Tag Archives: sales team

Checklists – By Ciaran McGuigan

The next time you have your car serviced look at the bill. Usually there will be a complete inventory of all the tasks, inspections and repairs that the garage conducted on your car. These are not the same for every car, each car will have a different procedure dependent on the brand of the vehicle, its age and the mileage.

When your car is brought in, the mechanic does not just look at it, pop the hood and guess what needs to be done. They have a series of diagnostic tests which are tailored for that vehicle at that moment in its life. These are essentially checklists, the right person doing the right thing, in the right order in the right way.

The most experienced mechanic will use the same system the apprentice uses. Checklists are the way to streamline and co-ordinate your sales activity so that it is more productive and profitable.

So if you find yourself or your team arriving at the office, looking at your desks and then figuring out what you should be doing you need to start putting when and what you do down on paper. These checklists don’t have to be very complex. Simple and clear is the way to go.

For instance, a key philosophy of mine when running a sales campaign is 10 x 10, that is ten prospecting calls every day by 10 a.m. I also compound this by having 5 after 5, that is five sales letters after five p.m. These tasks are part of my daily activity management and I have a checklist to follow my progress.

If you don’t know where to start, find the top sales person in your business and ask if you can ‘shadow’ them for a day or two. Observe what they do and when and write it down. You can use this as the foundation for your own series of pro forma checklists which will give you the freedom to grow your business sales.

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Engineering Sales Effectiveness

By Darren Cox

Sales Manager

 

The Sales Guy (Three years ago):

 

Targets hit (just!); Head held high; claimed back the “business lunch” at  the Park Hyatt (Woo Hoo!); Sitting behind the desk; feet up; breathe a sigh of relief; wait for the phone to ring.

 

The Sales Guy (Now):

 

Target’s missed (by a mile); lost three clients to competitors who dropped their pants for the business; sitting behind the desk – at home; Seek and MyCareer open on laptop; breathe a sigh of hope; wait for the phone to ring.

 

* * *

 

It’s remarkable to note that in Australia, many companies, before the economic crisis, rested on their laurels; the sales people sat in their leather chairs, tilted back, feet on their desks, awaiting the phone to ring,

 

And ring it did! Existing customers called to request a paid upgrade, a newer version, an alternative product, a professional service or two, and sales guys didn’t feel they needed to prospect for new business. Life was easy!

 

And then, BAM! The Credit Crunch. And, over the weeks and months we have witnessed mass job cuts, in order that businesses can reduce costs.

 

And who is cut? The sales people waiting for the phone to ring!

 

Now, times have changed. We’re in a different world – A world where businesses, to remain competitive, have to be on the lookout for new business – proactively. They have to create an effective sales strategy dedicated to new business generation and telephone prospecting.

 

Unfortunately, business owners, being less inclined to make cold calls, are equally less inclined to force their sales people to do the same thing. Furthermore, they look among their sales team, finding the familiar faces of veteran sales guys – the ones who made the cut – who outright refuse to get on the phone to generate new opportunities, or have no idea how to do it!

 

And so, their competitive edge becomes blunt, and the sharpened saw snaps.

 

So, what is the solution to the economic woes we now face? How can business owners and sales people overcome their blunted sales strategy and replace it with a new enthusiasm and purpose?

 

First and foremost, your sales people must be targeted not only on business retained – existing business – but new business generation.

 

Existing business should not be your only protection from keeping your business out of the red. Organisations must be looking at finding new opportunities, and forging new relationships.

 

Please don’t misunderstand, existing business is an important part of your sales pipeline and continued growth, but please consider, your existing business is your competitor’s new business and when the going gets tough the tough get going.

 

Your competitors are hungry. And so must you be.

 

Is it your intention to just make it through this crisis; to keep your head above water as you frantically swim to the edge?

 

Or is your strategy to grow and continue to expand?

 

Now is the best time to refine, or redefine, your sales strategy, to be proactive in your approach to new business generation, to get tough, but also disciplined in your approach to making outbound cold calls.

 

Our Joint MD, Ciaran McGuigan, drives a car with a number plate highlighting one of his own key strategies – 10B410. That’s ten outbound new business calls every days before 10am.

 

This methodology, though sounding simplistic, could be the difference between growth and stagnation.

 

So be tough. And get going!

St Patrick was in Sales

celtic_cross_of_saint_patrick_lg3By Ciaran Mcguigan

Joint Managing Director

 

March 17 is Saint Patrick’s Day. The traditional patron saint of Ireland’s day is usually celebrated around the world with green beer, fried food and bad Irish accents. I thought this year as we are in the season we could all benefit from a little more background on why he was so successful when so many had failed before hand.

 

Before St Patrick went to Ireland there had been many unsuccessful missions [read sales trips] attempting to bring Christianity to pagan Ireland. Ireland, like many other parts of pagan Europe, consistently resisted attempts to convert the population. Now back then as a missionary if you were unsuccessful it generally meant that you were dead; so we can assume that every missionary prepared thoroughly and was personally committed to the outcome. So what did Patrick do which was different?

 

There are three lessons for us all.

 

Lesson One: He spoke their language

 

All previous missionaries arrived speaking classical Latin which naturally no one in Ireland understood. Because of Patrick’s years in slavery he could speak in the local tongue and he understood local customs and behaviour. At a fundamental level he could engage with his prospect base. Ask yourself how many of your sales team can speak CEO or Marketing, Finance or Distribution. Learn how to speak your customer’s language and you will write more business.

 

Lesson Two: He worked for the long term solution

 

Patrick was after long-term fundamental change – he wanted to convert core beliefs and systems which had been established for millennium. He knew that simply to arrive, build a church and start converting would not work over the long term. His predecessors had arrived with this strategy and had approached local chiefs and tribal elders with the goal that if they converted the chief then everyone in the tribe would follow. That’s fine – the only problem is if the chief then changes his mind – so does everyone else. No one was ever really converted. Rather than follow this, Patrick looked for the people who looked after the future of the village or tribe; the children. Patrick specifically targeted and spoke to the women in each community knowing that if he can influence them then they in turn will bring up their children, male and female, with their beliefs; beliefs which will stand the test of time.

 

Lesson Three: He leveraged existing symbols

 

In Ireland, as in many parts of the ancient world, the Sun was worshipped as the main diet. It made sense, after all the sun brought life everyday. It was one of the few constants in a dangerous world. Patrick knew that he could not replace the sun symbol which was worshiped and symbolised in art, jewellery and custom. He had one symbol; the crucifix and what he did next was one of the smartest marketing strategies I have ever come across. He combined them. What we now know as a ‘Celtic’ cross is in fact the pagan symbol for the sun in combination with a cross. Here is our lesson; We should all ask ourselves – How does our product or service compliment our competitors. If we can change our pitch from either / or, to ALSO then we can win more business and grow accounts.

The Marketplace: Our View

By Chris Moriarty

Joint Managing Director

 

Certainly these are interesting times. No doubt the first quarter of 2009 has felt like a down quarter. But it has not necessarily been one.

 

Strike Force Sales itself is up just over 20% on last year. The issue for our sales team has been that interest and enquiries have more than doubled, so there is a huge pipeline of interest.

 

I spoke to a colleague, a partner specialising in liquidations at one of the big accounting firms. He has experienced something similar. Lots of companies are talking about entering administration, but few companies are actually doing it.

 

Accounting firms are instead busy restructuring businesses to shield stakeholders from any future issues – there is a strong sense of future potential risk, but little immediate crisis.

 

I spoke with a senior executive at one of our big global clients and he noted an interesting trend… just about all of the job losses being announced in Australia appear well planned. People are being retrenched on the back of carefully thought out and well-executed planning, not on the back of emergency situations.

 

The point here is that if companies were in genuine trouble, they would lay off staff in a more haphazard fashion. What is really happening is businesses are using the downturn as an opportunity to re-size – actions are deliberate and planned.

 

So let’s thread all this together.

 

There is a strong sense that the future is uncertain and risks loom.

 

There is no real sense of panic.

 

Businesses of all sizes have used the first quarter of this year to sit down and carefully take stock of the current situation while putting in place plans to survive any sudden downturn.

 

Lots of businesses are re-sizing not because of immediate critical need, but rather because it seems prudent to do so.

 

A return to business fundamentals is taking place.

 

The most basic business fundamental is that all power comes from the barrel of revenue. So, while businesses are focussed now on their re-sizing programs, ultimately that can’t survive at all if they don’t keep on winning new business.

 

This means that over the next few months the whole economy is going to see a surge in sales activity. It will not necessarily result in a surge in buying activity – so we will see a hyper-competitive environment emerge, with fierce hand-to-hand combat being fought over every dollar.

 

Nothing is going to matter more than winning ‘that’ sale.

 

This is probably going to become the defining feature of the new economy that will emerge off the back of this global crisis. We will see a new hyper-competitive global economy against a background where risk is properly considered meaning heightened demand (and inherent competitive advantage) for accountability and transparency (the natural enemies of uncertainty).

 

It will be very exciting – in fact, it already is.