Sales

7 Things Every Sales VP Should Know About Sales Forecasting 

Sales-Mgt-forecasting

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Imagine you just received an urgent message from the directors at your company. They have to make an immediate decision that will set the direction of the company for the next five years. The decision will be based primarily on the sales forecast for which you own responsibility.

The meeting is in one hour, and they need you to present an accurate sales forecast.

If this were to happen to you, would you be able to deliver an accurate forecast? If you’re not sure, consider these seven things that can help you foster accurate sales forecasting.

1. Prepare 30, 60 and 90 Day forecasts.

Most salespeople and sales managers can accurately estimate what is going to be happening during these time frames. As a result, you should be able to get good data for these timeframes from the sales team.  

2. Make it easy.

Make sure the sales forecasting process your team must develop and maintain is simple and straightforward. If your CRM is difficult or confusing, your sales team is less likely to use it. Keeping it simple improves your ability to keep it accurate.

3. Scrutinize the forecasted sales carefully.

You’ve heard the expression, “You can’t believe everything that you read.” This probably was originally written about sales forecasts. Don’t trust the information you see without applying some good old fashion common sense.

For example, you might see that certain sales opportunities have been in the pipeline for an extended period of time and that the close date keeps being reset to some point in the future. If you see this, question the sales team regarding the real status of the opportunity and, unless the sales managers can give you a compelling reason to keep them active, consider eliminating these opportunities from the forecast.

4. Develop a sniff test.

Develop some rule of thumb guidelines to help you quickly assess if something doesn’t look right in the forecast. For example, your average sale per salesperson is $ 25,000 and the average sales person sells 10 deals per month. That translates into a typical monthly forecast of $250,000. Any out of the ordinary numbers should raise a flag. Developing some quick review metrics will help you sniff out problems quickly and correct any mistakes.

5. Make sure the sales forecast and the sales goals are consistent with one another.

If you plan to sell $48M annually, then make sure your quarterly sales forecast is consistently tracking at $12M.  If you have sales goals tied to products, make sure you are forecasting sales by product line and watch for deviations in the forecasts. There should be clear alignment between sales goals and sales forecasts.

6. Make sure your sales forecasts are consistently reviewed to determine accuracy.

If they are not accurate, analyze why and make adjustments to improve your next forecast.

7. Have great reporting tools.

Make sure you can quickly and easily pull current pipeline data out of the CRM. Make sure that the reports you get are in their final format. Don’t get data that you then have to manipulate, summarize or sum up separately in another program. If getting your reports takes multiple steps or involvement from multiple resources, figure out a way to change the process.


Having these seven things down will give you the ability and confidence to predict and present an accurate sales forecast when the pressure is on, even when your leadership team gives you only one hour to prepare!

Author: Mack Powers

Source: Xoombi

 

 


6 Things Great Sales Leaders Do

Great-sales-leaders

(via xoombi.com)

Sales leadership is one of the most difficult jobs in business today.

I've always enjoyed watching great leaders in action. When you observe the best, there are six things you'll notice that great sales leaders do.

1. Culture

Leaders define the culture. It begins with establishing a higher level of thinking reinforced with an understanding of how the organization responds in the face of a challenge. And, just as importantly, how it behaves during times of success. Leaders are first people who represent the brand and create an environment for success.

2. Opportunity

Leaders can see into the future and make decisions that will open doors for opportunity. They embrace up-and-coming talent and new ideas. Driven by an unyielding commitment, they take their people and the organization to a higher level of excellence.

3. Development

Leaders gain an edge when they develop their people. It lays the foundation for greatness and creates an "always be learning" attitude. Everything is about coaching, continuous improvement, finding ways to get better, and moving forward in a positive direction.

4. Performance

Leaders understand the business and the key performance indicators that generate results. They build strategic initiatives around leading indicators rather than lagging indicators. They assess a situation, connect the dots, and provide high value recommendations to improve results.

5. Empowerment

Leaders empower their people. Clear expectations, coupled with supreme confidence, allows leaders to step back and watch their people make their own decisions, decisions that will shape not only the present, but the future of the organization. They understand the power of putting people in a position to shine.

6. Recognition

Leaders recognize and reward top performance. They don't wait until the end of the year to celebrate success. Great sales leaders look for daily opportunities to provide sincere and timely recognition. They make their people feel valued, secure, and energized.

 

Author: Doyle Slayton, Co-founder @ Xoombi.com


Afraid to sell???

I am of the belief that there are two things that above all make for a great foundation for success in any business:  a general understanding of accounting and basic sales abilities.   If one has more to offer than this business becomes a very fun game.

Some people are truly afraid of selling.  They really are. The irony is that they are often times good at it but they quiver at the thought of having to participate in a sales event, let alone the thought of having to do it for a living.  You sold yourself into the job you have today didn't you?

In my experience a fear of selling tends to exist for several primary reasons (excuses really), to include:

Fear of:
  • being rejected
  • being thought of as 'slick' or 'sales-y' 
  • public failure or loss
  • having to think on one's feet 
  • what one doesn't know  
  • and others 
There are also contributors that compound or create a fear of selling:
  • lack of confidence 
  • personal insecurities 
  • introversion
  • bad prior experiences  
  • laziness 
  • avoiding conflict 
  • stereotypes...you get the idea
 I too was convinced as I rolled out of college that a career or stint sales would be something that I would not enjoy, so I avoided it...until I could no longer.  The job market was not very good when I was ready for my career in finance...my major in school.  My fear came from a pre-conceived notion of what it would be like to sell.  Spawned by negative stereotype and my father's own sales career.  The highs...the lows.  Who wanted that?  

Regardless, I took the plunge into a sales job just to get a job.  Long story short, it was probably the single best career decision that I ever made...and I didn't even want to at the time! 

Taking risks is inevitable to succeed and even survive in any business.  To those who have a fear of selling, I recommend trying it.  Those that I have witnessed who have had a fear of selling and ultimately tried it, rarely regret it.  Some have gone on to sell as a career, others are regular contributors to sales by becoming indirectly involved in selling organizations and others simply accumulated a deeper respect and understanding of what selling involves and why it is so important in any business.

So get out there and sell something...you just might find that is not so scary after all...:-)




  

Hiring Successful Salespeople

Hiring successful salespeople is hard.  No doubt.  When hiring a salesperson, I will always err on the side of innate character traits versus proven sales skills.  Sound crazy?  Maybe, but it works for me.

I would rather have an individual selling on the Copper Sales Team with the desire to succeed and the heart to pull it off  than try to manage a salesperson with a rigid, unwavering and preconceived notion of 'how sales should be done' simply because they have had some prior sales success.  I have seen this philosophy prevail more often than not if the salesperson selection process is conscious of searching for ability for the sales candidate to ask, listen and learn are present (i.e. the foundation). How can you acquire/build a successful salesperson/team if such a foundation is not there?  I am not suggesting that sales process or skill is not also necessary, but it is my experience that sales process and skill can be taught.  So as a sales manager, I seek the foundation first.

Most sales managers will attest that the lower performing members of their sales team usually don't have this fundamental character foundation that translates to above average sales success.  As a result, poor performers continue to perform poorly.  Worst of all, they wind up sucking all of sales management's time if not watchful. Classic...sadly happens all the time.  I have found that prolonged poor sales performance is not usually a sales process or sales skill challenge.  These can be taught with time.  Poor sales performance starts well before that...with the fundamentals that are far more difficult to teach (asking (inquisitive by nature), listening and absorbing (learning)).  When these innate character elements are missing in a salesperson, that is, not inquisitive, not listening and not retaining/learning...they just start giving up.  And giving up usually leads to covering up...excuses, even blame.  Excuses can lead to an irreplaceable waste of time for a sales manager who tries to help them achieve success.  I believe that this is fruitless and time wasted for any sales manager. 

Anyone who carries a number or quota realizes that time can only work against you.  So please don't waste it.  Spend time with those who posess the foundation...the performers in your sales organization.  When hiring, please be sure that you discover that the innate qualities of the individual that are listed above are present as their sales foundation, before you consider a candidates resume solely on its one dimensional merit.  If time has any value to you, it will pay off in spades.


Channel Sales is selling through others

Channel Sales is quite simply, selling through others.

  I have been doing it for years, channel sales that is J; in fact I have been in channels my entire sales career in one capacity or another…fifteen years and counting.  If I was not supplying services to channels, I was a channel distribution partner myself in either the Telecommunications or Internet industries.  Software and applications sold as a service (i.e. SaaS) too.

Why such an affinity for well, a sales form of ‘affinity’?  I have come to learn that there are a few fundamental sales barriers removed by channel relationships…if you can manage and respect the innate obstacles that ultimately that come with them.

What is Channel Sales?

In simple terms, channel sales is: selling products and or services indirectly through others.  Agents, brokers, dealers, distributors, partners, resellers, retailers and other similar names are used to describe various indirect types of relationships.  In fact, selling through channels is a mainstay of today’s software business and a large portion of the telecommunications industries sales efforts for the past several decades.

Why Use Channels?

Efficiency:

Access to a new ‘Customer’ as a Qualified ‘Prospect’

  • More often than not your sales partner has already sold something to your potential prospect.  It is common knowledge that a second sale is easier…especially if the first one went as expected.

Sales Leverage through Existing Relationship

  • Sales partners have “earned the right” and are many times already a “trusted Advisor” to your next prospect making your sales opportunity more than “cold”.

“Pay for Performance”

A distinct luxury in channel sales is paying after a sale has been performed by paying a commission as a financial relationship with your partner.

  • As a result, you may pay a little more, but after the fact.  This usually offsets the cost and hassle of managing and maintaining a direct sales force where the potential burden of the non-performing segment is often times 20-40% +/-…an expensive option in today’s commoditizing markets.

What Is Missing?

Control:

Less Control Over the Sales Process

  • Independence

    sows independence.
  • Quota’s only exist when a partner commits performance, contractually.
  • Much of the time, sales are executed "their way", and thus, there must be cooperation in the sales process.

The Result:

Channels can provide a relationship-driven sales machine that will provide complimentary or primary growth if it can be harnessed and prioritized.

  • Channel conflict is innate if more than one sales channel is leveraged or growth…so watch out!
  • More sales volume.
  • Sales investments are pushed to post-sales performance.
  • Higher revenue per headcount measures with more forgiving staffing needs.
  • Access to the Small Business

Eloquence

Here is a more eloquent post by a friend and former colleague that I finally got around to reading this morning.  It more clearly defines what I mean by "Always Be Selling...Yourself", the topic of my last post.  This post may be applied specifically to a sales person in a sales role, given the author's craft, but valuable nonentheless to anyone in business.

People Do Business With People they Like.

Nice work Nick.

The most valuable skill any person in business person can acquire is the ability to sell.  Now if I could simply be more articulate in my blog posts. :-)

Brad


Always Be Selling…Yourself

So Cliche.  So True.

I am not sure what one of a million sales strategies that I have read, or been introduced to actually coined this phrase…but I like it…much more than the common sales mantra of “Always Be Closing”, which I believe comes from the 1992 film, Glengarry Glen Ross.  Looking back, that movie was stacked with Oscar winners and candidates:  Pacino, Lemmon, Spacey, Harris, Arkin, Baldwin and more.  I must say that I am not a fan of the sales mantra or the stereotype that this movie fortifies for the critical sales role in any company.  Nor that other famous sales movie from 2000, Boiler Room for that matter.  Entertaining? Yes.  Practicable? Not if you care to have a reputation or a sustainable business.

My rub on selling as an entrepreneur is that you are always selling…over 25 hours a day, and more than 366 days a year.  But what are you selling?  More often than not, you are selling yourself.  People buy ‘you’.

Coming from a relatively successful career in sales, I can say that I personally sell both consciously...and not so consciously.  I really don't ever turn it off. In fact, the subconscious indirect or softer sales are often times more successful.

There was a pivotal day in my own sales career when sales did not come naturally, at all. I sucked at selling. As a result, for me it became a forceful event just to survive month over month… teetering on doing just about anything to get a sale, when I suddenly realized that there just had to be a better way.  The proof?  I was not selling…and therefore not making any money. Others were.  But why?

You often hear that there is an “art” and a “science” to sales…and I believe that this is true.  Some are good at one or the other, and the rare few who see and execute well with each of these fundamental components are almost always at the top of their game.

I personally decided to focus on the “art” element in this simple equation at that point early in my sales career. It was simply more exciting than studying sales process...I am to this day, horrible at following a process.

Reading books on sales strategies and tactics helped, but practice was the key, which lead to experience, then confidence and ultimately performance in my individual sales roles during that era.  My learning on the art of sales:  always be selling, but be yourself.  Isn't it obvious when a sales person is scripted or follwing such a rigid pricess that you cannot even see the person behind it? 

Anyway, the result was a run in sales that allowed me to draw attention from management, get promoted and move on with my career.  I simply sold myself.  It was then I realized that with this combination, anything could be sold…to almost anybody.

Regardless of the ways in which a service or product can be bought, people still prefer to do business with people.

Therefore, I believe that there is no better skill than the ability to sell oneself.  It can take you wherever you want to go in business and in life.  I view the ability to sell oneself is the most valuable asset a person can have.