If you read Sales Xceleration’s initial introduction to Zeke, a professional but misunderstood salesperson, you learned some surprising insights into the fears, challenges, motivations and triumphs of the modern sales representative. If you missed the first two articles, click here and here, then read this article to learn more.
Now that you’re reacquainted with 37 year-old Zeke and his initial confessions, here is more of his story:
Zeke Speaks Again:
“Hi, it’s Zeke again. Well, it’s that time of year and my new boss is asking what I think next year’s sales will be so that we can complete next year’s forecast, budgets and quotas. But first, let me get you caught up with what has happened in my career by sharing some additional secrets and confessions.”
Update – Sales Training:
“I recently met with one of my old bosses, who has become a mentor to me since his retirement. Earlier this year I shared with him some of my concerns about developing my career. Like a true mentor, he listened, asked some tough questions, and helped me arrive at well-thought-out decisions. Here are some of the questions he asked me, ‘Did I want to become a GREAT salesman? Had I learned everything possible about proper sales methodology? Was I really working efficiently?’ At the end of that meeting, I knew what I had to do. I committed to learn as much as I could, even if it was on my own time and own dime – and boy, did I make the right decision! I decided to attend a Sandler Boot Camp and then signed-up for the President’s Club weekly training course. My company agreed to give me the time to attend, and even offered to pay half of the cost. I not only learned quite a few new concepts, but I put them into practice immediately. My sales increased dramatically – but most importantly, I find that I have more family time, since I’m not working most evenings and weekends.”
Update – Product Training:
“My company decided to purchase another company’s product line this year. The problem is that I knew almost nothing about their technology, why it would be used or even who would use it. When my boss announced that we would be selling these new products, along with our existing products (which meant I would have quotas for both), I had no idea how I was going to make it happen.”
“Fortunately, I had a great new boss – the interim outsourced VP of Sales from Sales Xceleration. He provided us with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to explain how the products work, what problems they solve, what our Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is, and how we compare with the competition. In just a few hours my reservations melted away and I knew that I would be successful with both lines of products. I could hardly wait to call some of my key customers, because I knew how these products would help them solve many of their company’s immediate challenges. Knowledge, coupled with effective training, is a powerful thing!”
Update – CRM Implementation:
“This has been a pretty busy year for both me and my company. After my new Sales Xceleration boss arrived, we implemented a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system called Salesforce. As you might imagine, the sales team fought this new implementation, because none of us like change and we saw it as a way for him to hold us more accountable. Finally, I decided that “if I can’t beat them, then I better join them” and I was determined to make this new CRM work for me. I put in a lot of hours entering all my customer information, attached past proposals and documents, added my sales history and was diligent about making this new tool work. I was amazed how much I already knew about each of my customers – what they buy, why they buy, when they buy, how my product fits into their product, who fits where in their organization, what sports team they like, their hobbies, when they eat lunch or get to work, how many kids they have, and even some of their birthdays. The problem was, I had all this information in notebooks, emails, Excel spreadsheets, on the back of business cards, project files, sticky notes and on scraps of paper – and I thought I was pretty organized! Wow, what a difference – now I have everything in one file (stored in the cloud) and I can access it anywhere at any time – especially just before I walk into my client’s office or when they give me a call. Unfortunately, not everyone on the sales team caught the CRM “bug” and several tried doing their customer engagements the same old way and are now no longer with us. But, I plan to be “The Greatest Salesman in the World” (like the book my mentor gave me from the great author Og Mandino), so I will follow my path and let others follow theirs.”
Forecasting for Next Year:
“So, now I have to figure out what I’m going to sell next year and to whom. I have to say that in the past this was the most painful (yes, even worse than expense reports) exercise I had to do each year. I always felt that there were so many things out of my control that there was just no way that I could even guess, let alone have any probability of hitting any of my numbers. Worse yet, I always knew that whatever number(s) that I finally came up with (conservative, aggressive, or “just right”), that my old boss would not be pleased. But this year was different. I have been having 1:1 meetings with my new Sales Xceleration boss every week discussing my projects and clients. We have been doing quarterly forecasts for two quarters now and he has taught me how to look at trends, see how my clients buy, where we fit into their sales cycle, and he has helped me to be realistic when forecasting. He also explained how I needed “new sales” (from both existing and new customers) to meet my quota, so not every dollar or product will be “specifically defined” in the yearly forecast, but will identified quarterly as we move through the year. Additionally, now that I have been using Salesforce, I have all the data literally at my fingertips. I put together my forecast in less than half the time of previous years! Better yet, I feel much more confident about my numbers since I can answer all the tough questions my boss asks me about each and every customer. It sure has been a great year, but I believe next year will be even better!”
Zeke, and others like him, have an important role in your company and perform a pretty tough job. If they can get the necessary training and tools – like a CRM, and good management support, it will not only make their job easier, but much more efficient and enjoyable. But the real bottom line is more sales! It is amazing how much more a sales team can sell when you give them proper direction, tools and support!