Experience Hiring Sales Tips

Judged by Your Rolodex

Sound familiar in some way?  Some think size matters, others think quality does.  I am of the opinion that sales organizations that look for sales people with a big Rolodex are putting the cart before the horse.  What really surprises me is that the word “rolodex” still exists in the vocabulary of the modern salesforce.  With today’s technology, there are far better places to effectively manage your contacts.

Having a well stacked contact list is not necessarily the best hiring criteria of a sales person, yet it still carries considerable weight.  I believe it is one of the worst measures and needs to be removed from the “must have” list.  Let me explain why.

The current state of social media lends itself to everyone having a big contact list.  I like the analogy of your phone book’s white pages.  If you live in or near a metropolitan area, the white pages contain thousands of names.  Do you know everyone included in the phone  book?  No, and that is my point. Same applies to your contact list.  The amount of time necessary to keep up with a rolodex that size leaves no time to do what a salesperson was hired to do: SELL! I’m not saying someone doesn’t have that many contacts, I’m saying that the relevance of the names to the position being filled is probably a fairly low percentage.  I say “probably” because the majority of salespeople do not move to another company that is selling the same line of products.  Ok, granted some do, but most don’t.

With today’s economy, an experienced sales professional (bag carrying or manager) is expected to have a list of contacts.  Personally, I keep 4-5 thousand names.  Sound like a lot?  Not really when you consider my list is broken down into an industry list.  Those individual lists are small in comparison to the whole.  The key is they are valid!

What I find truly amazing is sales managers still believe when they find a candidate that states they have contacts at Fortune 500 companies including the CxOs,  that this is going to be the hiring difference.  What makes you think IF you did have those contacts that the company would just rip out their existing product and plug yours in?  For every contact you have, an investment may not have run the course of the ROI.  There are few questions hiring mangers need to ask themselves:

  • Does a big rolodex equal qualified leads?
  • Ask your self about brand equity–a relationship established under one does not guarantee success somewhere else
  • Are you that desperate that you believe this person’s contacts will boost revenue?

There are situations where having the contacts is a good thing.  Selling services, which can and should be viewed as an intangible is probably a better use for the contact list.  In conclusion, the next time you hire someone, don’t ask about the size, rather how many names are relevant to the position.

If you find this useful, Contact Me or please leave a comment. If you have a Twitter account and found this article useful, it would be much appreciated if you would retweet this at the beginning of the article!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

Sales Advice Sales Basics Sales Tips

The 4th Quarter and Beyond

It’s here folks, do-or-die time for those on the calendar sales cycle! Are you ready?

Right about now people up and down a sales organization’s chain are either confident or extremely worried about the approaching end of quarter (EOQ). No doubt, it has been a tough, tough year and it isn’t over yet, so don’t give up the ship just yet. There are some things you can do and some things you can’t.

Having one or more deals that seems to be stuck in the pipeline is one of the most frustrating situations a salesperson can encounter, and even more so as the year-end looms closer. One of the things you cannot do is BEGIN the selling process in hopes of getting closure by December 31. The exception to this is the transactional or commodity sale, but this isn’t guaranteed either. So What Can You Do?

Assuming you are still holding a live close, you can and must turn up the heat. But how?

    • Go back to your internal coach or advocate and ask
    • Decision maker relationships are key here; What are they waiting for? What is crucial to them?
    • Sales management can help; ASK!

Holding out could just be the company’s way of negotiating. Turn this around and re-negotiate, but before you do, make absolutely sure your tactic will make a difference.

Here is a graph I share with salespeople that explains very simply where ANY action takes place; in ANY organization. I share that with you now.  Presentation1(Click for a bigger image) Using this simple graph, you can add a tick marks and pretty accurately track the closure time of the deal.

Don’t get wrapped up in emotion and be pressured to make concessions you later regret. I am a firm believer in NO unilateral concessions. If your prospect wants to play this type of ballgame, then request something from them that has value to your company, like access to the CIO, CFO or any other officer that would benefit your company and gain a deeper business relationship.

After doing all this, the deal still may slip into the next year. It happens. Especially in this economy.

Ok you are wondering about the “Beyond” part from the article title. As I stated before, some deals are going to slip into the next quarter. Here and now is where you want to begin planning for the coming quarter even if you have no idea about your quota, territory, etc. Begin planning with the thought of moving some of your customers into the top tier of your account list. In my last article, So You Wanna Be the CEO I explain how this can be accomplished. Additionally, I have another article, 5 Tips to Practice Daily that explains the refocusing of your efforts towards the top percentage of your customer base. TPresentation2he following picture illustrates what your goal should be, achieving the top level of this pyramid. Once you reach this pinnacle, the customer sees you as golden. Word of caution; rarely is this level obtained in the eyes of the customer.

If you find this useful, Contact Me or please leave a comment. If you have a Twitter account and found this article useful, it would be much appreciated if you would retweet this at the beginning of the article!

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

Sales Basics

Down the Sales 101 Trail- Part 2

This is the last half of Down the Sales 101 Trail. I hope this helps accelerate your close ratio. This is going to be a ONE topic discussion, so let’s get with it!


A Must Have image8

I can’t emphasize enough how important having a game plan is. Seasoned sales professional or just starting out, you have to have a game plan. If you are winging it day-by-day, go find something else to do because you are not going to survive without some divine intervention. The stakes are too high in the current economic atmosphere.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

Old saying or not, it’s true, or at least true enough to do harm. When I started in sales, I struggled. One of my senior mentors sensed this as well and towards the end of the day came over to offer his advice. The first thing he asked me was, “What are your plans for tomorrow?”  Not knowing his intentions, and thinking he was going to ask me to lunch, I answered, “Nothing, what do you have in mind?” We certainly were not on the same wave length. He went on to tell me how at the end of each day or that evening, he would map out a strategy for the next workday. Never, ever did he leave tomorrow to chance. I have never forgotten his words of advice, nor that single question he asked me that day.

Start Small

Ok, now what?  It really doesn’t matter if you have a territory or assigned accounts, start by mapping out 10-20 companies to target. There are commercial services that can dissect a state or geographical area by Standard Industrial Codes (SIC). (It is being replaced by the newer six digit North American Industrial Classification System (NAIC). You can then filter companies to a very granular level by revenue, size, state, etc. This helps to build a match between your solution and companies you wish to engage. Build on this concept and grow your customer base.

Don’t Pull the Trigger Just Yet

The last thing you want to do is have contact with a company without doing your homework. I believe in “prepare before approach.” With the economy still sputtering, you need to make the most of every contact. You cannot do this without knowing what the company does, what kind of pain they are experiencing and how your solution can help. You will only know this by planning. (Click here to see 5 daily tips) Get your plan together then get your sales manager’s approval. Why? It does two things. First, it shows you know how to plan and tackle a problem, and two, gets his buy-in in case things go awry. The last thing you want is to be on your own unsupported.

If nothing else I hope this gives you a foundation to build/rebuild a stronger sales strategy. If you find this of value or feel I missed the mark, please consider taking the time to comment. Many people can and will benefit from YOUR experience. Continuing to share your tips on what basics work for you will in the end, benefit us all.

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner

Sales Basics

Down the Sales 101 Trail- Part 1

Making use of simple sales fundamentals is something we all tend to forget, yet the very core of what we do as sales people is rooted in those rudimentary ideals.

These I find to be foundational to how I operate as a sales professional.

  1. Honesty – Honest with ourselves, our managers, and above all, honest with our customers.  A Fortune 500 customer of mine had been treated, let’s just say, unfairly by my predecessor. Acknowledging this fact, I asked what it would take to close this deal. “I want the product for $700k”, was the reply. Knowing I could not, I countered with an offer already approved. Not only was the deal done, but also because of my directness and honesty, I was introduced to others within the company that expanded my sales pipeline to $2M+.
  2. Understand – We must understand that without customers we don’t exist! Simple logic, yes, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this be totally forgotten when the game starts.
  3. Serve – We owe our allegiance to our company. No, I’m not talking about that blind faith-leadership following act, but your support to the company. If you are working for a company, then be your company’s strongest proponent: EVANGELIZE for this company! Driving revenue is not a spectator sport. Sales is the tip of the spear for a company and usually the FIRST contact point with the customer. Make it a good one!
  4. Back to Basics – When I’m stuck, had a bad quarter, or for whatever reason need to regroup, I always look at the basics.

It is important to ALWAYS keep this in mind. One last thing, Share your success….don’t flaunt it. In today’s environment, everyone needs to work together more than ever. I will be sharing some more thoughts on the basics in the coming few days.

I hope you get the idea. My goal is to make your day a little lighter and easier by revisiting some of the basics. With a down economy, it is tough out there, and every bit helps. In the end, we all benefit.

Good, bad or indifferent, Contact Me and let me know your thoughts.

Happy Selling!

Ed Warner