Category Archives: sales

Improve Sales in Three Simple Steps

The sales process is one that certainly has its ups and downs, but it’s important not to lose out on a prospect by failing to complete a few of the most sensible steps.  Chris Noon discusses how following up on a sales proposal is crucial for boosting sales.  Read more to understand the additional steps in turning your sales proposal into a confirmed sale, or at the very least, a learning experience for you and your team.

Turf Magazine also discusses these tips and steps, and beckons the question “how many proposals do you send to clients without a response back?”

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Out Now: Dialing for Dollars in a Digital World

Dialing for Dollars

Available for order on Amazon.

Want to make millions over the phone? Just say Hello to Chris Noon. In Chris Noon’s expert hands, a simple cold call becomes a masterpiece of deal-clinching salesmanship. This book tells you exactly—and in unstinting detail—how he does it. Starting out, Chris learned business in the produce-or-perish pressure cooker of major Madison Avenue ad agency TBWA\Chiat\Day. As a young account exec, he worked on high-profile campaigns for such goldplated companies as Nissan, Absolute, Kmart, and Meridian. But the experience only fueled his ambition to strike out on his own. He partnered with his brother and founded the lawn and landscape companies in the Boston area that bear their name. With a whirlwind of innovative sales ideas, a natural in-born enthusiasm, and a love of competition and winning (he still plays soccer, the sport he played in Division 1 at Seton Hall University) Chris quickly helped propel the Noon companies into a thriving, multi-million-dollar, nationallyrecognized success. Recently, Chris has turned his talents and attention to sharing his unique pathways to winning. He launched the Green Light Consulting Services to coach other landscape companies. And now this inspiring new book; it’s a personal tour of his sales philosophy, invaluable experience and methods— including how he turned the standard sales phone call into a One Step Sales sure-fire payoff. “Never stop learning,” is one of Chris’s mantras (it’s also the reason he’s enrolled in Harvard’s OPM Business Program). Learn from Chris and get ready to say hello to ‘Making Millions’! PART INSPIRATIONAL SELF-CONFIDENCE BUILDER. PART ROAD MAP TO BLOWOUT SALES GAINS

Filling Sales Jobs is Becoming Harder

In 2012 sales reps who sold tech and scientific products had a median wage which exceeded twice that of all workers, according to the Labor Department. After 2012 with the U.S economy on the rise, companies selling technology and other services are finding it incredibly hard to fill their sales positions.

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Employers are blaming a number of variables for the lack of filling positions, but one of the biggest variables is that young workers are completely uninterested in sales, viewing it as a risky and driven by competition. Another variable that is hurting employers looking to fill sales positions is that a job in sales has a huge stereotype behind it that “sales isn’t a career, either anyone can do it or you’re born into it.”

Sales organizations today are more focused around teams with lower ranking members identifying prospects and developing an early interest, a team member running through specs and demos, while a third team member focuses on the field negotiations and closing of deals.

How to upsell? Market well

 By Christopher Noon

chris_noonIt amazes me when fellow business owners get upset when one of their customers uses another company to perform a service they also offer.
For example, earlier this year the owner of a landscape firm expressed frustration to me when a lawn maintenance client hired a competitor to install a walkway. He also offers this service.

A few months ago I was guilty of the same thing. I had my house painted by a local painting company. I struggled to find a firm that was reliable and competitive. After weeks of collecting quotes, I selected someone I thought would do a quality job on time. About a week later I got a phone call from the handyman I use for most small projects and repairs around my house. He sounded a little annoyed, but he remained calm as he asked why I didn’t offer him the opportunity to quote the painting project. I was honest with him and told him I had no idea his company performed large exterior painting projects. Additionally, while he was at my home doing other repairs he never mentioned to me that he had concerns about the paint peeling off my home’s exterior.

In other words, he wasn’t proactive in providing me with a quote or asking if his company could have the opportunity to paint my house.

I’ve made this mistake many times with my own lawn care firm. I’ve seen my clients hire a competing company to treat trees or perform flea and tick spraying. But I was never frustrated with my client; I was frustrated with myself for not communicating with them enough to explain we offer these services.

Don’t assume

Over the years, I’ve owned and managed the sales for service companies, and I’ve stressed and reinforced to my sales team that the world doesn’t revolve around us. It’s our responsibility to market and educate our customers about our services and how they may meet their needs.
As business owners we often make the mistake of assuming our customers know all our services.

Selling supplemental services to your customer base is not only profitable, but it also creates more loyalty from clients who will continue to do business with you year after year.

At Noon Turf Care, we study the results of our marketing and sales campaigns each year. More than 30 percent of our annual revenue growth comes from add-ons sold to existing customers.

Let customers know the other services you provide when they first contract with you. If they don’t buy the extra  service right away, at least you planted the seed. Photo: ©istock.com/YvanDube

We all know how much easier it is to provide more services to an existing customer who trusts you than it is to get a new customer. So how do you sell extra services to your customer base? Start by making sure the supplemental services you sell are adding value and filling a need. You do this with education and reinforcement.

For example, if your lawn or landscape company has a client who only buys regular lawn maintenance and you also prune trees, let them know. Explain the benefits of regular tree and shrub pruning (for both aesthetics and health), and let them know that your company offers this solution. You can do this in person, over the phone or even by email. Your add-on services will sell themselves as long as you educate clients by diagnosing a problem and anticipating a need.

The other method to selling supplemental services is to always be marketing to customers by staying in front of them. It starts right at the point of sale with a new customer. Let them know the other services you provide when they first contract with you. If they don’t buy the extra service right away, at least you planted the seed.

As you onboard a new customer it’s also important to market to them consistently and make them aware of the other services you offer. Schedule these follow-up campaigns when your company typically performs the services. Some ideas are having the sales/production teams leave education tips on leaflets when they’re on-site, send postcards in the mail, do dedicated email campaigns or include up-sell services in a regular newsletter.

It’s our job as professionals to make sure the customer is aware of our services. That way when their property needs something, they buy from us and not our competitors.

Christopher Noon is CEO of Noon Turf Care in Marlborough, Mass., and owner of Green Light Consulting Services. Reach him at cnoon@greenlcs.com.

Noon Turf Care restructures compensation model

To create happy, long-term clients, Noon Turf Care restructured its lawn tech compensation model. 

Chris Noon

Noon Turf Care’s lawn care technicians used to get paid by what Chris Noon calls the old-fashioned way: The more homes each tech treated in a day, the more money he or she made. Despite high production rates, client turnover was a problem for the $8 million company based in Marlborough, Mass., and Noon, the company’s president, thought maybe there was a better way. After a complete overhaul of Noon Turf Care’s employee payment and bonus structures, and with a new emphasis on customer interaction, the company’s client retention rate is up 7 percent since last year and workers are more focused on providing superior customer service than ever before.

“We are a small, regional business, so we would rather solve clients’ problems,” Noon says of his company’s new approach. “We don’t want to just keep turning people over.”

Noon Turf Care provides lawn care services to a 95-percent residential client base. The company began to address client retention issues about two years ago when it launched a new customer service strategy modeled after the pest control industry, which boasts an average client retention rate of about 90 percent. Noon believes part of the pest industry’s enviable retention rate is, unlike the lawn care industry, it often requires signed contracts. But he also credits much of it to the relationships developed between clients and technicians, a result of the mandatory face-to-face interaction that takes place when the tech enters a client’s home. 

“The pest industry has that emotional client/employee relationship—they have to coordinate, set a schedule and make the appointments happen,” Noon says. “Our customers don’t have to open the door, but, we said, ‘Let’s pretend they do.’”

Client-Retention-Program-Noon-Turf-Care-3So Noon Turf Care brought that same level of client interaction to its lawn care business. Each new customer is required to have an in-person consultation with a lawn care technician before the first service is performed. During this visit, the tech walks the yard with the client, discusses lawn issues and finds out what the customer didn’t like about his or her previous lawn care provider. But more than that, these visits help the clients associate Noon Turf Care with an individual who they can get to know and trust.

As a result of the new service approach, Noon Turf Care implemented a retention bonus about seven months ago. The incentive is determined through a formula the company calls the “N” Factor. Technicians are paid a base salary plus a bonus multiplier based on criteria such as prior years’ retention rate, education and years of experience. Retention is measured individually per tech and route, and the bonus is calculated weekly with the opportunity for employees to earn an annual bonus, as well. The better the client retention rate, the higher the multiplier, and, ultimately, the more money employees earn. Noon Turf Care technicians can earn up to six figures annually if they maintain the company’s standard level, Noon says.

Although this new approach takes more time and overall production has gone down, the 7-percent increase in customer retention and the 15-percent decrease in service calls since last
year is proof for Noon that his
approach is working.

“Our techs had to slow down a little bit; they had to take their time,” Noon says. “But a little extra time upfront making that human connection goes a long way. Our field techs know that this first point of contact is very important now.” 

Client-Retention-Program-Noon-Turf-Care-2Each Noon Turf Care technician is required to complete a week of classroom training that includes presentations and role-playing situations, plus a week of in-field training with a branch manager where they observe what appropriate client interaction should look like. After their training is complete, each technician is assigned a permanent route for the year. Technicians aren’t permitted to service any lawns that aren’t part of their routes, which not only holds all techs accountable for their workloads, but it ensures they develop and maintain relationships with their specific clients. 

“We are putting a definition to better service,” Noon says. “We are going to compensate our team members to offer better service and keep clients happy.”

The program is still in its early stages, and Noon Turf Care hasn’t yet done a formal survey to gauge how clients view the changes in the company’s practices. But with client retention up and the number of service calls down, Noon expects any future client feedback to be positive. He adds that by retaining their current clients though superior customer service, he expects word-of-mouth referrals will help them earn new clients in the future. 

“It’s sort of a game changer—I haven’t seen any other companies doing anything like this and being effective with it, and I haven’t heard of any other forms of employee compensation that have worked,” Noon says. “New clients don’t know anything about us, so we have to get off on the right foot. We’re treating that as a necessity and making it happen.”

Managing Your Sales Leads: CRM (Nor Excel) Is Not the Answer

Small Biz Tech recently posted an article discussing the importance of using technology to manage and nurture your sales leads. This is a great Q&A with Jeff Solomon, founder and Senior Vice President of Leads360. Read on to gain insight to choosing the best technology for your business, tips on lead nurturing, the difference between sales and contact management tools, and more.

http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/archive/2010/05/managing-your-sales-leads-crm.html/

Want a Happy Customer? Coordinate Sales and Marketing

In today’s hyper-competitive world, your sales and marketing functions must yoke together at every level—from the core central concepts of the strategy to the minute details of execution. Harvard Business School professor Benson Shapiro on creating the customer-centric team.

To other functional departments such as finance and operations, the sales and marketing functions look alike. After all, they are both “outward looking,” focused on the customer and the market. But, creating a strong marketing and sales team has proven difficult in practice and is getting even more difficult than in the past.

Why the concern about coordination between sales and marketing? Every business exists for financial performance—making money. We know generally how to measure it across different companies and industries, and use metrics such as ROI, EPS growth, and EBITDA.

Financial performance is the result of operating performance. Operating performance includes all the things that a company must do to win the competitive battle in its industry to attract, retain, and profitably serve customers. It varies greatly among industries, but generally includes activities such as customer acquisition, on-time delivery, developing new services and products, and running efficiently.

But operating performance is also a result; it is derivative of human performance. Human performance involves many things but is primarily dependent on three: the personal capabilities of the individuals in the business, their individual motivation, and their ability to work together harmoniously.

Nowhere is the need to work together more important than in the twin customer-facing functions of marketing and sales. Sales and marketing look similar at a distance, just as Americans think of Singapore and Shanghai as similar and close. But, when you get near the functions, you begin to understand the differences and to appreciate the challenge of coordinating and integrating them for improved operating performance and outstanding financial performance.

IF MARKETING AND SALES DO NOT COOPERATE, THE COMPANY’S STRATEGY WILL BE INCONSISTENT AND WEAK.— BENSON SHAPIRO

If marketing and sales do not cooperate, the company’s strategy will be inconsistent and weak; and execution will be flawed and inefficient. In today’s hyper-competitive world, the sales and marketing functions must yoke together at every level—from the core central concepts of the strategy to the minute details of execution.

NEW WORLD, NEW ROLES

When companies generally made their money in a large number of mid-sized accounts, marketing was typically seen as the strategic function that concentrated on product and service lines, market segments, and competitive positioning. Marketing did the thinking, managed the brand and consumer franchise in consumer goods companies, and provided support to the sales force. In this simpler world, sales did the execution in the field and sold to end users and distributors in business markets, and the “trade” (wholesalers and retailers) in consumer goods markets. Marketing was cerebral, creative and long-term oriented; and sales was action-oriented, relationship-focused, and short term.

But, the world has changed. Now, in most industries, there are a relatively small number of large major accounts, some mid-sized ones (the previous focus of the field sales force), and often a bunch of little ones. And, accounts are complex collections of diffuse buying teams involving different customer functional departments (purchasing, engineering, information technology, operations, finance, etc.), different levels in the customer’s organizational hierarchy, and different customer regional and line of business organizations.

Customers are reached through complex overlapping means including global and national account teams; field sales including product and market specialists as well as territorial generalists; telesales and telemarketing; service specialists; distributors; dealers; value-added integrators, resellers and packagers; wholesalers; retailers; direct mail; and e-commerce. Procter and Gamble, for example, has well over one hundred people on the ground in Bentonville, Arkansas to sell and service Wal-Mart. Large individual accounts are now separable market segments, and even profit centers supported by their own multi-functional organizations. The days of easy separation of sales and marketing are gone along with the homogeneous, simple, mid-sized account base.

At the top of the customer base pyramid where the accounts are huge, marketing and sales must make joint decisions about product, price, brand, and all kinds of support. When heavyweight distributors demand private label merchandise, both organizations need to be involved. Pricing, product customization, and service customization cannot be entrusted to either group alone. The impact on economics, the whole account base, and corporate strategy require an integrated approach.

At the small account end, the sales force competes with and is often complemented by telemarketing, direct mail, catalogues, advertising, and diverse distribution channels. Often in the past, these were the sole purview of the marketing people. Now, the marketing and sales organizations must make joint architectural policy and execution decisions. Without coordination, the decisions will be shortsighted, sub-optimal, and conflict-ridden. For example, when field sales, telesales, and customer service people all interact with the same account, the objective is flawless, efficient, timely service but the real result can be chaos, infighting, expensive duplication, and terrible service.

Industrial firms have traditionally had closer sales-marketing ties than consumer goods companies, especially consumer packaged goods companies. Even the traditional industrial goods ties are not strong enough for the current challenges. But, in consumer packaged goods the changes are proving cataclysmic. The sales force can no longer passively accept and execute plans from marketing. Account managers, product managers, and advertising managers need to work together to protect profits and enhance volume in the harsh world of customer power, intense competition, and over-capacity. Most of all, the product managers and advertising managers need to develop a new respect for and understanding of individual customers, account managers and sales managers. No longer will headquarters reign supreme. As power shifted from seller to buyer, it also shifted from headquarters to the field.

AN INTEGRATED APPROACH … TO INTEGRATION

There are many approaches to improving integration. They work best when they themselves are well integrated (big surprise!). Thus, the stress here will be on “mixing and matching” the individual elements of coordination to get a robust, efficient program.

All programs must begin with two hallmark approaches. First is a common understanding of the need for integration, and for both sales and marketing to focus on productive sharing of power, information, and resources. Neither the field force nor headquarters managers can say that pricing, for example, is their purview only. It is an issue that involves both.

AT THE TOP OF THE CUSTOMER BASE PYRAMID WHERE THE ACCOUNTS ARE HUGE, MARKETING AND SALES MUST MAKE JOINT DECISIONS ABOUT PRODUCT, PRICE, BRAND, AND ALL KINDS OF SUPPORT.— BENSON SHAPIRO

The second hallmark is a clear, unified, explicit strategy. Here such topics as custom product or service programs for large customers, and coordinated communication messages for all dealers and end users can be specified. A major underlying point of contention will be the freedom for people in the field to “customize” policies for individual customers. The limits of such customization must be set, and the processes for approvals clarified. Otherwise, there will be constant tension and infighting between headquarters and the field.

Once the common understanding and the strategy are developed, major integrative tools include organizational structure, formal management processes, information technology, the informal social network, and people.

Organizational structure is a natural beginning but most people expect too much from it. There is no “perfect” structure. Instead, there are many tradeoffs to be made. And, almost invariably, each option will have both strengths and weaknesses. The important thing is to organize to accomplish the most important strategic objectives given the current environment.

And, as the objectives and the environment change, as they inevitably will, the structure must change. One major point of contention is with organizational units whose purpose it is to coordinate field and headquarters around issues such as regional promotions. At one time, Campbell Soup had eighty-eight regional promotion managers scattered across the country with one person for each of four product lines in twenty-two regions. Such approaches are very expensive and often create a barrier rather than a conduit for good field/headquarters communication.

At other times, such field-positioned marketing people work well. Hewlett-Packard once had a large number of “market development managers” scattered in the field force to facilitate the introduction of complex new products. Subtle decisions such as the location of such boundary-spanning units, and the level and experience of the people appointed have big impact. A unit located at headquarters will have access to different information, involvement with different people, and a self-image that is quite different from the same group sprinkled throughout the field organization.

Formal management processes such as planning and budgeting approaches, compensation schemes, training programs, coordinating committees and task forces, and review procedures are very important. Some companies have found that a standing committee including both marketing and sales representatives to discuss a specific issue such as pricing and discounts goes a long way to ameliorate conflict over normally contentious topics. Of course, such approaches can also add to a bloated bureaucracy and constipated decision-making.

CLEARLY DYSFUNCTIONAL ACTIVITIES,EVEN IN FUN, SUCH AS A SALES VS. MARKETING GOLF TOURNAMENT AT THE NATIONAL SALES MEETING, ARE TO BE DISCOURAGED.— BENSON SHAPIRO

Information technology is probably the only really good news here. It enables sales and marketing to gather, catalogue, analyze, and share such information as current sales rates, customer response to new initiatives, competitive activity, and marketing communication literature including brochures, proposals, and presentations. Companies have found success and/or failure with large integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems depending upon design and implementation. And, increasingly the integrated systems can be supplemented with powerful point solutions such as those designed to manage marketing literature and disseminate it to the field.

FIGHTER PILOT VS. BUTTON DOWN

The final two items are very important, but very subtle: the informal social system and the people who populate the organization. Typically the field force is made up of more independent, free-spirited people who idealize a “fighter pilot” mentality. Headquarters marketing is more “button downed” and idealizes a more sophisticated, centralized approach. Both often “look down” on one another.

Anything that can be done to bridge the gap is very useful. Several things can be done to encourage informal social ties between marketing and sales. Rotation of people from marketing to sales and vice versa helps. So too does co-location. Of course, as the company grows large and more global, co-location becomes difficult. And, there are conflicting needs. Should, for example, the product managers be located near headquarters sales management with benefits of coordination around customer needs and information, or near the research and development people with benefit of coordination around technology and new product launch? The appropriate tradeoff will depend upon the current strategy, challenges, and opportunities as well as feasibility issues like space availability. But, clearly dysfunctional activities, even in fun, such as a sales vs. marketing golf tournament or softball game at the national sales meeting, are to be discouraged. They only contribute to the schism.

The nature of the demands on sales and marketing mean that different people are appropriate for each function. Even different sales jobs require different personality profiles. “Hunters” who can open new accounts are more ego driven and less relationship oriented than “farmers” who are outstanding at servicing and developing existing accounts. These differences limit the opportunities to develop people who are “dual-faceted” and good at both the sales functions and the marketing functions. But, some companies successfully try to hire people who have good “cross-over” skills and can team well. Some companies have also found that rewarding and promoting people who can team, and actively work across the marketing/sales boundary leads to a cadre of more balanced managers. These same companies also often explicitly punish salespeople and marketing executives who callously disregard the importance of the sister function.

Marketing and sales should not be the same because the functions they perform require important differences. But, they can be complementary and operate in such a way that customers are efficiently and effectively acquired, developed, serviced, and retained.

original source for article can be found and is credited here:  http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/3154.html