Category: Strategic Sales Management

Death of Account Management by Andy Preston

In this insightful article, Andy Preston from Manchester highlights the pitfalls of trying to run an account management strategy. He argues that they are now dead in the water. There is a new paradigm with new roles to generate sales and new business. He cites the three key roles within the new sales department, set out below.

The key point for me is the understanding that it takes different types of people to run these different roles. If you understand the role, then you will find the right people to fill them. Good luck…

1) The first one is ‘New Business’. This is where the individual brings in new, fresh business from prospects that don’t currently spend money with you. Using a variety of prospecting methods, the ‘warmest’ this role gets is trying to win back a lost (or lapsed) customer. Otherwise it’s all about bring it in from scratch!

2) The second role is ‘Account Development’. The main function of this role is about bringing in more business from existing accounts – i.e people who are ALREADY spending money with you. This role is about getting those clients to spend more – whether that’s increasing order value or order frequency, taking business off your competition that may be active in those accounts, or finding new ‘buying points’ in those accounts (and getting them to spend with you), that’s the focus of the Account Development role.

In other words, it’s like having a ‘New Business’ focus within your existing accounts, and therefore requires a different skillset to the ‘new business’ role, and most definitely a different skill-set to the old ‘Account Management’ role!

3) The third role is what he refers to as ‘Account Servicing’ or ‘Customer Service’ – in effect the focus of this role is to keep the customer spending with you, deal with any complains, problems or queries, and ‘service’ their account.

Here is the link to Andy Preston and Death of Account Management

What’s the hard part of your business?

What is the hard part of the business?

Seth GodinSeth Godin asks the question – “What is the hardest part of your business”. Seth has launched an online marketing programme in which he poses a whole series of questions.

He cites an energy drink and suggest that getting shelf space is the hardest part. As a coach and sales mentor the hard part is getting in front of the right people. If I can do that then I can guarantee success.

After all I can deliver a business plan, or a strategy plan. I can show the sales cycle and mentor the sales teams to maximise their skill sets. But if I cannot get in front of the right people then I am sunk.

For an author the hard part might be persuading a publisher to take it on, or getting them to stock it. For a solicitor it might be to be found for a legal skill other than conveyancing. I don’t know the answer to that one, but this I do know. If we can sort out the hardest of all the questions that our business throws up, then we are 99% there.

If you have any advice, comments or thoughts, do let me know

 

How not to be found – the junior sales prevention officer fails again – Part 3

This is part 3 of a dialogue between a senior sales prevention officer and a junior seeking to learn the ropes. Sales prevention is ubiquitous. It can lurk in the back ground or be found right at the customer interface.

If you have an example of sales prevention do let me know. Now, on with the story.

Remora!

What do you mean they found your company on the internet! How did you allow that to happen? As a Junior Sales Prevention Officer did you not realise that prospective clients would be looking for your company using the internet? Your excuse that “Only those under 18 years of age would use the internet.” is way out of date. It is THE way to be found. You have been lax in your duties and you may need to rethink your future.

Everyone knows that Awareness is the first part of the buying process. When clients become aware that they have a problem, they start to search for possible solutions. Being hard to find is where you should have focused your energies. I accept that it was easy for me in the past. We ensured we remained hidden by not subscribing to any form of advertising, avoiding any relationship with the press and refusing to subscribe to directories. I did this by informing the Board that our investment funds would be better spent on making further enhancements to the product. A better product would surely attract more customers I argued. They bought it hook, line and sinker. We had so many product enhancement projects underway that the Board do not have the time to look at the languishing sales figures.

With the age of social media however I do accept that your job is harder. But not impossible. Start with the website as that is where most potential customers would go to find you. Imagine a site that allowed the customer to enter the site and then be unable to find what they are looking for. Make navigation or search really difficult, that is the goal. Moving on. It doesn’t have to be too technical. Start with a really slow download speed by using the cheapest server and low tech or free website package. Ensure the navigation bar is poorly worded and links to the wrong pages. Post updates very rarely and ensure that it the site is littered with spelling errors. Done well then they will bounce right off the site. A job well done.

You then cite SEO as being the bain of your existence. It is unless you understand that SEO is Search Engine Obfuscation. Here is how you prevent yourself being found online. Start by using search terms that have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with what your customer might type into a search engine. Litter the content of your pages with worthless drivel. Use jargon that obscures what you do. Jumble the text around and pack the words in tightly by assuming that the last thing clients want to see is any white space on the site. Avoid punctuation. And most importantly do not seek to craft any form of narrative that might suggest passion or emotional engagement with what you do. Design is for wimps. Branding is for cows. Just words, no images to brighten up the site or videos to ensure they have something to engage with.

Do not help the client by writing about the benefits they may receive from working with you. Just list the features of your offering. That way Google will rank your page as not relevant to your prospective customers and you will wallow on page 15 or 16. You will never be found. That should be your goal. Personally, I set a target that I will never appear higher than page 20. It works for me. It is so much quieter here once the machines sit idle when the incoming orders cease. I can really think creatively about preventing sales and earn my crust.

So my dear Remora, think about ways to hide and not be found. Google is smart but you are smarter. They use spiders and robots whereas you have the god given gift of articulate thought. Sales prevention requires the use of top level thinking if you are to succeed.

Coach, Consultant, Mentor, Advisor – what’s the difference?

How to choose the best coach for you.

How to get the best support to help you to resolve your dilemma.

Executive coaching and sales mentoring BristolA question we are often posed here at the Business CoPilot. But the question is usually posed in a slightly different way. It’s usually more subtle.

“What can you do for me?” or  “How can you help me?” might be the way the question is framed, but the underlying question is actually something like this.

“I am not sure what I want and am equally unsure how you can help. The terms coach, consultant, mentor, advisor don’t help clarify the situation for me. What can I do to resolve this uncertainty?”

Given that you have a specific problem, here is my take on the differences between these terms.

  • Coach – helps you to do it for yourself
  • Consultant – does it for you
  • Mentor –  shows you how to do it, as they have done it before
  • Advisor – gives you advice specific to the problem

Imagine then you have a specific problem with say improving sales.

As a coach I would help you to define the problem, work with you to develop possible solutions that work for you, help you to decide which solution you want to take and then work with you to make it happen. It doesn’t really matter that I have sales experience (which I have), it is more important that I have coaching experience.

As a consultant I would work with you to determine the problem, define a solution and then implement all or part of the solution.

As a mentor I would help you to define the problem, then using my experience in managing complex sales teams, I would suggest ways ahead, obstacles that would be faced and how to get around them.

As a sales advisor, I would offer advice as to how to go about solving the dilemma but would not get involved with the implementation.

So long as the problem is about sales these answers above are relevant. But not in all situations. If the problem was about the impact on the balance sheet of a certain course of action, or about the best way of implementing a tax efficient benefits package, I could coach but not act in any other capacity.

The answer to the question then might be something like this. The it being the problem.

“I want to sort it out myself with some support.” – you need a coach.

“I want to get someone else to sort it out but want it to be right.” – you need a consultant.

“I want to be shown how to do it by someone who has been there before.” – you need a mentor.

“I want to understand what is required to sort it and will do the rest myself.” – you need an advisor.

Hope that helps. What is your take on it?

Click here to go back to read more on executive coaching and sales mentoring in Bristol

 

 

Sales strategy – 5 things being a sales manager taught me

Sales strategy that delivers profits, pride and performance.

Being a sales manager is so rewarding. It’s one of those roles that really has everything.

Sales strategy, business coachingAs It’s your responsibility to deliver the sales strategy you get to see all sides. The externals, which includes clients and supply chain. And the internals as you are the link between the client and the product or service delivery team.

In summary it means working with good people, good clients, with good marketing support, delivering good products and making the business strategy a reality.

Aligning clients needs with the firms ability to satisfy or delight the client is a win win win scenario and one that sales managers everywhere seek to make happen frequently and regularly.

But it doesn’t always go so smoothly. That’s the problem. There are irritations along the way that if not treated become festering sores that in turn could become life threatening. That’s when the sales strategy starts to unravel.

Sales strategy - 5 things being a senior sales manager taught meHere are the 5 things that need to be in place if the sales manager is going to deliver the sales strategy.

1. Get and keep good people who make or deliver the service. It makes a huge difference. How many great meals are ruined by sloppy, indifferent, incorrect or late delivery? Strive to get it right first time so that the relationship account is always in credit. When or if a withdrawal needs to be made then there is some value in the account.

2. Get and keep good clients. Not all clients are the same. Strive to hold on to the good and divest the poor. Build strong bonds at all levels with the good clients. Make them feel valued across the organisation. Let your competitors have the poor ones. You can be generous here. Actively guide the poor clients over to them. But hold on to the good ones with all your might. They are the ones that generate most of your long term profit.

3. Get the best marketing support possible. Make sure it either sells or eases the sales process. Sales people need collateral to sell, not for any other reason. Make sure that the brochures, website, email campaigns even the stationery all aid the sales process.

4. Get the very best product or service that you can deliver. Embed continual improvement in every aspect of service design, innovate, copy, mimic, benchmark to make sure that what you are selling delights the clients and gives pride to the firm.

5. Get a realistic business strategy in place. Implement it well and measure those performance metrics that impact the strategy directly. Make changes quickly. Embed the good. Keep the plan’s delivery in the public eye.

Those are the 5 things that being an international sales manager taught me when delivering the sales strategy. If they were all firing in sync then my life was more focused on generating more and higher profit new business. Done poorly and I spent my time firefighting, politicking, scoring points and seeking my own teams agenda.

Do these 5 things well and your sales manager will be deliver the strategy:

1. Get and keep good people

2. Get and keep good clients.

3. Get the best marketing support.

4. Get the very best product or service that you can deliver.

5. Get a realistic business strategy in place.

Call me on 0117 317 8147 if you want to talk through your organisations performance in these five areas and deliver the sales strategy.

Click here to go to our sales strategy training page

Failing to plan is planning to fail

Yes, I know it is a bit clichéd. But we have sound evidence that most small firms do not plan well enough to ensure that they grow in a way that is sustainable and profitable.

Personally I have no problem with a one page business plan that resembles an action list rather than the deep, structured formal plan. It reflects where they are and  most probably the variability in the environment in which they are seeking to operate.

Anyhow, back to the evidence. We asked 35 people to complete a Gap Analysis of what they need to strengthen the most. The response was a need to have a plan and have goals and objectives to make the plan happen.

If you want to add your insights to the research, do feel free. Business strategy assessment.

Brand loyalty – mistakes that are frequently made

Here below is a synopsis of an excellent blog post by Randy Bowden. He argues that most business owners miss the point when it comes to building brand loyalty

“Customers want a business they can come back to again and again for the things they need, that they feel comfortable purchasing those items, knowing they are getting the right items. It is, however, easy to make mistakes when building brand loyalty that may haunt a business the rest of its days.

1. Forgetting What The Customer Wants

It is important to keep what the customer wants in mind as a business owner builds loyalty. Business owners need the loyalty to go deeper below the surface.

2. All Hype, No Substance

It is easy to think about customers are object you are trying to attract them and forget they are people. So, avoid making claims about the business without the substance to back it up.

3. All Sell

One of the worst things a business can do when building brand loyalty is focusing on the next sale. It is like being bombarded by telemarketers. No customer likes that.

4. No Engagement

Engagement can simply mean a conversation or acknowledgement that the business heard their words and will take the appropriate action. The strong emotions, such as humour, connects them to your brand and encourages loyalty.

5. Poor Customer Service

No matter how well you do everything else, how those behind the counter treat the customer is still one of the best ways to build customer loyalty. So, never forget that your brand extends beyond the physical.”

As the saying goes, there is no second chance to make first impression. Working hard on ensuring that the client or customer has a smooth path through the purchase is probably the best way to build brand loyalty.

Jettison the ballast and soar!

“I haven’t got the time, Rob!”.

“In your dreams, Rob”.

“When am I supposed to do this? I am working 10 hour days”

What would your response be if you had to increase your workload by 20%. Would you tut and go back to the day job? Would you reflect longingly at what life would look like if you could increase the time at work? Or would you do the following?

The Ditch List – jettison the ballast

Business coaching Bristol Bath and South WestWrite down on a set of Post It notes everything you spend your time on. Get it all down first, we will work on it later. Then add in the non-work commitments.

Once you have emptied your brain, take a break and enjoy a hot beverage or glass of wine because now comes the hard bit. Put all the notes in a long vertical line, the most important things you spend your time on at the top and the lesser items at the bottom. You can do the next bit weekly or monthly, it is up to you. But what you need to do is to calculate how much time you spend on each activity.

Add up the time per task as you go down the list until you reach 80% of the time you want to work. Anything below that should be outsourced, discontinued or delegated. Be ruthless!.

Why do this exercise?

Because you need a minimum of 20% of your working time to run the business. That’s right at least 20% or one day per week of quality time to ensure the business vision, goals and objectives are being met. All too frequently we find as business coaches that senior business leaders spend too long on non essential tasks to the detriment of their business.

So what would you jettison if you had the time?

Strategic Sales Management

Strategic sales management is the management task of designing, implementing and measuring the organisations sales capability. It covers a myriad of aspects of business including customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, customer retention and managing the interlock with the marketing process.

What I have found is that many organisations, large or small,do well in many areas of sales such as developing a customer pathway, managing the clients expectations and doing what they think needs to be done to generate customer loyalty.

But where most seem to fall down is in not having the deep understanding of their clients needs and wants. They don’t have in place the relationships with their customers with their equivalent senior management team, their peers or subordinates that generates that deep understanding of what makes them tick. Perhaps it is understandable as it takes time and a level of skill to generate the information and an efficient CRM process to store it.

But if it is done well, then these deeper and stronger relationship bonds will add real value in developing increased sales opportunities and in times of need when things go pop.

Get to know your customers, record the information and use it and see the benefits flow over time. What do you think?

Strategic Sales Management = understand your audience