Patient Determination

June 21, 2011

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” — John Quincy Adams

Recently, within the Sales & Selling Innovators Network on LinkedIn, someone asked:

 How might a sales person  be persistent enough—-but not importunate nor bothersome at the same time?

The Right Follow-up Strategy:

There sometimes is a fine line between persistence and stalking. My rule of thumb is to err on the side of patient determination–by being creative, professional—-while always reminding myself regarding how I feel when pursued by someone following up, “touching base” or “checking in.”

When I’m a Prospective Buyer:

Striking the Proper Balance: There are times I express interest in a particular product or service, but for a number of reasons I may not be ready to buy when the sales person initially calls or emails me; however, a few weeks or months down the road when I AM ready–only the persistent sales professional will get my businessnot the one that gives up after calling or emailing me once or twice.

At the same time, the overly-pushy, aggressive hunter who shows no genuine interest in understanding my needs, or cannot fathom how my schedule or other factors might require me to wait, or whose clamorous, one-note pitch is excessive and burdensome, will not earn my business either. (If I start thinking that I’d prefer a root canal without any local anesthetic than hearing from you again–it’s over)!

Sending reminder emails coupled with interesting content–and a once every 2-3 week brief “checking in” phone message is OK.

Patient determination enables the sales professional to demonstrate he/she is neither a quitter, nor a predator. Try it–in my experience your career will have staying power–and over time you will close more sales than ever before.

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John A. Fallone - Biz Dev. Consultant, CEO - Traininguru

Feel free to email me at jarfallone@gmail.com, call me at 203-274-6098 or click CONTACT US for more information.

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The Power of Passion

June 17, 2011

“Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” – Hebbel

Passion, in the context of this post, may be defined as:

  • Strong affection for an object, idea or concept
  • The object of an intense desire, ardent affection
  • Profound, fervent enthusiasm

Are you passionate in your personal and business life?

Passion often translates into success.

It has been said:

“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.” – Thomas Watson, Sr.

Passion is associated with authenticity.

When someone is communicating with enthusiasm, they convey credibility—-demonstrating that they genuinely believe what they are saying.

Passion enhances the probability that a call to action will result in change.

Whether you are a sales professional, public speaker, minister delivering a sermon, politician or someone speaking with family and friends, communicating with passion will enable you to more easily reach into your audience’s heart—-fostering action.

The more intensely we feel about an idea or goal,  the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment. – Earl Nightingale

Goal fulfillment in a world of marketing, communication and sharing ideas is intimately connected with an inspiring  call to action that results in a desired change on the part of the audience.

Closing a sale, for example, involves several steps ultimately facilitating a key action on the part of the prospect—-signing the contact.

At the end of a passionate sermon, the minister will sometimes initiate an altar call  in which those who desire to make a new spiritual commitment to the LORD are invited to come forward publicly.

“Passion is the power that drives a call to action, resulting in change.” – Traininguru

If you genuinely believe your product, service, idea or message will bring value to your audience–communicating with passionate enthusiasm will dramatically impact your listeners,  increasing the likelihood that your appeals will result in the desired action.

Possessing and exhibiting genuine passion dramatically increases one’s ability to positively influence others.

Consider the Passion Principle next time you want to get your point across to facilitate change.

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John A. Fallone - America's Leading Biz Dev. Consultant

Speaking of change, if your business could actually benefit from one—-specifically increased sales, greater profits and lower costs, call me at 203-274-6098 for a FREE telephone consultation–or send an email to me at jarfallone@gmail.com

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What are the Considerations When Designing Incentive Compensation ?

Management must have a clear vision regarding what it wants to accomplish.

The ideal, properly designed incentive compensation plan for the sales team, consisting of base pay + incentives, will attract and retain top sales talent, reward behaviors that promote organizational objectives, improve morale, enhance customer service, increase revenues, deliver a respectable ROI—while lowering the cost of sales.

A poorly crafted incentive comp plan, on the other hand, will tend to have the opposite impact—and will be exceedingly costly in more ways than one.

After deciding specific revenue targets for the sales team, management must develop an appropriate  way to measure the desired results.

Once management acknowledges the importance of accomplishing these goals, the key is that they  make a commitment to pay a desirable incentive  for the achievement of  these clear, organizational objectives.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18  – Lack of vision has resulted in many organizations perishing as well.

Unfortunately, many management teams do not design incentive compensation with the clearest  of visions as a point of departure. Hence, mistakes are all too common.

The Top 5 Mistakes in Designing Incentive Compensation

1). Failure to explain in writing—and in a meeting, the company’s compensation plan.

While this should be obvious, a written statement reflecting management’s philosophy regarding the idea behind the incentive plan, plus details how the program works, is crucial for getting off to a good start.

It is best to create written plan documents which include plan goals, definitions, payment structure, exceptions, assigned quotas—and whomever leads out in the compensation meeting should allow ample time and be prepared to answer all questions posed by the sales team.

2. Setting unreasonable quotas and uneven goals. Not clarifying which behaviors the company wishes to reinforce and reward is an indication that management is either “winging it,” immature, clueless or incompetent.  To maximize success and ROI, a sales incentive plan must be absolutely unambiguous, uncomplicated and fair—containing reasonably attainable goals.

If quotas and sales performance measures are not plainly and rationally standardized across a team of Account Executives, in no time flat, a spirit of discontent will permeate the ranks of the sales force. Interestingly, those who are the most diligent members of the team will tend to be most offended by management’s lack of fairness and failure to comprehend realities.

3. Failure to launch the plan in a progressive manner. Sales and Account Executives must be given adequate time to acclimate themselves to a new pay for performance comp plan. If you just decide to randomly  “start the program one day,” instead of promoting a gradual implementation, you can expect loads of trouble when unanticipated adjustments need to made, such as correcting quota inequities, clarifying objectives and other unanticipated comp plan glitches.    

4. Failure to creatively align the employee’s self-interest with the company’s business strategy and self-interest. After carefully defining the goals, objectives, delineating company strategy  and explaining how the sales team members’ performance is linked to company goals and objectives, the compensation plan must reward sales reps precisely for doing what you said you wanted them to do.

If there is any ambiguity regarding what sales team members are expected to do on order to reach the goals, get paid a bonus and commissions, you will impair the plan’s ability to drive consistent, sustainable accelerated revenues. A longer term negative impact will be poor morale and high turnover.

5. Designing an inappropriate type of incentive compensation for a particular worker category. This last mistake would almost appear to be ludicrous, absurd—even comical—if it weren’t such a disastrous flaw that is clearly no laughing matter.

However, if your goal is to inflict a severe wound to the life-blood of your organization (i.e. shrink the revenue stream and rapidly destroy credibility with clients and employees), pay attention to this grievous error…it could have a fatal, catastrophic impact on your revenue stream with little or no warning :

Team Sales/ Customer Relationship  Management

In the last several years, companies have recognized that you can exponentially grow sales and accelerate revenues by shifting to a multi-faceted, team sales/account management, support model.

A few years ago, I has the opportunity to work closely with a national technology company. One of my responsibilities was to create a Biz Dev. strategy to grow sales while simultaneously lowering costs.

I proposed the creation of a client support position that would handle day-to-day customer issues, after the National Account Manager landed a new account. The incentive compensation plan I designed consisted of a small override on the accounts that had been sold and handed off by the National Account Manager, to be paid out every quarter. In addition, any up-selling to these clients would reward the client support rep with a more generous commission on top of the quarterly bonus.

Client Support Incentive Compensation The client support incentive compensation was deliberately designed to NOT be associated with a quota assignment. The reason is simple—the support position is not a sales job! Competencies for client support and account management personnel  do not include the capacity to land new accounts or develop new business from scratch.

The best client support specialists and account managers serve as a a crucial, single point of contact for existing clients. They should possess superb communication and negotiation skills, but their focus should not be revenue growth–their priority should be Customer Relationship Management.

Customer Relationship Management CRM is extremely important because it costs significantly more money and  involves many more  resources to bring in brand new business, than it does to maintain existing accounts.

However, if an inferior, uninspired, exhausted, overburdened  or careless customer support team precipitates the loss of existing client business, the revenue disappears–and the higher cost “hunter” Account Executive program must go into high gear to generate new sales in an attempt to offset the lost revenue.

The Value of a High Performing Account Management Teams

A high performing team of Client Support , CRM Specialists and Account Managers ensures the revenue stream associated with existing clients remains intact—and even incrementally grows to the extent that upsells, upgrades and some new “farming” opportunities trickle in and are handled professionally.

Quota Based Incentive Compensation is Contraindicated for Customer Relationship Management Teams A quota in such circumstances only serves to distract the team from their chief, central, extremely critical, Customer Relations/Client Services/Account Management role: keeping existing accounts happy, solving their problems, offering valuable solutions—which translates into keeping the revenue engine flowing steadily!

Instituting an incentive comp plan involving a quota in a Customer Relations/farming/maintenance/account manager position is confusing and discourages  account management/client services team members.

Invariably, there are a few “satisfied” account managers who inevitably “luck out” with being handed an unusually hot book of business that almost automatically grows with minimal effort on their part. Needless to say it is not in the company’s overall best interest to place so much wonderful, flowing recurring revenue at risk–and in potentially serious jeopardy.

Why it is inappropriate to assign a quota to someone in a Customer Relationship Management Role.

If in order to get a decent bonus,  Account Managers end up to concentrating their primary efforts toward growing revenue,  the Customer Relationship Management/client retention strategy becomes severely compromised.

When Account Managers feel compelled to shift their focus to a sales/new business development scenario, overall client support tends to suffer. 

Such a shift is counter-productive, because it is downright dangerous to de-emphasize caring for the many existing clients whose business generates a stable flow of  revenue, in favor of concentrating on dealing with fewer accounts, with the hope of growing the revenue of the overall book of business.

Long Term Consequences: Eroded Client Relationships and Lost Revenues:

Initiating a quota based compensation plan for client services or account management teams will invariably result in deteriorating customer service, because the comp plan rewards revenue growth instead of  properly building, supporting, managing  and strengthening client relationships.

Is your company at risk?

Properly designed and appropriately implemented incentive compensation programs in the hands of a talented, professional team of sales representatives/account executives, will have a positive, tangible business impact, yielding exceptional sales growth; however, if your company is currently guilty of one or more of the Top 5 Mistakes in Designing Incentive Compensation, you may be at risk relative to losing a significant chunk of recurring revenue—or at best, you are not optimizing human capital—therefore not maximizing your potential for accelerating revenue growth, improving customer service, enhancing employee morale—while simultaneously lowering costs.

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John A. Fallone: America's Leading Biz Dev Consultant

John A. Fallone is a Biz Dev. consultant, marketing strategist, Web Solutions Expert, sales and training executive, turnaround specialist, motivational speaker, legendary sales manager, copywriter and Founder, President, & CEO of TRAININGURU and THE HUMAN FACE OF TECHNOLOGY

For more than 20 years John has assisted successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, IT & business leaders implement proven, powerful high growth strategies—while lowering costs, increasing profits, improving employee retention and enhancing customer service.


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Many companies, including start-ups and small to mid-size organizations, make decisions regarding incentive pay for sales executives, account managers, sales/client support team members and others connected with the sales process.

In some cases the goal may be to implement a program for the first time; in other instances the objective may be to modify an existing plan.

Whenever incentive pay is being considered, it is wise to take into account at least three factors:

  • The definition of success
  • The nature of your selling systems
  • The role of management

THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS:
A properly designed incentive program will align rewards, commissions, bonuses and other payments with organizational objectives. The chief–and most basic principle, is that sales, account executives and client support team members are given rewards for achieving results.

If the comp plan is appropriately linked with business strategy and objectives, the organization will be able to attract, motivate and retain the best and the brightest sales and client support team.

On the other hand, failure to define success will invariably lead to poor morale, employee turnover, lackluster productivity and increased cost of sales.

Some questions that need to be addressed are:

What is the organization endeavoring to accomplish? Are the business’s strategic interests and objectives aligned with the results you want your sales team to achieve? Are these results reasonably attainable—and do they realistically define “success” as it is communicated and understood by the sales team?

THE NATURE OF YOUR SELLING SYSTEMS

Sales professionals often speak of their unique style or method of selling. My many years as a sales executive and sales manager in a variety of industries attest to the fact that indeed there are as many different styles as there are personality types. Sales success is not dependent on any one style. I’ve observed many top performers who were “low key” individuals, and other highly productive individuals  who demonstrated a more outgoing and demonstrative demeanor.

Nevertheless, every organization needs to have a standardized selling system to which all representatives adhere. If you research virtually any successful company, you’ll find there is in place a series of tools, principals, procedures and methods that provide a foundation whereby success may maximized.

The selling system involves the manner in which a sales entity interfaces with prospects and clients. It also addresses how sales is integrated internally within an organization via sales support, account management, operations, IT, marketing, HR and other departments.

A CASE STUDY

Some time ago I did work for a technology company that specialized in serving multiple location businesses, including retailers.

National Account Managers had two key responsibilities: they were responsible for driving new business and for maintaining a single-point-of-contact with existing customers. Over time it became apparent that the most productive “hunter” type NAMs inevitably became bogged down by their own success; the more clients they acquired, the less time they had to prospect for new accounts, because the existing business they had sold required maintenance as well.

The traditional company “solution” to this problem had been to hire an additional NAM to pick up the slack and break up the existing NAM’s territory. The message that came through was that a productive, quota-busting NAM actually ended up being penalized for his or her success.

My recommendation to the CEO was that we introduce a pilot program in Boston where the NAM would be linked with a Client Support Representative (actually a NASR or National Account Support Rep) who would handle the single-point-of-contact duties, up-grades of systems, follow-up on new store or facility openings and ensure client needs and questions were handled in a professional and timely fashion.

I designed a compensation plan for the NASR position, including an incentive tied to all of the accounts sold by the NAM.

This new program more than doubled sales within nine months and eventually was brought to Dallas, Chicago, Ohio, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other key cities and sales grew 1000%.

In addition, customer service improved, client retention was phenomenal and employee turnover was brought down to a minimum. Most importantly, as revenues increased, the cost of sales plummeted.

In this instance, the selling system paradigm shifted to a team concept, aligning sales, support, technical services and operations. All offices used virtually identical methods, tools and approaches which were aligned with the business objective of acquiring, maintaining and retaining profitable national account business.

THE ROLE OF MANAGEMENT

Management support and involvement is crucial in order to maximize the effectiveness and success of any incentive pay program. It should be fully recognized and understood that incentive compensation for the sales team acknowledges their very unique challenges and contribution to the organization. Nothing happens until somebody sells something. Properly designed, incentive pay rewards those behaviors that produce the results desired by the company.

It is the sales manager’s job to train, direct, motivate and inspire members of the sales team to excellence.

A genuine sales management professional knows how to hire the right people up front, communicate effectively (including the details of the comp plan) and  mentor his or her people—ultimately  building  a most highly effective sales team.

Incentive pay, rightly designed and managed by a pro-active, hands-on professional sales manager, is a winning combination that will not only drive increased sales, but also improve morale, retention of employees and lower the cost of sales. Elimination of one or more of these factors will likely minimize, if not stifle a maximum positive impact.

Traininguru

John A. Fallone

JOHN A. FALLONE is a Biz Dev Consultant, Marketing Strategist, SEO Specialist, Sales Executive, business growth expert, turnaround specialist, motivational speaker, legendary sales manager, training specialist, copywriter and Founder, President, & CEO of Traininguru and THE HUMAN FACE OF TECHNOLOGY

TRAININGURU solves business and interpersonal problems, specializing in creating simple, yet highly effective business strategies to accelerate revenue growth while reducing costs.

For more than 20 years, John has assisted successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, business leaders and IT executives in the development and implementation of proven, powerful, high growth strategies that have exponentially boosted revenues and increased profits, while dramatically improving employee motivation and retention.

Contact:

John
_____________________________
John A. Fallone
President, Biz Dev Consultant & CEO

Office:  1-203-274-6098
Mobile: 1-203-536-1093
jarfallone@gmail.com
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Traininguru’s Blog

March 24, 2009

Traininguru’s blog discusses business and interpersonal solutions fostering improvement.

Business and people are intimately connected. Successful organizations provide solutions to problems. While technology continues to play a conspicuous role in facilitating ingenious business solutions, the bottom line is that people are the driving force of achievement.

People create and implement the innovative products, services, strategies and technologies that improve life, grow businesses and actualize potential.  

Social Media, as we’ve come to know it, is of course grounded in technology–but it is the millions of people networking–interacting, sharing ideas, opinions and building relationships, who energize this phenomenon–transforming our business and communications landscape.   

Having said that, Traininguru also believes that failure to take into consideration the spiritual component of human endeavors is to tell only part of the business and interpersonal solutions story.  Our existence is no accident. We are here because life itself is part of a Strategic Planning process. 

Spiritual  Perspectives shares elements of what Paul Harvey used to call, The Rest of the Story.

Traininguru  resolves business and interpersonal problems. We identify barriers to sales growth, formulating corrective measures to boost revenues, increase profits, improve customer service, foster employee retention–while lowering operating costs.

America's Leading Biz Dev. Consultant

John A. Fallone - America's Leading Biz Dev. Consultant

John A. Fallone is a Biz Dev. Consultant, marketing strategist, sales executive, turnaround specialist, training guru, motivational speaker, legendary sales manager, copywriter and Founder, President, & CEO of TRAININGURU  http://www.traininguru.comand

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THE HUMAN FACE OF TECHNOLOGY  programs and resources call upon decades of knowledge and experience in research, business, education, leadership development, management, training, facilitation, organizational development, psychology and information technology–transforming IT cultures–empowering a more client-focused, (as opposed to technology-driven), technical workforce.

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jarfallone@gmail.com
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