Archives For quota

Good Sales People Won’t Stand On Unemployment Lines

Talking with my son the other day (he’s sixteen right now), I was telling him, “Regardless of what you do in life, learn how to sell”. Unemployment numbers are high in the US, yet all of my clients are looking for sales people!  So there are jobs, but not jobs for just anyone….there is always a job for an excellent sales person.

Here’s the problem…

If you have great sales people, make sure they are happy!  Here’s a trend I run across frequently, and today is no exception.  I was talking with a top sales person for a large high-tech company this morning (one everyone who know the name of).  His sales last year were great – many of the reps I see on a daily basis would give a lot for the accounts this guy calls on, and would be living well if they closed the business he closed last year.  But 2011 is over, and 2012 is on us – so as you might have guessed, his quota is higher.

Raising quota is normal, so neither one of us are surprised.  The problem is, his management feels like they should double his quota, not because it’s low (and in fact it is far from low), but because he did well.  He shared with me, that the remaining money to be collected on just one of his Q4 deals would have bought a small house in 2011, but with the new comp structure, he can buy a half-decent used car with his Q1 collections.   What’s happening here?

A sales team has big hitters, those with potential, and a handful (which might be big or small) of non-performers.  Sales managers have a hard time letting people go, so instead of promoting large commissions for big winners, they tend to spread the wealth by propping up low performers.  By propping up, I mean setting ridiculously low quotas for one rep, while imposing astronomic quotas on their high-performance colleague.  Helping one person to make enough to live on even if they produce almost nothing, while controlling another’s income because if “just seems to high”.

Why This Never Makes Sense

When this happens, and it happens all the time, the bad performers stay, while the superstars look for new jobs.  For some reason, many sales managers are making choices to have a large sales team of mediocre performers, rather than a smaller team of big hitters.  Big hitters will always outsell the mediocre team – while costing the company far less to maintain – why would they do this.  I believe it’s fear.  It’s hard to fire people, especially when they are great people (great to spend time with on social occasions), with a forecast that always seems to sound good.  Everything is at 50% and is supposed to close next month…but every month, that same list rolls over to the next month.

The Goal Should be…

The goal of the sale team is to sell.  When managers choose to meddle with comp plans rather than replacing low performance sales people, they are making a trade.  It seems easier to change the comp plan, rather than sending someone out on the street in a bad economy.  But the trade off is this…sales managers can either fire the low performers, or the good people will leave.  You can’t have it both ways – you just can’t afford to keep everyone happy.

© 2012, David Stelzl


Back to School

August 31, 2011 — Leave a comment

Back to School!

It’s time to get back to school…that means our kids are back on a busy, productive schedule, with goals and timelines.  But before that can happen, my wife and I sit down to evaluate where we are and figure out where we are going.  Soon activities, holidays, and school work will crowd our days, and if we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves busy, but not necessarily headed toward anything important.  The end of summer signals a time for strategic planning for all of use!  Don’t miss this moment!

Review the Plan

If you’re on the calendar year, you have one quarter left to make the year worthwhile.  Hopefully you have a plan your working through to build your business – prospects you’re working on, a pipeline your closing, quotas you plan to meet, and career goals to take your business to the next level.  If you don’t, you might want to get something in place for Q4.

Plan to Fill Your Pipeline Now

Once the holidays hit, people are hard to reach.  Sure, there may be budgets at year end that must be spent, but setting up a strong pipeline early in the quarter makes year-end a whole lot easier.  Get a call plan in place and start setting up meetings through September.  Make a strong push to get as many meetings lined up as possible right now, so that you are working toward closing in October, or early November.  Most projects can’t be invoiced until they are completed, so give yourself time to close and implement before year end.

Event Planning

Demand generation events are one of the best ways to build your business if you are looking for new clients.  There is still time if you start now.  It takes about 60 days to plan a worthy event, so that puts you into mid-October.  Plenty of time to do the event and execute the follow-up plan.  Follow-up could take anywhere from two to four weeks, so start thinking now.  Otherwise you’ll be into January before you know it.  You don’t want that.

Review Time Usage

The biggest issue in sales is managing time wisely.  Where do you spend it, who do you focus on, and where is time being wasted? Sales is a busy business.  Review your last three quarters – where are you wasting time?  It’s like your family budget – if you don’t review it monthly, you may find yourself floating along, working hard, but not actually accomplishing your primary goals.  Soon, you’ll look back and see that your time is spent, people are on holiday, and you’re hoping to make a come back next year.  Too late…do it now.

© 2011, David Stelzl


How do Professional Speakers Improve?

Yesterday I compared professional speaking to selling…here is what the professionals focus on:

o Stories.  This topic deserves more later, but in short, stories are central to any great presentation.  Recall your favorite conferences and I bet the speaker had great stories.  And they were likely personal stories.  Practice them, write them out, record them, listen to them, tighten them up, and make them perfect.

o The Alpha.  The alpha is the opening – the point in the meeting when your listeners either tune in or check out.  Memorize it, rehearse it, know it, and speak it.  Every sales call is different, but contrary to popular opinion, your opening can be memorized and modified slightly to meet the need.  Assume you have about six seconds to grab their attention.

o Sound Bites.  Sound bites bring credibility, create interest, and build your case.   Don’t over do it, but be armed with well-rehearsed sound bites from credible sources; sources your target audience will recognize and believe.

o The Close.  Next steps are the key to moving the sales cycle forward.  Make sure you know where you are going and you have a compelling process to move your client forward.  Seth Godin, Author of Permission Marketing, writes about steps of permission that are gained along the way.  What is the next step needed in the permission chain.

Almost every time I speak, I record it.  Sometimes I have video; other times I just have audio.  Watching and listening to yourself will give you a whole new perspective. Is your presentation style high-impact, emotionally charged, exciting,… enthusiastic?  Is it credible and do you deliver concrete concepts that allow the listener to visualize the issues and proposed solutions?  If not, head back to the lab to rebuild.  Don’t expect this to be easy.  It’s like golf, every move matters, and lots of practice is required.  It also pays to take a lesson from someone who knows.  But just imagine doubling your effectiveness and cutting your sales cycle in half.  If there is one area that deserves some investment, it’s your message and delivery.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Numbers Game

December 17, 2010 — Leave a comment

Time and Material billing focuses on dollars for hours, methodology focuses on process, and features focus on product.  All of this leads to a price sale.  From there expect to be sent to purchasing, pressed for discounts, and pushed off to the end of the month.  I love Michael Bosworth’s explanation of negotiation.  Once you give in, he explains, they begin to squeeze you like a wet rag until there’s no more water left.  But as long as there are still drips coming out, the squeeze continues.  It’s hard not to get caught up in this, especially when it’s year end, your manager is breathing down your neck looking for numbers, and you’re being treated like it’s a numbers game.  And the point should be made, smart selling requires a proactive approach.  You can’t wait until month end to begin selling value.

I’d recommend starting 2011 with a different mindset.  Consider things you can be doing to create some focused expertise and stop being a traditional sales person.  Become a consultant that sells.

© 2010, David Stelzl