Customers increasingly regret their buying decisions – that’s your opportunity!

Lost the contract with your best client? No worries.

According to new research from CEB, customers that regret their buying decisions are increasing. CEB’s research says that in over 40% of all B2B buying decisions post-purchase anxiety occurs.

That’s your opportunity!

winback

The reason for decision makers asking themselves questions like: “did we buy the right thing”, is that too many alternatives are presented to them and they’re flooded by information from too responsive sales reps, which makes customers’ buying process “awful”, customers say.

Besides that, we should look into the opportunity of customers’ post purchase anxiety and how that may turn up to be your opportunity.

Many years ago I had a sales process evaluation meeting with one of my valuable clients. We sketched their new process on the white board; Qualify to Quote to Negotiate to Close. A simple, traditional sales process which is working very well in most businesses.

oldprocess

“NO, NO !”, my client almost shouted; “You forget the most important phase”.

“Ehhh, what phase ?”, I said, slightly surprised.

“The WIN-BACK phase of course, that comes after you lost the deal.

“But if the deal is lost and contracts are signed, that shouldn’t be a sales process phase. It wouldn’t be possible to tear their contract?”, I opposed.

“Well, not really”, my client said, “but we are selling a lot more just after we lost a contract with a large existing client. That revenue are really important to our profitability, so we cannot ignore sales activities after we lost any deal”, my client explained.

So we just added the “Win-back” phase to the end of their sales process.

newprocess

But why was my client selling a lot more after they lost their big contract?

The meeting with my client was many years ago, but adding a win-back phased to their sales process was valuable even then. My client explained their newly lost client was struggling to implement the new contract with your competitor, new contact channels were to be set up, new processes were to be implemented.

Those things are not easy to fix and takes time. During this period you can become the “good guy” and with just a little more attention you may get a star status of service. All your processes are in place, all contact channels are tuned, you are in a favorable position to make them happy.

Like in a guerrilla war, you may with a very little effort make a lot revenue, until your competitor has learned how to make service excellence at your client – but that takes a while and cost them big money. If you’re great and lucky they will not succeed until next purchase round is to take place.

According to the new research I believe the reason to add the extra win-back phase now has just become more important since customers are increasingly anxious making the right decisions in a world of information overload. There are too many options, too many alternatives, too many suggestions, too much information available, too many…of everything. And it’s expected that customers’ are doing more than 57% of the entire buying process before they even get in touch with a sales rep. So they stumble, trying to get the right information, not getting any help from intrusive sales reps.

And worse, great sales reps that earlier was promoting and pitching about their specific product and features, are – nowadays – banned to make sales pitches in social media since they are just transformed to become experts, not sales reps, anymore!

Ambivalent, yes. Confused, yes. I leave that to another blog post. But if you lose, be aware of the revenue after you lose. That revenue seems to be increasing nowadays…

Good luck losing ūüėČ

 

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Being analogue take you further in sales

I’m just reading a book about the possible danger of always being connected. The innermost sentence of the book is to illustrate the importance of being offline – analogue – from time to time, in an online, digital world. More than having a sense when to disconnect and relax in these times of summer and vacations, you need to develop skills to float between being digital and analogue during your sales process, which contains elements of high pace, unexpected events and intense competition combat, just like rafting in white water.

20051009192726_rafting

The book is not in the category of business literature, but most of the book’s contents are definitely applicable in business.

The book points out that today’s standard of always being online is not necessarily good for your health. Nor in sales as well.

My thought is that if we go all-in and always use the internet, social media or e-mails for prospecting , as many sales experts nowadays are suggesting, and not feel when to switch from digital to analogue, then I think you would lose more deals.

I know, prospects are much more researching vendors online today, before they get in touch with you, leaving you offside of their buying process. The obvious answer on this has for some years now been the concept of social selling, where you’re supposed to create and nurture prospect relations. Social selling lets your prospect being able to make their investigations according to their extents, timings and relevance, without being distracted by intrusive sales people.¬†Being an expert to them, you’ll become (one of) “the man to talk to” when it comes to an eventual procurement.

Using social media and other digital tools for taking care of your first selling phase is great, but not necessarily in all phases. My feeling is that the further you raft along the white water stream, your sales process, the more analogue you have to be. Much of the job in early phases of selling is to create visibility and existence, but not to provide solutions to complex prospect problems. That belongs to the upcoming phases where insightful discussions have to take place to be competitive.

To win sales deals, you need to get to the selling phases where “talking” takes place, and need to get much deeper in your conversations than you possible can with help of digital tools, such as social media or sending e-mails. Most conversations on those type of tools are mostly too general or too public to really manage helping your prospect solve his problems, but also for you to win the deal.

The phases of talking includes physical meetings, where emotions, body language and nuances are central things that counts. Here’s where the real sales takes place, even if it’s activities often are initiated as social selling activities.

In the phases of talking, you may be able to consider in-depth relations based on feelings that unveil situations and implications you really can help to solve and put yourself ahead of your competition. BTW, did you know that we are equipped with 24 different muscles in our face, optimized to express different feelings? To translate all these expressions, you need a lot of training which is only obtainable by plenty of prospect meetings.

The tricky part may be to get the feeling of how to handle a certain activity – digital or analogue. Social media is an excellent way of getting in touch and convey prospects through early phases of why they should invest and what, but seldom how to get the business value.

My recommendation is when it comes to more detailed questions from your prospect, always consider to switch to analogue tools, by just picking up your phone and call them. Start a more detailed discussion, and try to book an on-site workshop. Further on, use the opportunity to use efficient digital tools as chats or Skype sessions for additional minor questions, but always have your eyes open when to shift being analogue again – especially when it comes to deeper discussions. These discussions require an analogue approach to develop your deal forward.

You need to learn when to switch from digital conversations to in-depth on-site activities, and maybe back again, as the white water stream flows further on. Also, when you’ve made the switch, train your skills in empathy and body language, to get the discussion to a deeper level.

Sales managers also need to look for a new skill. They should look for individuals that master the combination of being both digital and analogue, to really drive your sales processes forward, and take the rafts and deals safely down the stream.

Learn from Social Selling to make your e-mails hot

It has happened fast, the shift from using social media in your daily selling. Studies such as this from CEB and Google tells more than one-half of the sales process is gone. Or, more precisely, customers run their buying process at least 57% before they get in touch with a sales rep, in some cases much longer than that.

Conclusion: There’s not much time left to make some impact on your prospects’ decisions.

New social media techniques¬†are therefore essential for your sales success. However,¬†one part of your sales lead production is still left to be traditional, such as sending a prospecting e-mail. It may not be a great part of your sales work and it will definitely be decreasing. But you’d better not ignore it in a foreseeable future.

The challenge is though, partly because of the mentions above, it’s getting harder¬†to create sales leads from traditional methods. So what to do?

Why not turn the knowledge transfer the other way round? Why not learn from recently learned social selling skills and apply those best practise on traditional prospecting as well?

Social selling to e-mail

To do so, you need to define what elements in your social selling that are key to your success and map them to traditional selling tasks. The very best experts in this area is Barbara Giamanco. My own key elements are these five:

  • Curiosity
  • Relevance
  • Value
  • Expertise
  • Ease

Curiosity. Most of us are crazy curious about things we are interested in. You might be interested in discussions in your specific marketplace and what your competitors are doing right now. Social media lets you see what they are discussing and bother about for the moment.

Relevance. In today’s overflow of information you need to be mega relevant when you discuss things.¬†Don’t bother participate in social media discussions or write articles¬†if you’re not relevant.

Value. Only pure customer value counts in social media. Value is measured by the customer, not you.

Expertise. Customers are doing a major part of their buying process without contacting you, but they still need information. They turn to their personal contacts and relevant public information to make their decisions. In social media, it’s easier than ever¬†to be their “personal” contact and provide in depth relevant information.

Ease. In social media you cannot sell. Your¬†only “sale” is a “like”,¬†comment or an accepted invitation on LinkedIn.¬†Easy actions from prospects are connected to a sort of “cost” for them, but it’s affordable low, such as¬†“Yes, I can like this article”, “Well, I should comment on this” or “Fair enough, I can afford to be his friend or contact”.

OK, I will¬†now try to apply¬†my social selling key elements to a traditional prospecting e-mail that turns it from cold to really hot.¬†For some years now I’ve been able to test a method using¬†these social selling key elements¬†in traditional¬†prospecting e-mails¬†with extraordinary results.

In 96% of¬†the cases I’ve got contact and a booked meeting with the right people, access to¬†the decision maker and a list of people that have an impact on my sale.

My method uses both phone and e-mail, and requires three prerequisites:

  1. Cell phone number to the most top manager you can get
  2. E-mail address to the same
  3. At least one success story this top manager can relate to (a competitor to his business is ultimate)

Prepare a short manuscript for leaving a short voicemail (because he will likely not answer your call) to the top manager when you call. Don’t forget to finish with: “…I will also send you an e-mail summarizing what I’ve said for your convenience”. This is just a heads-up when the e-mail arrives and connects to your first sentence in your e-mail.

Now it’s time to compose the e-mail.

Subject line. The only purpose of the subject line is to make the¬†top manager¬†to open your e-mail and should consist of two things and in this order: Relevance + Curiosity. The part of the subject line “Heat Exchangers”¬†makes Relevance (if e-mail sent to top manager in a industrial construction company) and the part “Competitor X”¬†stimulates Curiosity (“what have they done that¬†makes relevance to¬†us…?”).

Example: Heat Exchangers to Competitor X

First sentences in Body. The first sentences in the body will do two things; connect to your voicemail and pitch Value. These first sentences are maybe the only few the top manager will read, so plan your words very carefully. The sentences have to be short and describe the value generally so the top manager easily can understand it. The value has to be relevant to his role, challenges he may struggle with and in words such as money, bottom line, etc.

Example: “I was trying to reach you earlier today but didn’t succeed, so here’s a short summary of my voicemail. As you certainly are aware of, the Challenge B has become a major concern to companies in your industry. As I mentioned in my voicemail, we’ve been working together with Competitor X and by¬†implementing our heat exchangers with our unique feature Y, Competitor X has decreased their total cost by 20% and improved their bottom line with more than 15%. I would like to discuss with you how we’ve been able to achieve these improvements related to your specific business environment”.

Middle body. This part has to be¬†written pretty complex. The reason is that when the top manager starts to read it, he may understand what it is about, but need to involve expertise to determine if it’s¬†interesting enough to spend time on. What will he do?

Yes, of course the top manager will distribute the e-mail to whom it belongs to. And this is exactly what you want!

You want other people impacting your case to be engaged. Also, when anybody later on get in touch with you it might be by forwarding your own e-mail message. If so, you can just scroll down and see all relevant names by reading cc:s etc.

The body should further explain what you’ve done at Competitor X¬†and what¬†more value they’ve got by implementing your solution. You have to show your deep expertise. But please note, I don’t encourage you to reveal competitors’ business critical details and break non-disclosure agreements.¬†Your text in the body should therefore consist of industry details that¬†the internal¬†experts or department managers¬†can relate to and judge to be true and credible, without having you to reveal secrets.

Communication should be in context of “from one expert to another”. This part of your e-mail¬†has to win those experts’ hearts.¬†They don’t easily change their minds investing in new partners or technology, because they’re not¬†embracing change and are definitely prioritizing low risk above most other things. But they¬†also are pragmatists and¬†may¬†be¬†convinced by market leaders. That’s reminds me of¬†the most excellent book in marketing strategy I know,¬†Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A Moore. It tells the higher relevance you¬†have¬†to their needs and¬†greater market leadership you may prove, the higher chance you’ll get. Maybe you’re not the well-known market leader, but nobody says how tiny¬†markets should be defined…

Finish. The finish will call for action, but in bite size. It really should be “at no cost” to further engage with you. That makes the Ease for them to engage. “Why not, a meeting with this guy only cost us the time of one hour…?”

Example: “I’d like to schedule a one hour meeting at your premises, anytime that fits your schedules¬†and of course¬†entirely unconditionally,¬†where I may further explain what we’ve done for Competitor X and other companies in your industry”. You see, you conclude your message with curiosity as well to improve your snakebite rate…

Now you have to wait. Don’t disturb the process for a while by calling them too early to follow up. My experience is that a minimum “radio silence” of three weeks are necessary for their process to execute. Think about it; there are lots of things you may¬†have set in motion¬†on the prospect’s side:¬†e-mails that have to be forwarded, internal discussions, meetings etc.

So just wait. Your social selling boosted e-mail is hopefully just getting hotter than ever.

 

 

3 stories that reveal if your sales attitude is out of date

It’s not easy to cope with all dramatic changes now happening around how to sell. High performing sales reps do, but my¬†following true stories tell¬†many¬†people within sales and SMB’s still have a long way to go before they¬†would be¬†able to compete in the future.

outofdate

Story #1

In my garden there was until recently a huge red leafed beech. It’s height was almost 60 feet and due to that we couldn’t leave it for another year. We had to take it down. In my former life I certainly was a monkey or such¬†animal, so I went out climbing up to the top, taking down one branch at a time.

One day later I was satisfied with my work. However, the¬†tree trunk was still left. I¬†scanned the internet after firms that could help me taking the trunk down. I called a few¬†local firms¬†and selected¬†one that already the coming Friday was able to finish the work. Being an experienced sales person, I appreciate if a buyer comes back to me, even if it’s just to tell me I lost the deal, so I went out texting those firms that lost my deal.

Here’s the text dialog with one of them:

Me: Sorry, but I have to¬†tell I selected another firm for the job. Thanks for your time anyhow ūüôā

The sales rep: Now you lost a lot of money! We’re always 30-40% below our competitors.

Me: (slightly sarcastic) Ooops, then it certainly was a lot of money, maybe several dollars? But you didn’t check all of my needs when you called – I wanted to get the job done already this week… By the way; care about what you’re texting – just a small tips.

The sales rep: I always stand up for what I write or say. I’ve been in business since the 90’s and last year we got 96% of all jobs in your town.

Me: (increasingly upset) Think about if I had another tree I needed to take down? Regarding your attitude, do you really think I would be contacting you again? Blaming a potential customer is not a good choice. I’ve been in sales for a long time and teach sales reps,¬†it might be a good advice to join one of my sales training classes…?

The sales rep: You should consider a training class in Foresight to earn some money!

End of story.

Lesson learned. Always accept a lost deal with a smile and a “good luck”. Look at it as a new opportunity that starts. We all know prospecting takes time and even if you lost this deal, you got in touch and next time it’s a warm call.

Story #2

This story is recently shared from my brother. He had some problems with his chainsaw (I know; you may think we are all in forestry…) and went to a retail store to get it fixed. He asked for service and the sales rep took the chainsaw into his repair shop.¬†The brand was one of those they were selling in the store and¬†the sales rep¬†promised to fix it.¬†But this was what happened next:

The sales rep: OK, I know what’s wrong,¬†we’ll fix it. By the way, where did you buy it?

My brother: (little embarrased) On the Internet…

The sales rep: ON THE INTERNET????? Just go away and take your worthless chainsaw with you! People buying things ON THE INTERNET are not welcome in my store!!!

Lesson learned. Not adjusting your attitude and business to¬†modern buying processes where customers using the internet and social media to educate themselves, buy things and compare, are just out of date. It’s a major threat for SMB’s but not aligning to reality is only stupid.¬†Such aligning¬†might be: “Great,¬†we¬†have a special offer for those buying on the internet, it’s a service agreement for¬†only 99 dollars¬†per year and I can make this included as the first repair. Would you like to fill in this form, please?”

Story #3

This story is a short one, also shared from my brother. His mower was not starting, so he called a local shop to get it fixed. However, the shop was closing at 4 PM and he knew he was a little late calling 4.05 PM:

The sales rep: (first thing saying) Do you know what time it is???

My brother: Well yes, I actually do, but I took a chance and called anyhow; and lucky me, you answered.

The sales rep: We’re closing at 4.00 PM, you cannot call later. Come back tomorrow! Then he hung up.

Lesson learned. Nothing is closed anymore. Business is always open, 24/7.¬†Opening hours¬†are restricting in itself, but here’s the worst thing about the short conversation above: The sales rep was actually¬†picking up the phone. It’s¬†not just missing the call if he didn’t answer, he also damaged his brand and that may be unrepairable.

Recognize any of these stories by your own? Do you have any more examples of¬†out of date sales attitudes? Please tell in the comment line below! Maybe we all as high performing sales reps would get a big laugh at least ūüôā

 

The hidden time slot when buying decisions are made

We all make decisions. Everyday we decide things that have an impact on our lives. Some of those decisions are buying decisions, where you interact with companies that possibly may fulfill a need you have.

Many of you recognize that a major share of the sales process has disappeared. In my post The Death of the Cold Call I visualized the three earliest phases of the sales process being invisible from the sales rep’s perspective, leaving us sales people only with two more phases to work with.

buying-process-vs-sales-process-is-changed

That’s terrifying enough. Of course you can manage the first three phases, but in a totally different way and requiring entirely new set of skills and methods. There are some really experienced advisors out there to help – one of my favorites is Barbara Giamanco – visit her blog for great tips!

But even more scaring is that I noticed a glitch also between the two remaining phases – causing you losing control in that very¬†moment you definitely don’t want to.

hidden-time-slotI call it “The Hidden Time Slot”, because it’s hidden to you and leaving customer to do his choice without your presence. The Glitch happens when you have had your sales meeting – you felt is was successful – and you did all things right. You asked all the questions; about their needs, the price level, the timings and you even got the customer giving you the list of your competitors. You are sure it was the decision maker you talked to and he also¬†gave you¬†a date for¬†his buying decision and committed to get in touch by then.

I’m just asking; are there more¬†of you out there in the sales arena,¬†except me, with experience losing such deals? I believe so, when I’m talking to my friends in sales. The sky was clear, no clouds in sight, and you still lost that damn deal!

Let’s go into the psychology in this by giving you an example from the buyer’s side. Me and my wife was looking for a new car. We thought about a slightly smaller car (children are leaving home), we needed hitch for trailer, GPS and we thought price was important, but not most. We visited several car¬†dealers, as well as where we bought our existing car.

Our existing car dealer sales rep had a great advantage since we really liked our car and we thought it would be easy for us to just change to a smaller one at the same dealer. The existing car dealer was pretty sure about the same.

I can assure you. He did all things right, but he lost the deal anyhow. Why? What exactly was the reason for us to dismiss our easiest way forward?

It wasn’t a single reason we selected another car. It was a¬†process.

Naturally, the existing car dealer asked about our alternatives – his competitors – and he was aware of their price levels. But it stopped there. What he didn’t do was trying to control beyond the buying process – where several other sales processes were running at decent pace, other than his. In my post Beyond The Buying Process I mentioned¬†the key mindset to win large¬†deals is to be your customer.¬†Understanding your customer is simply not¬†enough to be a winner in the modern sales arena.

When starting to evaluate what car we would buy, we also started¬†new sales processes at several different car dealers. They were aware of they had to step up to win this deal, since they weren’t our existing dealer. They were prepared for a battle and they were curious about us. We were impressed how fast they got to learn us; and being friends.

Maybe you think our existing car dealer wasn’t polite or missed things, wasn’t curious or…whatever. He was. He did all things right. But he didn’t make the investigation about how we think about the other dealers. He didn’t rise to the 3rd Level of Sales:

To make the customer buy, the sales rep not only has to understand the customer, he has to BE and ACT as a customer in all contexts.

That’s Beyond The Buying Process. And The Glitch РThe Hidden Slot Рis only the last checkpoint when all buying thoughts from the entire buying process comes together in a decision.

 

BTW: Sorry for using the¬†worn-out sales¬†example: “Buying a new car”, but it was simply the most recent example where a bit more detailed¬†evaluation was needed for make a good buying decision. //Stefan

 

What is Lean sales? ‚Äď Create a plan of execution!

Finaly I have managed to continue from my last post

As a recap, take a look at the Pictochart.

As you are creating your sales plan you need to look at how your organization can support your ambitions. Let’s say you want 100% delivery performance to be your lead argument in sales and you believe you can boost sales by 20%. Even if your company has a track record of 100%  on time delivery, a 20% increase could disrupt your current supply setup and you could potentially lose customers long term due to lack of living up to your promise.

To ensure that you have captured the capability of your company in the future and initializing necessary change you can use some of the following tools:

  • Value Chain Analysis
  • SIPOC
  • Competence Analysis
  • WorkshopsDefine how to work with Systems/Tools
  • Define Documents/Workmethods

Value Chain Analysis

Value Chain Analysis is a three-step process:

  • First, you identify the activities you undertake to deliver your product or service;
  • Second, for each activity, you think through what you would do to add the greatest value for your customer; and
  • Thirdly, you evaluate whether it is worth making changes, and then plan for action.

Step 1 ‚Äď Activity Analysis

The first step to take is to brainstorm the activities that you, your team or your company undertakes that in some way contribute towards your customer’s experience.

At an organizational level, this will include the step-by-step business processes that you use to serve the customer. These will include marketing of your products or services; sales and order-taking; operational processes; delivery; support; and so on (this may also involve many other steps or processes specific to your industry).

At a personal or team level, it will involve the step-by-step flow of work that you carry out.

But this will also involve other things as well. For example:

  • How you recruit people with the skills to give the best service.
  • How you motivate yourself or your team to perform well.
  • How you keep up-to-date with the most efficient and effective techniques.
  • How you select and develop the technologies that give you the edge.
  • How you get feedback from your customer on how you’re doing, and how you can improve further.

Step 2 ‚Äď Value Analysis

Now, for each activity you’ve identified, list the “Value Factors” ‚Äď the things that your customers’ value in the way that each activity is conducted.

For example, if you’re thinking about a telephone order-taking process, your customer will value a quick answer to his or her call; a polite manner; efficient taking of order details; fast and knowledgeable answering of questions; and an efficient and quick resolution to any problems that arise.

If you’re thinking about delivery of a professional service, your customer will most likely value an accurate and correct solution; a solution based on completely up-to-date information; a solution that is clearly expressed and easily actionable; and so on.

Next to each activity you’ve identified, write down these Value Factors.

And next to these, write down what needs to be done or changed to provide great value for each Value Factor.

Step 3 ‚Äď Evaluate Changes and Plan for Action

By the time you’ve completed your Value Analysis, you’ll probably be fired up for action: you’ll have generated plenty of ideas for increasing the value you deliver to customers. And if you could deliver all of these, your service could be fabulous!

Now be a bit careful at this stage: you could easily fritter your energy away on a hundred different jobs, and never really complete any of them.

So firstly, pick out the quick, easy, cheap wins ‚Äď go for some of these, as this will improve your team’s spirits no end.

Then screen the more difficult changes. Some may be impractical. Others will deliver only marginal improvements, but at great cost. Drop these.

And then prioritize the remaining tasks and plan to tackle them in an achievable, step-by-step way that delivers steady improvement at the same time that it keeps your team’s enthusiasm going.

SIPOC

SIPOC is a way to map your processes, use it to break down your value chain.

S (supplier): Entity that provides input(s) to a process

I (input): All that is used (mostly as variables) to produce one or more outputs from a process. It is worthwhile to note that infrastructure may not be considered as inputs to a steady-state process since any variability induced by such elements remains fixed over longer periods of time. (Exceptions include new infrastructure being introduced or a greenfield project.)

P (process): Steps or activities carried out to convert inputs to one or more outputs. In a SIPOC, the process steps are shown at a high level.

O (output): One or more outcomes or physical products emerging from a process.

C (customer): Entity that uses the output(s) of a process.

To explain SIPOC in good way will add too many pages to my blog. I found this site helpful in explaining how to use the model. It may seem complicated, but you do not have to follow it too 100%. Find a levelel that gives you an overviewof the process you want to define.

Competence Analysis

To be able to execute your sales plan what competence do you need. Not only in your sales force, but in the entire value chain. From a value chain perspective, you may demand change in competence from product development to new transportation methods.

Understand and identify opportunities (and limitations) in competence and companay capabilities end-to-end, that will impact your business’ development. Define what is needed to deliver to the wished position, growth and change drivers.

If you have structured your Value Chains (Customer processes), created SIPOC charts for each process, you now need to connect the competence you need and compare it to the competence you have.

  • What are our strengths to build on?
  • What necessary competence do we lack that have significant impact on our business forward? Competence gaps linked to business risks?
  • How do we create learning in the Business?
  • How to organize and lead for success?
  • Example of areas: competence needs end to end and competence needs both for generalist and specialist competence.

Workshops

These first tools work really well as workshop material.  Don’t do this on your own! Lean is about empowering the people performing the work, and involving them is crucial for your success! This can also be used when creating your sales plan…

Remember to have a clear goal with your workshops!

Workshops without clear goals is a coffee break. Nice to sit there chit chatting, but it is not productive.

Have you got the right scope of the workshop?

It is also important not to take on too big a topic. The group needs to be able to get a handle on the subject.

Be clear in the invitation!

If the people attending need to prepare, you need to tell them and you need to give them time to do so. This will also set how people prioritize your workshop. If the invitation is fuzzy, the turnout will probably not be that good.

Invite the right people!

If you have done your homework you will secure that the right competences, organizational levels and types of personalities are present.

Meet at place that suits your workshop/group!

Staying at the office is a great way to kill creativity and focus. Find a place where you have the amount of rooms you need, if you for instance plan to split the group in small groups

Create an Agenda!

Now that you know your primary objective and who will attend, you can start to develop an outline of how you’ll achieve the workshop’s goal.

  • Main points‚Äď Create a list of main points to discuss, and then break down each larger point into details that you want to communicate to your audience.
  • Visual aids‚Äď List the visual aids, if any, you’ll use for each point. If you need technical support, this helps the people providing it to determine where they need to focus their efforts.
  • Discussions and activities‚Äď Take time to list exactly which group discussions and activities you’ll have at which point in the workshop. How much time will you allow for each exercise?

Remember, the more detailed your plan, the more you’ll ensure that your workshop will run to schedule ‚Äď and be successful

Make sure you have a Follow-up Plan

The only way to find out if your workshop was a success is to have an effective follow-up plan. Create a questionnaire to give to all participants at the end of the event, and give them plenty of opportunity to share their opinions on how well it went. Although this can be a bit scary, it’s the only way to learn ‚Äď and improve ‚Äď for the next time.

It’s also important to have a plan to communicate the decisions that were reached during the workshop. Will you send out a mass email to everyone with the details? Will you put it on your company’s intranet? People need to know that their hard work actually resulted in a decision or action, so keep them informed about what’s happening after the workshop has ended.

Define how to work with Systems/Tools

If you are making changes to your Sales Plan, or if there are effects on the organization, make sure your system users are up to date on how they enter or use system information.

Make sure you involve are your super users and system owners in the process of changing the way the organization works, the products you are selling and or the services you intend to introduce.

Remember that systems have limited flexibility and that though you may find a change insignificant, it can be close to impossible to do without changes to the system environment. Also remember that these changes can take a long time to implement and failing to bring the systems in early in the process is a sure way of failing before you even got started.

Define Documents / Work methods

If you are changing the way you work, make sure you have defined how you want the people in your organization should work in order to make the work easier, reduce errors and make the task repeatable with the same results every time. It may seem obvious when you just agreed that something should be done in a certain way, but down the line you will be glad you took the time to make the task clear.

The same goes for documents. Make sure templates are ready, certificates prepared, legal documents written and approved and agreements made with external parties.

The Plan of Execution

So I have listed all these tools, what are you supposed to do now? You need to look at what you want to do and what you can and write down what you will do. It is about finding the easy executions, the necissary and painful challenges and the ambitions you will need to put off for the future because they are just to damn difficult to pull off…this year. Remember that it does not end here, it begins here! Knowing your organizations limitations and possibilities is the only way to move forward. It is just a matter of putting a plan together and to set it in motion…

Don’t Ask The Customer: Do Your Homework

Today was the third day in a row a sales person called and made exactly the same mistakes, ended up too suddenly.

Hi, I’m Paul. I’m calling from The¬†Company X. Can you tell me who is responsible for Marketing in your organization?

Just a short sentence. I heard some background noise as well, imaging he was in a room where many people were doing the same as him.

It wasn’t abnormal.¬†It was a typical sales call, but ended up in the same way as the other recent calls I¬†got¬†this week. I hung up. I never do such otherwise, except if I’ve not having time at all. I learn from bad and good sales people, just spending a few minutes, to get a fresh experience of how sales reps are working nowadays, to get the stories of behavior and to perfect the advice I give to sales and business leaders.

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This week wasn’t a bad one. And I wasn’t in a bad mood at all.¬†Still; I couldn’t stand the way these sales persons called. It was so many faults.

So, can you¬†“Find Five Faults”?

First.

When you call, go to a quiet place. If I hear other voices, I think of two scenarios – both are bad. Either¬†the working environment is too bad for the person calling: “are they really so many employees so close to each other?” or – and more obvious: it’s a call center guy with a list to call. So my feeling is that I’m devalued, only being a row in a list. If he doesn’t catch me, it doesn’t matter, he’s just going on calling…

Second.

He didn’t know my name. Addressing by pronouncing the receivers name means he want to speak with me personally, not my role or position.

Third.

Don’t ask for anything if you’re not giving something first. The sales rep asked me to give him the name of my marketing manager. Why should I? What do I get in return? A ticket to the cinema or theater? It connects to the Third as well: He don’t want to talk to me, just my role. To bad for him, since I am the marketing manager…

Fourth.

Do your homework. You may find most information about my company on the internet. As a sales rep, if you don’t have the time to spend a couple of minutes scanning my web to get who is the marketing manager, you probably not are having time to help me either. You will take my money and go away. I understand, sometimes the information on the net can be somewhat scanty, but again, that’s no problem. There’s lists to buy. If you can’t afford buying a list of names – I recognize that as a not solid enterprise you’re calling from.

Fifth.

Begin your call by mentioning¬†a¬†pain¬†you know – and I mean really know – the¬†prospect has. Even if¬†most of the sales process is gone nowadays, the buying process is still ongoing. Take part in your prospects’ searching for help and best practise, using social media channels. Learn to be a helping star and you will get close enough to¬†hear their biggest pains.

Don’t take me wrong here. I really care about you sales reps out there. I’ve been a rep by myself and I know the hard work you have to do. But why are you walking a path full of thorns?

Good luck out there!