Wednesday, 28 December 2011

What is your Sales Story?

What does your business do?

What problem do you solve for your customers?

Why does your business exist?

Your Sales Story is a precise description of what your organisation does. It describes the business the company is in. It is a definition of why your company exists currently. Each member of your sales organisation should be
able to verbally express your sales story.

lt should include:
–     Some history
–     Your Unique Sales Proposition
–     Your Strategic Competitive Advantage
–     An explicit reason why a customer should buy from you

Every sales person needs a great sales story.

Imagine that a sales person was meeting a potential customer for the first time. Typically they have a minute or two to introduce their business – the sales story for your business.

It is our experience that companies don’t often get this right. We can visit sales teams and ask them for the story, and get different answers from each team member. When you see teams that have it right – a consistent story – it
has a lot of power.

The scary thing here is that many sales employees have no story.

We strongly believe that every business should have, and everyone should know, a very powerful sales story.


Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Sales Training and Banks. Why not?

While in Brisbane this week, I met with an old friend that leads up a division of a major bank.

“How’s business?” I asked.
“Tough,” he replied. “We're being asked to sell, sell, sell Mike,” he quipped. 
So I asked how that was going.
“Not well,” he replied. “Nobody knows how to do it and we’ve had no training!”

He has since approached corporate HQ in Sydney and been told ‘No budget’ for training in sales.

To use an AFL football analogy, it’s like asking the Brisbane Lions to run out, Round 1 in the 2012 season with absolutely no preparation, coaching or development. Chances of winning – Zero!

Why is it these large corporate goliaths from the relative safety of corporate HQ and their mechanical spreadsheets, still refuse to acknowledge that ‘skills’, like selling, are not innate in humans? Especially bankers!


Monday, 19 December 2011

My 7 Best Books of 2011

Here is my reading list for this year. These fine books inspired me, saddened me and changed my thinking. What will you do with them in 2012?


Thriving by Michael Grose - An insight into the world of the developing child.

Tribes by Seth Godin - Read this with my daughter in Hong Kong, wonderful book.

Coaching Sales People into Sales Champions by Keith Rosen - One of the few good sales coaching books around.

Broken Windows Broken Business by Michael Levine - My number one for the year.

Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande - This book will make you think before entering hospital again.

Only 2 Seats Left by John Anderson - The wonderful story by John Anderson founder of Contiki.

And my biggest tip for the year?

Sales Cats by me!

Have a great Christmas and wonderful New Year.

Sell well in 2012.


Thursday, 15 December 2011

When the Red, Red, Robin of Customer Service Stops Bop, Bop, Bopping Along!

I've just spent a day in Brisbane coaching a Sales Cat in the field. This company sells into retail so I spent a lot of time in Northern Brisbane shopping centres. About 20 days out from Christmas, I had mixed expectations of the day. Kids, mums with babies in Santa’s arms did come to mind!

But something far more sinister became blatantly clear as the day rolled on. If retail selling and customer service continues down this path a much larger online Armageddon will result. 

Shop after shop, stocked to the ceiling, poorly laid out and lacking any good or helpful displays. Grumpy, dismissive staff, too busy to serve let alone notice you've entered their store. 

“Sale”, “Discount”, and “Reduced” signs of panic and desperation are everywhere, accompanied by the wails of “the internet and economic environment is to blame”… Bullshit!

Sure these factors are having an effect but they are not to blame. Not recognising the one clear sustainable competitive advantage of the bricks and mortar retail store – customer service – is crippling them more so.

In one day I observed many young, untrained staff doing ‘their job’. That’s right, their jobs! Stacking shelves, collecting orders, panicking and being busy. Rarely did I see anyone openly ‘engage’ customers to persuade, develop and encourage emotional or at least inspirational purchasing. 

Modern retailing requires them to do more than just their jobs. They have to ask questions, care, and be present in the moment. Be cheerful, energetic and most of all proud and enthusiastic about the brand’s store. Just give a !@#% would be a start!

While sitting at The Coffee Club I decided to prove a theory to my trainee. Across from us was a store named Robins Kitchen. 

“Let’s see what happens if I walk into that store shall we,” I said, and to his enjoyment, did!

I walked in, walked around and passed the counter twice!
Past four staff with no response!
I did another loop with still nothing!
I walked out and towards my now gasping with shock observer.
Robins Kitchen with its impressive store layout, cool products and Red Robin brand was not bopping along. It is heading for a very cold winter.

The point of my test.
If all you do is stack ‘stuff’ on shelves in one of Westfield’s halls and offer no service without any element of customer orientation or care the internet will win every time, without fail!

If all customers need to do is buy then the shoppers in us will stay home and purchase online. Shoppers want help, care, smiles, product knowledge, and guidance, to be engaged by well-trained and happy people. I hope Robins Kitchen reads this and adapts first!


Thursday, 17 November 2011

Does sales and customer service training increase performance?

There is building evidence world wide that traditional sales and customer service training is either failing completely or rendering sales teams less effective than before the training was conducted.

From extensive observation and experience, it is our belief that traditional “off the shelf” training delivered in the classroom, while valuable, has little long-term effect on behaviour change or sustainable productivity improvement. While there are many reasons why it may fail, we believe there are four main arguments as to why.
  1. Low level of ownership in the organisation to a common goal and vision or philosophical approach to strategic selling.
  2. Poorly prepared content not directly related to the sales or customer environment
  3. Poor design and delivery models
  4. Low levels of ownership in the ongoing refining loop so real learning is hardly ever retained.

A group of high performing people chasing a confused or miss-communicated vision is fraught with danger. Training executed with no real attachment to the critical success factors of the business will not drive profit and growth.

There is a common belief in Australia that “one-size-fits-all” when it comes to sales training content. There is ample evidence however, that this is not the case. Every organization has complex variations in their sales methodology and processes which relate directly to success or otherwise.

There is no doubt that the design and delivery of sales and customer service training has significant effects on sustainable results being achieved. Most lecture style training does not allow for the retention of complex models nor does it allow for practice in real situations with real customers. It is proven that there is a learning retention of around 70% when training is delivered in an experiential style combined with in-field coaching. Where as there is a less than 15% retention with one, two or three day lecture style training. 

Unfortunately many training programs are not developed with individual organizations in mind and offer little resemblance to the sales persons customer environment, resulting in poor sales behaviour and therefore reduced performance.

For real behavioural change, trainees must frame, learn and experience in training rooms, try new models in the field and then have a solid mechanism to refine the experience after the event. 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

War Room Sales

Sometimes sales teams need to consider a specific sales strategy and focus for key customers, especially if they make up a considerable percentage of your organisations business. Just lately I have been working with a customer where we have a war room for selling. Here are the tips, tricks and traps for war room selling.

In my mind, war rooms look like Winston Churchill's WWII Cabinet War Rooms, model ships laid out, tanks and soldiers to bring focus and plan implementation. Always in a bunker with a large map and table in the middle. For sales the concept holds true. 

In a challenging sales environment, assemble your key sales people, set aside a space and start to build a visual, focused and structured sales offensive.

The space – A room with plenty of bare walls, whiteboards and flip charts. A research computer with internet access, basic tables and chairs and lots of paper and pens. Less is more. More of what matters counts.

The sales vision – Write it down and stick it up on the wall. Include key strategies for sales success and the purpose and prime objectives of the space. Start with the end in mind.

The process – Once you have the vision, map your 80/20. Who or what are the 20% that give you 80% return? Who are the key clients that you need to develop - switching cost, relationships of sales intimacy and extension into wallet share. Mind map each customer on their current state, covering every detail you know about them, then everything you need to know.

Innovate – When all the mind maps are done, begin to consider your plan of attack. Don't go straight into action! Consider first the opportunity in each client. Agree that there is, or is not, an opportunity to grow. Then map ideas. Go wild! Seth Godin 'Purple Cow' style and then action.

Action and implementation – Now use the old one page plan method to action up each client attack plan. See the video on our YouTube channel or contact us for instructions.

People – This is a great opportunity to select a strong team to mange the process. Choose your best soldiers then run a specific 8-week cycle where you meet regularly, set targets then review and refine. Celebrate your steps to success. It can be fun, a great learning environment and who knows, may just increase sales.

Remember, the key for selling to big zebras is winning the wars not the battles!


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Selling in a downward economy

"Train my sales people – fast!". As the world goes once again into a giddy spin, I'm hearing this time and time again. Let's take a look at the mechanics and dynamics of sales effectiveness, and why sales performance may not be improving?

Sales training has been around for a long time, see John Patterson's NCR Primer from 1887, and every year we see old ideas tossed aside to make way for the new.

It is reported that in 2008, US corporations spent around $6 billion on sales performance improvement, yet sales productivity (pre-recession) was down.

On Amazon there are 40,000+ "how to sell" books and 12,000+ on "sales techniques". Social media and blogs are teeming with daily offerings, free webinars, articles, ebooks, videos, everyone is searching for help to improve sales capabilities.

There are numerous surveys, reports, magazines and firms, including ourselves, circling around sales and marketing ineffectiveness. Add to this Sales 2.0, apps, Facebook, Squidoo, LinkedIn and copious other associations and groups.

People are looking for help. So what Boiler, you may ask?

To us, and many others in the field of sales training, the core issues of sales ineffectiveness are clear. There's plenty of sound advice and answers for anyone that cares to look. There's a proven process, that when properly applied, works.

Regardless whether organisations are large or small, some act and find success while others do nothing and never change.

So, GFC, interest rates, retail slumps aside, why is sales as a profession and function, going backwards?

Dynamics, I think.

It's the attitude of sales people, sales leaders and directors to the function of selling. The loss of passion, attitude and drive to be outstanding sales professionals. Business people who sell.

Rarely mentioned, dynamics are deemed soft and very hard to measure, so often considered not important. Yet in every role, in every business, the whole person comes to work and must be engaged fully – both mechanics and dynamics.

Are your sales team committed to the art and profession of selling? Do they have the energy to be Sales Cats or just mechanical reps, "order takers?" Do you lead, coach and or manage the whole person?

Challenge this idea and let us know the results.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Farewell Steve Jobs

Banjar Group would like to acknowledge the passing of Steve Jobs and recognise the innovative brilliance of the Apple co-founder. 

In our work we often reference the address that Steve Jobs made to the Stanford Graduates on June 12, 2005. In this talk he pointed out the importance of “connecting the dots.”

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, and karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

If it wasn’t for Steve dropping out of College he may have never taken a calligraphy class that showed him how to make type beautiful. This opportunity resulted in the creative simplicity of Mac’s, not to mention the beautiful typography, multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts!

Steve often commented that being fired from Apple was the best thing that ever could have happened to him. It freed him to enter one of the most creative periods in his life. The result of this creativity was Pixar.

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

In closing, Steve made mention of a publication, The Whole Earth Catalog. A bible for his generation it was full of ideas, tools and notions. In the days before personal computers it was lovingly hand-made.

“On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it was the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.”

Our wish for all is to find what you love and do your best at it. Never stop looking for what is right and what makes you happy or makes a difference. 

Vale Steve Jobs.

You can read the full Commencement address here.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Is the internet really to blame for loosing a 60 year old competitive advantage?

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a Sales Cats keynote at the Albury Northside Chamber of Commerce. A wonderful group of business owners joined me and we spent a morning tossing around ideas of how to sell in tough times. There was however a sad start to the day.

The night before on local Prime News, I noticed the story of Matthews Cycles in Albury closing after sixty years of trading due to the 'internet'. I was sad because this was not due to the internet.

This business had tradition, clients, reputation for incredible service and most importantly it had a sixty year old brand. Unfortunately this 'brand' was painted on the outside of the business sixty years ago but had not been repainted/repurposed for the modern consumer. As this bulletin was read I jumped online and typed Matthews Cycles into my search engine. And guess what?! Nothing! No website. Plenty of secondary links that lead me to browse and buy elsewhere.

While there is no doubt that service, and exceptional service at that, is critical to sales success today, the melding of web, social and online technology to your brand is critical. This wonderful icon of cycling in Albury should never have been lost. It should have been leveraged with innovation, tribe thinking, sixty years of selling data and branding that uses the internet as a new source of business not as a barrier.

Look at this current study to understand the importance of blending a modern brand and the internet to build success. 

Should Matthews Cycles have had a Facebook page?

This demonstrates that businesses can of course blame the internet for their downfall but at some stage they will have to take responsibility for shifting to new and innovative ways of selling to customers.

The buggy whip maker made that shift when he discovered that driving gloves may be required for that dirty, smoking, noisy machine called the automobile as it rolled into to town.


Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Why is customer service so hard in Australia?

I've just spent four wonderful days celebrating a friends birthday which has given me an interesting perspective on what's possible in customer service given the right attitude. What started out as fun, gave an interesting perspective.

Being Mr Normie's 50th birthday, three couples decided to go to Hong Kong and spend a long weekend celebrating. We flew via Singapore, on Singapore Airlines, and experienced the marvels of large international airports. Despite serving millions of people, everyone wore a smile, all flights were on time, everything ran like clockwork and it was spotlessly clean. To add some fun, and to create lasting memories for Mr Normie, I asked every service person we encountered on our trip the same question:

"It's Mr Normie's birthday. Could you please help us celebrate by making a birthday wish?"

Upon arrival at the outstanding Langham Hotel in Kowloon, we were greeted personally and given free Moët and cucumber sandwiches with a "Happy birthday Mr Normie smile" for three days!

Normie's cake at Azuro Restaurant.
We dined at the beautiful Azuro Restaurant where, with one simple request, the entire wait staff joined the celebration. They served a specially prepared dessert complete with dry ice to add to the theatre. All this with a "No problems for Mr Normie attitude."

Even at a bar where the band was interrupted mid song, we got a "Put your hands up, put your hands up for Mr Normie”. Two hundred people screaming "Happy birthday Mr Normie!"

Then on our way home with Singapore Airlines, following a whisper in the ear of a Singapore Girl, Mr Normie was sincerely presented with a handmade birthday card signed by all the cabin staff, a small cake, dry ice again and a glass of champagne. All in economy class!

The best though was yet to come. My mate Norm rang the Langham Kowloon last night to thank the CEO of the hotel for their incredible service and staff. He left a message of thanks with reception.

One hour ago the CEO rang Australia to wish Mr Normie a happy birthday.

Did he have to? No of course not, but he did because he cares.

The Singapore Girls did because they wanted to.

The restaurant staff did because they love their jobs and are grateful for one.

The Langham staff did because the standards they set themselves are high, and it works. We will go back.

Sadly, our taxi driver coming home to Essendon from Tullamarine airport would not wish Mr Normie happy birthday because I did not ask. He was too pissed off about the small $37 fare for me to even mention it!

It's not hard people. Happy birthday Mr Normie.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The kids got talent

Check out this brilliant video created by Ogilvy as part of a campaign to find the World's Greatest Salesperson.

Maybe it's time, ladies and gents, to start paying closer attention to the creative wisdom of the younger generation. A loud applause please for having a detailed plan – backed up with 'the stats', keeping the issue simple and to-the-point, being pro-active and using enormous creativity to land the deal.

Do you see the possibilities in that?


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A magic wand to create sales?

Why not?

I was working with a customer a couple of days ago and at the end of our coaching session he mentioned he had an appointment with a new open prospect which they hoped to sign. "Great" I said. "What's the plan?"

The owner commented he'd get them in, have a chat, discuss rates etc. etc.

I said "Why?" "Why what?" he replied. "Why discuss rates?" He said, “Because that's how everyone does it in our industry.”

"Silly me" I said! "Try this and see how you go."

I asked my client to bring in the new customer, thank them for taking the time to come in, and then go to the flip chart. Draw a magic wand in the middle and explain to the customer that that this is a magic wand where anything is possible! Then ask a beautiful question of the soon to be customer. "If you had a magic wand and could build the perfect relationship between a customer and a business like us what would it look like?"

Then I told him to sit down and be quiet. Let the customer map his own proposal. All you need to do is ask for clarity as he goes. Then, when finished, stand up and circle all the things that you do now as a given. Then anything that is a little left field ask him to explain further.

Wham bam thankyou Mam, you have a proposal already done and designed by the customer for the customer! Remember the human brain works in pictures first, words etc. second, so allow your customers to design the perfect proposal, then sign it off.

This client of mine rang me Monday to celebrate "Boiler you are a genius!" he yelled. "Why" I asked?

"We did what you said and the prospect has now signed and for above market rates – all signed on a flip chart!" He could not believe it was possible to sell that way.

Guess what – it is.


Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Get some real action into your sales pipeline.

As you know, sales leads can grow cold quickly. Every lead and opportunity is like a ticking bomb. If your recon says that somebody is shifting, looking to buy, you have to move within a few hours, not days. If you get a web lead that looks promising, you want to call that lead within minutes, not hours. Research shows that the odds of calling to qualify an online lead decreases by more than 6 times in the first hour.

As you convert sales-ready leads in your sales pipeline into opportunities, ask yourself:

Is there a great fit for your product or solution?

Is your prospect actively looking for a solution?

What is the prospect's timetable for finding the best solution?

What are the competing solutions?

What does the company have to lose if it did nothing about the problem?

What is the company's process for making a decision?

What are the company's preferred steps involved in a purchase?

Is there a budget?

What is the full potential of this opportunity?

Do I have access to all the decision makers, and how many of them can I convince?

How long will it take until the sale is converted?

What are the potential obstacles that stand in the way of the sale?

What are the realistic chances of closing this sale? (25 percent, 50 percent, 75 percent)

These questions will help you prioritize the opportunities in your sales funnel, and they will help you develop a realistic sales forecast every month.

Action 1: create a list of your most important and most urgent opportunities, and refresh this list daily by checking it against the questions.

Action 2: check again and if the prospect does not fit find more prospects to open.

Good luck.


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Sales Recruitment - How do we get the best sales people?

Over the last couple of weeks I have been listening to the Banjar tribe and getting feedback on the apparent lack of good sales people and the terrible job recruitment agencies are doing in finding them.

That got me thinking:

Where are the next generation of sales recruits who will become our sales stars?

How do we find them?

Can you test for them at a early stage?

Do recruitment agencies really know how to find the best sales person?

Clearly, in this post GFC world where the order taker is filling the glass cabinet next to the dodo, we need a different approach to recruitment for sales jobs. In our minds, here at Banjar Group, sales recruitment is one of the top three competencies of a good sales manager. You must get this right.

So what to do? Our top tips:

Make sure you are crystal clear about the type of sales person you want and need. Do a cyborg behavior map* to eliminate any guesswork.

Define the characteristics well so that no one in the company is in doubt. Always be looking for the sales cat. They can surface in the most unlikely places.

Design brilliant questions for interviews that reflect sales outcomes for your business. Some examples may be; "Can you describe a time when you had to create a list of new prospects for a certain product," or "Can you describe your current sales process please."

Audition. Yes you heard me. The theatre, Australia's Got Talent, movie producers, all audition to find the best from a short list of hopefuls. Develop a scenario based on your sales environment and give the candidates a room, pens, laptop etc. and ask them to prepare a basic sales strategy and plan of attack to sell X product. Give them 20 minutes to prepare and then have them present back to you. Then go through Q & A. You will very quickly see their sales skills.

Stop accepting recruitment agency data base lists of bad and worn-out order takers. Look far and wide because true sales cats live and work in all sorts of places. They maybe serving at the club, behind the local bar or on the counter at Myer.

Be sure of what you want and go start looking.


* Cyborg behavior map – if you have not done this with us please contact me and I will advise how it works

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

What sales problem did you solve today?

I found this in Selling Power and thought, "Yes that really makes sense."

An extract from the wonderful work of Dr Norman Vincent Peale - author of The Power of Positive Thinking.

Problems Are Opportunities in Disguise

Dr. Peale suggested that salespeople can be more successful in dealing with problems: "A problem is a concentrated opportunity. The only people that I ever have known to have no problems are in the cemetery. The more problems you have, the more alive you are. Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. I often say, when the Lord wants to give you the greatest value in this world, He doesn't wrap it into a sophisticated package and hand it to you on a silver platter. He is too subtle, too adroit, for that. He takes this big value and buries it at the heart of a big, tough problem. How He must watch you with delight when you've got what it takes to break that problem apart and find at its heart what the Bible calls 'the pearl of great price.' Everybody I've ever known who succeeded in a big way in life has done so by breaking problems apart and finding the value that was there."

So what sales problem did you solve today?

Do your sales techniques and questioning style have a problem solving inclination?

Think about the great sales calls you have had. Was there a problem solving inclination? Success does leave clues.

Be positive and solve one problem for one customer tomorrow. They may just love it, and you.


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

What is it that all good sales people have?

In our sales lab we know that high performance sales comes from training and developing good sales people through four specific stages.
  1. Build a sales process
  2. Conduct activity around that process
  3. Develop 'swagger' from the wins and losses of your activity
  4. Create sales effectiveness and efficiency through refinement.
That's how to be a good salesperson, develop a high performing sales team, start a restaurant or grow a business.

In our minds, we see the 'swagger' as being the key enabler of a good sales person. Although the word swagger can often convey arrogance or an overly assertive manner when it comes to sales people, we keep coming back to it. For the record, swagger means: 'to walk with a swaying motion; hence, to walk and act in a pompous, consequential manner'.

Call it whatever you like, but there's no doubt certain qualities make a good sales person stand out from the crowd. The characteristics of a good sales person, are hard to describe and unquestionably rare.

Good sales people, with exceptional talent, usually have a sense of calm urgency, a coolness matched with persuasion, confidence with empathy and directness with rapport. All behaviours that would seem at odds in the dictionary but perfectly describe what we call 'swagger' or 'sales essence'.

If you have a better word to describe these sales cats, please let us know.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

What customers?

I read with interest in the latest BRW Magazine the ever growing pain in retail due to the 'sudden' rise of the internet. Sudden?

I also watch with interest as retailers continue to stick to old ways of doing business, become highly irritable, like it's our fault, and resort to being extremely annoyed with the world.

It is clear that if you 'wait' for the economy to pick up, the implications of a carbon tax or the internet to change, then you will disappear as quick as change happens. You must get on the front foot now!

Look at this great example Traditional theatre is attractive to a narrow band of audience who can afford it or love it. Dress up at home, go out, glass of champagne and black tie etc. In Scotland, to attract a broader audience, an amazing concept has been developed where five minute theatre is conducted in the cities over a 24 hour period to contact a wider audience. Lots of critics " It will never work" and lots of people blocking. Guess what – a roaring success and highly acclaimed by the critics, well done.

What did it take? Creativity, energy and resilience just like the Sales Cat.

Tips, traps and trips.

If you are going to survive in modern retailing you need to engage and build value based relationships now. Who are your tribe and what do they get from the retail experience with you? Do you have data on your customers? Do you know where they live what they like? Get to know them and what they need in life to be better. Like all relationships spend time getting to know them. Start a blog with them.

Smile and greet! Yes I know a basic but how often do you get an angry, don't bother me I'm busy response? Every week for the past 12 months I go with friends to a conveniently located coffee shop. They still don't know our names, we don't know theirs even though we sit in the same place every week and order the the same thing. Will they notice when we go for a better relationship or better coffee? Who would they call if we did?

Please get to know your customers and their specific stories fast before the internet gets to know them better than you and takes their business away.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Talent + Practice + Opportunity = Success

Last week I went to the grudge match between old rivals Essendon Grammar School, coached by the great Ken Fletcher, and Assumption College, the Kilmore based private school coached by the legend Ray Carroll (41 years coaching juniors).

At the lunch I heard two wonderful stories:

Firstly, the injured Essendon Football Club midfielder Jason Wunderlich described his amazing journey from Thorpedale to the EFC. In his early years he loved footy, just loved it. He would play under 16's, under 18's and seniors all in one day! In one year he played an amazing 57 games of senior footy. So his talent is footy. His practice was many thousands of hours of practice, training and playing this unique game. His opportunity came playing AFL, of which very few juniors make it to the top. His success, yet to come but who knows?

The second example of this equation working was then hearing Aaron Sayers tell his story ( He has been drafted as a 17 year old to the big league in the USA. Here is the equation again. Dad takes him to baseball game and he falls in love, connects to his talent. Practices seven days a week while his mates are getting boozed. Opportunity came through being seen by a talent scout who then signed him up. Success will come having now met this bright young man, wow what a star.

Interestingly when I approached these two young guys and discussed the theory they agreed, however Jason posed a great question. "What about Damien Prevrill?" The 144 game tagger for EFC had no talent he quipped! However, he went on to comment, in the absence of that, the guy did double the amount of practice, much more than any other player according to Jason. Clearly what he lacked in talent he made up in practice but he did have a starting passion.

So what does this all mean for sales people and sales leaders?

If you have the talent or deep passion for the game of sales and you are prepared to work hard at getting better at your skills then opportunity and success should follow. Recognise your skills and your gaps and never stop learning. Only the best get to the top by relentless practice and learning however, what clearly kicks off their journey is the discovery of their raw talent or passion.

Do you know any other Talent + Practice + Opportunity = Success stories?

Let us know.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


What is a pipeline?

Something to pump stuff through? To put under roads? To send oil off shore?

In those settings, who knows, and who cares. But when talking about a sales pipeline there's a lot I can share. I've noticed with some recent engagements over the past couple of weeks, there seems to be a little confusion on what exactly a sales pipeline is. Well here is Boiler's definition:

A Sales Funnel Report presents a 'snapshot' of your sales function at any given point in time. For conceptual purposes, the sales process is often compared to a funnel, where new leads coming into the system (i.e. prospects) are placed into the top of the funnel - the widest part. Then, they are worked through the funnel by informing, persuading, overcoming objections, providing information, demonstrating, providing free samples, etc., etc. until, at the narrow part of the funnel, an order is placed, and a sales is closed, when payment from the customer is received.

The funnel framework works fairly well because for all new leads that are generated by our marketing efforts, there is a closing rate that represents the sales that ultimately result. The number of resulting sales is usually significantly less than the number of total leads generated. Therefore, it is useful to think that as leads work their way further down the funnel, there will be less and less of them coming out the of narrow end as sales.

One important thing to note is that organizations define each phase in the sales process (or part of the funnel) differently based on their authentic sales process. It is also interesting to note that the pre-defined ‘sales steps’ in an off-the-shelf whiz-bang CRM system don't allow for this kind of customization. Working through the funnel each step should have clearly defined criteria so there is specific knowledge about all leads at every particular stage (questions and rules need to be developed for each step). In other words, leads become more and more qualified as they work their way through the funnel, and you should be able to articulate exactly what's required at each specific level of qualification.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that the funnel is a great way to track and forecast sales (hear that leaders, a real forecast, wouldn't that be nice?), as well as, gauge marketing activities. We at Banjar believe there is one step that should be in all funnels and that is the stage of OPEN prospect. When does someone move from being just a prospect to being an open prospect? Open to a sales process with us that is real. When are they open to this really?

By running a Sales Funnel Report, the sales manager can see how many leads are at each step, if there are any 'bottlenecks', or if there are an insufficient number of leads at any stage. It allows the sales manager to check the sales effectiveness of the team. Armed with that knowledge, the sales manager may instruct his or her sales force where to focus more attention to keep sales at the desired level (that’s called coaching). He or she can then also work closely with the marketing manager to ensure they are generating enough leads to hit sales goals, whether the leads are of high enough quality, or what further needs to be done to hit sales goals.

If you do not have an active sales pipeline that reflects your actual sales process ask yourself why? Too accountable for sales? You don't know how to do it? My favourite, "We are still putting in a CRM system".

Would you drive your car with no dashboard? So don't drive your sales the same way, blind!