The 14 Sales Questions We Need to Ask

December 2, 2014 Leave a reply

1. Do you have a clear sales strategy and is it still relevant and appropriate for what you sell, who sells it and whom you sell it to?

2. What is your compelling sales proposition? What makes it unique or different and how does it match up to your competition?

3. Do you have a Sales and Marketing plan with clear vision and SMART objectives for your company and team?

4. Are the roles and responsibilities clear between team members, Sales and Marketing and Business Development?

5. Who is in charge of leadership, training, coaching and mentoring? Are your sales people improving? Do they know where and on what to focus their time/energy?

6. Does your sales team have achievable and communicated sales targets? Are your sales team members appropriately rewarded and incentivized to make sales and hit/exceed sales targets? How do you communicate and reward customer wins?

7. What is your target market? What are your different routes or channels to that market? Which ones are fastest or optimal?

8. What is your Buyer Profile? What problem does your product/service solve?

9. How do you generate leads? Where do you capture this and other prospect information? How do you analyse trends and report on the business success/failure?

10. What is the split that you need of existing versus new business? What is your client retention rate? What is your new business conversion rate?

11. Do you sell face to face or over the phone? How do your sales people sell? What methodology do they use? Does it matter? How many sales stages are there in your sales process? Is it different across the team? Why?

12. Do you sell products or services? What do you want to sell? Can you bundle your products into a service? Is that easier/more profitable?

13. Do you have/measure sales KPIs? Do you have a CRM system? Does your sales team submit sales forecasts? Do you have regular Sales Pipeline reviews? How often do you meet as a team? How do you share sales best practices? What tools do you/they use?

14. How often do you meet your Clients? Why is it important? Who do you meet? What do you discuss? How is this feedback communicated to the company?

When I meet Company Directors for the first time I try and ask most of these questions to get an understanding of what problems and challenges they are facing in their sales team. The answers are always interesting but more often than not they are very similar regardless of company size, industry or sales team complexity. We then start work on developing a high performing sales team of independent creative and entrepreneurial members yet also unafraid to ask for help!

Improving your Sales and Marketing Performance

November 25, 2014 Leave a reply

I suppose the first point to make is that we can all improve our sales and marketing performance but clearly some businesses are winning at the moment and many others are struggling. What you were doing a few years ago to win new business and new clients is no longer enough and probably isn’t working anyhow. You noticed that I said “new” and this is important as clients will come and go, enlarge, divest, merge, be acquired so you will always experience some natural shrinkage but new business is the lifeblood of any business. The 80/20 rule applies here, you need 20% of new clients.

So clients used to come to you or you employed someone to “generate leads” but now these clients have procurement departments, tenders, and on-line auctions. Things have changed and these new buyers seem to be armed with all sorts of knowledge and questions and scoring ratios. The internet seems to have changed your world forever and there are competitors offering your services cheaper and cheaper and they’re not even based in the UK. What can you do to change the tide and understand better what you should/must do next.

The fact is that inbound marketing alongside targeted marketing of decision-makers can help your business receive more qualified sales leads and more cost effectively than hiring a cold caller. Your business can use CRM effectively to drive these qualified leads through the sales funnel and measure your sales performance objectively. How many times have I heard “we don’t really use our CRM system to do that, it’s more a contact database”.

By properly integrating sales and marketing you can improve your sales and marketing performance?

  • Has your compelling sales proposition become less compelling?
  • Have you ever had an independent sales and marketing review of your business?
  • Do you want theory or do you want someone to implement?
  • Is cold calling and all those emails getting you results?
  • Jefferson Sales has been advising Sales Directors, General Managers and Managing Directors for over 10 years on sales issues. We have assisted with sales strategy, customer and market segmentation, developing buyer personas and compelling sales propositions, implementing effective sales processes and systems including CRM, commission and incentive structures, selecting sales people, and performance managing sales teams. This sort of external expertise is available and has been widely used by our clients.

    Contact us to learn more about our services. We can tailor what we do for your exact needs.

How do you become a Sales Led Organisation

November 17, 2014 Leave a reply

When talking to many Company Directors about their sales journey a number of issues become evident. Two of those greatest issues are selling solutions rather than products or services and becoming a marketing or sales-led organisation rather than technical or operational-led.

They need to move fast from a product or service company to a solution company that listens to client needs and reacts by providing solutions to these challenges. This means that they have to start building buyer profiles and understanding their clients’ roles and objectives. Now they can compete on value rather than price. They also need to assess whether they have the right sales people who can adapt to this approach.

The second point is that the whole company needs to be in charge of marketing and sales not just the sales or marketing people.

Companies need to engage with customers “pulling” rather than just “pushing” and create a dialogue rather than a monologue. This means a shift in culture, a shift in how sales and marketing is viewed as a separate and distinct function or discipline and a process for capturing and disseminating information from across the business.

Utilising and optimising sales tools and technology to automate and capture these touch points between the company and its clients or potential clients becomes the only way in which a company can truly collaborate and analyse customer engagement.

Whether it be inbound marketing initiatives, full utilisation of CRM systems, and creating a culture of “We’re all sales now” there are ways to assist this transition and implement the appropriate systems.

Jefferson Sales has been helping Company Directors transform their sales organisation since 2005.

Coaching Great Teams

November 10, 2014 Leave a reply

As I watch my North London football team capitulate again and England narrowly lose to New Zealand in both forms of Rugby I think about leadership and team coaching.

As members of a team whether that is sporting, I coach an under-15 rugby union team in my spare time, or in business we all make decisions and judgements that affect the outcome. Many times these are snap or quick decisions and therefore we need a toolkit and to know what options we have. These can often be taught or are learnt from making mistakes. Our coaches and leaders help us to make the right decisions.

Yes we also need Managers to help us but far better if they don’t just manage but also coach, mentor, inspire and lead us and then we can really look up to them. We are not automatons and therefore we need constant motivation, inspiration and desire to improve all aspects of our job whether that is as a sports person or as a sales person.

Coaching helps us focus on aspects of our role and step back and look at what we do and think positively about what we can do to improve rather than just negative criticism. After all no-one really likes criticism.

A coach who has been in our situation is more respected than one who hasn’t (armchair critic) and it is the same with sales. An experienced Sales Director can effectively coach, mentor, inspire and develop your sales people to improve what they do by discussing real world scenarios and providing proven tools, processes and tactics. A winning mentality is infectious and of course no-one likes losing…

Jefferson Sales has been leading and coaching sales people and creating high performing sales teams in companies since 2005.

Sales Under-Performance – Don’t leave it too long!

November 7, 2014 Leave a reply

The truth is that once a Managing Director decides to hire an external sales consultant to review their sales team or sales department they have often left it too long.

The company has been in sales growth decline for at least 6 months, some sales team members have been behind their sales targets for 12 months or more and never got a sales forecast correct. This has demotivated other members of the team and has created a culture of “it’s okay to under-perform”.

The truth is that it is okay to have a bad quarter but two in a row or more and questions need to be asked. But where does the fault lie if you’ve created the culture where this is acceptable?

For many companies they are in decline, their product or service used to be competitive and lead the market but they stopped innovating and lost their agility and flexibility. They stopped listening to the market-place and went into their shells. Some sales team members became lazy and complacent and there is little new blood coming in to shake up the hierarchy.

As their competitors adopted sales tools and improved their sales processes and moved from transactional to consultative and value-based selling they were able to steal a march. Using CRM and business intelligence from their marketing departments and deeper understanding of client needs they were able to build better relationships and predict future needs. They were also able to innovate their products and services to better align with these needs and structure their sales teams better around these customers.

The market for your products or services is constantly changing and your sales structure and team need to be able to adapt to these changes. The old way of selling won’t work any more and if you are the Managing Director you need to act sooner rather than later before it becomes harder to implement change.

Getting an external perspective or performing an independent sales and marketing audit of your department might be one good approach.

Jefferson Sales provides independent sales management consultancy and interim sales services to Managing Directors and can be contacted on:

T: +44 (0)20 7096 2005



Why hire a part-time Sales Manager?

November 15, 2011 Leave a reply

In today’s economic climate it is even more important to keep your focus on sales and the steady growth of your business. As competitors find it difficult and scale back there will be more opportunities for you, if they don’t make it then there will be more customers for you. As the saying goes “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.

For many businesses they don’t have the need, the budget, or the desire to take the risk of hiring a full-time Sales Director or Manager to manage the Sales team. The reality is that your best Sales person is not necessarily the best person to move into this role as the Sales team gets bigger or more geographically dispersed. After all inevitably he or she will be spending less time “selling” and more time “managing”. This is not good news when Sales are harder.

What we have been doing over the last three years is providing interim and part time Sales Directors to performance manage the Sales teams in client companies and we really believe this is a long term solution for companies not able to hire full time Sales Management. The benefits are numerous:

  • More cost effective paying for 1-2 days per week rather than 5 days
  • Less intrusive for the Sales team so they become more independent
  • Reduce the need for management to get involved in Sales performance
  • Real experience of managing, developing, building and motivating successful sales people
  • Flexible resource that can be turned on or off as needed
  • Sales team learn new skills from experienced Sales Directors
  • Consolidate and streamline Sales reporting and pipeline management
  • Meeting and call shadowing to improve presentation, communication, and negotiation skills
  • Proper coaching and mentoring of Sales team
  • Assistance in identifying poor performers and Sales people in the wrong job
  • Making sure that motivation and incentives reflect the Sales market-place
  • Helping with strategic direction of company and growth objectives
  • Using executive Global 500 network to assist with Sales

We have helped all sorts of Business to Business companies; some on a project basis getting them in better shape for sale or merger; some to assist the Managing Director start a new business or reorganise a function; some with start up funding but no Sales management structure, and many others to improve Sales systems, Sales processes and the performance of their Sales People.

Please call us to discuss your challenge, it is more than likely that we have heard it all before and have examples of solutions we have provided to reassure you that we can help.

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