Search This Blog

Google+ Followers

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Sales Management is out of date.

Well, in fact Management is out of date, not just Sales Management.

Automobiles are based on same the Internal Combustion engine for the last 70 years. Cars are redesigned, restyled; saloon, station wagon and SUV, but all are based on the same 70-year-old technology, simply adapted but not evolving. It is Genesis not Exodus. It is the same in Management, new bodywork but the same 'engine' for 70 years.

In 2010 Sales is constrained, not by their ability to adapt to new technology, nor the speed of uptake of FAD Sales Training, but Sales are constrained by Sales Management! For it is Sales Management, which Plans, Allocates accounts with Account Managers, Organises territories, sets Strategy, and accepts Product/Markets, Motivates and Rewards. If Sales is unsuccessful then look to Sales Management, do not swap out sales people, start at the top – swap the Sales Director, the Sales VP or the CSO.

A 21st century sales force is identified by one unique trait. Not the smart phone, or SFA software, in fact it is neither technology nor the speed at which technology is implemented. It is about Decision Making. 21st century Sales is about WHO makes decisions, WHERE decisions are made, WHEN decisions are taken, WHAT can be decided and HOW decisions are made. Why is this trait so important? 21st Century Sales in 21st Century Firms make decisions FASTER than their Competitors, the decision is right more often than their competitors are, and they implement their decisions faster than their Competitors do.

Having an I-Phone and an I-Pad, as well as Sat. Nav. in the car, but then having a Sales force Automation Package decide who you speak to is NOT 21st century selling, its ROBOTIC. It is the Marketing Assistant's dream, no need for a Sales department!

Get up to speed in 2010; use the wisdom of the crowd.

Why CEO’s fear 21st Century Firms

I have worked with CEO's during job changes, even gone in with them during their first few weeks in the new job. They call the top Team together; go through the numbers, then look to make changes big or small.
Compare this to when I take over a new sales force it really is months before I am comfortable with changes. It takes 2 months to master the Product/Market, one more month to have a quarter years meaningful figures to act on. During that quarter, I expect to see improvement every month and on target by quarter end.
So, why is it the CEO can act quicker than the Sales Director can? It has to do with company design. Most Firms, 99% or more, are based upon Strategy, Structures and Systems developed before 1970. They have run in the same way for 40 years. How power is distributed, resources allocated, budgets set, compensation awarded and most importantly HOW DECISIONS ARE MADE. The patriarchs of Modern Management decided it all: Taylor, Fayol, Peters and Porter, Top down Management.

So, what changes in 21st. Century Firm? DECISION MAKING is distributed. The person or Team nearest the decision point solves the problem or takes the opportunity and makes the decision. Top Management moves from constraint to enabler, from power centre to power distribution. This is not Consultation, it is delegation of authority. Its fast, it is agile and to many CEO's, especially those who believe in Command and Control, it is scary!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Endorsed by a Competitor

We had both entered our Propositions to the Client.

There were three options:

  • in-house recruitment rated by my competitor as 0.3 effective or
  • The competitor self rated at 0.55 effective or
  • Me rated by my competitor as 0.7 effective.

Let us review the numbers, according to my Competitor

I got it right 7 times out of 10 when recruiting,
while, he got it right 5.5 times out of 10 and
and, in-house they got it wrong 7 times out of 10.

He did not win any friends in HR, but it was not their decision, so in-house was eliminated.

It was a cost/function between him and me.

His price $500, my price $5,000 ten times more expensive!

The Task was to assess sales people, 10 sales people.

"Using their own figures the competitor is going to get it wrong in at least one and possibly two cases." I said

"How much does it cost you, when you make a wrong sales recruitment decision?" I asked

"At least $24,000!" Said the CEO.

"Then, I will save you between $19,000 and $43,000. So, on that basis will you go ahead? I asked, with a smile.

I won the business and by way of this Blog, I thank my Competitor. Good Work!

Friday, 23 July 2010

Sales prevention or sales enablement

Are you struggling to find ways to improve your margins, increase revenue, master forecasting, and advance your professional development?

You would think this applied to Sales Managers, but its part of an advertisement aimed at CFO's. Now how were margins, revenue and Forecasting improved in finance? The only way finance used to be able to improve these was by 'playing' with the numbers.

A 21st century Firm must engage Sales/Marketing and Finance. Financial modelling the deal, payment terms and cash collection are all ways the Finance can support Sales Activity. Finance resources should be customer-facing, invoices, rebates, receipts and credit notes are all customer 'touches'. Every contact should be a sales opportunity and part of account management.

WE all want the same thing, success. Good Cash flow from cash management, real Profits from Margin management through cost control, get the CFO and his people working with Sales.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Master of Business Administration why MBA’s count

Before doing my MBA, I thought MBA's were 'integrated' accountants, who were working in Line Departments, Sales, Marketing, R&D or Production.
They always were good with numbers and they always had a four-quadrant slide in their presentations!

When I decided to do my MBA, thanks to a lot of support from my boss and lots of encouragement from my University Tutor, I still thought it was about numbers. You cannot do an MBA without Finance and Numbers, but an MBA is not about Finance or Numbers. MBA means you understand what the numbers mean. All MBAs can interpret the numbers, but a good MBA can change them!

The real learning during an MBA is how to interpret information and what and how to think. The MBA four-quadrant models are 'standard operating procedures' that let you communicate quickly and easily with non-MBAs. All those 2x2 models, porters five forces, creative thinking tricks and financial ratios are there to help explain what is happening and how you can change the future. The future is where it gets scary, that is why you need to have imagination, and imagination is now firmly part of the MBA curriculum.

I heartily recommend doing an MBA to all Sales Executives,
you will find more opportunities, you will be more helpful to your Clients and you will sell more too.

Sales forecasts, it’s a numb3rs game


Into second half of the year, how is 2H forecast looking?

How accurate was the first half year?

Just before the Summer Vacation is a good time to review 'Sales Forecasting'.
Whiz-bang software in place, got the latest apps?
Remote server based and cloud delivered?
Your Sales Executives disciplined to keep it all up to date.

How good is your forecasting?

Does it 'rain' where your predictions say?

Can you predict how much 'rain' and when?

The accuracy of a Sales Forecast to predict

Which Customer will order,

What product, and

When they will order it is, let us be honest, poor.

In fact, against the standards of - which, when and what,
Sales Forecasts are less than 10% accurate.

If it were the production forecast you would not know, which Customer,
would get their order or when they would get it, 90% of the time!

BMAC have audited nine sales forecasting 'systems' for which, when and what.
The results were slippage of date by at least a month 60%,
losses or discontinuations 20%, a total error of 80%.
The 20% wins were inaccurate in customer, product or forecast pricing.

Overall, you cannot run a business based on this.

If yours is better, it is because you exercise better judgement,
but good forecasting does not rely on 'Judgement'.

My friend and colleague (MH) has a higher degree in Pure Maths
(he calls it 'hard sums' and he is a bit like the character Charlie Eppes in the TV show Numb3rs).

He does not teach, but he is the CEO of Software Company. We worked together on Buyer Behaviour developing a mathematical analysis to predict and modify Buyer Behaviour and Buyer Decision Making.

When we did this something remarkable happened.
Forecasting accuracy improved.
The more we worked at predicting BUYER BEHAVIOUR and how to modify it,
the more accurate the Sales Forecast became!

First, we had to eliminate or greatly reduce BIAS.
Bias (the 'b' factor) in the formula, Bias held a weighting of four.

Bias comes in two forms

  1. Sales-executive 'Optimism', I hope to win this deal and
    I want to look good by having a BIG pipeline
  2. Sales-executive 'Pessimism', I do not want to forecast it until I have won the deal.
    We eliminated bias by having consequences for bias.
The BMAC "Numb3rs Forecasting Formula" has three more letters.
  • Factor 'a' is for ATTRACTIVENESS.
    How attractive is our offer, the price and proposition we offer the buyer?
    A high price or a weak proposition decreases your likelihood to win the deal!
  • Factor 'd' is for DESIREABILITY,
    how desirable is this Customer and this deal in the marketplace?
    i.e. How much Competition is it going to attract?
    And that leads us nicely on to the final letter
  • Factor 'c' is for COMPETITION.
    How many are present?  Which competitors?  How active?  How aggressive?
    The formula arrangement of a. b. c. and d. is
    Attractiveness, Bias, Competition and Desirability put together correctly in mathematical terms with their relationships and weightings a b c & d they really do predict and drive your results, accurately!

    Moreover, you will not need whiz-bang software.
At BMAC we consistently work with and test, Frameworks, Models and Logic.
Contact us for more information.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Cash is King

Cash really is central to every business, of every type.
The only reason that businesses go bust is that they run out of cash.
Even a 'profitable' business can go under if it runs out of cash, through over trading.
Strangely, a business making a loss can continue to trade as long as it has enough cash.

Therefore, your cash health, both now and in the future, determines your success.

You should ensure that invoices are issued quickly, and that cash is collected from your customers A.S.A.P.

Keep cash in your business for as long as possible without putting any strain on your key suppliers.
Stock and unbilled work in progress, ties up your cash keep them at the lowest level to run your business effectively.


'Cash flow implications of decisions'
make sure that everyone in the business is taking decisions based on 'Cash Management'.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Recruiting and Selecting Sales Managers

I am reposting this after reading todays Harvard business review:

defined front line Sales Management as the critical function to Revenue Performance. The Task of the Sales Manager is to Generate Revenue. They are some of the easiest people to measure in the whole firm. Total monthly revenue, quarterly revenue and Annual revenue are the key measures. Then we pyramid ratios and compare them to other Sales Managers, Revenue per sales head, and percentage of sales people hitting monthly, quarterly and annual sales targets, as well as Staff retention.

When all is said and done, every time I find a sales centre of excellence at its centre is an excellent Sales Manager. Sales Centres of Excellence exceed targets on a regular basis; they have more top performers than poor performers. They are the place where future Sales Managers are grown and it is the best place to have New Sales Hires start work.

This paragon of worth the 'ExSellent Sales Manager' does three things well:

Leader, Manager and Coach and ALL are MEASURABLE.

  • Management first; this is Performance Management, activity, pipeline, territory allocation and control, Customer satisfaction and most importantly Sales Discipline and Standards of Performance. Show me a Sales Manager without Standards of Performance and I will show you a failing Sales Manager.

  • Leadership, I use the great model developed by Ken Blanchard from the One-minute Manager series, Situational Leadership IIEasy to understand, behaviourally based, adaptable and MEASURABLE.
    The rules are simple: treat everybody DIFFERENTLY; treat the same Person differently for different tasks. Sales Leadership skills are measurable for both different styles Capability and Flexibility and finally the fit between need and style given.

  • Coach, have individual Personal Development Plans, show regular activities based on Sales Development, being coached themselves (Coaching the Coach) looking for opportunities to develop their team and themselves. The Skills and Activities of successful Sales Coaching are measureable.

I recruit against this job description.

Manager show me your methods and systems for Performance Management.”

“Give me examples of your Leadership styles.”

“Talk me through the Personal Development Plans for the individuals in your team.”

Finally; I verify all I gathered at interview with an Assessment Centre, composed of making a 30 minute sales call to sell their current product or service (to assess selling and presentation skills); then a 1 hour Problem Solving group exercise with other candidates 4-5, where I observe their Interactive Competence, Decision Making and Leadership Skills. The session concludes with a 30-minute feedback session, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and a Personal Development Plan for each Job Candidate.

This is a detailed what to do, but not a how to do it. BMAC Consulting has developed seven Key Performance indicators for Sales Managers, based on over 30 Constructs or measures, which are built from over 100 sub-constructs. In measuring several Hundred Sales Managers, our conclusions were Tenure is NOT a success indicator, Success in one people; product/market is NOT a success indicator in a different People, Product/Market situation.
Only Sales Managing, Leadership and Coaching behaviours gave a clear success indicator.

The most expensive mistake in Sales is Recruiting the wrong Sales Manager; it can devastate Sales in their team. If you would like to used a validated method, then please contact Brian MacIver

Friday, 16 July 2010

The 21st century snake oil peddler and other shameless hucksters

Do they now SELL Sales Training? It appears so.

Current Sales Training is made up almost entirely from products of unproven utility. Sales Training sold by unfounded claims supported by anecdotal evidence, and glowing references written by 'naive' buyers. The analysis of the purchase of sales training shows an uncanny similarity to the purchase of Copper bracelets for Rheumatic pain-relief. Alternatively, perhaps, the more sophisticated cousin the "magnet field generator" that improves sporting performance.

Many "trainees" or "delegates" become Disciples of the Sales Training 'methods' with an unshakable belief in the 'Goodness' and 'Effectiveness' of the training course they attended. This 'Halo Effect' can last for decades, through their career as Sales Executive into Sales Manager and even still as CEO, CSO or CMO.

Some will attribute that their life success has been derived from the training event and their faithful application of the techniques learned.
When BMAC Consultants tests their hypothesis, under scientific method, the results are startling:

  1. Their knowledge of the process taught is usually less than 40%; often lower than 20%, even if the original 'pass mark' was 80%.
  2. When tested for their ability to use the skills the level drops to 10%. This is unconscious/incompetent levels.
    (e.g. The H.R.G. - SPIN®FAB definitions and examples, or to apply the PSS - 8 Stage Objection Handling Model to a Price Objection,
    or give Clear Descriptions of, and the Decision Making Roles of, different 'Buyers' from Miller-Heiman)
  3. When observed for the actual use of the skill during a live Sales Visit, the real use of the skill drops to 3%.

This is 'Null Hypothesis' territory where it shares space with carrying a lucky rabbit's foot, putting on your right shoe first and not walking on top of the joint lines on the sidewalk!

The conclusion would be, as the fact is, that it is best when the skill is not used at all.

'Naive' buyers, 'Training' Managers in HR, or the CEO, the CSO and the CMO, usually buy Sales Training.

Wait a minute; are the CEO, CSO, CMO naive buyers? You can use the following naïveté test.

Ask them "What does A.B.C stands for." If they reply Always Be Closing, then ask them if that is their belief about sales people. If they reply that Sales Executives should always be closing then you have a naive buyer in front of you, time to get out the snake oil. If they also believe that their Client's Objections are 'buying signals', you can probably sell them the magnetic bracelets as well. Finally, if they ask you to integrate the "Skills" that you offer with their Sales Force Automation Software then you can also sell them I-Pads, I-Phone upgrades as well as a 4-year implementation, a maintenance contract and monthly newsletters with upgrades.

There is one thing that the Naive Buyer will not ask. "What is the evidence that the training changes behaviour and that the behaviour changes will increase sales or at least will speed the Buying Process". Further, the Naive Buyer will see no need to be committed to an internal skills coaching program. That is when snake oil sales can sell them their Coaching, Assessment, Certification and Accreditation Modules for YOUR sales training program.

To complete the up-sell, the ultimate offer is to Train-the-Trainers in your Company and collects licence fees every time you run the program yourself. This truly is revenue for actually doing nothing, and a completely new set of evangelist disciples! The cherry on the cake is when you finally persuade the naive Client to allow you, for an additional fat fee, to validate and evaluate the effectiveness of the program you sold them in the first place that takes true snake oil peddlers or shameless hucksters.


The snake oil peddler became a stock character in Western movies: a travelling "doctor" with dubious credentials, selling some medicine (such as snake oil) with boisterous marketing hype, often supported by pseudo-scientific evidence, typically bogus. To increase sales, an accomplice in the crowd (a shill) would often "attest" the value of the product in an effort to provoke buying enthusiasm. The "doctor" would prudently leave town before his customers realized that they had been cheated.
This practice is also called "grifting" and its practitioners are called "grifters".

BMAC Consultants have become expert, after 20 years of experience, in Training Needs Analysis, Independent Training Evaluation, and Training Design & Delivery. They have evaluated more than 40 different Sales Training Programs, which Large Corporate and SME organizations use currently.

Shamefully in the past BMAC Consultants have sold train-the-trainer and 'licensed' trainers, they now repent this by spotting Snake oil at 100 metres and then informing Clients FREE OF CHARGE. Contact Brian MacIver for a free 'Snake-oil' Detector Pack

What do IBM and Google have in common?

Are they are big?
Alternatively, are they successful?
Both are true, but they have some values in common which I think are keeping them big and successful.

They value their employees. IBM and Google do not do this to be nice, but to be successful. Wal-Mart is big and successful but they value their ability to 'deal' with suppliers. IBM and Google know that employees generate their success. Employees continue the momentum, the renewal, the growth of these two giants.

How do they do it?

Their 'secret' is around devolved decision-making. To achieve this you need to have clear values and understood goals, those make the backcloth upon which the employee embroiders. Most Firms have vague Mission Statements with mixed Goals and targets and hypocritical Values. Your values have to be real and coherent, not just for show.

If you say you are 'green', then act green and BE Green! Then, when employees decide, your true Green Value enables a green preference. If you are not green, then do not say you are, as you will get compromise decisions that do not work.

IBM and Google attempt to take decisions at the point nearest to the issue and then enable the solution, that is 21st century management and it works! No secret, it just works. Good people, empowered, good decisions delivered!

BMAC facilitate workshops to empower employees. Understanding corporate values and goals, then systematically Making Decisions based on these values and goals. This enables you to make better decisions about providers, outsourcers and carry out reorganisations successfully.