The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence

5 Principles of Sales Excellence

The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence maximises the efficiency & productivity of your sales efforts.

Companies spend somewhere between 5% to 15% of revenue on their Sales Professionals & if you really want to focus on growth this is around 20% of revenue.

How business leaders use that investment makes a huge difference on both top-line growth and the bottom-line.

Therefore getting it right is super important.

The Battle cry from the boardroom

We need our Sales team to sell more!”

Have you heard these words in the office corridors or boardrooms of your company?

I have on many occasions and it frustrates me as I’ve not met a Sales professional who tries to sell less or close less deals.

The answer to that “we need to sell more!” statement is often marketed in the claims of sales technology solutions & made by sales trainers.

Let’s take a look at what these options offer.

Sales CRM & technology solutions

How many sales CRM tools that have been sold as a solution to “sell more” now sit in the CRM graveyard?

With adoption rates averaging 47% as reported by CRM Magazine, or, 26% as reported by Salesforce, is the right decision to move to a technology solution?

When companies have good adoption & the right sales behaviours in place as seen in the IBM 2017 CRM Statistics report they see results.

Productivity increases to 50%, Sales quota attainment is at 65% & 74% of businesses improve their customer relationships.

The Cloud brings new possibilities for sales & there can be no doubt about the impact technology has on sales results & ROI.

It’s no coincidence that companies only see these results when they have the adoption & desired sales behaviours in place.

Sales Training providers

Business leaders must be committed to train their Sales Professionals especially as research shows that 84% of sales training content is lost after 90 days.

Sales training loses its power when a sales professional is not given the opportunity to apply new skills in their actual work environment.

One obvious conclusion is that if sales training is to have any chance of being effective, it must be continuously reinforced in daily routines.

This points to the criticality of the Sales Manager role in embedding training through effective Sales Coaching.

Research by CSO Insights, The Business Case for Sales Training  shows the impact of where sales training “exceeds expectation” compared to companies that “meet expectation” or “need improvement”.

With 8% more sales professionals achieving quota, 56.2% having higher win rates & 84.9% able to identify customer needs.

It’s important to note these results happen if companies have Sales Managers focusing on Sales Coaching ensuring ROI is maximised.

Therefore which option should a company choose – Technology or Training?

I’m not sure it’s possible to know the answer to that question without knowing what problem you are looking to solve.

What is it that needs fixing that would enable your company to “sell more“?

The key is ensuring your company has effective Sales professionals effective Sales processes.

The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence helps businesses invest correctly by identifying & focusing on the areas of sales excellence that create the greatest impact for your company.

The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence:

finger paintingBusiness Strategy – Leadership has a genuine commitment to develop Sales Excellence.

Growth Management – Meaningful targets are set and the performance of the business is made visible.

Sales Leadership – Managers spend their time on business performance and people development.

Sales Execution – Sales standards are clear & consistency in Sales Execution is achieved.

Pipeline Management – Sales pipeline and lead management practices are in place and are effective.

Contact me if you want to talk more about The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & about how I can help your company “sell more“.

If you enjoyed this article please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network. Please also take the time to read some of my other recent posts.

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Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

Being A Great Account Manager

Being A Great Account Manager!

What makes a “great” Account Manager?

Have things really changed that much?

Has the role of the Account Manager changed much over the years when we consider changes in buyers behaviours, additive technology and automation of routine tasks through AI?

The answer to that question is of course yes it has.

But a better question is, has the core skills you need to be a great Account Manager changed much over time?

My answer to this questions is no and it has not as much as you would have imagined. The tactics might have changed but the things that make you great have not.

Why do I say that, well I go back to those things I did during my 30 years in B2B sales roles and match them up with the things I do today.

Consider how effective you are in these seven “Be’s”:

Be present

Be present even when there isn’t a deal on the table. If you only show up when there is a need what message are you sending. They don’t really care how much you know, they want to know how much you care.

Be real

I can tell you from my years of experience that if you are acting genuine and sincere it will show.  Business is all about relationships and authentic relationships.

Be responsive

Provide answers within a timely manner or respond within the business day because if you don’t you are showing your client that they just aren’t that important.

Be informed

It’s your job to know everything about your client.  This means reading the annual shareholder letter from the CEO, news about the company, financial health etc.

Be knowledgeable

Your job as an Account  Manager is to know your customer well enough to identify real opportunities.  This knowledge allows you to focus on qualifying each lead or prospect.

Be a storyteller

Facts tell and stories sell, have you heard this  before? The more stories we learn from our existing clients the more value we are to our clients.  People relate to and remember stories.

Be respectful

Treat your clients and customers how you want to be sold to.  If it ever feels wrong or uncomfortable your best bet is to search for an alternative way that feels good for both parties.

How effective you are in these seven areas and focusing on them will help you on your journey to become a great Account Manager.

If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

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When is the best time to make a Sales call?

Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

You Own Your Personal Development

Own Your Personal Development

A trio of lists focusing on Personal Development.

  • One is all about excuses you may have heard why people don’t invest in their personal development.
  • Two is all about what you can do to own your personal development.
  • Three highlights the benefits to you of taking control of your personal development

5 Excuses From Sales Professionals Not Owning Personal Development

Ever hear yourself using these excuses?

🙉 Excuse 1 – Negative Self Talk

  • This is probably the biggest barrier to personal growth for the majority of people
  • “I’m not as good as her”, or “He is more of a natural at this than me”.

🙉 Excuse 2 – Lack of Support

  • There’s no one around that even understands, let alone supports your desire for personal growth.
  • “I want to do it but they wont give me the time”, or “If I ask I don’t think they will let me”

🙉 Excuse 3 – No Clear Goals

  • Until you know what you want you can’t make a map of how to get there.
  • “I’m just to busy with work to write down my personal goals”

🙉 Excuse 4 – Playing the Blame Game

  • Until you take full and total responsibility your chances for personal growth success will be limited at best.
  • “I would have done it if she hadn’t had done that”, or “Its only because of him that this didn’t happen”

🙉 Excuse 5 – I Know it Anyway

  • This belief that our ego needs to always be right. Be better-than, more successful than
  • “If they had done it my way”, or “If only they had listened to me”

Remember these are 💯% excuses and you 💯% own your personal development!

Ten quick tips that will help you build your self development plan:

💪🏽 Start Now

  • It’s that simple start now and build on what you learn daily

💪🏽 Take Baby Steps

  • Break your goals into smaller steps and keep the end result in mind

💪🏽 Learn From Others

  • Find a mentor, read books and attend events

💪🏽 Love Change

  • You can’t escape it and your plan needs to embrace change

💪🏽 Be Accountable

  • Your responsible, nobody else. If you don’t bother there’s no fairy godmother

💪🏽 Recognise Your Value

  • Don’t discount the value in getter better at what you currently do

💪🏽 Be Deliberate

  • Make sure you really want to do it. Is your goal and intention aligned?

💪🏽 Stretch Yourself

  • Find the middle ground. Goals that are easy or impossible don’t work

💪🏽 You’ve Got To Love It

  • Don’t do things if you don’t like doing them. Your goals must match your values.

💪🏽 Be Resilient

  • You will hit highs and lows so your development plan needs to be achievable and balanced.

Personal Development is About Investing in Yourself. It’s not about waiting for your company or employer to do it for you.

Here a Six core benefits to personal development:

👍🏽 Heightened Self Awareness

  • You get to know who you really are, your values and what you truly believe.

👍🏽 A Clear Sense of Direction

  • Decision making and prioritisation becomes a lot easier.

👍🏽 Improved Focus and Effectiveness

  • Meeting deadlines and ignoring distractions becomes natural.

👍🏽 Exceptional Motivation

  • When you know what your setting out to achieve its much easier to see the benefits of taking action.

👍🏽 Greater Resilience

  • Personal development cant stop bad things happening but it will help you be able to deal with them.

👍🏽 More Fulfilling Relationships

  • You are better able to see what relationships are worth investing in.

A differentiator between average and top performers is that a top performer owns their personal development.

If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

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Would you cheat to win in Sales?

Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

Set Sales Targets That Get Smashed!

Set Sales Targets That Get Smashed!

How to improve your Sales by setting Sales Targets the SMART  way 

SMART sales targets

It’s not actually easy to set targets with no basis. It’d be like talking about how high you’re going to build a tower, without knowing how much material you have or if the foundations are secure.

Everybody thinks they do it, but the reality is, when I ask to actually see managers’ sales targets? They’re fluffy and lack substance. As a result, sales teams end up either stressed or complacent with unrealistic or unambitious targets. 

Salespeople roll their eyes when I ask them if they use SMART.

“What you gonna teach me on Day Two?“ they ask sarcastically.

“Nothing, until you’ve learnt Day One properly!” I answer.

SMART (pictured) works for me (and has always done) and I still see this method as the most effective way to set targets. 

Let me walk you through the FIVE steps of how I set sales targets for sales teams, with the SMART system in mind. 

Set Sales Targets Bottoms Up

This phrase, which you may have come across in sales, means to me, to build from both feeling and reality.

  • You should have 80% confidence the sales target  is set right.
  • It should feel like a stretch. But not too comfy and not too tough.
  • It should be based on your current situation, completely grounded in reality.

Data is Your Friend 

Data is your “friend” when you set sales targets

Don’t be consumed by data, but find and focus on the key data that drives your business forward. You also need data to:

  • Review performance history
  • Break performance history down into easier chunks
  • Create a visual guide of these chunks. I’ve found making it visual helps greatly.
  • Know the maths of selling – what are your metrics? (important bold font alert) examples:
    Phone calls to appointments?
    Sales pitches to quotes?
    Quotes to sales?

If you don’t know these facts, your targets aren’t based on reality.

Think Small to Achieve Big 

Think big but act small to deliver success

This one really works for me.

Big dreams and ambitions are great…be the biggest, best etc. But then the pragmatic reality of getting after that can be daunting.

Instead, break things down to the smallest meaningful level and ask yourself things like:

  • Can this target be broken down to a daily / weekly / monthly target? The yearly thing just doesn’t translate into action.
  • Can I control the outcome? Am I directly in control of all parameters? If not, is it even right to set a target?

Make them Inspiring

Yep, I did say inspiring. Are your targets pushing you forward, out of your comfort zone, asking you to do something different? 

Think about it – as an example, can you push yourself through your targets to increase demonstrations or presentations to a senior level?

Whilst sales targets are predominately about numbers, be creative and make them inspiring by giving them a place in personal development.

Now, Hulk, Smash!

Smashing target is easier than getting a girlfriend Hulk!

Smash your targets is a bit sales cheesy, so let’s just meet or exceed targets shall we?  

The key for me here, is it’s all in the planning…So take the time to PLAN.

  • Do you know the barriers to success?
  • Do you have the right skills?
  • Have you put enough resources to it?
  • Do you know your market?

As Ive already said to set sales targets isn’t easy.

It’s a lot easier said than done, but it’s so critical that you invest the time to do the planning right.

Sales Target Setting is covered inSales Excellence Principle #2  Growth Management

If you have concerns about how effective your sales targets are then why not contact me to see how Setting your sales targets correctly?

The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence are:

Business Strategy – Leadership has a genuine commitment to develop Sales Excellence.

Growth Management – Meaningful targets are set and the performance of the business is made visible.

Sales Leadership – Managers spend their time on business performance and people development.

Sales Execution – Sales standards are clear & consistency in Sales Execution is achieved.

Pipeline Management – Sales pipeline and lead management practices are in place and are effective.

Contact me if you want to talk more about The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & about how I can help your company “sell more“.

If you enjoyed this article please leave a COMMENT, click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Please also take some time to read some of my other recent posts.

Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

Steve Knapp Sales-14

Missing Your Quota? Then Up Your Call Rate

Making that One Extra Sales Call

Recently I made a video post on LinkedIn about doing an extra sales call a day to smash your targets and get your bonus. 

What quickly developed was an excellent thread with some great debate and expert insights about Quality vs Quantity, so I’ve made this article to summarise the thread and make it a takeaway that you’ll be able to digest!

The Sales Call Battle Between Quality vs Quantity?

This was the immediate and main point of discussion – it’s clear that simply picking up the phone one extra time just for the sake of it to meet a quantifiable metric is not going to get you the same results. 

Some key takeaways from this section of the debate:

  • It is better to have 5 quality sales calls than 10 average ones.
  • To that end, if you find you or your staff are making TOO MANY calls, (which might be apparent if a high percentage of your calls aren’t converting) then it might be worth exchanging a couple of these calls and dedicating the time to doing pre-call planning and post-call reports. 
  • If you already possess the quality element though, there are always things you can do to make time for an extra call.

Is the Culture & Mindset set to do more Sales Calls?

Culture is basically the plural of mindset, so these are interchangeable and applicable, whether it’s you who makes your own sales calls or your sales team. If you don’t have the right sales culture in your company, this can often supersede the issues of how many calls you’re making. So it’s crucial to get this right. 

Is one more sales call the answer to beating quota?

Two comments which gave some good insight :

  • It’s about having a good mindset, selling with purpose, not just because you feel like you should be making a call or have to fulfil a quota.If you do have a sales team, are you certain that this is how they feel about their role?
  • Often the extra time to make these calls falls towards the end of the working day, when your prospects are too focused on getting out of the office and going back home.Is there a way to restructure your day around your time-critical sales calls?

A top-tip for finding that extra sales call to make. 

Don’t be afraid to reach into the past for that one extra call. People whom you’ve had previous engagement with may take less time to prepare for and also be more likely to buy. 

And finally…

‘The difference of Ordinary and Extraordinary is the word “Extra”… Just one extra call in a day, or even one extra call in a month can take you to Extraordinary results. Sometimes it is not the BIG thing that matters, just one little extra, one small extra push…’ – Irfan Fauzie

Thanks to Irfan for that contribution, which sums up the spirit of my post exquisitely. 

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this discussion and my mission to #ElevateEverywhere.

 

P.S. Check out the FREE downloadable 1 page summary on my website on how to improve the quality of your Sales Calls.

Once you’ve clicked the link, you will find the toolkits available at the bottom of the page.

 http://steveknappsales.com/services/sales-execution/

 

If you enjoyed this article please leave a COMMENT, click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

 

Please also take some time to read some of my other recent posts.

Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

How to create a winning sales culture

How to Create a Winning Sales Culture

Creating a winning sales culture should not be that big a deal

Transforming an underperforming sales team into a well-oiled sales machine doesn’t happen by luck. 

Yet many companies try to grow sales by simply putting more pressure on the sales team, reminding them of their increasing quotas and adding up how much they’re behind. 

Companies invest a lot of time and money into better products or more marketing, which doesn’t hurt, but only further masks your true underlying sales problem. 

When you add to this the general poor standard of on boarding, the cost associated & time it takes to recruit getting the culture right from the off is by far the most cost effective & productive option.

Here are 10 key actions that I have experienced that will get your company on its way to creating a winning sales culture:

Follow your salespeople

The first thing I do when I take on work for a client is nothing but listening and watch the Sales Professionals & Sales processes in operation. I do this because in my view when it comes to why they aren’t producing, salespeople can rarely tell you but, they can show you.

Monitor daily activity

A mechanic wouldn’t look at your car and just tell you what was wrong with it; he’d check the engine & the electrics or hook it up to a machine to get readings. You have to do the same thing for your sales team. I advocate setting Sales Expectations these would be six to eight daily revenue producing activities that every Sales Professional is measured against. Whatever you choose is fine, but the data is essential for monitoring because numbers never lie.

Drive activity more than results

Sales is and always will be a numbers game. Whoever sees the most qualified amount of prospects in the shortest time has the best chance of winning. Salespeople have little control over who buys and who doesn’t, so spend more time pushing them to increase activity and results will increase as a byproduct.

Loose the bad apples

My experience tells me that the average sales manager knows whether or not a person is going to make it, yet it typically takes six to nine months to let that person go. Bad attitudes, low work ethic and people who undermine leadership are a virus to your sales team. The longer you let them stay around, the more it is costing your company and the more they are infecting those around them.

Learn to recognise success

Start recognising your top leaders & sales professionals more publicly. One of the fastest ways I get results for clients is by helping them create an incentive plan for driving activity. You can come up with fun affordable incentives that create an immediate spike in activity. Top producing sales professionals are a different breed and it’s amazing how far they’ll go to get a £50 iTunes card or get their name called in a team meeting.

Create a purpose

Sales professionals will give you more if you create a greater purpose

Selling is emotional. Selling takes energy. And many salespeople need to be sold on the greater good of what they’re doing. They need to understand that they are contributing to a bigger picture. You can even have them come up with their own purpose by just capturing their responses in a group setting to the questions “What do we believe in and why are we here?” Salespeople need vision and it’s the job of leadership to help that vision come alive.

Elevate the sales professional

Sales professionals are amazing. They are often among the highest income earners in your company & they should be. They battle doubt and rejection every single day. If you want them to produce you need to promote how important sales professionals are in your company. In your talk and actions, elevate the importance of the sales function to the other departments in your company. 

Invest in sales training

It’s your company’s job to give your sales professionals the tools and training they need to succeed in their position. Sales cultures have well-defined systems to help their salespeople grow, learn and achieve. This is especially important for new hires but you also need to have some way to deliver on-going advanced sales training ideas for your entire sales team. If you don’t think this is important, then determine how much it costs you on average to hire someone and multiply that by the number of salespeople who didn’t make it last year; you’ll quickly see it’s worth the investment.

Create more accountability

Most good sales professionals crave and welcome regular accountability. Spending regular one-on-one time with your people not only gives you a chance to mentor and train with them; it shows that what they do is important and that you care about their success. It also means you can create a bit of healthy tension as you push for results.

Create sales scripts

Most salespeople are far less technically proficient at selling than they think. They are reticent to call on new business because they aren’t good at it and they don’t know what to say. While they will complain about being forced to say word-for-word scripts, you must have them available and they must work.  A sales team without sales scripts is like a business without a business plan, it lacks focus and is inconsistent.

Going after these activities will have a significant positive impact on your sales culture & create more successful sales outcomes.

But maybe your still not sure how or where to start?

The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence can help you unlock your sales potential so, if you need help, or want to explore how Steve Knapp Sales can help you create a winning sales culture all we have to do is start the conversation. 

If you enjoyed this article please leave a COMMENT, click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network. Please also take some time to read some of my other recent posts.

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Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

Steve Knapp Sales-9

8 tips to get you past the Gatekeeper

Are you the enemy?

Are you familiar with the termThe GateKeeper“.

This the individual whose job it is to prevent people getting access to the Decision-Maker.

Typically, this is a personal assistant or a secretary, but in some companies, it is even the receptionist or switchboard operator.

Here are eight top tips for getting past the GateKeeper.

TIP 1: THE GATEKEEPER IS NOT THE ENEMY

Whoever is acting as the Gatekeeper between you and the Decision-Maker (DM) is just doing their job. Part of that job is managing demands on the DM’s time. Seeing the Gatekeeper as the enemy creates a barrier that it will be difficult to remove.

TIP 2: SOUND SENIOR

Management never gets treated the same as the workers. If someone believes that you are important, they will treat you differently. Using a relaxed and calm voice, speak slowly and articulately and don’t divulge more than is necessary. During the opening seconds of your conversation, if the Gatekeeper senses that you are their senior, they will not risk offending you by probing too deeply.

TIP 3: THE GATEKEEPER IS A WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE

Remember that whilst the Gatekeeper’s role is to restrict interruptions to the DM’s daily routine, they do know a great deal of important information about the DM and the business. Use this opportunity to check that the person that you want to speak to is the decision-maker. Check your facts with them. Ask simple, non-intrusive open questions to try to build up a picture of both the Gatekeeper and the Decision-Maker.

TIP 4: DON’T SELL

The Gatekeeper has several distinct ‘powers’. One of them is the power to connect you with the right person. However, they do not hold any decision-making powers. When the Gatekeeper asks ‘Can I tell him/her what it’s regarding?’ – do not try to pitch your product or service to the Gatekeeper. Firstly, it will waste your time. Second, it will irritate them because they will just be waiting for an opportunity to tell you that they cannot help you. No matter how desperate to connect with the DM you are, do not sell to the Gatekeeper.

TIP 5: ENGAGE DON’T EVADE

Don’t be awkward, don’t try to sneak past them, the chances are you’ll get cut off at the knees. Actively engage with the Gatekeeper. Don’t get too personal, don’t pry, but you can gently probe. If you can’t get through to the DM, engage the Gatekeeper so that they have a positive and friendly attitude towards you when you call again. You’re unlikely to become best friends, but building a relationship and a rapport with them will help them want to help you.

TIP 6: EASY DOES IT                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Calm down then go for it!

If you are nervous, stressed or tense, you will transfer those feelings to your voice, your behaviour and choice of words. All of these will make an impact on how the Gatekeeper perceives you and therefore how they receive your request for access or information. Take some deep slow quiet breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to put yourself at ease. When the Gatekeeper answers, smile and confidently greet them with energy and ease.

TIP 7: DON’T SCRIPT, BUT HAVE A PLAN.

Unless you are a particularly good actor, don’t use a script. They are likely to hear the scripted tone in your voice. Instead, plan how you will approach them; what approaches you might take depending upon the range of responses that they might make. Plan your responses to key objections but leave yourself room by improvising the dialogue.

TIP 8: IS THE DM EXPECTING YOUR CALL?

In order to bypass the Gatekeeper, use the DM’s first name only. Ask ‘Can I speak to Sarah please?’, it sounds like a personal call. Remember your goal is not to inform the Gatekeeper; your goal is to bypass them to get to the DM. Next, they might ask ‘Is she expecting your call?’. Simply and easily reply ‘Yes, I sent her some information through from our Head Office, we need to discuss it before close of business today’.

If you enjoyed this article please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network. Please also take the time to read some of my other recent posts.

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Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

Would you cheat to win in Sales-2

Would you cheat to win in Sales?

Do you believe in winning at all costs?

Without going into details, Australia, widely regarded as the best Cricket team in the world decided to cheat to win their match against South Africa by ball tampering.

This is no Aussie bashing article from a ‘bitter, twisted Pom’ as Mark McInnes, Graham Hawkins & I were entering some banter by messaging each other over the last few days.

Why would a team that is already the best in the world resort to cheating?

Captain Smith, Vice Captain Warner, Bancroft and “the senior leadership team” clearly decided that cheating was worth it, just to win a cricket match. With such a big risk, what’s the big reward?

What is it that drives someone, a team, to cross the line & cheat like we witnessed in Cape Town?

I think the answer lies in reputation. Australia have built themselves up to be this world-beating team, so anything less than beating the world at Cricket would be seen as a failure.

When you’re so used to success, the fear of failure must be quite the driver. The negative press that failure in sport receives is rarely sympathetic. You’ve got your sponsors and fans driving you to win and complaining or not supporting you as much if you don’t. You have the success of previous teams to live up to; if you do, your records are immortalised in record books.

So it is high reward, but it’s also extremely high risk. Cheating, or even the sniff of cheating tarnishes a great sportsperson’s reputation.

Lets look at some other examples.

Look at how Lance Armstrong left his legacy in Cycling. Sir Bradley Wiggins is now having to defend an allegation that he crossed the line when taking steroids for asthma.

Sir Mo Farah is dealing with the allegations made around his coach, Alberto Salazar.

The stigma of the allegation or reality of cheating sticks. Look at the effect each of these incidents is having on the people involved, the families, the nation and the branding.

To some degree each of these sports & sports professionals will never be seen the same again.

If they are to be seen as shining lights once more, some serious repenting, rebuilding & learning must be done, over a long period of time.

Two things people have to protect in life is their integrity and their ethics.

Because through these two things comes trust, respect and status – cornerstones of your reputation, which is such a defining factor of success in society.

The correlation to the Sales Profession is profound.

Certain sectors in Sales get close to crossing the line. Some cross it. They take different forms in different counties: 2nd hand car sales, PPI, Accident Insurance.

I’m not judging individual sectors, (I don’t need to, people have their own judgements) I’m just highlighting the impact that reputation, or the implication of cheating has on our predominantly highly skilled and ethical profession.

Consider the pressures in sales to make quota & the recent reported success rates. With 40% of sales professionals not making quota perhaps the pressure to cheat in sales is a real risk?

In sales, do you go for the deal regardless of applicability of the solution? Do you get obsessed by your targets and the fear of the failure to meet them? Do you get blinded by the status of being the top seller?

Let us in Sales take the lessons learnt, (well maybe not yet learnt) in sport and apply them to Sales.

Selling is a profession that should be underwritten with integrity & ethics.

Although the failure to act within the “rules” in sales might not be as highly exposed as it is in the top level of sports, the reputation loss of the entire profession is still as impactful.

Think twice if temptation is calling you to cheat, in any form.

Stick to your principles, protect your reputation and #ElevateEverywhere. The one thing that shouldn’t be for sale is your reputation; because when it’s gone, it’s gone

If you enjoyed this article please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network. Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

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Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

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Take control of your Sales Pipeline

The Sales Pipeline is a veritable playground for any Sales Manager, but, many don’t know how to play the game of Sales Pipeline Management.

I’ve become increasing interested to understand how effective Sales Managers are in translating the data in their Sales Pipeline into meaningful actions that lead to more sales.

You would have seen research from CSO insights and the Alexander Group that highlights the percentage of B2B sales professionals reaching full quota.

This trend is alarming & there are many other factors impacting this including:

  • B2B Sales Professionals are not adapting their sales approach to the buyers journey.
  • Marketing creating low quality insight & misdirect their customer value propositions.
  • Sales Managers do not have the skills to effectively control a sales pipeline to drive more successful sales outcomes.

So lets spell it out:

The objective of Pipeline Management is to measure the effectiveness & efficiency of your sales process, enabling you to optimise the time spent in each stage of the sales cycle.

Sales Managers are accountable in your organisation to do that & need to be skilled enough to perform this activity.

It is therefore critical that Sales Managers fully understand what is required of them to have an impact on sales outcomes & deliver on that accountability.

Why do I say Sales Managers don’t know how to “play” Pipeline Management?

Let me give you two statistics that were presented at the 2017 B2B Sales Summit in London that I believe indicate loose pipeline practices in a business:

  1. 50% of sales time is spent on deals that never close
  2. 3.2x more sales time is spent on deals that don’t close.

To understand more about this topic I spent time talking with Garry Mansfield the Founder of Outside In.

This conversation gave me a real insight on what are the most impactful things a Sales Manager must do to win the Sales Pipeline Management game.

Sales Pipeline Control Points (leading)

  • Awareness: You must have an overview of all your open sales and as a result you are able to recognise & guide effort to the right priorities. Not all customers are the same. If you are treating all your customers the same you are failing to target prospects based on their value to your business.
  • Assessment: You must know where you are you in each deal. You will have lots of opportunities in the sales pipeline, but feel that you are not able to manage your prospects and sales activities to effectively complete the sales process.
  • Contact Strategy: In B2B sales, there will be several different decision makers and influencers involved at some point. You need to be know where each of them are in the buying cycle & what strategy you have to move them through the cycle to the next stage. The likelihood is the more expensive the product or service you are selling, the more complex the buying team gets.
  • Strategy to win: Start with the strategy to win this piece of business, then you need to be clear on the tactics you will use to deliver this specific opportunity & then follow with a set of specific actions that move each of these opportunities forward. Take a look at these 6 core strategies to win.
  • A clear value proposition: Ensure that you have a strong value proposition. Without it your deal will have a low probability of success & your customer will not see the value of change. Worse they might see the value of change but just not with you.

Sales Pipeline Impact Points (lagging)

  • Data Accuracy: Ensure that the accuracy & the quality of the data in your sales pipeline is in place throughout each opportunities sales cycle. A sure fire way to make this happen is by demonstrating to the Account Manager the value in keeping the data accurate by using it in performance reviews & all reporting.
  • Win Rate: Know your sales pipeline numbers & knowing what to do to improve them is what will drives sales. What number of prospects do you need in your pipeline to make your quota? What are your rates through each stage of the sales cycle? Where does attention need to be placed to increase your Win Rate?
  • Slippage: Have realistic date & time stamps to ensure your sales professionals don’t keep re-stamping stage commitment dates. This messes up the pipeline numbers we just talked about above & shows an unwanted sales behaviour. Using “slippage” data will help you focus your coaching to improve the sales cycle time.
  • Stage Velocity: In order to make the right decisions, you need to be in full control of your sales process, know your customer history and how long it takes you to move a lead from prospect to customer. If you don’t have this kind of visibility of your sales pipeline you will fail to shorten your sales cycles. If your sales cycles are too long, the problem could be that you have a “leak” somewhere in your sales pipeline.
  • Opportunity Advancement: It’s all about moving the opportunity forward & seeing that the owner of the opportunity is making progress. Is the customer moving closer to making a buying decision and a buying decision with your company. This is a key measure of success.

These Control Points & Impact Points will lead to more successful sales outcomes and make your Sales Managers masters of the Sales Pipeline Management game!

If you enjoyed this article please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network. Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

6 “must haves” in great Account Plans

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Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

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6 “must haves” in great Account Plans

Account Plans should help you think like your customer thinks and not like you or your company thinks

I have seen 1000’s of Account Plans. Some have been very good & some have been very bad.

I have seen Account Plans look like works of Shakespeare or written on the back of an envelope.

I believe Sales Professionals & Sales Managers can easily miss the purpose of an Account Plan.

Over investing or under investing in this activity is a risk so here’s the “must haves” I expect to be in an Account Plan:

🎯  Account Background:

• Describe your customer’s business and the value it creates for its customers
• History of your relationship and the overall business potential

🎯 Customer Needs/ Value Drivers:

• What does success look like for the customer?
• What are the customer’s main needs and priorities?

🎯 Account Strategy, Objectives & Targets:

• What are your goals with this customer – short & long term?
• How does your company support the customer’s business vision and strategy?
• What business targets do you want to achieve with this customer?
• What’s your positioning in relation to external factors and competitors?

🎯 Contact Strategy:

• Are the correct people identified in the customers business – decision makers & influencers?
• Who in your business could contribute and add value to your customer?

🎯 Tactical Action Plan:

• Is there a plan to achieve your goals with the customer?
• Are there actions over this next period that help you deliver the plan?
• How do these activities link to the customer’s needs?

🎯 Live Opportunities in the Pipeline:

• Do activities in the plan translate into opportunities in your sales pipeline?

If you ensure these 6 “must haves” are always in you Account Plans you will consistently add value to your clients business and your business.

To see more of what a good Account Plans looks like you can visit the Sales Execution section of my website and download the Free to Purchase Standard Tool Kit just click here.

If you enjoyed this article please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network. Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

3 approaches to become a great Sales Coach

Make more sales by aligning Sales & Marketing activities

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Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

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