a small percentage of their clients/consumers showing loyalty. The predominant discussions among their salespeople revolve around price. Many business owners mistakenly believe there is nothing that can be done to change client/consumer focus on price.

Declining market share, stable market share, and disloyal clients/consumers mean that a company does not have a suitable strategy or that its strategy is not being executed well. There are some companies whose strategy is to have the lowest prices in the marketplace (e.g. Walmart), and they have the scale, systems, and infrastructure to continually keep costs lower than their competition, allowing them to earn a sizeable profit because of the volume they generate. As long as a company has the capacity and/or can find enough vendors willing to put products on their shelves so that price/volume mix is worth the return on effort, it is a good business model. The challenge is that this is a tough place to play. Technology is constantly changing, and many businesses find that there is always someone willing to sell cheaper. So then what?

People often spend more time figuring out how to build their fantasy football teams, plan their vacations, and handle other unimportant matters than they spend on building their business strategy. While strategic planning is more difficult and is likely to result in some mistakes, not putting the proper time into strategy is inexcusable. Business strategy should be revisited at least quarterly in every business. Most companies do not make the time, and it costs them millions in future revenue and profits that they’ll never see.

A big part of building a strategy that helps avoid price competition is having the ability to segment the potential client/consumer base and target ownership of specific segments. The more segments you want to own, the higher your cost structure. The better you position and execute your segment ownership plan, the more you will grow. The key to segmentation is not looking at market segments by customer size, geography, industry group, or other traditional demographics. The key is to look them by the need or want that your company can best serve. Here are some examples:

  • Are they the type of customer that only looks for lowest price, no matter what?
  • Are you in the hospitality business, and are they looking to be pampered?
  • Are you in the fitness business? Are your target customers the ones whose doctors have told them that they will die before they are 40 if they do not trim 40 pounds?
  • Are you in the hearing aid business? Are your target customers those who have lost their hearing and are very sensitive about the issue and want to do business with people that understand their pain and can provide them with a proper experience to deal with this sensitive issue?
  • Are you in the transportation, freight forwarding, and logistics industry, and your clients are always squeezing you for lowest price? Could you charge them a lot more and still save them a lot of money if you helped them solve the inefficiencies in their logistics functions?

When developing your strategy, you must understand the potential marketplace at least 3 years out and project how you think your industry is changing in terms of products, customers, technology, delivering products and services, sophistication of employees, and other pertinent matters. Once you have considered these factors, you need to segment the different types of clients you have and which segments you want to own. Then you need to build your strategy to own them. If you are primarily competing on pricing and do not own any segment today, you have a tremendous opportunity to improve your growth and profits. Just take the time to build a winning strategy.

 

Great article, thanks Howard.  If you enjoyed this, you might also find the article "Creating Willing Buyers" interesting as well. This white paper comes from our Resource Library and is a small sample of the way we keep our members abreast of the latest research, technology, tools,and best practices in sales management. As the sales coach, it will be your job to make sure your reps are prepared to sell solutions, not compete on price.  Need some help with this? That's what we are here for!  Call us anytime 402-850-4239. Just ask for Will.

NOW IT'S TIME TO HEAR FROM YOU. WHAT BEST PRACTICES DO YOU USE TO STAY AWAY FROM THE PRICE WAR GAME?

_________________________________________________

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To contact Howard Shore please call (305) 722-7216 or email him at shoreh@activategroupinc.com .

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Topics: sales producer, EcSELL Institute Partner, sales coaching, Pillars, sales methodology & sales skills development

Sales Rep Behaviors that Predict Customer Loyalty

Posted by Jaime Davis-Thomas

October 4, 2010

Our Pillar Partner, Brookeside Analytics, has identified sales rep behaviors that predict customer loyalty. These are an extension of the Employee's loyalty predictive index - a study conducted by Harvard at AT&T.

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Topics: sales producer, Best Practice, Customer Service, Leadership & Management, Pillars, Sales Management, partners, Resources for sales managers

Sales Compensation Plans, Step 6: Weights & Measures

Posted by Jaime Davis-Thomas

September 20, 2010

Sales Compensation Plans, Step 6: Weights & Measures

Guest Article written for the EcSELL Institute by Bob Malandruccolo

The sixth step in designing a Sales Compensation Plan is selecting weights and measures that are linked to incentives for the plan. Many believe that this is the most important step in the sales compensation design process. It is important, that is for sure. Here are some common principles concerning selecting measures and weightings. 
 
Ensure that the measures are reliable, accurate and are based on results. This seems simple but I have seen companies that want to use measures that have not been tracked or reported. For example, one of my client's Steering Committee wanted margin as a measure in the sales compensation plan. So, I asked for historical data at the account level and the sales rep level and I found out that it could not be measured at that level. In fact, margin could only be measured at the regional level. We'll talk about regional measures in a moment. 
 
The next common principle is alignment with company goals. Oftentimes the challenge is to select the right measure at the sales rep level.
 
The next common principle is "line of sight". For a sales rep, the line of sight is their specific assignment and accounts. For a sales manager, it would be his or her direct reports. A regional manager's line of sight would be regional measures, and so on. So would a regional measure be appropriate for a sales rep? Well, it would fail the line of sight principle. But once again, in a moment we'll talk about if a regional measure could be appropriate. 
 
The next common principle is no more than 3 measures in the sales compensation plan. The reason for this principle is to focus on the role and not dilute incentive dollars across multiple measures. One of my clients had 17 different measures and quotas in the sales compensation plan. I called that sliver measures. Several of the measures paid out less that 1% of the total target incentive. Do you believe that the sales reps spent very much time on those measures? No way. Well, I can tell you that less than 1% of the total target incentive is not motivational either. I was able to get my client to reduce 17 measures into 3. 
 
The last common principle is if you have 2 or 3 measures, weight the measures based on importance. Once again, that is intuitive. So going back to needing a margin measure but it's only tracked at the regional level. Well, you could use a regional measure for the sales force, but weight it at a smaller percentage such as 15% compared to individual measures. However, my perspective is to use individual measures and adhere to the line of sight principle.
 
The following is a list of common measures: sales, margin, product mix, new accounts, line of business expansion and sales process milestones for long sales cycles. What do you think is the most common measure for sales compensation plans? Yes, it is sales. It is easy to measure sales since companies are already billing clients anyway. From my perspective, try to get margin at the account level. Product mix adds complexity into plans and could violate the simple philosophy plank. New accounts could run into gaming. What is the definition of a new account? What about a new division in the same account, etc.? Sales process milestones could violate the principle of a results measure, but for long sales cycles, this type of measure could augment the challenge of long sales results.

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Topics: sales producer, Best Practice, compensation recognition rewards, front line sales managers, Sales Management, sales performance, 6 Pillars of Sales Productivity

Sales Compensation Plans, Step 3: Total Target Pay by Role

Posted by Jaime Davis-Thomas

September 15, 2010

Sales Compensation Planning, Step 3: Select Total Target Pay by Sales Role

 

Guest Article for the EcSELL Institute by Bob Malandruccolo

The third step in designing sales compensation plans is selecting the Total Target Pay Level for each sales role. Common practices that impact this step are competitive pay analysis, sales compensation philosophy, attraction and retention and total reward strategy

In the Diagnostic phase of a sales compensation project, a competitive pay analysis is normally conducted. A competitive pay analysis compares base salaries and total cash compensation against actual pay values in the market. This would be an input into the Design Team, and they would use that information along with other insights to determine what the total target pay level should be for each sales role. The 50th and 90th percentiles data points are important and are used as inputs for the Design Team.  

Another common practice is that the sales compensation philosophy can direct the Design Team on this step. Many companies select the 50th percentile in the market as the total target pay level for a sales role. Some companies select the 60th percentile in the market and is based on company philosophy and other issues such as the size of talent pool in the market, what is the comparative performance levels among competitors, turnover, other specific or general economic factors.  

The next common practice is attraction and retention. If attraction and retention issues are not problematic, some companies tend to not rely heavily on market pricing.   In addition to pay, total reward strategy has an impact on total target pay level. Some companies have valued their total reward package and determined where they should select their total target pay levels.  

The main topic here has been competitive pay analysis. So I wonder how competitive is your competitive pay analysis? Do you regularly conduct a competitive pay analysis? Are your direct competitors included in the analysis?  

However, there is a caution on this analysis. Unless you have specific data from your competitors and that their specific sales roles are exactly the same as yours, the data is only as good as their sources. Competitive pay analysis can help by setting the relative direction for a Design Team, but it is not just the end all. Specific insight is needed from the Design Team in addition to market data.  

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Topics: sales producer, Best Practice, sales planning, compensation recognition rewards, Research, sales team, collaboration, 6 Pillars of Sales Productivity

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