Posts Tagged ‘sales leadership’

Be an Optimized Sales Leader

April 3rd, 2017

Be an Optimized Sales Leader

In every business cycle new ideas are built and strategies-tactics attempted to create a positive impact on the organization. For example, the role of quality control, Lean and Kaizen Management have been implemented in many areas of business to improve performance. In most cases each of these “re-engineering” type programs have had positive impacts; from just in time inventory, to ISO policies.  Most of these programs have been directed at inventory, process management, cost reduction, financial statements and even Human Resource management.  What has seemingly been overlooked in most companies and now is rapidly gaining a focus is the productivity, cost and methodology of the sales organization.

The impact of Sales Management Optimization Policy ™ must be applied to the sales organization. Essentially OP is defined as: “you must build your organization to excel in the tough times and to propel in good times”.  In a sales organization this responsibility is the Vice President or Sales Manager. Yet these individuals who have a major impact on the success of the organization generally have a job-life span of 14-18 months, limited training-at best and must operate in a pressure filled role with multiple soft and hard management skills in operation at all times.

In most cases sales management lacks methodology and a focus on running their organizations that manufacturing, inventory and financial managers have successfully implemented. Sales Management Optimization Policy takes into consideration the aspects of effective process management, standards and cost control into the sales organization.


In the current economic market, the successful Sales Leader faces many challenges:

  • Managing Lower Costs of Sales
  • Driving Revenue
  • Attaining Budget Goals
  • Managing Sales Teams
  • Working with Limited Span of Control
  • Achieving Goals with Stretched Resources
  • Working with Market Dynamics

The answers lie in two fundamental points. First;if it’s working, don’t mess with it” and for those companies where sales (revenues) are working there is little interest in disturbing that department. Second, when sales are not working two actions seem to take place; radical personnel change or high levels of micro-management on the actions to fix revenues.  We would argue that all organizations must look at a bigger picture and build logical and emotional judgements/systems in place not only to achieve the goals of the organization but to assure management systems/processes are designed to create the environment for successful sales cultures. Selling is emotional  and sales leaders must balance the need for building an environment of success and need for business management systems.

The interesting element in building an Optimal Policy within a high performance sales management approach is aligning the goals of the individual with the goals of the corporation. The smart sales leader will understand the basics of pure management, i.e. understanding the personal needs and wants of their individual team members or what most people today call EQ or Emotional Quotient.  In my Life Enrichment keynotes I discuss how management must focus on this point for themselves and their teams.

First, let’s address the business side of sales management. This element covers  key components of the tactical implementations of  sales management. The list below represents a Sales Management Business Plan.  Each of the  components would include goals, impact on the attainment of the  corporate goals, critical success factors, potential challenges, measurements and defined tactical actions required to achieve the goals. We recommend these plans are updated every six months with a 60-day assessment of trends or changing factors.

Statement of focus

Time line of planned events

Activity standards

Account plans

Sales organization design (18-24 month view)

Sales process design map

Customer relationship strategy

Sales technology implementation

Recruitment/hiring/training programs

Marketing/ materials

Public Relations awareness

Business Eco-System Partners and Alliances

Product and revenue projections-24 months

Competition Analysis

The second aspect of Sales Management must be the cultural human interaction or EQ.  It must be recognized that only managing by the numbers and focusing on activity based sales indicators will not create the environment for high performance. The goal of sales management is to achieve results and manage the business, it is critical that salespeople understand key ratios are to assist them in their personal job success not as micro-management. Yet we find often a line has been drawn between the salesperson and their manager in “talking only about the numbers”. The key issue for the individual  is to understand their formula for success and how the specific  salesperson’s performance matches against that company’s formula.

We must move beyond this mentality to truly understand the personal objectives of our people and communicate your interest to help the person. Sales Management today must assist members of their team in setting personal objectives  and assist their team members on achieving those goals.  We call this align the soul of the individual with the goals of the corporation. This is where coaching and real managing takes place and a managers trust level grows.

 Focus on understanding and improving the sales management process along with building your EQ sensitively to the needs of your sales team and you will experience the best that life can bring you: Sales Management Optimization!

 Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers,

Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.



3 Secrets to Success from John Wooden

October 3rd, 2016

Three Secrets to Success from John Wooden


Last week I was in Chicago keynoting an international association’s sales conference, in preparation I had been making notes and clipping interesting ideas from a variety of sources, one of them was Success magazine.  The specific article covered a young coach, Dale Brown meeting with John Wooden, the Hall of Fame UCLA basketball.

After a full day of discussing a wide variety of topics around becoming a major college head basketball coach John Wooden said at the very end of day that Dale could have saved LSU a lot of money in travel expenses because there are just only three secrets. John went on; the three things that I am going to tell you are fairly simple if you want to be successful. Anyone that has read any articles or books by John Wooden, as I have, would have to read the balance of the article as his ideas are golden.

As a Sales Leader or Executive these 3 secrets will also help propel your sales organization to the next level.  In Chicago I took each bullet and discussed the specific actions sales management must implement to execute on each element.

First: make certain you always have better players than anybody you play. This is pretty obvious to readers of this blog or have purchased my book “Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams”. One of my recommendations is to analyze each of your salespeople, are they Deadwood, Learners, Good for Now, High Achievers.  Decide who to keep, who not to and build a recruiting process that ensures higher quality people. HINT: for every one person you hire, you need to interview five.

Second: make certain those better players put the team above themselves. This was the majority of my program that I called the Effect of Emotional Leadership, Sales Leaders must build a culture of team, of belief in the company/products/services and a focus on team accountability.  This action can start with sales games, hearing customer success stories, sales compensation plans as well as genuine conversations.  Top performing sales managers have the ability to communicate with positive vision, personal awareness and openness.

Third: don’t be a coaching genus, don’t give your players too much information, always practice simplicity with constant repetition. This secret I thought was very interesting as most sales managers either don’t train enough or train very poorly on sales skills, sales operations or product/industry information. The balance of Sales Managers probably train too much early in the salesperson’s life and then fail to reinforce effectively. What I stressed in Chicago is what I think Mr. Wooden meant-figure out what needs to be done during the sales process/sales call, effectively map it, describe it as to why it should be done and how it should be done and then focus your training on those actions and then practice often.

Just this weekend the University of Tennessee won a football game against the University of Georgia during the last 4 seconds of the game with a Hail Mary play. (A Hail Mary play is when you have 3 receivers run to one spot in the end zone and the Quarterback throws the ball hoping someone catches it, this week it was for 43 yards!) Tennessee’s coach Butch Jones was quoted after the game that they have practiced that play every week for three years and this was the first time he has used it! It worked when then needed it.

John Wooden is a legend in basketball, he was a master teacher and mentor to many. If you have not read his book I highly recommend it.

Build your sales organization around these rules and perhaps you will become a legend as well. If you have further questions or want to discuss other concepts from the Chicago presentation please reach out.


Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 19 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for organizations throughout the world.

He was recently ranked for the fourth year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015. His blog has been rated in the sales blogs in the world!

Ken has written 5 books, his latest book is: SLAMMED! for First Time Sales Managers, Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.  Need more sales management resources? Check out his Sales Management Tool Kit or the Acumen Project and his new Ignite Your Sales Team online video training program for sales leaders.




NCAA Sales Management: Developing Winning Sales Strategy

March 28th, 2011

NCAA Sales Management: Developing Winning Sales Strategy

Last week it was about golf and putting, this week after indulging in men’s and woman’s NCAA games all weekend it’s all about strategy.

In my view there are several levels of strategy to consider. First, putting the right players on the floor to match up against the competition is key, and is the reason my first book was written: Hiring High Performance Sales Teams. Without talent, you have not chance to win. The good basketball teams are deep with talent and can go “large or they can small and fast” or they can focus on defense as well as offense. Assessing and developing talent is what coaching is all about, watch the Final Four’s next week and evaluate your team and its ability to win.  Are you accepting weak players or can your team push through the tough times and score. I stress that recruiting is the most important job for sales management, build a continuous hiring program to find top talent.

Secondly, strategy and execution during the sale or game time must be brilliant! This is where from a sales strategy your value proposition must sold, your prospect relationship developed and where you must out maneuver the competition.  If they come out man-to-man or in zone defense can your salespeople adapt, if a full court press stresses out your team, can they break it with quick passes and move down the court for an easy layup?  Do you have them trained well enough to react to the situation and not simply lose the sale or give up a turnover?  During this phase Sales Managers also must coach. This is when your experience and creativity must take over by providing advice, insights and hopefully the right tactics to assist your sales team during this phase.  If you would like Acumen’s four page Sales Strategy Guide, send me an email: We use it with our clients during their pipeline review and sales strategy meetings.

The third phase of strategy is the last two minutes. During the sales process this could occur during the last week or two when everything is on the line.  The prospect could be confused, undecided or leaning towards your competition; what play would you call? Would you camp out at the prospects office? Have your president call their president? Drop your price?  The best coaches in the NCAA would call a time out and make sure the next two plays are drawn out, ensure everyone understands whom to foul, how many timeouts are still available and who should take the last shot… Those situations are actually rehearsed during normal practice times; nothing is left for chance when the game is on the line.  Do you have your sales training plans designed for a rolling 90 days with all aspects of sales strategies built in? The best sales managers do!

OK, I promise next week, I won’t use a sport’s analogy in my blog, but team work, practice, selection and development will win the 2011 NCAA Final Four.

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Move up and move ahead!

Ken Thoreson provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 



Sales Management Thought Leadership: The “Linchpin” for Business Growth

March 15th, 2011

From Webster’s dictionary:  Linchpin: something that serves to hold together the elements of a situation”

The reason I focus on the role of sales leadership and management is I have found where there is strong sales management there are high performing sales teams, revenue and profit goals are exceeded and organizational culture is robust. This week you have a unique opportunity to  move your career ahead and have an impact on your 2011 objectives.  This Wednesday the 16th, you are invited to a terrific event:

The Changing Face of Professional SALES Leadership

Wednesday March 16th 2011 12 noon EST/5PM GMT


?Recently published research suggests that the average tenure of a sales manager is now just eighteen months! These are pretty alarming findings, and during the course of this sixty minute debate, we not only intend to discover the facts underpinning these results, but also discuss how management is changing.

For example, we know that the role of a sales leader is to translate the organization’s vision, mission, and values into a meaningful context that sales teams can relate to and feel excited by. If this is achieved, then the Sales Leader will have created a sales team with a shared mental model. This transforms an ordinary sales team into a high performing one

We also understand that for a group of people to remain “consciously competent” at optimum performance levels, they require frequent injections of stimulation, motivational guidance and prompting, otherwise they can easily lapse into” unconsciously competent”, or worse “unconsciously incompetent” After all, the primary objective of a professional Sales Manager has to be: “To achieve consistently superior results, through the performance of every key individual.”

Today, more and more organizations are waking up to the value of building a strong coaching culture. Analogies to athletic coaching are common, but especially apt. Training alone does not guarantee that a great athlete will deliver a gold medal-winning performance.

Equally, top sales professionals need expert coaching support from their managers to stay at the top of their game. Whether coaching is delivered face-to-face, on the telephone, or via e-mail, those organizations that have a strong coaching culture attract and retain the best salespeople.

Management and particularly sales management, operates on, and obtains its results from the staff that are managed, this is precisely why the sales leader’s role is evolving – in fact, it is becoming crucial to the success or failure of most commercial organizations.

Join six of the foremost sales leadership experts on the planet for this Top Sales Big Debate.

Wednesday March 16th

Time: 12 noon Eastern

  • Linda Richardson is the Founder and Chairman of Richardson, a global sales training business. As a recognized leader in the industry, she has won the coveted Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence for 2006 and in 2007 she was identified by Training Industry, Inc. as one of the “Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals.”
  • Jonathan Farrington – is a globally recognized business coach, mentor, author, and consultant. He is Chairman of The JF Corporation and CEO of Top Sales Associates, the creator and CEO of Top Sales World and the man behind the Annual Top Sales Awards
  • Dave Brock works with organizations to help them achieve the highest levels of performance excellence. He is the founder and CEO of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a leading business consulting company. He has held executive roles in IBM, Tektronix, and other large technology companies and he is an investor, advisor, and director of several high technology start-up companies.
  • Paul McCord – is the president of McCord Training, author of the Amazon and Barnes and Noble best-selling book on referral generation, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons, 2008), and SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar, not forgetting Bust Your Slump, which he released last year.
  • Steven Rosen is the founder of STAR Results. STAR Results is a sales leadership consulting, training and coaching organization dedicated to leadership development in the Pharmaceutical industry. Steven works with sales executives to; hire top performing sales reps, develop a team of top sales managers and achieve greater personal and professional success.
  • Ken Thoreson brings more than 25 years of experience in sales leadership and management to clients. The sales management thought leader shares his proven abilities in developing and implementing creative sales management strategies through frequent editorial contributions and speaking engagements about effective sales leadership and sales management


Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Move up and move ahead!

Ken Thoreson  provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 


Sales Management is the Hardest Job in Sales.Period

March 1st, 2011

Sales Management is the Hardest Job in Sales. Period.

  By Jeb Blount, Author of People Buy You 

 Ken’s Comment: This week’s blog is a guest blog:  When I saw this article published I knew you would enjoy it. It hits the mark and reinforces what I have written in my latest books on Sales Management.
Why is Sales Management so hard?  Sales Managers bear 100% of the responsibility for the performance of their sales team yet receive little glory for their efforts.

In many cases even the best sales managers earn less than their top salespeople. Yet, the best sales managers work longer hours, endure more stress, and have greater responsibility than the salespeople they manage.

 Making things worse is the fact that salespeople are harder to lead and manage than any other employee. They are emotional and often irrational people who demand attention. Because salespeople are essentially in jobs where rejection is the norm, sales managers are often called upon to be coaches, mentors, mothers, fathers, and even amateur psychologists in order to keep their troops motivated, focused, and delivering on sales goals.

 If this isn’t hard enough sales managers are often put in the position of shielding their salespeople from corporate policy wonks, accountants and operators who have absolutely no understanding of the psychology of salespeople.

It is a wonder why any sane human being would voluntarily choose to be a sales manager. Though each year thousands of sales professionals give up their sales roles and accept the promotion. They move into their new office and proudly stare at their newly printed business cards – with little understanding of what it takes to actually lead salespeople. Ill prepared to perform the job of sales manager a high percentage of these newly minted sales leaders are promptly demoted or fired. In many cases they have done so much damage to the sales team (and their own career) that it takes years to repair.
The sales profession is a grave yard littered with the corpses of failed sales managers.

  Who is to blame?

  Everyone! In a recent conversation with a Senior Vice President of Sales for one of the largest companies in the world he lamented that his single biggest worry was for his sales managers. He said matter-of-factly that his sales managers did not have the training to do the job. When I asked him about his training budget for sales management he told me that right now they were investing in training the salespeople. If you were to take a stroll around Corporate America you would discover similar issues most companies. The executives know that they need to provide training for their sales managers but the salespeople always seem to get the training budget. It is a vicious, ongoing cycle which leaves most sales managers in the position of learning on the job.

  Blame also falls on salespeople who delude themselves into thinking that just because they are great salespeople they will be great sales leaders. Studies, including one by the journal of managerial psychology, have concluded that the best salespeople may not be the best sales managers. The actual evidence of this exists in every company that employs sales teams. 

 The sad story goes like this:

The top salesperson is looking for career advancement. She goes to the boss and demands a promotion. The boss, who doesn’t want to lose his rainmaker’s million dollar quota achievement, does his best to talk her out of it. The top sales rep threatens to quit. Concerned that he might lose her to a competitor the boss relents and gives the top sales rep the sales management position. The newly appointed sales manager takes an immediate and frustrating pay cut because she goes on salary. Because she has no clue how to lead people the other salespeople on the team at first stop selling and then either quit or are fired. The company loses those sales plus those of the formerly top sales rep. She now has to hire a new sales team, onboard and train them. She fails at this because she a) does not know how to interview and hire A-Players and b) because she does not know how to teach people how to sell. This creates more turnover. Finally, with sales at an all time low the boss has no choice except to fire his once top sales rep.

 Yet faced with overwhelming evidence of the risk involved in promoting top salespeople to sales managers, salespeople and their companies continue to take the plunge. Today, tomorrow and always top salespeople will be promoted to sales management positions. Why? The answer is simple. Top salespeople have a proven track record – tangible evidence that they can perform. And, these high performers are naturally interested in new challenges and career advancement and demand it from their employers.

The good news is that some of these top salespeople will become superstar managers who build and lead high-performing sales team that deliver year in and year out.

 Why do some top salespeople become top sales managers while others fail so miserably? Most top sales professionals who make the successful transition to sales management will have two things in common:

First they are coachable. They are willing to listen and learn and because of this the are able to find a hands-on mentor or coach willing to take the time to help them develop sales leaderships skills.

  Second they don’t wait on their company for training that will likely never come or at best will be minimal. Instead they invest in their own success through reading, audio programs, and self-funded seminars.
Through coaching, practice, persistence and passion for leadership they eventually become sales managers who top salespeople want to work for and garner the respect and admiration of their people, peers and company.   

     Follow Jeb on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

Jeb Blount is a respected thought leader on sales and sales leadership, and a best-selling author of three books, People Buy You: The Real Secret to what Matters Most in Business, Sales Guy’s 7 Rules for Outselling the Recession, and Power Principles. He is the author of more than 100 articles on sales and sales leadership and the host of the top rated Sales Guy Podcast

 You can find Ken Thoreson’s books on Sales Management at:

Building Belief-a key job of sales management

February 14th, 2011

Building Belief

This week’s blog is an excerpt from my latest book: Your Sales Management Guru’s Guide to: Leading High Performance Sales Teams. You can purchase the book on Amazon or at

Are your sales inconsistent? Are you losing more opportunities than ever before? Does your sales team seem weak compared to those of your competitors?

Any number of reasons-from rapid growth to hiring mistakes-could be responsible for a “yes” answer to any of those questions. But in working with our clients, we often find that the underlying problem is actually an emotional one: lack of passion. Individual team members or the entire sales organization-or both-simply don’t have the combination of enthusiasm and belief that’s essential for success.

Salespeople have to be emotionally invested in their work with a burning desire to achieve. They must also believe that the company they represent is the best and the solutions or services they sell are of the highest quality. That belief must be genuine. It’s not just a marketing message, and it’s not something that they can fake.

With all the new products many vendors have launched in recent months (and will continue to release this year), that type of authentic belief is more important than ever for partners. Most sales organizations don’t do any belief-building activities, though. Or if they do, they only do so occasionally. Our experience shows that the most successful sales teams constantly undertake belief-building initiatives. Examples include:

Storytelling: People from different cultures and generations pass along stories about their ancestries, traditions and lore. Companies need to take a similar approach to capturing and preserving their histories. To do so, write down customer success stories when they occur. Put together detailed descriptions of your company’s role in helping customers implement new technologies, launch or salvage important projects or earn recognition from Microsoft. Then share these stories at sales meetings and other employee events. You can also use the best stories to recruit top performers and help orient new employees.

Monthly Meetings: When a company launches, its first employees typically feel that they share a mission. Everyone knows everything that’s happening and what’s needed to succeed. But when the staff grows beyond about 15 people, that sense of mission-along with clearly defined expectations and common beliefs-can be difficult to maintain.

We believe that monthly employee meetings are crucial for keeping everyone engaged and informed. (Larger organizations and those with remote offices may want to opt for quarterly day-long events instead.) Such gatherings give you a chance to remind your staff about your business philosophies, plans and expectations. You can also use them to recognize outstanding employees, perhaps honoring a Most Valuable Player chosen by the team at each session. Remember to make the meetings fun as well. Consider sponsoring games or offering door prizes. One company meeting I attended featured a surprise visit from an Elvis impersonator, who sang several songs.

Customer Visits: Each quarter, have your entire sales team visit a customer company that’s successfully implemented your solutions. Ask the customer’s executives to describe the impact your company has had on their competitive position or to review the savings they’ve gained from your products and services. You might also invite customers to share their experiences at some of your monthly meetings.

Reference Letters: Ask your best customers for testimonials. While such letters are, of course, highly useful as tools for future sales presentations, they’re also valuable for building belief in-house. Frame the letters and display them in your lobby or sales presentation area. Have new employees read them as part of the orientation process.

In our business, it’s all too easy to get bogged down with lost sales, missed project dates and other problems. Regularly reinforcing the positives goes a long way toward keeping everyone’s belief and passion strong and moving in the right direction.

 Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 13 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America.

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.   


Sales Management: January is over; how do you feel?

January 31st, 2011

Sales Management: January is over; how do you feel?

On Friday I had my two year eye exam. The doctor went through the usual tests with eye charts, drops in the eyes and checks for cataracts/glaucoma-good news he said I passed and was ok for another 5,000 miles.  On the way back to my office I was thinking about you.

Remember in my blog on Sales Management Time Management I mentioned there are only 10.5 months to achieve your yearly quota? And one of them is over… It’s time for your check up now.                                        

            Answer each question below:             Yes= 3 points    No= -1 point

  1. Did your team exceed quota for the month?                                                              
  2. Do you have enough potential revenue in your pipeline to exceed March’s quota?                                                                                                                                                          
  3. Did you hold at least two hours of sales training during January?                     
  4. Do you know both the personal and professional goals for each of your salespeople?                                                                                                                                
  5. Do you currently have an active recruiting and hiring plan in place?               
  6. On your dashboard, are you tracking two leading indicators?                             
  7. Did you have one activity to build belief or increase your sales culture?        
  8. Did you improve the quality of your sales team in using your CRM system?  
  9.  Is your sales team having fun? 
  10.  During the past month did you take time for yourself to refresh your spirit?      

Total Score:                ___________

Scores:              30-22              Nice Job!

                        21-15               Make sure you address those areas’s you fell short

                        Less than 15    Lots to focus on, determine your priority actions

While that was a quick assessment and only somewhat scientific in scoring, my goal was too simply to focus on your sense of urgency and increase your awareness of everything that needs to be worked on as a sales leader.  If you have not received my Top 40 Sales Management Actions for Building Predictable Revenue white paper, send me an email:

Our new book: Leading High Performance Sales Teams will be available the first week of February.  You can find it and my book: Your Sales Management Guru’s Guide to Hiring High Performance Sales Teams at

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Move up and move ahead!

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 

The Importance of Sales Management in a Recovering Economy

January 24th, 2011

The Importance of Sales Management in a Recovering Economy

During the past two weeks I have been in Miami, Phoenix and this weekend I have been speaking in San Antonio.  We have met with Sales Leaders from around the world, lead workshops, presented keynotes and developed new long term relationships with our client base. It’s been a great few weeks.  I have also noticed an uptick in my own prospects and business opportunities.  Have you?   Based upon my conversations almost every sales leader is optimistic and pipelines are filling. Are you ready to participate in the recovery?

During the past 13 years I have been consulting, writing and speaking on the fact that sales management is the lynch-pin that drives successful organizations; sales leadership sets the tone, the culture and drives the organization to greater levels of revenues and profitability.  And now, during the past six months the topic of participating in the economic recovery and the impact of great sales management on the organization has been a critical and hot topic. The topics of surviving or working in a challenging economic time are over.   “Economic recovery?”.. Yes, just reading the USA Today, on Monday January 24th, the quotes are all over the paper:

  • Are you more or less optimistic than you were 3 months ago about the economic outlook this year?  91% of 46 Economists answered YES.
  • Over the next 12 months, which will have the greatest positive impact on the economy?  48% said BUSINESS, 45% the consumer
  • The US economy is expected to grow at an annual rate between 3.2% to 3.4%, that is up from October forecast of 2.5% to 3.3%
  • They expect employers to add 200,000 jobs a month-more than double last year’s rate.
  • The DOW is over 11,961 at the time of this blog

What is the role or action points for sales manager’s in a recovering economy? I listed a few steps to focus on:

1)      Build your Hiring Plan; Sales Managers should know today when they expect to add new salespeople for the next 18 months. Based upon your revenue goals for the next 24 months you should have a plan set defining what months you will need hire new sales talent to achieve those new higher sales targets. If your next hire date is March, then your recruiting plan must in effect now, is it June? October? Make sure you also plan on members your current team could leave or be fired also.

2)      Get aggressive on increasing your individual salesperson strategy sessions, winning now is critical to build momentum.  Schedule special sales team sessions or hold a small group of salesperson discussions weekly to strategize each sales opportunity.

3)      Increase the culture building and building belief in your offerings and your organization. If you want an article I published on that topic send me an email.  Your sales team needs to believe and feel the change in economic conditions, you want to create their desire to participate in the recovery. “Take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime, during the life time of the opportunity”.

4)      Retool your sales compensation to ensure it is in alignment with your corporate objectives or if you have already rolled out 2011 compensation plans, create an aggressive sales contest or special incentives to win Net-New clients or upgrade existing clients or hit higher levels of revenues/margin. Drive the sense of urgency to win.

5)      Sales management must now focus, as always, but more importantly now on “Brilliant Execution”. If you and your team are 2 steps ahead of your competition during the next 4 months your summer and fall business opportunities will accelerate. Focus on increased levels of sales management planning i.e. sales training, one on one coaching and  managing the number of calls per month per salesperson and even schedule weekly telephone blitz days to find those businesses that need your solutions to participate in their own recovery.

Sales leaders are the key to success, you can make the difference and NOW is the time to take advantage of opportunity and participate in the economic recovery.

What else do you think you should focus on to grow your business during the next 18 months? Let me know your thoughts….

Ken’s books:

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Move up and move ahead!

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 


Sales Management: The Need for Creativity

January 17th, 2011

Sales Management: The need for creativity!

This past week I had opportunity to work with a great client at their worldwide sales conference in Miami. During the two days, I spent several hours with their sales management team and four hours with their salespeople, they have a great sales culture and you could feel the attitude in the room.  In the post meeting evaluations several reactions to the programs came out:  1) The importance of understanding the various personality styles, 2) The need to be “greedy with your time/Time Management and 3) the fact that an individual’s creativity can be learned or enhanced.  Past blogs and our monthly newsletters have covered personality styles and time management so this week I thought I would address creativity.

There is no question about it, top performers are more creative that your average salespeople. They seem to come up with unique ideas to prospect, find ways to enhance client relationships and they close more effectively. Sales leadership requires creativity as well, sales managers that are exceeding sales quotas, hiring and developing their teams and building a sales culture require huge levels of a creativity quotient.

The good news? You can enhance your creativity by “working on it”…In my Keynote, No Regret’s, the Do Over Factor, I share three tenets for personal and professional success, creativity is one of those three foundations.  I have listed nine actions you can work on to develop mind patterns that will enhance your creativity power.

  • Track your ideas:  keep a notebook and write down all your ideas-about anything, it is amazing what happens when you build an active list.
  • Inquiring minds want to know: be inquisitive, ask questions, increase your levels of interest
  • Learn about different things: study a language, read a book, take a course, get active
  • Avoid set patterns:  break your habits, floss your teeth differently, brush your teeth in different sequences, drive to work on a new route
  • Be open: listen to others, try to accept new ideas
  • Be patient in observations: take the time to watch a bird fly, look at the woods more closely,  look for new patterns, watch the river flow
  • Engage in hobbies: your mind must dis-engage from normal business stress,
  • Improve sense of humor: learn to laugh, even at yourself
  • Be a risk taker: try something different, the adrenalin will cause a positive impact on your brain.

I would like your comments and thoughts about how you enhance your creativity. What was the most creative sales tactic you have used? What were the results?

THANK YOU   to everyone that has already purchased our new book, we announced it last week; Your Sales Management Guru’s Guide to: Hiring High Performance Sales Teams.

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Move up and move ahead!

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 


Sales Leadership: What? All my numbers are back to zero?

January 2nd, 2011

Sales Leadership: What?  All my numbers are back to zero?

Yes, that is the reality of every sales organization at this time of year, even with sales backlogs, recurring revenues and hopefully a pipeline of opportunity-this is a psychological issue that you, as sales leaders must address.

There are really two aspects of this topic that sales management must face.

 First: sales management must face the mental aspects of your sales team and your general business management team.  Recognize that after the past two years sales teams are tired; with tough economic challenges and depending upon your industry-a multitude of consumer and business issues have worn down many teams.  Having a sales team considering that they have to “climb” the mountain again can be daunting. If indeed the economic times are improving it may be tempting for your sales teams to be considering other sales opportunities where the grass is greener-so this becomes a critical aspect to consider.  Just today, 1-2-11, I heard on TV that hiring for sales positions is expected the biggest percentage increase in all hiring for the New Year and if you are in IT, the market was the hottest in years!  (We will discuss “Recruiting next week)  What to do?   1) make sure you are upbeat at all times,( your own mental toughness is critical), you must reinforce your own “new”  positive thoughts about 2011, 2) show proof from any magazines/paper of positive economic activity, 3) introduce an exciting new concept from a marketing or product/service perspective that will excite your team, 4) create a Drive Statement that will propel your team with  motivation and provide them a specific goal for the year and first quarter. Guru Hint: make sure the 1st quarter goal is highly achievable. 5) Create a fun contest that you can announce at your sales kick off meeting. If you have other thoughts on energizing your sales team, please add them as comments below.

The second action that sales managers must consider is to re-assure their sales teams that you have a formula for success. This  includes both knowing the physical actions of the correct ratios for a) new sales calls to qualified prospect to proposals delivered  to the number of wins for each salesperson. B) You have a plan to assist or help each salespeople attain those numbers and c) you have a plan to help them improve on those numbers.  These plans may include increasing the number of 1) blitz days for telemarketing, 2) increase sales strategy tools or 3) a new sales training program to increase skill development.   One last Guru Hint:   have your salespeople review their entire 2010 calendars and look for suspects/prospects that were dropped, networking contacts to re-open and schedule new meetings and ask them also analyze their schedules/calendars  to see how they could have worked more effectively and what lessons they may have learned-share their idea’s at your next sales meeting.  Add your thoughts as comments below.

This combination of working both the emotional and logical aspects of the sales brain will provide your team the confidence they need in you and themselves to succeed in 2011.   It all starts at zero, but it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way for long.  I wish you all the best for this year and I appreciate your interest in our organization and our tools and blog thoughts. If we can assist you in your sales kick off events or in other ways-just let me know.  Ken

Acumen Management Group Ltd. “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 12 years, our consulting, advisory, and platform services have illuminated, motivated, and rejuvenated the sales efforts for partners throughout North America. Move up and move ahead!

Ken provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance.