Infocusselling’s Blog

December 16, 2009

ACTUM Group Growing for 2010

Filed under: ACTUM Group — Educated and Aware @ 12:26 am
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ACTUM Group is launching into 2010 by adding strategic marketing and sales management professionals to our team. If you have business ownership or C-level background, are entrepreneurial, and have thought about coaching or consulting but don’t want to start without reputation, name recognition, or a referral base, let’s talk.

Outsourcing continues to be the best way to add high level skills to a company without incurring long term overhead. ACTUM is well positioned to continue to grow and we have some exciting plans for new directions. Team members must be comfortable having deep conversations with any level of employee, and must understand all facets of business with a specialty that fits our focus–strategic sales, sales training, sales management, or marketing management.

Call Jeff Bowe, Principal and Chief Sales Strategist at 317-508-6601 for a confidential discussion.

July 2, 2009

Halftime

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 11:32 pm
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July means we are more than half through 2009. Amazing or not, it’s true. When sports teams go into the locker room at halftime, they regroup and rethink their second half strategy. Whether or not you like sports, we should learn from them and ask when you look at your first half performance, what do you need to change for the second half to win the 2009 game?

Good strategists look at offense and defense. Offense is what you are doing to get in touch with your target market and how you are actively converting prospects to customers. Your strategic change is what you are going to do differently to get in front of more prospects. What are you going to do differently to convert more prospects to clients? Look at your sales activity and identify the weak link. If you have more than one weak, pick the most important two aspects and address them. Don’t try to change more than two aspects of your sales process at one time. If you try to tackle too many things at one time in your sales process, you will most likely end up not doing any of them…and you will finish 2009 the same way you are at halftime.

Defense is what you do to protect your market from competitors. Are you losing projects that you should get? How and where are they beating you? What do you need to do to alter that balance? Just like changes to your offense, defensive strategy is to identify the one or two things that you need to do to re-position yourself so that you are in a stronger position relative to your competitor. Don’t try to change too many things or again, you’ll end up 2009 the same place you are at halftime.

Your game is sales and your goal is to sell the volume you projected in January. The good news is, no matter where you are today, you have the time to still win the game. Strategists, like winners, act, evaluate, adjust, move forward, and repeat the cycle. Be a strategist, be a winner.

April 16, 2009

When Sales Are Down, Do We Really Want to Reduce the Team?

Ran across this great post from another smart person! Why when sales are down, do companies cut the size of the sales team?

Who is Running the Sales Effort?

If  you have the wrong players, that’s different. But this is MARKET SHARE time! Go take market share now, and as your industry turns, you will experience incredibly rapid growth.

April 6, 2009

Sales Management 2009: Even More Necessary Today

I was writing about sales management for this newsletter when I found others writing around the same topic. It looks like we are all onto something. This person talks about what is needed in a sales manager Hiring a Sales Manager.

Here is what you must get from your sales management function today:

  • strategic direction-how to create the maximum short and long term impact in your market in a niche that is underserved yet highly profitable
  • skills coaching and training-continually honing phone skills to get appointments and appointment skills to get commitments
  • performance mentoring-keeping salespeople motivated and working at their peak
  • feedback to top management-sales and marketing issues need to be fleshed out and communicated
  • ride along support-coaching the team in real time to get more commitments from more prospects.

The last numbers from Career Builder Salary Research showed that an average sales manager carries a salary over $85,000 and a top one costs over $130,000 plus benefits. For that kind of money, hold your sales manager accountable for results. What are they doing on each bullet point above? Every bullet point is critical-there’s no room for second rate today.

But what if your team is small and you can’t afford and don’t really need a 40-60 hour per week sales manager? Is the performance of your team any less important?

Even if you do not have a full time sales manager, someone needs to perform the functions listed above. Every sales team from 1 person to 1000 people needs direction and training. Several years ago I wrote about outsourcing as a strategy Outsourcing Inc. Today, outsourcing is more critical as companies look for ways to conserve cash yet have access the specific skills needed to grow a business. CRM Magazine wrote that outsourced sales training is more effective than internal sales training Outsourced Sales Training. It makes sense that a sales trainer who is engaged in full time training is going to be more effective than someone who does it 5-10% of the time.

ACTUM Group specializes in helping salespeople and sales teams reach and exceed their potential. If your team needs more direction and it seems to be missing the skills to get appointments and clients today, we should talk. We can provide sales management skills for the exact number of hours you need each week, without incurring the high overhead of full time employment. Call us at 577-3750 or email us at jeffbowe@actumgroup.com to tell us what you need to make this your best year yet.

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How Much Networking is Too Much Networking?

Is it possible to network too much? It depends. We’ve talked here before about how to network and where to network, but not about how much to network. Can you overdo it? Let’s go back to how networking is part of sales strategy and process.

Sales starts with identifying a prospect. For most people, networking is a way to avoid cold calling to identify prospects which is a pretty good reason to network. Cold calling will never be as effective as receiving a phone call from someone who got your name from a networking partner who said you were the person to solve their pressing need. Networking is a tactical way to meet prospects and contacts who can fill your schedule with pre-qualified prospects who want to talk with you.

We network to start the sales process, not get in the way of it. I had a client tell me one time that he was too busy networking to set sales appointments. That’s backwards and very dangerous. You should network as much as it takes to meet enough people to fill your sales schedule—and no more. If you are networking so much that you cannot follow up in a timely fashion, then you are probably not taking advantage of maximizing your new contacts. If you are having trouble fitting sales calls in between your networking meetings, then you are definitely putting the emphasis on the wrong activity. Remember, we network to meet prospects and contacts because without them, it’s really hard to make that monthly sales quota.

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March 4, 2009

Creating a Structure for Sales Success

It’s been said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Experience tells me it should be, “If you fail to have a good plan, you plan to fail.”

Do you have a good plan for what happens during a sales call? That plan is to have a structured question sequence that walks a contact from beginning to end, from the introductory opening to the final commitment in getting an order. Having that plan separates a Sales Leader from a sales rep.

The acronym to use for building an effective question sequence is INFOCUS—hence the name INFOCUS Selling™. The acronym reminds us of the best sequence for your questions, giving your questions a plan and a purpose. Let’s take a look at INFOCUS Selling™, letter by letter.

I for Introduction—This initial phase introduces who you are and who you represent so that you
are not talking with a stranger, stated in a way that the other person wants to talk with you.

N for Name Your Purpose—This defining phase sets the parameters for an open dialogue
between you and your contact, that you are there to ask questions and collect information to see
whether there is a match between their needs and your offerings at some time in the future–not
that you are going to ask them to make a decision today.

F for Find a Goal—At this phase you begin to discover the desired pressing goal or overall
objective of this contact, a goal that is important to them in their world, both personally and
professionally.

O for Outline the Goal—Through this phase you help the prospect identify and explore the
details of the goal so that both you and the prospect have a full, complete, and comprehensive
understanding of the goal or objective.

C for Crystallize Gains and Losses—During this phase you have the prospect determine the
good, positive, and pretty things that will happen personally and organizationally if this goal is
achieved, and the bad, negative, and ugly things that will happen personally and organizationally
if this goal is not achieved. Together you calculate positive and negative financial values for both
achieving and failing to achieve the objective.

U for Uncover Blocks and Obstacles—In this phase you dig for what is in the way of
accomplishing the goal; what must be overcome or at a minimum handled or addressed for the
project to be successful or the goal to be achieved. This may also be the reason the goal has not
already been accomplished or achieved in the past.

S for Secure Final Commitment—This last phase is where you get the last commitment you need
to start a client/vendor relationship. When the entire process is done correctly, this is a natural
outcome and a natural progression of the questions you have asked up to this point.

These letters that spell INFOCUS™ indicate the process and sequence to take your sales from
wherever they are today to above whatever chart or goal you and your boss have devised. We
will deal with all of the letters in future postings as we dissect each step of the INFOCUS
Selling™ process.

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February 19, 2009

ACTUM Group Perspective Archive

New to INFOCUS Selling or ACTUM Group?  Or missed a few issues of our information packed monthly newsletter?

Click here to check out back issues of The ACTUM Group Perspective newsletter.

February 3, 2009

When Networking Isn’t Working

Article by Jeff Bowe

“I can’t sell when I network, I’m there to build relationships.”

“I have lots of one on ones, but no one I meet is a prospect.”

“I network all the time but I just don’t get anything out of it.”

At the risk of upsetting a very large apple cart, it’s time to debunk some myths about networking.

Continued…

January 5, 2009

Superheroes and Perceived Expertise

Recently we talked about superheroes having arch enemies that consume the majority of their time and attention. Who is your arch enemy? What is in the way or between you and wild financial success?

When you identify one major roadblock or one major enemy between you and unbridled financial success, you can focus all of your attention on that roadblock or enemy.  It sounds simple and it really is. Success is not about being the smartest person in the world. Success is about being known as the most effective person at solving one specific need or problem better than anyone else. In fact, Jerry Garcia said it well. “It is not enough to be the best at what you do, you must be perceived as the only one who does what you do.”

Thirty-six years ago my mom met Dr. King. Dr. King was known as the best nephrologist in Indianapolis. Dr. Leroy King I am sure he knew a few things about arthritis and cancer and viruses, but his specialty—what he was known for—was nephrology. His expertise is what drew my mom to him. She didn’t care that he understood migraines or high blood pressure or hang nails. She went to him because he was the expert in nephrology. Nothing else mattered—she knew his focus and was willing to pay the price for that focused expertise because of her need.

Do you have people flocking to your business because of your narrow area of perceived expertise? Do people seek you out because you can solve their problem better than anyone else? Have you spent the time and energy in one area to become known as the expert in solving one burning issue or one need or one problem better than anyone else? Can you solve one problem better than anyone else? If not, then that might be part of your problem. Would you hire #2 if you could work with #1? But more important than reality, is perception. If you are perceived as #1, that perception becomes reality for your prospects.

At this time of year, the most important part of strategic planning is to know where you will sell next year, and to focus all of your attention on being become known as the expert in that field. The smaller the field, the better and more profitable, as the most profitable specialists are always those with the narrowest field and the highest level of perceived expertise in that narrow field of need. There is too much to know in the world today to be a world class expert in a wide range of fields. My mom never asked Dr. King about cost or about how to solve other medical issues.  She sought out and paid Dr. King bills because he was the expert in nephrology and she had a very specific need for that very specific expertise.

Put in your plan now how to become perceived as a world class expert in a narrow field—and you will make world class income from a shorter list of prospects and clients who are suffering from on the one problem you are perceived to be best person solve.

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