“Life is like dancing. If we have a big floor, many people will dance. Some will get angry when the rhythm changes. But life is changing all the time.” – Miguel Angel Ruiz
I really love to dance, but I don’t seem to find time to hit the floor as much as I’d like to these days. It’s funny that when I was younger I wasn’t very good. Then I hit a late growth spurt, learned some new moves, found some good partners, and things started to make sense. I stopped seeing the dance floor as something to be endured and instead made it my own. I overcame the fear of embarrassment and things suddenly fell into place. I got right with the rhythm.
I’ve been thinking about rhythm and dancing alot lately. ( Of course I’ve always been accused of believing that we can solve all the world’s problems if we throw a good shindig.) I’ve been mulling over the fact that every organization has a characteristic rhythm in place. This rhythm is initiated by the CEO and senior management, but driven by every member of the company. Everyone makes a contribution…everybody’s got their own step in the dance. Now with the turning of the leaves this rhythm’s changed again. We appear to be busier in some ways, but most of us are languishing in the typical fall malaise.
The simple truth is that we’ve begun treating 2012 as a foregone conclusion. “Let’s focus on closing what’s in the pipeline!” or “No one does business after Halloween…”
Keep on Steppin’!
Vamos my people! Let’s kick it up a notch and turn that dial “up to eleven!” I’m going old school and calling you out! Stop waiting on everyone else and kick a beat:
Are you in sync with your partner?
Call an impromptu, informal PipelineReview meeting with a colleague you don’t know very well or who you haven’t collaborated with recently. You’ll both benefit from fresh perspectives and unique approaches to the Sales Steps.
Call / email every single prospect in your pipeline directly. Step up and make the “go” or “no go” determination as soon as possible and then communicate it up the chain. Your initiative will serve you well young grasshopper and distinguish you from the herd!
Stack the deck for 2013 hermano! Follow the (or create a new) Lead Generation process and schedule some new stuff. Don’t let conversations end with some vague next steps and get those prospects on your calendar. Use (or create a new) Lead Nurturing process to keep them informed and interested until the new year.
Learn some new moves brother!
How does that guy get President’s Club (top producer) every year?
What are all those options available in your organization’s CRM software that you never bothered to learn about?
What’s the latest buzz in the procurement world? How about reviewing your organization’s RFP / RFQ / RFI process and template(s)?
Face your fears Luke…
In which part of the Sales Process are you weakest? Can’t generate leads? Can’t close? Proposals indecipherable? Don’t use the demos effectively?
Don’t be afraid to borrow what works for others. Use phrases, demos, techniques etc. from successful people but spin them your way.
Own it! Accept responsibility! Give explanations, not excuses!
Have you ever created and lead a Sales Team directly? Not from the lofty height of C-Level, but day after day in the trenches with your people? If so here’s a quick post for you the Sales Manager. In my experience there are four trends that are very common for most sales teams:
Your sales executive schedules an initial call with a prospect and it goes extremely well. You have a rather high-level discussion with the prospect and there’s definitely a lot of interest in your solution. You discuss some possible next steps and things seem promising. Unfortunately that’s as far as it goes…the prospect gradually drops out of sight and eventually you make the sales executive take them off their forecast…poof! They’ve vanished!
You’ve finally secured senior management support for additional resources for your sales team, i.e. more marketing dollars for events, new lead sources, inside sales reps etc. You plan and execute a new lead generation strategy and it produces…well…nothing! You solicit feedback from your sales executives and discover that they never got the hot new leads or that they we not viable or “real”. Often there isn’t even a common understanding / definition of a lead and different departments have completely distinct ideas about “what is a lead…” Communication breakdown.
The new quarter starts off after weeks of planning, training, and discussions with your team. They’ve been tasked with creating a pipeline of prospects and opportunities in excess of five times (5X) their quota. You have weekly reviews of all opportunities and everything looks good until shortly before the quarter’s end when your sales executives begin to move their “hot” opportunities to the next quarter. What’s even more troubling is that the sales executives can’t usually give you any specific reasons why they had difficulty forecasting. Now you have to be accountable to senior management while your team says…maybe tomorrow…
You’re spending a lot of time putting together sales activity reports for senior management. You have a CRM which you’ve used for years and the sales team constantly complains that it “takes them too much time to update it.” After making a business case to senior management, you get a new CRM solution with all the extras…the sales executives are now too busy to learn how to use it correctly. In addition, your “top” salesperson leaves unexpectedly…he takes all the relevant information about your clients / opportunities / prospects with him because he never put it into either CRM solution. Now senior management is asking for…information.
If you’re a Sales Manager and you’ve faced these challenges, share your experiences with us!