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
Life Enriched: Is Yours?
After speaking at a business conference someone asked me how they could make their life more meaningful and fulfilling and the idea of life enrichment came to me. It seems almost everyone, once they find out that I speak professionally, always ask me, “What do you speak about?” When I boil everything down, whether it’s on Gourmet Living or Sales Leadership the topics end up covering how one’s life can be made better. My goal after every program is to increase the effectiveness of their personal lives and their professional success.
I realized many years ago that while we were impacting the lives of many people professionally, as they grew, they also began to experience a more satisfying personal life. One of the points I discuss often is the need for each of us to impact the lives of others, and the more we work to positively impact the lives of others, the more our life will be blessed.
It may be a simple phone call or email that reaches out to say you care or asking how you can assist someone can make the difference in someone’s day—or even their life!
As you plan your 2014 goals I encourage you to enrich other people’s lives each week
- Seek out a person who needs a lift, give them an idea, or simply share that you care.
- Volunteer in your local community to help others who are less fortunate.
- Project a positive, fun attitude to the people you interact with during your day.
The phrase “attitude of gratitude” seems to ring out to me—enrich your life by being a better person.
Let me know...
Client Advisory Boards vs. Business Advisory Boards
At a recent client meeting we discussed the need to create a board of directors. It is a difficult task to find the right individuals, and even more difficult for an entrepreneur to accept what a good board can provide. Another spin is to create a client advisory board. This is easier to develop and can actually provide real value to your business as well as your sales process. Both topics are covered below. Let me know your thoughts/experiences with these kinds of boards.
Our research shows that accountability—or, more accurately, the lack of accountability—is among the top challenges that partner-company executives face. We’ve also found that many partners are too close to their own organizations to have genuine insight into their businesses, their marketplaces, or their industries. Client advisory boards and business advisory boards can help provide better visibility for both of these blind spots.
CLIENT ADVISORY BOARDS
A client advisory board, which typically includes five to seven current clients, can provide insights into customer needs from the customer perspective. For instance, the group might evaluate your sales and service functions or serve as a sounding board for new product ideas. Board members should be willing to meet formally with you at least three times a year and commit to at least two years of service. We recommend that you select not only your “pet” clients, but a cross-section of your customers.
At first, someone from your company should set agendas, oversee advisory board meetings, and take detailed notes. It’s critical for you and your own team members to avoid becoming defensive about issues that board members raise during their meetings. However, it’s equally important to remind all attendees that these sessions shouldn’t be...
Upgrade Your Life to Extraordinary
As many of my readers know, from time to time I like to review books from McGraw Hill publishers; I like to schedule a pleasure book and then a business-oriented book so I have several books going at one time. Today’s book, Upgrade: Taking your Work and Life from Ordinary to Extraordinary (2013), by Rana Florida, is a little of both!
Rana has had a wonderful exposure to a world full of amazing people who have experienced or are causing others to experience success and having an impact in the world. During her travels she took the opportunity to interview these people on their thoughts regarding their extraordinary lives.
As a writer/speaker, I found her chapters titles were what you would expect in a motivational book:
• Envision Your Future
• What’s Your Passion?
• Great Creative
• Design Your Time
• Big Risks-Big Rewards
• Fail to Succeed
• Your Time to Upgrade is Now!
In my keynote program I cover some of these same topics, and I found myself agreeing with her findings as well as picking up additional insights from this breadth of exciting individuals.
What makes this book unique and an excellent read are her interviews and findings from the people she interviewed, and how they related or provided their insights into these key topics of building an Extraordinary life. Among the 27 people she interviewed, you will find the likes of:
• Andre Agassi, tennis star, who only played tennis so he could fund his Foundation for Education
• Mario Batali, chef and restaurateur, who since 2008 has been working to educate children worldwide
• Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks
• Richard Daley, former mayor of Chicago
• Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO of Zappos...
This week will be hectic. Next week I am off-site all week during a 2014 client strategy and planning meeting. This week I am assisting another client with “onboarding” two salespeople who are remote from the main business office! Everything needs to be lined up and organized for a successful experience.
This step is normally a very weak link with many organizations and yet it is a Critical Success Factor as well. I wanted to share my thoughts with our community.
For our clients we design an onboarding process into two steps.
Step One: Depending upon the client’s maturity, size, and complexity of offering, we will create a three- to five-week onboarding plan that is extremely detailed. Each week lists a variety of learning experiences and validation points to ensure knowledge has been exchanged and understood.
The first week’s goal: Learn Company Purpose, Message, Materials, and Services. This includes a checklist and more than two pages of training actions. Each week has homework assigned.
The second week’s goal: Learn to Sell Company Offerings. First, it is important to learn. The second week is about learning to sell. The new salesperson will hear others sell and watch videos, and they are beginning to sell me on their knowledge of the company and offerings.
The third week’s goal: Getting Out of the Nest. However, before he or she is actively selling, the salesperson must sell the president, CFO, or others in the company using the corporate PPT or other sales tools. HINT: Generally we never pass anyone the first time he or she attempts this exercise.
Each week has a series of events, designed to build upon the previous week’s learning...
The Man Who Sold Hot Dogs
With all the talk of Government shut down, economic challenges and car bombs, I thought it would be a good idea to read this story…
There was a man who lived by the side of the road and sold hot dogs.
He was hard of hearing, so he had no radio.
He had trouble with his eyes, so he read no newspapers.
But he sold good hot dogs.
He put up signs on the highway telling how good they were.
He stood by the side of the road and cried, “Buy a hot dog, Mister.”
He increased his meat and roll orders.
He bought a bigger stove to take care of his trade.
He finally got his son home from college to help him out.
But then something happened.
His son said: “Father, haven’t you been listening to the radio?
There’s a big recession coming on. The Middle East situation is terrible. The domestic situation is worse.”
That made his father think: “Well my son’s been to college,
he reads the papers, and he listens to the radio, he ought to know.”
So the father cut down on his meat and rolls orders,
took down his advertising signs, and no longer bothered to stand on the highway to sell his good hot dogs.
Sales fell fast, almost overnight.
“You’re right son,” the father said to the boy. We are certainly
in the middle of a great recession. There just isn’t any business.”
(Need we point out the moral?)
Quick Ideas to Hit Your Fourth Quarter Goals
Let’s make this interactive. I will start the list and then it is your job to add to it. Let’s all work together to increase each other’s success during the last few months of 2013! These ideas can be designed for sales leaders or individual sales performers.
1) Make a visual list of the top largest sales opportunities (whiteboard) and strategize on the best tactics to close each one. A few large wins go a long way toward exceeding your goals.
First Quarter 2014: Are You Set Up?
2) Schedule twice-weekly formal sales strategy discussions. If you have a larger team, assign salespeople to teams of two or three to increase strategy options. Increase your tempo.
4) Hold a sales training session on negotiating in October!
5) Increase your relationship contacts; make sure your executives are involved in a prospect meeting, lunch, breakfast, or phone call with your prospects’ executives.
6) Use your customer base for site visits and referrals, or even arrange a conference call with your prospects.
7) Rehearse key presentations. Just last evening at 8 p.m., I was assisting a client with a PPT program for today’s key demonstration meeting. Make sure the message is correct and your team is ready.
8) Anticipate your competition and think through how you will set them up and move forward.
9) Execute brilliantly. This is a theme I have used often, but it works. Make sure your sales team has thought through the sales cycle...
Ken, are you crazy? I have not finished the fourth quarter yet! But as budget planning starts and business strategies begin to be set, it is your responsibility to be ready for 2014. What do you need to have on your to-do list for the next 60 days? I have listed the top 10; let me know what I have missed or what is on your list.
1. What are your revenue objectives by each quarter for 2014?
2. Review your existing teams carefully; analyze each person’s strengths and weaknesses; and rank the following on a scale of 1–5, (5=great). Are they good enough to stay on your team for 2014?
a. Sales skills
b. Product/industry knowledge
c. Operational knowledge
d. Sales planning
3. How many new people do you need to recruit? When do you need them fully up and trained? Hint: Hire them NOW.
4. Review your marketing/sales operational teams. Do they really understand your market, your customers, and the benefits you bring to them? What do you need to do to improve their business knowledge?
5. Is your compensation plan effective? Did it achieve the results you wanted? Have your business objectives changed, and therefore your 2014 compensation plans may need to be altered? (Take our sales compensation assessment on our website.
6. Reassess your CRM/Sales Metric Dashboards for the entire year. What trends can you find or what activities need to be enhanced? Hold an individual salesperson review meeting to assess performance.
7. What will be your “theme” for 2014? Define the top three objectives that you need to focus on during each of the 1st and 2nd quarters.
8. Schedule a “personal self-assessment” meeting, either with your...
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