Thursday, February 22

The Art & Science of Sales Management

Reproducible Results
Foundational sales process and management, including the 12 week plan.

Art & Science
There really is an art and a science to sales.

The science is simple, once you’ve determined who your prospects are (profile) and what they need in order to purchase of your product (process), it’s simply a matter of reaching them (activity).
The art of sales can be misleading. Some would say talent is people skills and communication, but that is just the beginning. Experience has taught me that the best salespeople exude integrity, talk much less than they listen and are interested in long-term customers/relationships.

By providing the appropriate training, rewards and correction, most people will realize how to close deals more consistently, faster and easier by allowing the prospect to “buy”, rather than “selling” their product.

The implementation of a consistently reproducible sales process makes it easier to grow the sales plan, adjust the sales process, and/or adapt to different sales channels.

Profile
Profiling customers is part of the “assessment” phase and should be done regularly to ensure proper alignment. Determining customer profiles can be as simple as asking customers what they bought and why, or as complex as comparing demographics, retail sales, distribution channels, pricing matrices, discount schedules and seasonal fluctuations.

Early in the process, I tend to recommend the simplest methods of assessment to produce the quickest results and allow for more in-depth analysis as data can be produced from the current sales process.
  • What does a the customer look like? Age/Size - Income/Revenue - Lifestyle/Market
  • What do they hope to accomplish with the products they buy?
  • Historically, what have been the quickest methods for turning prospects into buyers?
Using this information, the “evaluation” stage is to determine what’s working, what is not, and how to find the greatest number of prospects that match the corrected profile.

Evaluation is essential for putting past performance in perspective with future goals. When introducing new products, services or distribution channels one must keep in mind that future customers may look considerably different than past customers.

Part of the evaluation phase is considering other models of success from ancillary products to similar customers, complimentary products to targeted customers, and even how competitors are finding success.
  • What is the best way to communicate with prospects? Phone? Video? Face-to-face?
  • Should our customers be end users, retail channels or distributors?
Process
In my experience, sales relationships are “win-win” propositions when they are built upon five foundations.

There is an (over?) abundance of sales methodologies available, such as Spin Selling, Solution Selling, Miller Heiman Strategic Selling, Dale Carnegie and more. Having been trained in, implemented and/or used these, I have found that each has benefits, but none are universal to every business.

Using a simplified model for b2c or b2b hard goods as a foundation, an appropriate sales process can be developed, adjusted and proven, over time. Effective use of a process can lead to a predictable and reproducible funnel of successful sales.

The particular methodology chosen is less important that a commitment to building the right mindset of your sales team and following through on a chosen path. Partial commitment to knowing your customer or to your process is a sales killer.



Activity

While activity is primarily science, if you only understand the results and ignore the motivations behind what you do, it can be easy to lose focus and enthusiasm. This typically results in a under performers and the infamous, “one-hit wonders”.

Part of the learning process for a sales team is to develop a mindset that leads to, and supports, the desired results. Sales methods provide a framework, but the team members must bring their correct mindset in order to operate within that framework.

Most of the traditional sales phrases can be accurate, but don’t tell the whole story. In this case, these sayings can over-simplify the objective, mislead salespeople and lead to a de-motivated, unsuccessful and unproductive sales team.

Now that we have a better understanding of our goals, realize that they go beyond a particular product and recognize the rewards, we can commit to tasks and production numbers that push us to be excellent for the benefit of others and ourselves.

Leadership and Management
“Keep things as simple as possible, no simpler.”
-- Albert Einstein
I believe true leadership starts with a desire to see others succeed, builds into a character of giving and transforms hope into confidence.

Some of my best managers not only encouraged, but corrected. These folks saw my potential, cared about what was important to me and helped me achieve those goals by being productive for them. Sound similar to the sales process discussed on these pages?

I believe that the everyday things, the little things and even the repetitive things can lead to biggest of things. That’s the beauty of bringing together the art and science of sales with managers that not only lead by example, but give of themselves to the success of others – we find proof that the sum is greater than its parts.

12-Week Calendar & Typical Ratios

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