5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BE STRATEGIC PLANNING NOW

5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD BE STRATEGIC PLANNING NOW

Great sales and business results don’t happen by accident or luck. They happen because teams are being strategic, proactive, and brave!

Being in sales myself, I understand the sprint to the finish line! The rush to close out the year strong, hit your targets, and lock-down any opportunities from the past. Strategic planning for the future is easy to push onto the back burner, but as the saying goes – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!Strategic planning for the future is easy to push onto the back burner, but as the saying goes – if you fail to plan, you plan to fail! Click To Tweet

Now some of you may be thinking; “2023 is coming whether I’ve planned for it or not – I’ll figure it out when it gets here” or “I come up with great plans on-the-fly! I don’t need to start planning yet.”. There are so many benefits to planning right now – from reduced strain on leadership, to having an edge over the competition. Still need some convincing of why you and your team should be making strategic planning a priority?

Check out the top 5 reasons you should be strategic planning NOW:

 

1. Understanding the company’s future plan helps to empower employees & increase accountability

It is incredibly important for employees to understand where their company is headed, why they’re headed in that direction, and the role they play in helping the company get there. It not only helps people to feel connected and organized, but it creates a buy-in and builds accountability!

 

2. Strategic Planning reduces future strain on leadership

Employees with a clear sense of direction require less from managers and leaders. Everyone has a lot on their plates & rarely does a leader have an excess of time to spend monitoring and delegating to-do lists to employees. Micromanagement isn’t needed if you’ve created the right environment and defined the work that needs to be accomplished through strategic planning!

 

3. Waiting until December to plan for the following year is too late

December is arguably one of the busiest months for sales leaders and teams. Everyone is in overdrive to hit their goals, close out any floating opportunities, and get out Christmas shopping! It is incredibly difficult to get teams together for strategic planning sessions, and doesn’t leave much time for any findings to be digested and deliberated. Strategic planning is not something to rush. Planning early in October or November leaves time for employees to consider the strategies, come up with new suggestions, soak-in the information & close the year feeling prepared for what’s to come.

 

4. Strategic planning resets the company’s compass

It’s easy for organizations to fall out of being proactive and into a reactive mode. Strategic planning is the reset for your company’s compass – getting you back on track and back in the driver’s seat. It allows you to see where you may have strayed from your ideal path throughout the year, while mapping out how to navigate your way back to your goal destination.Strategic planning is the reset for your company’s compass – getting you back on track and back in the driver’s seat. Click To Tweet

5. Planning now can give you the upper hand over your competitors

A little planning can go a long way – especially if you’re in a competitive market! Analyzing not only your organization’s performance but also your competition is a fantastic way to pinpoint areas for improvement, growth, and differentiation. The sooner you have this information, the better you can plan and strategize for the next quarter (or even year!).

 

If you’re ready to start strategic planning NOW – download our Strategic Key Account Plan, 3-Year Goal Planning Table, and Ideal Client Analysis templates!

Looking for something to get the whole team on board with Strategic Planning? Introduce some fun, accountability, and teamwork by kicking off a Strategic Planning Workshop – reach out to Catherine for more details!

TOP 5 TIPS FROM EMERGING SALES TALENT

TOP 5 TIPS FROM EMERGING SALES TALENT

Have you ever wished you could get a glimpse inside the minds of your sales team?

  • Do they feel supported?
  • What is challenging them?
  • What motivates them?

If yes, you’re in luck! We had the pleasure of bringing together a panel of 6 incredible emerging sales professionals from a variety of organizations and industries, who are thriving in their roles. They have been in sales anywhere from 7 years to 1 year but one thing they all have in common is that they’re all willing to share their insights and advice with Sales Leaders, to help pave the way for future sales talent!

Top 5 Tips from the Emerging Sales Talent:

1. If you’re looking to attract and retain new sales talent, be sure to evaluate your company culture!

Nearly all of our emerging sales talent panelists stated that a growth-oriented company with a unique or differentiated market position was important to them. Another valuable factor was a culture of support and team unity – knowing that they can ask questions, share ideas, and lean to one another throughout the highs and lows of their sales careers.

 

2. While there are expectations of new talent, they have expectations of their Sales Leaders.

Emerging sales talent crave leaders who trust them to do their jobs. They value autonomy, but still want to know that their leader is available to help and guide if needed.  New sales talent also want a leader who will challenge them and push them out of their comfort zone! Leaders who are willing to give new talent the opportunity to execute their job in their own style, while setting them up for success with the necessary tools and strategies are incredibly valuable to those looking to enter the world of sales.

 

3. Good On-Boarding can make or break talent retention.

Our emerging sales talent shared that starting their career feeling low-pressure from the top down and being informed of their typical sales-cycle length was a major comfort factor. Another on-boarding must; introductions to the entire team. Salespeople understand that there is more to securing a sale than just a meeting between the rep and a buyer – they want to meet and understand the people and the roles that make the company and entire sales process run as a well-oiled machine.

The “sink-or-swim” on-boarding of the past is simply not an effective tool if you’re looking to attract, retain, and develop top talent.

 

4. Looking to attract new grads to your sales team? Money isn’t the only motivator.

Promoting an environment where your candidates know they can learn, try, fail, and still be supported by their leader is a must. Honesty and transparency in your job postings is also crucial for finding the perfect fit. Top talent want to see that there are mentorship opportunities for them, and other benefits such as professional development, commission, travel opportunities, a bonus structure, and vacation days. Another valuable perk to new grads; mental health benefits!

Sales can be tough and full of rejection, especially when you’re just starting out. Candidates expect more than just a salary to hold strong through the hard parts – they want support! Sales can be tough and full of rejection, especially when you’re just starting out. Candidates expect more than just a salary to hold strong through the hard parts – they want support! Click To Tweet

5. They need space to grow, or they may go!

A common piece of advice that our emerging sales talent panel offered to Sales Leaders; show your salespeople a potential pathway for career growth – along with potential for higher earnings – or risk being left behind. Staying stagnant in a role, year after year isn’t appealing to most & hardly fosters company pride and loyalty. Lay out (or better yet, collaborate on) a clear pathway with timelines and KPIs, that can help your salespeople envision a future with your organization that will move them to a role they aspire to hold.

 

Leading a sales team is no small task – and harder yet is understanding the expectations, motivations, and challenges of each individual on your team. While nothing can beat a conversation with your immediate team, the insights provided by the emerging sales talent panelists are sure to set you well on your way to attract, hire, and retain top sales talent.

 

*Contributed ideas by the Emerging Sales Talent Panelists:  Adam GoresRiley MeladySamantha JessomeNick MitchellSpencer Smith, and Grayson Wesley.

RAVING CLIENTS? REQUEST REFERRALS!

RAVING CLIENTS? REQUEST REFERRALS!

With the year winding down, most salespeople have the pedal to the metal to crush their sales targets & start building pipelines for 2022. For some, this looks like persistent cold-calling and follow-up emails on follow-up emails. If this sounds familiar – let me remind you of a magnificent tool called referrals.

I’ll admit, at first I was hesitant to ask clients for referrals because I felt it was asking for a favour. I quickly found out that not only is it a lot less daunting than it may seem, but most people are actually happy to provide a referral (bonus points if you can give them a referral back!).

Over the past few years, I’ve made a concerted effort to ask for referrals. Recently, I completed our yearly analysis & discovered that over 80% of our new business was sourced from referrals!

Still doubting the power of referrals? Here’s the facts:

  • People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend or colleague.
  • 84% of B2B decision makers start the buying process with a referral.
  • 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience – yet only 29% actually do.
  • The lifetime value for new referral customers is 16% higher than non-referrals.
  • 87% of frontline salespeople, 82% of sales leaders, and 78% of marketers surveyed agree that referrals are the best leads your business can get.
  • 69% of B2B frontline salespeople, 70% of sales leaders, and 67% of marketers believe that referred leads close faster than other leads.
Source: REFERRALSAASQUATCH.COM

 

From the Buyer’s Perspective:

  • 73% of B2B Buyers prefer to work with sales professionals who have been referred to them by someone they know.
  • 76% of B2B executives prefer to work with vendors who have been recommended by someone they know.
  • Having a personal connection with a Buyer (such as through peer recommendation/referrals) makes you 4.2 times more likely to get an appointment.
  • B2B Buyers are 5 times more likely to engage when someone else introduces them to your company.
Source: referralrock.com

 

Ok, so you’re probably seeing the importance of referrals now, but what next?

Start developing your referral strategy!

 

Don’t waste your valuable referrals – keep in mind the following traits that sellers need to have, to get and keep a buyer’s attention:

  • Healthy respect for their time; it’s valuable to them and should be to you
  • Ability to lead meetings in an organized and concise manner
  • Tenacity
  • A genuine interest in building relationships with their clients
  • Integrity
  • The insights to ask thought-provoking questions that show understanding of the prospect’s business

Be strategic, be proactive, and be brave when asking for referrals to secure more new business & build a strong pipeline for 2022!

7 SEEDLINGS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS – NO COLD-CALLING!

7 SEEDLINGS TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS – NO COLD-CALLING!

Spring is an ideal time to be planting your prospecting seeds to ensure you’ll have a bumper sales crop this fall!

I grew up on a farm and learned the importance of planting in the spring along with fertilizing and watering throughout the growing season – this is exactly what you need to do with prospecting to ensure you’re adding to your pipeline throughout the spring and summer. You may be wondering – ‘how can I plant prospecting seeds without cold-calling?!’ You may be surprised to know that you’ve already got seedlings that have sprouted, and just need you to nurture them!

Take a look at the 7 seedlings to grow your business…

1. Your Existing Clients

Your existing clients are one of the best and most obvious places to begin prospecting for more business. Conducting a business review meeting may help you uncover additional opportunities with your existing clients. Did they make any new hires? New Divisions or other Plants? What are their goals for 2021 and how can you help them achieve them? Are there any new challenges they are facing or are they undertaking any new initiatives?

2. Ask for referrals

You’re a consultative, proactive sales professionals who goes above and beyond for your clients. They appreciate you and your solutions, and are likely happy to provide you with a referral if you ask for it! Happy, long-term customers are some of the best seedlings to nurture, and can turn into amazing referral opportunities – you just have to be brave enough to take the first step & ask.

3. LinkedIn

Making frequent posts about your product or service, sharing testimonials from satisfied customers, and monitoring who ‘likes’ or comments on your posts are all easy ways to gauge interest and warm up prospecting calls. You should be connecting with both current and prospective clients and engaging with their posts as well – this keeps your name top-of-mind.

4. Your Network

Who do you have in your network that may be an ideal client (or connected with an ideal client!)? Your suppliers, neighbours, friends, or someone you worked with in the past who has moved to a different company. Try reaching out to set up a call or see if there may be opportunity to work together in a mutually beneficial way.

5. Webinar/Education Sessions

Hosting complimentary, no-obligation webinars or education sessions can be incredible ways to allow your target clients and prospects to learn more about your product or service, become more familiar with you, and provides you with an opportunity to follow-up that isn’t cold-calling. Asking whether they had any questions about your webinar or info session, inviting them to any additional sessions you have coming up, or directly setting up a call to learn more about their company & needs all become warmer when you’ve had previous contact.

6. Salespeople in Similar Industries – Swap Contacts

Perhaps you have an old colleague, friend, or fellow salesperson who you’d like to swap contacts with – this allows for you to reference a name when reaching out to any new prospects.

7. Past Tradeshow Leads

Most salespeople walk away from tradeshows with a mile-long list of people to follow-up with – these lists have no expiration date! These people may not remember you specifically, but mentioning the tradeshow already provides you with an ‘in’ and some common ground. Re-visit these lists, search the contacts on LinkedIn to see whether they’re still an ideal client, and follow-up.

 

Prospecting doesn’t always have to be cold-calling strangers – start nurturing your seedlings to grow your business!

Prospecting doesn’t always have to be cold-calling strangers – start nurturing your seedlings to grow your business! Click To Tweet

Sales Professionals Advice:  Spring is an ideal time to be prospecting before many people begin to take summer holidays.  Who will you contact during this next month to secure business for the rest of the sales year?

Sales Leaders Advice:  Create a fun prospecting blitz to lead & coach your team during the next month, along with daily or weekly huddles to share best prospecting habits and activities.

IS YOUR COMPANY CULTURE INHIBITING SALES GROWTH?

IS YOUR COMPANY CULTURE INHIBITING SALES GROWTH?

It’s a new year. That means it’s time to reset sales goals, adjust strategy and get ready to embrace whatever the market throws our way.

As a sales trainer and coach, I’m often focused on SWOT analyses, Key Account Plans, and Consultative Selling techniques. Everyone knows these are important for growing sales, but I must say, with every class (virtual of course), there’s at least one or two people who struggle to focus on sales best practices. Instead they’re thinking about why goals are unrealistic, managers that aren’t supportive, inventory that’s not available, competition that’s better priced, other departments not doing their part, whether or not their job will be around next quarter, or if “management” even knows what’s going on.

Sounds like a lot of excuses, eh? To me, these are all symptoms of a troubled company culture.

Poor company culture kind of sneaks up on us – it’s certainly not the intent.  Over the last 10 years of working with organizations, I’ve seen first-hand these top 5 cultural challenges that inhibit sales…

1. Organizational Silos.

The most common culprit is when a culture allows departmental goals to take precedent over organizational goals.   Managers see their department team as their top priority, and will die on the sword for them.   There’s tremendous pride in being a team member, so much that other departments are considered less important or less capable.

The impact?  Gossip, disrespect, poor decisions, poor customer service and overall reduced productivity.

2. Poor communication.

Connected to organizational silos is poor communication.  The thicker the silo walls, the harder it is to send consistent messages across the organization.  In this environment, people don’t believe there is enough communication.  Or worse, people don’t believe there isn’t any communication.  When there’s no communication, people tend to make negative assumptions.

The impact? Gossip, confusion, lost confidence in leadership, skepticism and poor or inconsistent decisions.

3. Lack of Accountability. 

Accountability has a negative connotation.  People don’t want to be “held to account”.  We’re adults after all and don’t want others checking up on us.  But over time, if there’s no consequences for missing deadlines, late response-times, or not honouring commitments, these bad behaviours are considered acceptable behaviours, and therefore the norm.

The impact?  Apathy (why bother?), finger-pointing, resentment, slowed progress, and generally speaking, under-performance.

4. Poor Problem-Solving.

Many organizations suffer from repeat issues.  Inventory, shipping, product development and customer service are all fraught with challenges.  It becomes an issue of poor problem-solving when one hears the same conversation at every team meeting.  There seems to be an inability in not only solving the problem, but identify the root cause.

The impact?  Complacency, frustration, independent decisions, wrong decisions, and wasted time.

5. Poor Managers.

“Poor” is all encompassing.  It includes managers who are: absent, inconsistent, unorganized, power-wielding, afraid-to-make-decisions, and show little concern for people.  Ouch.  Who wants to be a manager?  These are all perceptions of course.  Most managers I work with want to be a great manager.   They’re just not aware of the negative impact that they’re having.  They were once star performers promoted to a role that manages people.  Excelling in one role rarely automatically means success in another role.

The Impact? Staff quit, under-perform and may undermine their manager’s actions.

 

Poor company culture will ultimately inhibit sales growth.  There are many reasons for subpar sales performance.  Look closely and culture is usually the real culprit.  Cultural challenges intersect and amplify each other, making it difficult to isolate and address.   

So what’s the solution? 

It starts with senior leadership. Company culture needs to be recognized as a significant driver of performance.  Leaders must commit to changing the culture and lead by example.  Bring in an outside facilitator who can help you through the journey.  Where are we now?  What does the ideal culture look like?  How do we help people change the way they work? Yes, it can be a long process. It can be tough.  Are you up for the challenge?  I think those sales growth targets tell us there’s no other option.

Company culture needs to be recognized as a significant driver of performance. Leaders must commit to changing the culture and lead by example. Click To Tweet

ABOUT ANGELA LEACH

Angela is on a mission to create a happier workplace.  After all, everyone wins when people love coming to work: the employees, the customers and the company’s bottom line!

Connect with Angela for strategic planning, customized training and on-going coaching in the areas of: culture, strategy, employee experience, and customer experience.

7 FACTORS GETTING IN THE WAY OF ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS

7 FACTORS GETTING IN THE WAY OF ACHIEVING YOUR GOALS

After a roller coaster of a ride in 2020, you don’t want COVID to be one of the factors getting in the way of achieving your goals in 2021!

According to several sources such as Harvard Business Review, Objective Management Group, and Sandler Research Centre – only 43% of sales professionals achieved their sales goals in 2019. In 2020, it is speculated that this number was reduced closer to 40%.  How many of you and your sellers achieved your goals in 2020?

Only 43% of sales professionals achieved their sales goals in 2019. In 2020, it is speculated that this number was reduced closer to 40%. How many of you and your sellers achieved your goals in 2020? Click To Tweet

Let’s rise to the challenge of achieving more goals in 2021 to increase the economic vitality.  To achieve your sales goals this year, you need to be 100% committed to doing what it takes and 110% committed to saying no to any distractions that may get in the way.

Here are the Top 7 factors getting in the way of achieving your sales goals:

 

#1. Your Boss!

The #1 reason why sales professionals don’t achieve their goals is their boss!

If you are a sales professional – set your own goal and own it! 

If you are the sales leader, here is what you can do: Stop being their boss and become their coach! When a sales professional is provided a goal or given an increased percentage to achieve next year’s goal, it doesn’t work. Why? Because it is the boss’ goal and not their goal – they don’t own it and therefore it’s not meaningful to them. Ask your individual sales team members what goals they want to achieve.

Reality check: Their sales goal is typically higher than the goal you would set for them!

 

#2. One Year Sales Goals are Not Enough!

Where do want to be in 3 ­years? What sales goal do you want to accomplish in the next 3­ years? Perhaps its doubling your sales goal, becoming a Sales Leader, or landing a big client or contract.  Think bigger and set your 3­-year vision & goals, then map out your 1-year goal from there.

Reality Check: Many one-year goals don’t get sales professionals excited and committed to their future.

 

#3. High Maintenance Customers who take up a lot of your time but give you very little in sales.

To achieve your goals, be proactive and focus your time on your ideal profitable customers. Calculating your return on time invested (ROTI) and analyzing your current client list and time spent with each, could really bring to light who you should be spending more (or less) of your valuable time with.

Reality Check: You are probably spending too much time with a few high maintenance clients who are not contributing enough to your sales revenue.

 

#4. Winging It – Not having a weekly plan that will help you achieve your 3­-year & 1­-year goals.

How many customer meetings do you have scheduled for the next week or the next two weeks? Pre-­COVID, it wasn’t unheard of for a salesperson to spend multiple hours travelling to see a customer face-­to-­face, usually aiming to stop by to see other customers or prospects that are nearby. Now in the age of virtual selling, salespeople should be making the most of their saved travel time by dedicating this time to research and preparation for virtual customer meetings or prospecting. Turning those chunks of time that are typically spent in the car into productive time should increase your strategic, proactive, and even brave time.

Reality Check: Most sales professionals are more reactive than proactive with their time.

 

#5. Pipeline is not Robust Enough

With no tradeshows, events, or conferences during most of 2020, pipelines are getting thinner.  Sales Professionals must be strategic, proactive, and brave to consistently prospect to ensure there is enough in their pipeline to achieve their goals.

Reality Check: Most sales professionals don’t know their closing ratio.

 

#6. You Fall Down & Don’t Get Up Fast Enough

Sales is a roller coaster and there are many highs and lows, some even forcing us to fall when customers blow you off or reject your proposal – sending us in a downward spiral.  COVID forced many sales professionals into a downward spiral in the past year, the only thing that matters is how quickly we can break that spiral, get back up, and keep trying.

Reality Check: We all fall; the difference is whether you get up faster than your competitors.  

We all fall; the difference is whether you get up faster than your competitors. Click To Tweet

#7. Excuses

There is no shortage of excuses you can make as to why you can’t achieve your goals – especially after the whirlwind of a global pandemic. Other excuses can be the economy, customers not returning your calls/emails, a competitor having a better price, or not being able to meet F2F with customers. Identify your biggest obstacles then create strategies and an action plan to overcome each obstacle.  When you encounter these obstacles, you’ll be ready to tackle them…no excuses.

Reality Check: Many sales professionals are more creative to create excuses than create strategies to achieve their goals.

 

The past year has been full of adjustments and experiments, goals are no exception. As a sales community, being aware of these top 7 factors will help you be strategic, proactive and brave to achieve your 2021 goals.

Download our complimentary 3-­Year Goal Planning Template here to help you and your team set meaningful goals that motivate and excite you!