May 18, 2014 11:00 PM
When I ask sales managers the most common mistake their people make when negotiating with customers the answer is always the same regardless of the industry: salespeople give ground too quickly and get little to nothing in return. While I understand the challenges of closing a deal, some salespeople want to “sweeten the deal” by providing a little extra incentive for the customer to buy. Many times it isn’t necessary and can cost companies much needed profit margin.
May 15, 2014 11:00 PM
Open sourcing and Big Data are two business trends that, for all their popularity, don’t seem appropriate for blending. The former is focused on universal access and free license to a product’s design or blueprint, while the latter is all about gobbling up as much statistical information as possible about a customer base or entire industry and analyzing it for competitive advantages that are to be protected at all costs.
May 13, 2014 11:00 PM
Viral videos beget copycats. The explosion of “David After Dentist” a few years ago continues to inspire camcord-toting family and friends to videotape someone they know who is just out of surgery and shaking off the effects of anesthesia.
May 11, 2014 11:00 PM
One of the deadliest sins in most messages and sales presentations today is the tendency to say too much. Everyone in your company with an opinion weighs in on the story and, presto, you have a bloated story that pleases internal powers, but actually confuses and frustrates your customers.
May 6, 2014 11:00 PM
As sales professionals, you know more often than not you are going to have to wait on many of your deals to close. Today’s clients take longer to make a decision, prolonging the sales cycle and increasing our stress. The new economy may have brought new opportunity, but it has also brought a new set of challenges. Why? Because this new economy is what is known in the industry as a shifting economy; and a shifting economy is an uncertain economy.
May 4, 2014 11:00 PM
Most people view James Garfield as a mere footnote in history, that is, if they recognize the name of the 20th U.S. president at all. However, there are some valuable lessons to be learned in history’s dusty corners that apply to today’s business world.
May 1, 2014 11:00 PM
A speaker featured in a recent webinar asserted that a channel loyalty program should include game theory, because a survey showed that 28 percent of programs now include gamification. Trouble is, game theory and gamification are not the same thing. For starters, let’s look at the definitions:
April 30, 2014 11:00 PM
For several years running, this publication and its predecessors have published an annual cover feature extolling the benefits of non-cash incentives as performance boosters. Internally, we refer to it as our “bash cash” issue. To be sure, a substantial amount of research supports the argument that most employees are more engaged in an incentive program and work harder to reach goals when desirable non-cash incentives are offered instead of cash.
April 29, 2014 11:00 PM
It’s a business no-brainer that happy employees make happy customers. But how do you get happy employees that deliver the best possible customer service? It requires employees to move beyond simple compliance of workplace rules and become truly committed to the jobs they do. And moving people to commitment requires positive reinforcement in the leadership system.
Employee engagement has been identified by as a key driver of your company’s profitability and human performance. Sadly, only 15 percent of employees say they are “actively engaged” at work.
April 28, 2014 04:06 AM
It has to be one of the funniest sketches ever. A dozen times I’ve watched Lucy in the chocolate factory, and I still laugh. The faster the production line goes, the more chocolates she stuffs in her mouth, blouse, and hat. The supervisor checks in and, finding a clear conveyor belt, compliments Lucy, then shouts, “Speed it up, boys!” while the camera gives us a close-up of Lucy’s horrified face.
April 24, 2014 11:00 PM
In the last week I came across two examples of inadvertent naming mistakes with harmful consequences. I hope these examples help you avoid repeating these mistakes.
1. Use as few names as possible
MIT graduates raising money on Kickstarter for a compact, lightweight universal power adaptor named their company FINsix and their product Dart. What’s the problem?
April 22, 2014 11:00 PM
No one likes a naysayer, but sometimes she can be the most valuable person in the room. Too many business teams shoot the messenger instead of listening to the message, Megan McArdle states in a recent Bloomberg BusinessWeek essay.
April 21, 2014 04:35 AM
Low performers, mid-level performers and even high performers need ongoing management. It does not assume high performance, and once high performing, does not assume it will always continue. Everyone needs to be managed on a consistent basis. In sales, the goal of ongoing management is participation rate.
Participation rate is the percentage of sales team members who are at or above plan. For a sales team, participation rate is easy to calculate. On a team of 10 people, where four are above their sales plan on a YTD basis, the participation rate is 40 percent.
April 17, 2014 11:00 PM
A lot of channel programs are still being managed with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. It’s far more common than you’d expect, even in some of the larger companies. There’s nothing wrong with using spreadsheets for managing a small program, incentive or campaign — or even analyzing a set of data. But ask for anything complex, and your spreadsheet is probably creating more work than it’s doing.
April 15, 2014 11:00 PM
Do you believe prospective buyers are generally rational? Do you assume that the more information and evidence you pile on them, the better your chances of winning the sale? This must be the case, or why else would there be so many hefty whitepapers with gobs of text, or PowerPoint decks with hundreds of slides, or complicated ROI calculators and spreadsheets out there?
April 13, 2014 11:00 PM
In the medical technology industry, there is no resting on your laurels. Even if you are a leading manufacturer of robotic-assisted, minimally invasive surgical platforms and your system is used in thousands of medical centers around the world, you always want your salespeople sharper, hungrier and one step ahead of the competition.
April 10, 2014 11:00 PM
Is it possible the most important training for your top-performing salespeople came before they closed their first deal — or even chose a career?
April 8, 2014 11:00 PM
It’s interesting to see how different people handle the discussion of money when it comes to designing their marketing collateral or a new website, for example. Some remain tight-lipped and protect that secret budget at all costs, while others are an open book on all kinds of numbers and the type of solutions they’re looking for. Being secretive with your creative partner is not a successful approach. Here’s why:
April 7, 2014 04:55 AM
What industry has had to change, adapt and overcome more in the last five or so years than the financial services industry? Maybe healthcare, but I would say they are a close second when you think about the regulation, fluctuations in the economy, consumer attitude, etc. that daily impacts our financial services world.
April 3, 2014 11:00 PM
Although we sometimes forget, the business-to-business (B2B) market is very different from the consumer market. For starters, most business purchases are rational rather than emotional, so your appeal needs to be more left-brained than right. Also, most B2B vendors aren’t dealing with a mass market, so it lends itself more to direct marketing than broadcasting – which is more appropriate when targeting consumer segments.
March 30, 2014 11:00 PM
Retail salespeople always seemed to have it a bit easier than B2B salespeople: the price is on the tag, take it or leave it. Traditionally, they haven’t had to experience an arduous sales process that entails the nerve-wracking procedure of coming up with a number based on the potential customer’s budget, obtaining the customer’s reaction, modifying the price on the spot, and then keeping fingers crossed that the customer accepts a price that not only closes the deal but also yields a profit for the vendor.
March 27, 2014 11:00 PM
Have you ever been asked to work on a pay-per-lead basis? Some potential clients call it a “performance basis.” Others euphemize it as “partnering.” But what they inevitably say is that, “If you’re so good, why not put some skin in the game?”
March 25, 2014 11:00 PM
Imagine this for a moment: your sales coach, instead of holding the usual meeting at his office or yours, picks you up and takes you to Barnes & Noble and once there, tells you something that prompts you to ask “Are we going to be thrown out?”
Let me tell you the story.
One day I had a coaching session with a student I’ll call Sales Sam. It was his birthday and I told him, “Instead of you coming by my office, I’ll pick you up at your office and we’ll do something special because it’s your birthday.”
March 24, 2014 04:41 AM
When you think of a sales pipeline, what shape begins to emerge in your mind? If you are like most sales leaders and executives, you will see a funnel. The conventional funnel-shaped pipeline has a large opening on one end where potential leads pour into the sales cycle and a gradually tapering funnel that ends with closed business. The idea of the sales funnel is to squeeze out candidates that are not a fit along the way.