Archive for the 'Sales Teams' Category

2 ways to increase sales

I was delighted yesterday when I had an email asking if I would speak to a team of retail shop assistants on ways to increase their sales. Apparently I was contacted after one of the team had seen this film on YouTube and discussed it at their sales team meeting.

So here’s the film for you to see for yourself and if you have any ideas for another film on retail sales teams then give me a shout

2 ways to Increase Retail Sales

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25% of my team’s predicted sales end in “No Decision”

“Currently 25% of my team’s predicted sales stall in a NO DECISION”

Was the opening statement of a Skype call I had with a friend last month. He’s a sales manager with a large national firm and was asking me how to restructure his sales team’s working to increase effectiveness, increase sales funnel size and, despite the recession, meet increased revenue targets.

Main problem
With the economy becoming more difficult prospects have learned to distrust sales calls. In addition the prospect has become better informed and will use the internet to check the sales facts or even make the sale on-line. The conclusion we came to was that the sales team was pressing for a fast buying decision and this was a major contribution to a “No decision”.

Solution and result
One of the three solutions we discussed and implemented was that the next team briefing should discuss “time taken to sale”. The discussion produced a realistic expectation of the time taken to make a sale in various circumstances. The effect was to reduce the pressure felt by the sales team to make quick sales. The result was that the team prospected wider whilst ensuring that “No decision prospects” were kept warm for longer. The result is that overall sales have grown. New sales are being made with many of the predicted sales that previously ended in “No decision” and forgotten about being converted later rather than sooner! 

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Strategies for Restructuring Your Sales Team

Over the past weeks I’ve been talking to various businesses about the strategies that they are developing for 2012 and beyond and in the light of continued hard times.

The one common factor in my discussions is that there seems to be a great emphasis on sales and sales team restructure to maintain growth. Identifying the successful sales team members isn’t difficult and identifying those that need replacing isn’t difficult either. The problem is that those at the top probably won’t be able to deliver more and those at the bottom are difficult to motivate.

Greatest potential growth
Possibly the greatest potential growth from a sales team will come from the average performers. That is those that are producing between 90% and 125% of their target on a regular basis. This is partly because this group tends to have more people in it than the top or the bottom and motivating them to produce more has the greatest potential for success.

Sales team restructure strategy
When developing strategies for a sales team restructure they should include changing territory, clients, working times, information and support given to the sales team and a good study of the recruitment process and criteria for those joining the team.

This video on sales and marketing interview questions might help


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Could Layoffs Create A Future Problem?

CNN reported that HSBC has announced that 3,000 people – roughly 10% of its
workforce – will be out of a job by 2013 and are part of the bank’s plans to eliminate 30,000 positions worldwide.

Other banks making huge numbers redundant include Bank of
America, the largest bank in the U.S., plans to shed between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs as reported in the Charlotte Observer . In Stockholm, Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic region is to cut 2,000 workers. The Dutch bank ABN Amro has announced that it will cut 2,350 jobs. The Daily Telegraph has reported that Lloyds TSB will be cutting 15,000 jobs, Barclays 3000 and Goldman Sachs 1000.

A payroll cut is instant money
Banks are looking for ways to boost their
bottom lines – and as employees
represent around 60% of a bank’s expenses a payroll cut is instant

Another reason is that as banks increase salaries and reduce bonuses they find that whilst bonuses could be easily adjusted to reflect the bank’s financial performance, salaries are a fixed cost. So rather than axe bonuses, banks are axing bankers.

A future problem
In my experience when team personnel are restructured there is the need to restructure work processes and determine new targets and work outcomes. In effect there is a NEW TEAM and new teams are likely to achieve their anticipated results only 60% of the time.

This failure rate (40%) can cause huge losses on the bottom line and delay mission critical outcomes unless clear management of the transition situation is carefully implemented. In my experience the more team change that’s implemented at the same time the more likely there is to be a failure. 

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Why is no-one accountable?

I was asked last week what I felt was one of the biggest mistakes in sales team management and my answer was “lack of accountability”. Though I wasn’t talking about allocating blame for missed sales targets!

Lack of Sales Accountability:

Blaming poor sales results to uncontrollable forces such as
competitors, the economy, poor marketing or poor management is often the starting point for sales teams that seek to justify poor sales. There will be times when salespeople exceed monthly targets and others when they fail to meet monthly target. There is an urgent problem if the sales team fails to exceed target 80% of the time and when they do fail to reach target the shortfall is greater than 15%. 

Who is responsible for the lack of performance?
However, when failure does happen too often it’s because the business lacks a clear policy of sales
accountability. Sales people that under perform will often not accept personal responsibility, instead they will blame the economy or other reasons. Sales management are often no better and will blame training or marketing and so on.

All good sales teams benefit from an accountability policy. Accountability doesn’t mean having people accept failure as if they were in a confessional. It does, however, involve the whole team as well as any support mechanisms such as training and marketing in determining the aspects that went wrong during a given time period and then the maturity and ability to determine how to improve the situation.

Creating a culture of sales accountability doesn’t happen
overnight but it’s an essential aspect of having a successful sales team.

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Sales Team Assessment

I’ve been asked to explain how to assess the efficiency of a sales tean

This is quite a complicated area but in just a few steps here’s my method

a) Work out no’s that exceed target and % of excess
b) Work out no’s that don’t meet target and %
c) If more people in sales team exceed target then it’s about right or understated
d) If more people are below target then either target is too high or there are too many passengers.

This is a very simple formula and much has been left out by I hope you get the idea

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Stages to Sales Team Failure

I had an interesting Skype conversation with a friend of mine in California last night who has just taken over a new sales team after the departure of the previous Sales Manager.

First stage
I asked him about the indicators that told people that things were “going wrong” before the departure of his predecessor. The process began, he said, with the Sales Team saying things like “It’s just not working” but being unable to agree on exactly what “It” was.

The second stage
was people outside the team saying things such as, “The sales team’s sucking in loads of our time”, “the restructure’s not working” and “We’re not going to meet target”

Third stage
Was when senior management started to get involved. This was about four months after stage one. It then took another six months for the sales manager to be dismissed. Total time when opportunities were lost amounted to ten months and further delay is likely to occur before the new manager gets a grip on the situation.

Result and main reason
Estimated lost income is hundreds of thousands of dollars!
One of the main reasons for the failure, and one that is so common, was that The Sales Director felt unsupported by the senior management and the sales Director was not willing to say that he “was struggling”. 

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Massive increase in sales

I love working with new sales teams. In particular I enjoy planning how to to restructure a sales team to maximise sales.

Pertinent questions
Recently I was talking to a Sales Director that was concerned because his sales team, as a whole, wasn’t meeting target. Some of the team met their individual targets easily and exceeded them, others were average and some below average. The Sales Director was continually asking “Were the targets too high, Was the sales team capable of meeting the required results? or was the economy to blame?”. All very pertinent questions but ones that didn’t deliver the answers he was looking for.

Focussing on stars and passengers
In my experience a major reason why Sales Directors have problems with targets is because their focus is often confused by the stars and the passengers in their team (Stars are probably producing all they can and passengers simply reduce the good effect of the stars!).

Instead I persuaded him to focus on the group of people who are making “average Sales” and just below, which tends to be the larger number of people in any team. If this group could raise their sales by just 5% – 10% the effect can be to massively increase sales.
Action plan in the making!

email me: stephen@assimilating-talent if you would like a SKYPE call to discuss your sales team issues.


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Success energises, failure is tiring

There’s nothing more energising than success and nothing more tiring when things aren’t going well.

Last week I was speaking to one of my favourite friends… John Donnelly.
Now for those that don’t know John he’s one of the sharpest tools in any business toolbox. He lives in Spain where high level business people fly in to ask his advice and fly out again after a few glasses of sangria. We speak on SKYPE, as do many of his clients, and his wicked sense of humour has me regularly injuring myself when falling helplessly off my office chair.

John was reviewing one of my latest video-blog films and made some great suggestions on improving the final result. Everything he said was correct but it meant doing the film again! No problem, the result will be better and I’m energised to re-film it and send him the final (Director’s) cut.

In six months time
On the other hand I feel sorry for another friend that’s going through a difficult time. Her new team is having great success and is delivering a first class product. As a result, however, is continually being pressured by others to produce more and more. They do this by focussing on the small areas that could be done better and just offer criticism whilst ignoring the excellent work of the project as a whole.

The result is that my friend has decided to leave and within six months will probably be giving in her notice. Having come to this decision she is finding that her tiredness has disappeared, she has a more relaxed attitude to problems at work and is becoming increasingly disengaged. In the meantime her boss keeps telling her “I don’t know what we’d do without you!”

He’s about to find out and at a most inconvenient time, I should guess. 

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Who will go topless?

My original work with teams was with sales teams and how to make them more productive. It’s an area that I’ve always enjoyed so perhaps it’s not surprising that I’m being asked to advise on this area of business more and more.

The last few weeks I’ve been talking to a very enthusiastic team about to open a couple of retail stores. A brave thing in these times but their product and their enthusiasm is such that you can’t fail be be drawn into the excitement.

Who will go topless?
One of the things we did is to visit other stores and websites to experience the “Buzz”, customer experience and see what can be replicated and what should be avoided.

A favourite visit, as voted by the group, was to the Abercrombie and Fitch store in London where I suspect the main attraction was the very fit looking topless male that greeted the girls and guys at the door. As you can imagine there was a lot of discussion and even a vote on which male member of the team should walk around the new stores topless. (Before you ask…I wasn’t even included in the list of candidates!)

Whilst the group agreed that the A&F visit was a great customer experience most stores failed to live up to the same standard and some didn’t even come off the starting blocks. So I’m being encouraged and helped by the group to make a couple short film for this blog on the topic and this should be completed this week. So keep an eye out on this blog


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