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Sales Management 11.0

August 12th, 2020 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If you’re looking for practical, actionable ideas to help your sales team land new clients/customers, I would highly recommend Sales Management Simplified by Mike Weinberg. On a scale of 1 to 10, this book is an 11. To be clear, this is about “new” clients/customers, not cross-serving existing relationships. I found Weinberg’s stories to be very relevant, and he describes situations I frequently observe with my clients. He divides his book into two sections: Part One – Blunt Truth from the Front Lines, and Part Two – Practical Help and a Simple Framework to Get Exceptional Results. In this post, I’ll present Part One. The blog could be used as a checklist for you or your sales manager.

Part One – Blunt Truth

  1. Today, sales managers are often distracted by trying to appease their overly involved private equity group (PEG) owners. (Editorial comment: The CEOs and sales managers of my PEG-owned clients spend endless hours estimating and re-estimating the projected annual EBITDA.)
  2. Playing CRM “desk jockey” doesn’t equate to sales leadership. (Editorial comment: I had a CEO client whose parent company required my client to have the general ledger agree/match the salesforce.com records. I’m not kidding!)
  3. Top sales producers tend to exhibit a characteristic Weinberg would describe as being selfishly productive. (Editorial comment: This is a tricky one, but the point is the best “hunters” know how to spend their time.)
  4. The player-coach sales manager role can create mistrust and bad feelings. If a small company can’t afford a full-time sales manager, Weinberg recommends that the owner, president, or another key senior executive serve as a part-time sales manager.
  5. If there’s anything guaranteed to deflate the heart of a salesperson, it’s when the sales manager steals the glory and limelight. Often, the sales manager’s competitive nature and strong desire to solve all problems gets in the way of doing their primary job: leading the sales team.
  6. Hunting for new business involves risk, conflict, and rejection. Think carefully before putting account managers, sales support, or sales engineers in new business development sales roles. (Editorial comment: Based on my observations of hundreds of companies, most sales professionals are not hunters, but many of them are in hunter roles.)
  7. The leader who is constantly preaching about holding people accountable for results and doesn’t follow through does more damage than if he hadn’t said anything in the first place. Sales. Is. About. Results. Period. Salespeople aren’t paid to do work, or to be busy. Their job is to drive revenue — specifically, new revenue.
  8. Weinberg would argue strenuously that keeping your lowest sales producers around does cost you, even if you’re not shelling out commission dollars.
  9. In his work providing new business development advice to companies, Weinberg observes many counterproductive sales compensation plans. He would also say there’s nowhere near enough difference between what the very top and the very bottom performers earn.
  10. Weinberg says other team members tend to be more jealous or unappreciative of those in sales than in other roles. (Editorial comment: I’ve observed where hunters are expected to complete too much paperwork. Often, they don’t have the time or the aptitude, which creates tension with the operations, service, and accounting departments.)
  11. Sales managers are working less in the field and not developing their team. The best mentoring happens out in the field, where they join their salesperson on trips to see the prospective client/customer. They can coach and prepare them before the sales call and, following the meeting, they can discuss what went well and where they could improve. (Editorial comment: I can still remember sitting in my mentor, Ken Kunkel’s, car before and after sales calls. He would always ask me what I thought. Then he would ask me if I noticed the prospect’s reactions to certain comments. He would explain why he went in a particular direction after the client had provided some facts.)
  12. Poor salespeople talk too much and listen way too little. Discover the customer’s real issues before making a presentation — always. Poor salespeople give off the vibe that they’re there to “pitch at” the prospect.

 

I’ll end Part One there. On pages 100-101, Weinberg summarizes 21 common causes for sales teams’ underperformance. Hopefully I hit a hot button or two. In the next post, I’ll summarize Part Two, which offers some practical advice for the issues identified above.

Do You Want to be More Successful Developing New Business?

August 12th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I just finished reading a fascinating book, Win Bigly, by Scott Adams. For those of you who read the daily comic strips, you’ll recognize Adams as the Dilbert cartoonist. If I haven’t lost you yet, guess who the book is about? President Trump.

Adams, a self-proclaimed ultra-liberal, was in a very tiny group that predicted Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. He says he took a lot of heat and abuse, especially from his liberal neighbors in California.

I would highly recommend the book, which was very entertaining, but not for that reason. Adams, who would say he’s a persuader as much as a writer, refers to President Trump as the Master Persuader — and possibly one of the best in human history. Reading along as Adams makes his case, it dawned on me that he’s describing the best marketing/new business/Hunters I’ve ever known.

As you read the book, assume you have two products to choose from: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Which would you buy? The choice has almost nothing to do with their positions/platforms. Now, I’m sure I’ve offended many of you, but I suggest that you read Win Bigly as a “How to win that next big customer” playbook.

Here are a few of Adams’ observations:

  1. Trump is the most persuasive human he has ever observed. (Editorial comment: Keep in mind that Adams vehemently disagrees with most, if not all, of President Trump’s positions.)
  2. When they were done criticizing Trump for the “error” of saying he would build one big solid “wall,” the critics had convinced themselves that border security was a higher priority than they had thought coming into the conversation. The reason the wall imagery was good persuasion is that it was both simple to understand and memorable.
  3. A big opening demand in a negotiation will form a mental anchor that will bias negotiations toward that high offer.
  4. Humans think they’re rational, and they think they understand their reality. But they’re wrong on both counts. The main theme of this book is that humans are not rational.
  5. Humans literally make decisions first and then create elaborate rationalizations for them after the fact.
  6. Trump is so persuasive, policies don’t matter. People voted for him even though his policies were murky and changing.
  7. Visual persuasion is stronger than oral persuasion. Trump always paid attention to the colors and symbols associated with his brand — his shirt was always white and his tie colors were always from the American flag.
  8. What you might not realize is that each of us is “marketing” all the time. (Editorial comment: For those of you who know me well, you know I struggle with “business casual” dress. Show me a great new business developer and I bet they look sharp.)
  9. If you want to make a good first impression, don’t jokingly complain about the traffic on the way over. Try to work into the initial conversation some positive thoughts and images. (Editorial comment: People love to be around the “sharp” new business developer because they always share a positive, uplifting, inspiring story.)

My challenge to you is:

  1. After reading the book, evaluate your sales process, including handouts and pitch.
  2. Is it a bunch of facts and details?
  3. Does it appeal to your customers’ emotions? Is there a WOW factor?
  4. Would you buy anything from you?
  5. Do people like being around you or do they hide when they see you coming?

I would love for you to send me stories of instances where your company has applied the principles in Win Bigly and has won new business.

As the business world has truly become global,

July 29th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

even fairly small, privately owned businesses have become globally active. Therefore, it’s important that they’re tuned in to cultural differences in those countries where they do business. To save money (or make more), it’s critical that they avoid the mistakes made by many multinational companies — and me. In his book, Driven by Difference, David Livermore provides practical tips for companies with diverse customers and/or a diverse workforce, or what he calls “cultural intelligence.” He refers to a Google internal employment survey that discovered teams that were both diverse and inclusive were also the best at innovation.

When I purchased the book, I thought it would be about diversity in the workplace, which it is. But it’s much more. If you’re looking to improve innovation and even marketing in your company, I would highly recommend Driven by Difference. As I’ve done with other books, I’ll whet your appetite with several excerpts:

  1. “Priming” is the process of presenting a particular stimulus to make people feel and act in a certain way. For example, in supermarkets around the world, freshly cut flowers are the first thing you see, priming you to think freshness from the moment you enter the store.
  2. There’s insufficient evidence to support any conclusion that one national culture is consistently more innovative than another.
  3. The gut can be a shockingly reliable mechanism for decision-making, but it’s subject to enormous error when the cultural context changes.
  4. Most of us start life with a pretty insulated view of  the world.
  5. Most innovators are intense observers.
  6. Mark Zuckerberg has Facebook engineers prove that what they’re coding works on old, low-end flip phones to simulate the conditions in most of the world.
  7. There’s evidence that many people do their best independent thinking outside the office.
  8. Culturally intelligent innovation comes from a climate of trust, where differences are perceived as an asset rather than a liability.
  9. A.G. Lafley, CEO of P&G, which is considered a very innovative company, insists on in-home visits with consumers when he travels internationally. He doesn’t want to make decisions based solely on market research done by consultants or his R&D teams.

Those are some highlights, but Livermore presents lots of really interesting, practical stories.

Again, the underpinnings of the book are diversity, but there are some great reminders of the importance of really listening to and understanding our customers.

Just Ask for the Business, Please

March 25th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In writing the simple fictional narrative entitled The Asking Formula, author John Baker hit a lot of nerves. His book is all about the third phase of new business development, Closing, which follows Finding and Building a Relationship with a new prospective customer/client. See previous blog post

As a prospective customer, we’ve all had an experience where we think, Just tell me how much it costs, and then I’ll decide. In this short (99 pages in large font) book, the main character shares his simple formula for Closing. To be honest, I would be embarrassed to relate the many actual stories of instances where my colleagues and I should have used his simple formula.

I won’t ruin the book, but I will share the first two steps:

Step One — Know what you want. (Editorial comment: The best new business development professionals I know always are specific about what they want to accomplish in every meeting with the prospective client — which might even be to have the next meeting with the decision-maker.)

Step Two — Ask for it. (Editorial comment: Don’t laugh; it isn’t as easy as it sounds. I was fortunate because my mentors were so good at teaching and demonstrating this simple action.)

Baker states that “Directness is a rare thing these days.” Once again, I’ll quote my dad, who said, “Ask. What is the worst thing that can happen?” I also remember one of my successful new business development colleagues, who would say, “My goal in this meeting is to get to the ‘No.’ ” Once again, Baker and other sales gurus would say that most people spend too much time with prospects who are never going to purchase anything from them.

I have a suggestion: Consider buying multiple copies of his book and have your new business development team read it. Then, facilitate a discussion and maybe do some role-playing.

Setting the Table

January 21st, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If any family members or good friends were to come to me and say they want to open a restaurant, I would beg them to pick another business. But Danny Meyer, owner of the Union Square Cafe in Manhattan and author of Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, has somehow survived — and even thrived — in one of the most competitive markets in the world. Recently I had the pleasure of hearing him speak, which provided some insight into his success.

I believe many of his philosophies, some of which are listed below, apply to all of us in business. As always, I will offer some editorial comments:

  1. Business, like life, is all about how you make people feel. It’s that simple and it’s that hard.
  2. Hospitality is the foundation of Meyer’s business philosophy. Virtually nothing else is as important as how one is made to feel in any business transaction.
  3. Understanding the distinction between service and hospitality has been at the foundation of Meyer’s success. Service is the technical delivery of a product. Hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes the recipient feel. (Editorial comment: In the past, I’ve shared David Maister’s famous concept of the difference between quality service and quality work.)
  4. Meyer credits several mentors for his success. (Editorial comment: Who are your mentors? The older I get, the more I am reminded of the impact made by those who mentored me, including my dad. I find myself quoting my dad, a career postal worker, more than ever.)
  5. Invest in your community. A business that understands how powerful it is to create wealth for the community stands a much higher chance of creating wealth for its own investors. (Editorial comment: As I’ve learned, investment in the community is also very important to your team members, especially those under 30.)
  6. Meyer has a list of traits he looks for in his managers, and it includes an infectious attitude, self-awareness, patience and tough love, and not feeling threatened by others.
  7. Meyer provides a great list of trust versus fear, including empowering v. ruling, giving v. selfishness, listening v. telling, and hopeful v. cynical.

When I heard Meyer speak, the comment that impacted me the most was related to his 5-step plan for addressing mistakes with a customer: Awareness, Acknowledgement, Apology, Action and Additional Generosity. It was this last step that really resonated with me. Meyer instructs his team to do something special for a guest whose experience has been less than stellar, such as offering them an extra dessert or even a complimentary meal, depending on how bad the mistake was. In my experience, this is where many of us fall short. We may already have lost money on the transaction, so giving more away isn’t natural — but I think Meyer is on to something.

Especially in today’s tech-dominated world, I strongly believe businesses that are able to provide a personal touch have a major competitive advantage. As an example, I have a client who recently purchased a pontoon boat, and he received a phone call from the owner of the boat manufacturer. How do you think he felt? How many other potential boat-buyers has he told — and will he tell — about his experience? Better yet, this client started calling his own customers, which has led to great success.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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