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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

“What gets measured gets done.”

The Lord Kelvin, gave us the 'Kelvinator' (Refrigerator),
and the first Transatlantic Telegraph Cable.
He was a Scientist and Engineer, taking science and applying it to everyday situations.
He said,

"To manage something, first you must be able to measure it".

As Business Scientists, we know that "What get measured gets done!"
That is why we use Sales Standards and Sales Discipline.

up to your ass in crocodiles

Knowing how many Crocodiles there are, is NOT going to help!

I have written of the difficulties with Sales Force Automation (SFA Software) before, not only in it's poor ability to measure, (GIGO) Garbage in Garbage out, but also even when the Measures are good it is:



How you MANAGE from
The Measure that counts!

  • Pipeline is measured, but Revenue is not coming in.
    Management Focus then goes on 'Closing Deals'.
    This causes Crisis Management behaviour.
    Sales Activity becomes un-linked to Buyer Process.
    Quotations are then written too early meaning that the Buyer “delays” their decisions.
  • The OUTCOME is: 
    Inverted Selling Behaviour with more focus on ending 'Selling Cycles',
    than on starting ‘Buying Cycles’.

BMAC Research uncovered that Productive Selling benchmarks show a:
higher focus on Starting Buying cycles than on ending 'Selling Cycles'.

If you want Management Control back, if you want Revenue results without Crisis Management,
if you want shorter delays from Quote to Cash, then contact
BMAC Consultants

Friday, 25 June 2010

Selling is a Scoring Game

Selling is a Scoring Game.
Each mistake gets (Á) Apathy points, each strike gets (É) Empathy points.
Your current score is the difference between the positive less the negative.

It's just as important that you CHOOSE the right behaviour
as that you EXECUTE the behaviour perfectly" 

i.e. A question about a Client's problem, if NOT appreciated by the Client,
then it does not matter how well you asked the question, it is a mistake!

Interactive Sales Competence is appropriate behaviours, well executed.

It is a combination of art and science.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sales Force Automation places too much stress on Salespeople



anxiety maleThe evidence is that Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Client Relationship Management (CRM) place too much stress on Salespeople, by producing a

'crisis of information'.

The crisis comes from the overwhelming input and output of unrelated Data, without apparent application. This Data Storage Fortress has become so complex it needs sophisticated software to access, read, display, interpret and manipulate.



Hence, the output read and accepted by Managers,
bears no relationship to the input presented by Salespeople.

The problem BMAC set out to overcome

by analysis and diagnosis was the following dissonance.


    • The principle Inputs are Qualitative.

    • The principle Outputs are Quantitative.


    The evidence for this is that the outputs produced at a Management Level are Numerical and time based.

    A 'Sales Forecast' the amount of expected Revenue, from which Customers, by which date.

    However, the inputs are the subjective view of the Salesperson.

    The Sales Executives describe and categorises their own Activity on a 'best-fit' basis, usually from a drop down list.

    The Salesperson then second-guesses their Client's view for Value of Potential business, likely Close dates, and most improbably their own likelihood of success as a Percentage. All of this subjective information is coloured by the salesperson's desire to 'look good', by presenting a strong pipeline, a portfolio of well attended accounts, a well managed and worked territory and therefore a strong likelihood of future sales success!



    This whole process is so inherently unstable, that the Sales Manager adds their 'view' nominally subtracting 20%-40% from Sales Data. This 'modified view' is then further modified, up or down, by a 'C-Level correction' based on Historical Trends,
    or The Business Plan Forecast!


    SFA and CRM have led to a lack of socialisation, affecting negatively on the ability of the Organisation to Learn, for peer sharing or replication and roll-out. The measured impact of SFA and CRM, as currently used, has been to lower Sales Revenue Generating Activity, and has substantially reduced Sales Productivity while increasing 'efficiency'.
    The claimed benefit of 'Sales Performance Improvement' through SFA and CRM relies on anecdotal evidence,
    with little correlation to actual Sales Revenue Improvement.

    There is at least the same amount of anecdotal evidence that SFA and CRM is 'padded' or manipulated by sales people with exaggerated pipelines and 'early' close dates to show good account husbandry.

    The greatest failure of SFA and CRM, in their current form, is to accurately represent reality, the actual 'on the ground' Sales situation. SFA especially fails to account for Contingencies.

    Great difficulty is experienced by the Salesperson when reporting a Reversal of the Sales Stage or Phase.

    Environmental Data is ignored or often it is disallowed.

    Sales Velocity is presented as fixed speed, and Sales Acceleration (or Deceleration) is not treated as a variable,
    but used as a constant.

    The view that SFA/CRM 'drive' Sales by encouraging Sales to 'drive' Buyers to the 'Close' on a specific date for specific revenue amounts, is FALSE.

    It is as deceptive as believing the Sun rotates around the Earth,
    it denies the fact that Sales revolve around the Buyer, and the Buyer's local conditions.

    To use an analogy from Coal Mining, then SFA fails to take account of 'local disturbance'.

    In Mining, these can be "rising floor" or "falling roof" where for geological reasons the mine floor alters or the roof collapses are both phenomena outside of the miner's control. Huge varieties of unfavourable and changing environmental conditions happen at the coalface; most of which are impossible to predict, and of the predictable conditions, most are impossible to alter.

    In mining these are described as 'bad conditions' and are treated distinctly from 'bad work' where errors of judgement or activity are attributable to the miner. Both 'Bad Conditions' or 'Bad Work' will lead to much additional, but unproductive, work to get back on stream. The interaction of both 'Bad Conditions' and 'Bad Work' can be catastrophic.

    Recognition of 'at the coalface' in Sales situations,
    demands Customer time by Sales Managers,
    Structured Customer Time
    specifically planned to examine
    and determine Local Disturbance 'Bad Conditions'.

    Additionally, time spent by the Sales Manager with the Salesperson in the Customer environment enables diagnoses of 'Bad Work'. It is worth giving a clear example of each:



    • 'Bad Conditions', the Customer has decided to postpone the RFP, ITT, or Request Price Quotations.
      The Project is on hold.
      Normal SFA or CRM input "pending".Delay causes forecasting problems, the Salesperson is criticised for lack of account control.
    • 'Bad Work', the Sales Team have failed to respond appropriately (i.e. they were late) to the Buyer's RFP, ITT,
      or Request Price Quotations.
      The project proceeds without us.
      Normal SFA or CRM input "lost on price".
      Sales person avoids the consequence of 'Bad Work'.

    The problem we set out to overcome by Analysis and Diagnosis was the following dissonance.

    • The principle inputs are Qualitative.
    • The Principle outputs are Quantitative.

    In Sales we have come from an Executive Decision Making and Planning Basis:
    i.e. experience, knowledge and skill to be replaced by charts, spread sheets, ratios, graphs and calendars
    'paper clipped' by software into The Monthly or yet still worse, The 'Weekly' Report.

    These reports are then analysed for fault, or explained away, but always without validation, hence without judgement.

    Opinion is fact.

    The solution is, as you may expect, is both difficult and slow,
    it requires Leadership, Inspiration and a Systematic Approach based upon evidence and validation, not anecdotal vindication.

    At BMAC, we have conducted extensive research using validated models for Sales Performance, Sales Velocity, and Sales Acceleration to Validate Quantitative Input. BMAC then developed a proprietary model for Buying Behaviour and Sales Process, which enables the effective functioning of both Sales Force Automation and Client Relationship Management.

    Do you agree? Why?

    Do you disagree? Why?

    Steps of the Sale



    Everybody in, or around, sales knows "The Steps of the Sale", right?


    Do you know the 5 steps or the 7 or the 9 or the 11 or the 13 or the 15 steps
    or the variations: the staircases, the ladders, the triangles or the circles?





    ALL of these are based upon a beginning, middle and an end.
    They are 'formula for success", RITUALS, rain dances and, sadly, just like rain dances they do not work!

    The adept Rain-dancer only dances on cloudy days, and then only in the rainy season.

    He performs only when he is most likely to succeed, ideally when it is raining!

    Hence, the belief in the power of the Rain-dance grows.

    Witnesses confirmed that they saw him dancing while it was raining.

    In Sales Rainmakers do not dance
    and they do not follow the steps, any of the steps of the sale.

    Rainmakers follow and lead the Buyer,

    who follows a process from intellectual curiosity to emotional commitment then to engaged action.
    The inconvenient fact is that Buyers are not aware of the Steps of the Sale so, instead they use their own process.

    When, during sales training, I am challenged over this, killing a sacred cow.
    I ask a closed question: "Can a buyer buy without a Sales Executive?"
    The answer as we all know is YES, ask
    My supplemental question is:
    "Can a Sales Executive sell without a Buyer?"

    Although the answer is clearly NO, they pause, feeling a belief being replaced by a fact.
    The 'selling cycle', the 'steps of the sale' are a rain-dance, best done while a buyer is buying they simply do not exist.

    You can make fish soup from fish, but you cannot make fish from fish soup!

    I have observed more than 2000 sales calls, I log 'behaviours' and 'out comes', as well as 'objectives' pre-call. The conclusion is Sales Executives who follow a sales steps process rarely succeed, the more faithfully they follow their steps then the less success they enjoy. Yet they follow the steps faithfully to make it rain! Successful sales people do NOT follow the Steps of the Sale, they may report that they do in Sales Force Automation software, they may even pretend to believe in the ritual, but they do not follow the practice.

    Instead, successful sales executives follow, influence and sometimes lead the Buying Process.

    Sales Philosophy is interesting; the pragmatic application of it's conclusion is PERFORMANCE, sales achievement.

    BMAC Sales Consultants will replace obsolete 'Steps of the Sales' models with a functional Sales Process which optimises your Sales force.

    Tuesday, 22 June 2010

    Succeeding in the downturn


    I had a round of Golf with my friend the sweet manufacturer last weekend.

    He has grown his business 14% in the last year.

    He has opened a new production line, bringing his new factory to 40% capacity. He has bought over two million Euros worth of new plant on very favourable terms, €500K in cash, and the remainder paid on a profit share over 5 years.

    In the middle of a downturn, with competitors downsizing or going bust,
    he is thriving. Why?

    sweet factoryWe could look at his qualities as a man, 63, who works an energetic 60 hour week, plays Tennis and Golf, Sails and Fishes, has a very full social and family life. He supports good causes, and does charitable work.
    In all these aspects, he is NOT unusual.

    He is a huge enthusiast for his Product.

    He employs his brother a renowned research Chemist, now retired, to design new flavours and new scents for his confectionery. He has pioneered eco sweets using Bio alternatives to sugar. He literally travels the globe (with his golf clubs) looking for product and market ideas, but continues to be a foundation employer in his hometown population 30,000.


    His enthusiasm is contagious; he successfully promotes his products by exhibiting at four key European Confectionary shows. He gets between 100-400 inquiries at each exhibition. Each one receives a prompt follow-up, he categorises these into

    (A.) Current Product-Current Market,

    (B.) Current Product-New Market

    (C.) New Product-Current Market

    (D.) New Product-New Market

    He expects his sales people and sales agents to have success with every 'A' lead.

    He personally nurtures the B leads, looking for a local agent to take his product to market, in Russia and the entire eastern bloc, in China and in South America. He chooses Sales Agents very carefully; he has 40 years experience, first in regions of Spain, then France and Italy, then the UK through the rest of Europe.

    "What makes a good Sales Agent?" I asked him. "Results!" he responded.
    "Sales Agents must be Cash positive, active and successful.
    If they can't be all three then it doesn't work out".

    He has had agents loyal to him for 30 or more years, some are the children, and soon the grandchildren of his original agents! Nevertheless, if you go cash negative, or become inactive and unsuccessful he will visit you, agree a recovery plan in a maximum of three months. If you do not recover, he fires you and recruits a new agent.

    'C' leads he handles himself, what size is the opportunity, sometimes bringing the new product to market, or sourcing it from another manufacturer and branding it as his own. His concern here is always what value it brings, to the Customer, to the Business.

    chocolate sharkFinally 'D' leads, he leaves strictly to his Marketing Department.

    "When I handled them, I kept getting into new businesses, usually without a business plan!
    Now the marketing people have to come to me with a fully “costed” business plan.

    So, usually we do not get into new businesses!"






    What is the basis of his success?

    Customer focus and Customer service, Market focus especially Market pricing,
    Product focus for quality, scaled manufacturing and an intense focus on Selling.
    "If I cannot or do not sell it, how can I expect my Sales People or Sales Agents to sell it?

    Why is my friend enjoying success in hard times?

    Sales Success and Cash Management, simple.

    Why not contact BMAC and talk about your success?

    Monday, 14 June 2010

    Sales Energy

    Who gets the most done, the busy bee or the smart bee?


    Is sales a Hare or a Tortoise game?

    We can demonstrate from evidence that
    Sales Activity CAUSES Sales Results,

    Activity does not just ‘affect’ results it causes results.

    Two Salespeople of similar ability with comparable potential in their territories,

    then the more active salesperson will produce higher sales results.


    Common sense, is it not?

    tortoise and the hare


    So let us go beyond common sense to research.
    BMAC research confirms that high Activity = more Sales,
    but also uncovers a series of anomalies.

    Rarely are Top Performers winners of the most Sales Visits contest.
    Often two people of the similar ability and comparable territory produce
    the anomaly that the most active is NOT the most successful.



    BMAC completed a factual research program across five firms,
    selling in various sectors and three countries.

    The research definitions changed to define ACTIVITY
    into two distinct Categories:

    • RGA (Revenue Generating Activity) and

    • NrGA (Non-revenue Generating Activity).

    Factual research is not a survey;

    it took hard data of Activity and correlated this data to Results,
    Sales Advances, Contracted Sales, and Revenue Generation

    RGA is for example: Sales Visits, Writing Sales Proposals,
    giving Sales Demonstrations.


    NrGA is for example: Reorganising the office, tidying the desk, having a coffee.

    Travel time, meal times, filing and admin became items of hot dispute, so we compared variations of these and they showed no impact on Revenue Generation,
    so are NrGA.  As are Company Meetings, Sales Meetings and almost all training events.

    Activity sampling at 15-minute intervals identified 100+ distinct activities,

    23 were RGA, and the rest or more than 70 activities were not.

    This is not just Time Management, or Effective Habits
    it is about Awareness, Perception and Focus.


    Let me share in overview the Comparison between:


    Top Performers

    Poor Performers

    60%+ on RGA

    Support systems

    Single Task focus

     Below average stress

    60%+ on NrGA

    Data/Information overload

    Multiple task Diffusion

     higher than average stress


    Sales are about FOCUS,
    smart bees produce more honey;
    busy bees get tired and produce a lot less honey.

    If you would like to discover the 23 RGA Smart Activities, then contact

    Thursday, 10 June 2010

    Sales Process Revised

    Professional Selling Skills (PSS), which I was trained in during 1980, is still the basis of most Sales Training today. Its origins are far older; they can be easily traced to Paterson at NCR since the start of the 20th century. They were taken by his protégé Thomas Watson to IBM and distributed throughout IT and Xerox Office Products, where it became PSS.


    PSS is based upon two premises:

    LaneControlSignFirstly, that there is an identifiable
    Buying Process, that can be broken down into stages,
    hence there are different complementary stages in the Sales Process.

    This gave rise to the "Steps in the Sale" Movement. .
    Miller Heiman dominating the process planning, steps and stages,

    Secondly, that Sales Behaviours can influence Buyer's Behaviours.
    This is BEHAVIOURISM or content, HRG (Huthwaite Research Group) did the Classic research in the 1970's resulting in SPIN®, Problem/Solution based selling.



    These two ‘schools’ have divided into BEHAVIOURS during the Sales Visit and 
    the PROCESS and ‘Activities’ during the Steps of the Sale.


    Both made token recognition of the other, and both have had many imitators, adapters and users.  Much 'in-house' training is based upon one or other of these two classics.

    Since 2000, both schools were under-fire from Sales Force Automation (SFA), and
    more significantly a complete revision of the Buyer's Process.

    The idea behind SFA is automation of tasks and activities, works fine in Fast Food restaurants but is far more difficult to apply to Complex Selling.  It gives Managers a veneer of control, while in fact taking them out of the Marketplace. It replaces ‘Feel’ with DATA,
    more DATA than you need, want or can use, so much DATA you need other software to display it graphically!

    Consultancy Selling, Solution selling, Key Account Selling are based upon the same a false premise of an obsolete BUYING Model. Cognitive Psychology has remodelled - Brands, how Buyers decide, how Buyers react and how Buyers are stimulated.


    The advent of fMRI scanning has given new insights and
    demands a complete re-think of Selling Skills and Sales Process.

    The premises are still the same, an identifiable Buying Model and Sales Behaviours, which complement the Buying Process. What has changed by Science and Research is both the Process and the Behaviours.


    If you would like to see how revised Sales Training, Sales Assessment and Sales Management look in the 21st century then contact:
    Brian MacIver – your Sales Performance depends upon it.