ClientSpark Newsletter

Volume 1, Issue 1
March, 2010

Welcome to ClientSpark – a recurring digest capturing the latest and greatest in sales productivity strategies. Our mission: To provide sales leadership with a fast-paced mix of articles and success stories, so they can quickly explore performance development solutions for their sales teams.

This month’s feature story, 4 Pillars to Boost Sales Performance in 2010, focuses on the key components for a winning sales performance development plan. We’re sure you’ll come away with an idea or two to work into your own 2010 plan.

Wishing you a 2010 filled with new business opportunities – and signed contracts!

Patrick DiLullo
The Brainpound LLC

Liz Godine
Godine Design

Donna Kastner
Enlighten 123

F E A T U R E   S T O R Y

Sales Sparks on the Web

4 Pillars to Boost Sales Performance in 2010

2010 – a clean slate filled with all kinds of possibilities. As you map out your sales performance plan for 2010, make sure you’re launching from a solid foundation. We offer four pillars that are critical success drivers:

Pillar #1: Personal Learning Plans

Training is pushed, while learning is pulled. Training comes to you, while learning must be pursued. If you can dial-back on the “T” word, and adopt more of a learning mindset for your team in 2010, you’ll be amazed at the impact on performance. It all begins with who owns the learning plan (Hint: Not you). As you share performance expectations for 2010, ask each team member to identify key knowledge or skills that will help them to achieve these goals, and ask them to submit a 2010 personal learning plan. Help them envision what this might look like by providing a sample or two. Learning plans should include 3-5 learning objectives, with ideas on best ways to address each need. Schedule one-on-one follow-up meetings to discuss, adjust, and finalize the plan. As you spot several people calling out the same need, bring them together for a group learning experience. Resist the temptation to get in there and teach. Your role should be that of advisor and/or facilitator. Make sure mid-year and annual reviews speak to progress on personal development goals for the year.

Pillar #2: Continuous, Blended Learning

All too often, sales teams gather for the big summit at some offsite location. When you have sales agents spread across the country, these offsite meetings can be very effective. There’s nothing like face-to-face discussions to align, strengthen, and motivate a team. The trouble with the big meeting approach is it relegates learning to a single event. Participants emerge from these summits jazzed up and enthused by the experience, but they get back to their offices and before long, they’ve forgotten most of what was taught and they’re slipping back to their comfortable and familiar groove. Research tells us adults need to receive new information at least six times to transfer it from short term memory to long-term application. Today’s digital-rich environment provides a plethora of affordable options to develop strong “post sales summit” self-directed learning. Record a 10-minute interview with a senior executive or even a client and push it out to your team right after your big meeting. Develop a library of case studies and best practice documents. How about scheduling monthly web-based “powwows” where team members can connect and collaborate to take the learning even further? Or maybe an extranet discussion board where salespeople can swap stories and best practices?

Pillar #3: Perfecting Your Role as Coach

No matter where you stand on the sales leadership ladder, there’s always opportunity to raise your coaching game. It’s a visionary category that demands constant fine-tuning. As we wrap up 2009, take time to do a year in review. What coaching moves or conversations drove best results? Were there any misfires?  If we could rewind back to January 2009, what one thing would you do differently? Does your style differ greatly from person to person – or are you more of a one-size-fits-all coach? How often do you ask your team for feedback about your coaching style? Before your next one-on-one meeting, try the Start-Stop-Continue challenge. Ask each salesperson to come prepared to share at least one thing they’d like to see you start doing, one thing they’d like to see you stop doing, and one thing you do now that they’d like to see you continue. If Start-Stop-Continue is a new approach for you, this one technique will provide a wealth of insight to perfect your own coaching game.

Pillar #4: Accountability & Success Measurement

Winning more deals is an obvious indicator of learning ROI, but don’t stop there. Seek out additional key performance indicators (KPIs) at various points during the sales cycle. Make sure your sales agents are pursuing the right opportunities in the right way. Monitor progress every step of the way and make adjustments to the learning plans as needed. Affirm small wins at every opportunity. Study your pipeline and lead generation activities. Set clear expectations as to where your team spends the bulk of their time and track the results they’re yielding from these investments. Firm up your CRM and data capture expectations. Most organizations fail to tap the full power of their CRM – and many are just a few tweaks away from generating richer reports that will call out trouble spots at a point where you can do something to rescue the situation. Make sure you’re marching into 2010 with the insight and reporting you need to inspire performance excellence!

Each month, we sift through hundreds of articles and postings on the web to bring you the “golden nuggets” to help you take your sales team to the next level. These are great to use in sales meetings to spark a 15-minute learning discussion. 

The Not-To-Do List: 9 Things To Stop Now
(from The Blog of Tim Ferriss – Author of “The Four Hour Workweek”)

“Not-to-do” lists are often more effective than to-do lists for upgrading performance. Tim Ferris reveals 9 habits to eliminate to drive better results. Read more...

5 Tips for Creating C-Level Selling Confidence
(from Sam Manfer, Selling & Personal Development Specialist)

Even the most seasoned sales professional can be a little intimidated by those senior executives. These 5-tips help you to stay focused and build confidence for that C-Level conversation. Read more...

Perfect Selling
(from Selling Power’s Daily Report)

Master sales trainer Linda Richardson shares more about tips and strategies that drive better sales calls. The time when you’re “in the moment” with the customer, often salespeople are scattered in their execution. Read more...

Six Social Media Trends for 2010
(from Harvard Business Review)

2009 was a year of exponential growth for social media. According to Nielsen Online, Twitter alone grew by 1,382% year-over-year in February, registering a total of just more than 7 million unique visitors in the US for the month. Find out what near-term trends are on the horizon. Read more...

Six Time Management Tips for Sales Managers
(from Redmond Channel Partner Online)

One day, Ken Thoreson, Managing Director of Accumen Management posted a question on several LinkedIn forums: “What are the top three challenges for sales managers?” The #1 response by a wide margin was time management. Read more...

The Tech-Savvy Sales Manager

Behind Every sales superstar, there’s often an outstanding sales coach. And for those less than stellar performers? Usually lots of unanswered questions.

The #1 challenge for sales coaches? They rarely get to see the most critical sales conversations – those with clients and prospects. 

Sound familiar? If so, take a look at SmartPenz Technologies. They’ve introduced a revolutionary solution that enables field selling organizations to “capture the conversations that drive commerce.” Using a device called the Pulse™ Smartpen, salespeople can now digitally capture every word of a client discovery. And here’s the best part – these digital recordings become “talking notes” and can easily be reviewed by the salesperson or forwarded to their manager. Read more...

Q U O T E S 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

 -Mark Twain-

Book Pick for March

Selling to Big Companies
by Jill Konrath

This classic stands the test of time. Jill Konrath is a master of sales training and she’s captured the strategies sales teams need to embrace to succeed in today’s most competitive marketplace.

Any comments or suggestions regarding this publication should  be sent to:

Editor: Donna Kastner

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