SALES MANAGEMENT DONE RIGHT

Sales Engagement1.  What percentage of salespeople consistently over-achieve?

2.  Are your salespersons’ order-takers and account managers instead of proactive Hunters and Closers?

3.  Are your sales people effective selling value and trust rather than selling price?

4.  What is the percentage conversion of your pipeline to closed transactions?

5.  Are there enough qualified opportunities to close in your pipeline?

6.  How many steps in your sales process have been properly mapped?

7.  Do you have a formal sales process that everyone follows every time?

8.  Do you have a formal sales recruiting process that consistently yields the ‘right’ salespeople?

9.  Does your sales force execute your strategic plan, and keep it moving forward?

10. Is your sales team aligned with your sales strategies and core values?

11. Are your salespeople coached on a consistent basis?

12. What Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) do you track and test that drive sales?

13. Do you hold a daily short (10 minutes) ‘huddle’ where salespeople are held accountable for their KPI’s?

14. Is everyone using your automation to track clients, sales and the sales process?

15. Have you optimized your selling demographic and geography?

16. Do you have a formal 90 day orientation and professional sale training process that prepares each salesperson for success at your company?

17. Are your salespeople selling consistently regardless of outside influences?

18. How have you optimized your sales cycle and reduced your ‘Cash Gap’?

19. Does your sales management spend too much time over-managing your salesperson accountability?

20. Have you identified and quantified all the value drivers for: total sales call, closed sales calls, the cost of a bad hire, etc.?

21. Are your salespeople fully engaged?

22. Do your salespeople know exactly what is expected of them at work?

23. Have you supplied your salespeople the necessary materials and equipment to their work right?

24. Do your salespeople have the opportunity to do their ‘best’ every day?

25. In the last seven days, have you given a salesperson recognition or praise for doing good work?

26. Do your sales support personnel, respect and care about your salespeople?

27. Do you have an active role of encouraging your salesperson personal and professional development?

28. Do your sales people opinions count?

29. Does the company mission/purpose of your company make your salespeople feel their job is important?

30. Are your salespeople committed to doing quality work?

31. Have you, in the last six months, talked to your salespeople about your progress?

32. In the last year, have you created opportunities for salespeople to learn and grow?

IMPROVE YOUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Customer ExperienceGallup’s research shows that few employees are aligned with or empowered to deliver the core elements of their company’s brand identity and promise. Executives must start by engaging their employees and then taking these steps to help their workers become effective brand ambassadors.

1- ACKNOWLEDGE THAT ALL EMPLOYEES PLAY A KEY ROLE IN BRINGING THE BRAND TO LIFE.

Successful branding is not just a marketing or sales function; it is an essential activity for human resources, management, and leadership.

2- AUDIT YOUR INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS

Thus ensuring that all communications are consistent with your brand identity and promise. Invest in making employees aware of your brand promise, and empower them to act on it.

3- ARTICULATE WHAT YOUR BRAND REPRESENTS AND WHAT YOU PROMISE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Inject the core elements of your identity into the workplace constantly and consistently across time, locations, and channels. Use these elements to define not only how you treat your customers but also how you manage, coach, and treat your employees.

4- DEPLOY SIMPLE PROCESSES

And ensure that you highlight and discuss the core elements of your company’s brand identity every day. Use minute meetings, lineups, or staff gatherings to provide specific examples of how to deliver the brand promise.

5- USE SIMPLE TOOLS

This might include such things as wallet cards as ready references to the brand, and require employees to memorize the key brand elements.

6- REGULARLY ASSESS HOW WELL YOUR EMPLOYEES KNOW AND UNDERSTAND YOUR BRAND PROMISE.

All employees — especially those in customer-facing roles — should believe in and feel they have the resources and permission to deliver your brand promise. Provide additional support in areas that fall short.

7- ENSURE THAT NEW EMPLOYEES UNDERSTAND YOUR BRAND IDENTITY AND PROMISE.

All new employees should be able to articulate what your company stands for and what makes you different within their first 30 days of employment, and your managers should reinforce this message every day.

8- MAKE SURE THAT EVERY EMPLOYEE UNDERSTANDS HOW HIS OR HER JOB AFFECTS THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE.

This is particularly important for roles that are not customer-facing. Constantly connect the dots between what employees are paid to do and what your organization stands for.

9- RECOGNIZE EMPLOYEES WHO DELIVER YOUR BRAND PROMISE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Recognition is an important psychological need. Employees who know that they will receive recognition for acting on the brand promise will have a strong incentive to do so.

10- REGULARLY SOLICIT OPINIONS FROM YOUR EMPLOYEES ON NEW AND BETTER WAYS TO DELIVER YOUR BRAND PROMISE.

Convene town hall meetings that allow employees to share their ideas and receive feedback. Demonstrating an authentic commitment to alignment is the best way to embed it in your company’s culture.

ARE YOU A BAD BOSS?

Bad BossYour staff avoids you. No one stops by your office, desk or “skypes” you to check-in. This is a probable sign that your employees are afraid of you or have simply lost confidence in your leadership.

Inability to make decisions without your input. You staff constantly asks you for advice on the smallest details. It’s likely you haven’t empowered your employees, or they’re just too afraid of potential consequences if they don’t approach you on everything. There’s definitely a balance so make sure you check out my colleague’s post (Stephen Lynch) about having an open door policy.

A high turnover. Look at how many people you’ve directly or indirectly managed and have resigned within 1-2 years. Leaving for more money is likely not the initial motivator. People typically leave their boss not the company (unless you have a terrible company culture). Quite obvious, but few fail to face this reality.

Former employees disappear, forever. Nothing says it more than anything if your ex-employees don’t keep in touch or you don’t get recommendation requests. Good bosses typically become mentors or role models for ex-employees.

Lack of feedback. You fail to communicate with your team and may not have set expectations, goals or timelines. Bad bosses often change their mind frequently leaving their team feeling off balance. You’re also not available to receive feedback about yourself. Most people like to see progress and to progress in their careers. It’s important that you provide timely feedback. Positive feedback is typically best and constructive feedback is important if something needs to be improved or corrected.

If any of the above is true, here are 4 simple tips you can use to engage your team and help you get out of that bad boss category:

  1. Create transparency. Don’t keep your team in the dark. Share your company’s performance, track and communicate progress. It will help your team understand that the things they work on directly impact the company’s success and ultimately their own.
  2. Make work meaningful. Reinforce the importance of everyone’s role. Provide clarity and direction by defining both team and individual goals. Avoid ambiguity at all costs. This will help foster ownership and will help get things done.
  3. People-Focused Culture. Promote the sharing of ideas, suggestions and improvements. Recognize people for their achievements. Live your company core values and have your team nominate colleagues who meet different core values.
  4. Nurture employees and create a path for growth and opportunity. Create opportunities for career development and progression. Talk to your employees about their career plan. Does their current role make full use of their strengths and abilities? Provide feedback (both the good and constructive) sooner than later.

CONCLUSION

Take the time to think about the points above and keep in mind that highly engaged employees are 26% more productive and on average their company’s earned 13% greater returns. Creating a more engaged workforce benefits the company, your team, and yourself.

EXCERPTS FROM WARREN BUFFET’S ANNUAL LETTER

Warren Buffet“Investment is most intelligent when it is most businesslike.” –Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

This tale begins in Nebraska. From 1973 to 1981, the Midwest experienced an explosion in farm prices, caused by a widespread belief that runaway inflation was coming and fueled by the lending policies of small rural banks. Then the bubble burst, bringing price declines of 50% or more that devastated both leveraged farmers and their lenders. Five times as many Iowa and Nebraska banks failed in that bubble’s aftermath as in our recent Great Recession.

In 1986, I purchased a 400-acre farm, located 50 miles north of Omaha, from the FDIC. It cost me $280,000, considerably less than what a failed bank had lent against the farm a few years earlier. I knew nothing about operating a farm. But I have a son who loves farming, and I learned from him both how many bushels of corn and soybeans the farm would produce and what the operating expenses would be. From these estimates, I calculated the normalized return from the farm to then be about 10%. I also thought it was likely that productivity would improve over time and that crop prices would move higher as well. Both expectations proved out.

In 1993, I made another small investment. Larry Silverstein, Salomon’s landlord when I was the company’s CEO, told me about a New York retail property adjacent to New York University that the Resolution Trust Corp. was selling. Again, a bubble had popped — this one involving commercial real estate — and the RTC had been created to dispose of the assets of failed savings institutions whose optimistic lending practices had fueled the folly.

Here, too, the analysis was simple. As had been the case with the farm, the unleveraged current yield from the property was about 10%. But the property had been under-managed by the RTC, and its income would increase when several vacant stores were leased. Even more important, the largest tenant — who occupied around 20% of the project’s space — was paying rent of about $5 per foot, whereas other tenants averaged $70. The expiration of this bargain lease in nine years was certain to provide a major boost to earnings. The property’s location was also superb: NYU wasn’t going anywhere.

Fundamentals of Investing:

  • You don’t need to be an expert in order to achieve satisfactory investment returns. But if you aren’t, you must recognize your limitations and follow a course certain to work reasonably well. Keep things simple and don’t swing for the fences. When promised quick profits, respond with a quick “no.”
  • Focus on the future productivity of the asset you are considering. If you don’t feel comfortable making a rough estimate of the asset’s future earnings, just forget it and move on. No one has the ability to evaluate every investment possibility. But omniscience isn’t necessary; you only need to understand the actions you undertake.
  • If you instead focus on the prospective price change of a contemplated purchase, you are speculating. There is nothing improper about that. I know, however, that I am unable to speculate successfully, and I am skeptical of those who claim sustained success at doing so. Half of all coin-flippers will win their first toss; none of those winners has an expectation of profit if he continues to play the game. And the fact that a given asset has appreciated in the recent past is never a reason to buy it.
  • With my two small investments, I thought only of what the properties would produce and cared not at all about their daily valuations. Games are won by players who focus on the playing field — not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard. If you can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays without looking at stock prices, give it a try on weekdays.
  • Forming macro opinions or listening to the macro or market predictions of others is a waste of time. Indeed, it is dangerous because it may blur your vision of the facts that are truly important. (When I hear TV commentators glibly opine on what the market will do next, I am reminded of Mickey Mantle’s scathing comment: “You don’t know how easy this game is until you get into that broadcasting booth.”)

During the extraordinary financial panic that occurred late in 2008, I never gave a thought to selling my farm or New York real estate, even though a severe recession was clearly brewing. And if I had owned 100% of a solid business with good long-term prospects, it would have been foolish for me to even consider dumping it. So why would I have sold my stocks that were small participations in wonderful businesses? True, any one of them might eventually disappoint, but as a group they were certain to do well. Could anyone really believe the earth was going to swallow up the incredible productive assets and unlimited human ingenuity existing in America?

Summary

When Charlie Munger and I buy stocks — which we think of as small portions of businesses — our analysis is very similar to that which we use in buying entire businesses. We first have to decide whether we can sensibly estimate an earnings range for five years out or more. If the answer is yes, we will buy the stock (or business) if it sells at a reasonable price in relation to the bottom boundary of our estimate. If, however, we lack the ability to estimate future earnings — which is usually the case — we simply move on to other prospects. In the 54 years we have worked together, we have never forgone an attractive purchase because of the macro or political environment, or the views of other people. In fact, these subjects never come up when we make decisions.