Posts Tagged ‘Sales Management Training’

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.



What is all this talk about a Sales Process?

April 20th, 2016

What is all this talk about a Sales Process?

It occurs almost every time I speak at an event or every initial client visit. Whether your organization is using CRM or not I find that most organizations have not taken the time to define, write out and train their sales team on how to use prescriptive a sales process.  Why is this important enough to write about? The Results!

The more prescriptive process you create, the greater success your sales team will experience.  Salespeople tend to lose opportunities when they execute poorly, this is due to lack of training but it is also because they missed something during the sales process. They missed it because they simply forgot to execute at some point or they didn’t have a pathway to follow.  Remember, A level salespeople probably don’t need this kind of sales mapping, but you can move a C level salesperson to a B level by providing tools, guidance and process to follow.

I always use the example of Subway sandwiches and how their counter people are trained to simply walk down the counter by asking your certain questions as you sandwich is built. If your sales teams execute that well you get the production Subway does!

How you define a sales process is important.  Just yesterday I was speaking with a small business who mentioned they had a good sales process defined, in going deeper in our conversation I learned they had no tools, nothing documented and nothing reinforced.  Recently in working with an Acumen client we spent about two hours simply documenting what a salesperson should do on each of the various steps of their sales process, it enlightened the existing sales manager and created the beginning of a new sales driven culture for the company.  What happened?

  1. In forcing the process of “thinking through’ the logical progression and the actual actions the salesperson should take, we altered the second step and changed “what “the salesperson was to say and sell during that stage.
  2. We created one additional professional service product that could be re-sold.
  3. The Sales Manager began to fully understand not only what the steps in the sales process were, but more importantly WHY the salesperson needs to execute on them.
  4. Actual definitions of each action within each stage were specifically defined.  Why is this important?  Pipeline values become more accurate. Let me describe this in more detail.  Let’s assume there is a “demonstration” stage in your sales cycle, next ask yourself, when do your salespeople move the prospect to the demo stage: When it is scheduled? Or after it is completed? This is an example of the kinds of detail that will come out during the process.

This is an example of a Discovery Stage:

Discovery (Opportunity) Stage 3                                                                                                      

  1. Discovery Meeting(s)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (KEY STEP – this is how we differentiate ourselves.)

Salesperson Responsibility:

  • Lead the Discovery Questioning  with a Focus on landscape of the opportunity & Document Current Process
  • Identify Critical Business Issues
  • Identify Roles of prospects Team
  • Goals for Future Business Solution

o   Identify people attending the demo

  • Establish Success Factors
  • Take Good Notes , attached to CRM
  1. Summarized Findings Document
  • Create Findings Document in CRM
  • Review Findings Document for Final Version
  • Contribute Notes to Findings Document
  • Submit Findings to prospect along with appropriate  Case Study
  • Modify sales Pathway and discuss with Prospect
  • Determine if Tech/Support Team support is required
  • Coordinate Additional XXX company  resources, if required
  • Send  Letter from  President   
  • Update CRM


  1. During the sales process your companies Value Proposition must be proven. You can build a step or an action that takes place at the appropriate stage that can validate your messaging.  We created what we expect to be a unique idea for the client to prove theirs.
  2. One of the most important aspects of creating a prescriptive sales process is changing the sales process!  What I mean is; if you and your competitors use the basic sales stages in the same sequence and say and do the same things no one stands out and prospect becomes confused. When there is confusion, generally there is no decision.  Change your sales process to stand out, be different and make the customer remember you. Refer to my previous blog on the End of Solution Sales.
  3. We added a last step: a follow up at 90 days post implementation/installation to validate customer satisfaction and ask for a reference letter.

The next step is for the sales manager to roll you the process, teach the salespeople how to execute and then “inspect what you expect” that the sales team is using the process as it is defined. HINT: As a Sales Manager, work through what you think the sales process should look like, then hold a sales meeting to “brain storm” with your salespeople as to what they think the prescriptive process should contain. This will help build a buy-in by the sales team.

Set a 90 day plan in place to implement and evaluate the results;  create four or five metrics to measure its effectiveness, validate it is being used and to listen to your team. If it needs to be altered to increase effectiveness that is ok, but before you change-make sure you are fully understand the impacts.

Let me know your thoughts on creating a sales process. What has worked for you? What hasn’t?
Ken Thoreson “operationalizes” sales management systems and processes that pull revenue out of the doldrums into the fresh zone. During the past 18 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 third year in a row by Top Sales World magazine as one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers for 2015.

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. 



Putting for Par’s: Are you practicing properly?

March 21st, 2011

Sales Leadership: Are you practicing properly?

Putting for Par’s


I happen to be in Florida this weekend, taking a few days off to visit relatives, play golf and enjoy the weather.  We played 36 holes the past two days, my first real golf of the season so before we came down from Knoxville I went to the driving range at home and hit two buckets of balls to attempt to regain some form of respectability. Prior to my first round I hit another ½ bucket of balls and a few casual strokes on the putting green and boom, then off to the number 1 tee box.   Amazingly my first drive was right down fairway, but as I worked through the 18 holes it was rough as I struggled with some good and some bad, a few bogeys and a few double bogeys.

In your role as a sales manager are you taking your personal and professional development as casual as a few practice swings on the driving range?  Recently in a six week series of sales management training programs for a major client, several participants didn’t complete a variety of reading assignments because they were too busy “closing out the quarter”.  For some reason they could not find 2 hours over six weeks to read 15 pages of content.  Successful sales leaders will commit to reading, attending workshops and attending vendor sponsored workshops on sales management topics.

If you consider yourself a professional, every week you spend hours on the driving range enhancing your abilities with each club in your bag, you practice hitting out of the sand and chipping off the green.  What are you doing to increase your professional skill levels?   There are a variety of resources you can find to improve your sales management expertise.

Several quick idea’s: check out the LinkedIn groups on sales leadership, commit to reading two new books a year,  and visit at least two other sales organizations that are similar to yours and benchmark your organizations against theirs.  For example: our new book: “Leading High Performance Sales Teams” I review a variety of idea’s to enhance your sales teams abilities , concepts to improve your leadership styles and increase the effectiveness of your management systems.  On our website there is a free sales management and sales compensation assessment where you can compare your existing programs, watch several free videos on hiring and training salespeople and read our White Paper on the Job of Sales Management.

What is your plan to make more pars’ vs bogeys? I left at least six putts inches short, I am off to the putting green!

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 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.   


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 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. 


Sales Management: How Does March Look?

December 20th, 2010

Sales Management: How Does March Look?

In magazine columns and other blog postings I have written about being a proactive strategic sales manager rather than a reactive, fire-drill crazy, un-organized sales manager. As we close down 2010 and your thoughts about January are nestled in your head, its March that you should be considering.

If you have already built your first quarter sales training programs, have your management systems in place to analyze pipeline values and your recruiting plans are activated then you have some of the systems in place. Just to check, you might like to take a few minutes and take the Sales Management Assessment on our website:  .

One of the concepts that I truly believe in is developing “leading indicator” analysis. These statistics are activities that can assist you in either forecasting pipeline values or sales opportunities well in advance of the current month. This view is why; you now should be considering March’s sales potential. If you have created these key indicators, you may have the time to adjust your forecasts or sales/marketing activities to counter act negative potentials or MORE importantly, if they are showing all “green” light indications, you can focus on improving your operations and closing sales opportunities.

I was reading the WSJ the other day and came across an article titled: “New Ways to Read the Economy”, it described how economists read leading indicators.  Here are just a just a few examples: 1) Broadway ticket sales=future tourist revenue, 2) diesel-fuel sales=Industrial production, and 3) subway-passenger traffic near Union Station in San Francisco=sales tax revenue. These kinds of related activity that can predict future results are the kinds of analysis you must determine for your sales organization.

Depending upon your sales/marketing environment you need to consider several pre-sales activities and measure them for a minimum of 6 months before considering them reliable.  These kinds of activities should be the same for each salesperson and your entire sales organization. What else? You need to know the length of your sales cycle and the correlations of activity to results.  In a typical B2B sales environment, consider 1) the number of monthly sales calls that require a Pre-Sale technical Engineer=future number of proposals/quotes, 2) the number of opportunities/pipeline values in Stage 2 as compared to Stage 7(assuming 7 is your final stage) or 3) the number of new prospect Face to Face sales calls/month.

What kinds of leading indicator activities make sense for your firm? Leave a comment and let me know.

As a strategic sales manager with a good perspective or view on managing what is  happening today and knowing its correlation to future  results or revenues you will not only produce greater results but you will sleep better too!

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, president of Acumen provides Keynotes, consulting services and products designed to improve business performance. 


Zen and the Art of Snow Shoveling

December 13th, 2010

Zen and the Art of Snow Shoveling

What does that title have to do with Sales Management? After spending 20 years growing up in Wisconsin and another 30 years in Minneapolis, I finally connected the dots after waking up this morning in East TN and having to shovel my driveway!  At 22 degrees, and enough snow to make my rather steep driveway a challenge to “get out of”, I put on the Volunteer stocking hat, gloves and began the process.

At first the brisk air and crunchy snow felt like old times but then the pattern began and the Zen and Art kicked in. As I pushed the snow down the drive and reversed my pattern shoveling up the driveway, dispensing the snow, the vertical shovel paths defined my movements. As I cleared the lower portion of the driveway  which is much wider and designed to allow  backing up my car to turn and make the drive up the hill, the pattern changed, clearing one segment diagonally, the other in almost swirling  triangle pattern.  Each area of the driveway required a different approach. As I was finishing and looking back on the driveway and tossing handfuls of salt, it occurred that sales leaders must look at a variety of situations and develop unique patterns to solve their problems.

Shoveling snow allowed me to think about the week’s priorities, sort through the various client projects and make decisions regarding what actions to take. I was amazed how clear the objectives were defined. The shoveling patterns allowed my mind to work on a totally unrelated problem, yet my sub-conscious mind was automatically ranking and stacking each client project.  This is much the same effect that is achieved in the Zen sand gardens, where you can rake different patterns.  The impact of releasing your mind will allow your mind to actually work more effectively. Several weeks ago I wrote a blog on sales leadership time management, it has had over 1,000 reads; taking the time to create time to focus on unrelated actions,(like shoveling)  can help sales leaders, refocus, re- charge and re-aligned priorities or even help solve personnel problems or specific sales strategies.  Find your time and action to that allows your mind to work independently, your results will astound you.

As sales leaders plan for 2011, break out of the standard traditional pattern, explore something new, consider the alternatives, the options and even try different approaches to your budgeting and sales/marketing strategies.  You might re-read my blog on creativity to help you create new patterns for growth!

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.       Blog: