Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sales pipelines - Plugging your leaks

I was doing some work last week with a team who are not very good at following up on opportunities that are in their sales pipeline. This is costing them thousands of $'s every month in missed commissions

Sales Managers love looking at pipelines. They think this helps them to predict what may be coming up in future business.

Of equal importance to what is going in to your pipeline is how are you plugging your pipe for leaks?

Stop the pipe from leaking

If you want to plug your leaks you need discipline and strong follow up systems. In Business to Business selling today's sale is based on your activity levels over the past 3-6 months.

The best sales people I work with have high activity levels, but more importantly they are great at plugging leaks. They know:

  • Who to follow up with
  • How to ensure they dont forget to follow up at the right time
  • How to position their follow up meeting, call, SMS, twitter or email
  • When to follow up
If you want to more successful in sales I suggest double your follow up efforts. It doesn't matter what system you use, as long as it works.

Double your follow up and I predict you'll half the number of leaks in your pipe.

Each day I suggest you should aim for 10 people you can be following up with. These should be in your CRM, diary , notebook, blackberry or whatever you use to track your movements.

Jeffrey Gitomer knows a bit about all of this. Check him out here:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Presentation Skills - Answering questions

Watch how skilled presenters answer questions

"I can't really comment on that , but what I can say is this.... "

Have you ever noticed how experienced presenters can effortlessly glide from the question to the answer?

It's like watching a bird land on a skinny branch. Something appearing complicated and threatening made to look effortless.

What experienced presenters do is utilise a variety of techniques to make the complex seem simple. You can try them.

These include:

Be clear on what you want to say prior to be asked questions. Use transitions to get you out of any tight spot. "I'd love to comment on that, but in fact what I really want to stress is this..."


"I can't totally agree with that comment but what I can say is this....."

Allow time to let the question land (say 2 seconds) . Accept the question non verbally (head nodding, smiling) and then verbally.

"Thanks for that question Julie, it's something that often comes up when I present on this topic"

Repeat or rephrase the question if need be to allow you time to gather your thoughts.

Answer the question, use someone else in the room to answer it or defer the answer depending on the circumstances.

Above all else , stay calm and relaxed. You only have to look at a presenter to tell if they know their stuff.

Keep your answers relatively brief and prepare for the types of questions you could receive and some potential answers prior to any presentation you give.

Oh, one final thought. If you don't know the answer, mention that you need to look into that and will come back to them. It isn't a crime not to know everything about a topic.

Check out this article for some more tips on presenting and how to persuade an audience.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Does sales training work?

How do you know if sales training will work?

Why do companies invest so much money in something that can be so difficult to measure?

What proof really exists that it will work?

The above 3 questions are not easy to answer. I often say to my clients if you were a racehorse trainer and had 10 horses to train how would you decide to invest your time and money? Would you allocate 10% of your time to each horse or would it be better to allocate the majority of your time to the top 2 or 3? Maybe get rid of the non performers or send them off to the fair ground to give pony rides to little children.

What to consider when developing sales people

  • Positive Attitude
  • History of embracing new ideas
  • Willingness to learn
  • Can handle rejection
  • Strong desire to succeed for a variety of reasons (cash flow / debt / status / ego )
  • Proof that they are adopting the changes you are working on
  • Results - How long do you give them before you let them go?

For more on high performing sales people and the importance of handling rejection click here

What do you think about sales training? Do you think it can make a difference?