Archive for September, 2016

Grow Your Own Sales People

Hiring from within: the planting, feeding and cultivating of your own sales people

We all know that finding and hiring good sales people has become a problem. There are just not that many good ones out there right now. They are either, retired, gone to work in other fields or like the old general himself just faded away. So what are you going to do? You need sales people. You need more feet on the street and you need them now.

But don’t despair, there is a solution and that is to grow your own. I can just about guarantee that there are a number of very good sales people buried somewhere in your own company, right there under your very nose, people who are just sitting there hoping that someday they can be asked to join the glorious ranks of outside sales. All you have to do is identify them, talk to them and get them on track to becoming good outside sales people. Here is how you do it.

The first place to look is your inside sales team. By all rights this should be the training ground, the farm team for your future outside sales people. But this is not always the case. There are many inside sales people who like what they do and want to keep doing it for life. But there are others, always at least one who is just chomping at the bit to get out of there and get into outside sales. You know the one, often he’s not even as good at his job as others in his department are. But he has the gift of gab and he is almost always the favorite of the outside sales team. This is the person you talk to and start grooming for outside sales. Not today mind you, but in the future because there is still work to do get him ready for that plunge into outside sales.

Then you should also look at your engineering people. Look for that person who is good with customers. The person who seems to have a better working relationship with your customers. He is the one who always seems to be mentioned in those customer testimonials lauding your company for how helpful you are. This is the person who always stands up for the customer when there is a customer issue and once again this is the person who is the favorite of the outside sales team.

The same characteristics apply to anyone in the company, Quality and operations people as well.

Once you have spotted your likely candidate start the process:

Sit down with her and talk about her career path (you should be doing this with all of your employees anyway, you’ll be shocked at how much talent you actually have in your company). If she is interested in a career in sales start grooming her for that positions. Do don’t put her out in the field right away. Develop a long term plan for her, figure out how long it will take and start the training then start by developing a full-blown training plan.

This plan should include:

  • Learning all aspects of the company so the person has a complete understanding of the process; how boards are built from beginning to end.
  • Exposure to all other departments especially Engineering and CAM.
  • Spending time with the inside sales team; actually not only watching what they do but also doing it as well.
  • Learning how a board is quoted and priced and how the customer is approached with that price and becoming familiar with how the quote is written up and delivered to the customers
  • Merchandizing and negotiating directly with the customer. How to upsell.
  • Learning everything possible about the company how it started and its’ history.
  • Becoming familiar with the company’s sales strategy.
  • Becoming familiar with the company’s marketing and branding plan including all of the collateral materials and advertising.
  • Teaching the person how to sell for the company. Have one of your best sales people teach her how to sell.
  • Get him involved in “ride-alongs” with the sales people.
  • Have her attend a local trade show

You should be evaluating them all along the way, checking out to see just how into it they actually are. This is a great time to not only see how they do but if they are well suited for an outside sales position.

Then when she’s ready assign her a territory and wish her well; and the start the process all over again with a new candidate.

In the end this will all pay off. In some cases you will dodge a bullet be discovering that the person is not well-suited for a sales job; but in many cases you will be developing a well-trained company loyal professional sales person. One who will make your company proud. You will not only have developed a great sales person but you will have launched a person on a good and productive sales career as well. Now all you’ll have to worry about is treating that person well enough so that he stays with your company. It’s only common sense.

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Yes, You Do Have To Prospect

Get out there and do it now!

I know you hate to prospect and you hate to make cold calls, so this is what we have to talk about today. Whether you like it or not. To help us, there is a great new book by Mark Hunter called High-Profit Prospecting a trade paperback published by Amacom. This book is a first rate guide to making sure that you squeeze everything you can out of your prospecting. If you are in sales I am not going to ask you to read this book; I am not going to urge you to read this book. No I am going to order you to read this book. This is the best book on prospecting since well since I read Hunter’s buddy Jeb Blount’s book called Fanatical Prospecting. Yeah sorry but I order you to read that one as well.

Look, there are no two ways about it, prospecting is one of the key elements if not the key element of doing a great sales job. You have to find new customers and to do that you have to prospect. Now don’t bother to start listing the excuses and myths about prospecting and why you cannot do it and why it doesn’t work in today’s market, because I have heard them all as has Mark Hunter. Actually to save time he has listed them for us to kick off from his book and here they are, with a few of my own for good measure.

Myth 1: One and Done: A cold call is not leaving a voice mail. You have to keep at it until you actually talk to someone.  And by the way a ton of e-mails won’t do it either, they are useful to warm up an upcoming cold call but they are not a real cold call. You have to actually talk to someone to start the sales process.

Myth 2: I’ll prospect when I’m done taking care of my customers: I you believe this you will never call on new customers. No, let the shop take care of your customers and you go find some new ones.

Myth 3: It’s impossible to have dedicated time to prospect: Yeah right. Make the time to prospect, it is after all the most important thing you’ll do all day.

Myth 4: We’ve made it this long without prospecting: As Mark Hunter says in his book, “This myth will sink your company.” This myth has already sunk many other companies in the past. Look you need new customers even if your company is doing a great job and you have many long term customers…stuff happens, companies are bought, companies go out of business or decide to go in a different direction. If you are not always out there getting new customers, you will run out of business and it will be sooner than you think.

Myth 5: If we provide great customer service to our existing customers, we won’t have to prospect: Of course customer service especially great customer service is essential to be successful but you still need to always be prospecting for new customers. Check myth 4 for the reason.

Myth 6: Only “born salespeople” can prospect: No, with a set of skills and a lot of heart, courage and hard work, not to mention patience anyone can be a successful prospector and that’s a fact.

Now I am going to add a few myths of my own.

Myth 7: Ah, my personal favorite, if we build a great product they will come: No, they will not, unless your product is a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield they will not come. You have to tell someone about your products and services for them to know enough to want to talk to you and as a sales person this is your number one responsibility.

Myth 8:  No one wants to see me anymore: They are all too busy to see me so it’s much too hard to make appointments. Actually, this is more of an excuse than a myth. Yes, it is true that it is much harder to see people than it has ever been but that’s just too bad. Your job as a sales person is to find a way to make it happen. Look if it’s hard for you to see a buyer it is as hard for your competitor as well so you’re on a level playing field. You have to figure out how to see people and how to get your point across on a phone call or even through the voice mail you leave to intrigue the potential customer enough to make her want to see you.

I think by now you’re getting the point. We as sales people have to prospect, we have to get out there and get in front of new customers. We have to get more involved in lead generation, prospecting, cold calling, first sales calls and getting that first quote and winning that first order. This is want we do. For the next couple of week, I am going to dedicate this column working with you on successful prospecting techniques and I am going to use Mark Hunter’s excellent book as a guide so I’d recommend that you’d do something to help yourself and get out there and get a copy of your own and follow along because there is no way that in 900 words a week I am going to cover everything that is in this important book. Next time we’ll talk about successful factors in lead generation you are not going to want to miss it. Meanwhile stop coming up with your own set of myths of why prospecting doesn’t work and get to work on some prospecting…try it you’ll like it. It’s only common sense.

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Book Recommendation – Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:

Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

By Jeffrey A. Krames

Copyright 2014 Amacom

Price: $14.00

Pages: 124 with source notes

12 great lessons from a great leader

Now here is a guy who knows what he’s talking about. No I don’t mean Mr. Krames, although I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about too, I mean Pope Frances the man who has already come a long way in bringing his church into the 21st century.

Drawing on the very practical common sense wisdom and philosophy of the Catholic big guy Krames has put together a book that is both extremely vital as well as pertinent to today’s business and life’s challenges.

Listen to this, and I love this lesson, “Smell like your flock” which of course is a very graphic way of saying be like them, be one of them. We now know enough about Pope Francis who has eschewed all of the pomp and glitter of Papal extravagance to live in a modest apartment and drive in a common everyday call as he practices what he preaches and smells like his flock. This is a great lesson for business managers as well as popes.

Then how about when he says, “don’t change, reinvent.” Yes of course that is the right thing to do. How many times have business managers abandoned a great strategy and started anew? I know people who do this every single year because they do not have the stick-to-it-ness to carry a plan all the way through to success. These are the same ones who embrace anything new, any new theory because they love starting over with a clean slate rather than building on what they have already started thus wasting all of the time and energy they put into last year’s plan. This is an incredibly important lesson.

So then just one more (there are 12 after all) “live on the frontier” which of course means get out there on the front lines, go out where the action is and find out firsthand what is going with your church, or with your company in your case.

There is something neat about being on the same page as the Pope, particularly when he is spot on.

This book also provides some pretty good insight into the Pope himself, who he is, where he comes from and what he is all about.

This book is a good one. Pick it up and read it and oh yes make sure you pass it around as well.

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Book Recommendation – Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:

Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

By Jeffrey A. Krames

Copyright 2014 Amacom

Price: $14.00

Pages: 124 with source notes

12 great lessons from a great leader

Now here is a guy who knows what he’s talking about. No I don’t mean Mr. Krames, although I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about too, I mean Pope Frances the man who has already come a long way in bringing his church into the 21st century.

Drawing on the very practical common sense wisdom and philosophy of the Catholic big guy Krames has put together a book that is both extremely vital as well as pertinent to today’s business and life’s challenges.

Listen to this, and I love this lesson, “Smell like your flock” which of course is a very graphic way of saying be like them, be one of them. We now know enough about Pope Francis who has eschewed all of the pomp and glitter of Papal extravagance to live in a modest apartment and drive in a common everyday call as he practices what he preaches and smells like his flock. This is a great lesson for business managers as well as popes.

Then how about when he says, “don’t change, reinvent.” Yes of course that is the right thing to do. How many times have business managers abandoned a great strategy and started anew? I know people who do this every single year because they do not have the stick-to-it-ness to carry a plan all the way through to success. These are the same ones who embrace anything new, any new theory because they love starting over with a clean slate rather than building on what they have already started thus wasting all of the time and energy they put into last year’s plan. This is an incredibly important lesson.

So then just one more (there are 12 after all) “live on the frontier” which of course means get out there on the front lines, go out where the action is and find out firsthand what is going with your church, or with your company in your case.

There is something neat about being on the same page as the Pope, particularly when he is spot on.

This book also provides some pretty good insight into the Pope himself, who he is, where he comes from and what he is all about.

This book is a good one. Pick it up and read it and oh yes make sure you pass it around as well.

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Don’t Give The Boards Away!

Look I know getting business is hard. I know that you’re biggest problem is always having enough business and I certainly know that most of our customers pride themselves in buying the cheapest circuit board that money can buy. But still that is no excuse to give away your boards. You have got to make a profit on what you build. It might be a razor thin profit but you have to make something on what you build otherwise you are falling to your customer’s suggestion that what you do has little or no value.

In fact I believe that one of the worst contributors to the near demise of the North American board industry has been price gauging. We have seen it and we have all felt it and we have all been victims of it. A shop will get so hungry that it will start practically giving boards away as prices that are even lower than their estimated costs. I have seen some cases where the price one of my competitors was offering was lower than the laminate that the boards were build out of.

A few weeks ago we talked about the lack of respect that our customers have for our industry; well on the same token “giving” boards away at a price lower than costs is a pure and evident example of a lack of self-respect.

Now I know that it is not always easy to hold your prices especially when you need the business. This becomes especially difficult when some of your competitors especially the ones who are on the brink of dissolution to the point of desperation will lower their prices just to get business in the door and keep the last of their people employed ugh, not a pretty picture!

Here are a few suggestion to follow instead of getting into the price game with desperate competitors:

  1. Don’t play that game. You will know if the competitors’ price is too low and don’t meet it. By the way when was the last time a buyer told you you’re priced was too low? When was the last time a buyer showed you the other guy’s prices when they were higher than yours? Just will not happen so be wary of buyers showing you ridiculously low pricing.
  2. Explain to that buyer, you know the one showing you that ridiculously low price that value of going with your company. Ask him what the true costs are for the low priced guy versus your company. Point out that in his world the lowest price does not always mean the lowest cost.
  3. Ask him to think about what it cost his company if he doesn’t get a board on time; or if the board is no good; or if worst of all if a defective board is put in his system and fails in the field. These are all things the buyer should be considering if he insists on buying the cheapest boards money can buy.
  4. Ask the buyer how much trouble she will have replacing a vendor if that vendor goes out of business?
  5. Show that buyer what the laminate costs are for that board. For the most part everyone is paying about the same for laminate so that is a great comparison factor when comparing prices.
  6. Be prepared to walk away. Sorry as touch at that sounds you are not in the business of making boards you are the in business of making money and you can’t make any money selling boards that have no profit margin.
  7. And finally get rid of that ridiculous adage that goes “we’ll make it up in volume” because you won’t. I have never understood that line of reasoning. Look if the unit price of one board is below cost the volume price will also be below cost. Zero profit times one hundred boards is still duh …zero profit or worse. Actually it is worse because you are using up valuable production time not to mention chemicals and laminates and manpower to build boards for nothing. You are better off not having the order than building it a losing prices. That’s not rocket science either.

So look in the end there is just no sense in playing the price game. Now there are some worthy competitors and you should be aware of those guys. They’re the ones who you have been competing with for years. They are the ones who are on a par with you. You know that their capabilities are good and that their Quality is good and that in the end their pricing is usually very similar to yours. They are what I call “worthy opponents. They are to be respected and their pricing is to be respected. Be confident that when you compete against them you are playing on a level playing field, that’s a good and fair game.

But those other guys, those desperados, don’t play their game because they are playing a losers game with bankruptcy being the ultimate outcome. It’s only common sense

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Book Recommendation -Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success second edition

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu

Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success second edition

By: David Livermore

Copyright 2015 Amacom

Price $26.95

Pages: 255 with Index

A passageway to Global Leadership

Let’s get right to it. Cultural Intelligence CQ is a measurement of your ability based on knowledge and experience to lead across cultural lines. It is the ability to communicate and lead with companies and organizations around the globe. It is having an understanding of which cultures will look you in the eye the longest and which will not look you in the eye at all. It is the ability to communicate with people in Africa as easily as with people in Nebraska. It is the ability to understand what it means to apologize in Canada as it means to apologize in China.

I was impressed with this wonderful new book by David Livermore, actually the second edition of Leading with Cultural Intelligence, full disclosure I did not read the first edition of this book so I have nothing to compare it with. The author tells us the forward that this edition is much changed from the original and I’ll take his word for it.

The timeliness of this book critical as more and more of us are doing business globally now more than ever. Truth be known I did not even think that there was a book that covered this subject until I saw this one on the shelf and even then I was not quite sure of its pertinence in my life. But once I started to read it, it all made sense. I remembered an experience I had a number of years ago when I was asked to take of the management of three electronic design service bureaus and the adaptations I had to make to communicate properly with these basically left brained people with my right approach. Being a sales manager all of my life I could see it in the eyes of the twenty or so designers I spoke to at my first meeting. They were lost, they did not know what I was talking about and they seemed to hate the very speed at which I was saying things. It was good friend of mine, actually the Design sales manager who took me aside and told me to slow it down. He told me that I was coming off as a fast talking, back slapping huckster and was just not coming across as trustworthy to these find people dealing with the fact finitely well- defined measurements of laying out printed circuit boards. I quickly realized that if I was going to lead these folks I was going to have to learn and adapt their culture if I was going to have any credibility as their leader. And they were in Pennsylvania! Never mind half way around the world.

But you get it. This is what this book is all about. Building up your CQ Cultural Intelligence so that you can successful communicate and do business with people of different cultures all over the world.

If I had had this a few years ago before I went in and spoke to my new design team I could have read David Livermore’s list of strategies when addressing an audience of non-native English speakers or in my case people of a different brain polarity.

From the book:

  • Slow down. Slow down. Slow down slllllloooooooo d.o.w.n

  • Use clear, slow speech. Enunciate carefully

  • Avoid colloquial expressions and idioms

  • Repeat important points using different words to explain the same thing

  • Avoid long compound sentences

  • Use visual representations

  • Mix presentations with a balance of story and principles

  • Hand out written summaries

  • Pause more frequently

I liked this book, found it very useful and I think you will too.

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Book Recommendation – EVERGREEN: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving

A book recommendation from Dan Beaulieu:

EVERGREEN: Cultivate the Enduring Customer Loyalty That Keeps Your Business Thriving

By Noah Fleming

Copyright 2015Amacom

Price $26.00

Pages: 272 with Index

Customer retention for the 21st century

Maybe I like this book because I agree so wholeheartedly with the author. In fact one of the selling points of my consulting company is that I can grow your business by ten percent without ever adding a new customer.

In this new book Noah Fleming shows us how to not only “mine our current customer list but to also reach back to those companies you used to do business with a re-capture some of that business as well.

By using his defined three “C” program you can pick up just about everything you need to know about customer loyalty and retention. By using the three “C”s Character: which is based on why you do what you do to Community: Created a community of customers with shared interests and needs and Content: what your company offers to your customers.

The chapters on customer loyalty are especially valuable with the author exploring and defining the various loyalty programs showing us which ones work and which do not by using real life examples from Starbucks to Delta Airlines.

The chapter of firing your customers is worth the price of the book. Knowing which customers to fire and why and how is invaluable. Basically this gets down to a few categories from those customers who take up the most time and have the least profit margin to those unhappy customers who will just never be happy no matter what you do. The real life example of how Amazon deals with unhappy customers is telling to say the least.

This one book handles everything you need to create enduring and lasting customer relationships with the right customers while culling out the wrong customers.

This is not just a sales book, or a customer service book it is a book about successfully running your business no matter what that business is be it a restaurant, barbershop, printed circuit board fabricator if you buy, read and study the ideas laid out in this book you will be successful, That’s all there is to it.

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