In the tightly woven tapestry of a sales organization, each thread—each salesperson—must hold its own for the entire structure to maintain its integrity. Imagine a well-practiced orchestra where each musician is critical to the harmonious output. If even one violinist is off-key, it disrupts not just the symphony but also influences the collective perception of the audience. Similarly, when one salesperson consistently misses the mark, the dissonance affects not just their numbers but the collective performance and morale of the entire team.
Performance Improvement Plans: A Constructive Pathway, Not a Corporate Guilt-Trip
A prevalent misunderstanding of Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) is their perceived function as a corporate guillotine, an ultimatum for those who underperform. But that’s far from the truth. When deployed with intent and care, a PIP serves as a roadmap that leads the lost back onto the path of productivity and achievement.
A Performance Improvement Plan starts with clarity. Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) objectives are laid out. Suppose a salesperson faces difficulty in closing deals. The PIP would set a precise target, for example, improving the closing ratio by 20% over the next quarter.
But merely establishing ambitious milestones is an exercise in futility if not paired with the right tools and resources. It’s the responsibility of leadership to ensure that the salesperson has what they need to reach their new goals. This may include specialized training modules, mentorship from senior salespersons, or even software solutions that aid in customer relationship management.
Review and Reflection: The PIP Feedback Loop
Consistent monitoring and feedback mechanisms are integral to the PIP process. This is not about keeping tabs or playing “big brother,” but rather, establishing a feedback loop. These should be structured as collaborative dialogue, focusing on problem-solving rather than fault-finding. Once the set duration for the PIP ends, an in-depth review ensues. This is a pivotal moment that serves dual purposes—applauding improvement and identifying areas that require further fine-tuning.
Encompassing Compassion: People Over Numbers
While we emphasize numerical targets and performance metrics, we must not lose sight of the human element. Performance Improvement Plans should be designed and implemented with an empathetic understanding of the unique circumstances affecting each salesperson’s performance. The PIP, therefore, becomes not just a tool for improving metrics but also a gesture of organizational compassion and well-being.
It’s worth remembering that instilling a culture of Performance Improvement Plans is not merely a strategy to elevate individual salespersons; it’s a mirror reflecting the maturity of an organization and its investment in its people. It’s about showing that the organization values sustained effort and long-term growth over short-lived gains and snap judgments.
The Sculptor’s Patience
Implementing a Performance Improvement Plan is similar to the patience exhibited by a sculptor. When faced with an unpolished stone, instead of discarding it outright, the sculptor sees potential. With measured chisel strikes, what was once a mere rock transforms into art. Similarly, PIPs offer that measured guidance, turning the rough stone of underperformance into the refined sculpture of a high-performing sales asset. Through this targeted, compassionate approach, leaders not only foster individual success but contribute to building an organizational culture centered on growth, empathy, and resilience.
Welcome to another episode of Two Tall Guys Talking Sales with your hosts, Kevin Lawson and Sean O’Shaughnessey. In this riveting episode, we take a deep dive into the often talked about but seldom mastered topic: Buyer Personas. Whether you’re listening on a Tuesday drive back home or on a Wednesday morning commute to work, this episode is packed with actionable insights to set you up for the rest of your week, month, and quarter. Tune in to find out how to create accurate buyer personas that can help you make smarter sales and marketing decisions.
📝 Key Topics Discussed:
Defining Buyer Personas: Kevin and Sean explore what a buyer persona really is and why it’s crucial for sales success.
The Importance of SWOT Analysis: Kevin explains that creating a buyer persona isn’t a one-off task; it begins with understanding your SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis.
Ideal Client Profiles & Unique Selling Proposition: Why understanding these can help fine-tune your buyer personas.
Digging into Demographics and Psychographics: How to gather and utilize this data to develop detailed buyer personas.
Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs): Sean shares insights into who should be involved in these reviews and the type of questions that can help enrich your buyer personas.
🗨️ Key Quotes:
“If you’re out there and wondering how to get this process started, thinking that you’ve already done a SWOT analysis…now’s the time to talk about buyer personas.” – Kevin Lawson
“Salespeople are valuable. Salespeople are important to the sales process. And it is your job to teach your company about your customers.” – Sean O’Shaughnessey
“Salespeople are great people day in day out. We shouldn’t have to pay a tax because of bad salespeople doing bad things in the marketplace.” – Kevin Lawson
Crafting an accurate and effective buyer persona isn’t just a task; it’s an art. This episode provides not only the theory but also the actionable steps you can take to create buyer personas that resonate with your target market. From initial concepts to understanding your customer needs during a QBR, Kevin and Sean have packed this episode with tools you can use immediately. Listen now to avoid the pitfalls and fast-track your way to sales success.
Ready to revolutionize your sales approach? Hit that download button and tune in now! 🎧
Bob Robinson, Jr., and his mechanical-engineer father, Bob Robinson, Sr., came up with the idea for a product the world truly needed 25 years ago: a “no-touch” restroom cleaning machine. Their company, Kaivac, is a Hamilton, OH-based manufacturer of cleaning machines. Hamilton is a suburb of Cincinnati, OH.
“We were on our hands and knees, crawling around the bathroom,” recalls Bob, Jr. “It was disgusting. We said, ‘There’s got to be a better way.'”
Through hard work and dedication, the Robinsons created the KaiVac to help solve that initial problem in public restrooms. Over the years, they grew the idea to create dedicated machines to clean kitchen floors, hallway floors, and grocery displays. Beyond its bathroom cleaning technology, it has expanded into floor cleaning and spill response machines and has 18 patents with 16 pending.
Along with growing their manufacturing capabilities, they also grew their sales capabilities. They adopted a hybrid strategy of selling through distribution and selling directly to key customers. Their direct team, under the leadership of Bob Robinson, Jr., who had taken on the role of VP of Sales, closed many enviable customers with massive deals, including Walmart, Kroger, and Target.
They realized that they needed to step up their sales professionalism after having a down year during COVID after having a record-breaking year the year before. They wanted to grow to $75 million in annual revenue within three years and a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of $1 billion in annual revenue within 20 years.
Bob Jr. says Kaivac is just getting started. “At 20 to 25 years in business, you’re at an inflection point where you’ve got resources, tenure, and history and have been through ‘adolescence,'” he says. “Now is the chance to build a professionalized organization.”
They contacted New Sales Expert LLC as the nation was coming out of the global pandemic, but before all the supply chain problems had paused. New Sales Expert LLC is a fractional vice president of sales consultancy. Sean O’Shaughnessey, the CEO of New Sales Expert, is aligned with SalesXceleration and has 38 years of experience in sales and sales management.
According to Sean, “Kaivac is a joy to work with. They are the shining star of Hamilton, OH, and Butler County. They had so much raw potential when I walked in the door; all I had to do was to focus their energy and enthusiasm on working smarter and just a little harder.”
Building an organization with a heart
Kaivac had a great culture to build on to make a great sales culture. Before Sean showed up, the company leadership had already developed their One-Page Strategic Plan and their “Why?” statement that reflects the owners’ Christian faith: “To glorify God by using KAIVAC as an instrument for Good.”
In addition to the “Why?” statement, they had drafted an acronym called FIGS that conveys the “heart” of the company. FIGS—which appears on signs that hang on the factory floor and in break rooms—stands for
F: “First shall be last, last shall be first.”
I: Integrity—as in “The truth shall set you free.”
G: Golden Rule—meaning “treat others how you want to be treated.”
S: Servant’s Heart, as in “We are in a race to help people.”
The company uses the first three letters of its name–KAI–to inspire the team’s thinking and actions. These letters stand for inspiring phrases such as: “Keep At It,” “Keep Always Improving,” “Keep Attempting the Impossible,” and “(creates) Kick-Ass Inventions.”
Prioritizing net income and growth
Sean’s first change was to make a compensation plan that motivated the sales team to sell bigger deals and to sell them quickly. Kaivac implemented a 50/50 plan in concert with defined territories to keep the Key Account salespeople focused on the goal of more significant and profitable orders.
After the motivation component was in place, it was time to help the team learn how to sell big deals more repeatedly. The big deals of the past had been challenging to work on and, while very profitable, had been disruptive to close. Sean encouraged the company to read John McMahon’s book, “The Qualified Sales Leader,” and with that tome as inspiration, quickly deployed MEDDPICCC to help them qualify deals.
MEDDPICCC by itself is not enough. The company had already licensed Salesforce, one of the highest-rated CRMs on the market, but Sean put MEDDPICCC into the various stages of the sales process to ensure that the salespeople knew all the required information about a big deal. Sean also created dashboards within Salesforce to track deal progress at the management level. The company implemented Sales Plans for Key Accounts and the Power Matrix to document the most influential people in the customer’s decision-making process.
The very first big deals that the company found after Sean started to help them also benefited from the Decision Timeline. The Decision Timeline is a tool to allow the sales team to walk through the entire decision-making process of the customer to understand all of the steps required to make a significant investment decision. It allowed frank and honest conversations to take place with the prospect as the team worked to close the largest deal in the company’s history to date.
Time to run on their own
As with most of the assignments with New Sales Expert, LLC, the goal is to allow the company to run independently. Bob Robinson Jr. was the company’s VP of Sales. Still, he needed to shed those responsibilities to help run the entire company. To finish the transition, Bob and three of his leaders took SalesXceleration‘s Certified Sales Leadership course delivered by Sean O’Shaughnessey.
The Certified Sales Leader (CSL) designation is the country’s most comprehensive sales leadership certification program offered. CSL leadership training and certification will prepare you with the analytical, tactical, and strategic sales management skills needed to drive revenue growth now…and into the future. CSL training expands the skill set of a Sales Manager by providing coaching, techniques, and tools to lead a successful sales team.
All four Kaivac leaders passed the CSL test. One of them, Mike Perazzo, was tagged to take over as Executive Vice President of Sales. According to Mike, “Sean is a master coach for helping shape sales process and methodology. Following his methods will help grow sales faster, transactionally, and strategically. Often a couple of pieces of the puzzle are missing, and Sean helps quickly identify them.
You have everything to gain by having Sean look at your current approach. He is a change agent and disruptive to the status quo. Pushing the pace and flow of deals is his sweet spot. I am a better sales leader because of my time with him.”
Sean O’Shaughnessey of New Sales Expert, LLC states, “Kaivac is a wonderful company. They have created a line of machines that gives pride to the workers in one of the toughest jobs in America – keeping things clean. They are focused on the success of their customers and their employees. They had all of the raw skills within their sales team to be a great sales organization; they only needed me to focus them on activities and techniques that allowed them to close bigger deals faster and at a higher profit level.”
“If anyone works in a clean building with clean restrooms and hard surface floors, they are either cleaning it with Kaivac technology or paying too much for that cleanliness,” Sean explains.
Revenue and profitability have grown since Sean helped Kaivac develop a higher level of sales professionalism. Recent results have shown a dramatic increase in revenue and profitability. The sales and revenue growth have allowed the entire family of Kaivac to prosper. The Robinsons have always considered their employees an extension of their family. The company’s prosperity is passed along to team members through a bonus structure for the whole company. It all fits into the spirit of Kaivac. Bob Jr. says, “Our organization was built to have heart.”
Sales coaching has become integral to the modern business environment, particularly in business-to-business (B2B) sales. The sales coaching process enhances salespeople’s skills, knowledge, and capabilities to achieve their goals, deliver value to customers, and improve organizational performance. In this article, we will examine the importance of sales coaching in B2B sales organizations, explore the best practices for effective coaching, and discuss the key benefits that result from a well-executed sales coaching program.
Sales coaching has become increasingly critical to the success of B2B sales organizations. Equipping salespeople with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to deliver value to customers and drive business growth is essential. Here are three reasons why sales coaching is critical in B2B sales organizations.
Firstly, sales coaching helps salespeople to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to engage with customers, understand their goals or priorities, and provide tailored solutions. In a B2B sales environment, customers’ goals are often complex and unique, making it challenging to identify the best strategies for engaging with them. Effective sales coaching helps salespeople identify the most effective ways to engage with customers, build rapport, and establish trust. Through regular feedback and guidance, sales coaches can provide salespeople with insights on approaching different customer scenarios, offering valuable insights, and delivering a superior customer experience.
Sales coaching provides salespeople the necessary tools to improve their communication skills, such as active listening and effective questioning techniques. This active listening capability enables salespeople to understand customers’ unique goals and motivations better, allowing salespeople to provide tailored solutions that meet prospects’ expectations. This skill is essential in B2B sales organizations, where customers’ needs are complex and varied.
Secondly, sales coaching is essential for enhancing the performance of sales teams. Sales coaching helps salespeople to focus on their strengths and weaknesses, set clear goals, and develop strategies for achieving them. Coaching provides salespeople with performance feedback, identifies improvement areas, and provides guidance on addressing these areas. This, in turn, leads to improved sales performance, increased productivity, and higher levels of job satisfaction.
Effective sales coaching can help salespeople identify areas where they need to improve, such as their communication, time management, or presentation skills. Sales coaches can provide their teams with targeted feedback and guidance, offering practical solutions for improving performance. This not only helps salespeople to become more effective at their job, but it also helps them to feel more confident and engaged in their work.
Thirdly, sales coaching helps to create a culture of continuous learning within B2B sales organizations. Sales coaching enables salespeople to develop new skills, learn about new products and services, and keep up-to-date with industry trends. Continuous learning is vital for B2B sales organizations that operate in a dynamic and fast-paced environment, where the ability to adapt and learn quickly is essential for success.
Sales coaching allows salespeople to learn from their experiences and mistakes in a safe environment that doesn’t affect their revenue production. Sales coaches can guide how to approach different customer scenarios, offer valuable insights, and help salespeople to develop new skills. By fostering a culture of continuous learning, sales coaching can help B2B sales organizations to stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in their industry.
Best Practices for Effective Sales Coaching
To ensure that sales coaching is effective, B2B sales organizations must adopt best practices aligned with their organizational goals and objectives. The following are some of the best practices for effective sales coaching:
Provide Timely and Relevant Feedback: Feedback is critical to effective sales coaching. Managers and team members should provide feedback in a constructive manner that focuses on improvement rather than criticism. Feedback should be timely, relevant, and focused on specific behaviors or actions.
Focus on Skill Development: Effective sales coaching should focus on developing the skills and knowledge necessary for success in a B2B sales environment. This includes communication, negotiation, problem-solving, and product and industry knowledge.
Use a Coaching Framework: To ensure that sales coaching is consistent and effective, B2B sales organizations should use a coaching framework that provides a structured approach to coaching. A coaching framework should include a straightforward process for setting goals, giving feedback, and developing skills.
Measure and Evaluate Coaching Effectiveness: B2B sales organizations should measure and evaluate revenue generation to ensure that sales coaching is effective. This includes tracking sales performance metrics, such as revenue, customer satisfaction, and retention rates.
Critical Benefits of Sales Coaching in B2B Sales Organizations
Effective sales coaching can deliver a range of benefits to B2B sales organizations. The following are some of the key benefits that result from a well-executed sales coaching program:
Improved Sales Performance: Effective sales coaching can lead to improved sales performance, increased productivity, and higher levels of job satisfaction. Sales coaching provides salespeople the necessary skills, knowledge, and support to achieve their sales goals and deliver customer value. This, in turn, leads to increased sales revenue, higher customer satisfaction, and higher customer retention.
Increased Employee Engagement: Sales coaching can help to increase employee engagement and motivation. When salespeople receive regular feedback, guidance, and support from their coaches, they feel more valued and invested in their work. This, in turn, leads to higher levels of job satisfaction and lower turnover rates.
Enhanced Customer Relationships: Effective sales coaching can help salespeople build stronger customer relationships. Sales coaching can help salespeople to identify customer needs, provide tailored solutions, and establish trust. This leads to stronger customer relationships, higher customer satisfaction, and greater customer loyalty.
Continuous Learning: Sales coaching helps create a continuous learning culture within B2B sales organizations. Sales coaching provides salespeople opportunities to learn new skills, develop their knowledge of products and services, and keep up-to-date with industry trends. This, in turn, leads to more significant innovation, improved performance, and competitive advantage.
Aligned Goals of the Company and the Team: By doing an adequate job of sales coaching, the salespeople are working toward the same goals as the company. This prevents wasted activities that don’t serve the purposes of the company. Let’s discuss this a bit more.
Setting Clear Goals and Objectives
Setting clear goals and objectives for salespeople is crucial to the success of any B2B sales organization. These goals and objectives provide a framework for salespeople to work within and help to focus their efforts on achieving specific outcomes. Here are some reasons why setting clear goals and objectives is essential for salespeople:
Setting Clear Goals and Objectives: Coaching provides a sense of direction and focus.
Setting clear goals and objectives helps salespeople to understand what they are working towards and what they need to do to achieve success. Having a sense of direction and focus is essential for salespeople as it helps them to prioritize their tasks, make informed decisions that align with their company’s needs, and stay motivated.
Setting Clear Goals and Objectives: Helps to measure progress and success.
Setting clear goals and objectives allows salespeople to measure their progress and success. This is important as it provides a sense of achievement and helps to maintain motivation. Tracking progress will enable salespeople to adjust their approach to get on track to meet their goals.
Setting Clear Goals and Objectives: Creates accountability.
Setting clear goals and objectives helps to create accountability for salespeople. When goals and objectives are clearly defined, salespeople are more likely to take ownership of their work and strive to achieve their targets. This sense of ownership and accountability helps create a performance culture and can increase job satisfaction and employee retention.
Setting Clear Goals and Objectives: Aligns salespeople with the organization’s overall objectives.
Setting clear goals and objectives ensures that salespeople align with the organization’s overall objectives. This alignment is crucial as it helps to ensure that everyone is working towards the same goal and that the organization is moving in the right direction, as defined by company leadership. This can help create a sense of purpose and meaning for salespeople, increasing motivation and engagement.
When setting goals and objectives for salespeople, it is essential to ensure that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These SMART criteria help to ensure that goals and objectives are meaningful and actionable. Here are some tips for setting SMART goals and objectives for salespeople:
Be specific: Clearly define what you want salespeople to achieve, such as revenue targets or the number of new customers.
Make them measurable: Ensure that goals and objectives are measurable so everyone can track their progress and adjustments can be made if necessary.
Make them achievable: Set goals and objectives that are challenging but achievable. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to demotivation and disengagement.
Make them relevant: Ensure that goals and objectives are relevant to the salesperson’s role and the organization’s overall objectives.
Make them time-bound: Set a clear timeframe for achieving goals and objectives. This helps to create a sense of urgency and ensures that salespeople are focused on achieving their targets.
Effective sales coaching that includes setting clear goals and objectives is a critical component of success in B2B sales organizations. It helps salespeople develop the skills, knowledge, and capabilities needed to engage with customers, enhance their performance, and create a culture of continuous learning. By adopting best practices for effective sales coaching, such as using the SMART criteria to set goals and objectives, B2B sales organizations can realize a range of benefits, including improved sales performance, increased employee engagement, enhanced customer relationships, and continuous learning. Therefore, sales coaching should be a top priority for any B2B sales organization that wants to achieve long-term success and growth.
If you are unsure how to create an atmosphere of great coaching in your organization, please contact me. You can reach me by filling out the form on this site or by emailing Sean@NewSales.Expert.
In today’s highly competitive business environment, sales leaders play a crucial role in the success of their organizations. They are responsible for setting sales targets, creating effective sales strategies, and motivating their teams to achieve their goals. However, being an effective sales leader requires more than just setting targets and motivating your team. This article will explore the five best practices of effective sales leaders.
1. Set clear and achievable goals.
One of the primary responsibilities of a sales leader is to set clear and achievable goals for their team. Setting goals is critical to keeping your team focused and motivated. With clear goals, your team will know what they are working towards and may be able to achieve the results you expect.
When setting goals, it’s essential to make them SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Specific goals are clear and well-defined.
Measurable goals allow you to track progress and determine success.
Achievable goals are realistic and within reach.
Relevant goals align with your organization’s overall objectives.
Time-bound goals have a deadline or timeframe for completion.
Setting SMART goals gives your team a clear direction and purpose. This guidance helps them focus their efforts on the activities that will help them achieve their objectives.
2. Develop a sales strategy.
Once you have set your sales goals, the next step is to develop a sales strategy. A sales strategy outlines your team’s approach to achieving its goals. It includes the tactics and activities that your team will use to reach its targets.
Your sales strategy should be based on deeply understanding your market, customers, and competitors. It should also take into account your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. A good sales strategy is flexible and adaptable. It allows your team to adjust its approach based on the market or changes in customer needs.
When developing your sales strategy, it’s essential to involve your team. Your sales team has firsthand knowledge of your customers and their challenges. You can tap into their expertise by involving your team in the strategy development process and gain buy-in for the approach.
3. Provide ongoing training and coaching.
Sales is a dynamic and constantly evolving field. To be successful, your sales team needs ongoing training and coaching. Ongoing training helps your team stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices. It also helps them develop new skills and techniques that can help them close more deals.
Coaching is equally essential. Sales coaching helps your team identify areas for improvement and develop strategies to overcome challenges. It also gives your team feedback and support, helping them stay motivated and focused.
You must understand your team’s strengths and weaknesses to provide effective training and coaching. This requires regular communication and feedback. Regular one-on-one meetings with your team members can help you identify areas for improvement and develop tailored coaching plans.
4. Foster a positive team culture.
Sales can be a high-pressure and stressful environment. To be successful, your team needs to work well together and support each other. This requires a positive team culture.
A positive team culture is built on trust, respect, and collaboration. It’s a culture where team members feel valued and appreciated. It’s also a culture where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and opinions.
As a sales leader, you are critical in fostering a positive team culture. You need to lead by example and model the behaviors you want to see in your team. You also need to encourage open communication and provide opportunities for team members to collaborate and work together.
5. Use data to drive decisions.
Finally, effective sales leaders use data to drive their decisions. Data provides insights into your team’s performance and helps you identify areas for improvement. It also lets you track progress toward your goals and make informed decisions about your sales strategy.
To use data effectively, you need the right tools and systems. This includes a robust CRM system that captures and tracks critical sales metrics such as leads, opportunities, and pipeline value. It also provides analytics tools to help you analyze your data and gain insights into your team’s performance.
Data can also be used to optimize your sales process. By analyzing your sales data, you can identify bottlenecks and areas where your team struggles. This allows you to develop targeted interventions to improve performance.
Effective sales leaders use data to continuously improve their sales process and drive results. They are always looking for ways to optimize their approach and stay ahead of the competition.
Being an effective sales leader requires a combination of skills and practices. It requires setting clear and achievable goals, developing a sales strategy, providing ongoing training and coaching, fostering a positive team culture, and using data to drive decisions. By following these best practices, sales leaders can motivate their teams and drive results. They can also create a culture of continuous improvement that allows their organization to stay ahead of the competition.