Lessons in salesmanship

Had a great lesson in asking for the business from an unexpected source last week — my landscaper.

Now I do not have a regular service, but did have some work done last summer. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I have come to learn that lawn aeration is not optional. The yard needed it, so I looked around at renting an aerator. Running rate for 2 hours is $125. I called Derek at Rainbow of Magnolia who did the work last summer. For my small yard, he charged less than half of the rental price. Sold.

Now, turns out I happen to run into Derek all the time in the neighborhood village. He is a marathon runner and often catches me finishing a 10K while pushing my 2.5 year-old daughter. He chat about running or exchange greetings. After the aeration, he was all salesman — but not in a bad way. He wanted to make sure I was satisfied. Since I was, he asked if I needed anything else or would refer business to him. This caught me by surprise since it is not often that I see anyone ask for the business.

Not only did Derek ask for the sale but he asked for my help. He and his company are extremely charitable. This year, the entire company voted to donate 1 week of wages to their Rainbow of Magnolia Fountains of Life Charity to build an addition to a school in Uganda. Pretty amazing.

I am a repeat customer and will have Derek and his crew back in the Spring. If you live in Seattle and need some landscaping, give Derek a call and tell him Max sent you.

The Sales Learning Curve

There is an old adage that is all too often followed, “Want more sales? Hire salespeople.”

Sales and who you hire to represent your company is critical. The success or failure of CRM, revenue generation and the company in general are dependent on how the organization learns from prospects and customers.

A terrific read on this by Veritas founder, Mark Leslie: The Sales Learning Curve

Process Changes and the Sales Pipeline

In my experience, pipeline/forecast is one area of a CRM system that changes frequently. Fortunately, these changes require less coding changes through Windows Workflow Foundation (Dynamics CRM) and Workflow Automation (Salesforce). I have seen this both from the consulting side and as a user. Not going to comment on whether it is right or wrong, just that it happens, often, as a matter of fact in many organizations. Change in management, there will be a change to the sales process. New compensation model and the forecasts will change. It happens all the time and makes numbers from sales very short term and difficult to do long term trends. The best way to improve accuracy, find a sales process that works and then measure the core of that process. Less change, more value.

Is Sales strategic?

I have been digging into the Sales Enablement space lately. Initially my focus was on user adoption of CRM systems. Sales Enablement implemented properly will boost user adoption of sales force automation tools under the CRM fold. One concern I have is how sales enablement systems are being sold. “Clone your best reps” is the general gist. Too many companies try to increase sales by hiring more reps. Check any sales job posting. Terms like “Possess strong relationships” or “Rolodex” are common. Too often too little is done to full arm those reps with the passion for the product and company. The company is looking for a Rolodex and the sales rep supplies it. It may even lead to increased sales and revenue, but it is no guarantee. Many in sales cannot answer the simple question, “Why is the prospect going to buy?”

So is Sales strategic or a means to an end?

Sell more with less…

Nice post Too many choiceson Andy Sernovitz’s blog. This is in fact true. Check out Chapter 7 of Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive. Turns out that more choices will actually increase sales of an inferior or lower priced product. Seems simple, but it is true. Today it is Dell that allows you to build your own. Apple essentially tells you what you want. Back in the 80’s this was classic McDonald’s and Burger King advertising. McDonald’s with their “American Meat and Potatoes” campaigns and Burger King with the “Have it your way” slogans.

Check out Yes! It is a very interesting read. The chapters are vignettes that make it easy to pick up and put down and later reference.