Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Data Analysis for the Sales Person - November 25, 2017

Let me start by saying, even though I’ve been in sales leadership for a long time, I am not a fan of over-reporting. Given all of the ways in which we obtain consumer data today, we can be inundated with reports, analytics, metrics, data, data, data, and more data. So, I’ve long been a believer in the key data points, profit & loss, and keeping it simple and straight forward.


With that said, please don’t get me wrong, data and data analysis are extremely important for the sales person / team, and something each and every sales person needs to embrace. And, once a sales person does embrace this level of reporting and information, it will become second nature.


Of course, there are the standard reports that every sales person needs to read and evaluate if not daily at least weekly. Their own customer sales stats and the company P&L broken down by account. Every good sales person wants to, or should, know where they stand year-to-date, and how their accounts (customers/clients) are doing. But, with the vast amount of data available, here are a few other key reports I strongly suggest the ‘A’ level sales person jump on.


Website Performance – How is your company’s website performing? Is the website ranking well? Can your customers and prospects find you easily through Google search? Sales people have insights into their individual customers behavior and the website should be helping them not hindering them.


Inbound Leads – Does your company receive inbound leads through the website, social media, telephone, etc.? How does your territory or market segment stack up against others within the company and against the competition? What is the average turnaround time for responding to these leads?


Competitor Positioning – Are you aware of how your company fairs in the marketplace against the competition in areas of pricing, performance, responsiveness, customer support, etc.?


Your Marketing Team – Are you engaged with your marketing team? Do you know what initiatives they are working on? Do they know what is happening in the area of sales? Have you taken anyone from marketing on a client engagement?


These are not time consuming concepts, rather these are areas of information within your company (and market space) that should give you the insight you need to advance in sales performance whether on a per client basis or overall in your area of responsibility.

A Time of Thanksgiving - November 18, 2017

A short post this week, but with a heartfelt message, thank you. I would like to take this opportunity, with Thanksgiving a few days away, to thank my colleagues. Being in a leadership position is not always as easy as one might think, especially connected to sales. 2017, for me, will end in a very different place than I had planned.


When this year began I was surrounded by a group of sales professionals that were on a path toward unmatched success. Collectively we had worked tirelessly on business planning, client reviews, contract revamps, etc. The end goal was to make 2017 the most successful we’ve had as a team. But, even the best laid plans can change, and so goes the course of our sales goals.


Midway through the year several of the key members of the sales team left the organization. The launchpad for this change was based on the sales team leader moving overseas for a new opportunity. Shortly after his announcement and departure, others felt they could not go it alone without his guidance, and thus we took a large step back as an organization.


My colleagues and partners rose to the occasion. Management team members that were not typically involved in sales began to write portions of proposals and go on sales meetings. Referrals were abundant from friends of mine and of the business for new sales people. Ultimately, we hired a new sales team lead and I am thankful for Joe.


As I reflect on this very crazy year, one full of unexpected change, I am thankful for those that were by my side day in and day out. For it is because of these team members that I did not have to “go it alone” and manage the entire change process. Because of them we will hit our slightly revised annual business goals. Because of them we are setting ourselves up for a tremendous 2018. And, because of them, I believe I am a stronger leader today than I was on January 1.


Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

Hire Sales People at the End of the Year - November 11, 2017

This may sound like a completely crazy idea, one that is sure to irk the HR department, but hire your next sales person before the end of the year. Not only am I suggesting you hire them before the "ball drops", but get them started. I’m sure you’re already rolling your eyes and thinking, “what is he talking about”. So allow me to explain this specific hiring concept.


First of all, this approach to hiring is specific to sales people only, as I’m not suggesting you do this with an engineer or accountant. You see, sales people are a bit of a different breed, and most sales people, especially ‘A’ level sales people, immerse themselves into their new environment day one. In fact, the learning begins before they even start their first day, but much of what makes a sales person make it or not in an organization, is how well they adapt to the company culture and can represent the organization in the marketplace. There may be no better opportunity than in November and December to get your new sales person fully immersed.


The end of the year can be a stressful time for many sales organizations and sales people. There’s the end of year push to hit sales figures, ship goods, wrap up services, and work with customers/clients for their new year budgets. A new sales person can learn by shadowing the top performers in their day-to-day routines when there tends to be more deadlines looming than at any other time during the business year.


Believing that one may have an understanding about the personality of their new sales organization will come easily, yet somewhat misleading, during a “normal” time of the year when the sales pace is “normal”. However, learning culture and personality is heightened when stress sets in, and for many organizations stress sets in with holidays and the end of year push. The hope, of course, is that each person and the collective whole of the sales team all rise to the occasion and put their professional best foot forward. What a truly great learning experience for the new person.


I just referenced the holidays. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s, although rather cliché, sales people entertain, entertain, entertain. There is an abundance of customer/client luncheon’s, drop-in’s to deliver sweets, or holiday parties. For a new sales person, this is the opportunity of the year to immerse themselves into the organization, meet customers/clients, hear stories, and begin to develop their own “ways” to pitch the company. Instead of sending the new sales rep on a sales call here and there, whatever is available during other times of the year, November and December offer an increased likelihood that the new rep will get their fill of greetings & meetings.


Lastly, while this time of year is hectic, there is also a bit of down time that comes with it for the new person. The new sales rep is not going to be out and about in meetings of their own, most likely anyway, and so as they’re learning and immersing themselves into the new organization, this time of year allows the new sales rep to engage in abundant sales planning. They can use the downtime coming from the customer/client side of the sales process to ultimately prepare for the start of the new year, and the start of their own aggressive sales push.


Speaking from experience, hiring and starting sales people during the 4th quarter may be the best course of action, especially if you want the ‘A’ level sales person to have a full, productive year ahead.

...You're Welcome - November 4, 2017

The season of Thanksgiving will be soon upon us. Oftentimes in the past I’ve written about being thankful to those that have made my career successful. I’ve given personal thanks too, to those close to me for their support, especially my wife and children. However, I haven’t put my time into saying “you are welcome”.


Sales people, by the nature of the professional, are criticized more than almost any other chosen career. Consumers, clients, customers – whatever you want to call them – are critical of your every step in the sales process. In fact, many are skeptical of your intentions. Sometimes you act too quickly with an email reply. Or, you’ll get the “I didn’t hear from you immediately, so I thought you gave up”.


It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how professional sales people try to act, there is always someone on the other side unhappy with the sales persons performance. Sales, however, is a two-way street. For sales people to be in business they must have consumers, clients or customers. There must be someone to sell to. And so, during this upcoming holiday season, the season of Thanksgiving, as consumers, clients and customers ourselves, let us not forget to say “you’re welcome”.


As a long-time, career sales person, I can speak with firsthand experience when I say that sales is often a thankless job. In fact, we (the sales people) are the ones always saying thank you, with few gestures of appreciation returned. Think about it for a moment, you are expected to act professional at all times, always showing your appreciation as the sales person, yet with no expectation of kind words being returned. It is your job after all.


So, this year I am vowing to take on the actions so often overlooked, and I am going to show my appreciation to those sales people I encounter daily. From store clerks to the kid at the car wash. I will say “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “happy Thanksgiving (fill in the holiday blank)”.


A kind gesture can go a long way. I believe in the golden rule to treat others as I want to be treated. As a sales person I know how far words can go and it is my goal to use my words to brighten someone’s day.