Thursday, December 3, 2009

Do you know your Sales Cycle? Has it changed?

I was prompted to write about this by the news, today, that more than seven in 10 CEO Institute
members are expecting their revenue to increase in the first six months of 2010. One task stands out above all others for the CEOs surveyed — maintaining sales (46 per cent).

So if you are just getting back into the swing of positive action on sales, bear in mind that decision criteria will have changed, approval processes may be different and attitudes are different than they were a year ago.

More than ever, showing value is paramount, but bear in mind that your customers are also hinging their hopes on an increased revenue stream that may not yet have materialised. I'm seeing more customers who are interested in a phased implementation, limited commitment approach. In other words, they want to taste it before they buy.

So be prepared for a changed sales cycle.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More Sales Gems

Here are some more sales gems as promised.

  • If you don’t pay commission to your sales people then they are not sales people
    o Customer service people who up sell without commission are not sales people
    o Marketing people are not sales people
    o Accountants are not sales people
    o The closest thing to sales people are company owners. They are the only other category who only get paid if they exceed their job duties.
  • Don’t limit commission
    o Decide beforehand that you are happy to pay for delivery. The quickest way to lose your best sales person is to start arguing after the sales is done.
  • Do pay a percentage of last month’s billings(revenue or margin or both) as commission, if you are in an annuity business.
  • For most industries, there is no such thing as seasonality, only lack of planning.
  • The key to sales, as with any science, is research and research implies asking questions.

It is obvious that these gems, as with any gem, require to be viewed in the correct setting.

If you would like to delve deeper into this area, please visit or send an email to And now you can follow me in

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Some Sales Gems

I was recently asked what I would present, as Sales Gems, in 20 minutes to a group of up and coming company owners. As I have not updated the blog for a while, I though they may be useful here.

Here are a few of them.

  • Sales does not have to be an Art, it can scale through application of technology and process.
  • Don’t let a sales team just happen. There is a skill and team balance just as there is in any team.
  • Don’t be happy with 20% of your sales team delivering 80% of your sales. If this is the case then you’ve either a) Picked the wrong team, or b) Don’t understand your sales process
  • If you, as the company owner, are the company’s best sales person then you haven’t been able to document your sales process.
  • Don’t expect the sales team to share your values a) You built the company, they didn’t and b) Sales people are rarely in the office, they don’t get to share the daily banter and the daily examples of how you apply your values.

I've also put together a template for a sales plan.

If you would like a copy please email me at

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Art of Sales and when to use it.

Anyone in sales will know what it is like to have to put up with the all of the forms and systems that your company insists that you complete. I recall a sales person in a successful Telco telling me that he had to enter the same data in seven different forms each week and couldn't understand why. I admit that it doesn't make sense to me. This was a bureaucracy that had to produce reports and they didn't care that they were taking time away from revenue generation to obtain the data. At worst you should only have to enter the data once.

It will become obvious to anyone who cares to examine the sales process that it is better to spend money on a system than reduce sales time. So you still need to collect the data but make sure that any system is helping sales and is not designed to penalise the sales person for not wanting to spend time entering data into a system that will not help the sales process.

So where does the Art of Sales come into play? I've realised that the Art in a sale is the part of me that enjoys winning a deal. The Art of me in a sales process only needs to be engaged once I have a qualified opportunity. It is the sales process, or sales production system, that delivers the opportunity to me. And don't confuse an opportunity with a lead.

If you want to find out more about creating a sales process then visit

Friday, May 29, 2009

Networking is Forever

This is probably some of the best advice that I can give on Networking to anyone, especially if they have just entered the workforce or just started their career in sales. Keep in touch with your peers.
If you are going to succeed there is a fair chance that the people that you know, and meet, are also going to succeed. Whilst they may not currently be in a position to make decisions, it will become obvious that a number of them will make it to the top of their various pyramids. I still stay in touch with people that I worked with 25 years ago. We may not see each other socially but every now and then they receive either a phone call or an email from me.

As a sales manager, whenever one of my sales people came back to the office and reported that a person that they were dealing with had left the company, my first questions were 1. Where did they go? and 2. Do you have their contact details. Why? Well why waste all that work developing a relationship and not use it to gain entry to another company?

Social Media sites such as LinkedIn have made it easier to do this. You can see my LinkedIn profile here.

If you want to find out more about networking then go to

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

There is another way!

This is where the inspiration lead me. (See prior post)

I’ve been working on a business concept for businesses who can see no way to survive the recession other than retrenching a large amount of employees.

You may be aware that I’ve started a series of seminars to help generate business for my own company. During research for one of the seminars “Great Things About Recession” a customer called me to ask about sales to a large company that was about to announce significant retrenchments. So I posed the question “Is there another way?”.

It took some time to research the pertinent facts but unsurprisingly, after much research, it became obvious!

The only remaining problem that I have is to find companies before they take that step.

So if you know of a company that is looking at retrenching employees please let me know.
After all, if I could show you how to save up to $1m and come out the other side of the recession with a stronger, more successful company with a more committed and productive work force, wouldn’t you be interested?

To help me inplement this I have set up a business alliance with one of the most successful business and coaching organisations in the world.

The sooner you contact me, the better it will be on all counts.

PS: I haven’t put anything on my website about this because it’s too new and I’ve only just worked it out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Inspiration, Where do you get it?

I've been trying to come up with a few topics for a seminar series and was struggling. Just because I might find a topic interesting does not mean that anyone else will. Then it became obvious, if I was struggling for inspiration then many others, probably, are facing the same problem.

Those who have known me for many years know that I will usually get up and pace. There is an amazing difference between the level of ideas that I can generate at a keyboard compared to when I pace. I think it is one of the reasons that I learned to enjoy giving presentations. My wife and work colleagues will often tell stories of me pacing like a caged lion.

However, I have now made another observation. A 4am this morning I managed to gain some clarity as to some future business growth strategies, and figure out what I wanted to add to my blog.

Immediately following this epiphany I recalled one of my favourite poets, Rives, and his theory about 4am being the new midnight. Check him out at

If you want to explore some inspiration then go to to find out more.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Speaking with Authority

Last week I presented the first in a series of InterMizzi seminars. I was coming off the back of a successful talk on Digital Signage and thought that my topic "Selling to, and for, C-Level Executives" would hold the interest of the audience. It will become obvious that even if you are an experienced presenter, there are a few rules that you must to follow.

I have presented on over 200 occasions over the last five years. This has given me a greater appreciation of the skill of some of the greatest presenters. I started this presentation with a short video of the poet Taylor Mali and his spoken word piece titled "Like you-Know" in which he questions the wisdom of the bumper sticker " is not enough to challenge authority, you gotta speak with it too." Then I went on to stumble over my words.

It is hard to talk with conviction and authority about something that you have never before vocalised. You can be passionate but not necessarily authoritative. So one of the rules about presenting, at least for me, is to rehearse out loud.

Go to to find out more.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Five Rules for Keeping Your Sales Job in this Recession

Early this morning I sat in on a Webinar presented by Jeb Blount from SalesGravy and hosted by Landslide, a Sales CRM company.

The focus was on sales people, mostly in the US, who are worried about keeping their jobs. The five rules given are:
  • Activity is Everything
  • Don't Complain
  • Become Indispensable
  • Make No Enemies
  • Have a Backup Plan

Most of the advice is the same as the advice that you would hear for advancement in more prosperous times. The significant difference is that recession brings fear to those who thought they were on a comfortable ride, and the ride is always relative.

Whilst Australia is fearing unemployment rates of 7%, the US is predicting 10 to 12%. A recent survey in the US found that 50% are worried that they would lose their job. Clearly a large portion of them are focussing on worrying rather than doing their job.

Then I found an article "The Upside of a Down Market: 10 Reasons Why a Recession is Good for Selling" written by Victor Antonio in which he relates his time as VP of Sales in Argentina when Argentina's unemployment rate was somewhere between 20% and 25%.

So it is obvious that whilst there might be 5 rules for keeping your job in a recession, there are at least 10 reasons why a recession is good for selling.

Go to to find out more.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just like a Salesman

When was the last time that you received this compliment? I'll bet that it wasn't meant as something in which you could take pride. Ironic given that we are the people charged with bringing in the revenue!

I recently gave a speech to the sales team of a large international company with a very recognisable brand. I was asked to present to their sales team of thirty and I started with the question “Who in the Sales team started their career with the goal of sales as a profession?” I was surprised that two people raised their hands. I’m usually rewarded with an audience bereft of hands. It is a sad fact that Sales is not seen as a professional career when sales can be one of the most rewarding of professions.

Studies in the USA (HR Chally Group) show that, of all employee groups, sales staff has the highest turnover. This ranges from 25-30% in a good organisation with the worst companies up to 60-70%. Another statistic from the study is that over 50% who graduate college become sales people.

So it is obvious that there is a great chance that Sales people end up being the leaders of the organisation, as long as Sales people treat their career as a profession. This means that you need to invest time in your career.

Go to to find out more.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Qualification, Qualification and Qualification

This is a mantra that I've held for many years. Where Real Estate preaches Position, Position, Postion the equivalent mantra for sales must be that the three most important things to remember for sales is Qualification, Qualification and Qualification.

So what does that mean? It means that you should not spend your time with those prospects that don't need your attention right now. It will become obvious when you think about it that you can still get it all wrong if you don't have some plan for the qualification. You need to know the criteria that allows you to see if a client fits you. Then you will be able to determine if you fit the client.

And this is not to say that you ditch a prospect just because they haven't called you back as persistence is still key. I sat in on a sales teleconference yesterday where the following statistics were given:
  • 2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
  • 3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
  • 5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
  • 10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
  • 80% of sales are made on or after the 5th contact <<== WOW

So if you have tried at least 5 times then at least you are not selling yourself short. Just make sure that you are qualifying the opportunity on the way through.

Go to to find out more.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Focus on the Positive

Living in Central Victoria, the last two weeks have been proven to be a difficult time to maintain a positive outlook. With the number of people out of a job and the economy nosediving everything looks gloomy. Then again, how do you compare this with the death toll from the bushfires now over 200 and over 1000 homes lost. I live 20Km from one of the fires that broke out on 7th February so was naturally worried but a friend of mine got out of Marysville about 1.5 hours before it was lost. How do you balance that with reports that up to 100 people lost their lives in Marysville? You don't and you can't. All you can do is grieve and then remember to focus on the positive.

It will become obvious that for most of us, we have friends and family to help share the load. Hopefully for those left without a family, friends will help fill the void.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Karma Deal (not to be confused with a bluebird)

I'm not sure if I coined the term Karma Deal or not. The first time I used it was in 1994.

A colleague and I had started the Melbourne office of a distributor and we were having trouble getting the orders flowing. After a few months of desperation I went to a former senior sales executive that we had both worked with a few years prior and asked him, what was his secret?

He gave us a simple format that provided regular activity and contact with companies that should be interested in what we had to sell. It worked! And every time sales slowed down we would dust off the same routine and it never failed to work. The funny thing was that, often, the sales came from a different direction than we expected.

The lesson we learned was that the sales never came if we sat pondering the universe. Eventually, it became obvious that we created our own Karma.

Bluebirds are those opportunities that fly in the window with the salesperson not having to lift a finger. They have nothing to do with Karma!

Go to to find out more.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Making More Of It Obvious

Most of the people I know make sure that they read and listen to new ideas because it is obvious that the quickest way to gain knowledge is to learn from those who are already successful at it.

So when there are thousands of books, audio streams, courses, websites and blogs out there, how do you know which ones to follow up? I do know some people who seem to be trying to read everything that comes along. I prefer to follow the path of the advice above and take recommendations from those who have already read the book.

A recent great read is the book Made To Stick by Dan & Chip Heath. It is about making ideas stickier. They have some great free resources at their website

Go to to find out more.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What is top of mind right now for everyone?

For most of us it is “Will I make it through the recession?”

Those of us with enough experience (some would say “wisdom gained with age”) have the fortune to have lived through this a number of times. One of my favourites was in 1993 when my General Manager told me that he would know by breakfast if our whole division was to be closed.

When he met me the next morning he informed me that we were both out of a job!
Then “The Internet” took off and both of us worked our way into senior roles in the IT&T industry.

There is always a way through and most of the time it will lead to something better. If you can't see the way through then ask someone for help!

Go to to find out more.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How to develop a corporate partnership?

I was recently asked how to establish a partnership relationship instead of being known as a product supplier. The answer is in the questions that you ask.
A partnership is a strategic relationship. If you get to be in front of a decision maker and start pushing your product then you will be relegated to the position of product supplier. On the other hand, if you start asking questions about their business then you will immediately differentiate yourself from the rest of the field.
What questions should you ask? Take some time to research the company and you will find suitable questions. If you really want to impress then make sure you read their annual report and press releases and organise your questions to seek clarification. This also happens to be the best way to figure out where your product or solution will best assist the company in reaching their goals.

Go to to find out more.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Recovering from the Global Recession

Most companies will take time honored approaches to try to get through a recession: reducing costs, delaying projects, stretching creditors, reducing debtors.
However, it is obvious that there must be a focus on maintaining, or increasing, revenue.
One of the assumptions is that sales revenue will be reduced, that the current sales team will not be able to close as much business as last year. The problem with this assumption is that the best sales people will still find business. So why can’t the rest of your sales team make their numbers?
Only those sales people who know how to sell, know how to prospect, qualify, engage, negotiate and close will be able to achieve budget.
Why do you have sales people in your team who don’t know how to sell?
As the market grew, you looked for anyone who resembled a sales person. This is not an uncommon mistake. I have made the same mistake in the past. The only difference is that I now know more about selecting a sales person.

Go to to find out more.