I happened to be talking to a friend of mine, Paul Kelly, President of Berkshire Bank, yesterday about...what else...Sales, of course, and he provided a very interesting perspective to approaching his sales process during these times of unknowns. Notice I just used the phrase "times of unknowns" since "chaotic" is too depressing and "new normal/abnormal" has become too much of a trite label, All we do know right now is that we will be in this "time of unknowns" for at least the next six and probably twelve months. Nothing we can do in our day-day-day is going to change the overall environment, but determined and innovative managers like Paul, who focus on positivity, motivation and specific marketing and sales tactics, impact sales at their companies every week.
When I first began as a rookie salesperson, I had just been promoted to be president of the medtech company where I had moved up through the ranks from manufacturing and engineering and then to the corner office. I had never sold anything and had zero understanding of what marketing did other than knowing they spent a ton of money on trade shows, conferences and producing whitepapers. The second week into the job, our number two sales guy, Alan, showed up in my office and suggested that we take a sales trip together to his largest hospital in NYC. A great guy...strong numbers, very affable, bright-but in a folksy kind of way- and a very hard worker. I still remember that first call:
#1 lesson from Alan was to dress down from the plaid suit. 😎
#2 was to go in the hospital on the 2nd shift since it was less hectic and quieter.
#3 was to bring a box of donuts to the nurses since they knew what was really going on.
#4 was to understand that knowledge was power, and the currency was just being human.
Today, we would term that process a "Discovery Call", and we would put it into the second step in our sales process funnel and allocate specific tools and checklists to the Discovery call wrapping all of that up in Hubspot CRM technology that would automatically remind us in three days after the call with follow up tasks and templates to complete. Yes, it's mechanical, efficient, and highly disciplined, and, yes, it's not very human by itself, but it works. The secret to successful sales is to add personality and trust to any sales process that's full of steps and metrics.
Which is better-sales process or the human touch?
Alan was just a superb salesguy! Always #1 or #2 in a team of 50 plus salespeople. He had a superb memory and a built-in innate ability to drive sales "The Alan Way", and as a result he had his own process down to a science. That's the good news.
The unsettling news was that no one else could sell "The Alan Way" since his process came down to style on the attributes side of things and his own selling skills on the process side of the equation. Plus, although he had a huge geographic territory, he only focused his time in the density of two very concentrated cities and then further pinpointed those to the specific hospitals where he knew exactly what was going to happen in in terms of replacement products given his closeness to the nurses using donuts as his currency The bottom line in his "Streets-not-States" strategy was that by focusing on only 5% of the available hospitals in his entire geography, he always got to whatever the bonus number was above 100% of his quota.
The majority of us are not Alan, nor do we have his discipline, so people like me need to "resort" to our "Process & Tools & Technology & People" solution to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks...and because I just don't the whole Joey BagaDonuts approach.
The Joeys who are still in the sales game also do not have the skills or the style that Alan had...all they have are the donuts. As a result, they rely on stupid and affrontive emails like this one below that I just received yesterday:
Hello Mr. Derby, I hope you're having a great Tuesday.
My name is xxx xxx, and I'm the CEO at xxx. We are a new member of xxx. While browsing the member directory I came across your profile highlighting your company and wanted to make a brief introduction about our solutions. We are a cost reduction and profit improvement company. We have had significant success working with venture capital, investment banking firms, private equity groups, and consulting firms seeking to create equity value within their portfolios or for their clients. Attached are a few case studies of those successes. After doing some research, I'm interested in finding out more about your company. I look forward to hearing from you.
That's definitely a Joey BagaDonuts email, but unfortunately it came without the donuts!
Just another example of a worthless marketing and a sales approach so bad, that I just had to blog about it this morning. Messaging like this is especially affrontive now in this time of chaos when it's even more critical for all of us to focus on what it takes to provide true customer value while never using the words, "trust me on this!"
Right now, all of us are trying to figure out what the new rules for both Sales and for Marketing will be for whatever the new normal will be in 2021.
- Today, there is no new normal, just 60-day sales tactics focused on survival.
- First, we need to hit this month's number on Friday.
- Second, we need to get to July 4th and then take a long weekend-breather.
- Third, only then can we spend time figuring out what it takes to get to Labor Day.
- Around that time, we should then know enough to begin to write the new rules for 2021.
Have a great day selling today, tomorrow and Friday!
TUFTS FALL SEMESTER MARKETING PROJECTS
At Tufts where I'm a professor teaching Marketing in the Entrepreneurship Center, I am now actively looking for marketing projects for the fall semester. Yes, we will be teaching in the fall with a blended mix of video and visual content, distance learning and F2F-socially-distanced mechanics. All safe-all the time!
The manner in which I teach is based on my practice of "Content in Context", where I and my guest lecturers provide the clinical teaching content and the real-life experience which is then taught within the structure of six teams of juniors and seniors delivering fully developed marketing plans to their host companies at the end of the semester. The companies range from established startups with revenue to mid-size corporations. The projects are often full marketing plans for the company or a marketing plan for the launch of a new product or service.
The results over the years have been just excellent both for the students and for their companies, and, for a couple of reasons, this semester's results were the best ever...just over the top. Right now, I'm taking applications for next fall's course, so if you're interested, just connect with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will set up a quick call to review the logistics with you and send you an outline of the program. All of the applications need to be in no later than June 19th. The syllabus and the projects go out to the students on July 5th.
If at any time, you have a need for a confidential sounding board management coaching or for Sales or Marketing stuff, just connect with me at any time. Text or email me, and I will quickly set up a call. I'm a pretty good listener. Obviously, no cost, just an opportunity to listen intently and make a few recommendations based on decades of experience.
Be safe, be positive and enjoy today and have a great Memorial Day Weekend!
Tags: sales productivity, Sales Optimization, Sales Best Practices, Sales Management Best Practices, sales and marketing best practices, sales management coach, sales effectiveness, Sales quota, best sales practices;, Sales Leadership in the Revolution, 2020 sales plans
Too often we business types roll our eyes to the ceiling when we think about academia. Our images of university life immediately flash back to our own college days, but that image has little to do with the reality of university life today.
Today, college students are wicked bright, very hard working and highly focused on jobs, careers and the social impact of making a difference in the lives of others. As a group, current students and alums for the past eight or ten year are a massive category with huge numbers, but they also have far less spending power due to the very high cost of housing in general and the massive student debt that they carry.
It's come down to this...
- Today through Friday...still pretty good selling days !
- Next Monday, of course, is Christmas, so enjoy !
- As far as next Tuesday's concerned, everyone's traveling either here or there !
- And, then Wednesday-Friday, might be good for you, but most buyers have checked out !
The Blue Skies of Hope & The Valley of Reality
So, just to be conservative in our planning and quickly adjust our heads, and most importantly, our time this week, let's set out this Monday morning figuring that there are only five days to demonstrate our ability to bring in our forecasted deals and punch the ticket to go to President's Club in February.
Which means, we need to plan every call and every activity this week and not get distracted by, or totally lost in "the blue skies of hope".
- Forget about the Bluebirds
- Don't waste a lot time on brand new leads
- Just focus on the bottom of your current funnel
I've been manufacturing, engineering and selling most of my life....tech products, medical devices, sports apparel, and now consulting services. It's a wonderful and exciting profession, but make no mistake, Sales is tough work:
- Measurements occur every month and every quarter that totally define your success and income
- Frequent rejections happen all the time due to the necessary waterfall math of any sales funnel
- Positive energy is required all the time, even when you're knocked down once in a while
- There's a requirement to consistently learn new skills, technologies and processes
The Question of the Day: Can Sales be "taught", or is it "just natural"?
There's no such thing as a born salesperson
As most everyone knows, I didn't come up the management ladder through Sales or Marketing, but through Manufacturing and Engineering, and then by luck...or mistake...got promoted to become president of a good size division of a major corporation. As a result, the first day of my being president was also my first day of running a sales organization.
It all comes down to 50 minutes
In life, in Sales, and in teaching, there are always deadlines.
Wednesday, one of those deadlines was evidenced in 50 minute final exam presentations days at Tufts. After 12 weeks of content in the brand new Sales course and in the nine-year-old Marketing course, Wednesday was the day when the first two teams of Sales students and the three teams of Marketing students presented their findings, reams of research and their detailed sales and marketing recommendations to the management of their project companies.
We'll do the same thing to the same rhythm next Wednesday, and then another semester will be over. During the summer, I'll spend a big chunk of time on the beach refining and re-calibrating for the fall semesters at Tufts and at MIT, where I've had the privilege of working with Professor Chun for almost 20 years. For me, all of this is a lot of fun, a fair amount of hard work and always some level of anxiety, which keeps me on the competitive edge, which is exactly why I teach...since I continue to believe that I'm just a student of the very exciting worlds of sales and marketing.