Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford

NAVIGATION - SEARCH

Q&A Week 11 - September 8, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: When prospecting do you ever specifically target your competitors? If yes, how often? If no, why?

 

A: In short my answer is both yes and no. There are certain competitors that I keep a very close eye on for various reasons. First and foremost, I am more interested in what they are saying and how they are describing & positioning themselves, versus who their latest portfolio client or case study client is. Don’t get me wrong, I am intrigued by who they are listing as clients, but targeting these companies may be an effort in futility. That’s why I also say no. The likelihood is that any client that allows you to showcase them on your website is happy and not going to move any time soon. So I do not call on those specific companies. I do use these companies as homework on specific industries or market segments. I will look into their competitors and target them based the fact that my competitor just showcased a company in that industry.

Q&A Week 10 - September 1, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: I recently had a prospective client ask me what was one key characteristic that I thought was a compelling reason for them to hire my firm. My answer was experience. He did not like this answer and believed it was shallow. I was caught off guard to say the least. How could I have better answered this question?

 

A: I find experience to be a solid answer to the question so long as there is evidence of experience to back this up. Individuals and firms alike will tout experience as a reason they should be hired. However, like in your situation, there is little evidence provided to back up their one word answer of “experience”. Here is how I describe experience when I use this word as my own answer to this question.

 

What separates my firm from others, a key reason you (Mr./Ms. Prospect) should hire us, is experience. We have been in business for over 21 years while the average firm comes and goes in less than 5 years. I would imagine very few, if any, of the other firms you are interviewing have been in business as long as we have. But, that is not reason enough, rather the experience I describe comes from a combination of factors. It is what I call “our formula for success”. Our experience is the time we’ve remained in business when others have not, combined with an executive management team (ownership team) that have been with the organization for 21+ / 20 / 18 / and 16 years respectively; and, the fact that we’ve worked with over 700 clients during the course of this tenure in business. We’ve stayed in business because of a tried & true project/program methodology. And, ultimately, we drive results for our clients. That is the experience we bring to the table.

Q&A Week 9 - August 25, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: What is the top characteristic you seek in a younger, less experienced sales candidate?

 

A: This one, on the surface, seems easy. For both experienced and new sales people I want them to be patient. Patience is a virtue – as the old saying goes. But, I did say on the surface. Patience is actually not easy to remember, have, and show in all sales cases, especially for someone new. Sales people must be capable of being patient throughout the sales process, but also with themselves, and definitely in the early days of their career while learning and training. It is also important for the sales manager to remember that patience is required for the new sales person to learn. The sales person is watching and trying to absorb as much from their mentor as possible, so this person too must show patience in their sales process in order for the new sales person to learning the right way.

Q&A Week 8 - August 18, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: What do you believe are the best and worst current trends or tools being used by sales people?

 

A: My answer to this question is social media for both the best and the worst. Social media can be a sales person’s best friend if used properly. LinkedIn, for example, is an amazing application based on connectivity. You have the ability to not only make connections with your customers, but with prospects as well. A sales person no longer needs to make cold calls if they know how to use LinkedIn to warm the initial call up. Research on companies and who the right people are to contact are at your fingertips. But, just as powerful as LinkedIn can be, other social media platforms like Facebook can be a detriment to a sales person. Forget the “time suck” that is Facebook, but when a sales person connects with customers on Facebook they are opening up their personal lives for evaluation and potential criticism. Politics, religion, parenting styles, hobbies, you name it, are on display on peoples Facebook pages. A sales person runs the risk of alienating or upsetting the customer relationship because of the personal agenda. It is wise to use and manage LinkedIn carefully and even wiser to keep your Facebook life separated from your business life.

Q&A Week 7 - August 11, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: What advice do you have for a forty-something sales person changing careers? I am staying in sales, but moving into a new field, and I am terrified. Thank you.

 

A: Fear is okay as long as it does not consume you. I commend you for taking the leap and being willing to bring on a new challenge in your career. Keep in mind that you are not new to sales just new to this specific area. Sales is sales in so many ways. You know how to make cold calls, develop leads, and bring new business through the door. What you lack is product knowledge. My advice is to study, study, study. You need to become an expert with the products you are representing and you also need to know your competition. As you gain this perspective with the new industry, you will also need to learn the ins & outs of your new company. Gaining an understanding on who’s who and what’s what in the company will give you the necessary insight to pave your own way. Last thing – they hired you because of your skills. You have what it takes to be successful, the tools of the trade so to speak, now have the confidence to apply those skills.

Q&A Week 6 - August 4, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: What is the most recent mistake you’ve made in business and what was the lesson learned?

 

A: I broke the golden rule of hiring & firing – to hire slow and fire fast. I made the decision to hire a sales person based on only a few interviews that were condensed in a matter of a couple weeks. I believed the candidate would be a worthwhile hire based on his years of experience and his communication skills, especially his writing skills. Unfortunately, because I fast tracked the hiring process, I did not spend nearly enough time analyzing his capabilities in new business development and cold calling. While his sales experience seemed extensive on paper, he was not skilled in new business development, rather he was a glorified account manager. He was not successful in cold calling, networking, or developing new opportunities on his own. I then gave him many more chances and opportunities to improve than I should have. Actually, it was unfair to him as well to keep him around with false hope that he could turn around his activity level. In fact, I should have let him go after three months. It was definitely a mistake on my part to hire him and even a bugger mistake not to fire him sooner.

Q&A Week 5 - July 28, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: In your opinion should an employer challenge a dismissed employee’s claim for unemployment?

 

A: I cannot speak from a traditional human resource or legal perspective, but I can speak from a sales manager’s point of view. I have and would challenge a claim filed by a dismissed employee if that employee was terminated with cause. Sales people in particular can and should be held to a very specific performance standard. Whether you call it a set of goals, a quota, or a position agenda, the sales person must perform. When they do not, they become a burden on their entire company. Sales people in general are also relatively easy to track from a performance standpoint. Numbers are black & white and do not lie. If the time comes when an underperforming sales person is terminated, it should be considered with cause, and there should be documented performance evidence to support the case for termination. If that sales person who was terminated with cause, after being warned, on probation or on a Performance Improvement Plan runs out and immediately files for unemployment, then I will challenge. They key is with cause and I must take a protective position for my company especially when our unemployment premiums are subject to an increase because of this former employees filing.

Q&A Week 4 - July 21, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: Do you believe an employee can make it through a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and become an active member of their sales organization?

 

A: Absolutely, I do. I recently answered a question about a ‘B’ sales person becoming an ‘A’ player. They can make the transition if they have the will and desire to become a top performer. The same can be said for a sales person placed on a PIP. If they have what it takes, the determination to learn from their mistakes, learn from those that have gone before them, and learn from their peers, then yes they can get through the PIP and become a key member of their organization.

 

Employees, sales or otherwise, who have been placed on a PIP more times than not believe they are being singled out and set up for failure or ultimately dismissal. That is not the goal of a Performance Improvement Plan. C’mon, why do you think it’s called an Improvement Plan…we want the employee to improve. We, the managers, are laying out the plans for the employee to improve. The employee needs to step up and make it happen. The other thing I wish employees could grasp as a concept – it costs an employer more to recruit, interview, hire and train a new sales person than it does to retain one. If the employee can step up their game, learn from the PIP, and ultimately become a contributing member of their team, they have become valuable to their employer. Unfortunately, many employees only see the PIP as a step to their firing. They are misguided and fail because they don’t believe the employer has the best intent behind the PIP.

 

Employees on a PIP need to put their trust in the PIP, improve as it is defined, and then become a better employee. Everyone wins in this situation.

Q&A Week 3 - July 14, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: You regularly share insights on your personal and business life. You, like everyone these days, seem to be extremely busy. What is your best tip for time management?

 

A: This one is easy for me, I calendar every detail of my life, and these details are available for everyone around me to see. I use my Outlook calendar to log all of my activities from doctor’s appointments to parent-teach meetings to my kid’s games and my client meetings. I rarely mark anything private because those that have access to my calendar should be able to use good judgement when requesting time from me. I log my weekend activities no different than my mandatory management meetings. Wherever I go I have my iPhone with me and my calendar sync’d. Last thing…I also make sure to log some personal time for reading or exercising. I find that this habit has allowed me to not only know when and where I need to be, but allows me to budget my time in a way that allows me to say yes much more than I say no.

Q&A Week 2 - July 7, 2018

For the past few years, since I began using this weekly blog to share stories about sales and sales management, I have been receiving numerous questions from readers including my own clients. Over the next several months I am going to use my weekly ramblings to post one reader question with my answer. Please note – my answers are based on my personal and professional experiences and in no way reflect my company or specific clients.

 

Q: Maybe not an all-time favorite, but who is one author that you truly enjoy reading either personally or professionally, and why?

 

A: I am a big fan of Matthew Kelly from Floyd Consulting and Dynamic Catholic. I enjoy reading Kelly for both personal and professional reasons. On the Dynamic Catholic front I find his writing hits me pretty close to home. We are close in age, and although Kelly grew up in Australia before moving to the US, there are similarities to being raised in a Catholic family in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s. He writes from experience and from his heart. His beliefs mirror many of my own and he bares his soul in his writings. He does not preach, instead choosing to pose many questions that push me to think beyond my own comfort zone. From the Floyd Consulting perspective I find again his approach is personal. He takes more of a teaching stance than that of a traditional consultant. His writing style, much like his Dynamic Catholic books, forces me to think outside of my comfort zone. Kelly has traveled the world, talked and presented to more than a million people, and has written dozens of books, yet I find his approach is more like a friend that I’ve known for a long time even though we’ve never met.