6 Sales Steps to Move Forward During a Business Crisis

cytonn-photography-n95VMLxqM2I-unsplashThe sales team is the frontline to revenue generation. When a crisis comes, and COVID-19 has certainly been a global business tsunami, the big question is: “How will the salesforce respond as customers cancel orders or stop purchasing.” Most will initially respond by hanging their heads low, throwing their hands up in the air, or mumbling there’s little they can do—a form of paralysis. Their leaders drive on self-preservation decisions and focus their energy on cost cutting in the form of furloughs or layoffs. These organizational responses divert the focus away from the customer, and customers are the only way a business will survive and thrive through the crisis.

Sales Team Mindset

What can companies do to lead through the crisis? Stop blaming, criticizing, and making excuses about COVID-19 and what it’s doing to its business. Why? Because it shows a lack of having a 100% responsibility mindset. Those with a 100% responsibility mindset don’t blame, criticize and make excuses. They focus positive energy on what they can do to move forward.

What can you do? Create a vision of what your company will look like on the other side of the crisis. Feed the vision with positive energy and affirmation. Every crisis creates opportunity for something new, so focus on being part of the “bigger and better.”

Sales Team Next Steps

Below are 6 steps a sales team can deploy to make the new vision a reality:

  1. Make a list of attributes (knowledge, solutions, and skills) that your business and sales team can bring to your customers. Sometimes you need to be your own champion and remind yourself of how good you are and the value you offer.
  2. Get in front of your customers (in person, video, phone calls, and follow-up texts). Let them know you are thinking about them on a human level during these times of crisis. Show some empathetic listening. Let them know they’re not forgotten just because they’re not ordering.
  3. Ask questions! Open-ended questions! Ask them what they are wrestling with. What’s unknown? What new problems are they focused on solving? What information do they need to know and now?
  4. Share how you can help them solve their problems. Get out your list (in your mind) from step 1 and start sharing, discussing, and asking more questions to see where the conversation goes.
  5. Put another appointment on your calendar to reach out again and repeat steps 1-4. And don’t let too much time go by.
  6. Bonus Step: Don’t hesitate to reach out to new customers. Some of those attributes from your list may be desperately needed with customers who don’t know you or who haven’t seen you in awhile.

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About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and business consultant with an extensive background in leadership and sales. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can engage Sandra as your coach by reaching out to coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com

The One Big Question Every Sales Person Needs to Answer

linkedin-sales-navigator-YDVdprpgHv4-unsplashDespite what you might have read, sales success isn’t a skill only a lucky few are born with, a science, or an art form. Anyone has the potential to sell, and to sell well. The truth be told, selling is less about skill, processes, and following a set of rules and more the natural outcome of the condition of your heart and ability to connect with people. If you want to improve the outcome of your selling efforts, you should first take inventory of who you are and your motivations. Selling starts with you, and all that follows flows from who you are.

Who are you?

A few questions to get you started:

  • What are you core values, strengths, and weaknesses?
  • What attitudes, motivations, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, and worldview do you hold?
  • What are your skills and competencies?
  • How do you show up to others?

You must get in touch with your authentic self. Why? Because you will either choose to drive on who you are or do some hard work to change. You can’t fool people. Humans have natural Geiger counters when it comes to assessing and judging people. They may or may not be able to explain why they feel the way they do about certain people, but they instinctively know whether they like or dislike a sales person or even perhaps even worse have no preference.

What’s the big question that every sales person should ask themselves? “How do I make people feel?” Sales is fundamentally one person saying yes to another.

  • Do they trust you?
  • Do they believe you are competent?
  • Do they believe you have their best interest at heart?
  • Do they believe you are searching for the win-win and not the salesperson take all?
  • Do they believe you are authentic in your interactions with them?

The answers to these questions can’t be faked, because they all stem from a salesperson’s heart. Successful selling starts with showing up authentically, so you can genuinely connect with the customer. If you need help exploring, working on, or connecting your authentic self with selling, reach out for a conversation.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business consulting. She administers DISC® and Myers-Briggs/MBTI® testing, designs and facilitates workshops, and coaches both individuals and teams. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com or visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

See Your Revenue Increase When You Switch from Sales Training to Coaching

Sales Growth

Will 2020 be the year when companies have 20/20 vision on how to best invest in their sales team to deliver targeted performance? US-based companies spend nearly $20 billion per year on sales training. Why do they settle for traditional sales programs where 85% of the content is lost within 90 days (SRG, 2018), when strategic and tactical coaching can potentially increase revenue by 20%.

Many sales leaders don’t have the coaching skills or time to invest in their sales staff. For this reason an external sales coach can be part of the sales training solution—working with the sales leader and meeting one-on-one with account reps or in small sales groups on day 30, 60, and 90 after initial training. In most cases, sales coaching brings substantial and sustainable benefits regardless of whether formal training is part of the process.

A coach can help the sales professional with approaches to new clients and how to sell deeper with an existing accounts. A coach can also help the sales team to:

  • identify and overcome specific account obstacles
  • prioritize accounts based on risk/reward
  • create specific customer strategies
  • review and understand contributors to success
  • develop plans for improvement
  • build general sales skills in account planning, preparation, and execution
  • improve negotiating approaches
  • increase sales team cohesiveness and teamwork

More companies are realizing the value of individual coaching for their sales team. Group training can still be part of the process, but to sustain the impact of training investment it should be paired with one-on-one coaching. Coaching is the sign of the future. Are you ready to get on board and make more effective use of your learning and development dollars?

Reference

Sales Readiness Group. (2018). Maximizing the Effectiveness of Sales Training: Five Factors for Developing Sustainable Selling Skills.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She works with individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops to empower people. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

Are You Measuring the Right Sales Metrics?


ROIAlmost everyone has heard of, if not experienced, the 80/20 Rule, such as 20% of the employees contribute 80% of the output or 20% of the customer portfolio contributes 80% of the revenue. In the case of sales, many companies do derive the majority of their sales revenue from a handful of customers and tend to focus their efforts on satisfying the needs of those customers. In business, however, it’s not as important how much you bring in (revenue) as it is in how much you keep (profit).

Some companies have no idea who their most profitable customers are, because they don’t have the financial software, the correct cost basis, or the means of tracking all the costs to service a given customer. The largest customers are likely to be the most demanding and for good reason. They believe their status gives them the right to the best service and lowest cost a company can offer. How do these demands impact the bottom-line?

Instead of or in addition to calculating the sales revenue or even gross margin, what is the return on investment (ROI) for each client? The customer mix that applied to an initial 80/20 Rule for revenue may fall short for ROI. Better to measure and manage your strategic relationships so you know they are valuable assets.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership and business coaching. She coaches individuals and businesses as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra or engage her as your coach by reaching out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com

What Movie Best Describes Your Sales Team’s Performance?

Sales GraphBringing some humor to the topic, what movie best describes your sales team’s performance this past year? Does He’s Just Not That Into You characterize your primary customer relationships–those who buy from you until a better offer comes along? What about the movie Titanic? You’ve invested heavily in sales salaries, training, and tools. The sales ship has sailed, and revenue seems to have hit an iceberg and is sinking against expectations. Or is your team acting out one of the Rocky movies? With seven title releases, you may be asking, “Which one?” Is your sales team the underdog who diligently works the plan to become your customers’ major supplier, or the team who was once a sales champion and now finds itself working to reclaim that title?

Every sales team is filming its own movie. Whether the sales team will make an awarding winning film will be heavily influenced by several factors:

  • acting skill [sales people skills, experience, and competencies]
  • quality of the script [sales strategy and execution plan]
  • script appeal [quality of products and service]
  • passion of the actors [emotional engagement of the sales team]
  • director’s skill [sales leadership ability]

If all five elements of the movie are strong, you’re likely to produce a film that will draw a large audience [customers]. With the kick-off of a new year, I would encourage businesses/sales organizations to rate themselves on the above five factors using a scale of 1-10? Which area is weakest and how could you move that rating higher? What movie would you hope to have your sales organization reflect?


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Sales Leadership: Are You Measuring the Right Things?

Customer ExperienceMany companies define sales success based on meeting targets of revenue, gross margin, and market share to name a few. Many times, these metrics are referred to as the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which define how well a company is implementing strategy. What some companies fail to realize is revenue, gross margin, and market share are not in themselves KPIs but instead the result of executing on well-defined and meaningful KPIs. As the acronym implies, “indicators” are the things if executed well that will result in performance.

In some sales organizations that are trying to develop more predictive KPIs, I’ve come across these more common ones:

  1. Number of sales calls within a defined period
  2. Number of new prospect sales calls
  3. Number of sales connections made with a customer’s organization
  4. Number of technical demos or hosted seminars/workshops
  5. Number of tradeshows attended

What these KPIs measure is solely activity and not the engagement level or experience of the customer. Even a highly technical sale has relational and trust components embedded in the sales decision. Successful sales organizations of the future will appreciate how they must more heavily weight their behaviors towards creating a “best practices” customer experience.

Over the past decade you can see the evolution in advertising toward a more engaging customer experience. No longer are companies advertising about a product’s features and strengths, they are showcasing the experience you can have while using it. Coke commercials don’t focus on the beverage’s taste or use words. Instead, Coca-Cola advertisements are visually designed to engage you emotionally by showing you the experience you too can have while drinking a Coke. The real-time customer experience in product marketing also plays out at the higher-end outdoor clothing retailers. These stores are installing freezers, so customers can experience just how warm that winter coat can keep them before deciding to purchase.

What experiences do your customers have when dealing with your sales organization? How are you measuring the customer experience? More meaningful sales KPIs that focus on understanding and building the customer experience may include:

  1. Time to respond to customers after they make contact (responsiveness)
  2. Number of the “right” follow-ups to secure a new customer (persistence)
  3. Number of joint calls so the customer has multiple points of contact within your company (collaboration)
  4. Number of business reviews to discuss performance (customer feedback)
  5. Number of exploratory or “design the alliance” meetings with customers (partnership)
  6. Strategic use of media platforms (LinkedIn and Facebook) to integrate and involve customers with the company and its sales team (engagement)

No one KPI is the silver bullet but tracking and rewarding the right collection of KPIs that are predictive of sales success will help ensure the team meets its goals. If you’d like help in designing measurable KPIs or developing specific actions that drive the customer experience, let’s have a conversation on how we can work together.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales. She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Leadership: Ten Strategies to Build a Winning Sales Career

Sales ABC

On occasion we get asked, “What one piece of advice would you give a person who has just accepted his or her first sales position?”  That is truly an unfair question.   How do you boil down the essence of sales leadership into one slice of a whole pie?  However, that question is worth an answer.  Our best response would be, “Engage a coach.” Why? Because partnering with a sales coach can build a firm foundation to use as a springboard towards success.

We would expect a coach to help you leverage the following:

  1. Define measurable goals: Select several meaningful one, three, and five-year goals that focus on financial targets and personal growth. Without measurable goals you won’t know the direction you’re headed or whether you’ve arrived at your destination.  People without defined goals typically meander and become disappointed in their lack of results.
  2. Focus on a vertical market: Good sales people are not all things to all customers. What area are you most passionate?  Join an association in that market and become the “go to” expert.  Consider certification or accreditation to bolster your expertise.  Make sure to understand the emerging trends and have a plan to take advantage of the opportunities and to navigate through the threats.
  3. Understand your customers: Ask powerful questions of your customers so you clearly understand their needs and what keeps them up at night. Be the solution seeker and problem-solver by offering answers that address their needs.  Customers partner with sales people who create and offer value.
  4. Know your competition: Learn the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Strategize how you can navigate the competitive landscape to take advantage of their weaknesses by driving on your strengths.
  5. Build trust among your customers and industry colleagues: People do not do business with others whom they don’t trust unless there are no other options. Make decisions and exhibit behaviors that garnish trust.
  6. Leverage social media: Set up a LinkedIn profile that reflects who you are and what you offer. Share and publish articles that are relevant to your customers. Make sure your public Facebook represents what you want customers to know about you.  Be sure to clean up your social media of any “unwanted” posts.
  7. Establish a personal brand: When your name is mentioned in industry circles, what one phrase would you want to come to mind: “gets it done,” “always looks for the win-win,” or “sales leadership expert.”  Develop a personal brand based on your best assets.
  8. Grow your leadership: Learn from the best, get a mentor, and practice leadership.  One of the most powerful annual leadership conferences we attend is Global Leadership Summit (https://www.willowcreek.com/events/leadership).  Strong leadership will not only build your sales it will build your life.
  9. Become a servant leader: Give of your time, talents, and treasures without expecting anything in return. When you do, don’t be surprised how people will respond to you.  People will want to spend time with you, recommend you, and help you be successful.

And last, but not least, you can always benefit by going back to school to…

  1. Relearn your ABC’s (Always Be Connecting): Selling is about connecting and one person saying “yes” to another. People rarely say “yes” to people whom they don’t like or trust. Spend time with your customers in casual settings getting to know them on both a professional and personal level.  Your calendar should be populated with customer lunch dates.

Every seasoned salesperson has one or two special secrets of the trade that may have contributed to their success; however, these fundamental strategies will build a solid sales career over a lifetime. Although every salesperson can try to implement these practices on their own, most would benefit from having a sales coach who can keep them accountable.


About the Authors:

HE21118Davis_07-medSandra Dillon is a professional coach and leadership consultant with an extensive background in sales and new business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops on current business needs.  She has a passion to help organizations fully engage all its employees.  Reach out to her at sandra.s.dillon@hotmail.com or 281.793.3741 to further the conversation and determine how she can help you grow your business.

Darin headshotDarin Dillon is a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), 30+ year business development veteran, and active leader in the electronic security and integrated systems industry.  As a business leader, he has a passion for developing long-term customer partnerships and providing solutions to Fortune 1000 companies across many vertical markets. He can be reached at ddillon14@hotmail.com or 713.204.7035.