Sunday, April 24, 2016

What's Your Average Sales Cycle?

What’s your average Sales Cycle?

90 Days?  120 days? 180 Days?  Longer?  Really depends on your industry.   In the telecommunications arena where I have spent my career, the transition to internet based voice and cloud based data has pushed us towards the 180 day mark.

Accepting the fact that the sales cycle is this long is your first step to making the timeframe work for you.  Once you have resigned yourself that the customer’s new service will take 6 months to get installed, the next question becomes “How do I get paid for my efforts?”  Six months is a long time without a paycheck.

We all know the sales manager pitch “Keep your funnel full and deals will close each month.  Anything less is not enough activity”.  I guess that’s partially true but in some sections of the telecom industry, there is far too much background work required for a sales professional to keep up the level of activity to have a large deal close every month.

Working in the Channel, my focus has been on agent sales for the last 25 years.  An agent often sells many products, offered by many different suppliers.  Managing all the different offerings, timelines, quoting processes, order paperwork, etc. can be daunting.

Independent sales agents work hard, leveraging personal relationships, business relationships, referrals, past job connections, industry peers, and other various prospecting techniques to find a new customer.   Add in the face to face meeting with the prospect, the info gathering effort, design work across multiple suppliers, presentations, decision making time, contract review, provisioning, installation, cutover, and customer training, time is at a premium for the agents prospecting efforts.  I know very few agents who can manage all of these needs well enough to close a large deal every month to sustain their income.

So how do the successful agents keep consistent revenue growth coming into their agency?  The #1 technique involves shortening the sales cycle and getting commissionable products on board immediately.

I have developed a highly successful technique to provide a “Roadmap to New Technologies” and give the independent agent an opportunity to have commissionable services installed within 14 days, and commissions in the bank within 30 days. 

Using my company’s network services, we provide our agents the opportunity to turn a prospect into a revenue producing customer without interfering in the long term solution.  In fact, we make the transition easier, providing a clean, electronic inventory on all current services, in one concise invoice, available on a state of the art web portal.  All with $0 cost to convert, and no term or volume commitment to sign.  When your new solution is ready to cut over, simply send me an email and let me know which services to disconnect.

One of the key advantages we can give you is building credibility with your new customer.  Rarely are you the only bidder on a project, but using my services allow you the opportunity to show a client what your agency is able to deliver, while others are talking solutions that won’t be installed for 6 months.  You’ve cleaned up their inventory, consolidated their billing, and typically saved them some money while doing so.  All without requiring a contract!  My solution is delivered on a month to month basis.  Best guess is you’ll be the only sales professional in the bidding with this advantage in your sales kit.  And we'll pay you for it!

This approach has allowed my agents to gain a 30% growth in commissions from my company over the last 12 months and it shows no sign of slowing down.

I‘m happy to share more information on how you can take advantage of this technique and see more commissions flowing into your bank account within 30 days.

Drop me a note at or on Twitter at “@DaveHanron”

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Product or Technique? The "Roadmap to Success"

In the world of Channel sales, just about every independent sales Agent operates with multiple products in their sales kit.  Regardless of your industry, the product set will typically range from entry level services to the most cutting edge technology available, paired with everything in between.

So how does the Channel Sales executive convince the Agent to sell their product over someone else's?

A lot of factors can play a role in this decision.  Let’s examine a few…

1.       Residual Income – just as in direct sales, the amount of commission to be made in the comp. plan will drive what the Agent sells on a regular basis.  If the Agent makes 20% residual on Widget A and 7% on Widget B, he/she is going to sell Widget A whenever possible.  Simple 

2.       Support – Support from the Channel team also plays a critical role in the Agent’s decision on who’s product  to sell on a regular basis.  If the sales support on Widget A is better than that received on Widget B, easy decision.  It becomes complicated when Widget B provides exceptional support while the sales team support on Widget A is less reliable or even non-existent. The extra sales support makes Widget B easier to sell, and becomes a viable option as you should close more sales with Widget B, offsetting the lower residiual number vs. Widget A.

3.       Customer first – We hope every Agent sells with the best interest of their customers in mind but we know that is not necessarily the case.  Many times the products are driven by Factor #1 (residual Income) rather than customer needs.  It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality.

4.       Training – the amount of training provided by a Channel team can be critical in persuading an Agent to choose one supplier over another.  If you take the time to visit your agents, train them on the latest product offering your company has, and arm them with customer success stories and references, it helps build confidence in your business model and will drive more opportunities your way.

So with all these factors plus many more in play, is it best to confront the factors head-on or try another proven method to drive business?

IMO, accepting the fact that your Agents are going to sell other companies’ (even your competition) products is the first step to being successful in the Channel.  Trying to convince them to do otherwise simply doesn't work.  Once you understand the model, how you adapt your business model to the competition is critical.  

I have found developing a “Road map to Success” by using your product and illustrating how the Agent can add your product line to every potential sales opportunity they come across is the quickest and easiest way to grow business with your Agents.  By developing and training your Agents on a technique to put your offering in front of every prospect, you will see more interaction and more sales revenues.  The key is to differentiate your product by highlighting your advantages over your competition and illustrating why only your product will fit the “Roadmap to Success”, close sales quickly, and make more money.

To learn more about my “Road map to Success” and how I have successfully driven more business by integrating a “Road map” approach, drop me a note at  Happy to share my thoughts. 

Have a great “Road map” in place already? I'd enjoy sharing your comments with my readers

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Phone calls? Emails? On site visits?

A lot has been said about sales prospecting techniques over the years and what works and doesn’t work…..

Sales Cold Call?
Having worked in sales for more than 25 years, both in front line sales and executive roles, I have my own personal opinions on what works best and what is really a waste of time.   But I’m not here to give my two cents worth, because I’m a strong advocate that everyone’s sales technique will be different.  And you should do what brings success to YOU, not what someone who says they are an expert in sales is telling you to do.  I liken it to a baseball player…..some players can hit a fastball better than a curve, and other players are vice versa.  But both players can end up being Hall of Famers.

What doesn’t change is what’s important…having a meaningful conversation with a decision maker.  So how do we accomplish that?

Do you prefer email?
There a 3 main goals to accomplish when prospecting a new client. 

  •      Be Brief – no one likes to read a long email or listen to a long drawn out message 
  •      Do your homework – have some direct knowledge of the business or person you are reaching out    to….it shows you’ve taken the time to do research
  •      Bring Value – it’s wonderful you have a great product, but that doesn’t mean someone is going to buy it. Turn it around to show how you bring value or cash flow to your prospect

“Sales” is a profession and it takes a professional to succeed at it.  Sales rarely come on the first contact with any prospect, and often don’t close until the 5th, 6th, or even 10th contact with the customer.  Bottom line is you have to be creative and find ways to stay engaged with your prospect even when you don’t have a meeting or call scheduled.   It is here where the “Email, phone call, & site visit” come into play.  All great ways to stay in front of the customer.  Another easy, yet often overlooked method is social media.   

Here's a tip that works great for me.....Many companies maintain blogs today and even if your prospect isn’t the writer of his company blog, you can be sure they follow it and would see a comment on it if you were to make one.  I have personally had great success with this method over the years.

Don’t overlook Linkedin.  Send an invite to your prospect after a couple contacts; I wouldn’t recommend sending it too early in the process.  Too presumptive for me….

ALWAYS Follow Up!
 Don’t give up!  ......Often it takes me 2 or even 3 cycles of 6 to 7 unanswered contacts to finally get in front of a prospect.  If they don’t answer you in your first go around, push a follow up out 4 months and try another cycle of contacts.  If that doesn’t work, push it out another 6 months and try again.  Using a CRM tool will help you keep your schedule on track.  Salesforce, Outlook, ACT!, and any one of a number of more systems will do a nice job.

Remember my earlier baseball reference?…..My favorite quote that I post in my office to remind me to follow up, follow up, and then follow up some more:

 “ It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up”  -- Babe Ruth

Let me know how you run your sales business?  I try to learn a new technique every day….you should too