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What Do High Growth Businesses Do Differently?

Over the past 5 years the importance of the “High Growth Business” and how this relatively small group of businesses disproportionally impa...

Friday 30 December 2011

The Problem with Sales Meetings......

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Some while ago I wrote a short piece on the problem with board meetings, following work with recent clients it seems that there is also problems with sales meetings. Let me recount recent experiences to illustrate what I mean. The meeting starts well and their is an Agenda of sorts. What happens next is that a member of the team is asked to describe what they have done for the preceding month. There follows a long rambling commentary about how busy they have been and what opportunities their are and a volley of reasons why they haven't sold us much as they thought. This monologue took about 20 minutes.
Image by Nils Geylen via Flickr

The next member of the sales team them repeated the process with one objective in mind; to spend more time talking that the person before him. Repeat that four times and your have a very long sales meeting. In the worst case it was 6 hours, yes, 6 hours I kid you not. Worst still, at least from my point of view, was that very little valuable information was provided either to management or from management. It was also clear that the sales team saw the meeting as largely a waste of time, and at 6 hours who can blame them. Having said that the sales team were also part of the problem.

Sales people by definition quite hard to manage. This is because they are trained to handle objections (management questioning) and get around obstacles (management questions and reporting). Put another way without a strong focus its difficult to put sales people on the spot. Except of course when they've just made a big sale and then of course they will remind you at every turn. We shouldn't criticise but simply understand that this is the nature of sales people and we just have to learn to manage it. 

So the problem with sales meeting is that they are run by managers who are not trained as sales managers and who have to deal with trained sales people. In many cases it's just an unfair fight. The result is often that sales people don't treat the meeting with the respect it deserves and take advantage of their managers' lack of experience. This is not universal but in my experience it is a common situation.

So if you fall in this category as a manager/owner what can you do about it?

It all starts with asking the right questions. Sales meeting reporting need to be precise and unequivocal. By that I mean getting information from your sales people that is binary either a yes or no. So to keep control of a sales meeting its best to get your sales people to report on items such as business won in the month business lost in the month and business expected to close in the next month (or weekly depending on your sales cycle). 

Getting sales people to report on numbers makes it easier for you to understand what is really going on. It also leaves much less wriggle room about what has or hasn't been achieved. As a manager/owner you will have a target for monthly sales you need to know  are they being achieved and if so is thee significant over or under achievement. Depending on the answer, which by the way can be identified from the reports, you will know what kinds of questions to ask. It also means you can get through the meeting more rapidly because it becomes a Q&A session rather than a series on monologues. Further it will be easier to identify actions to take place before the next meeting thereby providing focus for future meetings and making it easier for you to stay in control.

You can get a sample of reporting formats I've been discussing by clicking here and downloading them.

Exigent Consulting provides specialist services for High Growth Business Business Turnaround, and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business. 

Thursday 15 December 2011

I’m Sorry; But I’m Too Rich to Come into Work Today.

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Česky: Logo Facebooku English: Facebook logo E...
Image via Wikipedia
Success produces some unusual problems for a business. I was reminded of such when I read recent article in Business Insider that the proposed Facebook IPO will create over 1000 millionaires. This article goes on to give examples of some of the more exc
essive plans of these potential millionaires. The big question for Facebook, is how many of them will want to go back to their mundane jobs with such a big bank account balance.

There is no doubt that a fair percentage of them will at least for the short term continue with their day jobs, but as the realisation about what their wealth can do for them you can expect to see an increasing number having days off because they are just too rich. 

 The immediate problem for Facebook is that there are just so many of them. Can you imagine the problem facing Facebook if they all left at once, the loss of intellectual as well as cultural capital would be enormous. The difficulty for Facebook is that the normal rules of engagement don’t apply. Withholding pay, gets the so what response, as does any disciplinary procedure even being sacked would hold little fear. In a curious way Facebook are in a similar position to the banks and loan defaults; that is there comes a point when the large numbers of potential leavers (defaulters) becomes more of a problem in itself than putting sanctions against individuals. 

This by no means a unique problem although it is rare, Microsoft faced a similar situation when they went public for the first time in 1986. There were faced with a large number of employees becoming millionaires and recognised the risks to the organisation. There is no silver bullet solution for this type of scenario as it is rarely faced by any business. From the scraps of information I have been able to assemble it seems that Microsoft tried to focus on staff attitudes and attempts to promote the non financial reasons why people go to work as a way of minimising the potential impact of such significant staff attrition. 

They sought to identify reasons why very wealthy people would continue to come into work particularly if their jobs were relative low level. Senior Managers tend to be very driven and are often financially secure to a windfall would make a difference but not a significant one, for the most part. 

Image representing Mark Zuckerberg as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase
Technical staff were a different problem in that typically they are not motivated by money but the size of the windfall may disprove those assumptions. It seems that by offering ore technically challenging roles would go some way towards addressing the issue for this type of individual although equally you ant give them all more technically challenging rolls. 

The biggest batch of potential leavers is this in administrative jobs where a million dollars is a mind boggling sum of money. This group is the most difficult to deal with, so spending some 
time helping staff to prepare for the impending event will go some way towards exorcising the euphoria before the event. 

Microsoft managed reasonably well in coping with this problem but things have changed a little since the 1980’s and we are a much more materialistic in our outlook so the problem could be much worse for Mark Zuckerberg and friends.
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Exigent Consulting provides specialist services for High Growth Business Business Turnaround, and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business.