Game the Plan – With Chris Cabrera0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Game the plan

Almost everyone in sales will tell you that incentives drive behaviour, but beyond that there is often little agreement among the pundits as to what the right incentive plan is. Some see it as a black art, while others, usually sales people, see it as something to manipulate, hence the expression ‘gaming the plan’. But ask Christopher Cabrera, founder, president and CEO of Xactly Corporation, who has a different view, and believes that front line reps and CFOs do not need to be at odds when it comes to incentives. In fact, Cabrera literally wrote the book on incentives, “Game the Plan: Every Sales Rep’s Dream; Every CFO’s Nightmare”, which suggests that when it’s done right, reps can and should game and maximize the plan, and everyone wins.

I had the opportunity to discuss incentives and the book with Cabrera, and ask him some questions many of my clients ask when it comes to their challenges around incentives and driving behaviour that leads to everyone’s success, buyer, seller, and company.

One aspect of the incentive where the pendulum of opinion swings back and forth is between simplicity and complexity of a plan. While some try to engineer things down to the minute detail, others, look to perhaps over simplify by offering 100% commission based pay. As you would suspect, the reality is somewhere in between. Cabrera’s view is that 100% is not the most effective, but over engineering a plan has faults as well. He suggests that structure is much more important than the specifics. What “counts is the number of measures; there is a strong correlation between the number of measures and a successful plan.” Measures being the elements being paid on, Cabrera suggests that optimal number is three measures being incented. As you exceed that number, you lose focus and therefore the effectiveness of the plan.

Another factor was the number of people being paid on any given deal, an extreme example Cabrera gave was a company that had over a hundred people on any given deal. He suggest that the right number of people is five.

Cabrera is also a proponent of paying different rates on different products. While paying on net revenue is a start, companies should also incent higher margin products at a higher rate, thereby driving sales and higher profits. He also discussed that managing activity is the role of management not the incentive plan.

Another area of discussion was the use of SPIFFs (Sales Promotion Incentive Fund). Cabrera explained that while this was an effective practice, companies need to keep them fresh and not overuse them. “Keep them guessing by changing the annual cadence, if they know it is coming and when, it loses the desired effect.” He also recommends that they not be overused, three times a year, and at different times, for different element. Tying them to quarter end each time really misses the mark.

The thing that gives the book teeth and makes it a must read for sales leaders and sales people is not only Cabrera’s own extensive experience in the field of sales incentive and incentive management. But more importantly, the volume of data that is available to him as a result of the work Xactly does. The ability to leverage the empirical, anecdotal and other elements give Cabrera, the book, and by extension the reader, an unparalleled level of insight into incentives, and doing it right.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

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Your Own Sales Kick-Off with Dan Pink and Matt Dixon – Toronto – January 28th0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Yes Small

While experiences vary, there is no denying that sales kick-offs can be effective on a number of levels.  Beyond creating focus and setting the theme for the year, it was at times an opportunity to take in a speaker who brings a unique, or perhaps new view on sales and sales success. But the reality is that not everyone has an opportunity to participate in such an event. Whether it is because your company is too small, or other reasons.

But if you are in Toronto on January 28, you can attend The Art Of Sales Conference, and not only have your own Sales Kick-Off, but take in six great speakers to help set your year off to a great start.

I had the opportunity to speak to two of the presenters just before the holidays, Dan Pink and Matt Dixon. I asked both how things have evolved since they each respectively wrote their books. More to the point what you can expect if you attend the event.

I started by asking Matt Dixon, what can people who have read “The Challenger Sale”, expect at the event. “While I will be reviewing the findings and implication of The Challenger Sale, expanding on some areas we have seen in practice. Those who have read it can expect to learn more about how people have implemented the concepts in the book. Their successes, challenges, and discoveries they made about themselves and their teams as a result.” Dixon went on to say “one thing that reinforces what we found and shared in the book is that it takes time and work to put things into practice, there is no silver bullet in sales”. I couldn’t agree more, we are hunting revenue not werewolves, we need a sound approach, not silver bullets or other superstitions. As for people who did not yet read the book, they can expect to hear the key findings directly from one of the author of the book that has caused if nothing else, great debates among sellers and pundits.

Dan Pink, shared that he will not only be reviewing and expanding on core concepts presented in “To Sell Is Human”, but sharing new research, and how to take advantage of that when putting it into practice. “For those who have read the book, we will be discussing the reality of the perception of sales people”, with the perception running at 4:1 negative, I think we can all get some insights from Dan. For those who have yet to read the book, Dan will be sharing “how not only that we are all in sales, but sales itself is not what it used to be.” Dan went on to assure me that he will be highlighting “practical tips to effectively leverage and make use of the research presented in the book.

These are only two of the sales leaders presenting at the conference. Now if your company had these guys in for your kick-off, maybe you have a reason not to attend, but if not, don’t you think you can kick some sales ass by attending this event?

WIN TICKETS

Not only will I see you there, but you also have a chance to enter to win tickets to this event, just click here to learn more and enter.

See you there,
Tibor Shanto

 

The Pipeline Interview with Jeff Shore – Sales eXchange 2300

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

The Microphone

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Jeff Shore, a leading sales coach, speaker, and author. We sat down to discuss his upcoming book: “BE BOLD AND WIN THE SALE”.

It is no secret that to change the outcome in sales, you need to change the behaviour of sellers, this in turn changes their execution. The question is how do you change behaviour.  This is the focus of “BE BOLD AND WIN THE SALE”, and the focus of the interview.

Jeff highlights specific things sellers and organizations can do to to begin the transformation and win sales. Take a look, and pick up the book when it comes out January 3, 2014, and go out and win sales.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Author #Interview – Josiane Chriqui Feigon – Smart Sales Manager0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Smart Sales Manager

If you are not familiar with Josiane Feigon, you should be, and if her predictions come to be you will be soon enough.  As you’ll read below, she boldly predicts that by 2015 inside sales will overtake field sales, as that unfolds, she will be in greater demand.  Josiane heads up TeleSmart Communications, and is leading practice and thought leader in the area of inside sales and management.  A recognized consulting, she has designed and delivered coaching, and training solutions for world class companies such as companies, including Cisco, Autodesk, Citrix Systems, Adobe, and others.  She is also the author of two books on inside sales, Smart Selling on the Phone and Online: Inside Sales That Gets Results, and her most recent, and a complement to the first book: Smart Sales Manager: The Ultimate Playbook for Building and Running a High-Performance Inside Sales Team.

It was this book that was the focus of a recent conversation I had with Josiane, below are exerpts of that conversation.

TS:  You say that inside sales is going to overtake field sales by 2015. How can that be? And how does that affect how companies sell?

JF:  Today’s inside sales organizations are growing rapidly – for every 15 inside salespeople being hired, only one field person is being hired. The traditional sales organization structure is changing to meet the needs of today’s elusive and busy customer who is mobile, connected, independent, and wants everything NOW. Inside sales can build more – and often better – relationships virtually in much less time than it used to take face-to-face.  TS: In your book, you start out by saying customers these days are “mad as hell.” What are they mad about? What is going on with them these days that’s affecting their buying decisions?

JF:  Customers have become incredibly intelligent and assertive- they are putting their foot down and saying “they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” They are tired of outdated sales techniques, hundreds of powerpoint slides to make a point, being stalked and chased by desperate salespeople. They are also very independent AKA “elusive” and like to self-educate.

TS:  Many of today’s inside sales managers were promoted out of the cubicle into management. How is managing in today’s digital world different than when they were selling?

JF:  Most of today’s managers were once individual contributors. Many of them manage with the old, brutal sales blueprint of success: aggressively chasing down customers and holding them in a headlock while they present and coerce them into buying. They keep doing it today, even though it no longer works, on the theory that it has to work sometime! But managing a high-performing inside sales team in the dynamics Sales 2.0 ecosystem is completely different. This new world is digital, diverse, and connected. Customers do their own research, and talent expects works to be F-U-N.

TS:  How do organizations identify great inside sales managers?  What are the primary attributes successful managers need?

JF:  I believe a good manager must first be a good coach and in my book, I outline Ten Qualities of a Compassionate Coach

  1. Be a good listener. Use the same active listening skills that make you a good salesperson. Give the rep your full attention, and listen without interrupting. Be empathetic and compassionate, and don’t get defensive.
  2. Be observant. You can learn so much about your team members just by paying attention to the way they present themselves, the objects they choose to have around them, the friends they hang out with, whether they speak up during meetings, how they listen when you talk, how they interact with others . . . the list goes on and on….
  3. Be patient. Some people are quick studies, but not everyone. Behaviors can change; everyone has his or her own unique rhythm. Give them time to develop.
  4. Be supportive. Make sure that even the least skilled know that you believe they have what it takes to improve and get ahead. Some team members may just be waiting for permission to be seen as the top dog on the team. Treat them as if they deserve to be in that spotlight.
  5. Be flexible. Change can be effected in a number of ways. If one approach fails, try something else. Be creative. Keep an open mind, and become sensitive to differences and different ways of doing things.
  6. Be interested and aware. Take time to get to know the salesperson you are coaching. What do they like? How do they live? This will give you insight into what motivates them.
  7. Be perceptive. When your intuition kicks in—and it will! —trust it.
  8. Be energetic. A good coach has energy that is contagious and persuasive. Model the kind of positive energy you want to see.
  9. Be focused. As a coach you must detach yourself from your own pressures and focus on the person you are coaching.
  10. Be trustworthy. Above all, coaching must take place in an atmosphere of safety and trust. Your team must trust that you are working in their best interests. Your team members are your potential superheroes. Treat them with respect and confidence.

TS:   Some people think cold calling is dead. But in your book, you introduce the concept of potent prospecting. Can you explain what that is?

JF:  New tools have eliminated the cold call and redefined prospecting: The days of robo-dialing and making cold calls without any information are gone – there’s no excuse for it. Potent prospecting works more holistically. It brings together the rest of the Sales 2.0 ecosystem – the customer, the talent, and the tools – and a working alignment with marketing. Prospecting efforts are strategic and sophisticated: they’re all about the best practices of engagement, collaboration, education, application, and social activity.

TS:  Why do so many inside sales managers insist on tracking dials & talk time as a primary metric of productivity? Is that lazy management, or just lack of knowing where else to look?

JF:  Metrics are definitely overdue for a metrics makeover because many metrics are outdated stereotypes of how to measure success. Managers must also redefine what productivity means so instead of saying “it’s awfully quiet out there, no one’s on the phone” they need to listen for the virtual, the digital and the social conversations and measure the new sounds of silence.

TS:  What are two takeaways from the book for finding and hiring new sales talent?

JF:  Every inside sales organization is unique. That’s because they each have different go-to-marketing strategies based on their individual provide/service, price points, sales cycle, direct/indirect purchase channels, target audience, sales locations, and talents. These are living, breathing micro businesses that are constantly in flux. But they all have one thing in common: the never-ending quest for good talent. Managers must develop an “always-be-recruiting” strategy that includes a referral network, and strong screening and interviewing techniques that help qualify and identify inside sales superheroes. Managers must also structure their inside sales organizations with the right roles and match them with people who fit those job functions. This is the first step in defining a “multicareer” ecosystem that attracts ambitious talent on a career trajectory.

That was just a bit of a great conversation. You can find more at TeleSmart Communications, and you get both books at Amazon, they make a good set.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Interview – Nick Stein, Senior Director of Marketing and Communication at Salesforce.com (#video)2

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Nick Stein, Senior Director of Marketing and Communication at Salesforce Work.com.  Nick shared a number of insights and best practices around driving success through peak sales performance, and creating a proactive sales culture, all in the same environment that reps and front line sales managers use to drive revenues and day to day sales activities.

We discussed alignment, the importance of consistent and constant sales performance management.  One interesting point Nick discuss was the power and financial pay-off of one on one coaching; with only 10 minutes of 1:1 coaching, reps increase results by 17%, usually the difference between making or missing goal.

Many organization understand the need for sale performance, but now they have a means of delivering in a way integrated with daily sales realities, rather than as a separate process.  The fact remains that knowing and planning don’t always translate to being done, with Salesforce Work.com companies can execute their sales performance management improvement plan, because as with other aspects of sales, it is all about execution – everything else is just talk!

Enjoy, and let us know your reactions and thought:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

You Do It Now – They Can Talk Later – Sales eXchange 2010

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

radio1

Last Wednesday May 15th, I had the opportunity to be on the Charles Adler show.  We look at the potential fallacies in long term predictions, this on the heels of a piece I did for the Globe and Mail Report on Small Business, regarding the need for execution in sales, not long term predications, and the fact that in BC, the elections did produce a majority government, but not by the party everyone was “predicting” would form the government.

Have a short listen, then let us know how you’ve found action and results to be of more value than predictions.

 
What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

What’s A Better Seller? – Sales eXchange 1990

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Blue Collar

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of discussing sales and selling with Charles Adler, Canada’s Boss of Talk.  Charles had read my piece in the Globe and Mail on the difference between a blue-collar approach to selling and the white-collar approach.  We explored other aspects of sales and successful people, take a listen, and let me know or Charles (@charlesadler), know what you think.


What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

What if you could defeat the Status Quo0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

All this week I have posted clips from a recent interview with Ago Cluytens, for his Coaching Masters Series.  We dealt with a number of issues around selling to buyers who are traditionally referred to as being Status Quo.  Being the weekend, I thought it a good time to post the whole interview for your weekend lounging pleasure.

Always interested in what you think, and whether you are more prepared to go forth and sell where many sellers and pundits fear to go.  Take a look, and let me know.

If you enjoy this there are more on Ago’s site.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Emotion + Risk in Getting Buyers to React and Act! (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

roller coaster

Today I feature the third excerpt from my discussion with Ago Cluytens, for one his Coaching Masters Series interviews.  Today we look at the roles played risk and emotion in getting buyers to not only react, but act.

In Monday’s clip, I talked about the fact that you don’t need to waste time in waiting for an event to engage with a potential buyer, what you are looking for is the reaction, not the event.  Two things that get reactions every time are risk and emotion.

But while it is true that buyers buy on emotion and the rationalize that decision, it is also true that there are other factors such as risk, stories, sounds, and other factors a seller can leverage to get a buyer to react and more importantly to act.  It is easy to get a ready buyer to react and act, but you need to use many things to get a complacent buyer to engage, react and act.

Take a look:

If you would like to see the entire discussion you can either visit my You Tube channel, or go the Ago’ site by clicking here.  Always open to comments and views.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Be Provocative in Demonstrating Results (#video)0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

TV Head

Monday I shared a clip from a discussion with Ago Cluytens, for one his Coaching Masters Series.  Today’s second clip looks at the need to be provocative in gaining traction with entrenched potential buyers.

The challenge many of in sales face is the entrenched buyer who is reluctant to look at new or alternative means of achieving his/her goals.  This is usually due to the fact that they are entrenched in how they are doing things now, feels there are too many resources needed to make a change, and a host of other reasons.  In order to get engagement, we need to demonstrate the results we can deliver and the positive and measurable impact we will directly deliver to their business and attaining their goals.  In a WIIFM world it is about the What, not how of how they get there.

Here is more:

If you would like to see the entire discussion you can either visit my You Tube channel, or go the Ago’ site by clicking here.  Always open to comments and views.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

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