Vermont Sales & Marketing Consulting Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Blog

Speaking of Strategy

by chris on October 7, 2019

This article is written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium.  Subscribe to her YouTube Channel for weekly sales motivation and tips.  She can be reached at https://www.millersalesconsulting.com.

If you’re talking about sales and marketing for your business, you’re probably also talking about strategy. “We need a marketing strategy. We should develop a strategic plan. We need more strategic thinking.” And while there is there a lot of talk about strategy, there’s not always a lot of understanding.

Goals are frequently confused with strategies and the terms are used synonymously. A goal is what you want to achieve, and the strategy is the action needed to reach the goal.

If you have a goal of increasing sales, the first step in creating sales strategies for your business is to know the goals and/or strategies of your customers. Sit with your sales people, your managers, and anyone else on your team that can support your efforts and ask them what their strategy is for a particular client. Better yet, ask them if they know the client’s strategy? Why? Because if you know the goals and strategy of your client or customer, you can offer products and services that are in alignment with their strategy.

When you have that strategic thinking session for the first time you may be surprised. For example: If you owned a soap company and asked your sales manager for the strategy for a client named The Hotel, you might get the following answer. “The Hotel buys all their shampoo from us now, and my strategy is to get them to buy hand lotion as well.”

This type of response is commonly accepted as a strategy. However, selling hand lotion and increasing sales is a goal. If the goal is to get them to buy lotion, what is the strategy (action needed) to make that happen?

Imagine that conversation to the client, based on the idea that up-selling is a strategic move “….and since you buy all your shampoo from us and have premier pricing with our company, I’d like to offer you a great opportunity by having us also supply you with hand lotion.”

This type of thought process and conversation happens so much that it sounds normal. Now let’s look at how a strategic thinker might approach this situation and go back to our example. The goal of the soap company is to sell lotion to The Hotel. After some team brainstorming and digging deeper into the account, someone else offers another thought. Instead of trying to sell the lotion based on volume pricing, they say “Isn’t The Hotel trying to be eco friendly?” Suddenly the conversation moves from price, to a discussion about recyclable packaging and organic ingredients. Someone else suggests the soap company should share data that tells a value story – specifically how customers that care about eco friendly products in their hotel, spend 25% more per visit.

At this point, the strategy of the soap company begins to come into alignment with the goals and strategy of The Hotel. The conversation with The Hotel can now change to something like this “….and since we last met I’ve been doing some research about travelers that prefer accommodations with eco-friendly and organic bath products. Those customers tend to spend 25% more per visit. Since becoming more green and attracting eco- travelers are goals of yours, I wanted to let you know that our hand lotion is a product that will appeal to those customers….” See how this feels and sounds different from the first example?

Strategy is so important and often misunderstood. It takes time and some practice to get it right. I am committed to my work in sales and marketing, and want others to have the same passion – it’s one of my goals. My strategy? Write about all the cool aspects of this career and inspire others. Click here for a live summary of this topic.

{ 0 comments }

This article is written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. She can be reached at https://www.millersalesconsulting.com.

The use of metrics is a great way to benchmark, and track sales success. But can too much emphasis on metrics actually hurt your sales?  Without proper management, understanding and buy-in from the team, the focus can change from achieving the goal, to achieving the metrics that track the goal.

Here are five commonly used sales analytics that I find dangerous.   The intent of these tactics is to increase new business, incremental sales and customer satisfaction, but the pressure to hit metrics around these goals can cause results that are counter to the original sales strategy.   This is my list.  What’s on yours?

  • Tracking Sales “activity”.   The number of cold calls, appointments, and presentations made in a given time frame generally defines sales activity.  Tracking this activity is a commonly believed way to manage to success in a sales organization.  Sales is a game of numbers, and by default, more client contact should result in more sales.  However, quality always wins over quantity, and a salesperson will manipulate numbers and appointments to hit the metrics.  Time spent fabricating activity is better spent working on proposals, researching prospects, or thinking about how to get through to a key target.  What’s more valuable – a sales person that knows how to sell but doesn’t hit standard activity metrics or the one that checks all the boxes?  I’ll take the former over the latter any day.   (On the flip side, tracking activity can be helpful to coach a poor performing account executive, who may be failing somewhere in the sales process.  Other than that I say no go.)
  • Incentives for Selling a “Special Package”.  We all have those sales superstars that know who to call to pitch that special offer, but many in sales just want the prize or bragging rights.   So what happens?  The special package gets rolled into a deal that was already in the pipeline.  Yes, Johnny may have hit the metrics for selling three of those special packages, but was there a huge lift in incremental sales?  No.
  • Phone “Jams”.  Every Tuesday from 9am-11am the team hits the phones and no one quits until they have 5 appointments/sales.  Yes, your team will make the dials, but I guarantee they have already sandbagged some, if not all, appointments.  All you’ve done is moved an activity from one day to another so the salesperson can say the metric was met.  No growth achieved. 
  • Forced Pipeline/Forecasting – Your sales people should have x number of leads and x number of pipeline dollars in CRM or else (fill in negative consequence here).  The result?  Weak, and over valued pipeline to appease management.  But hey – metrics that roll up to senior leaders looks good, right?
  • NPS (Net Promoter Scores) – This one might seem a little left of center but completely relevant.  There is now a cult following around NPS scores in relation to customer satisfaction.  There is such an obsession around NPS; it’s turned into a gaming situation.  The goal is no longer to have satisfied customers, but to have a great NPS score.  In order to win the “is my score better than yours” war, companies can alter the questions to get a better result, only send to happy customers (this can be done when an employee, like an account manager, is compensated on NPS scores), as well as lobby the customer to score us high.  Are we hitting the metric? Yes.  Are we getting real feedback about our sales service?  No.

Sales is a skill that is developed, practiced and continually fine-tuned.  Metrics can help us stay on track.  The key is to use the right analytics and manage to the strategy, not the measurement.  

When sales managers are also judged on hitting the metrics it’s easy to look away and believe the Emperor has new clothes. But, guess what?  Your team’s not hitting your goals and the Emperor is naked! (Here’s the story if you don’t know what I’m talking about) And, you are fooling yourself if you think you can metric yourself to sales success.

Are there ways around these problems?  Of course.  Solid sales talent, trust in your team, and strategies with well-managed KPI’s will get you to the finish.

Incorporating feedback from the field is huge.  Your sales team wants to work with you on metrics that will help achieve goals, and if they are part of the conversation, the results will be that much better.  

Agree?  Disagree?  I’d love to hear how you’ve avoided the pitfalls and if you’ve been able to make any of the tactics above truly work.    

{ 0 comments }

Plan Your Sales Success!

September 23, 2019

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. She can be reached at https://www.millersalesconsulting.com. We are approaching […]

Read the full article →

The Things We Think and Do Not Say – My Take on the Jerry Maguire Mission Statement, A New Career in 2019, and Why Dicky Fox was Right

September 18, 2019

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. She can be reached at https://www.millersalesconsulting.com. As the clock […]

Read the full article →

Lack of Salespeople? Lack of Sales.

September 18, 2019

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. She can be reached at https://www.millersalesconsulting.com. Many times I’ve […]

Read the full article →

Sales Breakups “It’s not you, it’s me”

January 13, 2016

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. She can be reached at https://www.millersalesconsulting.com. There are many […]

Read the full article →

What Jurassic Park Taught Me About Sales

October 24, 2014

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. In 1993 Jurassic Park packed theaters and broke sales […]

Read the full article →

Become A Sales Cowboy!

October 9, 2014

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. The Wild West…such an awesome period in history. Six […]

Read the full article →

A Tribute to Sign Wavers and Sales Egos

September 22, 2014
Thumbnail image for A Tribute to Sign Wavers and Sales Egos

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. This morning while driving to the gym, I passed […]

Read the full article →

“Everybody” is Not a Target

April 7, 2014
Thumbnail image for “Everybody” is Not a Target

This article was written by Christine Miller of Miller Sales Consulting. With extensive experience as a highly strategic sales motivator and sales coach, Christine has excelled at building and structuring sales organizations. More sales advice can be found on her LinkedIn page, as well as Medium. I always flinch a little if I’m in a […]

Read the full article →