Shelter Insurance is a financially stable insurance company with a proven customer service record. It offers a homeowner's policy to customers in 14 states.
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(From PRWEB) — A 2008 study by Hudson Highland Group Inc. of more than 1,500 U.S. workers reported that nearly a third considered work-life balance and flexibility to be the most important factor in considering job offers. In addition, the U.S. President’s Study of American Work-Life Balance (March 2010) states that work-life balance programs “can reduce turnover and improve recruitment, increasing the productivity of an employer’s workforce. These practices are also associated with improved employee health and decreased absenteeism, a major cost for employers.” Work-life balance programs, through applications such as flexible work arrangements, employee wellness programs, telecommuting and job-sharing, can help employees feel truly connected to their companies, fostering loyalty, mutual respect and a positive work environment. Particularly since the onset of the recent recession, many employees who have been downsized have been inspired to reconnect with their family and personal interests and are actively seeking a new career conducive to work-life balance. “Flexible work programs have become business imperatives,” says Cynthia Thomas Calvert, co-founder and senior advisor, Project for Attorney Retention. “The changing demographics of the workforce mean the workplace has no choice but to change as well. Employers that support innovative scheduling, with no stigma attached to its use, have a clear edge in recruiting, retention, productivity, and customer service – in short, they win.” Read more.
It’s no secret that companies are always looking for a way to increase revenue. So when Kendra Lee realized the potential of technical and customer service staff as salespeople, she had to share it with someone. Working together with David Livingston, they managed to implement a training program at Xerox that would enable them to successfully extend sales using their technical experts. We sat down with Kendra and David to discuss the challenges of training technical staff in sales and the differences between technical and sales staff. Getting out of the comfort zone By far, the largest challenge with training selling skills to technical staff is comfort. Kendra had this to say: “Many technical people don’t feel like selling is a part of their job, or don’t want to harm their customer relationships by being perceived as “selling too hard.” What I try to get them to understand is that this process isn’t about trying to sell customers on something they don’t want — it’s about doing a better job of meeting their needs.” In other words, technical staff need to learn consultative selling just as much as salespeople do. Technical staff at least have an advantage there, as they’ve already built relationships with their customers by helping them with their technical issues. Two sides of the same coin? In addition to making selling more comfortable to technical staff, there also has to be some “soft skill” development. This includes rapport-building, stronger questioning techniques, and getting a customer’s agreement to move to the next step. These aren’t techniques usually associated with non-sales jobs, so there’s a bit of a learning curve for technical staff. On the other hand, salespeople can definitely learn a few things from the technical staff. Ironically, while salespeople typically have the questioning skills necessary to sell, they don’t always have the listening skills that technical staff do. So while selling may always think of itself as its own unique field, the day-to-day customer interaction that technical staff encounter definitely relates well. Is Training Different? If salespeople and technical staff bring different skills to the table, does that mean that they learn differently too? Here’s Kendra’s take on it: ” There are more similarities than differences. That’s because technical staff, like salespeople, are always on the go. To get them to sit in on a training session — much less put the lessons they learn into play — it’s important to show them the immediate real-world benefits. If you don’t, they won’t bother to show up and buy in, so we focus heavily on giving tools they can use right away in the real world.” In other words, because the issues that sales and technical staff face are more concrete than abstract, they learn the same way through real, applied training methods. Main takeaways “There are a lot of people in an organization who can help to identify, or even further, a new sales opportunity. You don’t have to be a salesperson or marketer; you just have to know what to ask and listen for. It’s up to each individual company or department to decide how far they want the employee to take it before they turn things over to a salesperson (if at all), but there are a huge number of potential sales out there.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
The Myths of Salesperson Competency If you stop any sales person on the street and ask them if they are good at what they do, chances are, they will all say “yes!” But ask their manager, marketing department, customer service area, human resources department (or any other function of the firm), and chances are the answer is “no.” The difference in defining sales competence is a matter of perspective. Compounding the problem are two myths regarding measures of competency in sales. Myth#1: Quota performance does not equate to sales competency – A salesperson’s quota is usually determined by management. More often than not, the quota is set as a way to attain a goal of an increased share price or its just pulled out of the air as a “nice-to-have-number” that is bigger than last year. It’s a rare organization that can articulate how a quota was set. It’s even rarer to find an organization that sits down to do the sales math and determine the realistic quota and stretch quota for their salespeople. Without this understanding, how do you know if the quota is too high? How do you know if it is too low? You don’t! Therefore the salesperson that hits quota in an organization that doesn’t know how to set one is not proving his or her competence. Myth#2: Activity level does not equate to sales competency – Many organizations set sales activity goals. They will ask their salespeople to accomplish X sales calls, X phone calls, and X proposals a day. These types of measurements, and constantly hitting them, do not mean the person can sell. Sure, there is a positive correlation between activity and selling, but if I play the lottery every single day I probably won’t win. If I play X lottery games, in X states, and with X amount of money, it doesn’t mean I’m driving towards a win. It simply means I’m increasing my chances. I’d rather have someone that knows exactly what they are doing and not playing the lottery with their sales territory. So what exactly is sales competency? Competence is defined as someone’s knowledge, skill and internal motivation. Knowledge is the building block of competence. Effective sales professionals are continuously learning and they have developed a framework and process for accessing their knowledge. They have a solid knowledge foundation and they understand their strengths and weaknesses. Skill is determined by the knowledge a salesperson has gained plus their experience level. The most skilled sales professionals have stayed in one vertical market or industry for a longer period of time. They have also stayed in the same sales role for a longer length of time (such as outside sales). They have also followed a defined career path with increasing levels of responsibility and complexity of sale. Internal motivation is someone’s self talk, drive, and purpose. Their passion for the product, zeal for the organization where they work, and their positive attitude form the cornerstone for the ability to overcome objections, handle rejection, or deal with poorly set sales quotas. A competent sales person has the ability to move into any organization and gain the trust of the decision-makers. They work to create a situation where buying can occur within an ethical environment at a fair price. They have the knowledge to speak to a CEO, the front-line manager, or the newest employee about what issues and challenges they face. Most of all they strive to increase their knowledge, skill, and motivation so they can be the best at what they do.
Many companies are considering training programs for the new year. New budgets. New needs. New opportunities. And most companies will concentrate on it. Whatever it is. More sales, a new product launch, customer service, internal operations, diversity, or whatever is pressing. All of that is wrong or should I say, out of order. Before you train ANYTHING, before you launch any new program or initiative, ask yourself these two questions: 1. How positive are the attitudes of our people? 2. How attitudinally receptive will our people be to this training? If the answer to Hows our attitude? is Not too good or Inconsistent or My attitude is great, its everyone elses attitude thats the problem! then the training will be met with resistance, and will fall short of your expected outcome. Way short. The answer to this dilemma is very simple, yet its overlooked at most every company in the world: Train attitude first. Positive attitude. YES! Attitude. Positive attitude is not a program or an initiative. Its an imperative. Its not the flavor of the month. Its the feeling of and for a lifetime. Your lifetime. Attitude is the mood of every employee. Positive attitude leads to positive productivity and positive communication. Attitude is both foundational and fundamental. Attitude is foundational to all aspects of corporate productivity, communication, and harmony. Its the basis for what is erroneously known as morale. Its NOT morale its attitude. Low morale is a symptom poor attitude is the problem. Attitude is fundamental to all aspects of job performance. How much more profitable would your company be if EVERY employee (including you) had the attitude of yes? These days attitude is easily deteriorated. Cutbacks, budget cuts, over-tasked employees, poor leadership, lower profits, and increased pressure to do more with less. Yet attitude is virtually ignored by every company HR and training department. Why? Its hard to measure the ROI. Pity. Youve heard the expression: Attitude is everything. Let me break it down for you so you can have a better understanding of how everything attitude really is: Your attitude rules your mood. Your attitude rules your self-esteem. Your attitude rules your communication. Your attitude rules your interactions. Your attitude rules your thought process. Your attitude rules how you perceive things. Your attitude rules how you perceive people. Your attitude rules how others perceive you. Your attitude rules your service. Your attitude rules your sales. Your attitude rules your career. Your attitude rules your family. Your attitude rules your life. In your business, your attitude rules your sales, your service, your communication, and internal morale. And at the end of positive attitude in your business is a ton of referrals and a great reputation. Pretty important, huh? Well, if your attitude is so important, how come you dont spend 15 minutes at home each morning building it? Or 15 minutes in the morning when you get to work? What are YOU doing to ensure that every employee gets a daily YES! message? Here are a few more attitude insights: Attitude starts at home with your family. Attitude is personal. Its not about other people or other circumstances. Attitude is ALL about you. Attitude is selfish. You do it for yourself FIRST. Then and only then can you give it, or pass it along, to others. Attitude is a choice. You are ALWAYS free to choose: How you give value. Doing what you love. Having the right attitude. Attitude is a gift and a blessing self-given and self-imposed. And it is my greatest hope that you discover that truth and bless yourself forever. Maybe its time to invest in attitude training. Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website, www.gitomer.com, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally: firstname.lastname@example.org. 2012 All Rights Reserved – Dont even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer . 704/333-1112
This morning, hundreds of us packed the ballroom of the new Hyatt Regency Colorado Convention Center for the opening of TechKnowledge 06. Incoming ASTD president Kevin Oakes thanked the Rocky Mountain Chapter, advisory boards, hard-working staff, platinum sponsors, silver sponsors, planning committees, and others. Kevin and I go back quite a ways; Oakes Interactive was hawking multimedia training before the Web was invented. If I’m not mistaken, Kevin is the first educational technolgy specialist to lead ASTD. Elliott Masie took the stage to encourage us to adopt Extreme Learning. We should devote half our time to making incremental improvements in what we’ve already got, for instance fine-tuning and revamping existing programs. The other 50% should go into things that are dramatically different. He demonstrated a cool little device that projects a working keyboard on virtually any surface. (Elliott advises you not to use this as a sample of dramatically different thinking unless you want to lose your job.) What if we started every day with a five-minute learning clip? Business Week’s one-question customer service evaluation: would you recommend this to a friend? Not a bad measure for the training business. Who’s going to be first to base a training manager’s pay on this? Elliott described a cardiologists’ conference where four large videoscreens are showing surgery live. An expert panel gives advice. The entire audience clicks in answers to questions. The Wisdom of Crowds meets medicine. Elliott offers a new recruit three hours of face time. She says she’ll take a pass, asks if he doesn’t have a CD version. “Why would you want a CD instead of a live CEO?” The fearless recruit says, “You don’t have a fast-forward button.” Excerpted from Internet Time Blog. Would you like to see more excerpts from other blogs posted to Learning Circuits Blog? Leave a comment.
What is Accelerated Learning? Want to “Fire Up” your sales team? Accelerated learning (A.L.) is a proven science showing how specific intelligent learning activities and processes can dramatically advance human performance improvement. This science is catching the attention of School Teachers, Parents, Students, Adult Learners, and Corporate Trainers around the world touching all areas of the workplace, academia and at home. Accelerated Learning teaches you “how to build a learning culture” in the Workplace! According to the book “World Class Selling: New Sales Competencies” Accelerating Learning uses convention and innovated approaches to quickly gain and maintain the knowledge and skills necessary for effective job performance. Use it to effectively to build customer service teams, sales teams, teach the art of negotiating or teach new business closing skills. Other areas of accelerated learning for the workplace include: blended learning classroom strategies, teaching employees how to learn another language, how to deal with technological changes and keeping highly skilled workers. What are the intangible benefits of Accelerated Learning for Sales Training? Accelerated Learning integrates your existing company training materials to do more with less in the wake of budget restraints and the increasing necessity of training and re-training employees. You can also accommodate each individual team member’s preferred learning style with games, physical activities, emotion, music, relaxation, visualization, role-playing, color, and learning maps to get people deeply involved in their own learning. Who would not want to learn in a joyful, loving, nurturing and stress-free learning environment? IS THIS IS REALISTIC in a male dominated sales culture? YES! In fact, this is now the preferred intelligent culture design of top tier sales organizations! You can improve sales team results and cut training time / cost with an action packed curriculum. You can naturally complement multiple intelligence factors of the brain to add enormous social economic value to conventional learning corporate cultures. Learning with your Whole Mind and Body. Accelerated Learning involves the whole body and mind with all emotion, senses and receptors – not just conscious, rational, “left-brained,” and verbal learning. Knowledge is created and responds to one’s “self”. Accelerated Learning shows how to use new ways of thinking to create new meanings, new neural networks, and new patterns of electro/chemical interactions within one’s total brain/body system. A Positive Learning Environment – People excel better in an environment that is positive, physical, emotional, relaxed. It optimizes the quality and quantity of the learning experience. Positive feelings accelerate learning and negative feelings inhibit it. Learning that is stressful, painful, and boring cannot compete in an environment that is engaging, happy and celebrates success! 100% Engagement – People learn best when they are fully engaged, and (100%) involved. Accelerated Learning appeals to all types and gives people options to choose the learning style that serves them best.The brain is set up to use all the receptors and senses and paths it can into a person’s total brain/body system. Collaborative – Collaboration engages people on many levels simultaneously (consciously, mentally and physically) and good learning has a social base. We can learn from each other by interacting with peers. Competition slows learning and cooperation speeds it. An interactive, collaborative community is always better than isolating a collection of learners. People learn better when they are exposed to many things at once. Contextual Learning – The Learning curve is much faster when real world experiences and hands on learning is applied with feedback, reflection, and evaluation and more practice. Facts, hypothetical theories and abstract concepts are hard to remember and absorb. Do you remember how to answer some of the test questions from your 10th grade Algebra class? Imaginative and Creative – Visualization and verbalization of images stimulates the nervous system and the brain. Concrete images are easier to learn, understand, remember and retain than verbal abstractions.
As we wrap up the year here at Sales Training Drivers, we decided to take a look back at some of our previous posts. This one stuck out, because even though it was written over a year ago, the principles still apply today. So we ask: what are some ways to dispel these myths? What can companies do to create effective and meaningful quotas? Is cold calling the best use of a salesperson’s time? Let us know in the comments! If you stop any salesperson on the street and ask them if they are good at what they do, chances are, they will all say “yes!” But ask their manager, marketing department, customer service area, human resources department (or any other function of the firm), and chances are the answer is “no.” The difference in defining sales competence is a matter of perspective. Compounding the problem are two myths regarding measures of competency in sales. Myth#1: Quota performance does not equate to sales competency – A salesperson’s quota is usually determined by management. More often than not, the quota is set as a way to attain a goal of an increased share price or it’s just pulled out of the air as a “nice-to-have-number” that is bigger than last year. It’s a rare organization that can articulate how a quota was set. It’s even rarer to find an organization that sits down to do the sales math and determine the realistic quota and stretch quota for their salespeople. Without this understanding, how do you know if the quota is too high? How do you know if it’s too low? You don’t! Therefore the salesperson that hits quota in an organization that doesn’t know how to set one is not proving his or her competence. Myth#2: Activity level does not equate to sales competency – Many organizations set sales activity goals. They will ask their salespeople to accomplish X sales calls, X phone calls, and X proposals a day. These types of measurements, and constantly hitting them, do not mean the person can sell. Sure, there is a positive correlation between activity and selling, but if I play the lottery every single day I probably won’t win. If I play X lottery games, in X states, and with X amount of money, it doesn’t mean I’m driving towards a win. It simply means I’m increasing my chances. I’d rather have someone that knows exactly what they are doing and not playing the lottery with their sales territory. So what exactly is sales competency? Competence is defined as someone’s knowledge, skill and internal motivation. Knowledge is the building block of competence. Effective sales professionals are continuously learning and they have developed a framework and process for accessing their knowledge. They have a solid knowledge foundation and they understand their strengths and weaknesses. Skill is determined by the knowledge a salesperson has gained plus their experience level. The most skilled sales professionals have stayed in one vertical market or industry for a longer period of time. They have also stayed in the same sales role for a longer length of time (such as outside sales). They have also followed a defined career path with increasing levels of responsibility and complexity of sale. Internal motivation is someone’s self talk, drive, and purpose. Their passion for the product, zeal for the organization where they work, and their positive attitude form the cornerstone for the ability to overcome objections, handle rejection, or deal with poorly set sales quotas. A competent sales person has the ability to move into any organization and gain the trust of the decision-makers. They work to create a situation where buying can occur within an ethical environment at a fair price. They have the knowledge to speak to a CEO, the front-line manager, or the newest employee about what issues and challenges they face. Most of all, they strive to increase their knowledge, skill, and motivation so they can be the best at what they do.
Ok, so it looks like Learning Circuits Blog is not a spam blog after all. And that means that we can ask this month’s big question – a few days late. This month’s big question actually was a question asked by an attendee at Jay Cross’ presentation on informal learning at ASTD TechKnowledge. She was in charge of designing training and support systems to help people transition into management roles throughout the organization (customer service, sales, operations, etc.). She told us that her organization was used to doing this with instructor-led training, but that she wanted to explore a combination of instructor-led, online and informal learning. She wanted suggestions on things she could do, what she needed to consider, and how to balance what approaches were taken. So, this month, The Big Question is… What Would You Do to Support New Managers? Please answer this question by posting to your own blog or commenting on this post. (For further help in how to participate via blog posts, see the side bar.) Points to Consider:
(From Gallup) Seventy-one percent of American workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work, meaning they are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive. That leaves nearly one-third of American workers who are “engaged,” or involved in and enthusiastic about their work and contributing to their organizations in a positive manner. This trend remained relatively stable throughout 2011. These findings are from a special Gallup Daily tracking series conducted on an ongoing basis since the fourth quarter of 2010 to explore American workers’ engagement levels. Gallup’s employee engagement index is based on worker responses to 12 actionable workplace elements with proven linkages to performance outcomes, including productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety, and profit. Further research shows significant linkages between engagement at work and health and wellbeing outcomes. Read more.
We’ve all heard it before. It’s a numbers game! Salespeople just have to keep at it! They should be making at least 50 calls a day and scheduling 10 appointments a week! Those new hires just have to keep filling that funnel to be successful! The problem with this type of sales strategy is that it assumes that if the salesperson makes enough calls, talk to enough people and go to enough networking events that everything will magically fall into place and their numbers will go through the roof. The sales funnel actually supports a mindset that is quickly becoming obsolete with the both new salespeople and the world’s most tenured sales professionals. Think about it. If only it was as easy as “filling a funnel” and having sales fall through the other end… Then, salespeople would just have to make 200 calls a day. PROBLEM! Just pounding phone lines and telling the company story isn’t selling. Or better yet, when they get the check (at the bottom of the funnel) what about implementation or customer service? Now don’t me wrong, having a good prospecting plan is probably the hardest thing about maintaining a sales career; especially in today’s selling environment. With shrinking budgets and more scrutiny over purchases, what salespeople need is a system that relies less on the law of averages and more on helping the customer make the most of every contact they have. The key is to have a complete understanding the entire customer experience and “synchronize” to that buyer throughout-they’re the boss when it comes to the “sales funnel” not the salesperson. What do you do to help that process? To truly understand the customer’s buying cycle and where they are along that cycle will result in a sales process that builds trust and respect, and allows the sales team member to become a trusted advisor -that’s the magic recipe for success. As an example, put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Or better yet, think about the last time YOU bought something. Remember the earliest stages of need definition? Remember how you progressed throughout the search and selection process? Did that experience end after you wrote the check? I’m sure it continued on into full integration of the product or service into your daily life. What I have done is break down buying behavior into 9 distinct phases outlined below starting from the beginning to the end and this allows the salesperson (a great salesperson) synchronize with their processes. 1. Plan – The buying organization outlines a plan for its business, such as its strategic plan, realignment of the organization, the acquisition of new capabilities, or define a new vision. 2. Recognize – The buying organization realizes they have a need (based on what happened in phase 1) and seeks to satisfy that need. They begin to take action towards buying (as opposed to making their own solution or product). They act accordingly by setting forth goals, objectives, targets, and budgets. They may appoint a team of people to evaluate potential vendors in this phase. 3. Search – The buying organization engages in activities to find a vendor, partner, or supplier. They begin reviewing capabilities of selling organization(s) to see which competitor can meet their needs and with whom they would like to have a relationship. 4. Assess – The buying organization requests proposals, conducts more in-depth meetings, requests more detailed information, has more “serious” dialogue, conducts an analysis of risk. 5. Choose – The buying organization has narrowed the choices down to one organization, begins “testing water” to gauge the organization’s ability to fulfill. Has decided that benefits outweigh risks, begins talking about implementation. 6. Obligate – The buying organization writes the check or signs the proposal. Key decision-makers have their reputation on the line, the budget is set aside, and the entire affected organization has begun moving in a new direction. 7. Implement – The buying organization is now a “customer or client” and begins implementing the selected solution. They re-align organizational resources as necessary. They put long-term plans together. 8. Track – The customer formally or informally begins documenting the selling organization’s ability to fulfill the solution. 9. Integrate – Once the purchase is complete and the product/service is implemented, the final step of the buying organization’s buying cycle is obtaining maximum use of the product/service in the buying organization. This is sometime referred to as return-on-investment (ROI) in pre- and post- sales processes, and return-on-assets (ROA) once the purchase is capitalized. The product or service must be fully integrated, leveraged, and justified. From a relationship perspective, the buying and selling organization begin to work with a more trust-based bond. The buying organization begins to include the selling organization in appropriate strategic discussions. For every buying phase, there is a equal and opposite selling phase. Sounds simple and it is! Ask yourself what you (or your company) does to help salespeople “line up the phases.” Undoubtedly the unique mix of strategy, processes, training, coaching, and goals setting must be tailored to each person. This helps you approach the sales team the right way at the right time, in support of the buyer’s decision making process. Salespeople are their greatest when they realize that it isn’t their job to push their sales funnel onto their prospects (and hope they fall out the bottom). They are their best when they are able to help the buyer make the best possible decision (phase 6). Or, better yet, even help identify if the future customer is months away from a decision (because they were bogged down in phase 3, and they can use their time more wisely in steps closer to the close.) Aside from a better understanding of the customers buying methods, the greatest advantage salespeople can notice derive from implementing this system is the reduction of the adversarial mindset towards sales people. As soon as the clients recognize that the process is designed to assist them in making the best decision for their business, even if that means helping them decide on a competitor’s product, the salesperson has created a new relationship that will eventually lead to more business for me. He or she can even pull this blog posting out and ask they buyer what phase they’re in, and offer help to move them through each one. Here are a few things you can do help your sales team implement a similar approach. 1. Give up the idea that all salespeople need to do is make more calls. Sure, have them keep making calls but create a system to support the madness and find out what “phase” their prospects are in. Focus on helping salespeople identify and advance them through each phase, or letting them sit while you focus on others. 2. Use or develop a system that addresses the buyer’s needs. The United Professional Sales Association system is my choice, but others exist as well. 3. Make sure salespeople lose the sales pitch. Ride along with salespeople or listen to them on the phone as they work. Help them develop a series of questions that will help you what phase your customer is in and where they are in their process. No system can guarantee success, but given today’s business climate, and the challenges of selling today, it’s about time you put a cork in the funnel and developed a better approach.
In 2008, ASTD partnered with Dale Carnegie Training and the Institute for Corporate Productivity to survey 776 respondents and extensively review the business literature on learning’s role in employee engagement. According to the study report, worker engagement is among the most important employee issues of the day. The current survey asked respondents to rate the extent to which engagement is important in their organizations. [more]More than four-fifths of respondents (82%) noted that engagement is important to either a high or very high extent. In contrast, only 3.5% of respondents suggested engagement is important not at all or to small extent. Experts agree that engaged workers contribute to their employers in a variety of ways, all of which support organizational effectiveness and long-term success. The survey asked about many of the reasons typically given for seeking a more engaged workforce. The reason that came out ahead of all others was the response of enhance customer service and help drive customer satisfaction, as shown in the graph below. About 83% said they considered this a reason to a high or very high degree. That reason was followed by the desire to improve organizational productivity (81%) and improve companies’ bottom lines (75%). Source: Learning’s Role in Employee Engagement (ASTD/Dale Carnegie Training/i4cp) Click here to learn more about ASTD Research.
Help Your Sales Team Understand the Buyer Businesses seeking to increase revenue growth should shift specific focus to the buying environment within each potential customer. Great sales professionals recognize there are a distinct set of phases that a buyer engages to buy with the end result of this buying cycle being the purchase of the product or service, or not. Unfortunately for all buyers, each selling organization and their individual sales professionals are unique and often require immense amounts of energy to build a relationship with. This keeps buyers guessing, which in turn keeps the sales organization guessing. It’s a constant game being played out across offices across the country. To help both sides, it may be prudent to go back to root cause of these ambiguity. The only common denominator across all sales organizations and all buying organizations is the dollar sign. Surprise! Buyers and sellers are concerned about the same thing! The buying organization wants more revenue through decreased revenue; the selling organization wants more revenue through sales. The bottom line– we all want more revenue. The item that keeps most C-level executives up at night is how to engage in the global marketplace to increase revenue or reduce costs-that’s it. All decisions being made today, whether it’s compliance to new laws, expansion into new markets, or whether to lay anyone off, can be traced back to these two sides of the dollar sign. The key for many companies is to focus on aligning marketing, sales, and customer service functions to that common dollar sign–but this is easier said than done. What many companies fail to do is to align these systems to the buying organization and their actual buying processes instead of forcing their process onto the buying organization. This approach can be summarized as: (1) Know your customer, (2) Know your product, (3) Be ready for the customer to buy, and (4) Stay engaged with the customer after the sale. Many organizations train their sales professionals, marketing departments, and customer service representatives on their product, but stop there. As a result, they have spent millions of dollars on training with little results. The problem with this approach is quite simple; they have not first asked “what is the process the buying organization uses in relation to these four phases?” Believe it or not, the occupation that must understand this question absolutely and definitively is the sales profession. This is because the sales profession has the responsibility for converting market demand into revenue for the selling organization by understanding the desire to increase revenue in the selling organization. Sales professionals fill a critical position in any company by spanning boundaries from one organization to the other. The sales organization (sale professionals, and all supporting infrastructure) must build relationships, understand the customer, and articulate how bring value to the lives of their buyers. This in turn helps the subsequent customer. Sound confusing? Try doing it with a CFO of a telecom firm in the morning, a VP of Marketing in an IT software firm at lunch, and a CEO of a fortune 1000 at night! The question is not “how do project our sales process onto the buyer?” The real question is “how do we facilitate the customer experience?” As an example, how would your organization sell to the federal government? Would it be easy to do so if your organization had never done it before? The reason why it is difficult to sell to the federal government lies in difficulty of understanding how the federal government procures their goods and services. By understanding how the government buys obviously helps companies understand how to sell. This needs to happen in every industry, with every buying customer. Unfortunately, this crucial understanding is often overlooked, at the expense of driving lop-line growth.
A few days ago, a copy of the latest book in the Ultimate series, Ultimate Basic Business Skills: Training an Effective Workforce, landed on my desk. Like all the books in this new series, it follows a similar format as the ASTD Trainer’s WorkShop series, providing everything you could possibly ask for to quickly put together a training program. It includes guidelines for designing programs, agendas, learning activities, tools, assessments, and PowerPoint slides that can be customized as well as printed for use as class handouts. The topics of the book are the basic business skills that everyone needs to function successfully, effectively, and efficiently in the business environment, such as customer service, basic communication, presentations, networking, conflict management, writing, problem solving, decision making, and much more. These are foundational skills that newcomers to the business environment need, but the rest of us could also use some polish on. To learn more about the book and what it provides, check out the Ultimate Basic Business Skills webpage and download the sample chapter.
(From Gallup.com) — Employees who are in engaged in their work and workplace are twice as likely to report their organization is hiring new workers as those who are actively disengaged. Workers who are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace are far more likely to report their organization is letting people go than those who are engaged. Americans report these substantial differences in their organization’s hiring practices even though, collectively, Gallup finds overall U.S. job creation holding steady in recent months. These findings are from a special Gallup Daily tracking series conducted January through June 2011 to thoroughly explore American workers’ engagement levels. Gallup’s employee engagement index is based on worker responses to 12 actionable workplace elements with proven linkages to performance outcomes, including productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety, and profit. More recent research has found significant linkages between engagement at work and health and wellbeing outcomes. Read more.
Success with Customer Relationship Management Where multiple actions and reactions become a singular concept… Sales success is driven by more than just a closed deal, your organization must build long-term relationships with your most valuable customer. Today, maintaining sales relationships is just as important as closing the sale. Having an expert sales force helps keep revenue flowing, but it is critical to maintain customer relationships so your client continues to bring in revenue to your marketing funnel, year after year. Think about it: Do your sales practices monitor and evaluate customer relationships after the deal is closed? What would your customers say about your execution? Turn your customer relationships into long-term revenue, and be ready to explain how you did it (so you can do it again). Truly successful sales people are able to do both, close the deal and maintain an excellent rapport with their clients. Ensuring your customers are satisfied is part of the entire sales process. Some companies have customer service representatives handle client issues, and other companies expect their sales people to follow up with their clients on a continual basis. Whatever your company desires, it is imperative to educate all levels of sales and customer service teams. The one characteristic of a well-established company is having an excellent customer relationship management system. This system is exclusively designed to focus on building good relationships with customers so they grow and become even more successful. Customer Relationship Management starts with a firm foundation built on sales competency and can help your sales team stay on the same page.
The article below is from the April 2010 issue of T+D magazine. It has some intriguing info about the advances social media is making in the public sector and some of its implications for learning and development. I hope you enjoy it. Shawn Connecting Government to Improve It By Dean Smith As the U.S. government steadily loosens restrictions on social media, some agencies are already benefitting from the next era of community and collaboration. While social networking tools are increasingly enabling corporations to market and sell more effectively by getting closer to their global customer base, government agencies have embraced these technologies to share knowledge, drive informal learning, and establish communities of practice. Terms such as “eGov,” “Gov2.0,” and “opengov” have entered the lexicon. While significant obstacles remain, it’s catching on. “There is power in connecting people in government,” says Steve Ressler, founder of GovLoop, a social networking site for government with more than 25,000 members, 4,000 blogs, and 1,500 discussions. “It’s definitely a learning community.” A recent survey conducted by the Human Capital Institute and Saba titled “Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges” reports that 66 percent of all government agencies currently use some form of social networking- from blogs and wikis to instant messaging and discussion boards to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. At the same time, 55 percent of all government workers say that they’re uncertain about the future use of social networking tools, but still see them as an effective means of real-time collaboration and have hopes for future application of the technologies in the workplace. “The public sector managers I have worked with seem to have an intrigue-fear relationship with social networking tools and practices,” says Lisa Haneberg, author of High-Impact Middle Management: Solutions for Today’s Busy Public Sector Managers. “They are intrigued with the potential in these tools for relationship building, project management, and collaboration. They fear the learning curve involved in becoming efficient at using social networking and worry that it might end up being a waste of time.” The case studies are piling up. The CIA uses Facebook to attract college students to apply for internships or jobs. As a way to share knowledge, build collaboration, and improve employee engagement in contrast, the Environmental Protection Agency created a Facebook network for employees to achieve better talent management. County and municipal governments are leading the way in leveraging digital options for the dual aims of improving customer service and reducing costs: 31 percent of those surveyed have embraced social media as a means of providing a more efficient customer feedback channel. “The EPA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are pretty far advanced,” says Ressler. “They need to be active to prevent misinformation.” The survey reports that social networking tools within governmental agencies are used most effectively for knowledge sharing and informal learning, as well as development functions. The top three most likely uses of social networking tools in government involve learning and development, public relations and communications, and recruitment. Despite the uptake of social media in government agencies, the government still lags behind the private sector in the overall use of these tools. The top three internal forces barring their widespread use are security concerns, other priorities, and difficulty in building a business case. “Public sector leaders are learning about how for-profit organizations are using social networking and are interested in how these new technologies might help their teams succeed. Their process involves two types of learning,” said Haneberg. “They need to get comfortable with the tools and then translate how social networking will work in their often highly regimented and regulated environment.” Dean Smith is director of publications at ASTD
How to WIN the game every time. Articulating Value is an extremely rewarding sales competency skill to have in your sales toolbox, but delivering a sales training program on articulating “value” to a potential client will be a wild ride of self-discovery all it’s own! You have Amazing Power when you “articulate” words – whether they are verbal or written. Words can create or destroy. Your business life and relationship opportunities depend on it. So, be careful what you say and do in business and when you engage with others who are looking at your products and services. You are articulating and affirming that you will DELIVER what the customer needs. According to the “World Class Sales Competency Model” built on the “World Class Sales Competency Research, “articulating value links solutions to the challenges when solving opportunities and confirms it with the stakeholders.” It ensures that the criteria for the decision making are shared and addressed.” The word “stakeholder” usually refers to someone that has a “stake” in the financial business transaction or will be impacted by it in terms of time, effort, or money. But what do these stakeholders really care about? Most people will say…the MONEY! In actuality, the money comes later. What really matters is HOW you service stakeholders and HOW you treat them during and after the business transaction. This is where the profit is proven. You can add all the value you want in your “solution” on the paper but the contract will NOT show the physical value in the delivery of your product until after they buy.This is where ROI meets FACTS, TRUST, INTEGRITY, COMMITMENT and LOVE. Love? What does that have to do with business?What does that have to do with articulating value in a business transaction? EVERYTHING! There are scores of business psychology case studies for “loving your customers / clients” and the outstanding results. At the bottom line, articulating value always becomes a cornerstone. Articulating the value in anything you do for someone or something is a life enhancing human development process. This wonderful affirmation reinforces to all the stakeholders why you are so valuable and why they should buy from you. Your ability to love yourself, love others and what you say regardless of the business outcome is priceless. Your Attitude is physically manifested by your thoughts, words and actions. Articulating Value is an Action. Love is an Action. Delivering training for performance is an Action. Your responsibility to control a “cause and effect” in a business transaction is an Action. Do you see the connection here?The by-product of a selfless but loving “attitude” is the key reason for success in selling! WOW! This also translates tolong term CUSTOMERS, REPEAT REVENUE and REFERRALS! If you love your business, and love your sales job, then you should love the people you sell to. This is truly the most important part of articulating the value proposition process, regardless of whether they agree to the terms of what you are selling or not. The Value of Delivery and Fulfillment Help your decision maker prospects understand not only the technical and hard data logistics, but a complete emotional understanding of your solutions. Evaluate the productivity of performance against business results. Signing contracts, exchanging money for goods and services and fulfilling the agreement of service is done with buy-in. Buy-in on a signature confirms that your articulation was well received and that your fulfillment is expected. Are We Done Yet? Not yet! Just because you signed a contract, and took money from someone in exchange for your goods or service – does NOT mean you are done with articulating your value to these people! What about all the people involved in the execution of the project AFTER the agreements are approved? That could be anyone from the Receptionist all the way to the CEO! Your buyer has relationships with other people in the organization. You will be called upon if there is any problem, misunderstanding or customer service in the future! Be proud of yourself! THEY CHOSE YOU for your Trust, Integrity, Commitment and Love. What great way to “articulate your value”.
(From computerworld.com) Taffet, the CIO of U.S. Gas & Electric Inc. in North Miami Beach, Fla., brought on four new staffers in the past six months and is looking to add 11 more to his current team of 20. His list of open positions includes an EDI programmer, a risk management programmer, a CRM programmer, a business analyst and an assistant IT manager. Taffet says he doubts any new college grad could easily fill any of those roles. Undergraduate and graduate programs aren’t able to keep up with the needs of enterprise IT shops, he says. “It’s a horrible statement to say, but there’s just not enough time to [learn in college] all the skills that people need to be successful. We are expecting more and more, and universities are supplying more, but we’re asking for still more,” Taffet says. What “more” do Taffet and other IT leaders want? They continue to value the “soft skills” — particularly communication skills, customer service skills and an understanding of how to behave professionally — that have topped their list for years. They’re also now encountering several gaps in specific business and technical skills. Computerworld surveyed IT managers to find out what skills they wish their newest hires had picked up while they were still in college. Read more.
Many sociologists have tracked the evolution of industrialized societies. One key trend these sociologists often discuss is the definitive impact of new technologies on these civilizations. Since the dawn of times, technological changes such as fire, the wheel, farming, the cotton gin, steel, and automobiles have led to rapid advances in quality of life for individuals. While these advances have translated into huge gains for civilization they have become so mainstream the impact these advances have are long forgotten. A more recent technological advancement has also had a huge impact on society. Advances in information technology and the Internet are still being felt, not only on consumers and individuals, but also within sales teams trying to cope with the rapidly evolving set of knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to fully harness the dearth of knowledge and information created. Needless to say, salesperson competency has been buffeted by technology in multiple ways. First, salespeople are no longer the gatekeepers of information about products and services. Buyers arm themselves with information long before the sales call ever occurs. They have access to buying consultants, automatic replenishment systems, decision making models, and customer reviews of products and services. Buyers hold fewer inventories, want just-in-time inventory, and embrace systematic purchasing. Second, salespeople are also called upon increasingly to use technology in their jobs. Hand held devices, mobile computing, instant messaging, social networking, and search engines have revolutionized prospect identification. Customer relationship management systems are intended to help salespeople manage and prioritize their contacts. Selling takes place in new venues and channels. For example, the “click to talk live” feature of many websites blends customer service with telesales in a call-center environment. Selling is also becoming the responsibility of nontraditional sales roles, and companies are cross-training installation, service, product-development, and other staff in sales techniques. While technological advances have shifted the power in the buyer-seller landscape, sales teams have sometimes struggled to keep up. Sales managers and sales trainers have tried to deliver technology into the hands of their sales team and had to improve salesperson skills and knowledge. As a result, sales training needs have evolved at a quicker pace than ever before. Customer Relationship Management software, contact management, email, Internet capabilities, and hand held devices provide more information to today’s salesperson than ever before, yet many salespeople struggle to master the technology (let alone keep up with it). Technology has also helped salespeople stay abreast of product changes, customer changes and market changes. Unfortunately, many sales team members have so much information at their finger tips they have trouble retrieving it quickly. However, where technology has created many challenges to sale team performance, technology has also provided help. Use of technology in sales training has exploded with the advent of podcasting, video-on-demand, and virtual classrooms like second life. Technology has also provided access to new markets and new prospects through online networking tools (such as LinkedIn) and customized search engines that quickly retrieve the most relevant information. Sales portals organize content and provide an easy way to refresh knowledge or brush up on an industry. And learning management systems allow HR professionals and training professionals to customize course content for new and experienced salespeople. With all these technology challenges facing sales teams, how can sales managers and sales trainers help? The following recommendations are given: RECOMMENDATION 1: understand that technology is not an enabler; it’s now the status-quo. Many organizations implement technology for the sake of technology without understanding the impact to the sales team. More importantly, companies can negate technology roll-outs by not focusing on helping sales teams deliver value, in the eyes of the buyer. Since so many buyers use technology daily, sales teams are expected to use technology in a transparent way. It’s now something like breathing. Everyone does it. However, not every company can leverage technology to align to the customer, streamline communication, and facilitate an exchange of value. RECOMMENDATION 2: realize that one technology platform or tool doesn’t solve every single challenge faced by the sales team. While some technologies help sales team members serve the customer better, others can actually bog down processes or stifle the creativity needed to truly customize the buyer experience. RECOMMENDATION 3: realize that bad processes are not helped by technology. Many companies fail to realize that poorly aligned processes and poor policies can impact the buyer-seller relationship more than the use of technology. When these processes and policies are facilitated by technology, the organization just become “better” at getting in its own way.
Authors and former Disney Company Learning leaders Mark Jones and Jeff Kober ask: Can you really sustain excellent customer service over the long haul, if you are not sustaining the internal employee experience as well?
Customer service and community support go hand in hand at this large Texas hospital. Learning is a principal ingredient of both.
Engaging employees as part of the solution, not part of the problem, can make a big difference in customer service training. By focusing on employee emotions, one organization was able to overcome some critical challenges.
Make challenging concepts more memorable, even unforgettable! Telling stories is a powerful way to make a point, especially when the stories are compelling, well-constructed, and poignant. This book captures thought-provoking stories contributed by trainers, nationally known speakers, consultants, business leaders, educators, and professional storytellers that help make challenging ideas and abstract concepts stick.The stories are organized around major organizational development and training themes, such as leadership, diversity, teamwork, performance and coaching, and customer service. Accompanying each story are tips, debriefing questions, key points, and a follow-up activity to maximize its impact and learning potential.
Social Media Feedback Analysis is of immense value to Marketing, Advertising, Customer Service as well as the Research and Development Department and the Product development team.
Ensuring minimum down time is the key factor that drives the spare parts process which involves logistics service providers, warehouses, customer service teams and technical teams working in tandem to ensure customer satisfaction.
I had a bad user experience (UX) at a dollar store a while back. I’m not talking about customer service, but actual UX design.
There’s a lot of “moderns” going on today – modern learning, modern customer service, modern work culture, modern customer experience, modern living, etc…
If cross-selling is an area where your sales or customer service teams struggle, that presents a great opportunity to increase sales.
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How to Make an Invoice. An invoice is a notice you send to customers or clients to notify them that payment is due for services you have performed. An invoice should outline what services you performed, how much the client owes and where…
How to Send Your First Business Email Blast. You have a good list of customer emails. You’ve picked an email service provider. Now is the moment of truth. Your very first email blast. Nervous? Get permission from your recipients. Make sure…
How to Market an Accounting Firm. Accounting firms are responsible for providing tax, bookkeeping and financial advice and services to people and businesses. There is a lot of competition in the accounting field for customers and clients….
How to Make a Sales Presentation. An effective sales presentation not only educates prospective customers about your product or service, but it also explains how you can meet a customer’s specific needs and help them achieve their goals….
How to Use Testimonials in Marketing. Testimonials are a great marketing tool because they give customers who have used your product or service the opportunity to tell potential customers what they like about it. Having an endorsement from…
How do you position your brand for success and get customers to at least look your way long enough to pitch a product or service?
These 10 Ways to Make Your Own App allow businesses to offer an app that helps connect customers with their products and services.
What do your website, your social media accounts and your banner ads all have in common? They are all integral parts of your digital marketing. It’s easy to focus only on each individual part without looking at the bigger picture. To help you avoid getting lost on your way to digital marketing success, Komplete has created this digital marketing road-map to keep you heading in the right direction. The importance of your website can’t be overstated. It’s your home base on the web and sets the tone for the rest of your digital assets. A great website will be user friendly, including mobile users. That means having a responsive ormobile website. It’ doesn’t stop there though, your site should also utilize landing pages to increase conversions on your products and services. These landing pages will funnel visitors in from your other digital marketing tools like social media accounts and email lists. Analytics is also an important element of a website. They will serve as a guide to help you improve your site and let you know what is working and what isn’t. While it’s important to have a mobile friendly website, it’s also important to reach out to your customers where they spend the most of their time: their mobile devices. You can do this throughappsor throughsms/text message marketing. Both allow you to reach your customers (not to mention let your customers reach you) anytime anywhere. Text message marketing also has the advantage of an extremely high open rate, 98%! That’s higher than email! Of course there are more marketing options out there, both outbound and inbound. Outbound marketing through banner ads on both desktop and mobile sites are a great way to reach more customers especially combined with your other marketing efforts. Inbound marketing techniques, including SEO, content marketing and referral marketing will bring the customers directly to you. Last but not least, is social media marketing. No matter your social network they all have the ability to benefit your bottom line. Combining social media with your content marketing and native advertising and you can draw in even more customers. Don’t get lost on the road of digital marketing. There are many stops along the way, but they all will lead you to your final destination: a successful marketing plan that drives new business your way. Infographic: Your Digital Marketing Road-Map
People search when they are in buying mode and ready to spend. This is your chance to entice new customers. 99% of Yelp users have made a purchase at a business they found on Yelp, with nearly 90% of them doing so within a week. 4 out of 5 Yelp users visit the site because they intend to buy a product or service.
Social media has come out as a strong tool for organisations to connect with their audience. A variety of services are being used to increase brand value. Well-known brands have already made a great neighborhood on the social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. Facebook has already turned into a social media king and every tiny and gigantic brand name is using this platform to make a firm customer base. An image is worth a million expressions and this is totally accurate for image sharing sites like Instagram. The pictures of the new goods are shared on Instagram and this actually assists in advertising the same. In short we can state that in this era of online marketing it is very vital to make social media division of your overall strategy.
Adverse selection is a concept from insurance that describes when the certain variables cause the least desirable customers to sign up for a service.
In order to create a seamless shopping experience for their customers, many e-commerce retailers are offering in-store pickup service for cyber customers.
Learn the secret of writing sales letters that sell products and services, simply by using psychological triggers, and even truth, to gain customers.
The Hartford has been in business for over 200 years and offers its customers personal and business insurance and investment services.
COUNTRY Financial has top financial strength ratings and offers financial and insurance products and services to customers in 17 states.
Loss leaders are goods or services offered at steep discounts in order to attract new customers to a store and stimulate sales.
A supply chain is how a company turns raw materials into finished goods and services for the customer. Here's how it affects the economy.
Learn how setting up a merchant account and offering a wide range of merchant services will help ensure that customers keep coming back to your business.
Banks and credit unions offer similar services, but credit unions are customer-owned not-for-profit organizations. Rates vary from place to pl
Budget billing allows the customers to have a set price on their monthly utility statements. Learn if this service is right for you.
Allstate Insurance review of insurance products, service, claims and customer outreach. Are they the right company for you?
Physicians Mutual is a provider of life insurance, supplemental health insurance, annuities and funeral pre-planning services to customers nationwide.
Credit unions offer a customer friendly model with a focus on the best service and accounts possible. Learn if a credit union is right for you.
A freight forwarder acts as an intermediary between the client and various transportation services involved in getting product overseas to a customer.
This year will be the 20th anniversary of President Bill Clinton’s Executive Order on Labor-Management Partnerships (E.O. 12871 issued October 1, 1993). Over the past two decades, federal government employees and their union representatives have worked with federal managers to improve the delivery of service to the American public. As President Clinton noted in the preamble to his executive order, it was through cooperation that the design and implementation of comprehensive change would take place. E.O. 12871 called for the establishment of labor-management committees or councils at appropriate levels throughout the executive branch; employees and their union representatives were to be “full partners” with management representatives to better serve the agency’s customers and to satisfy its mission.
Social media in government is here to stay. The team in the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) knows this well. This is the team that provides agencies with best practices, training, and shared tools and technology so they can use social media and other digital media to better serve their customers and ensure people can access government information anywhere, anytime, on any device. HowTo.gov is the platform that pulls all…
In the early 1990s, I worked in the “educational services” department of a very large computer company. We delivered a lot of training to both customers and employees. At the end of each quarter, we would gather for a pep rally, at which time our vice president would discuss our performance. The key metric wa…
As the largest American-owned security officer services company, AlliedBarton Security Services provides high-quality security to more than 3,300 customers nationwide, including approximately 200 Fortune 500 companies. Virtually every industry and individual depends on security officers to ensure their overall safety….
From fast food to financial services and from hospitality to healthcare, the 28 companies that earned the 2013 ASTD BEST Award have a culture of and commitment to learning that benefits the employees and the customers they serve.
What do sales coaches need to know in order to help their salespeople succeed? More importantly, what does a complete, well-rounded, super-star sales professional do anyway? Surely, if you cornered one of these high-performing sales professionals at a social event and asked them what they actually did as a sales professional, there would be more to it than “I help people.” What exactly is it that salespeople DO anyway? I’m talking about what they actually do, not what their company does or what their value proposition is, but what THEY DO day in and day out as a sales professional? To be a complete sales professional, their daily activities should be in support of creating customer satisfaction and loyalty. What are these daily activities? I have analyzed the outputs and deliverables of thousands of sales professionals. I found that these tasks can be grouped into eight key areas. The idea is to help them become highly competent (i.e. superstar) sales professional through helping them: 1. Manage Themselves – highly competent salespeople keep their personal life in check. They stay healthy. They set goals, they make plans for your future. They keep their finances in order. They find stress-reducers. 2. Manage the Sales Cycle — The highly competent sales professionals seek out continuous comprehensive training and education to support their sales process. You should also be able to initiate, plan, and execute a sales process in order for your product or service to be assimilated into the buying organization. There are many systems out there to choose from. 3. Manage Opportunities – Highly competent sales professionals understand how to identify, manage, develop, and close the right sales opportunities. To do this, they’re experts at opportunity planning, territory management, opportunity development, and closing. 4. Manage Relationships- Highly competent salespeople become a trusted advisor to the buyer only happens when the sales professional is successful at building relationships, communicating, distributing information, and influencing others ethically through collaborative dialogue. Building relationships within your own organization is just as critical. Make sure that you take the time to forge relationships with your support teams, delivery teams, management or any other party that is involved in your sales process. 5. Manage Expectations – Highly competent salespeople continue their relationship after the sale. Providing top-notch service to buyers ensures repeat business and a solid sales reputation. 6. Manage Priorities – Highly competent salespeople understand the crucial elements of managing personal time to achieve ones goals and objectives. Great sales professionals understand that they must define the right tasks for the day or month, prioritize them, schedule them and execute. 7. Manage Technology – Highly competent sales professionals utilize technology in order to maximize personal and organizational effectiveness. 8. Manage Communications – highly competent sales professionals understand their choices in selecting, delivering, and leveraging communications strategies and mediums in order to effectively get their message across. There are many people that wonder why sales professionals are “harried,” have short attention spans, are always too busy, or seem a “little flustered”. Perhaps by identifying and understanding these eight areas, you have a new found appreciation and an understanding of why? So the question is, does you sales coaching program help salespeople become better in each area? How can you help them understand which area they are the strongest in? Or which area they are the weakest? A well designed sales coaching program provided by a reputable organization can help sales managers and sales coaches build action steps and coaching programs that help salespeople improve in each area every single day.
Have you heard of Web 2.0? What about “Sales 2.0”? There is new sales 2.0 conference that is owned by Selling Power Magazine — it remains to be seen what specific direction they will take it. Is Web 2.0 the same thing as sales 2.0? What is the current buzz surrounding sales 2.0.? There are two camps currently: Camp 1: Sales 2.0 is the use of web 2.0 technologies (and technology only) for sales or sales-related purposes. Camp 2: Sales 2.0 is the “Next Evolution” of Selling — where Selling is taken to the next level What do you think? Add Your comments? Recently, I asked the question to my LinkedIn Network… here is what some people said: View these answers on LinkedIn too ———— Aaron of Office Tools, LLC Says: Sounds to me like you have answered your own question, but it’s more than just using technology and resources like web portals and Blackberries. It’s also combining these technologies into your relationship with the prospect in a manner that is attuned to their comfort level as well, i.e. don’t make your customer a technology guinea pig every time a new tool is introduced. ——————— Martin B Success Coach, speaker, trainer and author. Known for his focused, rapid-results coaching. Says: Again to me it is about integrity, ethics and how they work with the customer for all the technology in the world can not replace that. I think sales 2.0 will include the sales person building an on-line quality reputation that will go with them over time. Of course I think being a CRSP ( Certified and Registered Sales Professional ) is very important as well. Quality relationships take time and SHOULD take time, technology can help but it still demands the basics. http://inquireonline.info/sales/sales-as-a-profession ———————– Nathan, a Director of Client Services Says: Interesting question and I hope this helps. I had been meeting with clients about a potential proposal for two months and doing a lot of work with them in between. They put on events as a part of their business model so I showed up to a happy hour one night to network and build rapport. They called the next day and wanted a proposal immediately. It was for a pretty big project so I got to work immediately. I sent the proposal to the principal and his VP of Advertising (two person show). I got the email from her (VP) Monday morning saying they were going with a different company. I did the customary follow up with an email asking why and didn’t hear back for several days. The VP of Ads is pretty into her myspace account and added me as a friend four days later (we got along well socially). I ended up following up with her on myspace, found out that it was a price point and we are currently renegotiating the terms of the proposal. ————- Brian a Life Sciences Training, Marketing and Branding specialist Says: Great question and one in which I view there being multiple answers to. These answers could be based on existing sales methodologies along with the technology stack, both current and planned, that will used within the sales organization. Sales 2.0 for us is evolving. Sure, we use standard SD processes and have a great CRM in place. Beyond this, what is sales 2.0? – Web advertising – Web networking – Blogs – White papers – SME webinars – Referral marketing – Tying it all together – Any so many others If I were to define sales 2.0 for the industry, I would state the following today. — Sales 2.0 is the sales approach where proven development methodologies are combined and blended with new communication & collection mediums where the client is empowered through the use of information to make well informed decisions — Yes, I said empowering the customer. As the web is now a central point in all communications, providing the information that your client’s seek is paramount to being viewed as a strong player in the service or product field that you serve while this also will help them in making better decisions. When structured property, Sales 2.0 approaches should increase contact to conversion ratios without all the (hub-bub) normally associated with sales development. I view a perfect sales world to be the day that a blinking super ball with your logo on it IS NOT required to impress a potential client, but a well formed and intuitive intake process does so without all the old school glitz. —————— Flyn P, The Inside Sales Guru Says: Sales 2.0 is the integration of all sales best practices as Web2.0 tools are now integrated for websites. I find many people stuck on one sales method over another when all of the methodologies have best practices that are probably applicable to most selling environments. The other half of this solution is that sellers have to learn to embed and incorporate best practices into their sales processes instead of placing the sales process on top of what they are doing. It is my belief that the most effective way to teach a sales best practice is from within the sales process for which you intend to use it. This means you must find the appropriate places and applications for the best practice and then customize it to fit your specific selling process. It is one thing to lean about “impact” questions it is another thing to apply them to your selling. Thus, you take the impact question and put it in the sales process for ABC Co. and make the question ABC’s. Impact Question: “What is the impact of the bottleneck in manufacturing on revenues?” ABC may not have such an issue in their selling — the key problem may be productivity of a widget in an adverse environment. The impact question that directly addresses that issue must be developed and made part of the selling process. The result is salespeople don’t need to figure out how or when to ask the question. That combined with the use of all sales methods and best practices would be Sales2.0. I hope that helps. Clarification added 5 days ago: I have noted that other addressed marketing issues and I would agree with these ideas — I kept my answer strictly to “Selling.” ———- Christian, an International CRM & e-Marketing Expert – Techno-Marketing Specialist Says: Dear Brian, More than a collection of technologies that help sales professionals personalize information for customers and interact with them rapidly, Sales 2.0 should be considered as the synthesis of new technologies, models, processes and mindsets. It is about leveraging people, process, technology, and knowledge to make significant gains. It means integrating the power of Web 2.0 and on-demand technologies with proven sales techniques to increase sales velocity and volume. It also relates to increased communication and collaboration between sellers and buyers and within the selling team, together with a proactive and visible integration of knowledge and measurement of the buying cycle into the sales cycle. It seems that Sales 2.0 truly merges sales and marketing into a seamless effort to target buyers more effectively using innovative and integrated tactics with an objective to bring in a lot more business at a lower cost. It is also about making anything and everything in the sales and marketing lifecycle measurable, so that you can take that information and resulting analysis to further optimise your sales process. More streamlined processes, together with the technologies to carry out smarter approaches, can immediately help organisations that are committed to moving their sales and marketing efforts to the next level of performance and dramatically accelerate their sales cycle. For further insight on this and related topics, please see http://www.saastream.com/my_weblog/2007/11/sales-20-taking.html#more —————– Joe G, a VP and Research Director, Sirius Decisions Says: Sales 2.0 is being trumpeted in the market place as the next wave of sales automation technology that will improve sales productivity, reduce cost of sales, increase customer loyalty and drive sales performance through the roof. Sound familiar?… think of SFA 1.0 promises. Sales 2.0 is – or should be – a focus on adapting customer engagement strategies to the rapidly changing environment that is dominated by the unrelenting evolution of the Internet. While leveraging technology should be a part of any approach, it is just an enabler to a broader sales readiness strategy. Obviously there are a variety of perspectives on what Sales 2.0 is, should or could be. I would suggest a visit to the blog at The Sales 2.0 Network website: http://sales20network.com/blog/ Duncan, A Business Development and Salesperson Says: To me Sales 2.0 is more about leading your customer to the best conclusion rather than ‘closing’ them through manipulation and hard sales tactics. i.e. you should strive to make sure that the product is a good fit for your customers and that your customers are a good fit for your company. The better the fit, the more repeat sales and referrals you will get. posted 5 days ago Nigel: CEO, Sales 2.0. Next Generation Sales Information, Telesales & Consulting Says: Hi Brian, Thanks for asking the question. I think it’s pretty clear from the answers that there is not yet one clear definition of sales 2.0 The way I came up with “sales 2.0” two years ago was through my personal frustration with a lot of the ways we have been selling. Added to that my realization that a lot of these techniques date back over 100 years to John Patterson at NCR. So I saw “sales 2.0” as a statement that we can “take sales to the NEXT level”. What happened after that is that some smart folks in Silicon Valley noted that the Internet is already creating change that we sales people can harness NOW to move our selling to the “next level”. Hence the emphasis on technology solutions in many current definitions of “sales 2.0” So for now we don’t have ONE solidified definition but the most popular one short-term is using Internet tools to boost sales performance. Long-term I hope the buzzword can stick around to really mean “taking the whole sales profession to the next level”. That’s my dream.
Wanted – Sales Leadership Many salespeople seek to grow into management positions. However, many of these same people don’t act like a leader or a manager in their day-to-day activities. Effective sales leadership and requires a salesperson to understand who they are and what they stand for while consistently exceeding revenue quotas and customer satisfaction expectations. Once a salesperson understands who they are, and they consistently exceed the sales expectations, they begin to influence others in a more impacting manner. In other words, they are in tune with their clients, their own company, and more importantly they know what they stand for. In short, they begin to exude leadership — leadership at the corporate edge. As a leader in the future they must understand how to synchronize sales processes with marketing messages while providing top-notch services. All of this requires them to be fully engaged with individual buyer processes — and displaying leadership to buyers as well. Achieving consistently high sales productivity requires a hands-on approach that is engaged and aligned in a common organizational direction. Sales, marketing, and services professionals must understand their personal and organizational goals and how to achieve them. They must invest their time in the right accounts and the right activities. Growth efficiency requires skilled and focused leadership. It also requires leaders who can mobilize their team members, employees who work for them, and even their own management teams to achieve a common goal that meets the strategic and financial goals of the firm while providing the absolute best service and support to the customer. Future salespeople will be asked to lead, no matter what position they hold in their sales organization! Their position, at the corporate boundary, will require it. Once salespeople fully embrace the High-Character, High-Leadership paradigm, they must understand what is required by all these critical stakeholders and be a solid rock of product knowledge, subject matter expertise, and consultant.
(from IAEE) Organizations such as Coca-Cola, The U.S. Army, Hershey’s Chocolate, Charmin and countless others have used experiential marketing tactics to bring consumers closer to their brands. From museum-like exhibits to portable toilets in New York’s Times Square, immersive experiences are designed to attract media attention, enhance customer engagement and drive sales. While experiential marketing in the B2C channel has been around for some time, experiential marketing in the B2B arena is more recent. As the ultimate B2B environment, trade shows have something to learn from this emerging marketing discipline. In a 2009 survey conducted by Exhibit Surveys for Jack Morton, a global brand marketing agency, experiential marketing is de?ned as, “experiences that enable people to interact with a brand, product or service face-to-face or one-on-one, resulting in authentic connections that drive sales and increase brand image and awareness. The people engaged by these experiences may include consumers, business customers or partners, employees, channel in?uencers or other key stakeholders.” The survey included responses from 406 marketers. The Jack Morton study revealed some interesting statistics regarding the growth of experiential marketing. Read more. How are exhibitors at the ASTD 2010 International Conference & Exposition preparing to use experiential marketing?
In my line of work I have the privilege of speaking with sales enablement thought leaders and practitioners on a daily basis. Throughout those conversations I hear the statements, “qualify early, qualify often” and more recently, “the sales funnel is dead”. Let’s start with “the sales funnel is dead”. I think the sales funnel should be dead. By its very nature, a funnel depicts a “narrowing effect” which in sales indicates starting with many prospects and eliminates them until you have a few opportunities that close. Why trudge along for weeks or even months with prospects that have no intention of buying your services or solutions. Now let’s assume you agree with the above paragraph and began to live by the mantra, “qualify early, qualify often” thus giving you the opportunity walk away from potential prospects before they even hit your funnel.What are left are very legitimate prospects with a much likelier possibility of closing. Thus, you start with many opportunities and close just about as many. From a visual perspective you’re looking at a “tunnel” rather than a “funnel”. Don’t get me wrong. I still firmly believe that following a process or methodology is still critical. I also feel that aligning your selling cycle to the customer’s buying cycle is critical as is becoming a trusted advisor. All of these are great topics for discussion but I’ll leave those for another day.
Top the 7 myths about the sales profession Selling is the most complicated profession in the world. Many people believe they know what the profession entails…many myths have continued throughout time due to these misperceptions, despite the sales and marketing statistics that show otherwise. Here are some of my favorite myths about selling. Myth 1: Marketing and Selling are the Same Thing! One of my professors I had while taking my Master’s Degree once told me that you can only do one of three things in business: make it, sell it, or count it. The problem is the definition of “selling it” comprises two divergent but inextricably entwined functions — sales and marketing. The more appropriate elements (especially in today’s world) should be, in business you can only: make it, grow it, or count it. I say grow it, for two reasons. One reason is the marketing department and the other reason is the sales department. The problem with the two professions is each of believe that their occupation is the dominant half of the pair. Marketers generally think of salespeople as golf-playing monkeys or pushy placement professionals whose sole purpose is to repeat the same sales pitch (that they have developed) over-and-over again to new prospects. Salespeople generally think of marketers as lazy liberal arts graduates who use the words “focus groups” and “corporate brand” to describe activities that is nothing but “a colossal waste of money.” Ultimately each function needs the other if the company is to GROW. To that end, sales and marketing are separate but equal professions from a business perspective. What’s less obvious is how we should all work together. Marketers believe that marketing should play the dominant role. After all, marketing defines the product, articulates the positioning, and creates all the sales tools (ranging from glowing CEO profiles in “Fortune” magazine to the ubiquitous corporate logo wear that serves as the de facto currency of the modern professional). All salespeople have to do is to follow orders, right? Salespeople believe that selling should play the dominant role. After all, selling is where the rubber meets the road, where the tough get going, where everyone gives 110 percent, and where slogans reign supreme. Salespeople bring home the bacon. All marketers do is provide brochures and take all the credit. The truth is more complicated but more rewarding. Suffice it to say, let’s just say that selling and marketing are NOT the same thing. What both departments SHOULD agree on is the need to stay focused on what the client’s and customers want, in an effort to provide them value. Can’t we just stay focused on that? That’s another book too. Myth 2: Selling is about Winning Over Your Customer! Selling isn’t about winning over anyone. It’s about helping your customer win. If you think of making a sale as “winning”, that means someone has to lose. If you are winning and your customer’s are losing, you’ll be selling a very, very short amount of time. It’s about both you and your customer winning. Enough said. I just wish that prospects and buyers thought that all the time too! Myth 3: Selling isn’t a Real Profession! If you’re embarrassed about being in selling, this is the myth you’re subscribing to. You have to be proud of being in selling in order to be successful. One way to do this is to realize the important people you’ll be working with on a daily basis. When sales professionals sell, they are often sitting across the table from the following formalized professions: Chief Financial Officer (formalized by the American Finance Association) Legal Counsel (formalized American Bar Association) Project Manager (formalized by the Project Management Institute) Marketing Professional (formalized by the American Marketing Association) Information Technology Professional (formalized by numerous associations and organizations) Procurement Professional (formalized by the Institute of Supply Management and the National Association of Purchasing Management) The question is, what exactly is a “formal” profession? Myth 4: Selling isn’t That Hard! Anyone Can Do It! Selling is a hard profession to master. It’s one of the most complicated professions in the world. Where else do you have to understand organizations and individuals with such depth and clarity? Where else do you have to build rapport with so many different types of people, in so many different locations, buildings, or business types? On top of this complexity is the reality that Selling is one of the few real pay-for-performance professions, with over of the compensation “at risk” or based on commission. A lot of sales professionals feel stress in their jobs. In the engineering profession, stress results from the application of a constant force to an immovable object. In selling, the force is your “quota” and the immovable object is your customer’s expectations. If you guess, you stress. It’s that simple. Selling is about taking the guess work out of what the future will hold. True, it isn’t as much as it sounds for real sales professionals. The key is to learn about the truth of the sales profession and banish the myths. When you accomplish this, you will find selling concepts that make sense that can immediately put into practice. Above all else, you will persevere when so many others will quit, and that’s what will make the difference to your company’s bottom line. Myth 5: Selling is a “Numbers Game”! Undoubtedly, you will hear this one within your first week of selling: “Selling is a numbers game.” Make the calls, make the presentations, and work your way through enough people, and eventually you will make a sale. You’ll hear it within three hours of being on your first job in Sales. Someone will say “it’s a number game” I guarantee it. It goes something like this. The more phone calls you make, the more sales you will make. “So, make 100 phone calls” someone will say. “Of those 100, send 10 proposals. And of those 10, you will close 2. The more numbers you have the more you will sell. Now, there’s your phone. Good luck!” Remember this always! Quality supersedes quantity. Your goal in selling must be to find prospects that have a propensity and a motive to buy your product or services. If they don’t want to buy or need to buy your product or service, then I don’t care about the numbers! I would rather make two phone calls and close two sales than make 100 like our example above, wouldn’t you? If someone is tracking your progress, how do they know you are calling the right people, with a want and a need? I know of a large insurance sales organization, which provided sales reps with contact lists for life insurance and investments. The only problem was most prospects lived in a low income area and were highly unlikely to buy any life insurance because they didn’t need, or want it. I don’t care if you call 1,000 people that don’t fit the profile. You’re still wasting your time. Quality over quantity. Rather than buying into the myth that selling is a numbers game, think of a game of darts. By aiming your effort (the dart) at a clearly defined target (your pre-qualified prospect on the dart board) your chances for hitting the mark (a sale) are greatly enhanced. Contrast that mindset with a pure numbers game, where you stand outside and try to get hit by lighting or crossing your fingers multiple times with the hope of attaining good luck. Myth 6: You Must Like Rejection! Many sales courses, sales books, and sales training will tell you to keep a very stiff upper lip when you get “rejected.” A rejection can occur when you are rebuffed on the phone, not granted an appointment, or simply told “no.” These courses will also tell you not to let a “no” get you down. The problem with this approach is the fact that once you accept the simple proposition that you have been rejected in the first place, you have given up the psychological high ground and put your self-esteem into retreat! Simply put, your sales team needs to reject the notion of rejection. Once salespeople understand that all they are doing is helping people, every outcome should be the same. If prospects don’t want your help or choose not to deal with your company for whatever reason, it is not your salesperson’s problem. He or she simply has to locate another prospect that needs your company’s products or services. Regardless of the response prospects give, the salesperson is still the same person with the same amount of product knowledge, experience, and competence. When you teach your team to stop actually linking their activity to a prospect’s response (no matter how subtly), selling ceases to be hard work and instead becomes a game. In general, the healthiest mindset for you to teach is: “You, Mr./Ms. Prospect, have made a decision to move forward without my services. I’ll be here when you come to your senses and change your mind. It’s not my responsibility to straighten you or your company out.” Myth 7: Selling is a Dead End Job! Did you know that 85 percent of the company leaders and entrepreneurs in America today were once salespeople? They carried sample cases, made cold calls, dialed for dollars, did product demonstrations and handled objections. Today, they’re the majority of corporate presidents, CEOs and the like. Selling is a dead-end job all right–especially when you consider that the end may be at the very top of an organization!
SAN FRANCISCO–( BUSINESS WIRE)–Although the majority of business owners say they are doing at least “everything that can be justified by cost” to help the environment, many say the economy has made them change their plans to “go green.” According to the most recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, surveyed January 22 – February 2, one-third of small business owners said the country’s economic situation has affected their plans to become more environmentally friendly. Seventeen percent said their companies are doing “very little or nothing at all” to help the environment. A major factor may be the belief that customers are not willing to pay more for goods and services described as environmentally friendly, mentioned by nearly 70 percent of respondents (an increase of 37 percent from April 2007). However, the recent survey did reveal that many business owners are actively involved in some “green” activities. Over the past 12 months, almost 90 percent of business owners surveyed participated in recycling, and more than three-quarters (77 percent) switched to more environmentally friendly products such as cleaning products, energy-saving light bulbs or recycled goods. Thirty-two percent said that over the past 12 months they used some type of alternative transportation such as walking, biking or public transportation, rather than a car, to save energy. ( Read the entire release at BusinessWire.)
(From marketwire) — The China operation of StepStone Solutions, a global leader in talent management solutions, has been named “Best Talent Management Software Provider in Greater China” by HRoot, the leading management media company in Human Resources in China. Approaching its 6th year, the awards are recognised as a key indicator of the leading providers in different HR service categories in China. StepStone Solutions China was named this year as “Best Talent Management Software Provider in Greater China 2010-2011” for its track record in providing local language talent management solutions, excellent implementation support, and seamless, Internet-based access for HR and employee users from anywhere in the country. The award category is a new entry in 2011, reflecting the evolution in HR management in the emerging China market. StepStone Solutions is the first winner in the category. Since commencing in business in March 2009, StepStone Solutions China has developed a highly localised operation for the region that provides direct project implementation for Talent Acquisition and Talent Management across Beijing, Shanghai, Fujian, Shenzhen and Sichuan. Successful localisation in China of StepStone Solutions’ powerful global technology is also demonstrated by the wide spectrum of customer categories supported, ranging from government agencies and local companies to multinational and medium-sized enterprises. Read more.
A set of repeatable structured activities that add (or seem to add) predictable value, (including creation, marketing, refinement and transportation) at a predictable cost to an enterprise. Business processes can be around transforming ideas, money, people, and products, delivering a service, branching to alternative processes, or triggering an action. There is often the movement and enrichment of some container of value, whether a widget to be painted or a form to be approved (or kicked back). Inventories are kept. They often have an owner that takes responsibility for them. Some business processes are core, and presumably unique, while others are tangential. Business processes can be ongoing (infrastructure), or triggered by an event. Improvements to an organization can be made within a process (business process redesign), or changing processes (called business process re-engineering). Business process can be simple or complex, and need to be connected to other business processes, sometimes through paths. Processes can also be done in parallel, avoiding a chain reaction of failures. A string of business processes can be called a value chain. And the integration between the processes is called “the process fit” which can be as strategically significant as the process itself, avoiding delays. Business processes maps are also called business process diagrams. Business processes often need units, resources, and can be represented on a map by structures. Business processes can be automated. In many cases, when we come to organization, we don’t know what the processes even are, and have to probe. Ownership can vary. A business process can be done internally (retailer’s employees stock shelves), outsourced (retailers contracts independent workers to stock shelves), or transferred completely to another organization (retailer asks vendors to stock shelves, or retailer becomes online retailer and asks vendors to ship directly to customers). Typically, the more important the business process, the more control the enterprise wants to use.
Several ASTD programs in D.C., New York, and Virginia approved for use in the public workforce system
ASTD has become an approved training provider in the District of Columbia, New York, and Virginia. This means that customers in these states who have received public funding for training through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) may take these courses using their training vouchers or other public funding. One recent exciting addition is the approval of a bundled offering of CPLP preparation and testing fees! In both New York and Virginia, approval has been granted state-wide, so any customer using the services of a local OneStop Center will find ASTD in the list of approved providers. Check with the staff at your local OneStop Career Center to find out more details about your eligibility to apply for funding, especially if you have been in a job transition. You can search for your closest OneStop Center at www.careeronestop.org. The courses that are approved in each state include: Virginia D.C. New York We will be looking at other states to add the CPLP bundle for approval. For more information about this, and links to state or local workforce boards, contact Jennifer Homer at ASTD: email@example.com.