Sales Lessons From the ElectionWritten by Steve Waterhouse
Some problems must be solved early by Steve Waterhouse
We are watching a very fundamental sales management problem played out in Florida elections (this is not political!). It's called BLAME and it can destroy our sales organization from within.
When we affix blame, we immediately stop progress. We can often look at our job descriptions to see problem. In an election, job of elections supervisor is to observe rules and protect rule of law. As a result, when they find tens of thousands of bad ballots, they don't see it as a problem. In fact, they see it as a success. Their job was to set aside bad ballots. It says so in their job description! As a result, finding bad ballots equals doing their job.
But what if job description was changed. What if their job was to ensure that elections accurately reflected will of voters? In that case, bad ballots would be seen as a bad situation and any system that created too many bad ballots would immediately be fixed. In that case, Palm Beach County would have replaced their voting system four years ago when 14,000 bad ballots were discovered.
Look at some of metrics we use in job descriptions for our sales staffs. They can include making more calls, sending out more literature, giving more product presentations, submitting more proposals and even updating mailing list. Unfortunately, all of these can be successfully accomplished without ever getting to a single sale. Sales people can point to required task list and justify a very busy day with very little progress. They can blame everyone except themselves.
Fire Bad Clients?Written by Steve Waterhouse
Do you know what makes a good customer for your company? I'll bet you do. You know whether your company is better with Fortune 500 or Inc. 500. You know what product lines your operations service best and where quality is highest. You know what industries are willing to pay a premium for your level of customer care. You probably even know which customers are likely to have a long and profitable relationship with you and which are just looking for lowest bidder for this quarter's supplies.
On other hand, you know how to identify bad customers, too. The poor fits, bad credit risks, and demanding QA departments. The ones that ask for expensive prototypes with little probability of a significant purchase. Unfortunately, we book these either because they are easy sales or because we don't have enough good business ready to close. As a result, we waste valuable personal time and company resources on clients that will never show a significant return on investment.
Open up your Daytimer? right now and identify three clients that you know, in your heart of hearts, are bad fits for your company. Take this list to your sales manager and operations director and see if they agree. Now comes hard part. Fire bad clients!
I was facilitating a discussion at one of my clients last week when this very issue came up. It became clear that too many scarce engineering resources were being spent on projects that would never pay back investment. As we outlined a typical 'bad client', room erupted in a chorus of "I know which client that is!" We all agreed that this project had to be ended for good of company and, in fact, for good of client who would eventually be under-served. I asked, "Who's going to call client and tell them bad news?" Without hesitation most senior representative in room raised his hand. Without one complaint Isaac said, "It's my client. I'll call them."