A word or two on sales coverage models



Isolated Earth -  Elements of this Image Furnished by NASA

In a recent conversation with a CEO of a large service organization I was asked which sales model I believed was most effective in generating improved sales results.  A popular question these days.  Everyone who is responsible for generating revenue has asked this question at least once.  The answer however, lies with your buyer.

In a vacuum there is no one single, silver bullet to drive sales results.  The most popular sales coverage models include:

  1. Generalists – sell everything
  2. Specialists – sell usually one, perhaps two products
  3. Verticals – sell to specific industries; professional services, restaurants, manufacturing, etc
  4. Revenue – sell by revenue size of client; SMB, mid-market, enterprise
  5. Employee size – sell by number of employees; payroll companies often use this coverage model
  6. Account-based – assigned specific accounts/companies to sell or cross-sell

In addition to this mix of options, a head of sales must consider whether a field sales organization or inside sales team is most effective.  Again, the decision here should be informed by the company’s buyer’s journey.  Many products and services once believed could only be sold via an in-person interaction are now sold over the phone.  Taking this a step further, we also know – thanks to Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Intuit, and others – that self-fulfillment is not just possible, but preferred by many consumers.  The ability to do-it-yourself is highly appealing.

Gaining an understanding of how your buyer makes decisions is the first step to determining which model is best for your business.  Listen to your buyers and then align a sales process that helps lead the buyer through his or her journey.  That’s the answer to which model works best.

3 Ways To Be Remarkable And Win In Sales


So you want to make the sale.  You want the plaque, the commission check, the trip, the recognition…you want it all.  Great sales people know that winning a sale doesn’t happen by shear force of will.  Sure you need to be persistent, tenacious, focused and disciplined.  No doubt.  But there are 3 things that will make your sales presentations stand out and create a remarkable experience for your buyer.  These things that make you remarkable are the exact things that put you in a position to win. While you may think these are basic, I can assure you that I continue to be amazed at just how often these 3 things get overlooked, drowning out any chance of the sales person appearing remarkable.

  1. Be early.  Urban sprawl has created a great excuse for showing up late to a sales appointment.  I’ve worked in every major city in the United States over the past 20 years.  Whether its Atlanta, Philly, NYC, Boston, LA, Seattle, Phoenix or Dallas, traffic is the perfect excuse for being late.  But it shouldn’t be.  Plan your day to anticipate traffic. If you’re on time, you’re late.  I’ve been on ride-alongs with sales people where we’ve been late to an appointment because of traffic and it throws off the entire cadence of the call right out of the gate.  Get there early and it will give you time to focus on the buyer rather than focusing on finding a parking space because you’re already 20 minutes late.
  2. Be prepared.  This is a big one.  This speaks to everything from knowing some details about who you are meeting with all the way to having any materials you will be handing out ready, organized and crisp.  Do you know if you’re connected to the buyer?  Did you check them out on LinkedIn?  If what you’re selling requires an online demo?  Have you tested it? Will it work over cellular or will you need a WiFi connection?  If the latter does the buyer know you’ll need this when you arrive or is the plan to surprise them when you ask for the office password to log in?  Do you have an agenda for what you plan to cover?  Have you shared it with the buyer in advance? The better prepared you are, the smoother the conversation will go. And, in the event you are late due to some cataclysmic event, you’ll be better able to flex and adjust seamlessly with the buyer.
  3. Use the buyers name. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on sales calls where the sales person never uses the buyers name after shaking their hand.  It could be a 30 minute call or 3 hour call.  How can something so basic continue to be such a common miss amongst sales people?  Isn’t that one of the first things we’re all taught?  Smile, have a firm handshake and use the buyers name.  Here’s a quick test. Next time you’re with your family or friends pay attention to the conversation.  Listen for how often names are used.  It’s actually quite often.  Using someones name throughout a conversation builds a bond. It’s a sign of respect as much as it is a sign of caring.

Focus on doing these 3 things on every sales appointment and observe the change in your buyers behavior.

Curiosity: The Key to Great Sales Talent



Is it really possible to hire great sales talent?  What makes one sales person succeed and another fail?  How does one sales person out-produce another, or an entire team?  Is there a secret trait, or characteristic, you should know about?  Average turnover in Sales ranges from 35 – 60% annually.  I’m aware of some companies where turnover is even higher, hovering in excess of 70%.  Imagine a sales force where 7 in 10 will be gone within the first 12 months.  Not a pretty picture.

If you’re building a sales team there are two traits that I have found to serve as a good barometer of future sales success; curiosity and the desire to learn.

Sales people must be curious. They should enjoy tinkering with things.  Changing things up.  Trying new things.  Asking tons of questions.  They should show a spark when presented with a problem, not shy away and become quiet.  Being curious allows a successful sales person to better understand their customers needs, the marketplace, trends, and possibilities.

The second trait that is a reliable predictor of sales success is the desire to learn.  Notice I didn’t say ability to learn.  We all have abilities…some natural, some taught.  However, what we really need is desire.  Desire speaks to what an individual will do regardless of what’s required.  If the desire is strong enough she will move mountains to accomplish what’s in her sites.

So how can you probe for curiosity and desire?  Here are some questions to ask during the interview process that will provide you insight on whether your candidate has these traits:

  1.  What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail at it?
  2. What was the last book you read? What did you learn?
  3. What LinkedIn groups do you belong to, and tell me about a discussion within that group that you found to be interesting and why?
  4. What types of books do you like to read and why?
  5. Who is your favorite author? Why?
  6. If you could start your own business what would it be and why?
  7. Who would you pick as your favorite leader and why?
  8. What is your preferred method of learning?
  9. What 3 adjectives would a client, or former colleague use to describe you?
  10. Tell me your 3 favorite questions to ask prospects
  11. What would you do if you won the lottery?

Selling requires strong critical thinking skills.  Critical thinking skills are developed  by expanding your insights and perspectives which happen primarily through learning.  The more curious someone is, the greater their propensity will be to be a continuous learner.

Let me know what you think.  Happy recruiting!

3 Ways to a Strong Sales Finish


With 75 days left in the calendar year many salespeople find themselves in a crunch.  Either a crunch to hit that next multiplier level for bonus money, or a crunch to simply get as close to plan as possible.  Regardless of where you fall in that spectrum here are 3 things every sales pro should be doing right now:

  1. 70/30 split.  At least 70% of your time should be spent with your current customers.  You should be focused on understanding their business, providing value by educating them on possible solutions for their needs, and listening for trends, concerns, ideas, etc.
  2. Ask for the business.  The closest thing to a silver bullet in Sales is asking for the business.  Sure, you need to have earned the right to ask, but let’s assume you have.  Too often sales people assume that if the customer had more business they would have already given it to them.  WRONG!  WRONG!  WRONG!  It’s not their job to give you anything.  It’s your job to earn it, ask for it, and then deliver it in a way that makes you both memorable and remarkable.
  3. Be disciplined.  There’s no such thing as a 9 – 5 sales job.  If those are the hours you’re working you’re simply not doing enough.  Oh…you’re already at quota working 9 – 5?  Then I’d ask how much more you could have sold if you kicked it up a few notches?  It’s time to push.  Even if you’re at quota now a new sales year is right around the corner.  Plan your days.  Have your call list ready the night before.  Don’t waste precious selling time getting ready.  When you’re standing at the starting line it’s too late to train for the race.

Be sure you’re confronting reality.  If you’ve missed plan this year take an inventory of where things went wrong.  Be honest.  At the end of the day if you’re over plan it’s because of you and if you’re under plan the reason is the same…you.  You may be more expensive, of lesser quality, or longer to fulfill.  Regardless, you own finding a new path.  Once you accept accountability the path becomes much clearer.

Be calm.  Sell on.

Top 10 Things All Sales People Must STOP Doing!


I love Sales.  I love positioning a valuable solution in a way that meets a prospects needs and improves their way of life.  Whether the solution saves time, money, mistakes, legal action, or helps to improve employee morale, or puts more time back in the owners schedule to spend with their families or friends, I love the art of the sale.  Over the years I have gone on hundreds if not thousands of sales calls with sales representatives, managers, and even other sales executives and have observed some pretty wild situations.  I’ve seen sales representatives doing double duty as they attempted to sell a product from their personal business while on a sales call for the company they were employed by to a phone call I received alerting me of a situation where a sales representative ran into some trouble with The Law!

I have to believe that these crazy situations I’ve seen over the last 20 years are not exclusive to the Sales profession however it does make me think.  Perhaps it’s no wonder that people in general see most sales folks as sketchy or even a little shady.  Why is that?  Well, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things – I say this tongue in cheek – that I have seen sales people do over the years in selling situations.  This type of behavior only perpetuates some of the attitudes and perceptions folks have of sales people.  If only ALL Sales people STOP doing these things immediately.  Check them out:

My Top 10 List of Things Sales People Should STOP Doing During a Sales Call: 

10. Flipping your hair during a sales call – this isn’t a photo shoot…or is it?

9. Putting sun glasses on your head during a sales call – you’re not a movie star – if you’re not going to wear them put them away!

8. Saying “trust me” – if you earned it you wouldn’t have to say it!

7. Wearing crooked or snagged neckwear (ties). Rough night? I’m a mess! 

6. Wearing clothing that doesn’t fit properly – this isn’t a site seeing expedition – too loose, too tight, too open, goodness gracious have some pride!

5.Immediately pulling out your favorite brochure – Hurray it’s show-and-tell time!  Everyone sit on the floor and pay attention, I’m about to WOW you!

4. Degrading your competition. You know, I don’t like to say anything bad but they suck, not to mention all their employees have priors!

3. Not turning your phone off when in a meeting. Hang on, this is probably the Pres! You have no idea of how important I am.

2. Not knowing how much business the customer you’re visiting has given you already. So what products do you have with us?  Um, I forgot…

1. Showing up late or just in the nick of time.  The traffic was horrible, the sun was too bright, the clouds impaired my vision, I lost power last night, my electric toothbrush wasn’t charged, I just didn’t feel like going out.