Roles Lead to Revenue

Waterfall.png

We have recently worked with a couple of disparate sales teams with different sales performance results. The teams were in different markets but were comprised of roughly the same number of salespeople. The higher-performing team had one clear distinction - role awareness.

Let’s define role awareness:
The ability of a person to be aware of their role in the world or within a given environment. This is the ability to understand the expectations placed on a position and to clearly see how those expectations are to be met.

You can see where this is going regarding our two teams. The high-performing team had a clear understanding of their roles, specifically their role’s expectations. The company that was not performing at a high level was struggling to define the roles through expectations, responsibilities, and accountability.

Roles matter when it comes to revenue. Closing profitable, new business is difficult on its own. Achieving this goal with a confused, or muddled, role increases the difficulty exponentially. So as a CRO, how do you handle role clarity on your sales team?

  1. Define the roles. I know this sounds basic, but how did you get to this confusion in the first place? At some level the roles were not clearly defined. You can redefine the roles at any point, even if you have been with the company for years. Always start here.

  2. Define the variables. My experience is that roles balloon due to variables that amass over time. Someone has to deal with the critical ones and eventually those variables are absorbed into the role. This role creep eventually strains the person’s time. They have many critical tasks to complete without a proper allotment of time to complete them. Anticipate as many variables as possible. Revisit the variables frequently as new ones may have arrived.

  3. Revisit the roles. Teams grow, responsibilities grow, expectations grow. If you are not revisiting each individual’s role during annual reviews, you are missing an easy opportunity to stay in front of the variables. Don’t let your revenue stars get bogged down in non-revenue responsibilities. These responsibilities may be important, but always look for alternative ways to handle them. Keep your revenue-generating roles as clean as possible.

Role awareness is often overlooked by leadership, but never by the people in the roles. The salespeople dealing with unclear role responsibilities may choose to avoid discussing it with you. Some (many?) salespeople view it as a weakness of inefficiency. Don’t let this happen. Stay tuned in to your team and each individual’s role awareness.

Free Move When Extending A Job Offer

Free Move.png

We talk a lot about “free moves,” which are, essentially, questions your salespeople should be asking at certain points in a qualifying process. They are natural, enlightening questions that help bring a deeper level of clarity to a conversation.

Today’s job market is quite tight and strong candidates are in demand. You have to prepare for multiple offers going to your top candidates. If you have identified them as strong, it is most likely that another company (or more) has done the same. However, there is a qualifying principle from selling that works effectively when extending job offers.

Here is the principle - you can prequalify your candidate (or prospect in selling) before extending the offer (or proposal in selling). It is a free move which means you should take it.

Here is an example from Chief Revenue Officer:

Assuming we meet and extend an offer that includes these provisions…and satisfy your questions regarding the offer, what happens at the end of our discussion?

It is a simple, appropriate question. Here is more from the book:

You want to hear a response that clearly speaks to accepting the offer. If that is not forthcoming, this may not be your candidate for two reasons:

  1. Salespeople who can’t make a decision usually can’t get prospects to make decisions either.

  2. If the candidate is thinking about taking your offer and going shopping, this is where you’ll discover it, and you can now prevent that from happening.

Again, it is a free move and one that will be most enlightening to your qualifying of the candidate’s interest. The second move is to solidify the candidate’s commitment to your offer. If they are strong, their current employer may not want to lose them. This fact means that you should place the thought of a counter offer in their mind.

An example:

When you give your notice to your current employer, how do you expect them to respond? When they attempt to make a counter offer to you, what do you anticipate your response will be?

Think of this as training…you are training your future salesperson to anticipate the employer’s response and to be prepared to dismiss it. If the candidate is sold on your opportunity, they will follow through with a rejection of the counter offer.

One secondary benefit is that you are setting the expectation that their current employer will provide a counter offer. If the candidate is a bit shaky or unsure, they will steel their resolve to leave when an expected counter offer does not materialize.

These are free moves with tremendous returns. Use them whenever possible and contact us for more moves you may be missing.

5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

Sled Dog Leader.png

As sales leaders, one of the hottest topics in leadership is emotional intelligence. A dictionary definition: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

This characteristic is becoming the defining factor for great leaders today. Beyond “handling interpersonal relationships judiciously,” what exactly is it?

This post from Addicted2Success breaks down emotional intelligence into 5 key components. As a leader, it is important to know these components and to develop your skills to support them.

Here is a condensed summary of the 5 components from the article:

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to acknowledge in real-time your own emotions and passions and the effect those have on others. You know the impact your emotions have on your behavior and that they can be contagious. This means that an emotionally intelligent leader will keep a positive and inspiring tone to their emotions to motivate their team and keep a calm office. 

2. Self-Regulation

Understanding your emotions and their effect is one thing, but a truly important aspect of emotional intelligence is self-regulation, the ability to channel or refocus potentially negative emotions into constructive action. For example, fear doesn’t lead to a failure to act but inspires a leader to tackle the thing they fear.

3. Internal Motivation

A key component of emotional intelligence is self-motivation. This means that a person does not need external validation or factors such as money or status to drive their work. A self-motivated person will have naturally high standards, optimism, and passion towards achieving their purpose. This, in turn, motivates individuals working under such a leader.

4. Empathy

Empathetic leaders can relate to what other people are going through and can adapt their approach accordingly. Empathy in a leader means they listen to their team, both what they are saying verbally but also non-verbal cues such as tone and body language. This is critical for a good leader, as it creates an inclusive team with engaged and loyal members.

5. Social Skills

Social skills can include building rapport, team building, and networking. Social skills are important for dealing with awkward situations, conflict resolution, and motivating and praising team members.

How do you stack up? The evolution in leadership over the past 30 years has been remarkable. The days of military drill sergeants are gone. Now it is up to CRO’s to use a broad level of emotional intelligence to drive their sales team to success. If you are looking for help in these areas, from building your own skill set to understanding your team’s emotional intelligence, we can help.

Time for a Bankable Forecast

4 Aces.png

We’re quickly approaching the end of Q2 and the midpoint of the year. Obviously your forecast is probably front and center now as you start to get an accurate view of what your 2019 revenue will be.

Or are you still unsure of what this year will hold? No matter what your sales cycle time is, you can (and should) have a “bankable forecast.” What we are talking about is forecast accuracy. Do you trust your current forecast? Many of the CRO’s we talk to do not trust what their sales team report on the forecast. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. If your forecast is unreliable today, you are missing one important piece - accountability.

Accountability in the forecast comes down to using a system for determining how qualified a prospect truly is. Our system incorporates four elements from our 5 M’s Process. Salespeople in our system have to identify, through the prospect’s words, their Motivation, Money, Methodology and Market for our solution. We call these items the Four Aces. Once your salesperson has the Four Aces qualified, you have a qualified prospect worthy of a projected closing date on the forecast.

Here are the Four Aces defined:

Motivation - your Differentiating Value (DV) has traction in the prospect’s world motivating them to learn more about your solution

Money - delivering a strong DV to the emotional decision maker with compelling consequences will lessen (eliminate) their objection to your cost

Methodology - understanding how the prospect’s company makes decisions, including their methodology, priorities, and the relative weight of those priorities

Market - there is competition in almost every deal so your salespeople need to know how well your DV fits with the prospect’s objectives and if their is another solution that is a potentially better fit

Incorporating the Four Aces into your forecasting process will instantly bring accountability into the sales team. A fully-forecasted deal has to have these criteria qualified through the prospect’s words (not the salesperson’s speculation). We’ve seen this transformation first hand - it does not take long. There is still time to impact your 2019 revenue by implementing a bankable forecast today.

Your Sales Team Starting Lineup

Baseball Batters Box.png

Summer is upon us and baseball is in the air. How would you handle your sales team if you had to submit a baseball batting order? Let’s list our starting 9 sales positions.

As a CRO, you are responsible for building your sales team for success. Obviously, there are many variables that drive your roster decisions, but you will need to put together your strongest starting lineup. Here is a baseball lineup based on your team’s sales positions.

1 - Marketing Rep
Hopefully marketing falls under your purview. Marketing sets the table just like a leadoff hitter. You need productivity here to drive your run/revenue production. Bunt singles, walks, etc., we just need good leads to be put in play for the rest of the lineup.

2 - Prospector
The 2 spot belongs to your prospectors - the salespeople who make contact and advance your leads. We can’t have strikeouts here; we need this player to build momentum for the team and pipeline. The prospector should have some revenue/run production so and occasional RBI/closed deal is helpful.

3 - Business Development Manager
You must have your best hitter/closer in the 3 hole. This salesperson closes deals while maintaining your best closing percentage (batting average). They understand selling and successfully beat your toughest competition (pitchers). They aren’t necessarily home run hitters, but they produce RBIs (closed deals) and help set the pace for the rest of your lineup.

4 - Hunter
Your hunters are in the cleanup spot as they swing for the fences. Flashy, strong and competitive, these salespeople close the big deals with big accounts. Yes, they will strike out at times, but they never get cheated at the plate. They get the big deal and then get ready to swing on the next big deal.

5 - Farmer
Your hunters don’t always drive in all the runs which is why you need the farmers in the 5 position. Farmers have some pop in their bats. They can hit some homers on occasion, but it is typically with an existing account. They help improve your revenue by driving in deals the hunters may have missed. Though not as flashy as hunters, farmers can drive in a lot of runs/revenue for your team…they are not to be overlooked.

6 - Channel Manager
At this point in the lineup we need some slap singles and some speed. Channel managers work through their distributors, representatives, value-added resellers, etc. Channel managers aren’t necessarily driving in runs, but they can respond quickly to their channel to assist in closing deals. They keep your company’s solutions at the top of the mind of their channel to drive revenue over time.

7 - Account Manager
This is a defensive specialist whom we hope can provide a hit or two on occasion. Their primary role is to improve customer retention. Putting the ball in play is constructive in the 7 spot. Keeping our customers happy while looking for referrals, or other revenue opportunities, is their focus.

8 - Customer Service
Yes, this position should report to the CRO. We are not looking for run, or revenue, production this low in the batting order. We simply need them to fix problems at our customer’s end. The goal is not to hit into double plays and not to lose customers. Note: a strong customer service person can preserve endangered revenue…do not underestimate the value of this role.

9 - Evangelist
The 9 spot is your second leadoff hitter. They can start a middle inning rally that leads to many runs and more revenue. Similarly, they can cover a lot of ground in the sales world talking about your Differentiating Value and, dare I say it, your solution’s features and benefits. They will spark revenue production, sometimes when you least expect it.

The CRO is the manager and the one responsible for consistent production from these positions. Many teams do not have all of these hitters simply due to size or structure. However, as you build your team for revenue/run production, think of the hitters you need today to be successful. Your lineup will build out as success drives your lineup’s expansion.

If you need help in building your lineup, we can help!

Selling In a Populist World

Fist Bump.png

Popularity is greater than exclusivity. Likes and follows are driving awareness. Crowd > Elite. The selling world is being modified by B2C interactions. The transformation is underway…have you noticed?

Amazon is almost single-handedly changing sales interactions. Searching, research, pricing and popularity are hallmarks of the Amazon experience. “Prospects” are well-versed in your multiple products, your general pricing and your relative popularity. Your salespeople are at a disadvantage compared to just 10 years ago. You have to make adjustments to your sales process to adapt to this new reality.

Marketing Is Prospecting
The halcyon days of salespeople generating their own prospects are now fading fast. Prospects in the discovery phase are less likely to call a company and ask to speak to a salesperson. Prospects are even less likely to take a prospecting call from a salesperson. This cultural change has shifted the burden of prospecting over to the marketing department. Marketing is now responsible for approach strategies and communications to open the door to a sales discussion. Your marketing approach must go beyond introducing your company, your products/services, and your history. Marketing now has to provide an flavor of your company’s culture and mission to invite the cold prospect into a selling relationship.

Differentiating Value will Drive Engagements
Commoditization is the devaluing of your Differentiating Value (DV). This devaluation is a prospect’s best weapon to neutralize any sales approach. “You are just like the other solutions.” “The other company does the same thing for less money.” “We don’t have a need for it.” You see how easy this is…and effective if your salespeople are unable to utilize your DV. The modern-day prospect is more informed than ever so your salespeople will need to leverage your DV to drive new engagements. This engagement is more than features and benefits - those points will have been discovered and intellectually digested by the prospect. Your salespeople will need to use DV to establish the next stage in the selling relationship.

Relationship Sales are the Future
There has always been a relationship aspect to selling, even when selling transactional solutions. However, the greatest change in the sales process is the shift from seller to sherpa. Salespeople now have to engage on a different level with prospects. Automation has taken responsibility for the nuts and bolts information regarding your solution. Your salespeople will need to build an immediate, and then ongoing, relationship with the prospect to close the deal. As this sales change becomes ingrained, who a salesperson knows will become the foremost factor in ongoing success.

The current state of selling seems like a new frontier and these 3 changes are having an impact on success. Yet, some aspects of selling are timeless. Being a good qualifier, asking tough questions, actively listening, etc. are all abilities needed to succeed. The key for all CRO’s will be to incorporate the new sales model into their existing processes.

Millennials-Too Much, Too Soon

Elevator Up.png

Do Millennials and Gen Z expect to be in the C-suite too soon? It appears so. Also, that is Gen Z…if you are still trying to understand Millennials, better buckle up as Gen Z is now in the workplace.

From Human Resource Executive:

A recent survey by InsideOut Development, a workplace coaching firm, finds that 75 percent of Gen Z members believe they should be promoted within their first year on the job, while 32 percent believe they should get a promotion within their first six months.

There is something to be said for aspiring to climb the corporate ladder. However, the promotions that many of them seek are truly beyond their reach at this point in their career. This desire to ascend quickly in the company does appear to be common to the Millennial generation.

As a CRO, you need to make sure you have a plan for handling the younger generations’ desire to rise within the company. This aspiration is present from your initial hiring process so there are three adjustments to make for these generations.

  1. Discuss career path in the interview
    Retention starts in the interview process before you hire a new salesperson. You do not need to have a career path for the candidate laid out in fine detail. However, you should be able to sketch out a general path for successful employees to move up in the company.

  2. Increase the frequency of reviews
    Many companies avoid reviews due to the thought that positive reviews lead to mandatory raises. Not so, you can conduct performance reviews separate from compensation reviews. The younger generations are used to voluminous feedback. Bi-annual reviews provide a structured format for continued employee development.

  3. Assess for motivations and rewards
    One component of our assessments provides in-depth measurements of a person’s motivational pattern and reward structure. As a CRO, you will know if that salesperson is driven to lead, driven to sell, driven towards both. In conjunction, you will know what rewards them. For some, self-improvement and advancement are more important that money.

The key is to keep a pulse on your salesperson’s enjoyment of the job and near-term advancement goals. This awareness has always been a component of successful sales leadership. The younger generations have grown up with ubiquitous feedback. They have short response times and a need for frequent guidance from their managers. In a way, the younger generation’s needs will help you become a better CRO.

3 takeaways for dealing with Millennial and Gen Z salespeople:

  1. Stay focused on a career path for this role even as you are interviewing candidates

  2. Set a 6 month schedule for performance reviews and anticipate weekly debriefs in between

  3. Use assessments to understand the motivational-reward structure of your salespeople

3 Tips for Coaching Millennials

Coaching Chalkboard.png

There is a vast digital divide between Baby Boomers/Gen X sales leaders and Millennial salespeople. We hear stories about this divide frequently in our RoundTables. So how can you be more effective in handling your younger sales team?

Selling Power offers up an excellent article with 3 suggestions for you to improve your coaching with your sales team. Coaching is a critical piece of any CRO’s responsibilities. The generation gap creates a “digital divide” to use the author’s excellent phrase.

Here is a quick summary of the 3 tips:

Tip #1: Use structure and guidelines.
Many millennials grew up in an environment where their day was carefully plotted and scheduled, with many after-school activities, sports, etc. Their educational system emphasized standardized test scores, resulting in teaching to exams – a process that necessitated instruction in a specific structure and format.

For a considerable portion of millennial sales reps, hearing the phrase “figure it out” can be alarming. When your formative years had a built-in structure and clear guidelines, you might naturally find the open waters of uncertainty and vagueness disturbing.

When coaching sales reps of this generation, use structure and guidelines – both in the sales coaching session itself and the skills and accounts being coached to.

Tip #2: Make technology your friend.
To paraphrase Bane from the recent Batman film franchise, millennials were born in technology, molded by it. This extends into the generation’s daily life, where a large portion will look up how to do something via YouTube instructional videos, for example.

You, too, can use technology to your coaching advantage with millennials. 

Tip #3: Give consistent and frequent feedback.
It’s inaccurate to say millennials have poorer interpersonal communications than previous generations. Rather, the form of communication has changed. Rather than face-to-face, much conversing takes place via text, social media platforms, and other forms of digital communication.

In fact, there’s even more communication in the digital, global society than we’ve ever had before – it’s just that less of it occurs face-to-face. Given this increased, real-time discussion, particularly against the background noted in our first point, your millennial sales reps will expect consistent, frequent feedback on their performance.

In regards to the second tip, we use a tool that greatly increases your coaching effectiveness. The software is SkillFitness and it is a mobile, video-based skills mastery platform that transforms how teams perform at a higher level to deliver business outcomes. The software, which runs as an app on your phone, is the perfect bridge between the sales leader and his or her younger sales team.

9 Most Successful Business Models

Sales Model.png

Bernard Marr has a thoughtful LinkedIn piece on business models for today’s world. He contends that you need to understand your business model to compete in today’s disruptive business world. How true.

Here is a quick excerpt for each model:

The servitisation (subscription) business

Instead of selling a product or a service as a one-off, servitisation companies operate on a subscription or ongoing service model, building a more intimate understanding of their customers in the process.

The platform-based business

This model is closely linked to the sharing economy and subscription models (see above – in fact, platforms are particularly powerful when combined with a subscription model). Well-known examples of platform businesses include Facebook, GitHub, Uber and Airbnb. As you can probably guess from these examples, platforms provide a mechanism or network – this could be a physical network, not necessarily online – for parties to interact with each other.

The social, authentic business

The traditional, corporate business model, with its hierarchies, silos and endless formal meetings is changing. These days, customers want to see the people behind the brand; they want to really “connect” with a business. Remember how companies and, more specifically, the people who work for them were discouraged from voicing personal viewpoints or discussing the company outside of work? That’s now an outdated way of operating. Today’s authentic businesses share their opinions and stand up for their values.

The employee-centric business

The way we work is changing. People are more nomadic in their work, and the days of a “job for life” are well and truly gone. To be successful, companies still need great people, but the way they go about attracting those people is changing. The “gig economy” has played a huge role in this transformation, since it gives businesses the means to create a fantastic team in lots of different ways – not just the traditional, full-time, permanent employee route.

The partner-centric business

As well as becoming more employee centric, companies are also becoming more partner centric. They are almost like networked businesses, outsourcing work, tapping into on-demand services, partnering with providers, and insourcing expertise where necessary. They create attractive networks of partnerships – and are a valuable partner to others. Just look at the average small or mid-sized business these days and you’ll likely see an example of a networked, partner-centric business.

The customer value-obsessed business

For me, this model applies to absolutely every business because it’s all about solving customers’ problems, anticipating their needs, making people’s lives easier and removing any friction or hassle. Amazon is an obvious example of this. Online personal styling subscription service Stitch Fix is another great example. With Stitch Fix, users detail their size and style preferences by filling out a questionnaire (they can also link to their Pinterest account). Then, using artificial intelligence, the system pre-selects clothes that will fit and suit the customer, and a (human) personal stylist chooses the best options from that pre-selected list.

The constant-innovation business

The ability to innovate is crucial to business success. But, today, the pace of innovation isn’t just fast, it’s constant. Some of the most successful businesses in the world are constantly innovating and transforming, even if it means cannibalising their own products and services to create something new. Take Apple’s iPod, for example. By introducing smart phones that could hold your music, the company effectively killed off the need for a separate device.

The data-driven business

Smart organisations recognise that data is one of their critical business assets. Really smart organisations encourage a data culture, where the importance of data is recognised at every level of the business, and decisions across the company are based on data, not assumptions.

The tech-savvy business

We live in a time of break-neck technological innovation. AI, big data, blockchain, 3D printing, augmented reality and virtual reality are just some of the massive changes that are taking place right now. So it’s no surprise that many of the most successful companies on the planet are tech businesses. Apple, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook are, at the time of writing, among the six most valuable companies in the world; the only non-tech company in the top six is Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway.

This comprehensive list addresses almost all of the current models. It seems that these models will potentially change in the near future. The technological changes on the horizon will certainly drive new models embracing new technologies. For now, understanding your ideal model will help define your revenue focus.

What Makes for a Good Leader?

Like a Boss.png

Matrix corporate structure. Millennial mindsets. Artificial intelligence. Remote communication. As the business world evolves, some core, fundamental traits transcend the changing workplace.

Monster.com offers up an article highlighting 10 attributes of successful, strong leaders (they use the word manager which we tend to avoid). For a taste:

Problem solving

Companies rely on problem solvers to navigate unexpected challenges, says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career coaching firm TurningPoint. The best managers don’t just tackle issues, though—they also identify weak spots before serious problems arise.

We assess for this trait as it is critical to successful leadership. Any CRO knows that leading salespeople requires you to see problems before they take root. The reason is simple; your revenue success depends on it.

Empathy

Being able to read a person’s moods is a core quality of a great manager, which may explain why a whopping 96% of workers said empathy is important for employers to demonstrate in BusinessSolver’s 2018 State of Workplace Empathy survey. In addition, research from the Center for Creative Leadership found that bosses who show empathy to the people they manage are seen as better performers by their own managers.

Empathy is a component of Emotional Intelligence which is the focal point of much hiring today. Communication is only 7% verbal (i.e. words) while the remaining 93% is nonverbal. That nonverbal space is where empathy provides the leader the ability to read his or her people. The inability, or unwillingness, to read these signs is a significant weakness in any modern-day leader.

Lastly, the one trait that has charged to the forefront of leadership today.

Creativity

Top managers—like top-performing employees—generate out-of-the-box ideas that push businesses forward. These individuals introduce new strategies that improve their company’s workflow, productivity, and bottom line, says Karen Litzinger, a career coach in Pittsburgh. Put simply, they’re change agents.

Disruption is prevalent in almost all business markets today. The complementary trait for handling disruption is creativity. This trait provides the leader with the ability to move in new directions to stay ahead of the disruptive forces in play today. Stodgy, unchanging leadership will not survive. The ability to think outside the box in dealing with paradigm-shifting disruption is mission critical today.

If you are looking to enhance your leadership abilities, why not consider the RoundTable today?