Lisa Peskin Interview on WNJC 1360 AM

Our CEO, Lisa Peskin, appeared on WNJC 1360 AM on Thursday, June 23, as part of Brian C. Greenberg’s the “Greenberg News Show.” Peskin was brought onto Greenberg’s show to highlight women who have broken through glass ceilings in their careers and industries. Her growth personally and with Business Development University, through what Greenberg termed ‘cutting edge’ business strategy and savvy, were the focuses, along with a fellow female entrepreneur.

Greenberg, a CPA, hosts an hour-long program on WNJC that attempts to provide listeners with a “new refreshing and cutting approach to talk radio attracting personalities from all fields both nationally and locally.”

Decision-Maker or Not Decision-Maker?

One of the biggest challenges that a sales person faces is reaching the right decision makers within the companies they are prospecting.  It is often times very easy to set appointments with low level, non-decision makers within organizations; so we set those appointments because it feels productive.  Often, these people represent themselves as a decision maker when in actuality they are not much more than an influencer but not authorized to sign on the bottom line or approve a budget.  This creates countless wasted hours of effort by dealing with the wrong person within the organization, and what we thought was productive is really completely counterproductive. Continue reading

‘Tis the Season…to Evaluate Your Sales Activities

The holidays are truly a time to appreciate the company of good friends, family and loved ones.  But between all the eggnog and cookie tins, it’s easy to forget that the New Year is also a wonderful time to reflect on the past year professionally. It is a time to review your progress on last year’s goals and to set new goals for the upcoming year.  The first terms in which most sales and business development professionals will evaluate their success is total sales, and this topic leads to a lot of questions you can ask yourself.

Did you hit your sales goal?  What was your percentage of quota?  How much of your business was new business compared to repeat business?  Did the new business come from pre-existing customers; or did it come from marketing efforts, prospecting, strategic alliances or just old-fashioned networking?  What was your average size deal?  How does the deal size compare to the previous years?  What were your metrics?  What worked and what didn’t work?  What efforts resulted in the best ROI?

But in addition to thinking about just sales numbers, you also have to ask questions of and about yourself.  Did you give it your best shot: 100% effort?  Did you have a positive attitude throughout the year, going above and beyond the call of duty?  Did you do anything to make yourself better than the previous year?  Did you set and accomplish goals?  And perhaps most importantly, did you put in the effort to track your progress against those goals on a consistent basis?

No matter what your answers are to these questions, there’s some good news and some bad news.  The bad news is that there is nothing that you can do about last year, last month, last week or even a moment ago.  There’s no point in forever dwelling on the things you can’t change in life. Yet, the good news is that there is something you can do on a “go forward” basis!

You are in control of your future and your results! If you really want to do better than you did this year, now is the time to make those changes.  If you continue to do things the way you have been doing them… you are most certainly going to achieve the same results.  So how do you know what to do differently?  What things do you need to start doing, what things do you need to stop doing and what things do you need to continue to do in order to get the top notch results you want?

At BDU, we talk to our clients about our “Triage Approach” to business development. This process helps individuals and companies determine what three areas that if approved upon, will have the biggest impact on performance.  It is important to note that the triage areas are not always the top weaknesses (or ‘areas of opportunity’ as I prefer to say) and are not necessarily the best places to focus.  For instance, someone’s top area of opportunity could be that they are disorganized; but getting organized, while certainly helpful, may not be the area that drives sales performance the most.  The New Year is a great time to identify these triage areas.  This can give you a clear focus on what issues need to be addressed and improved upon such as skill levels, knowledge of products and services, attitude or even motivation.  Once these triage areas are identified, then it is a matter of determining what needs to be done to close the gap. By doing this consistently throughout the year, you will absolutely take your results to the next level.

Now I’m not suggesting that you make a New Year’s resolution that lasts to the 3rd week in January, at which point you “fall off the wagon” and simply go back to the way that you were doing things prior.  This system represents a true commitment to achieving your annual goals…a commitment that must be upheld day in and day out, week in and week out, even month in and month out.  But it’s worth it. This process is about taking your game to the next level.  It’s only through this intense self-evaluation and really thinking hard about what you can do differently; that you can address the right concerns and fix the right problems within the context of your own work.

Most successful CEOs, executives, and top-level business development professionals engage coaches to help them identify their triage areas and assist in implementing programs and processes to help them maximize results. If you are interested in how BDU can help you exceed your goals in 2011 click here for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. Whether you decide to take advantage of outside assistance or take this on for yourself, the triage approach is critical and there is no doubt in my mind that this is the best time of year to reflect and make the appropriate modifications so that next year when you are going through this process you will be thrilled that you hit your goals!

The Ups and the Downs of Sales

The sales profession is a wonderful one, if you can deal with the psychological aspect of dealing with the constant pressure and the ups and downs of sales.

For those of you who know what I mean and have experienced those peaks and valleys, I have great news – There is a way to avoid the lows. It took me awhile to figure out the key to getting consistent results. For years I would experience the ups and downs associated with sales. The ups were of fantastic but the downs were excruciating. You have the pressure from your manager and feel as if you need to press more and more, only to get more and more “no’s”. Then comes the self-doubt…and the spiral downward begins. Once the confidence is lost, a salesperson goes from thinking, “I am going to get the sale” to “I need to get the sale!” Somehow, it comes across, the prospect senses it and in the long run, your pressing too much, you lose credibility and ultimately you lose the sale.

How do you avoid this trap that is often the demise of many a sales folk?  It is easy; all you need to do is continue to feed the sales funnel. The best way to do that is to have consistent activity. Consistent activity leads to consistent results. In order to figure out how to have consistent activity, it is helpful to understand why there are often inconsistencies in your activity levels.

One reason there tends to be inconsistencies is when the sales are high. A salesperson tends to divert their focus from prospecting to making sure everything gets set up properly for their new sales. They stop filling their pipeline and then come out of the great sales months with a very weak pipeline.  Again, when the pipeline is weak, the salesperson then starts “pushing’, often times trying to fit round pegs into a square holes. This is another destructive behavior, since close ratios go down and the confidence levels go down as well. Then it is hard to get back up that hill once again.

Another reason for activity levels to go down is the natural inclination for a sales person is to take their foot off the petal when the sales start coming in. They convince themselves that they deserve it and take a mental break. Unfortunately, often times it is hard for them to get it going again…resulting in months of poor results.

Here is an example of such behavior and how it affected a phenomenal sales person I once had. Jeff, worked for me, and would come in at 100% of quota for three years in a row. Not that 100% is bad; I just knew that Jeff could do so much more. He used to come out of my planning sessions with his head between his legs. I kept saying, Jeff, you are an “A” student getting “C’s”. He didn’t get it. He thought since he was 100% of quota that it was good enough. I just knew Jeff had the potential to be a superstar. This is what happened; for three years Jeff would go down to 92% of quota and then he would put the “petal to the metal”, increasing his activity levels significantly. Then the results started increasing and he would get his percent of quota up to 105%… then he would totally release the petal again, dropping back down to 93% of quota, and then the cycle would repeat. Finally, after three years of hovering around quota, he had the epiphany. He understood that if he kept his activity levels high, throughout every great sales month, even when he wanted to take that mental break, he would have superstar results. Jeff is now a top performer with a fortune 100 company and is knocking the cover off of the ball.

You too can get phenomenal results by just doing one thing, make sure all of your efforts are focusing on maintaining high activity levels and consistently fill your pipeline. By doing that, your results will be consistent, you will maintain confidence and you will ride the success wave for a very long time.

5 Tips for Becoming a Sales Leader

As a sales manager you have a one-line job description: make your sales team successful. Sound easy? Actually, this can be a company’s biggest challenge.  In order to be a good manager you need to be a great leader, but how does that happen? Often when managers “try” to lead they fail because they haven’t yet built trust within their team.  Trust is the number one attribute that a team must have in order to be led.  The individual sales team members must know that they are being led in the right direction with their interest in mind.  How do you instill this in the fabric of the team?

  1. Your word needs to be trusted.  Don’t over promise and under-deliver. Even if your answer isn’t what they want to hear, they at least know you are honest.
  2. You need to exude confidence for your product and service, enthusiastic about the job and dedicated to your company.
  3. You should be purposeful in everything you do. Don’t waste their time by making sure every interaction is productive.
  4. Set clear expectations with your team, if the expectations change – explain it well and avoid changing the rules and upping the anti as much as possible.  Think about the impact of change to the moral of the team and the risk/reward of making that change.
  5. Have an open door policy. Your team needs to know that you can be trusted, you are a good listener, and are open to new ideas.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not a day goes by that we don’t appreciate our team and our clients too,

It’s a shame it takes Thanksgiving for us to thank each and everyone of you.

And to thank you for your business may seem so very cliché,

But without your trust and commitment we wouldn’t be here today.

We couldn’t be more grateful or thankful for this year,

May this holiday be special – and bring you lots of cheer!

5 Tips for All Sales Managers

Every Sales Manager has a one-line job description – to make their sales associates as successful as possible. There are 5 key areas that every Sales Manager should be focusing on so that they have a handle on their team’s goals and motivations:s

 

  • Average Sale – If we divide out the total sales needed by the average sale, it will tell us how many sales we need
  • Close Ratio- Once we know the close ratio we can back out our metrics, which tell us how many proposals we need to hit our goals
  • Sales Associates Triage Areas – Top 3 areas that if improved upon will have the biggest impact on performance
  • Sales Plan – Every team member should have a 30/60/90 day plan that includes activity and results goals and their should be a weekly meeting to review what is working and not working
  • Motivation – Know what motivates each team member. Not everyone has the same level of motivation and it is important to understand what works for each person individually on the team

To  receive more BDU Tips, sign up for our newsletter!

Simplify, Eliminate, Delegate and Outsource

Back in my days as VP of Sales, I used to say I could spend the entire day, every day, engaged in mail management.  Every day I would get upwards of 30 voice mails, more than 50 emails, and a stack of paper that was responsible for the death of a small forest.  But I quickly learned that spending too much time going through all of this “mail,” and reacting to events and tasks triggered by it, was not a very productive use of my time.  My main job was to help my managers and sales associates to be as successful as possible.  By spending my days consumed in mail management, I was busy, but I wasn’t being very productive.

The way I managed to be successful was to adopt the doctrine of SEDO – simplify, eliminate, delegate and outsource.  There are certain tasks that we over complicate, making more work for ourselves.  We need to find the simplest and most efficient way to accomplish certain job functions.  We also need to eliminate or delegate certain tasks.  So many of us are creatures of habit that we continue to do things that are either ineffective or no longer part of our job description, just because we’ve always done them.  When I became a VP of Sales, I was certainly guilty of this at first, but I identified certain tasks to eliminate from my daily activities, and delegated others that needed to get done, but weren’t the best use of my time.  Finally, when appropriate, you need to outsource certain functions.  This is especially true for small business owners and one-man shops.  There is only so much of us to go around, so we need to focus on the tasks that will help us grow our business, and hire competent third parties to do the rest.

These same rules apply to sales associates and non-selling professionals who are responsible for developing new business – the most important aspect of your job is filling the pipeline with good, qualified prospects.  Any time spent not identifying or securing opportunities and appointments is time wasted.  Unless you’re in front of clients or prospects, or trying to get in front of them, you are not focusing on your top priority.  When you find you’re engaging in this type of self-destructive activity, just remember SEDO – simplify, eliminate, delegate and outsource.

The 3 Questions All Sales Professionals Must Ask Themselves

Sales and business development are a function of three key areas.  So if your sales aren’t where you think they should be, you need to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Am I doing the right activities to fill the pipeline with qualified prospects on a consistent basis?
  2. Do I have a good process, once I’m in front of prospect or suspect, in order to close the business?
  3. Do I have the right attitude and motivation to do what needs to get done on a consistent basis?

If the answers to these questions are not a resounding yes, you will not be getting those most of yourself.

Sales Managers: Providing Effective Feedback

Feedback is meant to help your sales professional improve their performance ongoing. It is not meant for them to feel bad, guilty or shamed for a situation; it is so that they walk away with the tools to perform better in the future. For many sales leaders, feedback is a critical tool for encouraging the right behaviors that drive better performance. For their sales professionals, it is an opportunity for personal and professional development that leads to success.

If feedback is so important, why is it often a challenge? Many sales leaders and managers say that offering feedback is not pleasant and rarely brings on change. In fact, it can occasionally be counter-productive. Therefore they avoid providing feedback. Those on the receiving end feel as they don’t know where they stand and they don’t get enough feedback that they can actually apply in their everyday activity.

Here are some of BDU’s Tips to making feedback productive and purposeful:

Pre-Feedback Preparation

  1. Feedback has to be timely and void of emotion
  2. The feedback is for the benefit of the receiver not the giver
  3. Identify what result you are hoping to get out of feedback meeting
  4. Best if regarding a scenario that was observed first-hand
  5. Needs to be timely

The Meeting

  1. Confirm good time for feedback– “I would like to talk with you about something, do you have a moment” – “I would love to give you some feedback, can you step in my office please” – “I was hoping to talk to you about something, what are your times in your schedule that you would be available”
  2. Bring person behind closed doors –never provide feedback in front of other’s, it can make everyone uncomfortable and is counter productive.
  3. Be more descriptive vs. being judgmentalState the behavior or concern that needs to be rectified and be specific as to the issue and potential results of that issue. Offer feedback as a snapshot of the behavior – a picture is more descriptive and will be more meaningful:

“Last week at the team meeting when you started complaining about management in front of the rest of the sales team, it not only was unprofessional and inappropriate but it was demotivating to the other team members.  As a team leader, you want to be really careful about your words and actions because everyone looks up to you and by seeing you be flustered and negative it really sends a negative message to everyone else”

  1. Focus on attributes or behaviors that the person has control over
  2. Test for clarification and understanding

“Can you see where I am coming from?” “Do you understand why it is so important to?

  1. Discuss specific development plans or actions that need to happen

“So at the next team meeting, I would like you to do a session with everyone effective ways to handle internal issues. Would you prepare a 10 minute presentation that will be must more constructive to having the team handle issues?”

  1. End on a positive / encouraging note– “I am really thankful to have you as a team lead and I know that you’ll make a great manager one day, just know how much I really appreciate your efforts.”