Infocusselling’s Blog

December 15, 2009

To Save Cut Out Instead of Cutting Down

Filed under: ACTUM Group — Educated and Aware @ 12:36 am
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The end of the year brings new hope amid sometimes tough decisions. Owners and managers this time of year take a hard look at the financial health of their company and I get some interesting and difficult questions. One of most painful questions from those not hitting profit numbers is, “How deeply do I cut payroll?” The answer, while not easy, is straightforward.

The choice when looking at payroll is save the company or save an employee–you can’t do both. As an owner or manager, your responsibility is to make a return on investment which means maintaining the overall health of the company.

Too many managers and owners ignore the reality that revenue is not matching outflow. They look at financial statements with rose colored glasses and unrealistic optimism. Instead of doing what is necessary, they do what is easy. Instead of cutting out payroll, they cut it down by reducing a few hours here and there and ask employees to work harder and faster. The problem is morale takes a hit and every hour the whole team works, they are painfully aware of reduced hours, they don’t work harder, no one is happy, productivity wanes, and then deeper problems arise requiring deeper changes.

A better solution is to objectively identify the jobs you need, fill them objectively with your most valuable and profitable employees, make a clear and decisive cut out of unaffordable expenses, and then work with a team which is happy with their current situation and future opportunity. Deferring a payroll cut or creating jobs around people prolongs the problem and increases the risk that the problem will not be solvable in the future.

Does this sound cold and harsh during the holiday season? A company is a for profit enterprise with the purpose of making a profit. (For an expert opinion, read Milton Friedman’s seminal 1970 article, The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits.) No company can survive without profit and our government counts on corporate taxes (including Sub-S ownership taxation) to fund growing budgets.

Is this a strange message of coldly cutting costs in what is normally a growth and expansion newsletter? Not at all. As we have seen here in the racing capital of the world, you can’t win if you aren’t running at the end. If you want to grow in the future, you have to be around. Implementing the right changes today allows the possibility of future success.

If you are unfamiliar with the laws of employment, you may be well served by contacting a good HR consultant like C&S Consulting or Resources Offered Immediately regarding laws surrounding termination. In short, Indiana is employment at will meaning you can do what is necessary to save the company without unreasonable interference.

Yes it is very unfortunate for that one employee, but your role is to save the company so it can provide for shareholders and as a result employee families in the future. Saving the company is a greater good than saving one employee today which leads to company failure tomorrow.

December 7, 2009

Launch 2010 Now–A New Way to Create Your Sales Plan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 11:11 am
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The best time to start 2010 selling was about a month ago. Unfortunately most people will start 2010 selling just after they recover from New Year’s. That is way too late and a great way to miss a strong first quarter.

This will be the first of three articles to help you launch your 2010 sales today with a plan that will launch you towards success now.

First, start by making a written list of every customer you sold in 2009. If you have a CRM (and if you don’t, you should) then print out a 2009 sales activity report. As you write down the name, pick up the telephone and call them to say thank you. Don’t ask them about 2010 opportunities, don’t ask them for referrals, just tell them how much you appreciated the opportunity to serve them in 2009.

As you check that client off the list, make a note by their name regarding how you acquired the client—referral by whom, a business group, cold calling, email marketing, prior client, etc. Use a consistent abbreviation system as this will come back in step two.

If anyone mentions 2010 sales, go ahead and have the conversation and either log it and the appropriate follow through telephone call in your CRM or make a big red star on your printout next to that customer’s name. Repeat the process until you are all the way through the list. A CRM sure makes this part easy.

You have 300 customers and this call process will take too long? First, congrats on having a long client list. Second, since many of your calls will result in you leaving a voice mail, you should be able to make 50-100 calls a day so this is a week-long project. And, can you think of anything more important than touching every single client one more time this year as they reflect on 2009 and start to think about 2010? I can’t.

Step 2. Tally up your “where did it come from notes” so you know where your business is coming from. Look for trends and blocks of business from one source. You may find one advertising campaign was really successful. You might find that one group is more beneficial than others. One person may be your best referral source. You won’t do anything else with this yet, but you will want to know this for step 4.

Step 3. Look closely at those who brought up 2010 sales opportunities during your thank you calls. Why did that group bring them up? What characteristics make them different from your other customers? Which industries are they in—maybe part of your client base is doing better than another. What specifically did they talk about? Did certain product lines or options get more attention than others? You should spend significant time on this step and really think about why this group is already talking positively about 2010. As you generate a sales plan (step 5), it is much easier and much more realistic if you base it on what you know instead of what you guess.

Step 4 and step 5 will be here in about a week. Between now and then, your best activity is contact and analyze. Touch your customers and listen to them about their plans for 2010 before you create your own sales plan. While you are at it, get a CRM (such as http://www.addresstwo.com) because what you think of as just at tool will soon become your best friend.

November 29, 2009

2010 Fast Track Sales Training for Doctoral Project

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 10:07 pm
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Along with all of my consulting and training, I am well into a doctorate in marketing with a research emphasis of sales process and sales ethics. For one of my projects, I am looking for 15 sales people who want or need to increase their 2010 sales results and are willing to invest about 3 hours a week for fifteen weeks–2 hours in class and about an hour a week of homework related to sales.

Update as of Jan 4t–only 3 seats left! 15 weeks starting NOW!

This special program carries special pricing and focused content from our regular full blown sales training program.

We will cover:

DISC Communication Styles (how to read people)

Networking (how to get attention and get people to want to meet with you)

Telephone Strategies (how to get calls returned and appointments set)

The Seven Steps of the INFOCUS Selling Process:

  • Introduction
  • Name your Purpose
  • Find a Goal
  • Outline a Goal
  • Crystallize Gains and Losses
  • Uncover Blocks and Obstacles
  • Secure Final Commitment

Selling with a structured process is faster and considerably more profitable.

If you or someone you know is looking to increase your 2010 sales and personal income, this is a rare opportunity for you to take part in professional sales training that combines high level marketing with street level sales tactics that reflect today’s markets and today’s relationships.

Call me or email me for full details. We are starting now and the program completes on April 15th so act fast.

October 25, 2009

Sales Positions for Positive Professionals

Filed under: ACTUM Group,sales positions — Educated and Aware @ 10:52 am
Tags: , , ,

I have multiple clients looking for salespeople. My most pressing need is 1-2 aggressive (meaning proactive and not reactive), motivated (meaning it is commission oriented and we want you to have high goals), positive (meaning if you have a bad attitude about work don’t bother to call me) salespeople to join a client’s team. Great backgrounds would be catering, event planning or management, hospitality, or venue management, or some high activity B2B selling which leads to long term relationships. Most of your clients will be repeat buyers. No overnight travel, roughly 60 mile radius. Combination of existing accounts and your prospecting. Training base, strong commissions, benefits, and the world’s best sales training. Contact me if you know anyone who fits.

October 19, 2009

Nearly Free Workshop on Combining Sales and Marketing 2010 and Beyond

Filed under: ACTUM Group,INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 10:43 pm

Kim Brand & Jeff Bowe speak at Business Ownership Initiative:

Sales & Marketing 2009 (and Beyond)

How I wasted over $200,000 and three years on

ineffective marketing schemes and inept sales strategies

and why you don’t have to.”   Kim Brand, Presenter.

What: Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) presents Sales & Marketing 2009 (and Beyond).

This four hour seminar will be conducted over two days and will be co-presented by Kim Brand, Serial Entrepreneur and President of Computer Experts and File Engine and Jeff Bowe, Chief Sales Strategist at ACTUM Group, a leading sales training company.

When: November 14th, 9AM to 1PM

Where: 4755 Kingsway Dr., Suite 314. (Near 46th & Keystone)

Why: You won’t get a better ‘reality check’ than to hear us talk about real world sales and marketing problems and solutions for small businesses from the perspective of an entrepreneur and sales pro.

Special Bonus: BOI normally charges $20 for this class…that’s cheap!  But everyone that attends will receive a $20 discount coupon from Computer Experts – your net cost is zero and your upside potential is huge and a free chapter from Jeff’s book, Get INFOCUS Get Cash!

You need to call now to register:  (317) 917-3266 ext. 100.

Space is limited, call today

Welcome 2010!

Only 75 days to get 2010 launched towards success! Do I mean 75 days left to finish strong in 2009? That might be important, but more important is to start now on 2010. 2009 is basically over. Even if you peak in the holiday season, your product line, inventory, and marketing are probably too far along to change enough to make dramatic differences in your total 2009 results. Therefore, it’s time to focus on 2010.

      To launch 2010 strong, focus on three issues:

  1. Objectively evaluate your market for 2010. I don’t mean take 2009 and add the 40% sales increase you hope you can get. I mean look at all the economic and market indicators and very critically examine what will and will not change in 2010. Determine how big the market will be and set a sales goal that reflects reality, not stupidity. You can grow in a flat market; just look closely at issue 2 and 3 as you set that goal.
  2. Objectively evaluate your strengths in your market and know what will bring you business over your competition. This will form your marketing plan which should be implemented today.
  3. Objectively evaluate your weaknesses against the market and know what weaknesses your competition will exploit against you. This forms your development plan so that before spring comes you have minimized the opening that your competition is going to leverage for their success.

The problem with starting in January is the lag between marketing, prospecting, and gaining commitments. You have 75 days to evaluate, launch, and see immediate results in January instead of seeing the cold winter warm into the spring thaw.          

For a workshop on adding new tactics and skills to use in making 2010 the year you want and need, watch our website for the half day workshop, Launch 2010 Now!

Shine Like the Star You Are

Shoes make the man, or so the cobbler hopes. I was told once that to see if a man has money look at his watch and to see if a woman has money to look at her purse and shoes. I disagree—I think shoes show the man as well as the woman. Ever see a high dollar executive in dull scuffed shoes?

Why is this important in sales and business development? Because we are a visual species and first impressions are nearly impossible to change. Our appearance is a vital sales tool. Our clothes, accessories, and image imply success or spaciness. When you are in front of an important prospect, do you want your appearance to work for you or against you? We don’t have to dress in suits and ties and designer dresses, but we do need to appear organized, coordinated, and concerned. An organized appearance indicates that you take care in at least one area of your life. A disorganized appearance makes one question what level of attention may be paid to other areas.

I was recently interviewing candidates for a sales position. There was a slight mist coming down and while not cold, the mist and rain suggested that a coat of some type was in order. I watched who I hoped was not my candidate hurrying through the parking lot, no coat, no umbrella, portfolio and purse hanging off arms, with a flustered look on her face. She walked in, quickly introduced herself, and continued to act unprepared and disorganized. Her paper credentials were good but her presentation failed her.

Selling and interviewing are the same process. Your appearance is a key component of how you are perceived. A reader of my blog wrote how important it is to “fake it ‘til you make it.” My response was if you can’t fake it, you can’t make it. If you can’t look successful, organized, and coordinated, it’s difficult to be perceived as a professional and more difficult to be hired as one. With today’s economy and the preponderance of big box retailers, even the budget conscious can look good every day. Take the time to make sure you match, dress like you are the success you want to be, and while you’re at it, make sure your shoes are shined.

Hiring Salespeople: Much More Difficult in Down Times

Hiring quality salespeople has become very difficult. Not because they are hard to find, but because they are now mixed into a very large crowd of unemployed salespeople who range from mediocre to miserable.

 Only three years ago, great salespeople were employed and you had to recruit them. With so much downsizing in the past few years, great salespeople have been the victim of bigger problems.

The sheer volume of available salespeople has made us forget what hiring is all about. Hiring is about finding the best candidate you can afford to fill a tightly defined job description. Filling holes with bodies is not a strategy you can afford—the costs in missed sales opportunities and damaged client relationships is too great.

I had a client admit that a recent hire had been based on how well she got along with the person, how much she enjoyed the person, and that it was an emotional hire. There was only one glitch—the person was totally unqualified for the position and the result was a termination in less than 30 days. How terribly expensive and disruptive for both the company and the person.  Yet, had this person been allowed to stay in the organization, a tremendous statement would have been made regarding the level of expertise and performance allowed at all levels.

The main responsibility of a president is to set the standard for inflexible and absolute excellence.

If you are trying to grow, every hire is critical toward that goal. Hiring is about increasing the average quality level of your employee team. It is a no-compromise approach that mimics the way you expect your R&D department to innovate and your manufacturing line to produce. Commitment to excellence starts at the top and your commitment to hire only the best sets a tone that will resonate throughout the organization. Today’s compromised hire is tomorrow’s painful termination, and is the beginning of an uncontrollable slide to mediocrity. When we allow someone into our organization who does not fit our requirements, we dilute the power and productivity of all our other team members, and create a myriad of unpleasantries including loss of profit, reduction in quality, and increased employee terminations.

Do you want to shorten the list of unpleasantries as president? Be brutally and painfully honest in sales team hiring and you will have fewer terminations. Sales hiring should follow this process:

  • Consider the level of active sales management you are willing and able to perform and commit to on a regular basis
  • Know if you are looking for an internal salesperson (who will focus on account maintenance, growth, and retention) or an outside salesperson (who will focus on new account development)
  • Have a written set of expectations, objectives, duties, and minimum requirements and qualifications.
  • Interview without emotion remembering the risk in today’s terminations.
  • Consider all candidates for 48 hours–never hire on the spot.
  • Invest the time to have multiple people interview your top candidates, even if that means going to someone outside your organization who can be more objective since he or she does not feel the pain of an empty sales desk. Use people who have different goals, perspectives, and personalities so that you get different views on your candidates.
  • Invest in communication, style, and skills profiling to see if the person is as presented. A mediocre sales person can sell a non-salesperson doing the hiring an igloo when it is 95 degrees out.
  • Include the expectations and duties in the written offer letter and go through the letter line by line face to face.
  • Relentlessly stick to your written objectives and do not get caught up in hiring someone who looks good if you really need someone who looks great. Stay the course and get a great addition to your team
  • Look for bad trends on the first day. Anything that does not seem right will only get worse.

 Once a salesperson has been added to your team, it will be your responsibility to keep this person on track. Hiring a salesperson is an investment, not a cost. You are spending cash now to receive more cash later. And like any financial investment, it needs monitoring for trends and results. No matter how little sales management you want to do, every salesperson, even the best salesperson, needs a sales manager. A sales manager is a coach, confidant, motivator, consultant, and congratulator—sometimes all in the same day. You cannot hire a salesperson and expect him or her to tackle the world and bring in sales on the first day or even in the first year without your input. You know your company better than a new person and you know where you are strong or weak in your market. (If not, find out before you invest in a salesperson.)

 With our current unemployment and underemployment, there are probably 1000 qualified candidates within an hour of you. Follow the steps above to be sure you are ready to hire and ready to manage. If you are ready, then as you add people to your organization, don’t get a good one–get the best one.

September 27, 2009

Putting Our Mouth in front of Your Money

Filed under: ACTUM Group — Educated and Aware @ 4:23 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

23% Off is one thing. 23% In is quite another.

Our belief in our economy has been proven over the past year. We are clearly rebounding due to good old fashioned hard work. Some segments remain pretty tough but no industry has disappeared. As our economy turns around, those who plot the right course now will grow during this blip and come out geometrically stronger than their competition—some of whom will not make it out at all. To grow a business now means taking market share from the competition. It happens every day and you can be on the winning end or losing end—it’s your choice.

We believe in ourselves. We know the last thing people are doing right now is looking for places to spend money, regardless of how bad their sales trend is. But the bottom line is your sales skills have never been more important. The more competition you have, the more you have to out sell them. Our track record tells us that when our clients show up, pay attention, apply and integrate new behaviors and tactics, amazing things happen. We’re confident that record will continue.

We want to believe in you. We are looking for up to 20 sales people, teams or individuals, who want to be high earning sales professionals but right now are more like struggling sales workers. If you want to be a successful sales professional, or if you want your team to be successful, we’re willing to let you go 23% in and we’ll earn the rest. That’s right. You invest only 23% of our normal training fees, and we’ll get paid more only if we can change your sales results. Email us at jeffbowe@actumgroup.com to find out how to get started

I bet you and your team get paid for results, why shouldn’t your sales trainer?

September 22, 2009

Nearly Free Workshop on Sales AND Marketing 2009 + Beyond

Filed under: Uncategorized — Educated and Aware @ 9:16 pm

Kim Brand & Jeff Bowe speak at Business Ownership Initiative:

Sales & Marketing 2009 (and Beyond)

How I wasted over $200,000 and three years on

ineffective marketing schemes and inept sales strategies

and why you don’t have to.”   Kim Brand, Presenter.

What: Business Ownership Initiative (BOI) presents Sales & Marketing 2009 (and Beyond).

This four hour seminar will be conducted over two days and will be co-presented by Kim Brand, Serial Entrepreneur and President of Computer Experts and File Engine and Jeff Bowe, Chief Sales Strategist at ACTUM Group, a leading sales training company.

When: September 28th & 29th, 6-8 p.m.

Where: 4755 Kingsway Dr., Suite 314. (Near 46th & Keystone)

Why: You won’t get a better ‘reality check’ than to hear us talk about real world sales and marketing problems and solutions for small businesses from the perspective of an entrepreneur and sales pro.

Special Bonus: BOI normally charges $20 for this class…that’s cheap!  But everyone that attends will receive a $20 discount coupon from Computer Experts – your net cost is zero and your upside potential is huge and a free chapter from Jeff’s book, Get INFOCUS Get Cash!

You need to call now to register:  (317) 917-3266 ext. 100.

Space is limited, call today

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