What’s your area of least satisfaction today?

Gil Cargill ( http://www.gilcargill.com ) flew in from Los Angeles last week and conducted a “Sales Training” workshop to 2 dozen Austin owners, presidents and CEOs. Members rated him 4.6 on content and delivery out of 5. If you are dissatisfied with your YTD sales performance, sales process and/or your hiring process here are a few nuggets that if you aren’t doing or measuring you might consider implementing for the balance of 2011. Here’s a few statistics that got my attention, yes …figure’s lie and liars figure… yet the thought is compelling.

91% of deals don’t close as expected

85% of companies don’t have a documented sales process

51% of sales people missed quota last year

85% have no documented plan

73% have no plan for their top 5 accounts

What I liked about his approach was the down to earth “tired and proven” approach to sales training. Example and 1st KPI (Key Performance Indicator) when going through the interview process have the candidate present his or her telling session to you. Stop them if they start out with …I normally start with… have them see you as a prospect and ask them to do what they are currently doing now. Have them come back and sell you on their current product or service. Gill says and I agree it’s a great way to see actual performance you can expect when and if he or she goes to work for you.

The 2nd KPI is to start immediately and measure weekly “1st meetings”. Excellent metric on making sure out bound prospecting is being done to the level needed to gain new customers and new sales. Have sales team set their weekly goals and you as the owner, sales manager chart, post and/or send weekly updates. Create a sense of urgency suggests to your sales team that what they say and commit to will be measured.

That which gets measured, gets managed and that which gets managed gets done.


3rd KPI is determining where is your sweet spot, who is your preferred client and asking current customers why do they buy from you verifies or validates your brand promise and customer satisfaction. This is your role as a small business owner, president or CEO. Go see your top 5 clients, exchange your contact information and let them know they have a direct line to you if your brand promise isn’t meeting their expectations.

Here’s a short list of other critical success factors focused on activity for you and your sales team to be measuring:

  • # of New contacts
  • # of targets
  • # of customer site visits
  • # of deals & dollars at Info phase
  • # of deals & dollars at decision point
  • # of deals & dollars closed
  • Average sales cycle duration
  • Mile stones accomplished
  • # of proposal presentations
  • # of current accounts visited
  • # of orders closed

Gil shared that sales is not a contact sport it is about relationships. If you believe this to be true for you and your company then here’s what Rick L’Amie, president of Moxie Marketing http://getmoxiemarketing.com/and a Vistage Trusted Advisor suggested to me last month when discussing “relationship selling”.

You want the prospect to get to know you and you them

You want the prospect to like you and you them

Then and only then will trust take place

…between them and you

In closing, today our suspect, prospect, client or customer is far more knowledgeable, better read and most if not all have access to search engines on the internet. By creating weekly, monthly, 100 day targets or milestones, measuring activity, and working to improve your process how can you not become more successful, more profitable with a better life balance?

What Constitutes High Performing Teams?

Last week at our monthly CEO meeting, one of my members asked if anyone in the room ever felt their team was at war. Do you see Individual members having their filters on and that little to no agreement was possible unless a compromise took place. If so, my sense there is a lack of trust in the room. Hidden agendas or egos were over riding and driving the direction of the meeting or team. The outcome would be counterproductive and the resulting direction would not achieve stated goals. My question to you, wouldn’t it be worthwhile or meaningful to align themselves with the team’s objective or your company vision first.

If you are disappointed with your Q1 performance or still looking for the right direction in 2011, “Alignment vs. Agreement” is a very compelling conversation you need to have with yourself and your team if you want to reach and exceed team or company expectations this year.

When high wire acrobats clasp their hands, they each commit to giving 100% by connecting to the wrist of their partner, thus each have closed the connection by having their hands and wrists locked together. There is a shared understanding that this approach has a better result or outcome vs. hands grasping for hands.

Focusing on alignment enables the team to move in a way that develops in the right direction while lack of agreement requires a compromise and/or a negotiated middle ground. Feelings are hurt, someone wins and someone loses. High performing teams move in a direction with mutual respect and shared understanding. High performing teams create a coordinated action and move in a way members anticipate.

If your direct reports are over promising and under producing look first toward alignment of your team or company objectives and/or goals then set “make or break” weekly measureable activity targets with stated goals and due dates. Identify who has ownership and milestone completion dates that are time sensitive. No chain is stronger than the weakest link.

In closing, Jack Welch’s 4 quadrant grid sums up this internal company issue. Upper right (H/H) are your stars and/ your 5’s. Alignment is to company, team, and your goals. They are self-starters, over achievers and someone you know, like and trust. Upper left (H/L) are what I will call your puppies or your 4’s because their aptitude, alignment to company goals and your vision are “spot” on. They have lots of potential and need nurturing and personal growth and development to reach and exceed performance targets. Encourage mentoring by your stars to help you develop your puppies. Lower right (L/H) are your terrorists and cancer to team cohesiveness and your stated company goals. They may be your 4’s due to production or performance yet are not team players. These are probably overachievers, individualists and someone that needs to align themselves to your stated team objectives, vision and company goals. They need to be managed toward upper right or managed out. The lower left (L/L) are what I will call dogs, your “C” players and in this date and time need to be managed out.

I have been following Robert Whipple as of late http://thetrustambassador.com/ and I encourage to open this link and read his recent article on Three Tricky Questions About Trust.

“How Great Leaders Inspire Action” or Strategic Planning 101:

Most often it starts with an idea, than you chose a small group of people who have same or similar dreams as you. As a team, you collaborate and share your thoughts, feelings, and fears on what you believe and don’t believe so that you will make a decision to join together because of what you all believe. If there is agreement to work hard, together you can make the impossible possible. Trust develops.

Most new and old enterprises, companies or entrepreneurs in the world start first with the “Vision” statement, which talks about what you believe you and your team would be doing and why you are doing this. Short term for the next 18 months you develop a plan and the 3 to 5 years out dream is discussed. Always asking yourselves what would we look like if…? Why do we really want to do this? I’ve said this in past articles. “…give me a cohesive management team and I will leave strategic planners in my dust.”

Then the “Mission” statement is nothing but the actions you as a team perform to achieve your vision. This should include your key “Make or Break” which is individual measurable weekly key activity that is each of your cornerstones to success. Ask yourselves “…is the the hill we are going to die on?” Example, one of my members shared that 85% of his pilots (prospects testing whether their software service does what they said it would do) turned into a client. He is now driving every suspect, prospect toward “pilots” knowing that in 3 months on average he will have a new customer. Other client’s “Make or Break” was lead generation, he needed to see that marketing was creating more leads than the sales team could handle. Key Performer indicators, both real view (revenue, EBITDA, AR, RFQ’s, lead/yield % to name a few) and forward facing dashboards predicting your revenue or profit are meaningful snapshots so you can see the health and breath of your company. Several of my members have 10 or more KPI’s.

Next, my sense is one describes their service or their product portfolio, sharing more about what they do. Can you define what your USP (unique selling proposition) is? Why do your customers buy from you? What drives sales? If you don’t know, go out and call on your top 10 accounts and ask them, “Why do you buy from us?” Objectively speaking: those that offer the best products or services should be the ones that are purchased. Not those who are sold with a purpose.

Most likely, every company in the world follows a similar path yet how well you stick to your vision, mission, without losing focus and communicate the same to the world makes the difference. One of my members, specialty meat cutter for the fine dining industry shared at this month’s meeting “…the level of trust will never rise above the level of communication.” Leadership starts with the communication of the vision which aligns direct reports and team members to the vision.

Simon Sinek has a very popular 18 minute video clip on YouTube “why” which I encourage you to view.

Simon Sinek “How great leaders inspire action” – Why – 18 minutes