12 Ways For Sales People To Improve Their Use Of Google As A Research Tool

Everybody knows how to use Google, fewer people know how to get more from Google’s powerful search facilities. Here we list some of the most useful:

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  1. Firstly make sure you have the Google search bar in your browser. It is incredibly convenient. To download one, type ‘google pack’ into Google, follow the links and select the programmes you want. (update, just get Chrome)
  2. Next, make sure you are only searching in the languages you can read, go to preferences and make your selection. Here you can also modify filtering if you want to exclude explicit material from the search results.
  3. Clicking the advanced search link on the home page will bring up a whole range of more detailed search criteria.
  4. Don’t type adverbs etc. i.e. When Fred was in Bristol, will return less searches than Fred Bristol. Also Google is not case sensitive, unless you are using Boolean Search devices see point 10.
  5. Badly designed customer sites or very large customer sites can be a nightmare to search. Go to the advanced search page where you can search within a site. As long as you know the URL (www etc), you can search within the whole of their site for that exclusive press release or obscure product recall notice etc.
  6. By placing the phrase in double inverted commas Google will only return pages with that exact phrase. Very useful when searching for particular people.
  7. If you are searching only the public sector or private sector search by domain by typing as follows: the search term:.com. Or for the public sector the search term:.org
  8. Adding the + sign will return pages with those connected terms ie Ford +General Motors (remember term1 space+term2).
  9. But when you want exclude pages with a particular term, say Chrysler, that’s easy too. Ford +General Motors -Chrysler
  10. If you want to search for two related search terms place OR in capitals between the two terms. London OR Manchester.
  11. The search bar is also a good calculator + – / x can easily be used. 123×1234. More complex equations are available for the more mathematically inclined.
  12. For proposal writing when you want to check a definition type define: and then the word.

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Go Google. Other search engines are available.

The 5 Top Frustrations CEOs Have With Their Sales Function

In our work it’s noticeable how often the same complaints about ‘sales’ come up in talking to CEOs. Given the tightening of many market-places we thought it was worth collecting them together in one place:

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1. By far the most common one was fantasy forecasting. There are many reasons that explain the difficulty of accurate forecasting but in some organisations the process is far too much about bluff and double bluff. If we put the obvious requirement of actually meeting the numbers to one side as a given requirement, the first thing CEOs want is accuracy, the (close) second thing is predictability and the third is reliability.

  • Accuracy – the numbers come in close to where they were forecasted to be; at the right margin and mix.
  • Predictability – hitting numbers one quarter and being wildly off the next and then being back on track helps nobody.
  • Reliability – sandbagging numbers, expectation massaging and under selling the future are all part of the sales ‘black arts’. However, authentic dialogue and a real engagement around budgets and business plans are much more grown up.

It’s fair to add here that often the issue of ‘gaming the system’ is a function of the wider organisational culture rather than something sales are necessarily guiltier of than any other function.

2. Making excuses for poorly performing salespeople/managers that should be have been replaced long ago. We are still surprised how many Sales Directors would rather have somebody not up to the job keeping the seat warm than having an empty chair.

3. Sales using their ‘Voice of the Customer’ status to constantly justify why the market is like it is, with nobody else showing any understanding. CEOs like to see some ownership of difficulties, not dodgy justifications.

4. A sub-set of point 3 is wanting to ‘protect’ customers from the rest of the organisation, sales being the only function that cares about ‘the people who pay the bills’. There is often some truth in this, but rather than trying to keep their organisation at bay, they should be engaging with their board colleagues in ways to improve things.

5. Sales being resistant to change. You might think sales would be receptive to change given how close to the market they are. However, because many sales organisations feel beleaguered and constantly under pressure, any change is seen as making life more difficult for them. Worry about any sales organisation that ‘just wants to be left alone to get on with things’.

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I’m sure none of our readers suffer these issues, perhaps you should circulate the article to board colleagues and ask for feedback, just to make sure!

If you would like to talk more about the motivations and cultural drivers that help create these environments please contact us.

Why Today’s Business Card Is A Sales Opportunity On Steroids

The business card used to be more about status, less about communication; simply a name, job title, address and company phone number. For the sales person, this was a useful confirmation of generic contact details and perhaps the correct spelling of a tricky name.

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Without many salespeople noticing, the business card has become a much more interesting sales tool. Contact details have moved from the indirect to the direct. Email address, DDI and mobile phone number are now all direct. This is access the salesperson of 10 years ago would have dreamed of. Business cards now are less about status (many don’t even have job titles on them), but all about communication direct to the card holder.

Salespeople should obsess about collecting business cards; in every company they visit, every exhibition they attend and every conference they sign up for. Even if the card isn’t an obvious sales lead, the contact details allow for networking opportunities and future email campaigns.
The next thing to plan is the contact strategy. When you give salespeople the contact details of 10 senior decision makers and ask them to put together an approach strategy it’s surprising how often they struggle.

The opportunity to talk direct to decision makers, not gatekeepers or call screeners, and not end up in the waste paper baskets of redundant mail shots, but to have proper, unmediated direct access requires real, relevant content. If you’re going to call peoples’ direct line phone number you must have something really interesting and compelling to talk about, not vague ‘I wonder if you had the time’ or crass selling plays like ‘we have a great offer on at the moment…’.
Next month well look at ideas for creating those effective approach strategies.

Making The Team Work

This week is giving us plenty of opportunities to see teams operating at their best, and at their worst.

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As The Apprentice comes to an end it’s clear that the show and the process have little to do with team work and everything to do with looking out for personal interests. This can happen all too often in a corporate setting when the goals of the team and those of the individuals within it are not aligned. Throughout the show we’ve seen levels of bullying and ostracism which outrage your average school child, but are seen every week in offices and meeting rooms. Where standards of team behaviour don’t make bullying unacceptable, and individuals don’t challenge each other or themselves on how they treat others, unpleasant and destructive atmospheres which damage team effectiveness can develop.

Meanwhile the Euro 2008 football championships show teamwork in its most intense form. Very few other workers see their performance judged in real time by millions of partial and impartial people.

International competitions can prove interesting from a team perspective; each nation is free to pick their best players who may be major worldwide stars with their club teams, or journeymen in Europe’s less exciting leagues. Some players see the European Championships as an opportunity to represent their country and perhaps gain glory at home as part of a winning team, others clearly view them as an extended advertisement for their skills, viewed by the owners and managers of Champions League bound club teams.

This doesn’t always make for winning performances and international sides often disappoint as the collective egos of their Galáctico’s fail to gel into a coherent team with a free flowing way of working that ensures the best outcome for the team rather than each individual.

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If you’d like to find out the key elements of running and working in a successful team contact us.

Some Secrets of High Performing Sales People

Two recent training projects have uncovered things that separated the above average from the exceptional salesperson. Although there is nothing particularly new in our findings we were still struck by the performance difference they created. All of the examples are from business to business environments performed or exhibited by people who are at the top of their game:

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  1. Demonstrable tenacity. We found these high performers did the following: they bounced back more quickly when a rejection happened. They made one more call, squeezed in one more appointment and generally stuck at it just a bit more.
  2. They offered their existing customers superb levels of service. Not making sure their organisation did what it should do (they expected that to happen) but thinking about the additional things that would make the customer happy. Sending through interesting articles, making useful introductions, providing additional copies of presentations, turning up to show support at key internal customer meetings and making their mobile number available 24/7 were just some of the ‘delight the customer’ things we came across.
  3. Instant or near instant response. Using technology to respond immediately after a meeting by writing the notes up on the train and e-mailing to the customer, processing orders from the car before leaving the customers premises, sending a thank you text as they left the customer’s building were three examples of showing how much they valued the customer.
  4. Being incredibly focused on what the critical success factors of the job were and making as much time available to them as possible. If a key activity is developing a professional network of introducers, they would schedule proper time for doing that; if they knew from their conversion ratios that they needed to speak to 100 prospects per month on the phone to hit their quarterly new business targets that is what they would do. They drove the job around focused business activities, rather than allowing the job to drive them with ‘blue sky’ opportunities.
  5. Really believing in what they were selling. Their conviction was tangible.
  6. Not crossing their own ‘line in the sand’. They had the self-confidence to say no when required, to turn custom away when their values were conflicted, or in one case to lose the top spot in a sales campaign because they wanted their customer to have the right product which wasn’t included in the campaign incentive.
  7. Personally very organised. Productivity is highly related to personal organisation. Our top performers really did know how to fill their day with productive activity. Interestingly some worked fewer total hours than other lower performers. Being a workaholic is not a requirement for being an exceptional performer.
  8. Effective in the deployment of the essential sales skills. They know how to make an appointment, open a sale, ask the right questions, introduce needs based benefits, write proposals, handle objections, negotiate if necessary and close the sale. And they know when to shut up, when to leave and when to give up a lost cause.
  9. They love their job. Not in a ‘things are always perfect’ way, but as a reason to get of bed and enthusiastically and positively engage with the day.
  10. And finally…… They are only easy to manage if you let them get on with it. These people performed best when treated as a professional. Managers who had the confidence to coach them as equals rather than manage them as subordinates obtained higher levels of performance.

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None of these 10 things in themselves were significant. It was their compound effect, the way each contributed to the other that was. What was particularly rewarding was when we saw a salesperson ‘get it’ because then all the things fall into place, they come together as an holistic set, a mind-set of high performance.

If you’d like to talk about how you could improve your sales team please contact us.