Strategy is About Choices – Make the Right Ones

Why is it that people can give more thought to a fishing expedition than they do their business?

If you want the best chance of catching fish you go where the fish are and you use the most appropriate bait. Good fishermen (and women) research this before wetting a line. Poor fishers don’t. It’s the same in business. If you want to catch clients you have to be prospecting where your ideal client ‘hangs out’ and have the right bait – what will your target customer value? How will you deliver ‘gain’ or help reduce ‘pain’? It all comes down to strategy.

Every successful business, large and small has a strategy. A strategy is a means of giving clarity, focus and direction to your business, and to your staff. Working to a strategy helps ensure that your time, resources and actions are not wasted and you achieve the best returns on your investments. Read more

A Sales Manager is a Team Captain

A Sales Manager has many roles, including Team Captain.

View Wayne’s latest appearance on Strategic Selling Group where he explains why the team captain role is vital and how it needs to be conducted. It is great advice for sales managers old and new.

Sales Managers are Master Communicators

It is not just the role of sales (and marketing) to deliver the message of the company to the market, but also to be the eyes and ears of the company. No one in the organisation is better placed to understand the markets perception of the business, the product or service offerings and the quality of service delivered pre-, during and post-sale than the sales team.

The sales manager’s role in this communication process is to communicate the company’s vision, strategy and objectives to the sales team in an appropriate manner so the team’s and individual salesperson’s efforts are focussed on achieving the expected results. The sales manager must use his knowledge of the company, it’s objectives, his team’s capabilities and the market to craft and communicate appropriate plans and actions to guide his teams performance.

Likewise, the sales manager needs to translate the feedback received from the market via his sales team into appropriate messages to the various areas of the business to ensure they are focussed on delivering the value the market is demanding. Operations, production, R&D, marketing and other areas of the business need to be focussed on what the customers value and the most appropriate people to deliver this message are the sales team.

But here’s the thing – when you ask: “Are you a good communicator?”, most people think about whether or not they have their say. Most answer ‘yes’. But communication is a a two-way street – it only happens when your message is received and understood, and you listened to receive and understand the other person’s message in return. Miscommunication happens more than many of us acknowledge and it is expensive. It can result in mistakes being made, lost time, goodwill and trust.
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Was I A Premature Challenger?

In today’s B2B sales environment, more informed, connected buyers are driving a very worthwhile change to a more professional and principled, smart and mutually valuable way of engaging in the buying and selling process. Through this we are seeing a continual evolution of sales methodologies that focus on what the customer sees as value.

But just how different are the latest trends in sales methodology to the foundations of the past? How different are they to the best practices of successful sales people who pioneered non-manipulative selling in years gone by?

A sales is not something you pursue, it’s what happens to you while you are immersed in serving the customer

One of the more recent ‘trends’ in selling is based on the book, The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. According to Amazon, the authors present a case to show… “classic relationship building is a losing approach, especially when it comes to selling complex, large-scale business-to-business solutions.” Further, we are told… “Instead of bludgeoning customers with endless facts and features about their company and products, Challengers approach customers with unique insights about how they can save or make money. They tailor their sales message to the customer’s specific needs and objectives. Rather than acquiescing to the customer’s every demand or objection, they are assertive, pushing back when necessary and taking control of the sale.” Read more

The best sales managers ‘DELEGATE’

There are sales managers who want to do everything themselves and spend more time selling than helping their team develop and deliver.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone, particularly if you’ve been promoted to the role of sales manager from the ranks of salespeople.

With so many hats to wear and ever-increasing pressure on a sales manager to deliver results, those that seek assistance from inside and outside their team enjoy the greatest success.

Delegation allows you to focus on the key outcomes of your sales team and can be a basic driver of business growth and success.

“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men (and women) to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it” Theodore Roosevelt

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Be a Sales Team Captain

As a sales manager you need to wear a lot of hats – you are a leader, a manager, a coach, a trainer, a translator of company messages and many other things. But one role I often see overlooked is that of team captain. I believe this is one of the most difficult areas of management in sales. The ability to be the captain of a team is not found books or courses but in skilfully relating to individuals – managing relationships and interactions ‘on the field’.

In sport the team captain must not be just a competent player, they need to inspire confidence, translate the game plan into action and make changes when necessary. The must make tactical decisions, communicate effectively and handle pressure. Read more

When You’re a Sales Manager, You’re a Leader

It’s not uncommon for good salespeople to be self-directed and accountable individuals, which makes them naturally effective at being the ‘leaders of their own lives’. Good sales professionals are highly results-driven and competitive. These natural traits tend to see them focus on their individual performance, often with little consideration for team results. The fact that the individual success of high-performing salespeople delivers the results required by the company makes them a valuable asset, but they are not necessarily working as part of a team to achieve these results – that was surely my experience when I was enjoying my greatest success in sales. As a sales manager your ability to lead these unique individuals, and achieve synergistic outcomes is what will define your success.

Management is about doing things right, and leadership is about doing the right things.

The above definition from management guru, Peter Drucker does provide an understanding of the difference between leadership and management, what it doesn’t do is highlight, that to be a successful sales manager, you need to do the right things, and you need to do them right – you are both leader and manager. Read more

Inform partnering with US consultancy

We are pleased to announce that Inform Consulting Group and COGNEGY (USA), have formed a strategic alliance that will allow Inform Consulting Group to assist Australian businesses that want to enter or strengthen their current position in the US market.

Inform Partner, Eric de Diesbach said of the agreement: “The US remains one of the greatest opportunities for Australian companies but entering a new, well established market is never easy. The relationship with such an experienced business development consultancy as Cognegy allows us to provide unique local support to business on both sides of the Pacific to assist with their positioning and export development.”

COGNEGY-color-taglineCognegy Executive Director, Phil Jafflin, said of the new relationship: “We are fortunate that we might refer such a trusted and highly skilled partner for the companies which desire to invest into the Australian Market. Indeed, the market is very attractive by many ways. It is politically & economically predictable and offers great opportunities to the niche players with a strong value proposition.”

COGNEGY is a privately held business development firm providing tailored services to grow mid-market companies faster and more profitably. COGNEGY is presently active in New York, Atlanta and Miami.

Typically COGNEGY is engaged by:

Established North American businesses who seek profitable growth or global expansion
Foreign businesses who want to enter the US market
Foreign businesses who want to improve their current performance in the US market

Contact us today for more information.

Sales Manager, Leader or Coach?

To be effective, a sales manager must be both a leader and an manager – doing the right things, and doing things right. But what happens when your staff are struggling to do things right. This is where sales managers become coaches.

Many may argue that not all sales people require coaching but as roles and circumstances change, what is needed to ‘do things right’ also changes and often even the best salespeople can falter. This is where the manager needs to adopt the role of coach. Think of the best athletes. I know of none who have achieved greatness without the support and guidance of a great coach. Even pro-golfers and tennis players at the peak of their careers will often look for specialist coaching to help with small flaws that have crept into their game and are negatively impacting their performance.

When your sales staff have the basic and essential skills but struggle to apply them in a changing environment, this is when your role as coach is needed. You help them develop and apply their skills both for their own benefit and that of the team – this is your skill.

“A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be”
Tom Landry Dallas Cowboys coach 1960 – 1988

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Measuring People Management Performance: “Who Cares?” and “Oh Sh*t!”

Just as it’s critical to business success to measure and analyse revenue and profit, investment performance, and monitor the costs of production or service delivery, so it is critical to measure the outcomes and processes associated with managing people. This applies regardless of the size of the business. After all, employment-related costs are the single greatest expense for many businesses (research suggests an average of 60-75% of business costs are employment-related). Read more