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Emotional Intelligence – the Secret sauce of Sales

Emotional Intelligence – essential both to Lead and to Sell! 

 

Those with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time; this strange statistic was not fully explained until the concept of emotional intelligence became widely known in the mid-90s. This discrepancy severely impacts the widely held belief that intelligence alone is sufficient for attaining one’s goals. Years of studies have established that emotional intelligence is the primary differentiator between top and average performance.

 

For example, a study conducted on sales professionals found that those with higher emotional intelligence were able to build stronger relationships with clients, resulting in increased sales and commissions. These individuals were able to effectively understand and address the needs and concerns of their clients, leading to higher customer satisfaction and repeat business. Conversely, sales professionals with lower emotional intelligence struggled to connect with clients on an emotional level, resulting in missed opportunities and lower earnings. With the right training and development programs, individuals can improve their emotional intelligence skills,

 

Brief History

 

Emotional intelligence is not a novel concept. Edward Thorndike explored three categories of intelligence about 100 years ago, including social intelligence, which is concerned with a person’s capacity to connect with others. Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the phrase “emotional intelligence” the early 90´s  to describe an individual’s capacity to understand and control their emotions, as well as their social abilities.

However, it wasn’t until Daniel Goleman wrote his book Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More Than IQ in 1995 that the phrase became popular. In the decades afterwards, the concept has evolved from a passing novelty to an everyday word that is now a key factor in many firms’ recruiting operations.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence in a Nutshell

 

Each of us has this “something” called emotional intelligence, often called EQ. It influences our ability to control our actions, deal with the complexities of social situations, and make good choices for ourselves. This is described by various authors over the years, in countless articles and publications. Best selling author Travis Bradberry explains this well in his book “Emotional Intelligence 2.0”, (see Forbes Article “Emotional Intelligence: EQ” from 2014 for an introduction” )

 

The two basic competencies that make up emotional intelligence are “personal competence” and “social competence,” each of which consists of two sub-competencies.

 

 

Personal competence is made up of self-awareness and self-management skills. These focus on you individually, rather than on the interactions you may have with other people. Essentially, this is about your ability to become aware of your emotions and to use this awareness to manage your behavior and tendencies. 

  • Self-Awareness is your ability to sense and understand your own emotions and be aware of them when they happen.
  • Self-Management is your ability to use this self-awareness to react to and positively direct your behavior.

 

Social competence, on the other hand, is made up of your social awareness and relationship management skills. Social competence is all about your ability to understand other people’s moods, behaviors, and motives and to use this in order to improve your relationships. Its two components are:

  • Social Awareness is about how well you “tune in” to other people’s emotions and understand the social web that helps you understand what is really going on.
  • Relationship Management is your ability to use this social awareness in a good way to manage interactions successfully.

 

 

Explaining the concepts – What’s the main difference between IQ and EQ and … isn’t that just “Personality”?

 

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is an important aspect to consider in sales management. While IQ measures cognitive abilities and personality traits define our individual styles, EQ focuses on our ability to understand and manage our own emotions, as well as empathize with and connect with others. Developing emotional intelligence can greatly enhance a sales manager’s effectiveness in building relationships, resolving conflicts, and motivating their team. However, IQ and emotional intelligence have no connection or interdependence. It’s impossible to predict emotional intelligence based on how smart this person is. 

 

IQ, or just intelligence, is a purely cognitive trait—your ability to learn and understand your physical context and surroundings and it’s the same at age 15 as it is at age 50. 

 

Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, is a skill that you can learn and improve with practice. Some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, it certainly seems you can develop high emotional intelligence with practice and over time, even if you were not born with it.

 

Personality is another term that is related to these. It’s the “style” that defines us and is the combination of hard-coded tendencies we have, for example, how introverted or extrovert you are. Similar to IQ, personality traits can’t predict emotional intelligence. The personality doesn’t change over time. 

 

IQ, emotional intelligence, and personality each cover different dimensions of us and help explain what makes us move forward and be motivated.

Is Emotional Intelligence Linked to Performance?

 

How influential is emotional intelligence for your own professional success? Travis Bradberry´s firm, TalentSmart, tested emotional intelligence as compared to other workplace skills and discovered that emotional intelligence is by far the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs. 

 

Specifically, in Sales, emotional intelligence is even more strongly linked to performance. Individuals with higher levels of emotional intelligence are often more successful in their sales performance, as they are able to effectively manage relationships, navigate difficult situations, and adapt to changing environments. By understanding and effectively utilizing their emotions, individuals with high emotional intelligence can connect with clients on a deeper level and build strong rapport, ultimately leading to increased sales success.

 

Your emotional intelligence is the base for a whole system of important skills you possess and impacts pretty much everything you say and do. This makes Emotional intelligence the single biggest factor for performance in your job and the strongest motivator for leaders to develop personal excellence.

 

In their study, TalentSmart found that 90% of top performers have high EQ, while looking at the bottom performers, only about 20% of them do. You can be a top performer even if you are not so strong on emotional intelligence, but you have much less chance of succeeding.

 

Consequently, people with high EQ make more money—and according to the study, an average of $29,000 more per year than people with low emotional intelligence (2014). The correlation between emotional intelligence and earnings is in fact so strong that we can see that for every point that EQ increases, this adds another $1,300 to an annual salary. These findings hold true for people in all industries, at all levels, and in every region of the world. 

 

Good news! – Emotional Intelligence Can Be Developed.

 

Emotional intelligence originates physically in the two-way dialogue between your emotional and logical “brains.” Emotional Intelligence starts in the lower brain, close to the spinal cord. This is where your basic sensations arrive, making their way to the front of your brain so you can process the information logically. But still, they must first pass through the limbic system, the seat of emotional skills. So, our initial response to situations is an emotional one rather than a logical one. Connecting your head’s logical and emotional processing systems is crucial for displaying emotional intelligence. 

 

Neuroscientists refer to the brain’s ability to change as “plasticity.” As you learn new skills, your brain forms new connections. The transformation is gradual, as your brain cells form new connections to help improve the effectiveness of newly acquired skills.This plasticity naturally applies to emotional intelligence. By actively practicing and developing emotional intelligence, we can strengthen the connections between our rational and emotional centers, allowing for more effective communication and better overall emotional well-being. 

 

 

 

The billions of tiny neurons that connect your brain’s intellectual and emotional centers can branch off into tiny “fingers” (similar to the branches of a tree) to connect with neighboring cells, and this process can be enhanced using techniques to improve emotional intelligence. There can be thousands of connections made for every single brain cell. This exponential growth makes it simpler to put this new behavior into practice in the future. 

 

With consistent practice, individuals can cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness and develop stronger relationships with others, ultimately enhancing their overall emotional intelligence. 

Nailing your OKRs – write productive Objectives

Introduction to Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

 

As Sales Directors we are always looking for ways to improve the team’s ways of working, increase revenue, and stay ahead of the competition. One way to achieve these goals is by implementing the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) methodology.

 

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a way of defining goals for your team. They’re used by some of the world’s most successful companies, including Google and Facebook. OKRs were first developed by Intel in the 1980s as a way to align their employees around specific goals, and then popularised by investor John Doerr in his book “Measure What Matters” . According to Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel: “We had tried many other approaches before arriving at OKRs–but none worked as well.”

 

In this article, we will explore how sales organizations in medium-sized companies can implement OKRs to improve their sales processes and increase revenue.

 

 

 

Definition and Components of OKR’s

 

Objectives and key results (OKRs) are a simple yet powerful way to set direction for your team. They help you focus on what matters most, align around priorities, and drive results.

 

OKRs have 3 principal components:

    • Objectives are high-level statements that define the purpose of your business or project. An objective could be “increase revenue by 10%” or “improve customer satisfaction ratings.” It’s important for objectives to be measurable so that you can track progress against them over time.
  •  
    • Key results are specific behaviors or outcomes needed from each person on your team in order to achieve an objective–for example, “Achieve 90% success rate on all projects” or “Grow social media followers by 20%.”
  •  
    • Tasks: The activities that you undertake to get you the Key Results, which in turn leds you to the Objectives. By evaluating our ability to perform the tasks, you can coach, train and prepare yourself better to reach the objectives. 
  •  
    • Weighting is an optional additional component of OKRs that helps prioritize which key results should receive more attention than others; this might be based on importance (e.g., revenue generation), difficulty level (e.g., increasing customer retention rates), urgency (e.g., launching new product features before competitors do), etc..

 

 

 

Benefits of Using OKRs for Goal Management

 

  • Improved communication: OKRs are a clear way to communicate goals and progress, which helps teams stay on the same page.

 

  • Better collaboration: When everyone knows what they are working toward, it’s easier for them to collaborate effectively.

 

  • More effective goal setting: OKRs help you set goals that align with your organization’s larger strategy so that you can achieve more impactful results–and have fun doing it!
 
 

 

Creating a Culture of Accountability with OKRs

 

The goal of any company is to create a culture of accountability. This can be done by focusing on OKRs, which are the key results that you want your team to achieve.

 

For example, if you’re working in sales and your objective is “to increase our revenue by 20% this year,” then one key result would be “increase sales leads by 10%.” Each employee has their own set of objectives and key results so they know exactly what they need to do each day in order for the company as a whole to meet its goals.

 

OKRs are not just an HR tool. They’re a way for the entire company, from the CEO down to the newest hires, to work together towards a common goal. When everyone is working towards an objective and knows exactly what they need to do each day in order for that objective to be met, then it’s easy for them to feel engaged in their jobs.

 

This is why OKRs are so effective. They give employees a clear idea of what’s expected of them, and they help everyone involved with the company to understand how their daily tasks fit into the larger picture.  Studies show that organisations, just by working with clear, agreed and challenging goals increase productivity by up to 15%. With a feedback and measure structure that continuously tells us how we are doing, that effect is nearly doubled!!

 

 

 

Basic Rules for Writing Effective Objectives and Key Results

Some key learning around objectives and OKRs 

 

      • Set SMART objectives. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

 

      • Use the cascading approach to set goals at all levels of your organization or team. This means that each level has its own set of OKRs that cascade down from higher level objectives (i.e., a departmental manager’s OKRs cascade down from his/her company’s annual goal).

 

      • Make sure your key results are realistic–you don’t want them to be too easy or too difficult; they should be challenging but achievable within the timeframe you’ve allotted yourself for achieving them.

 

      • Key Results must be Actionable – i.e. the person responsible must understand and know what to do with them! Consider being more activity oriented and detailed when the person is less skilled with the specific task at hand, and allow yourself to be more result oriented when the person already possess that skills and knows perfectly what to do.

 

 

Note: Change Management by definition requires people to do something new. This means that no matter the seniority of the person, he or she will be helped by more activity oriented KRs than higher level results. Can we help? Let us know!

 

 

 

Tools that help you write and achieve your OKRs

The first step to achieving your OKRs is setting them. You can use the following tools to help you do so:

 

  • Objectives and Key Results (OKR) template
  • Google Docs template
  • Microsoft Excel template
  • Purpose specific softwares, some examples
    • Quantive – connecting high level with individual contribution
    • Leapsome – Performance Management & Personalised Learning Platform
    • Culture Amp – Performance Management and Employee Engagement 
    • profit.co
    • etc etc 

 

 

Examples of Well-Written Team OKRs

Here you will find a few examples of Sales team OKRs, the web is full of examples and suggested OKrs that you can find inspiration in. Just remember to make the KRs really SMART, and actionable.

 

  1. Objective: Increase our sales department revenue by 15%.

Key Results:

        • Maximize pipeline value to $250,000 every quarter
        • Improve closing rate from 15% to 30%
        • Implement a Activity Based performance system for evaluating performance
        • Increase scheduled calls per sales rep from two per week—to seven

 

  1. Objective: Reduce the average time it takes to close a sale from 9 months down to 6 by March 31st.

Key Results:

        • Reduce time from initial contact to demo by 30%
        • Reduce time form demo to WIN by 30%
        • Improve our sales process by implementing a new sales training program

 

  1. Objective: Improve the efficiency of our sales team

Key Results:

        • Conduct monthly training sessions for each stage of the customer lifecycle
        • Increase conversion rate from 10% to 30%
        • Receive positive feedback from 90% of our customers about the efficiency of our sales team

 

You may want to find more inspiration in the “What Matters” page  

 

 

 

Common Pitfalls When Setting and Achieving OKRs

 

In addition to understanding the basics of setting and achieving OKRs, it’s important that you avoid common pitfalls. Here are some things to keep in mind:

 

        • Make sure your goals are realistic. If you set unrealistic goals, they may be unattainable and cause frustration or disappointment when they aren’t met.

 

        • Don’t manage expectations by setting low expectations for yourself or others in order to make them look better than they actually are. This can lead people down a path where they feel like their work isn’t good enough or worthy of recognition because it doesn’t meet this new standard that was set artificially low by management (and thus not aligned with reality).
        • Writing Key Results that the person don’t know how to act upon. Key Results should be specific, measurable and time-bound. If you don’t know how to act on a goal, then it’s not really a goal; instead it’s just a wish that might come true by chance. For example: “I want to lose weight” is not specific enough, but “I will run for at least 30 minutes three times per week” is specific because it specifies the activity and the frequency with which it needs to take place in order for you to reach your goal of losing weight.
        • Too long between reviews: OKRs are guidelines for action, not annual bonus objectives or laws set in stone. Hold frequent performance reviews, that you keep light and short – 30 – 45 minutes ever 2-3- weeks is better than a 2 hour quarterly session that becomes everything else than dynamic and creative. If an OKR is not achieving its desired results, don’t wait until the end of the quarter to course correct.

 

 

 

Comparison of OKRs to Other Frameworks and related Terms

 

Since the introduction of objectives and management by objectives in the 50’s many models and frameworks have been developed and used. We will have a look at some fundamental models that you will come in contact with. A brief comparison of OKRs with other goal management frameworks:

 

Balanced Scorecard is an effective tool for measuring organizational performance across four perspectives: financials; customer metrics; internal business processes; and learning & growth opportunities. While both tools use a similar approach to measuring performance across multiple dimensions of an organization’s strategy, they differ significantly in how they define success: Balanced Scorecard measures outcomes whereas OKRs measure progress towards achieving those outcomes over time 

 

MBOs: Management by objectives (MBO) is another well-known framework that functions similarly to the others. Aligning objectives, creating a plan of action, and measuring performance are key components in MBOs—as they are elsewhere. However, MBOs differ from the other frameworks in that they first define objectives and then measure performance against them. This differs from balanced scorecards and OKRs, which focus on measuring outcomes instead of progress towards those outcomes. 

 

SMART is not really a framework, as much as it is good advice on HOW to write objectives in any framework. When we write goals we shovel always make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. OKRs also have these characteristics. 

 

KPIs – stands for Key Performance Indicators and depicts quantifiable measures that track performance over time. You can select KPIs for multiple organizational domains, including project, individual, departmental, or business objectives.

 

BHAG goals stand for Big, Hairy, and Audacious goals. These refer to challenging, long-term strategic or business goals that your organization uses to guide it. Comparable to the vision of the company, and the mission it has put for itself. They are far ahead n the future, but still help direct employees toward effective action.

 

4DX –  4 disciplines of strategy execution– a framework developed by firm Franklin Covey. It proposes four core disciplines for helping individuals and teams reach their goals. These disciplines include:

            • Focus on the wildly important:Teams and individuals should narrow down their focus to no more than two Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)

            • Act on the leading indicators (lead measure):focus on activities that drive the best results, where lagging indicators describe what you’re looking to achieve and lead measures describe the activities that drives toward the goal

            • Keep a performance scorecard: teams should have access to a visible scorecard that lets them know whether they’re successful or not

            • Create a chain of accountability: People at all levels are held accountable for their goals through weekly WIG sessions where they discuss commitments, performance reviews, and improvement plans

 

 

Conclusion and Resources for Further Learning

 

OKRs are an effective way to measure progress and hold yourself accountable. They can be used for both personal goals, as well as company-wide objectives.

 

They are a simple framework that can be used by anyone in any field. If you’re interested in learning more about OKRs, here are some resources:

 

 

Unlocking the Secrets: Proactive Time – Key to hitting targets

Are you struggling to meet your targets? Feeling like you’re always behind and never quite catching up? It’s time to take control of your time and start tracking your proactive time.

That’s right, by tracking the time you spend on activities that you control, you can start to take back control of your day and achieve those elusive targets. And it’s not as difficult as it might sound.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of tracking and managing your proactive time, how to do it, and some common pitfalls to avoid. So let’s get started!

 

The Benefits of Tracking and Managing Proactive Time.

 

The most important benefit of managing your proactive time is increased productivity. Becoming aware of how you are spending your time allow you to plan and make adjustments to ensure that you are using your time in the most productive way possible. For example, if you discover that you are spending too much time on incoming support requests from small D-customers, you can find smart ways of minimize this time, and adjust your schedule to allocate more time to major customers. If you have decided that you need to prospect a certain number of new customers, then for a certain number of hours per day you must give priority to this over incoming requests even from large customers. And so on. It’s all about YOU deciding what to do with the time.

 

Improved Time Management.

 

One clear benefit from monitoring and following your proactive time is improved time management in general. When you understand where your time goes, you can actually start managing it. You will make better decisions about how to use your time in the future. For example, if you find that you are spending a lot of time on tasks that do not produce results, you can decide to focus on different tasks in the future. This means that not only your immediate productivity goes up, but also your ability to make better and more powerful plans increases.

 

A chance to actually follow your plan!

 

And finally, by tracking your proactive time it gives you back control – a chance to actually follow your plans and turn them into reality. Too often, people make plans but then do not follow through with them. By tracking your proactive time, you can hold yourself accountable and make sure that you are actually following through with your plans.

 

 

 

 

How to Track Your Proactive Time.

 

So, the first step to gain back control over your time, is to know where you stand today. You need a simple way to monitor your time spent. Most time awareness initiatives that fail do so because people reject the notion of spending additional time administering and registering every move. Don’t add to your burden. Use existing sources.

 

Simple monitoring

 

In order to get an a picture of where you spend your time, start with the places where your activities were registered for the last two weeks (or any period you want to include). I normally look at my Calendar (exporting all activities and meetings in a list with activities and their durations) and logged CRM activities (if you have customer activities logged, and you should). This will give you a good idea of how much time you actually spend on customer-related activities, as well as how much time is spent on other tasks.

 

Categorise

 

Categorise your activities in terms of

  • PROACTIVE Customer work that is part of my sales plan – planned proactive time
  • REACTIVE Customer work – initiated by customer (requests, support, firefighting)
  • other: non-customer related tasks in outlook. This will help you see where most of your time is being spent, and whether or not you’re able to focus enough attention on customers.
  • Other tasks that you don’t log. Try to estimate. One way of thinking could be that all inside a 40 hour week that is not in any of the previous categories,

Later on, you may want to start using tags and categories on your meeting calendars to make the analysis bit easier.

 

Determine the % share and hours of each category

 

Once you’ve categorised your activities, it’s helpful to determine the percentage share and hours spent in each category. This information can be used to create a more balanced schedule that allocates more time for customer-related tasks.

 

 

 

Make a plan that you can comitt to!

 

If you want to improve your productivity and actually achieve your goals, you need to commit to proactive time – time that you control, rather than reacting to the demands of others.

 

Set realistic targets on proactivity

 

Set an objective on time that you will spend pursuing your plans. How much available sales time do you really have?

 

It’s not realistic to expect ALL the time to go to the plan and proactive selling. Assuming that all available time goes into the planned activities will almost certainly make any salesplan fail. How much time should go to incoming requests, problem-solving, firefighting, internal meetings, trainings etc?

 

Block and Allocate Time

 

Once you have a good understanding of where your time goes, it’s time to start setting timers to allocate specific blocks of time for proactive activities. For example, you might set a timer for 30 minutes to work on a specific task, and then take a 5-minute break before starting the next task.

 

Daily follow up on the committed time

 

Be sure to follow up with yourself daily to ensure that you’re still on track. Instead of focusing on the individual tasks in your plan, look at the global picture. Did you really use all the time you had set aside for the Proactive work?

If you do this at the end of each day and a make a small note of it, the end of the month checkup will be so much easier, and you can do small adjustments along the way.

 

Take back control of your Email Inbox!

 

Your email inbox is your best friend and worst enemy at the same time, .It is helpful to control it to reduce the amount of hassle and overload. Here are a few ways to do this:

 

  • First, set up email templates for conversations you have on a regular basis. This will save time and you won’t have to spend time thinking about the perfect response.
  • Next, create a folder filing system for your inbox quickly. This will help you organize your inbox quickly and make it easier to find emails that need a response by the end of the day or week.
  • Last, set aside and block time each day to respond to emails rather than reacting as you receive them. Unless an email is urgent and requires your immediate attention, give yourself an allotted amount of time to focus and prepare it for the next day.

 

 

Make proactive time allocation a part of objectives

 

It’s also important to make proactive time allocation a part of your overall objectives. This way, you can hold yourself accountable and ensure that you’re making progress towards your goals.

 

 

 

Common Pitfalls in Proactive Time Management

 

One of the most common pitfalls when working with your proactive time is overcommitting and planning in too many objectives simultaneously. This happens when you try to allocate too much time to too many tasks, or when you try to do too much in one day. It was most likely happening before your started proactive time management, but then you didn’t have the data to identify the problem.

 

When this happens, it’s important to take a step back and reassess your priorities. Try to focus on the most important tasks, and cut back on the number of tasks you’re trying to accomplish in one day.

Another challenge is when all those incoming customer requests continue to interfere with your allocated time blocks. It’s important to remember that you can’t control everything, and that some things will always come up that you didn’t plan for. Try to be flexible with your time, and if a customer request comes in that you weren’t expecting, see if there’s any way to pass it on the right channels, or find ways to work it into your schedule.

 

Conclusion

 

The big secret to hitting targets is to commit to and manage your proactive time. By doing this, you can increase your productivity, improve your time management which in the end will allow you to finally follow your plan. There are different tools available, including prospecting aids, CRM software, calendar management, automation, and pre-scheduling breaks. Blocking and Allocating time with pre-scheduled breaks and better Email Inbox control are other strategies that can be used to make the most your day.

To track and manage your proactive time, study your last two weeks, categorize your activities and set objectives to allocate time. Then, make a plan that you can commit to and follow up on daily. Some common pitfalls when tracking proactive time include overcommitting, continued incoming customer requests, and focusing on too many goals at once. Take a moment of reflection every afternoon and take not of the day. Did you decide what to do today? Or did someone else?

 

 

 

Salary talks 101 – Preparations and trust are key

Mastering Salary Discussions: Preparation and trust are key

 

January and february is the time of year when many, both team members and managers get that lump in the chest and a general feeling of discomfort as the annual performance talks and often related salary discussions are getting closer. Doesn’t need to be that way!

 

In this article, we walk you through the steps, and give tips and advice on how to: Prepare, Run and Follow up on these sometimes challenging talks.

 

 

As in the case of any difficult conversation, what we would call a effective or successful salary discussion focuses on listening and empathy to generate the trust and openness that will turn it into an opportunity for both.

 

By taking the time to truly taking in and understand your team member’s needs, you can create a dialogue that leads to productive results. Additionally, it’s important to be open to reasonable negotiation and be prepared to justify your decisions.

 

the Psychology and Nature of Salary Discussions.

 

When it comes to these conversations, it’s important to understand a bit of science behind. Having a firm grasp of the psychology of these conversations can help you navigate them more effectively, while being aware of the significance of listening and empathy can help create a more productive dialogue.

 

The psychology is complex, and three things you need to keep in mind that makes the salary discussion even more complex:

  • First, people tend to be very sensitive about their salaries, so it’s important to approach these discussions with sensitivity and care.
  • Second, people also tend to compare their salaries to others’, so it’s important to be aware of this tendency and try to avoid creating any comparisons during the discussion.
  • Finally, people tend to react emotionally to news about their salaries, so it’s important to be prepared for this possibility and have a plan for how to address it if it does come up.

 

The importance of Listening and Empathy.

In these conversations, all science points to listening effectively and showing empathy towards your team members as the absolute key. These two things can go a long way in establishing trust and rapport with employees, which is essential for productive dialogue around sensitive topics like salaries.

When approaching these conversations, make sure to give your full attention and really listen to what your team members are saying. At the same time, try to see things from their perspective and show that you understand their feelings on the matter.

 

Essential – Preparations

 

While the psychology of salary conversations and the importance of listening and empathy are both critical factors to consider, there are also some essential elements that all effective salary discussions should include.

  • Expectations – Set expectations first of all for yourself. It’s important to be clear about what you’re hoping to achieve from the discussion.
  • Research – make sure to do your research ahead of time so that you’re well-informed about fair market rates and the specific situation of your team member.
  • Finally, prepare for responses – be prepared to respond appropriately during the discussion, demonstrating positive reinforcement, being open to reasonable negotiation, and providing justification for decisions made.

 

In the coming sections we will walk you through the preparations, what to thing anbout in the meeting, and what follow up and documentation you should always do.

 

 

Place & Setting for the meeting

 

Select a place for the talk where you will not be disturbed. Ideally go offsite or to a floor where your closest colleagues don’t pass by too frequently. Do something a little new and avoid holding this talk in the habitual meeting-room where you hold all other meetings.

 

 

 

Research

 

When preparing for salary discussions, it is important to first research fair market rates for the position in question. This will ensure that you are able to justify any salary arguments to the team member, and will help to set expectations on both sides.

 

There are a number of resources available online to help with this research, such as salary surveys and cost-of-living calculators.

 

 

Analyze Performance.

 

Before entering into salary discussions, it is also important to take some time to analyze the team member’s performance. This will help you to identify any areas where they may be under- or over-performing, and will give you a better sense of what their true worth is to the organization. If possible, try to use objective measures such as sales figures or customer satisfaction ratings rather than subjective opinions.

 

Generate Constructive Dialogue.

 

Once you have done your research and prepared your arguments, it is time to start thinking about how you will actually structure the conversation itself.

 

In general, it is best to avoid coming across as confrontational or adversarial; instead, try to focus on generating constructive dialogue that will lead to a mutually beneficial outcome. To do this, start by clearly stating your objectives for the discussion, and then invite the team member to share their own thoughts and concerns. Once you have both had a chance to speak openly, work together towards finding a compromise that meets everyone’s needs.

 

 

During – In the meeting

 

It is essential to demonstrate positive reinforcement in order to maintain a constructive dialogue. Some things to remember:

 

Keep open and be aware of your own behaviors

 

Maybe this goes without saying, but here you need to suppress own negative thoughts and reactions to your colleagues’ words and ways. Use affirming body language, such as making eye contact and nodding in agreement. Use verbal encouragement, such as saying “thank you” or “I appreciate your input.” Finally, it is beneficial to offer specific praise for the team member’s contributions. For example, “Your work on the Smith account was impressive and helped us land the client.”

 

Be Open to Reasonable Negotiation.

 

Another key element of effective salary discussions is being open to reasonable negotiation. This means being willing to consider the team member’s perspective and compromise when necessary.

 

It is important to remember that salary negotiations should never be about winning or losing; rather, they are about finding a mutually beneficial solution that meets the needs of both parties. Try to move it away from becoming just a zero-sum game.

 

Sometimes you may not have much room to negotiate anything close to what your team-member asks for. Then you need to refocus and reengineer the persons perception, just like you would a customer in Value Selling. This way you make other areas and values appear much more important than the immediate paycheck next month.

 

Provide Justification for Decisions.

 

Finally, it is important to provide justification for decisions made during salary discussions. This helps team members understand the rationale behind decisions and feel like they are being treated fairly.

 

Justification can be provided verbally or in writing, depending on the situation and preference of the team member. For example, if a team member asks why they are being paid less than another team member with similar experience, a manager could explain that the other team member has been with the company longer and has taken on additional responsibilities over time.

 

After – Agreement & Follow up

 

After the meeting, establish clear expectations with the team member, and repeat what was agreed. This will ensure that everyone is on the same page and that there are no misunderstandings. Be sure to go over what was discussed during the meeting, what was decided, and what the next steps are. It is also a good idea to provide a written summary of the discussion for the team member to refer back to.

 

Ensure the Team Member is Satisfied.

 

It is important to ensure that the team member is satisfied with the outcome of the salary discussion. If they are not, try to understand their concerns and see if there is anything that can be done to address them. It is also important to follow up after a few months to see how they are doing and if they are still happy with the arrangement.

 

Document the Process.

 

It is important to document the process of salary discussions in order to keep a record of what was discussed and agreed upon. This can be helpful in case there are any disputes later on or if you need to reference something from the discussion. Be sure to include date, time, names of those involved, and a summary of what was discussed.

 

Summary

 

In conclusion, as managers and team leaders you need to use some basic psychology in order to prepare for and respond appropriately to these conversations.

  • By preparations – researching fair market rates, analyzing a team member’s performance, and generating constructive dialogue, managers can set the stage for successful salary discussions
  • During the discussion itself, it is important to demonstrate positive reinforcement, be open to reasonable negotiation, and provide justification for decisions.
  • Finally, follow up after the discussion by establishing clear expectations, ensuring satisfaction from the team member, and documenting the process.

Why does my boss wants me to sell 10 times my own salary?

This discussion often comes up in our “cost of sales” workshops, and we believe it is a great idea for any manager or director to thought through these cases so that you can provide a simple and straight forward answer to the question when it comes.

 

Why is it that companies ask their teams to sell for so much more money than their own salaries. One could think it would be enough just to sell to cover your own cost, couldn’t you?

 

Let us take the Software example: You are working for a great start up B2B SaaS company, the team is great, you believe in both the company and the idea, but  … they ask you to sell for a million, but your on-taget-pay is less than 100k. How can this be, seriously??

 

As you will see, there are many obvious and hidden costs to consider, and by being transparent with your team about where the money goes, you will save yourself potential problems. In this article we will take you through two different examples, one SaaS company and one traditional industrial equipment manufacturer, and compare. 

 

You may also want to download our excel calculator that you can plug your own numbers into the two scenarios. 

 

 

Cash is king. Let us consider two different cases:

 

  • Software have very high gross margins, but cash comes in slow nowadays with subscription and pay-as-you-go schemes.
  • Traditional things, such as industrial machinery are often paid at delivery buton the other hand the internal margins– gross margin– after costs of goods are much lower. 

 

Many recent companies, startups and scaleups, don’t have California-style financing and unlimited resources (you are in Europe). Your company need to be profitable or close to profitable – EBIT wise. This means that your sales need to carry both your own cost and part of the rest of the company’s cost. What is your reasonable quota?
Profitable companies cover costs – a rule of thumb


 

A rule of thumb that often is used to keep a SaaS company profitable is to at least let the value of new contracts cover the sales cost. Or in SaaS terms, the new annual subscription revenue rate (first year ARR), should be higher than the customer acquisition cost (CAC) – (new ARR > Cost of Sales, CAC).

 

This means for the company any new customer must be paid for already during the first year contract (from signing). Otherwise, the company will need external financing to cover while waiting for the second and future years payments.

 

If first year contracts cover CoS, the company can grow with limited external financing, and not be restrained by a systematic cash flow problem for its growth.  

 

A software example

So, what is the reasonable quota, or sales target you should carry?  Lets look at the cost of sales and the money we can expect initially. 

 

For those of you who were in business in the 2000´s – Subscription software – SaaS, has completely changed the game plan. What used to be a 100.000 € initial deal, with annual maintenance of 20.000€ has now become a 3-4.000€ monthly subscription. Over time this is great, but Saas companies struggle to become profitable as payments are pushed int the future.  How do you cover costs with subscriptions only?

 

Looking at the cost of sales – CAC

 

In a software company most cost is personnel related. To sell your product you are using company resources to close your deals .. such as techsales, new features/development, management and admin.  We don’t include some parts – The customer retention or “customer success” team manages customer service and support, and drive usage of your product so they carry their own cost.  

 

Without going into any great detail on what may the case in your company, it will probably be a good rule of thumb to think that you carry yourself and 3 – 4 more people in the company – so If you sell for about 4-5 times the average employee cost you are all right.

 

The real cost for any of us employees, is around 1,5 – 2 times our salary, we end up with a reasonable quota at roughly 10x the base salary. This includes social security fees, indirect taxes, the office space you use up, medical insurance, meal tickets etc.

 

Example

 

Let’s have a look at the following example, if your salary is 60kEUR, your total cost is around 100kEUR, and the reasonable quota is 450kEUR-600kEUR . If your salary is 100kEUR, you should not be surprised if your quota is 800-1.000kEUR. Why?

 

Why is 4-5 times your cost, (or 10 times your salary) a good rule of thumb?

  • One (1x) is to cover your own cost to the company (100k)
  • One (1x) is to cover other direct new sales costs, Presales activities, free Consultancy, proofs of concept, development adaptations etc
  • One (1x)is to cover other overhead and indirect sales costs, your sales director, your marketing personnel, a part of admin, all more or less involved in new sales. 
  • The final (1x to 2x) is to ensure some margin for the Company and to cover risk. (the risk that not all colleagues make their quota)

 

Needless to say, we are oversimplifying the matter. In the companies I have worked it made sense for me and my team, under the circumstances I described above. The ratios can vary.

 

For example, if the company is investing heavily in sales and marketing quotas are higher. If the company is spending you job gets a lot easier, but at the same time your sales need to cover a higher cost.

 

In your company the logical figure may be anything from 3,5 times to 9 times cost, or 7 to 18 times your salary. It is normally stable, so when you figure out what the logical ratio is for your company, then you can use that as a benchmark for the future.

 

 

 

An example for Industrial Products

In our traditional B2B example, we apply exactly the same reasoning. In this case the product has an internal margin that can vary, and this margin is what need to cover the CoS plus any extras. 

 

Example 

 

You sell industrial equipment that is produced elsewhere. The cost when delivered to your warehouse is 65% of List Price, leaving you with 35% to pay for your team’s cost of sales. 

 

Let us assume that the sales effort is the same, which means that for every sales person you need one Presales engineer, and on average one Backoffice position. To this we add one for management Overheadand office etc. Finally, we add one to cover for the internal margin, and risk that any territory fails.

 

In this example your pay remains 60k€/year – that give a total cost 100k€ per person. That makes 300k€, plus internal extra of 1-200k€.

 

  • This 500k€ must be covered by the internal margin after cost of Goods.
  • Total cost/internal margins from factory =  400k€/0,35 = quota of 1.143 k€
  • The pure cost is 300k€, so if you sell for less than 300k€/0,35 = 857k€ your local unit will present losses! 

This means that you probably should have some mechanism that starts paying at 850k€, and pays full On Target Earning at 100%.

 

Conclusion

 

You have seen two examples, with similar input, but with sales expectation that become different due to the cost structure that supports sales.

 

When you look at the minimum quota it is helpful to use the cost perspective to discuss around when and why the company would lose money from selling, to avoid this from happening. In buoyant markets, and when you have strong financial backing your criteria and therefore the calculator may be completely different.

We have developed the two examples in the simplified calculator you are free to download here. It is provided as is, and with no guarantees, but use it and inspiration froryour own calculations and methods.

Let us know if you want help building a similar case for your own company and we will be happy to create a customized tool for you.

 

Focus! The dilemma of Prospecting or Growing Customers

Balancing act: Prospecting or Growing Customers

 

 

Finding the balance between prospecting for new customers and growing your existing customer base can be difficult. On one hand, you need to bring in new business to keep your company moving forward. On the other hand, you don’t want to sacrifice the customers you already have in order to do so. So how do you find the balance?

 

 

 

 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the benefits of prospecting and how it can help you grow your business. We’ll also explore some ways to find the balance between prospecting and growing your customer base without sacrificing one for the other.

 

Prospecting is about survival.

Prospecting is an essential part of any sales process, and there are many benefits to doing it effectively. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that prospecting is needed to find you new customers and grow your business.

 

Even in a perfect world, we know that a small part of your customers will move away from you every year. Of course, this could be because of problems on your side, (then you are wise to fix those), but more often it is due to circumstances completely out of your reach, factories moving to other continents, rotation of contacts in the account, customers mergers or some even go out of business. 

 

Over time, we must always be at least replacing the churn, the customer that leaves. For every account that leaves you must acquire at least one new one. If you want to replace the revenue from the lost account, you need more new accounts to compensate.  

 

 

Prospecting keeps your ears to the ground

There are other benefits as well, such as:

  1. It helps you understand your target market better. By talking to potential customers and getting their feedback, you can learn a lot about who your target market is, what they want, and how best to reach them.
  2. It helps you improve your sales skills. The more you practice your sales pitch and learn to handle objections, the better you’ll get at selling.
  3. It keeps you motivated. The act of prospecting itself can be motivating since it’s a way of taking action towards your goal of growing your business. And when you do make a sale, it’s even more motivating!
  4. It builds relationships. Even if a particular prospect doesn’t become a customer, the relationship you build with them during the process can be valuable in its own right. Who knows, they may refer someone else to you down the line!

 

 

The cost of prospecting vs growing customers

 

How much effort does it take to sell for a million to prospects, compared to selling the same million to large repeat customers that have been with us for years?

 

Let’s compare 3 scenarios, prospecting, growing an existing account, and maintaining sales in a fully penetrated account

  • Prospecting is by far the most time-consuming process among the sales processes. First, for the successful prospects that become customers, the sales cycle is longer than for well-known accounts. Secondly, for every successful prospect sale, you will have spent time on 10 -20 suspect calls with other companies, 5- 10 initial meetings, 3-4 second meetings, and a few proposals – all with those prospects that didn’t end up buying. 

 

  • Growing an account means that they buy something new, that the didn’t buy yesterday, either cross-selling new solutions or upselling advanced features or more seats. It can also be expanding to new departments, projects and sites, so that is also something new to somebody (to us) new. 

 

  • Maintaining your sales with your best customers is often considered by salespeople to be the top priority. After all, that is where the money is at! This is, however, the easiest bit, since all the hard work was already done previously so to say. And this is where salespeople add the least value. 

 

So how should I balance time between these? Is it even possible? A simple rule of thumb can be helpful here. Prospecting is 5-15 times more time-consuming than selling the same to the “maintain” or keep customers in the example above. 

 

The problem with the “maintain” customer is that there is no more room for growth. We can not grow, or compensate for churn, by hoping that these super-good customers will buy more from us. 

 

Growing customers require more work, but we have a working business relationship, so the cycle to introduce new things here is shorter. The hitrates are also higher than what we expect in Prospecting sales projects. This means that we can expect 2-4 times more time needed to 

 

 

Qualification is key 

 

The first thing to keep in mind is that not every prospect is a good fit for your business. It’s important to qualify prospects upfront so that you’re not wasting time pursuing leads that aren’t going to convert. There are a few key questions you can ask to help you qualify a prospect:

 

  • What need does this product or service address?
  • Is this need urgent?
  • Does the prospect have a budget allocated for this purchase?
  • What is the decision-making process for this type of purchase?
  • Who else is involved in the decision?

 

Asking these questions will help you determine whether or not a lead is worth pursuing. If they don’t meet all of the criteria, it may be best to move on.

 

How to Grow Existing Customers Without sacrificing Prospecting.

 

There are a few key ways to grow your existing customer base without sacrificing prospecting:

 

  1. Offer additional products or services to existing customers – upselling and cross-selling are great ways to do this.
  2. Get involved in referral programs – word-of-mouth marketing is still one of the most powerful forms of marketing there is.
  3. Run targeted campaigns – create targeted content and campaigns specifically for your existing customers to get them to refer friends or family members.

 

 

Time to balance

 

When you’re trying to balance prospecting with growing your customer base, time management is key. You need to make sure that you’re spending enough time on each activity, without letting one suffer at the expense of the other.

 

 

Tips for Time Management for Prospecting

 

Here are a few tips for managing your time when prospecting:

 

  • Set aside a specific amount of time each day or week for prospecting. This will help you stay focused and ensure that you’re making progress. As a rule of thumb, think 8-10 times the time for each new customer you acquire. 

 

  • It’s hard work to get 10 no’s for each yes, only for a meeting. Make it fun through competitions and group calling exercises. 

 

  • Use a CRM system to track your prospects and customers. This will help you keep organized and prioritize your time accordingly.

 

  • Take advantage of automation where possible. There are many tools available that can automate repetitive tasks, freeing up your time for more important activities.

 

 

 

 

Tips for Time Management for Growing Existing Customers

 

Similarly, when you’re trying to grow your customer base, effective time management is essential. You need to make sure that you’re spending enough time on activities that will directly impact your bottom line, without neglecting other important areas of your business.

 

Here are a few tips for managing your time when growing your customer base:

 

  • Invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software. This will help you keep track of your customers’ data and interactions, so you can better understand their needs and how best to serve them.

 

  • Segment your customers according to buying behaviour or other criteria. This will allow you to focus your attention on those who are most likely to grow your business or have the highest lifetime value.

 

  • Give attention to customer surveys to detect attitudes among your growth-accounts, focus on selling to those with good feedback from stakeholders, and work to improve the perception of the others 

 

  • Give less priority to accounts that already buy all they can from you. This may sound contradictory to many –  where most of your current money comes from, is where your sales team adds the least value. Go for an excellent customer experience here instead, and let other teams create this. 

 

  • Create targeted marketing campaigns based on smart customer segmentation. This will ensure that you’re using your resources efficiently and reaching those who are most likely to respond positively to your message.

 

  • Use data from past campaigns to inform your future marketing efforts. This will help you fine-tune your strategies and better allocate your time and resources.

 

 

Conclusion

 

If you’re like most business owners, you understand the importance of both prospecting and growing your customer base. However, finding the balance between the two can be difficult. Too much focus on prospecting can result in losing customers, while too much focus on existing customers can prevent you from acquiring new ones.

 

The key is to strike a balance between the two. Prospect without losing customers, and grow existing customers without sacrificing prospecting. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your business continues to thrive.

 

 

 

 

Leadership will get you really far, but only management knows where to…

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked the question about Leaders and Managers, and what you should be. The answer is both. In management models, they live side by side and must work together. Our 6 pillars of Sales Management is no exception, the 3 cornerstones of Sales Management are Management – Leadership – Development in our model.

 

 

 

 

Leader or Manager? Both!

Management and Leadership are necessary and complementary. In his 1990 Harvard Business Review article “What Leaders Really Do,” John P. Potter argues that management and leadership are both crucial for the success of executives as they advance in their careers.

 

 

The myth of the born leader

One of the most prevalent misconceptions in the business world today is that there is a competition between leadership and management, and that only leadership will take you where you want to go. Often leadership is thought to be all about charisma and vision – and that it is something you are born with and into. Leadership is different from management, but it’s not about having a certain personality or being chosen by a higher power.

 

Leadership skills are not there from birth, some personality traits may make it easier for you to develop them, but they can certainly be acquired, developed and fine-tuned by anyone!

 

It is true that many larger companies today have too much management and structures and often lack the space and energy to develop the right leadership. They need to develop their leadership skills by identifying people with potential and giving them opportunities to grow. However, it’s important to remember that strong leadership alone is not enough and needs to be balanced with strong management. Both leadership and management are necessary for success in business. A successful company needs both strong leadership and strong management to thrive.

 

Leadership is about dealing with change and being able to inspire and guide others to work towards a vision. Management, on the other hand, is about dealing with complexity and keeping the day-to-day operations running smoothly.

 

 

 

 

In essence:

 

 

 

Management skills, such as planning, organizing, and controlling, are essential for maintaining the day-to-day operations of a company. However, leadership skills, such as visioning, inspiring, and guiding, are necessary for creating and implementing a strategy that will take the company to the next level.

 

 

 

The leader vs Manager roles

The role of the leader is to provide direction and set the course for the organization, while the role of the manager is to ensure that the organization is running smoothly and efficiently.

The best leaders are those who can balance these two roles effectively, by being able to both lead and manage. Potter writes that “good leaders are good managers, but good managers are not necessarily good leaders.”

Daniel Coleman’s 2004 article “What Makes a Leader” also emphasizes the importance of both leadership and management skills for success in the business world.

 

 

 

Leadership is more needed than ever

Coleman notes that the role of the leader has become increasingly important in recent years as the business environment has become more competitive and more volatile. He states that leaders must be able to create a vision for the future and inspire others to work towards that vision. At the same time he emphasizes the importance of management skills, stating that managers must be able to plan, organize, and control the day-to-day operations of the organization, in order to ensure that it is running smoothly and efficiently.

 

What makes a leader?

The article identifies the traits and characteristics of successful leaders. He argues that effective leaders have a combination of:

  • emotional intelligence, EQ- self-awareness, self-control, motivation, empathy, and social skills, which allow leaders to connect with and inspire their employees.
  • cognitive intelligence, IQ – strategic thinking and problem-solving, which allow leaders to make effective decisions.
  • technical or subject expertise in their field – allows leaders to understand the industry and the challenges their company faces.

 

Learn from mistakes

Coleman also emphasizes the importance of adaptability and the ability to learn from failure in leadership. He states that leaders who are able to adapt to changing circumstances and learn from their mistakes are more likely to be successful.

 

 

Conclusion

Companies should actively seek out people with leadership potential, give them opportunities to grow and use both strong leadership and strong management to balance each other. As a matter of fact, there are multiple facets of management that needs continuous evaluation, development and perfection. Below you will find an image collection that points to the function of our 6 Pillars of Sales Management. Enjoy!

 

Tradeshows and conferences – 5 simple steps to double the effect

At certain times of the year, we find ourselves in a  “Trade fair season” in full bloom. After a few years of pandemic downturn to the event market, we are now back into meeting up at events again. Millions and again millions are invested in creating links between people and companies. 

 

The fact that trade fairs are still around when in theory you could do the same thing in virtual meetings and social media networking, proves that real live face to face meeting is still important and needed.   

 

5 steps to boost the return on invested time & money

 

If your company has decided to invest in your team going to a major trade fair, what should you do? As with any investment, your job is to maximise returns, go there and totally smash the audience and get the hottest prospects with you home as ever possible. Right? 

 

Events are very expensive, your company pays a lot to have you at the fair. But most of all, teh opportunity cost of having you away from your normal job and customers must pay off!

 

Here are 5 simple steps that can help you maximise your return: 

 

 

 

Set Objectives for yourselves 

 

Set some very concrete goals, think about what are your primary targets with the event. Are you there to canvas for new prospects? Are you there to meet up with existing prospects or are you there to deepen existing relationships? Maybe you are there to develop channel?

 

Write down your goals and communicate in your team. Use your sales meeting to align the team around the purpose and goal of the event

 

 

Rehearse effective responses

 

Go through and rehearse responses to some of the most common blockages. Make sure to write down a line that you can practice. Roleplaying is great to rehearse a standard answer that otherwise would feel awkward. 

Typical situations could be: 

 

  • The first opening line when someone gets close to the stand
  • The “elevator pitch” – answer to “what do you people do?“
  • Objection – figure out the most common objections and write down answers
  • Rehearse a short demo many times, make it look really smooth

 

Also rehearse how you interact and pass prospects between yourselves, sales to sales, sales to product specialist and back. 

 

 

Prepare contacts and meetings ahead

 

Prepare before the event. Ask your team to set off some time to go through the participants lists, see which potential customers are there, which of your existing customers are there, competitors, partners. Try to leverage the event to set meetings with people that otherwise would be difficult to meet. Don’t fill your calendar with meetings that are easy to get any time you like. Set targets and follow up with your team before the event. Who has the most high value meetings planned? 

 

 

Lead and support the team during the event

 

At the event, be present, coach and help, help your team do the right thing, and to get all encounters captured in short reports and notes to help you remember who was who after the event. Tactical tips:

 

  • Keep mobile phones away. Make it a rule. People who stand with their phones are not likely to make any targets, at least not at the fair. Potential prospects will not approach a booth while the reps are speaking on the phone or texting.  
  • Have prepared some tool or template that are easy to fill in and staple a business card to. Register everything!
  • Make little fun competitions out of the whole experience, on number of business cards or the number of letters of the titles of contacts or whatever. Have fun in the team. 

 

 

Follow up fast – turn into Opportunity

 

It cannot be stressed enough, take care of the leads within few days after the event. We are all exhausted after the event, but your leads and all those thrilling conversations start fading away from peoples memory very fast. You only have a few days before the probability to close something has fallen by at least half. Because you will be tired after the event, you may want to plan the following already before the event:

 

  • solid plan with assigned responsibilities for who should follow up which leads and how soon after. 
  • meeting the day after getting home to “kick off” the sales campaign on the new leads. If you do, plan this meeting already ahead of the event.

 

 

 

Conclusion

 

This is a very simple process, but as the manager of the team, your role and active leadership and coaching during the event is very important for the success of the team. There are many distractions, and leaders who leave it up to the team members to manage time and contacts by themselves are often surprised by how different people act, and many times come back home disappointed.

 

Don’t sell to those who can’t buy – Decision makers and stakeholders

Don’t sell to those who can’t buy

A golden rule and common wisdom says:

“don't sell to those who can't buy”. 

As one of our highly appreciated colleagues at IBM used to put it,

 

– There are a few people in the buying process that you need to say “yes,” everyone else involved can only say “no,” so go sell to the former, but make sure the latter likes you.

 

In complex B2B sales situations, when:

·        

    • you are selling at premium price,
    • implementation of your product implies major change or a transformation
    • implementation involves many users and stakeholders

.. in the customer, then it is adamant that the perceived benefits must outweigh the pain, i.e., the cost of the implementation.

 

Regardless of your price, the real perceived cost to say yes is high—much higher than your price. Therefore, we need to spend our time talking to the people who can appreciate the business benefits—those who can say yes.

 

The real cost of saying yes

 

When we are selling value, we solve business critical problems for the customer, and the customer appreciates the value of this. Often the solution is a combination of a product or technical solution, and a transformation project. This implies a change process that is far more costly than any product we could ever sell.  

 

Even if we gave the whole solution away for free, in Value Based situations, the customer may still refuse or stall the decision. It is not a price issue!

 

As we approach the purchase signature, concerns about the whole project rise. This is absolutely normal. Price is almost irrelevant at this point. Doubt and the perceived risk weigh over on the “reasons not to buy” side of the balance together with the internal cost of the change project, making your price a minor issue in comparison.

Never try to compensate customer concerns by lowering your price!

 

In the article about why pipeline deals slip and are delayed, we discuss what to do about this, but for the moment, we just need to understand who the key influencers and decision makers are, and that they are crucial to us to approve the project.

Otherwise, they can stop, scrap, or stall our deal at any time between now and the order. We have to make sure they don’t.

A major business decision is very rarely taken by one single person. If we want the customer (the company) to go ahead with the deal, we need to acknowledge this fact and make sure we know who is who in the company, and work to secure the deal in multiple fronts.

Decision makers and Influencers

Who should we look for?

Most companies within the same industry have similar internal structures (titles tend to vary much more between industries). This makes it a good idea to map out the typical decision chain and decision-making structures for the industry you are about to campaign or approach.  Describe the decision-making personas for the industry vertical, write them down, and then go search for them. This is helpful later when you create account plans for specific companies and put real names to the personas.

 

 

 

The influence circles

Some personas we often encounter and that you may want to start off with are listed below:

Decision maker – power sponsor

  • Has the ultimate YES/NO decision to make
  • Often merely a formal approval
  • Can go against recommendations of the team
  • Well protected and sometimes almost invisible

 

Things to consider

  • Qualify that the person is the true decision maker
  • If you can’t get direct access, what other players have the ear of this guy?

Influencer – expert

  • Sees things from a functional point of view
  • A filter in the process
  • Can say NO, but not really the YES we need

 

 

Things to consider

  • Engage influencer early in the process.
  • Is the offer presented in a way that the influencer understands and backs?
  • Do we know what their attitude towards us is?

 

The user

  • In general, very many of them in the company, professional roles.
  • They propel who will use our solution, and the support agreements that came with it. 
  • Influence decision making if asked, not always considered though. 

 

 

 

To consider

  • Reach out to at least a limited set of users and consult them.
  • Ask yourself what users will likely say about us if they are asked.
  • Consider the effort and return of engaging with them.

 

The Sponsor

  • A sponsor wants us to succeed, as this makes them look good within the organisation, or get the task done better.
  • Not necessarily in the leadership teams, can be outside the traditional contact surfaces, but should be influential enough.
  • A sponsor will support us informally with information, advice, etc.

 

To consider

  • Do you have a sponsor for the opportunity at hand? 
  • Is the sponsor powerful enough internally to drive the business forward?
  • Do we understand the sponsors pains and the benefit from our solution?

 

Beware: Just as you can find sponsors who back you, there can also be sponsors for our competitor with the same powers as the sponsor, but who will work against us – we call them anti-sponsors!

The Stakeholder map

Pains flow throughout the organisation

For both decision makers and important influencers, you need to understand the professional and/or personal motivators so that you can build an individual value-based argument for them. What keeps the these people awake at night? What would they be really enthusiastic about?

 

It is a good idea to think a little extra and try to map out the “who is who” in the company. To get you started, here are some examples – typical professional motivators associated with different roles. 

 

Some examples:

    • A CFO will have financial and cash flow considerations; he will listen to arguments focused on productivity gains, lower costs, less stocks, less CAPEX, payment terms, and subscription models.
    • The operations director will look at productivity, less risk for downtime, efficiency, less personnel rotation, job satisfaction, delivery precision, and quality.
    • A project manager will be interested in holding the deadlines, meeting requirements, strict budget control, etc.
    • Asking the right things to the right people is always important, and to do so we must understand them, who they are, and what they do and think. It is as easy as that.

 

If this is a big contract, spending time anchoring the decision with as many as we can from these people is absolutely key.

 

If the deal is smaller, perhaps we have to rely on our sponsors to do the internal selling. We have to use our common sense to judge the reasonable effort.

Example of how to use a simple stakeholder map, perhaps during your account planning

Trust is a must – Personal styles, DISC, and matching in sales

 

In other posts, we discuss sales techniques and methods on selling value. To sell value, and be able to charge extra for that value, the value must be fully perceived… felt.. by the customer. Whether we get across with our message or not is influenced by our styles, our behaviors in different situations, and how well we fit.  Sometimes this personal fit is simply referred to as the personal “chemistry” between people. Let’s have a look!

 

Trust – a must

 

When we meet new people, our brain reacts by asking two questions immediately and subconsciously. The first is about how we will communicate – considering openness, warmth, and trustworthiness, and the second is about competence and knowledge. “Is this someone I will get along with and trust?” and “Is this someone I can respect and understand?” Entering into a personal relationship with the person, the first always trumps the other. If we don’t feel we will get along with the person, the competence dimension becomes irrelevant.

 

In sales, it is generally the customer side that determines the level of trust that is needed in the relationship for the sale to take place.

 

To generate trust, we need to do the following:

  • Understand how others perceive and appreciate our behavior
  • Know how to read the behavioral style of our customer
  • Learn how to adjust our style to the customer

 

There are many models and tools that help us understand styles and behavior. But few are as simple and as well documented as the DISC model. The reason why the DISC model is so suitable to apply on sales is because DISC simplifies the reality and allows us to take quick decisions.

 

 

The DISC model

 

It is out of the scope for this manual to provide all the details of the model, but we encourage the reader to learn more about the theory and the tool to gain a good understanding of the personality styles and how to adapt our behaviours.

 

The DISC model dates all the way back to the 1930s and is based on William Moulton Marston’s findings and thinking. Although far from complete, it provides some basic insights into our ways and how it is likely that we react and behave in certain situations. It is one of the most used instruments, and while it does not really measure or evaluate personalities, it does describe basic human behaviors.

 

 

 

 

The DISC model identifies four different behaviour styles (D. I. S. and C). Too make the model simpler and more accessible, it uses individual color codes for each style, and tells us four different ways in which we usually react to a given situation.

 

D – DOMINANCE STYLE (RED) :

 

People with a dominant style in their base behavior will see themselves as strong in a non-friendly (e.g., professional) environment. This is why they tend to try to dominate the situation and the meeting. They are straight forward in their ways, not afraid to speak their mind, and find it easier than many to see how to overcome different obstacles. They are challenge driven and goal oriented. They are willing to change, but normally only if they think it can help them to get what they set their mind on. A dominant style person will perceive himself as powerful, energetic, innovative, goal oriented, and resolute. By others they are perceived as arrogant, pushy, aggressive, and insensitive.

 

I – INFLUENTIAL STYLE (YELLOW) :

 

Individuals with a strong influential style will see themselves as strong in a naturally friendly environment. In general, they feel they have nothing to fear from the environment and people around them. Therefore, they want discuss things, have others share their opinion, and try to influence them through friendly persuasion. Their primary goal in any situation is to be understood, accepted, and involved. A person with high yellow will see himself as convincing, confident, generous, inspiring, and open. By others, this person can be seen as selfish, superficial, egocentric, and unserious.

 

S – STEADY – STABLE STYLE (GREEN) :

 

People with a predominant stability style often see themselves as weaker than others, and when given the choice, they prefer to be in a friendly and conflict-free environment. They are concerned with not upsetting or changing this environment, and they want to preserve it to continue to feel safe and good about themselves. On the other hand, to change, they must first be convinced that they don’t risk losing anything at all. As a salesperson, this style is often perceived as a bit passive with difficulty getting to a close with the customer. A stability-style person will perceive themselves as loyal, a good-listener, encouraging, and calm. But at the same time, others can see them as stubborn and reluctant to change.

 

C – COMPLIANT STYLE (BLUE) :

 

A strong compliant-style person tends to think that their surroundings are generally hostile and thus they feel weaker. Because of this perceived weakness, they don’t exercise much influence. They tend to prefer working by themselves and take great care to fit into existing and predetermined structures and rules to reach their goals. To avoid risk and conflict, they will analyze each situation carefully before deciding to do anything that would change the given structure. A person with high blue will see him/herself as fact-seeking, knowledgeable, systematic, diplomatic, and reflective. On the other hand, this person can be perceived by others as pedantic, avoiding, indecisive, and reserved.