Sales, Uncategorized

“I Love It When A Plan Comes Together”


We tend to wander when we don’t have a destination.

The topic is Sales Account Planning.  Not the most thrilling subject – until your account plan starts bearing fruit!  Then you feel like a genious who’s master plan is coming together.  In the words of Hannibal from The A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together!”

And yet, it seems to me that Account Planning is a threatened species in today’s business world.  What might be some driving factors?

  1. Today, the buyer is a co-owner of the cycle.  The Seller not longer controls information.  The Buyer controls and equal share.  So, how can the seller propose to pre-determine where he or she will sell their next deal?  Hint:  the ones who carefully choose their targets still can!
  2. It’s risky today to call your shots, and people are more risk-averse in this economy than ever.  It is much safer to chase the next RFP that comes through email than to aim and fire where everyone knows you’re shooting.  Hint:  It’s worth the risk.  You will miss some, but you’ll hit more by aiming than by blind shotgun blasts into the dark.
  3.  It’s a lot of work.  Once you lay out an org chart and determine “I’m going to map this in the next quarter,”  you have a lot of work to do.  Who’s got the time?  Hint:  Hard work is goo for you – and – social media and network accelerators like LinkedIn can make this relationship mapping go exponentially faster than it used to!
  4. It takes too much time.  If I take a few hours to write a plan, I’m not in the field selling!  Hint:  a few hours invested in this activity will help you avoid many hours of wasted time chasing bad business like RFPs, hunting in the wrong vertical markets, etc.  Focus your work on the 20% of your effort that pays 80% of your bills. 
  5. It’s too formal.  “We just do things more ad-hoc around here.”  Hint:  Good, then you be safe and ad-hoc in there, and I’ll get more business out here!

If you decide to see the wisdom and start account planning, remember that your plan should be a living document.  It should  predict as best it can the context of your prospect or client, but evovle over time.  “No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.” — Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard von Moltke.  Meaning, your plan is going to change!

Whatever form your account plans take, you need to be doing this.  There is no better way to create your future in sales.

What do you think about account planning?  How do you do it in your organization?  More on this topic in future posts.

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Go To War With Your Own Systems – YES!


I love Tom Peters.  If you have not read his extensive body of work, you are cheating yourself.  One of my favorites is “Re-Imagine!: Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age” which touches on some of the absurdities and opportunities to improve business in the 21st century.  It really resonated with me and continues to remind me why I chose a career in consulting to help clients improve their businesses.

I ran across this video from Tom Peters from a recent tweet of his.  It’s a snippet from his new book, “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE,”  and it really stuck with me.  At first, this seems like an upside-down concept.  Why would I attack the very systems I’ve worked to put in place?  But it’s genius.  This type of self-analysis is what will keep a company ahead of its competitors (and protect it from itself)!

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Speed Kills


Speed Kills.  This may have negative connotations in sports like auto-racing or billiards, but in sales – it’s a positive.  I once set a personal record and closed at $300,000 deal in 2-1/2 days.  As with all sales, luck played a role.  But even more important was SPEED!  I had an excellent team on this pursuit with just the right skills and experience, but what really set us apart from the competition was a drive to understand and respond to the client.   It started with the client asking us for a personal visit with 12 hours notice.  We jumped right in, took them up on that offer, and proceeded to have a great introductory meeting.  We then responded in kind and told the client that we would like a proposal review the very next day.  They were impressed that we heard their urgency and answered the call.  Needless to say that meeting went very well and we won.  Moral of the story?  My competitors may have had a better solution (doubt it), but we moved so quickly they did not have time to breathe.   Speed Kills!

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Super Bowl Sales Tips


What an awesome Super Bowl last night!  Watching it, you could not help but root for the Saints.  They were unstoppable.   Here are a few observations that struck me as relevant to sales people…

–  Focus & Common Purpose.  This was about more than any one star or any one game for these guys.  They were focused on winning the season and the championship for their city. Sean Payton kept them on task.  What’s your purpose?  Are you that focused?

Keep the Momentum.  One or two bad plays will not slow you down if you are charging fast at your goal.  You can absorb a touchdown by the other team or a penalty (or an objection / rejection) along the way as long as you have the momentum.

Celebrate the Wins.  Whether it was Drew Brees holding up his baby son and welling up, Sean Payton getting the Gatorade shower, or the party on Bourbon Street that looked more like Fat Tuesday than Sunday night – These folks know how to celebrate a win.  It’s been a long 18 months of recession.  Are you still celebrating when your team delivers?

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Social Media Is for Sales People Too!


So often, Social Media is described as the domain of Marketing.  But “…While marketing owns the message, sales owns the relationship, so using social media to build deeper relationships on a customer by customer basis just seems like a pretty natural thing for the sales team…” 

That quote is from an article called “5 Ways That Sales People Can Benefit From Using Social Media,” by John Jantsch, founder of Duct Tape Marketing.  The points it makes are very valuable to sales people.   If you are in sales, you need to read this.

I got this link from at tweet by Mike Stelzner.  Mike is the founder of SocialMediaExaminer.com, and a great source of information on social media (20,000+ followers on Twitter).  Thanks, Mike!

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Bad Telemarketing – WOW – I Hung Up On Him!


Here is a lesson on cold-calling ripped straight from my Tuesday…

I wondered what my post would be  today – that is until I received a phone call at 1:30pm local time during a flurry of activity at my desk. 

It was a salesperson pitching a seminar where I would be guaranteed 1 of only 20 appointments that several C-level executives will have booked during their stay at a nice hotel in Arizona.    This guy was classic.  He must have been breathing through his ears, because he would not listen to me.  I said “I’m busy can you please call me at another time..” – simple, and more than an unwanted telephone caller deserves in terms of my politeness.  BUT he would not stop pitching me his service. 

As my grandmother said, you have one mouth and two ears, use them proportionately! 

These days you are fortunate to catch a prospect on the phone in person.  If they seem very busy and agree to schedule some time with you on another day –  book the meeting.  Send a calendar invite to them.  Say thank you.  And hang up.  You’ve made an advance.

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Selling Services Challenge – How to Multiply Your Pipeline by 10


I’m writing this blog entry in response to a challenge from one of  my favorite sources for great marketing advice for services firms, RainToday.  The folks at RainToday write a great blog, and one to which you should subscribe: http://www.raintodayblog.com.  This month they are laying down the “Selling Service Challenge.”  They are asking readers to “share your real-world B2B sales challenges or successes…”  For my topic, I’m picking a challenge and an opportunity that is guaranteed to multiply your pipeline – Getting everyone at your firm selling.

You set sales goals for your sales reps.  You work these goals with the sales team aggressively.  But, when is the last time you checked in with your non-sales staff on the topic of business development?  There are typically orders of magnitude more non-sales than sales staff in a services organization.  In my firm, for example, the ratio is 20:1.  Even a  small uptick in the effectiveness of this larger group to identify and qualify opportunities on which the sales team can then follow-up can have a substantial top-line impact. 

I recently had the pleasure of addressing a group of associates at my firm’s new employee orientation.  In this  “Sales for the Non-Sales Professional” session  we reviewed “principles of networking,” “signals to listen for while at clients,” an “elevator pitch” on my firm’s offerings, and finally a “questioning framework” they could use to guide them through some initial client conversations in the hopes of seeking out some early stage opportunities.  We were not talking about forcing non-sales folks to sell.  But we were discussing ways to stoke the sales funnel.  10 consultants walked into orientation that morning, 10 Lead-Seekers left.

At your next all hands meeting, why not have some sales training for non-sales professionals?  Multiply your “feet on the street.”  Do the math – it’s worth it!

http://www.raintodayblog.com/take-the-selling-services-challenge/trackback

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Sales from Non-Sales Staff – Guaranteed To Increase Pipeline


You set sales goals for your sales reps.  You work these goals with the sales team aggressively.  But, when is the last time you checked in with your non-sales staff on the topic of business development?  There are typically orders of magnitude more non-sales than sales staff in an organization.  In my company, for example, the ratio is greater than 10-1.  Even a  small uptick in the effectiveness of this larger group to identify and qualify opportunities on which the sales team can then follow-up can have a substantial top line impact.  At your next all hands meeting, why not have some sales training for non-sales professionals?  Multiply your “feet on the street.”  Do the math, it’s worth it!

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Time to Freshen the Funnel


When is the last time that you took an honest look at your full sales funnel?  Did you get to it during the holidays?  If you are like me and many of my peers you took a swing at it but still missed a thorough review.  You may have some stale pursuits, suspended deals , or worst of all – some fresh opportunities that are not yet represented in your funnel.  Before we burn through January, it’s time to do a little cleanup.  While you’re at it, it may be an interesting exercise  to turn your funnel inside out and look at it from an important perspective – The Customer’s.  I’m midway through Mark Sellers’ (yes that’s his real name) book “The Funnel Principal,”  and I like what I’m learning.  This book espouses the creation of a “BuyCycle Funnel.”  Just when you thought all that could be said about selling has been said, Mark has come up with an original way to prioritize your deals.  Think traditional funnel stages – but each from the customer’s perspective.  Each stage is defined by customer committment.  What do you know about your customers’ buying process?  Perhaps not enough.

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Customer Site Visits: Always Take the Nickel Tour


I was at a client site today and was offered a the $.05 tour of the facility.  Besides being extremely cool (the client is a forge who makes parts for mining equipment and other heavy industries so it looks like 10-ton Legos being pounded out of pure metal!) I learned an invaluable amount of information from my tour-guide ranging from:  their business, competition, pricing, staffing, assets, market positioning, strengths and weaknesses, future plans, go-to-market strategy, corporate pains, and a 30-year history of the company.  You can’t buy information like that.  ALWAYS take the nickel tour!

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Social Media Policy – Is it Possible? Ask Coca-Cola


Many companies with whom I have worked struggle to get into the game on social media.  Due to engrained habits, they can not see a clear way to add this new dimension to their marketing mix.  Today, it is really not an option.  Conversations about your company are happening out there – period.  The only decision you really have is, “Do I want to participate?”  I would suggest that your answer should be YES!   But that begs the question – what do you do on Monday morning?  How do you really operationalize these media that can be (and should be) much more colloquial than our traditional corporate communications?  Establishing a policy in this area seems a non-starter for many firms.  However, it is happening.  See Coca-Cola’s new social media policy:  http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/coca-cola-launches-new-social-media-policy/ .  If a global company with 92,000 employees can do this (in 3 pages no less!)  don’t you think your company can swing it?

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Hello world – Sales and Marketing Mashup is Here!


I have wanted to do this for some time now – so here goes!  My name is Tim Kocher.  I have been in sales and marketing for my entire 19-year career, most of it for professional services companies.  I hope this blog will become a place where people who are connected to sales and marketing can come to see valuable information on the tricks of the trade (and the trade itself) in one stop.  We’ll touch on all aspects of business development so be sure to come visit often!  Feel free to Look me up on LinkedIn as well: http://www.linkedin.com/in/timkocher

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