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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Philosophy of Sales Pricing

It was with some amusement that I read in CSO (Chief Sales Officer)

http://www.csoinsights.com/Topics/Sales-Strategy

that:

· 80% of sales opportunities are LOST to lower prices by the competition,

but ONLY

· 20% of sales opportunities are WON by lower pricing than the competition.

This, as a statistic, does not make sense.
To make sense they would have to be similar.

half-price-half-truth

Instead, they are a Pareto:
80% of the time, I lose on price, and 20% of the time I win on price.

How would we rank this salesperson? 
W
ins 1 deal in 5, and wins that deal on price?


Unless they have 500% pipeline to target coverage, they never make target.
As a Company, we cannot be growing market share,
in a vibrant market but losing four out of five deals.

We cannot work with focus,
because we do not know which deals we will win or lose
until the pricing quotation is made
at the end of the sales process!

The report includes these statistics too,
Poor Sales Process execution is a factor in 20% of losses, and
Sales Execution is a factor in 35% of wins.

Product ‘superiority’ accounts for 75% of wins,
yet is only a factor in 25% of losses.

These combined would suggest that if you have

the cheapest and the best product you succeed

in sales, with the process of selling only playing
a secondary factor!

Finally, a statistic that makes sense:

  • 44% of deals are won by the best Customer Relationship and

  • 55% of deals are lost by a poorer Customer Relationship

Conclusions
  • You do NOT need salespeople and sales process
    to sell your superior product at the lowest price.

  • you DO need skilful Salespeople to sell
    your similar product at a similar price,
    because Buyer Relationship counts!

  • You need a Sales Process which WORKS and
    you need skilled Salespeople
    to sell your product in a market where
    you are perceived disadvantaged by product or price!

“WE NEVER LOSE ON PRICE” doesn’t mean you are the cheapest,

it means you have a perspective on the secondary importance of Price

BMAC Consultants specialise in developing skilled sales people
with a powerful sales process that builds strong Buyer Relationships.

.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

What makes a 2016 Top Salesperson?


An old colleague and friend Chris Windley asked and then answered this question on his blog
http://bit.ly/fGyO1z
Here is my take.
dashboard 2
 
Activity, Skill and Knowledge the three ‘sisters’ remain at the core of Sales Performance.
Even after 25 years of research, they remain constant, unshakable.
Simply by measuring activity, skill and knowledge at BMAC Consultants then,
we can Predict, with accuracy, future Sales Performance. 
However, 25 years of research have shown that
what we mean by Activity, Skill and Knowledge have changed dramatically.

 

Activity

Sales ‘Activity’ in 206MUST include web2.0 tools, if you let Sales Force Automation run your day,
week, or month you will be a SALES FAILURE not a sales success. 

Sales people and Sales Managers must learn how to drive technology,

NOT be driven by technology. 

Revenue Generating ACTIVITY today is NOT about
Cold calls, or First appointments or Thank You notes.
Managing a Sales Team last year, we measured Activity “Net Cash Generation”,
which had no correlation to cold calls, first appointments or Thank you notes!

Today, activity is about lead Generation, lead nurture by Marketing NOT Sales!  Sales are about Opportunity Management.


see my blog http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com/2010/06/sales-energy.html

 

Skills

Skills, well Closing is out, big time. 
There is no correlation between Closing ‘Ability or Skill’ and Sales Success.

If you are great at “Handling” Objections,
then I bet you spend most of your time on the golf course in Sand Bunkers,
I prefer to putt on the Green instead!


The ways in which we meet, present and propose to Buyers have all changed beyond recognition.
Face-to-face, conference calls and Tele-presence meetings, PowerPoint without bullet points,
managed ‘try before you buy’ demonstrations are part of are part of Selling today.

If you only sell ‘Solutions’ to people with ‘Problems’, then you can still SPIN®.
However, you will miss the biggest part of the Market, those Buyers who do not have problems
but who are looking for ‘OPPORTUNITIES’, and that’s a completely different Sales Skill set!

Successful Selling is still about Interactive Competence,
except that with smarter, better-informed Buyers than ever,
then Sales people need a broader, deeper range of behaviours than ever.

In 2013 Salespeople must be able to influence
their Buyer’s thinking, their emotions and their actions.

Psycho” selling is gone, replaced by Neuroscience research into WHY and HOW people buy.
Stimulation’ and ‘Choice’ which can be tested by biometrics give us greater insight into BOTH Buyers
and Successful Sales Behaviours than ever before.
Insight Selling, based on the research of The Challenger Sale, is having an impact on Top –end Selling.
http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com.es/2012/05/putting-challenger-sale-to-work-four.html
Value CONSTRUCTION is an essential Part of B2B selling.
http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com.es/2012/04/putting-challenger-selling-to-worktwo.html

 

Knowledge

Sales Knowledge in 2013 is based on ‘self directed learning’.

With web 2.0 it is inexcusable for a Professional Salesperson to be ignorant of their own products, their Competitor’s products and their Customer’s business.

Ninety minutes on the net, Google, Blogs, Facebook and Twitter should give the basics.

Product Training is sadly becoming out-dated.
Now we need to Train on how to Learn quickly!


 

Activity, Skill and Knowledge, the Sisters,

have two cousins Attitude and Strategy.

 

Attitude

You CANNOT succeed on Attitude alone (watch ‘The Apprentice’ for proof),
yet you will not succeed without the ‘right’ Sales Attitude either!
http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com.es/2012/11/managing-sales-attitude-for-success.html

Strategy

I have seen more sales lost through poor, or NO strategy, than any other cause.

The only way you beat IBM, Microsoft, Accenture, or HP,
is by having a better Account and Opportunity Strategy than they do.

http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com.es/2010/08/sales-strategic-success.html

 

The Balanced Scorecard, the Sales Dashboard, still has five dials:

Activity, Skill, Knowledge, Attitude and Strategy;

and these dials still describe selling;

it is what we mean, measure and develop that has changed in 2016.


dashboard 3

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Is Sales Enablement really ‘Disabling’ Sales?

I have expressed concern over the use of Sales Force Automation (SFA), which are de-skilling salespeople. Today, I want to express deep concern over a Non-Sales ‘conspiracy’ to disable salespeople by making Salespeople use “sales enablement”.

arm lock
The practice of Sales Enablement developed by Non-salespeople is simple:

Selling is an activity, like walking.

Selling like walking requires no skill, have a route planned then go.

Sales Enablement is “routes” prepared previously by Non-Salespeople to make Salespeople sell more often and sell more effectively.

BMAC Consultants have just finished an audit of “Sales Enablement” for a blue chip, Hi Tech Company. My initial analysis was straightforward. Sales results before the adoption of Sales Enablement, compared to Sales results after the adoption of Sales Enablement. Since the claimed benefit of Sales Enablement was to sell more and to sell faster. Clear Order intake and Revenue improvement were the expected results.

The actual result was a performance dip, about -12 % on average.

Sales sold 12% less after being ‘enabled’.

I asked for a third group, the control group, which had not adopted Enablement.
There was not one I was told, Enablement is compulsory. It is our new way of working!
I conducted semi-structured interviews with more than 40 sales staff, salespeople and sales management. I found a group of people who had ignored Sales Enablement. They were, in the main, Top Performers, with a few average performers. Their Sales figures had improved slightly or remained the same. I interviewed at length several Top Performers who had experienced performance dip after adopting sales enablement. “Difficult to use”, “not fit for purpose”, and “cumbersome” were the criticisms, while “good in specific situations”, “saved me time” and “it really helped me” were the compliments.
1. Content Creation
a. Customer Intelligence: this was often story board based, based on previous “wins
The Sales consensus was it didn’t work
b. Product Content: Sales complained about a lack of Product Training, instead they were being giving mini aide memoirs and Product stories.  The Sales consensus was Buyers now knew as much or more about products than Sales knew.
c. Vertical Marketing Content: There was universal appreciation of this. There was particular praise for events which had Customers talk about Key issues and Market Sector drivers in Customer Engagement Workshops
d. Solution Content: There was universal criticism of this. Out of Date materials, irrelevant materials, Issues with Customer Confidentiality (unapproved Case studies) and simply not working or useless content.
Buyers had also stated these were not fit for purpose especially as
RTT (Response to Tender) or RFI (Request for Information) responses.
2. Content Management: is poor or very poor; everyone, yet no one, was responsible, it had become a potpourri. Initially Top Marketing Management had been responsible, but the ownership had dropped to Marketing Operations Executives. The current content owners, were inexperienced, had had little or no Customer contact and were being used for their PC skills (Data Base Management) Storage not ‘Content’ creation, development or distribution.
3. Content Governance: this was the most worrying area. Senior Management had made substantial investment in Sales Enablement; they expected to see two things; usage of the new systems and sales results. Sales managers were enforcing usage with ‘Enablement Police’ ensuring compliance. The use of materials was being checked during sales calls, the use of Knowledge Data bases were being reported automatically by the system with details on access frequency by individual salespeople, by groups and as a whole. IT is driving sales!
Sales ‘Propositions’ were being checked for content and “Standardization” against ‘winning’ models. The whole area of governance was being abused. Some salespeople were going to extreme s in appearing to use the system, while in fact defeating the checks and measures. Other salespeople were in complete compliance, but were seeing their sales results dropping; this dissonance was causing a great deal of stress.
4. Content Delivery: This was an area of innovation. Many Corporate Presentations had been remodelled into Video, Storyboards, White boarding, Podcasts and state of the art Interactive Websites etc. Attempts are being made to use social media, Facebook, Blogs and Twitter and there was a willingness to explore all of this on the part of salespeople. Sales major complaint was lack of Training and no Coaching on these innovations. Buyers had also complained about some of these innovations when inappropriately used, and had rated poor content delivery as a major factor in Lost Business Reviews.

Conclusions

If you really want to ENABLE your salespeople, then listen to them.

  • Customer Engagement workshops with Sales, Marketing, and IT in conversation together with Customers is the most productive source of Sales Enablement Material. What Content do Customers value? How do Buyers want in delivered, where and when do Buyers want it.
  • Sales Enablement appears to work best when it is specific, build an Ideal Customer Profile then work through a Competitive strategy.
  • If you value Selling Time, a repeated criticism by Buyers of Salespeople is that they do not have time! Consider reintroducing some of the Sales Administration Support that was ‘Cost Cut’ in order to pay for Sales Enablement.
  • The cheapest way of increasing selling time and gaining sales results is Sales Admin. If you are short of expense, then fire the Senior Marketing Manager who introduced, then abandoned, Sales Enablement.
BMAC Consultants audit Sales Enablement and make recommendations putting enablement to work. We also have a unique Customer Engagement Workshop process that puts the Buyer’s Voice right to your ear!
Contact brian.maciver@googlemail.com

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

It’s NOT the economy, stupid!

This week (4/11/2010) will again prove the most important political factor
in the American Elections is the ECONOMY.



“It’s the economy, stupid!”

This was the phrase used by Bill Clinton against Bush senior in the 1992 Presidential Election. Bush senior had enjoyed Foreign Relations success, but had allowed a recession at home. So, Clinton the underdog won the election.

In Sales today the “Economy” is the biggest excuse for poor performance.

Yet, in reality, some Firms and some Salespeople are doing great.

It’s the ACTIVITY, stupid

How are you doing?  Are you still explaining sales performance in terms of the “economic situation” or are you hitting the numbers?



Research by BMAC Consultant’s, this year (2010 MMX),
has shown that most salespeople spend less than 100 hours per YEAR selling.

Salespeople work 1600 hours per year
but only spend about 6.25% actually selling.


Salespeople are spending 2 hours per week selling.


This means you are reaching less than 20% of your True Addressable Market.

YOU can achieve Competitive Advantage by increasing the face-to-face selling time of you salespeople.



Real Selling Time is the number of face-to-face hours salespeople spend with Prospects listening to their Needs, Wants, Problems and Opportunities. And, the amount of face-to-face time your sales people spend talking to Prospects about how your Products and Services, when applied to the Prospect’s needs, bring those Prospects REAL VALUE.

“It’s the ACTIVITY, stupid”

Selling Time is your biggest Constraint,
NOT the Economy.

If you would like to discuss Optimal Selling Time, contact Brian MacIver on brian.maciver@googlemail.com

or to receive a free copy of Measuring Real Selling Time Tool Kit

Friday, 29 October 2010

Sales Professionalism

 

The TV Reality show The Apprentice consistently shows Selling in a bad light.
We see “Fools rushing in,” claiming that they are able to ‘sell’, to ‘pitch’ and to ‘close’.
They shame themselves and they shame the Sales Profession.
What we see is below deck discounting; push selling, talking people to death, disrespect and rudeness.

What disturbs me most is any kind of ‘result’, is proclaimed success. Alan Sugar was never famed for quality or service, cheap yes, but even he is damaging his Brand by association with this incompetence.

Professional Selling, is about Product and Marketplace knowledge, it is about superior interactive skills not “professionality”, which is about acting. Professional selling is ethical, repeatable and useful.

Firms rely upon their dependable ability to sell, without selling there is no Company. I firmly believe that Professional Selling means selling what you can deliver, that which the customer needs (and wants).
We are giving a generation of young people a role model that will repel the able and attract the stupid.
It is not learned in the back of a Taxi, nor a Soho Sex shop.

Professional Selling, as a career is both highly paid and personally satisfying. 
It takes a great deal of study and practice to become a Practitioner and even more to be a Master of the Art.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The FIVE biggest mistakes in Sales Recruitment

 

 

1. “In my image”     the good


This is for the Sales Manager who is looking for themselves, but 10 years younger. They believe in “cloning”, they want to use the same management process, which “worked for me”. This is such a limitation. The market and the product, as well as the sales channel has changed so much, maybe YOU would not make it anymore. When they succeed in their recruitment aims, you end up with a mediocre sales department, and a huge recruitment bill.  Diversity Sells!

2. “I never hire a.....”    the ugly

this is prejudice run wild they exclude on the grounds of nationality, gender, race, shape and size, shoe colour, CV spelling and grammar, age, golf club membership, old school attended, university attended or not attended or previous employers. They give credence to the Groucho Marks’ line
“I would never work for a Company that would employ me!”

Keep an open mind, use evidence not prejudice.


3. “Best of a bad bunch”  the bad


Having read a couple of CV’s, and seen two candidates in interview a job offer is made “to fill the spot quickly”. These managers do not believe in anything but luck, and mostly they are unlucky, especially in recruitment. Their ‘new hire’ never seem to work out; they were only the “best of a bad bunch”.

Recruitment is an on-going process; continually try to attract the best people.


4. “Jump to Conclusions”


With five more candidates still to see, you decide this is the one.
Let us make a job offer before somebody else does.
Somebody else will make a job offer! So, see the other five candidates,
make a short list, make the job offer and press for a speedy reply.

Alternatively, you eliminate a candidate for a simple error early in the process.
A poor covering letter, spelling error in the CV, late for the first interview, green tie and blue shirt, we all make ‘mistooks’, don’t we?

Do not rush to judgement gather all the evidence first, then weigh it and decide.


5. “Not accepting less than ‘perfect’


You have extended the recruitment cycle, hundreds of CV’s, tens of interviews and yet you have made no offers. Wasting ‘good enough’ candidates, wasting your own time and having an empty sales territory. Review your process Job and Person specifications.

Loosen the criteria, get second opinions, change your sources of candidates and get a move on!


Final words, why does selection fail?

 

Selection fails either because YOU did not get the information
(Interview - Assessment Error)

 

or it fails because YOU did not use the information you had.
(Error of Judgement)



Tuesday, 19 October 2010

21st Century Selling

 

You pay your Sales people to work between 1,600 and 2,000 hours per year.

ONLY 100 hours, out of those 2,000 hours, generate their sales results.

Most of the hours that you pay for,
somewhere between 1,500 and 1,900 hours are counter-productive or wasted.

Yet many Sales Managers and Salespeople work long hours (mistaken as effort).
He/She is here from 07:30 until 20:00. That is Attendance, not productivity.”

Skilled Sales Managers can manage nine skilled salespeople, easily!

Skilled salespeople can generate up to 500 productive sales hours per year.

Do your Cost/Benefit analysis take cost out and put revenue in.

  • 50% of your Sales Mangers are not required.
  • Your sales force can be at least 100% more productive. 

Today in 2010 (MMX), there is Sales Training available, part of Sales Talent Management, which can double your current Sales results. You can adopt a Sales Talent Management Process, which will give a 400% improvement to Sales Revenue results.

Think about this story.

 

Destiny_3_0_texture_wip_by_AlxShipyards“For over 300 years non-working Spacecraft have been found  all over the world, located, taken apart and examined minutely, but we still did not know how they worked. Just 8 years ago, we were able to examine the first working spaceship, it is much clearer now how they work. Spaceships are highly complex, there are many secrets yet to be uncovered, but on-going research with working spacecraft will give us all the answers.”

The above is Science Fiction.

Below is NOT science fiction, but Science Fact.

For 300 years, we have been examining dead human brains in ‘autopsy’, no longer working models. We have had a rudimentary knowledge of the brain, at best. The ‘function’ of parts of the brain was ‘identified’ by damage and losses of motor or cognitive skills. Behavioural Psychologists, Neurologists and Psychiatrists have all been trying to apply knowledge gained from non-working brains back on to living, functioning brains.
We still did not know how the Brain worked!

For the last 8 years, we have had instruments such as the fMRI scanner capable of viewing the internal workings of the LIVING brain.

Photo: MRI scans of a human brain

Of our current knowledge of the functioning brain,
98% has been discovered over the last 8 years!

The impact of medications and drugs previously measured by behavioural modification can now be measured by ‘real time’ brain activity.

Our understanding of

thought (Cognitive)
emotion (Affective) and
action or behaviour (Conative) have all been radically changed.

The interaction and interdependence of thought, feeling and action have long been pure speculation,
are now becoming pure science, not science fiction.

In the area of Emotion, I want to recognise praise my former colleague and friend Colin Shaw of Beyond Philosophy for his ground-breaking work and evangelism of “Customer Experience”. Colin and his team have dedicated themselves to understanding the emotional contents of “Client experience” and how to build lasting Customer Satisfaction. http://www.beyondphilosophy.co.uk/

What does this mean to sales?

Sales Skills based on Sales ‘Training’ developed before 2000,
are as obsolete as electric shock therapy, and about as useful as lobotomy.

21st Century Selling Skills,

based on the 21st Century Neurosciences are available now.

21st Century Selling Skills work ‘real time’, they are based upon the detailed examination of
the Buyer’s Brain not upon cliché and the anecdotes of Seller’s Brains

BMAC Consultants are proud to have been in the vanguard of this exciting and fundamental change to Sales Skills and Selling.
We have reviewed our pre-2000 research (12 years worth), in the light of current Neuro-scientific research.
This has caused a complete review of all our training courses, workshops and systematic processes.
Literally, nothing is the same.

Our review has led to a 2-year long re-write and validation of:

  • Selling Skills,
  • Negotiation Skills,
  • Proposal Writing Skills, and
  • Presentation Skills.

We have completely rebuilt or reformed our products including Psychometrics and Personality Type Indicators.
We have:

  • Altered our consultancy format,
    for recruitment and selection of both sales executives and sales managers.
  • Changed our process for developing average sales people into top performers, and
  • Improved our process and procedure for the termination of poor performers,
    as well as the retention of top performers.
  • A complete Sales Talent Management System

    based on the latest research, not speculation.

We are seeing spectacular results, in Revenue growth and Cost management for our Clients.

Your competitive advantage comes from our differentiation.

To discover more about Real Revenue results then contact brian.maciver@googlemail.com

Sincere apologies to any reader who thought that Stargate Universe
really is set on the ancient spaceship Destiny, that really is science fiction, at least for now.......

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Personality Testing in Recruitment

 

papyrus and parchment papers

 

There is no point in using Graphology or MBTI in Sales Recruitment.

They are unreliable and lack validity

In defence of Dr. R.Meridith, or he of the Belbin Teams then it is quite a different matter. Belbin’s original concepts have been peer reviewed, are intellectually rigorous and academically respectable. His studies were, and are, validated by successful prediction, and Belbin Team Types have had wide use and great success.

 

 

It should NEVER be used as the basis of recruitment, or promotion. Indeed, BELBIN decries its misuse in the fable of the "Apollo Syndrome” and “Negative selection”. This preferably self-administered and self-interpreted instrument uses self-perception, which gives the individual and the team insight into the contribution range and preferences of the individual. Its basis is in valuing “difference”, in that the ‘Team’ will always outperform the ‘Individual’. Belbin Team Type insight enables the individual to serve the team best, and recognising preferences enables the team to be best served by the individual.

When training Belbin to Managers or to Sales Teams I use the Movie “The Great Escape”,
which highlights individual types, working together to achieve what individuals could not achieve alone.
All of the types are present and easily identified in the film.

  • Shaper (Steve McQueen multiple failed escapee),
  • Resource Investigator (James Garner the scrounger),
  • Plant (James Coburn the manufacturer)
  • Completer Finisher (Robert Desmond the tailor),
  • Implementer (Charles Bronson the tunnel king)
  • Specialist (Donald Pleasence the forger)
  • Team Workers (David McCallum and Gordon Jackson dispersion and intelligence)
  • Coordinator (Richard Attenborough Big X).

    However that rarest of Types:
  • Monitor Evaluator was played by the Hannes Messmer the Kommandant.

So sit back next Christmas and enjoy a classic Movie, but this time with a twist in Perception and Judgement. Apply the lessons back in the workplace, and watch Teams out perform expectations by a mile.

If you insist on using Graphology in recruitment, then combine it with only offering jobs to Monitor Evaluators and Plants, there is at least a correlation between success and them!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Over boarding poor performers

I have written about “ON boarding”, which is the process to productivity and job satisfaction.
overboard
Grasping the nettle firmly by the hand, I want to talk about OVER-boarding. At its worst, fellow employees are made to “walk-the-plank” literally, they are a warning to others.
This can be especially true in Sales departments. It indicates profound ‘Management’ problems, as the cost of selling in a “Hire and Fire” department is always going to be much higher than it needs to be.
Nevertheless, I do not believe in rewarding failure either. Giving gratuitous large ‘exit packages’ to ‘get rid of the problem’, usually means we still have the problem. The problem did not leave the company it stayed!  First and foremost, in any overboarding, Employment Law and all Legislation must be observed. I have neither the time, nor the inclination, for the ever-changing details of this so I ALWAYS consult an expert, either the Company Lawyer or the VP of HR, and work under their supervision. 
 
 

I follow each stage of the disciplinary process to the letter, and the spirit, of the Law.

We also recognise the ethics and social responsibility of the firing transaction, firing somebody has consequences.  No Company can carry non-performers, or poor performers, but fairness has to be seen to be done. Examine your conscience and actions for prejudice or bias, any element of gender, age, religious, racial or any other bias must be mitigated to insignificance. After examination of conscience, you will find that you give some people a ‘second chance’.


The process is identifying the issue or issues, attitude (will not do), competence (does not do) or knowledge (cannot do). Be clear, which is it?  You have three different roles Counsellor, Coach or Trainer to manage these issues. Now manage the issue, inform the employee of the issue verbally and confirm the discussion in writing. This is what is wrong, your poor performance, this is what we discussed and agreed as the actions you will take, and this is a reasonable time for you to effect change, with an agreed next review date.
On the review date changes MUST be measureable.

No measureable change, after a reasonable time, means moving to the next stage.


This next review is an ultimatum, if you cannot change these issues, to our agreed standard by this date, then this will be the consequence.  If there is a sufficient change, then you must stay with the process.

Marks that identify a Top Sales Talent Manager are right recruitment, short time to productivity, productivity maintenance AND employee TURNAROUNDS.

However, in most cases there is little to no improvement. You and your Expert Supervisor have decided that the process has run its course, and termination of contract is the only or the preferred option.

Communicate the decision jointly to the employee;


imageyou are terminating
the contract of employment
,

NOT the PERSON.


The timing and place of the termination interview should be well considered, from the employee’s point of view, near the end of the day is best, allow for 60 minutes.


 

 

The Manager is responsible for the interview, and the ‘expert’ supervises that all is done correctly; both share the responsibility to ensure that the employee’s rights are respected.

There should be no surprises at this meeting.
This is the expected consequence of the various non-performer interviews.
What can be expected and accepted is an emotional response from the employee.
Emotions do not have to be agreed with, but they do have to be recognised.
It is, I think, a right place for the Golden Rule:

Treat others, as you would wish to be treated yourself, fairly and with courtesy.

In my experience, ‘bundled out the door’, is not the best way. A few days to put their affairs in order, to say goodbyes, and accept what has happened is usually best but it has to be supervised. That they are leaving the company should be announced by Management, without detail, “by agreement” is the simplest form of words.

In my experience, the whole process should never take more than 12 weeks,
4 weeks or instant ‘voluntary agreements’ are also common.

A final word, on grievous misconduct, these rare events should be accomplished with the utmost speed under the supervision and control of the Legal Department and HR, not the line manager.

The key consideration is the safety and well-being of colleague employees.

BMAC Consultants offer a full range of Talent Managements services, from recruitment to termination,
Contact brian.maciver@gmail.com

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Mentalist Sales person

 

the mentalist

 

 

In philosophy and psychology there are two principle theories about how we interpret, then predict or anticipate behaviour in other people.

 

 

 

 

They are firstly, Theory-Theory (T-T), which despite its name is very practical. T-T simply says each human being comes complete with a behavioural map already programmed into their brain. This innate map enables them to predict (mind read) others behaviours. With practice and trust, this facility can improve.

 

The second is Simulation Theory (ST) which is that we ALL have, to greater or lesser extent, the ability to simulate in our own minds the other’s state of mind and therefore predict or anticipate their actions and behaviours. “To walk in their moccasins”.

Selling effectiveness depends on our ability
to anticipate, predict and influence Buyer’s behaviour.

Whichever theory you subscribe to, innate ability or cognitive ability,
individual sales effectiveness is improved by:

  1. Ability to anticipate and influence Buyer’s actions (prediction)
  2. To be able to use a wide variety of Verbal and non-verbal behaviours (flexibility)
  3. To select an ‘appropriate behaviour’, in line with desired buyer behaviour (selection)
  4. To modify our behaviour in line with the desired outcome (modification)

This means Behavioural flexibility
and appropriate Behaviour are the sales master skills

The Mentalist salesperson is Interpersonally Masterful

BMAC consultants have over 20 years experience and expertise in Behavioural Analysis, both Buyers and Sellers. In Sales Training with BMAC Consultants, we identify your Current sales behaviours, and then we describe models of Successful behaviours. You develop both a Behavioural Range and Flexibility. You learn how to adapt your behaviour to the Buyer’s situation and state, using the behaviours most likely to succeed in achieving your and your buyer’s objectives.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Sales Forecasts are just estimates


“which describes a twenty-year study in which 284 experts in many fields, including government officials, professors, and journalists and ranging from Marxists to free-marketeers, were asked to make 28,000 predictions about the future. He found they were only slightly more accurate than chance, and worse than simple extrapolation algorithms.”
Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know? PHILIP E. TETLOCK

Review your Sales forecasts for 2015, how did you do?
Did you miss the number, overshoot or undershoot?
Did you book any bluebirds, miss any certainties or drop a ball?
Would you bet your pension against next year’s 2016 FORECAST?

navigator

 

The Captain called the Navigator to the map room.

I want you to tell me, where the ship will be in three days time,

  if we steer South by South-east?”

The Navigator looked at the chart, and then drew a red line almost a thousand miles long.
He cut the line in three places.
Pointing to a spot just short of halfway, he said.
“We will be here if all goes as it has gone for the last three days.”
Moving to a point much closer to their current position
“But, we will be here if all goes against us.”
Then pointing to a spot well past halfway on the line, he said.
“Or, we could be here under optimum conditions.”
The red-faced Captain demanded.
“I need you to point to where you BELIEVE we will be in three days time!”

“It depends.” Responded the Navigator looking at the Captain calmly.
“On what?” Retorted the Captain
The Navigator responded.
“On the wind, the tide, the weather,
how well the crew sail the ship, and unexpected circumstance.”
 
 
The Captain insisted. “I still need your answer”.
The Navigator rejoined.
“My answer can only be an estimate, based on speculation and judgement.
  Best case, worst case and probability based on recent experience.” 

This story is repeated weekly in Sales ‘Forecasting’ meetings all over the globe.

The Sales Variables are:

How good are we at Selling? Economic factors, interest and exchange rates, Market Price Movements, demographics, psychographics, Market sector, Political environment, Product preference patterns;
seasonal or cyclical buying patterns;
Buyer attitude, expectation and perception;
Competitive activity: pricing, selling, new product announcement, market positioning and strategy.
Internally we have, technical capability and support, Financial resource or lack of limitations,
Product Marketing, PR, Lead generation, product and service innovation,
R&D, HR and Administration.

By comparison, the Navigator has an easy Job!

Sales forecasting, even short term, is fraught with difficulty.

The factors we control are outweighed by those factors we cannot control.

At best, it’s an estimate based on

speculation and judgement,
with probability based on recent experience!

And, in sales often the the sales person has little idea where they are now!
If you would like to look at Forecasting based on probability and not guesswork,
based on buyer behaviour and not speculative ‘Sales Process’
then contact brian.maciver@googlemail.com

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Sales Fatigue kills sales

 

Are you ramping up for
a big finish, a big 4th quarter?

 

Ramps go up and they go down,
where will you be in two months, the start of December?

 

clip_image003

What happens to performance when we pass the medium arousal (activity) level?

Performance Drops Drastically

What are the symptoms of Sales Fatigue?

An inability to prioritise activities, long work hours with little or no results.

Inertia, indecision, forgetfulness
and tiredness (which can lead to mistakes and a stress increasing cycle.)

What should we look for?

Changes in behaviour, angry outbursts (or tears), erratic activity.

How should we deal with it?

  • Get a lot of sleep!
  • Take a day off and relax, chill-out and read a book
  • Play some golf or go for a long walk
  • Listen to some music or see a good movie.

Do anything except work for 36 - 72 hours then ------
have a meeting with your boss, agree priorities, and agree actions.

Work a Maximum of 10 hours a day,   better still 8 hours.

Sleep a Minimum of 8 hours a night, better still 10 hours. 

Get plenty of rest and watch it come back together again.

Be cautious in your use of Alcohol or Prescription Drugs,
they can ‘mask’ a serious underlying problem.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Battle Ready

 

on parade

Battle readiness is a checklist before the full and final commitment of resources on a Sales Opportunity.

· Understand the competitive terrain

· Know your relative strengths and weaknesses

Red,
Amber,
Green

· Position Resources at principle points

R, A, G.

· Occupy high ground

R, A, G

· Prepare a focus of strength for acquisition of terrain

R, A, G

· Joint operations Sales, Service and Marketing

R, A, G

We have great Tacticians like Sun Tzu,

“know yourself, know your competitor,

  know the terrain and then choose the battlefield”

and Dr. Frederick W. Lanchester who believed that

“the Quantity and Quality of military forces
determine the outcome of battles.”

“Battle Ready” in Sales is the Final Opportunity Plan.

  • How are we going to win this deal?
  • Who does what?
  • Use all your resources
  • How can we coordinate efforts to create a “Focus of Strength”?
    (
    Homer used the term Phalanx to differentiate the formation-based combat
    from the individual duels so often found in his poems.)

Who sets Battle Ready?

In my view, (IMHO) this is a Sales Management function; it is ‘Strategos’, the Greek word for General.
This is NOT about taking over the opportunity; it is the natural outcome of a Key Account Review or
a Major Opportunity Review.  The Sales Manager, by Directive Questioning, uncovers battle-readiness then through questions and suggestions the Sales Manager improves the Final Opportunity Plan. The Account Manager continues to own the opportunity, although the Sales Manager should consider the appropriateness of the Sales Person against the difficulty of the opportunity.
Do they have the competence and motivation to win the deal?

  • Battle-readiness should be rehearsed in Sales Simulations to both train and develop sales people.
  • Account Managers should not be allowed to makefatal mistakes to learn from’ in live accounts!

In Selling, you can take the WAR metaphor to far;
TAS uses the expression ENEMY to describe a ‘BUYER with a preference for your Competitor’.
TAS calls for a strategy of ‘neutralizing’ the enemy.

This is wrong and it is a confusing “mixed message.”

Nobody in our
Client’s Firm is our enemy.

 

The Competition is a ‘peer Firm in our Marketplace’, they are my opponents in the Sales Game NOT my enemy.

Whoever plays the Sales Game best, with skill and best use of resources, wins.

I can only lose to better players.

unready for battle

Our ONLY enemy in selling is ourselves.

  • When we do not plan, or when we fail to use resources available to us, then we invite failure
  • When we do not do the work to produce, then execute the best Opportunity Plan possible we invite failure.
  • To go to Battle not ready, without a plan,
    is to seek defeat and pray for success.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

The biggest self-deception in Business

 

The biggest self-deception in Business today is............................

 

raising_dollar_3150650

 

That Sales People have any leading role in their Client’s Buying Process!

 

 

Buying 2.0 and the ever-growing network of greater Client savvy,
means Buyers do not NEED Sales.

Salespeople now only have a walk on part.
If their part is “scripted”, then they are not needed at all.

How long the Salesperson stays centre stage and
keeps the Client’s attention is a function of Sales IMPROVISATION and Buyer Activation.

The art of selling in 2013 is based on Creativity, Imagination and Insight.

Clients rarely tell Salespeople what they are ‘really’ thinking.
Buyers know they are being sold to,
so they tend to believe more about what Competitors say about each other’s products,
than what Salespeople say about their own product.

There is no place for Selling by repetition, or being an information point.

The days of just Communicating Value, [talking brochures] are over!

Customers want customization.

 

The success factors in selling today

  • Understanding Buyer’s Needs, What, How and Why.

  • How Sales Strategy Must Adapt to Buyer 2.0

Just before, you fire the Sales force and give the money to Marketing.
Don’t do it, because, Marketing is just as out of tune with Customers as Sales! 

Marketing ask for more and more money,
but can’t show other than anecdotal evidence of Return on Investment.
(Return on Marketing spend).

Every sales success is ‘claimed’ as a Marketing “win”. Yet, ask Buyers for opinions on time wasting websites, unfulfilled inquiries, hopeless “Corporate” presentations and one size fits ‘no-one’ or over-priced products. 

If you closed Marketing today, you would not notice any effect on Revenue.
In fact, if you replaced Marketing by a Customer User Group,
or Buyer Forum you would see both Cost savings AND Revenue growth.

 

What do you have to do?

  • Give Salespeople Product Knowledge and Customer Business Knowledge -
    train them to offer insights.
  • Get sales people to ask questions lots of questions until they can describe their Buyer’s needs accurately and comprehensively.
    This is what I want, this is how I will use it, and this is why I want it.
    So, that Salespeople can Customise [Tailor, if you prefer]


Selling is an art and a science.
You only manage the science;
you develop, adapt and refine the art.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Sales Innovation Pays

 

image

Working as a Sales Consultant last year, I did a Lost Business Review (Part of my Sales Audit). This was a substantial Sales Loss, to a Key Client (major financial organisation). I made one 30-minute visit to the client, conducted semi-structured interviews with the Salesperson, the Sales Director and the Sales Support (engineer).

 

My findings were straightforward.

We had been invited to bid only to make up the numbers. We filled a column on the Decision Matrix that was “new kid on the block”, along with ‘Preferred supplier’ and ‘Do nothing’ options.

We were occupying the “Sure Loser” column.

We did not help ourselves by bidding a high price and the wrong product! We were only selling to the Technical Recommender and had no access to the Financial Decision Maker or the User Group.

  • Price too high,
  • wrong product,
  • inexperienced salesperson and a
  • demanding customer

I took in all the facts; then I drew my own conclusions.

We had been out sold!

We never understood the Buyer Process, never met the Key People in the Decision Making Unit, then we bid the wrong price on the the wrong product. We put a ‘junior’ salesperson of limited competence on the account, he sank and we lost the business!

Our next ‘Big Opportunity’,
was a Company associated to the Client that we had just LOST!

As soon as this came on the Radar, I decided we are going to innovate.

The initial meeting had identified a need for “stuff” an ‘initial response’ and ‘outline proposal’ had already been delivered.

I STOPPED THE CLOCK!

We held a series of Account Reviews; with Sales, Sales (engineering) Support, Marketing and Provisioning.
I invited Finance to collaborate in financial modelling but they ‘preferred’ to work as a Sales Obstacle as the Sales “Margin” Police.

We called ‘High and Wide’ in the Account, including visits to their base in Paris from our offices in London.
We focussed on Demonstrating Capability and most importantly FLEXIBILITY.

We were aware of the competitive activity from client feedback
and slowly it became a “two horse race”.

I was determined to either “KILL” the opportunity or “WIN” the sale.
During our Go-no-Go week we had
full contact with the Financial, Technical and User Decision Makers.

We had a complete understanding of what they wanted and what they wanted to do with it.

I held a Battle Ready session with my CTO, Sales, Sales Support and Marketing Manager,
we agreed to innovate!  We ‘vertically integrated’ two services, we had the capability and some experience, we just did not have the product or service in place.

I took a commitment that it would be in place in 90 days,
so we sold the innovation to the Customer, it met ALL their needs.

We offered the Client a ‘Tailored Service’ at a ‘Competitive Price’.  Our proposition was based on our ability to deliver and execute, while the Value in Business terms to them was very attractive.
The Competitors offered a standard solution (meeting most but not all of their needs) at a good price.

 

WE WON THE DEAL

Contracting’ presented considerable difficulty
both internally and externally.


Despite the deal being Cash Flow positive from Day 1,
we NEVER received any support from our finance people!

In conclusion, sometimes you have to ignore the
“You Can’t do it”
voices, you have to walk in
your Customer’s shoes, and then INNOVATE.
There isn’t always time to wait until it’s ready,
a No Sale generates No Margin.

 

The real purpose of Sales is Cash Generation.

 

We won for all the right reasons,
our Competitors on this occasion were OUT-Sold.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

How long do we as Sales Managers accept Poorest Performance?

 

I want to deal with a thorny issue:  

Never try to teach a pig to sing;
it wastes your time and
it annoys the pig
.”

Robert Heinlein quotes
(American science-fiction writer, 1907-1988)

 

In over 20 years Coaching and Managing “Poorest Performers” it just doesn’t work. It wastes YOUR most precious resource TIME, and you get no thanks from anyone. I have seen a few Sales Managers cut short their careers due to their stubborn behaviour in persisting beyond the limit “Coaching” Poorest performers.

These are the guiding lights for the Manager/Coach.

1. Know thyself

2. Nothing in excess

You cannot teach or coach a Pig to sing, it just cannot be done.

If you are trying to do it then you do not know yourself, you are not capable.
Your JOB is to manage and coach Winners not cosset poor performers.

Let us put some numbers together.

Success modelling BMAC A ‘POOREST Performer’ at their current sales speed (Monthly) will take at least 24 months to achieve this year’s Target.

Every sales person at below 50% YTD (year to date) against the YTD target
is a poorest performer.

Below 80%, Target is a poor performer. Low average is 80%-90% and High average is 90%-120% and finally 120%+ is a Top Performer.

 

If you do not have Salespeople in ALL these categories,
then you have a Sales Targeting issue, too hard or too easy!

Taking a snap shot with the sales year half over (six-month point), you have 3 of your 20 sales people with only 25% or less of their annual target sold. At the high end you have a top performer with 100% of her target complete, and a number of others who should, at their current sales speed, be through their year’s Target before October.

Whom are you going to coach?

If you decide to invest time at the bottom few, even if you double their performance, it will make little difference to YOUR number across 20 people.

  • Know thyself, says It’s the wrong place with the wrong people.

  • Nothing in excess says to spend 30 or 40 precious hours to little result is the wrong place with the wrong people.

What can you do with Poorest Performers?

poorest performing sales peopleProduce a Personal Improvement Plan which they OWN for improvement in Activity, Knowledge and Skills.
Review the changes after 4 weeks, if no or little change has occurred, then move to the next stage in disciplinary, with a view that unless they can change within the next month you will terminate their contract.

After 4 weeks, if there has been noticeable improvements due to the efforts of the individual, then review and update the plan for 4 more weeks. Their sales run rate should have moved to above 60% for the month.

After 8 weeks, there should be a substantial improvement in Activity, Skill and Knowledge. They should be at or above the average for sales activity, and be achieving pipeline growth at the average rate. If these standards are not met, then move to the next stage in the disciplinary procedure with a view to terminate their contract.

Poor performing Sales peopleAfter 12 week, they should be at or above average in all areas with all results. Their Sales this month should be above 80% of the monthly target. If 80% of Monthly Sales Target has not been achieved then move to the next stage of the disciplinary procedure, with a view to terminating their contract.

12 weeks is the maximum investment in the poorest performer, and 4 or 8 weeks may be appropriate in many cases.

 
After 12 weeks its either up or out, and it was down to their personal effort, not your time investment.
You had spent the last three-months focussing on your Top Performers where you had amazing results!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Sales (SOP) Standard Operating Procedures

exotic ammo

 

I am like most of you from a generation who did not give Military Service to my country. 
In the Military SOPs Standard Operating Procedures run the Organisation. 
Or, you would have to stop and devise methods to carry out even the most simple task.
“Doing it by the numbers”
is the answer to avoid constantly solving the same problem again and again.

It can be mundane events filling and empty Barracks, layout kit
or simply load a gun with ammunition. 
You don't have time ask “How do I load this?” when under fire! 

There are SOP’s for once in a lifetime events, the Coronation of a King
or the burial of a Queen.
You can’t postpone the Funeral for six weeks to organise like a Wedding!

As a Sales Consultant, I audit SOPs in Sales Departments.

  • Contracts, renewals, Cancellations for recurring events

Less frequent, but just as important

  • Buyer Objections, Cold Call Scripts, Call Planners,
    Presentation Structures, Proposal Outlines
  • How to run a corporate Golf day,
    Lunching a customer or prospect,
    or Monthly reviews.

These are Sales ‘Enablers’, part of Sales Enablement.

How good are your Standard Operating Procedures?

Part of the BMAC Sales Audit includes SOP review.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Sales and Marketing Integration.

Having consulted for the Last 20 years, at more than 100 organisations.  From Mega Corps. to Small Owner/Manager Business, in sectors ranging through Energy, Telco’s and Airlines to Food Growers and Retailers, Furniture Manufacturers and House Builders.  It still amazes me the number of Poor Performers due to disintegrated Sales and Marketing. Good Product, Good Market, and Good Channel but they do not perform!

I have over the years developed ‘categories’ for the Sales and Marketing relationship:

Divorced, they have taken new partners like R&D or Product Production or Customer Service.
They do not talk, they try never to meet and they blame one another for the poor performance.
This cannot work.

Separated, still living at the same address, but they do not talk.
When they accidently meet then it is conflict or conflict resolution, NEVER collaboration.
They are going to divorce.

Married, but take each other for granted. Regular meetings (this month’s agenda is last month’s minutes). They use similar language ‘leads’, ‘pipeline’, ‘Value Propositions’ and ‘Unique Selling Points’ – but have completely different understanding as to what the words mean!
They avoid disputes by rules and guidelines.

 

The Happy coupleNewly Married, enjoy joint planning,
flexible boundaries and joint events.
Their talk is of Products, Promotions, Pricing,
Sales Channels and Systems.
It is working through their own hard work.

Fully Integrated Sales and Marketing:
Shared Language & Training
Regular Meetings, Joint Sales Visits, Shared System,
Joint Performance Measurement & Joint Rewards –
mutual responsibility for success.

 

 

Fully integrated Sales and Marketing WORKS and it doesn’t seem to matter if it is Sales led or Marketing driven, one leader or two.

 

It is always Customer Centric, it is a Set of Behaviours,
an Attitude and Shared Values.

It ROCKS! Now look at your Sales and Marketing, what is their status?

BMAC runs ‘Market Workshops’ to integrate Sales and Marketing,
successful behaviours, using a combined Sales and Marketing System,
Joint Performance Measurement from Enquiry to Close. 
Learn how to create the right attitude by sharing right values.

Sales Manager Black Adder’s Post Call Review

black adder

 

B:   (Baldrick the sales representative)        “How did I do boss?”

BA: (Black Adder the Sales Manager) “Not very well, I’m afraid!”

B:   “What do you mean I thought it was great?”

BA:  “Well, you did not ask any QUESTIONS.”

B:    “I asked for the order.”

BA: “Yes but, you did not ask any ‘Open’ questions”

B:   “But, I got the ORDER.”

BA: “Yes but, do you understand their needs?”

B:   “It’s the biggest order anyone has taken this year,
       it put me through target and
       should pay for an extra holiday this year.”

BA: “You have the wrong attitude to Coaching, Baldrick.
        How do you ever hope to improve when you don’t take advice?”

B:  “Sorry Black Adder, I’ll have a cunning plan by next month”

BA:  “Tschh! If your still here next month, Baldrick!”

Sales Coaching: Do it Right!

 

I did an exit interview with a salesperson leaving for a competitor.

He wrote the following comments:

“I am leaving because of the lack of Development in the Company. My Manager ranked my selling skills at my last appraisal as average. I do not know how he measured me, as he always jumped in and took over the sales call.

He has not seen or heard my selling skills, but I have seen and heard his selling skills. He talks excessively and barely listens to the Customer, he exaggerates to the point of lying and he ‘knocks’ the competition.
He has poor selling skills and no coaching skills.

As I want to develop my Sales career I am leaving the Company to join one with a recognised development program.”

hugh Laurie

 

 

 

The Manager who had the last word wrote,

“I would not employ this salesperson again!”.

 

 

 

 

 

Sales Coaching is a Joint Process. The Sales Manager with the Sales Person together Identify a development area.
They then agree a plan for learning and practice that they carry out together,
until the required standard is met, for that development area.

 

Sales Coaching is based on:

  • REVIEW, Plan then Do

  • At each joint call it is 

    DO, Review then Plan

  • After each appraisal its

    PLAN, Do, and then Review again

Sales Coaching is a Continuous Process,

its part of ‘business as usual’ in a Learning Organisation, coaching is not a special event.

BMAC has validated Sales Standards of Performance, Sales Assessment and Sales Accreditation models.

BMAC runs Training for Coaches and Coaching the Coach, both of which are based on validated models.

If you would like to find out more about Sales Coaching contact brian.maciver@gmail.com .

2013 Sales Year is over, start 2014 NOW!

  calendar

The current average Sales lag time in ICT is 7 months.

28 weeks from pipeline entry to sales close.

(Provided you spotted the opportunity
when it was first available!)

 

 

Writing in May 2013 then this year is over,

what is in is in, what is not is not.

What then must be done to make 2014 a great year?

1. KEEP PROSPECTING or 2014 is going to be a poor year.
May/June/July Prospects will be your Quarter 1 sales results in 2014.
2. Cleanse your 2013 pipeline.
William Ocknen’s brilliant book Managing Management Time –“Who’s got the Monkey?”
will show you how to painlessly remove dead and dying deals (Monkeys) from the pipeline.
http://ht.ly/2GXLu 

Don’t waste time LOSING deals “Cleanse your pipeline!”

3. The combination of 1. & 2. above,
is that you are now likely to succeed both this year AND next year.

That is IF you PLAN now, you will in fact need quite a few plans.

Using the Urgent/Important criteria,
in this case Urgent is date of Client required installation and
Importance is the multiplying your likelihood (%) to win by the Revenue.
Plan the most important and urgent first.

Sales people may have to work over a weekend or two!

4. EXECTUTE all your Plans, account plans and opportunity plans.
Recognise that selling continues through July and August only if you Plan and Execute in May and June.
5. August is the best month to plan the 4th quarter.
Scour your Territory for 2013 ‘bluebirds’ in their final stages:
be PRICE aggressive, disrupt the Competition!
6. September is the focus month: what really could close before Sales year-end? It is no coincidence that final quarter of the year (whenever it occurs in the financial year) is always the biggest quarter. Managers think it is their ‘push’, but in reality, it is sales people’s focus. So, let us make more time to focus.
7. October, November and December will define for many their success for this year 80%, 100% or 120%.
Executing the plan, you made in September.
You must be focussing on the best opportunities,
activating events that enable the Client to move through Decision to Purchase.
October, November and December also defines your next selling year, especially your Quarter 1 results. (Early in my selling Career, with a big territory and a good product I had hit Target in April.
Before attending the previous year’s President's Club, I had my ticket to the following year’s President's Club!)
.

calendar
  • BMAC offers the following rules of thumb:
  • October  4 days per week selling for this year, 
    and then 1 day selling for next year.
  • November 3 days per week selling for this year,
    and then 2 days selling for next year.
  • December 2 days per week selling for this year,
    and then 3 days selling for next year.


That gives 36 selling days for this year,
and 24 for next year, use them well.

Sales Training 2012 Review (part two)

Reviewing Sales Training from the outside.  I have been asked to externally review Sales Training for many major and many other smaller Companies.  External Validation is one of the things I do; I talk about it a lot so people ask me to do it for them.  I have to say one Firm was the most fun, as I reviewed in 2008, Sales Training I used to delivered 20 years earlier. “Life on Mars”.  Apparently nothing has changed in 20 years!

  • EXTERNAL VALIDATION is what happened AFTER the training, just as
  • INTERNAL VALIDATION is what happens DURING the training.

External validation must be external and independent
from both the training provider and the training sponsor. 

It is a Training Audit.  Its purpose is to establish:
 ‘Did the Training, through its practical application, have the intended result?’ 

We start the Audit Trail with the Training Needs Analysis and Training Objectives with the Sponsor, this can often be long after the event!  Then External validation has to measure the Knowledge Gained and Retained from the course, the Skills increased since the training

Then, best of all the knowledge and skill transferred to Practical Application ‘on the job’. 

It has taken me years to develop the skills needed to do these audits; the knowledge base of measurement techniques and studies continues to grow, taking a quantum leap in the past 10 years.

Here are some general comments from about 100 evaluations.

  • Apparent Knowledge ‘Gain’ is about 70% cash-burning
    i.e. at the end of an event in a closed book Test environment,
    the mean score is 70%.  
  • The same Test Paper given before the training even produces a median of 40% 
    So the real knowledge gain is 30%,
  • after six weeks there is a 60% knowledge loss,
    when the test is retaken the mean is now 50%. 
  • The range at this point is between 30% to 70%. 
    If you do a bang for the buck analysis,
    you are getting 10¢ on the $1, a 10% knowledge gain. 
  • Add to that 70% of that which was taught has NO impact on sales performance
    and your return drops to on each training dollar spent a poor ROI.

Measuring and Validating Skills is much more difficult.

I measured skills during the first or entry ‘role-play’,
and before training had taken place,
and in the field with customers in field observation.
Typical scores at this point is a mean of 40%. 

Demonstrating skills of:

  • Dealing with Objections,
  • Handling Questions,
  • Asking Questions to uncover needs,
  • Making Value or Benefit statements to fulfil needs. 

End of training measurement showed a 60% mean, but six weeks later, it had dropped to pre-training levels. 

No skill gain,
Sales Training does not deliver Selling Skills is the rational conclusion
.

However, I constantly found skill improvements,
a score would move from 30% to 80% over 6 to 12 months post-training.  These improvements always occurred in Clusters. 

At the centre of every cluster was a Manager/Coach!  Sport has known this for years.

 Sales Centres of Excellence.

  • Have you measured the External Validation of your Training?
  • Are you getting 3¢ on the dollar?
  • Is coaching an integral part of sales training?
  • Do you train Sales Managers to Lead and to Coach or are they just promoted Sales People?

BMAC has constructed  a Sales Training Validation Model,
based on best practice to enable Sales performance,
using Managers as Coaches to produce sales centres of excellence.

A 2012 Review of Sales Training (part one)

Can you fairly review something from the inside? 

Police Complaints, Government Statistics?  It is difficult to review from the inside, so you have to step outside, seek academic review have someone external validate samples.

Why bother?  Sales Training still sells well; Clients continue to buy.  Delegates continue to hand in positive Happy Sheets.  If repeat business and happy sheets were the measure then no review required!

Imagine, we ask a different question “Does sales training work?” 

scales

 

Well yes, it works, look at the happy sheets. 
No, I mean “Does it really WORK?” 
To answer this question I have to deploy much different measures Internal Validation: did the sales training do what it said on the bottle?

  • 3 day event: 17 skills to be taught (or Learned),
  • realistic’ Role-play practice, with Video ‘review’,
  • Individual ‘feedback’ from the Trainer.

 

 

Internal Validation of most of the Main Training Courses providers,
they performed poorly.
 


Their definition of a “Skill”, was really a Behaviour:

Example:  “Hammering: a Joiner hits a nail with hammer”. 
But, Carpentry Skills are learned over a 4 year apprenticeship,

  • choosing the right hammer,
  • choosing the right nail,
  • hitting with the correct force are all based on the situation:
    the Client, the Job, the Materials.

Back to Selling: 


Listening:  A salesperson asks questions and listens,

  • “you have two ears and one mouth use them in that ration. 
  • Listen twice as much as you talk”.
  • This cliché is oft repeated and useless, but it gets great Happy Sheets!
  • Research shows Top Performers have a “listen to talk” ratio of 3:1, pity we don't have a third ear!

There are 27 question types,
and TWO types of Listening (Passive and Active)
which should I be using and for what? 

Questions:  Open or Closed, Convergent, Divergent, Rhetorical, Leading, Closing and 17 others  on http://questioning.org/Q7/toolkit.html  and I haven’t even touched Situation, Problem, Implication and Need.

At this point Trainers launch into the Open/Closed Question debate, by opening and closing their mouth and not listening…this was resolved 30 years ago it was not significant by the Huthwaite Research Group (HRG) who brought the world ‘scientific’ selling and SPIN®. 

Despite its lack of significance,
‘Open and Closed’ questions stay on the main course menu of Sales Training.

My internal reviews of Sales Training, has been and continues to be that, they fail to deliver, what they claim:

  • Skills are not ‘taught’, behaviours are demonstrated
  • ‘Realistic Role-play’ falls short of Accreditation Simulation Standard for Assessment
  • Video Reviews a bit embarrassing red faces, tears or laughter
  • ‘Individual feedback from Trainers’ is platitudes,
    non-specific praise or worse criticism 
    “You don’t seem to smile much or give good eye contact!”
    This has given birth to the fixed grin and fixed stare Sales Statues
    that you meet on booths at Sales Events.

What really is happening?  Delegates go through 3 days of ‘success anecdotes’, funny stories, and witty remarks.  They are entertained, not challenged so they give good happy sheets. 

By any Internal Validation Standard, Sales Training is poor.

If YOU the Sales Training Buyer feel aggrieved, then I ask you to consider 

  • “Where was your shopping list?”. 
    You would not buy a car on looks alone. 
    You would consider how well the car met your needs. 
  • What are you going to use the car for?
    No Training Needs Analysis, No Job Descriptions
    and of course no Training Objectives.
     

Just that happy thought, that at the end of training my salesperson should sell more,
and hence meet or exceed target!

Do you want Training that works? 

  • Training that does what it says on the Bottle.

  • Training based on Structured Needs Analysis.

  • Training that sets Valid Objectives to meet those needs.

  • Training that is validated.

BMAC has been using Leslie Rae’s
Assessing the Value of Your Training” (ISBN: 978-0-566-08535-2) and its predecessors since 1990.