June 16, 2014 12:00 AM
In my 20-plus years of managing inside sales teams, I am still amazed at the amount of critical information they can provide to management. After all, the inside salespeople are on the front line, communicating with prospects, customers and field sales representatives on a daily basis. Managers who understand the value of the up-to-date information that inside sales teams can provide are often rewarded with professional success and significant incentive payouts.
June 12, 2014 12:00 AM
Do you hire based more on information or on gut feel?
The easy answer should be “both.”
Hiring is both an art and a science. Irrespective of how many hires you’ve made, and how much you’ve honed your expertise, hiring is tough. It’s one of those management functions where you can do certain things to improve the odds, but you can never be perfect.
June 9, 2014 05:01 AM
Is yours a sales-driven organization?
When asked this question, most CEOs answer yes. When asked if they have a chief sales officer – CSO – almost all of them admit that they do not.
To answer the CSO question for yourself, look at your organizational chart. Is there a representative of the sales department at the C-level? On par with the CFO, COO and others at that level, the sales team deserves to be involved at the strategic level where decisions for the future are being made.
June 6, 2014 12:00 AM
Alarm sounds. Hit snooze button. Steal 10 minutes of more sleep. Groan. Get coffee. Wake kids. Take shower. Get dressed. Yell at kids. Drive to work. Slump into chair. Check email. Check Facebook. Meet deadlines. Waste time chatting. Watch clock. Check Facebook again. Sneak out early. Wait in traffic. Get groceries. Chaperone kids. Shout about homework. Make dinner. Watch TV. Go to bed. Repeat.
Of course, there is no way this sounds familiar. Right? Maybe to our friends, but never to us.
Not to worry...these three tips are for those “friends.”
June 2, 2014 12:00 AM
How can you persuade someone to buy your complex product when 90% of your presentation is forgotten within 72-hours?The short answer is you don’t. Unless you dramatically change how you engage with customers, they won’t understand why they should buy your complex product, because of the limitation of our short-term working memory.
May 30, 2014 12:00 AM
Corporate data is a powerful source of potential opportunity and competitive gain for every business. But unlocking valuable data from disparate systems such as customer relationship management (CRM), sales performance management (SPM) and corporate performance management (CPM) can seem like an insurmountable task. With huge volumes of data being generated and stored every day, how do you find the tiny needles of insight in the massive haystack of information? And, once you uncover that insight, how can you “democratize” that data, i.e.
May 26, 2014 12:00 AM
A recent blockbuster movie ended with this request: “Sell me this pen.”
This seems to be an easy enough question to respond to. However, the answers can be far ranging and ineffective. Maybe the most appropriate response is, “I have something for you to sign.”
May 21, 2014 05:52 AM
Every day seems to bring marketers big new challenges. Ricoh is looking at several:
May 19, 2014 12:00 AM
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 16, 2014 12:00 AM
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 14, 2014 12:00 AM
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 12, 2014 12:00 AM
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 7, 2014 12:00 AM
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 5, 2014 12:00 AM
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 2, 2014 12:00 AM
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:
May 1, 2014 12:00 AM
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 30, 2014 12:00 AM
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 05:06 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 25, 2014 12:00 AM
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 23, 2014 12:00 AM
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 05:35 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 18, 2014 12:00 AM
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 16, 2014 12:00 AM
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 14, 2014 12:00 AM
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.