Sales Management Guru
Ken Thoreson, Acumen Management president, is a sales leadership professional who helps companies pull sales results out of the doldrums into the fresh zone of predictable revenue. His consulting, advisory, and speaking services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated sales efforts for companies across North America.
Find him on facebook at facebook.com/ken.thoreson
Earn Your Success - Pay the Price
A good friend of mine always told me that you “earned success” and you had to accept the fact that there normally was a price to pay for that success. When I work with my client’s sales teams I always inquire about their goals, actions and commitments to achieving their objectives—and what doesn’t surprises me anymore is this lack of fully understanding of the “price to pay”.
I am not suggesting that our lives are so consumed with achieving success that all other facets of life are out of balance. Those of you who have taken my “Personal & Professional Pizza” assessment understand my focus on life balance, if you haven’t take the assessment, view my Gourmet Life video: http://www.acumenmgmt.com/KeninAction123
However, if you are leading a sales organization or if you are a professional salesperson understanding that there is a price to be paid to achieve success must be clearly understood and accepted. I see salespeople showing up Monday and simply coming to work—sales leadership and sales roles demand more.
First; it’s creative time. Taking time on a quiet evening or on a Saturday to review each active sales opportunity and thinking through your sales tactics/strategies demands extra time. What else can you do to win?
Second; it’s professional. Are you actively taking the extra time to review LinkedIn groups within your market to better understand what issues are being discussed? The Sales Association group in LinkedIn and their VP Sales Group are good groups to join. I am actually leading a series of monthly sales leadership web casts for the VP Sales Group.
Achieving the Balance Between Having Your Sales Team Respect You But Not Fear You
Every good sales team manager knows that a delicate balance must be maintained between having your team respect you without having them fear you. We’re going to address why this balance is so important to maintain, and how to achieve and maintain it.
Fear breeds contempt. If your team is living in fear of you, or in fear of making a misstep, this can easily breed resentment. No one likes to feel as though they have someone on their shoulder watching their every move or waiting for them to fail.
Additionally, when your team fears you, they may make more missteps because they aren’t acting naturally and instinctively, but are trying too hard to please you. Trust them to do what they were hired to do.
You want your employees to have a healthy respect for you, and not to fear you.
Be stern but relatable. Don’t be a frosty manager. This can create a bit of fear, as people always wonder what the cold manager is thinking about them. It’s okay to be human and to have a laugh with your team to put them at ease a bit.
The trick is not letting the team in too close. When they start to feel as though they are your good friends, they start to feel as though maybe they can get away with a bit more than they would if they weren’t.
Reward success—employees appreciate the acknowledgement.
Incent and reward success. Everyone likes to have something to motivate them. Your team will appreciate and respect that you reward their success.
Don’t reward every single thing, because then rewards become less...
Programs to Add Value to Your Professionalism
This week I thought I would use this forum to let my readers know of two sales leadership training programs in May that you should plan to attend.
- The first is Friday May 10th, Building Predictable Revenue: Sales Management Systems
- The second is May 28th, 1pm EST: Creating Sales Compensation Plans for High Performance
Building Predictable Revenue: Sales Management Systems, Forecasting and Building a Self-Managed Sales Force
Friday, May 10, 2013 12:00pm Noon EST
The purpose of this interactive workshop will be to review techniques that all executives, sales leaders and sales professionals can use and to introduce a sales management process that ensures you are positioned for success. Learn to build predictable revenue. This session is designed for Owners and Sales Managers. As partner organizations have had to fight to survive, this session is designed to “tighten the ship”, and put into place the systems and controls to fine tune the organization and prepare for growth. As other organizations shrink or cut back learn to take advantage of the opportunity of the lifetime, during the lifetime of the opportunity!
Acumen’s 14 years of consulting Ken has determined that the vast number of organizations can quickly improve discipline, accountability, and control by implementing the concepts and tools during this session. This tactical program will provide insights and tools to help the Executive or Sales Manager easily increase the productively of their management meetings, sales meetings and sales training events.
This session will:
- Review the importance of forecasting tools, their design, how effective sales managers use them to ensure monthly revenues are attained and appropriate content.
- Assist attendees in developing sales management measurement success indicators, their use in...
Old Ways of Doing Business No Longer Work
I believe that most of us accept that the old ways of doing business no longer work: the increasingly intense competitive challenges of the world economy, plus the recent financial meltdown, challenge everyone, everywhere to adapt in order to prosper under new rules. Those who cannot - or will not - change are withering.
For example, in the old economy, hierarchies pitted labour against management, with workers paid wages depending on their skills, but that is eroding as the rate of change accelerates. Those same hierarchies are being replaced by networks; labour and management are uniting into teams; wages are coming in new mixtures of options, incentives and ownership; fixed jobs melt into fluid careers.
As business changes, so do the traits needed to survive, let alone excel, and all these transitions put increased value on emotional intelligence.
Competitive pressures put a new value on people who are self-motivated, show initiative, have the inner drive for outdoing themselves, and are optimistic enough to take reversals and setbacks in their stride. The ever-pressing need to serve customers and clients well and to work smoothly and creatively with an ever more diverse range of people makes the ability to empathize all the more essential.
At the same time, the meltdown of those old hierarchies increases the importance of traditional people skills such as building bonds, influence and collaboration. And that is as true for employers as it is for employees.
The task of the leader draws on a wide range of personal skills. Research has shown that emotional competence makes the crucial difference between mediocre leaders and the best. Indeed, emotional competence makes up about two thirds of the ingredients of star performance in general, but for outstanding leaders emotional competencies –...
Learning by Observing
This past week I had the opportunity to participate in what is called a Speakers Showcase, 10 professional speakers had an opportunity to stand up in front of 100+ National Speakers Association managers and give a 15-minute program based upon your desired topic. I used the topic: Gourmet Living: Building a Menu for Your Life!
The real opportunity for me was to sit back and observe other individuals not only to hear their message, but more importantly see how they:
- opened their presentation
- energy levels
- body language
- vocal tones
- how they closed
I also asked several of the other speakers to provide feedback on my session. I know every year when I attend the National Speakers Association conference I pick up so many great ideas to build my professionalism. So what does this topic have to do with Sales Leadership?
In many situations sales managers are the key coach, mentor and trainer of their sales teams, whether it’s in the field or in sales training environments. It is the second most important aspect of your job. (Hiring correctly is #1). To many times when we are meeting with sales managers in our peer groups or one on one coaching, I have found that many sales managers have a challenge keeping their mouth closed during an onsite sales call with one of their team members. Certainly, there are occasions when the manager SHOULD TALK, and those should be defined during the pre-calling planning process. However during any sales call, the manager must be acutely aware of the 5 items listed above when observing their salesperson. GURU HINT: You might keep that list and put a ranking behind each one 1-5, 5=great and prepare a short report card...
Have You Mowed Your Lawn?
The first quarter is over and sales leaders are capturing forecasts for the next two months and hopefully celebrating the achievement of their first quarter results. I am sure not everything has been smooth, after the last 90 days of working with a variety of clients and speaking at a variety of conferences, the odds of some “uneven” achievements and unexpected events has occurred. In one client we didn’t hire the salesperson we wanted, in another a salesperson left without management knowing it would happen and in another the marketing campaigns didn’t launch on time. Just like my lawn…
As I drove into my garage last week I realized it was finally time to mow for the first time this year; my lawn looked uneven in growth, leaves have nestled into the grass, some weeds had extended themselves and it resembled something far different than I had hoped to enjoy. There is work to be done. I am sure after this afternoon when I hope to mow that the results of a fresh cut will level off the growth, the leaves will be mulched and generally it begin to represent a well groomed lawn. The next treatment of fertilizer will stimulate better growth.
The same view of your sales team should also be considered, evaluate your team, determine who needs to be “groomed” or “cut” and what treatments must you begin to accelerate your growth during the second quarter. This necessary in order that your summer sales will generate the necessary look and feel that you desired. In past blogs we have discussed how to create your quarterly sales training programs and coaching sessions with each salesperson.
HINT: It is a great time NOW to hold a one on...
What Is Your Training Plan? Learn from ‘Disney U’
As a sales manager one of your responsibilities is to develop the professionalism of your sales team. After reading Disney U: How the Disney University Develops the World’s Most Engaged, Loyal, and Customer-Centric Employees (McGraw Hill), you will come away with a notebook filled with ideas to improve your employee development. The author, Doug Lipp, lived the experience and gives us the inside stories that back up the results.
The book provides insights into the genius of Walt Disney, but also the other people in the organization who brought their vision and dedication to make Disney U the exciting and valuable part of the Disney organization. Each chapter breaks down various subjects with excellent summaries that you can turn into action steps for your own organization. While reading the book I picked up the various “mantras” that drove the development of Disney U.
- Management must be diligent or the show will deteriorate.
- Management must be diligent or the cast will deteriorate.
Note: Show and Cast refer to show=customer experience, cast=employees
The interesting aspect of the book is the impact Disney U had on the entire organization; it is looked upon by management not as a training department but an element of the organization that IMPACTS the culture, operations, and performance. The chapter: Capture Hearts and Minds mentioned four questions that relate to a focus on the entire organization:
- Is innovation encouraged?
- Is organizational support found at every level?
- Is employee education valued and nonnegotiable?
- Is entertainment incorporated into training & education initiatives?
Lastly, Van Johnson, the person responsible for building and leading Disney U opened the chapter on The Language of Success: “My basic...
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