Fill the Funnel???…….Absurd!

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Why this age-old concept needs to go. Now!

By Andre Greco

How many times have we heard sales leaders use the phrase “fill your funnel”? I can’t count the number of times in the last 35 years that this concept has been discussed, printed, trained on, and even promoted in sales books. Back in 2014 when I was responsible for a team of nine regional sales leaders and 135 salespeople, I “banned” the use of, training of, and utter thought of this phrase.

For those who have not heard the phrase “fill the funnel”, let me explain. This ludicrous concept that is still taught to salespeople today, claims that the more opportunities that one puts into the top of the funnel, the more sales that will drop out of the bottom of the funnel. I guess gravity, combined with PSI can drive sales success! Interesting. False. Absurd.

To add insult to the injuries being inflicted upon salespeople today, some senior sales leaders use “the funnel” as a predictor of revenue, for creating annual sales quotas, adjusting commission plans, and even for product forecasting. I’d hate to be one of these leaders as they stand in front of ownership with their PowerPoint slide showing a graphic of a full funnel but having the inability to explain why this funnel did not achieve the year-over-year growth revenue and margin goals. Ouch!

Here’s the worst part of this whole crazy funnel idea. Someone in their infinite wisdom, as they walked door to door 100 years ago selling vacuum cleaners, decided it would be a good idea to apply actual data to the funnel, so it could be used by the aforementioned sales leaders, as a tool to measure their sales organizations. My guess is that the thinking went something like this…………”I knock on 100 doors per day. 50 of these doors are answered. 25 of these folks who answered the door let me in to do a demo of my vacuum cleaner. Out of the 25 folks who see my floor cleaning marvel, 5 of them buy one. My success rate is 5%. So, if I knock on 200 doors per day, I will sell 10 vacuum cleaners every day. I will double my income, get promoted, buy the company, and fire my current boss”! Obviously, this example is a bit simplistic, but the same thought process is being used by sales professionals (as mandated by their bosses) every single day. As recent as 3 years ago, I had a company Division President, during one of those waste of time “Town hall” all hands on deck calls, tell the entire sales team how easy their job was because it is all math. This individual continued by explaining that if a sales quota is $1.5M per year, and the average salesperson in the organization has a 33% close ratio, all the salespeople needed to do was create $4.5M in quotes, and they would hit their number for the year. Yes, this is a true story. No, this individual does not work for the company any longer.

So, what is fundamentally wrong with the “fill the funnel” strategy? Two things; 1) Inexperienced sales managers mistake filling the funnel with sales activity. They look at a salesperson’s pipeline, apply the math as described above, and only focus on those salespeople who are not meeting the necessary pipeline multiplier requirements. Then the “coaching” begins. This coaching is typically a conversation in which the sales manager tells the salesperson that they need to fill up that funnel with opportunities or they won’t hit their number. So, what does the salesperson do? They instantly become professional proposal writers versus professional salespeople. (One of the easiest ways for a customer to get rid of a salesperson is to ask for a proposal. But this is a topic for another day.) And the hamster wheel continues to roll! I, on the other hand, view the concept of filling the funnel as busy work that can easily be manipulated by a salesperson. Granted, this practice of proposal creation “creativity” will not go on long, but it can certainly help a salesperson survive the dreaded PIP for at least 6 months. 2) Who cares about opportunities in a pipeline?! I have never, in 35 years, seen a sales compensation package that pays out a commission or bonus based on pipeline or opportunities. In the real world, a salesperson earns a commission on booked business or collected revenue. Why all of the focus on pipeline, filling the funnel, and using the funnel as the be-all-end-all sales metric? Because it is easy! Sales leaders need only open the CRM and check the pipeline numbers to ensure their team has sufficient opportunities. This helps them sleep at night. From my perspective, this kind of management would give me nightmares. Why wouldn’t a sales leader invest the time to really know their salespeople, help them create a pre-call plan, or leave the comfort of their home office to attend a sales call with a team member when all they need to do is look at the sales funnel? But wait, what happens when the salesperson is not hitting their number? Well, that’s easy too. The sales leader simply states that the salesperson cannot close, is a bad hire, and needs to be replaced.

Just because every sales company uses the funnel “methodology” does not mean that you need to use it too. So, what is the alternative to the funnel? Possibly the strainer? (Sorry, couldn’t resist) Forget the kitchen accessories altogether and let’s focus on what will truly drive sales.

  1. Change your mindset and focus on hit rate. If a salesperson is closing 75% they need fewer overall opportunities than if they are closing 25%.  
  2. Coach instead of train – Training is fine but it is also an event. Coaching is on-going, personal, 1 to 1, and consistent.
  3. Focus on ROIT – Help your sales team understand how return on invested time (ROIT) should be their most important developmental area. Sales training great Tom Hopkins had a mantra that I still use today. “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment”. Don’t get me wrong “the most productive thing” may be sleep, exercise, family time, fishing, etc. I am certainly not advocating that salespeople need to work 24/7/365 to be successful as that is a recipe for burnout, and ultimately worse.
  4. It’s OK to walk away – Salespeople hate to walk away from an opportunity even if their gut tells them that it will never close. They hate to walk away from a customer who has not purchased anything in the last 3 years. Why? Because any time you walk away, your pipeline funnel decreases, and that will make the boss mad. So, they keep the opportunity in the CRM, change the possible close date every month to the following month, continue to send e-mails, and in the process waste a lot of precious time that could be spent finding a new opportunity or a new customer. Let your team understand that it is OK to “weed out” their pipeline and walk away from time wasters.
  5. Qualify, qualify, qualify – As I wrote above, many customers have found that the best way to get rid of a salesperson is by asking for a quote. As soon as the salesperson hears that golden word “quote” they feel success and accomplishment. They jump in the car from the customer’s office and drive 90 MPH back to their office, flip open the laptop, and start quoting! The opportunity is not qualified, but who cares? It’s a quote they can put in the funnel and the boss will be overjoyed. It is critical that salespeople are coached on how to qualify, re-qualify, and over-qualify an opportunity. It goes back to ROIT. If an opportunity does meet the qualification standards, kill it! Immediately, if not sooner.
  6. Use a PRSP – A predictable, repeatable, sales process. Even if your CRM does not have an embedded sales process, as a sales manager, you need to create one for your team. A sales process is defined as a series of repeatable steps a sales team takes to move a prospect from an early-stage lead to a closed customer. But it’s really more than that. A sales process promotes consistency, a common vocabulary, factored pipeline management, and early and often qualification. I cannot stress enough how important this is. Salespeople need to understand each step in the process, and more importantly, what information and actions need to be accomplished before an opportunity can move to the next step. Using a sales process saves time, creates a valuable pipeline, and increases hit rate.

I’ve had some fun writing this and picking on the funnel, but in all seriousness, the entire concept is silly, and fake, creates unattainable expectations, and in some extreme situations costs good people their jobs. Sales is an ever-changing profession. Products, marketing, tools, AI, social media, etc. have all changed how we sell today. But at the core, the profession of sales is consistency, discipline, attitude, and most of all relationships. None of these four attributes will ever be found in the funnel. Let your people sell, coach them to be excellent, and you will see revenues increasing.

#xceleratesales, #fractionalsalesleadership, #salesqb, #salestipsfromAndre, #salesprocess, #ROIT, #tossthefunnel, #arealpipeline

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LEADS…….Falling out of the Sky! ..…..Continued

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Thanks for coming back to #salestipsfromAndre! A few weeks ago, I promised to address lead qualification, follow-up, and conversion so here it is.

By: Andre Greco

Until we started #XcelerateSales, I had no idea how simple it was to generate massive amounts of qualified leads. No, really, each and every day, I receive at least three solicitations from “experts” who claim that they can generate more leads for me than I could ever handle (which in and of itself makes no sense.) Yesterday, I received an email and the sender wrote that he could “fill my calendar with appointments, with qualified C-Level executives, while I slept.” I immediately sent him my credit card information and went back to bed. Can’t wait to see my calendar!

There is no shortage of individuals and companies offering lead generation services and strategies these days. What I find startling is the absence of people talking about what one should do with a lead when received. We all want more leads, but what about qualification, conversion to an appointment, and lead tracking. How many times have we heard this; “If we get just one sale from this trade show it will pay for the cost of the show” Pretty simple concept and idea, but how often is it realized? Experience tells us it happens only 17% of the time.

One of the biggest mistakes made by organizations is deciding who should follow up on leads. Ask any salesperson you speak with who they believe should be following up on leads. 99% of the time the answer will be “me”. After 34 years of hiring, training, and managing salespeople I can say, with confidence, that those folks who answered “me” to your question are wrong. All the salespeople reading this just called me an idiot. Who else would you want to follow up on sales leads? My answer is anyone but a salesperson. Let me explain why. Firstly, salespeople should be too busy selling to take on the responsibility of lead follow-up. Secondly, because salespeople like to sell, the tendency is to try and sell the person who showed interest by filling out your lead form rather than simply setting a solid appointment. Lastly, if salespeople follow up on leads, they actually have to enter data into their CRM, and we know what that means!

So, what do you do? It depends on how important leads are to your business. If new leads are not that important then it does not matter who calls (or e-mails) them. But, if you treat leads like requests to buy into Glengarry, you need a specialist. (Yes, that was a sales movie reference) Yes, I said it, a specialist! Lead follow-up is an art. It requires very strong phone skills, research abilities, organization, discipline, and above all NO FEAR! Sorry everyone, but you do not have this person on your sales team or in your marketing department today.  Get yourself an SDR (Sales Development Representative) Even if they do happen to run out of leads, the skillset they possess to do the SDR job with great success are transferrable to just about any other department in your organization. Adding this role to your organization will pay dividends, and also be a big competitive advantage.

Before we discuss lead qualification, let’s first define what a lead is. Ask 20 people and you will get 20 different answers. The definition of a lead is simple. It is a name and a phone number provided by one with some level of interest in your offering. Notice I wrote “phone number” not name and e-mail address. I know it may be archaic thinking (I’m old) but there are folks out there who still actually speak with other human beings over the phone. Yes, it’s true. E-mail follow-up on leads is like betting on the Super Bowl after the game is already over. It’s too late and you have no chance of winning. Think about it. How many e-mails do you get every day? How many do you simply dismiss? Why would you think that the person who filled out your form at the trade show this weekend is any different? If you e-mail and wait for a response, you may be waiting quite a long time. So put down your mouse and dial the phone. Your results will be measurably better.

Because information is readily available to all of us and our buyers are much more educated than at any time in history, it is natural to assume that if one fills out a “request for more information” form, they must be interested in buying. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. But this misconception has created a problem for those looking to sell their wares. The problem is over-qualification. We try to get so much information and ask so many qualification questions that, in many cases, we turn off the potential buyer before we can have a true selling conversation. In any repeatable and sustainable sales process, the goal is to move each opportunity from one stage of the sales process to the next, without having any gaps in our sales strategy. The lead-to-appointment stage is no different. The singular objective when following up on a sales lead is simple. Set an appointment. It is incumbent upon the sales team to uncover the buyer’s hot buttons, share a compelling story, craft a solution, and close the business. If no appointment ever transpires from the lead, the chance of selling something is zero. Will every appointment be great and turn into business? No, but as a sales guy, I would rather have an appointment to go to versus reviewing my pipeline with my sales manager. Ugh! The worst-case outcome, if a salesperson can get in front of a potential buyer, is that they have the chance to start building a relationship face-to-face, they could get a referral to another buyer, or be able to refer this buyer to one of their alliance partners if they cannot deliver a complete solution.

Key Takeaways

  • Hire a Sales Development Rep to do all lead follow-up
  • Call the leads. Do not e-mail
  • Don’t over-qualify
  • Set an appointment

#xceleratesales, #fractionalsalesleadership, #salesqb, #salestipsfromAndre, #convertthoseleads, #hireansdr, #phonenotemail

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You want me to hire Who?! Are you Crazy?

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Why are sales leaders so hung up on hiring “industry pros?”

By: Andre Greco

January 2024
Welcome to 2024! A new year filled with the joy of increased quotas, new sales compensation
plans, budgets, territories, and everyone’s favorite; new “strategies” pushed down from
corporate. So how do you go about achieving these lofty new quotas without sacrificing the
almighty CRM data entry requirement or the never-ending action packed, PowerPoint slide
driven internal meetings? That’s easy! Just go out and hire the absolute best salesperson in
your industry. Maybe even the top 2 in your industry. Right? Nope, wrong. Easy? Nope, virtually
impossible.

I’ve always been fascinated by hiring managers whose first requirement for even interviewing a
new potential salesperson is industry experience. Please help me understand why this attribute
is critical. After 30+ years of recruiting, hiring, and training salespeople, I still don’t get it. Even
more surprising is that this “experience required” mindset extends far deeper than just sales
managers and leaders.
Internal and external recruiters, human resources team members, and
even executive management; ALL have adopted this mindset as normal and expected. Over the
years I have thought deeply about this situation and the only explanation I can muster is that
those who are acting in the role of sales hiring manager are either too busy or do not have the
knowledge to train one who does not have their industries background and experience.
Let’s face it, training is time consuming and hard. But that’s the job people! Think of it this way.
Even if you bring in a candidate with industry experience, they still need training on your
products, your processes, your policies and procedures and your strategies. If all this training
needs to be done for ANY new salesperson who joins your organization, then why not consider
a different perspective. Let’s look for talent and attitude versus industry experience. Allow me
to borrow a line from Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street. “Gimme guys who are poor,
smart, and hungry….” Of course, in 2024 we need to replace “guys” with “people”, to avoid
being ostracized. But you get the point. It’s not all about industry experience.

Before we address the new way of thinking, let’s first talk about why you cannot simply hire the
best, or even one of the best, in your industry. It’s simple, they are making too much money in
their current role!! Think about it. Top salespeople have developed deep relationships with
customers. They know how their products help to solve end user problems. They know how to
optimize their incentive plan. Why in the world would this professional start from square one in
a new organization? Does it happen? Sure, it does, but it is rare. I have recruited and hired
thousands of salespeople in my career and once, yes only one time, have I been fortunate
enough to hire a rock star from a competitor. That 1 out of 1000’s. Do the math. In this

particular scenario, I happened to have an opening in this person’s geography and the person
had just had a bad internal experience and was going to make a move. I simply got lucky.

Unless luck is your go-to recruiting and hiring strategy, you need to adopt some open
mindedness and new strategies. First, you need to figure out what you need in a salesperson.
If your products require a highly technical sales process, have you considered one with an
engineering background? I know what you are thinking. Black horn-rimmed glasses, high
waters, and a pocket protector. If that is your image of an engineer, you are watching too many
movies. Highly technical products are bought by highly technical people, in many cases,
engineers. Even with as much sales experience as I have, if you put me in front of an engineer
decision maker, I’ll immediately push that sale to the “closed lost” field in my CRM. One of my
earliest sales mentors had a master’s in engineering but was one of the best salespeople I ever
met. He retired as President of a division within a Fortune 1000 corporation.

If your product is commoditized due to saturation and strong competition, considering
interviewing a car salesperson. Think about the job of a car salesperson. Not only are they
competing with other manufacturer’s vehicles, but they also must compete with the dealership
in the adjoining town who sells the exact same product they do. To make matters even more
challenging, every buyer that they come across already knows the price of their product before
they even walk on to the dealership lot. Successful car salespeople have strong transferrable
skills that can be of benefit to any company with similar market dynamics.

Unfortunately, there is more to this type of recruiting strategy than using the big job boards.
The upside is that you do not need to embark on this new recruiting journey alone. Engage the
rest of your organization especially those who are in front of your customers like installation or
service / repair personnel. These team members see your customers every day and they do not
typically interface with the buyer but rather your product’s user. Imagine hiring one of your
customers to sell for you? Talk about one who can speak to the worthiness and value of the
product. They can speak from a perspective different than anyone on your current sales team.
Tell your current employees what you are looking for. Spiff them for providing referrals to sales
candidates who subsequently join your organization.

If you are a small or medium sized business, you can engage your entire organization in your
quest to find new sales talent. All team members need to have business cards. (Yes, the paper
kind)
so when they run across one who could potentially sell your products, they can provide
contact information. I have hired folks who were waiting on me in restaurants, cell phone
salespeople, retail sales associates, and yes, automobile salespeople. Lastly, don’t discount new
college graduates. Recruiting at the local university is typically free and you can find some
amazing candidates. Hungry, aggressive sponges who want nothing more than to start in a
career and who are willing to pay their dues to get to the point where they can call themselves
a professional salesperson.

I place only one caveat on the strategy detailed above. You need to have someone in your
organization who truly understands sales and how to deliver sales training.
If you do not have
this person don’t expend the effort recruiting the “new way” because the non-industry folks
will leave, quickly. Get help. Find a fractional sales leader in your area that can make sure your
new hires stay and experience success.

xceleratesales, #findaprofessionaltrainer, #exceptionalsalesteams, #salestipsfromAndre #fractionalsalesleadership, #salesqb, #hireattitude

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“It Was a GREAT Meeting!” (No, it really wasn’t!)

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Why pre-call planning is critical to sales success

By: Andre Greco

If I had a nickel for every time one of my salespeople told me “I had a great meeting!” Well, let’s just say, over 30+ years in sales leadership, I’d have a lot of nickels. As sales leaders, it is incumbent upon us to challenge our teams and not just accept great as an acceptable meeting outcome. The next time you hear about a great meeting, push back, and ask the rep to explain exactly why the meeting was great. You will be surprised at how your, and the salespersons, definition of the word are markedly different.

Let’s step inside the mind of a salesperson for just a moment and try to ascertain why his or her feeling about a particular meeting outcome is, in some cases, far from the true reality of the situation. In our 21st century world of data, metrics and KPI’s combined with internal meetings, reports, CRM entries, quotes, etc. the typical in-field salesperson is spending less than 20% of their time in customer meetings. Let’s also remember that part of the 20% is “stopped by” or “dropped off” which can also be classified as “meetings” by those with creative data entry skills. If we consider the 20% data point coupled with our knowledge that salespeople truly want to be in front of customers (that’s why they are in sales) and that they can’t stand non-selling activities, it is very easy to see why every meeting that they actually have with a customer is great! They feel excited by simply getting out from behind their computer, getting in their vehicle and travelling to talking with another human being without the need for a web camera.

Now that we get it, let’s discuss the solution and how we can help our teams truly accomplish great meetings. The key is pre-call planning. Let me define exactly what I mean when I write pre-call planning as I have read many different variations from (a)planning the meeting on the walk from the reception area to the customer’s office to the opposite extreme of (b)convening an internal meeting of 10 people to discuss and plan out a 30 – minute customer interaction and (c)multiple alternate definitions in between. I define pre-call planning as the salesperson taking 30 minutes, uninterrupted, to think about the meeting with the customer and actually writing down questions for the customer along with what he or she is trying to accomplish by having the meeting and how the meeting can help to advance the sale in the sales process. There are a lot of great tools out there to help salespeople plan their call (I’m a big fan of the SPIN pre-call planner) but, in all honesty, I do not care if the salesperson uses a sheet of copier paper and a crayon, as long as the plan is written down. I sometimes here a sigh of frustration in the room when I am teaching a class and I stress the need to have a written pre-call plan. But the facts are the facts. Writing things down helps people remember because it forces them to slow down and be more intentional. Dominican University (Calif.) professor, Gail Matthews, tells us that one is 42% more likely to achieve a goal if it is written down versus having a meeting goal and objectives pinballing around in ones over cluttered mind. I have always told my teams that if they do not have a clear written goal for the customer meeting, just stay home. Simple as that.

The thought process to creating a solid executable pre-call plan starts, as should any professional meeting, presentation, or product demonstration, with the end in mind. Meaning, what is the objective of the meeting? The objective needs to meet two key criteria: 1) Advancing a sale forward in the sales process or, 2) uncovering a new selling opportunity. If a salesperson is going into a meeting without one, or both of these objectives, then why are they going at all? A customer meeting that does not get a salesperson closer to obtaining a purchase order or does not uncover the opportunity to sell something new, is a colossal waste of time. Not just your salespersons time, but the customer’s time as well. If COVID taught us anything, it is that face to face time is precious and no one wants that precious time wasted by meetings with no profound outcome. All winning strategies have a fallback plan or a secondary acceptable outcome. A customer meeting strategy is no different. At the absolute worst, your salesperson should gain a commitment from the customer on a specific date and time for the next meeting and topics to be discussed at the next meeting. While this end cannot hold a candle to advancing the sale or finding a new selling opportunity, at least it is a minor commitment from the customer and should be considered half a win.

We know where we want to go, so now it is time to plan out how we will get there. This is where salesperson and customer meetings fall apart many times. The salesperson is either unprepared for questions posed by the customer or the conversation starts to go sideways and the salesperson does not know how to pull the conversation back to the task at hand which is accomplishing the meeting objective. Both situations can be avoided if the salesperson takes the time to plan the meeting. Anticipating customer questions can be a tough ask, especially for a new salesperson. I strongly recommend that salespeople share their pre-call plan with a seasoned salesperson or sales leadership to help prepare for some of the more well-known customer questions which can only be known based on experience. This part of the meeting is also where things can blow up in the salespersons face so they will need coaching. If they do not know an answer to a customer’s question, coach them to not panic and write it down and promise to get an answer. The answers to all questions need to be sent to the customer within 24 hours of the meeting but preferrable during the same day as the meeting occurs.

The last section of the pre-call plan is a list of questions that we want to ask the customer. These questions should follow a specific methodology starting with 1) casual, warm-up type questions designed to ease the customer and build rapport personally, not from a business perspective. 2) Questions that confirm the meeting discussion topics and cause the customer to commit to the topics. 3) Project specific questions which can relate to product, budget, decision makers, objections, etc. 4) “What if” questions forcing the customer to think about potential issues they may encounter by not moving forward with the salesperson’s product or solution and 5) commitment questions designed to achieve the meetings intended objective.

Sounds pretty easy, right? No, it’s not easy at all. The process of pre-call planning takes discipline, practice, and learnings (both positive and negative) for one to improve. The one mandate I always had with my sales teams was that a pre-call plan was required every time that had a customer meeting, with no exceptions. This mandate was for new team members as well as seasoned veterans regardless of how many sales calls they had accomplished in their career or how many times that had met with a certain customer. Don’t let your superstars bulldoze you on this topic. It’s too important to the overall health of the organization and it sets the tone for what you expect of all team members.

In summary……….

  1. Plan must be written down.
  2. Have a primary and secondary objective.
  3. Prepare for customer questions.
  4. Plan questions that drive the conversation.
  5. Every meeting. No exceptions.
  6. Be disciplined. Practice. Learn. Get plan input.

Pre-call planning is critical to sales success both short and long term. It will create salesperson confidence, increase hit rates, and streamline your overall sales methodology. I urge you not to “wing it” when it comes to teaching pre-call planning. If you are not 100% confident, seek the help of a sales training professional.

#xceleratesales, #precallplanning, #increasehitrate, #customercommitments, #fractionalsalesleadership, #salesqb, #writeitdown

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Benefits of Outsourced Sales Management

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by Ben Klopfer

If you’re a small business owner, you may feel like you’re constantly juggling multiple roles. I’ve been there–and I know I certainly did!

We all have strengths in our own areas. Mine happens to be in sales. The majority of business owners, however, tend to be product, business, or industry experts and may entirely lack sales background and experience.

While sales are crucial to the success of any business, it can be difficult to find the time and resources to effectively manage sales while also running other aspects of your company.

This is where outsourcing a sales manager can come in handy! We don’t think twice about outsourcing a part-time bookkeeper for accounting, or a part-time CPA at tax time, so why not outsource a part-time sales manager? Here are some of the top reasons–in my experience–why your business might benefit from outsourced sales management:

Save Time and Resources

Managing a sales team can be time-consuming and expensive. And hiring a good full-time sales manager can be an even bigger recurring expense and yet another head to manage! With an outsourced sales manager, you can avoid the cost of hiring and training a full-time employee and instead have a proven sales expert take care of your sales efforts. You can get great sales management at a fraction of the cost, freeing up time and resources for you to focus on other areas of your business.

Benefit from Sales Expertise

An outsourced sales manager can bring a wealth of sales expertise and experience to your team. They can help you develop and execute sales strategies that are tailored to your business, as well as provide guidance on sales training and coaching for your team. Additionally, they can help you identify areas for growth and improvement in your sales processes and make data-driven decisions. It can also be good to get an outside view of your business. Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees!

Scalability and Flexibility

As your business grows, your sales needs will also change. Outsourcing your sales management allows you to scale your sales efforts up or down as needed. Whether you need help with lead generation, account management, or closing deals, an outsourced sales manager can provide the flexibility you need to adapt to changing business needs. Your business might be changing hands from one generation to another, growing by acquisition, or forced to be more aggressive about client acquisition than in the past.

Outsourcing your sales management is something worth thinking about, and might be a smart move for your business. By saving time and resources, benefiting from sales expertise, and gaining scalability and flexibility, you can achieve sustainable revenue growth and increased profitability! After you’ve thought about it, contact me to learn more

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Statistically, a player-coach is a bad idea for your salesteam

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In Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1950, there have been 38 player-coaches.

Of those 38 player-coaches, only one team won a championship with a player-coach. That team was the St. Louis Cardinals in 1964, whose player-manager was none other than the legendary Stan Musial. Musial served as the team’s player-manager for the final month of the season after the team’s original manager Johnny Keane resigned, leading the Cardinals to an improbable World Series victory over the heavily-favored New York Yankees. It’s worth noting that the role of player-coach has become increasingly rare in baseball since the 1950s, as the demands of both playing and coaching have become more specialized and time-consuming. Today, it’s very rare to see a player also serving as a coach or manager in the majors

Since 1950, there have been hundreds of managers in Major League Baseball (MLB). It’s difficult to provide an exact number because managers are frequently hired, fired, and replaced throughout the course of a baseball season, let alone over the span of several decades.

However, according to Baseball-Reference, as of the end of the 2021 season, there have been a total of 481 managers in MLB since 1950. This includes both full-time and interim managers who were in charge of at least one game during their tenure.

It’s worth noting that some managers have had multiple stints with different teams, so the number of individual managers who have managed at least one game during that time period is likely somewhat lower than 481.

So what does this mean for a sales team? If we run the math, it shows that only 1 of 38 player coaches won a championship, or 2.6%, while 71 of 444 (481-38) managers only won a championship, or 16%. Extending the logic to your sales team indicates that a coach-only model is 6.1 times more likely to produce a “championship” than a player-coach model.

Why does any business have a player-coach, then? It’s a scale issue. How can a small sales teams get the management and leadership it needs when there are only a few salespeople to manage? There’s not enough scale to justify a full-time sales leader, so the company settles for an imperfect solution, a player-coach.

If this sounds like your sales team, consider a fractional sales leader instead. You won’t run the risk of overtaxing your player-coach, and salespeople can get the leader they need to excel.

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