The JF Guest Author Spot
I've spoken to many sales leaders in the past weeks that complain that their companies have cut their budgets to the bone. Actually, in many cases the cuts aren't to the bone, the cuts are well into the bone and the company is now sucking out the marrow.
The dilemma these managers face is how to allocate their tiny budgets yet maintain and possibly even grow sales.
-Do they sacrifice training?
-Maybe they should forgo providing any marketing assistance to their sales team?
-Possibly they eliminate any and all incentives and contests?
-Cut out the doughnuts and kolaches at the weekly sales meeting and divert those paltry dollars towards something more substantial?
It isn't unusual to see dollars allocated to human resources, especially dollars used to build and support the sales team, eliminated first. It's easier to cut training and marketing, to slash incentives and clerical support, to trim customer support and travel budgets than it is to cut those new computers that are 'absolutely necessary' or to forego a few senior management perks that are, after all, guaranteed in their employment contracts. When its time to suffer, often sales is one of the first departments to see the knife-and its usually a butcher knife, not a finely sharpened scalpel.
These times call for creativity, persistence, and utilizing every resource at your disposal. If you are willing to do a bit of research, you can meet your sales teams needs no matter how small your budget. The resources are available-for free. They may take some time to find. They may not be a perfect match. They may require more of your time than you'd ideally like. They may require your team members to apply themselves a little more. But you don't have to just throw up your hands in frustration and determine it's a lost year.
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Work your team through a book or CD set. You can purchase a copy of a book for each of your team members for anywhere from $12 to $20. Then set out a training schedule to work the team as a group through the book. An even cheaper method is to purchase the audio version of the book or a CD training set by the book's author based on the book. For very little money your team can get some of the best training in the world without the cost of bringing in a trainer.
For example, many teams have worked their way through my book, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success Through Client Referrals, learning the most effective, disciplined process for generating a large number of high quality referrals. Many have chosen to purchase a copy of the book for each team member, which allows each member to read an assigned portion of the book prior to the training session. Others have chosen to purchase and download the audio version of the book, saving a great deal of money. The downside is with only one copy it makes it difficult for team members to listen to the assigned section prior to the training session. Still others have acquired my 4 hour CD set to use as the basis for their training.
There are thousands of great sales books, many of which are in audio version or have CD's that expand on the book, that you can use as the basis for training.
2. Free Tele-seminars. A great many trainers and consultants offer free tele-seminars, covering every aspect of sales and personal marketing. Unfortunately, many are nothing but come-ons to sell books, CD's, and other products, but some are of real value in and of themselves. Yes, it takes time to find seminars that have real value, but the search can be well worth the time.
3. Articles and Whitepapers. The Internet and industry publications are filled with great articles on specific sales and personal marketing issues, techniques, and strategies. Using a series of articles as the basis for training is not only a viable alternative, but gives you the opportunity to hit a large number of issues quickly. At the end of this article I've included the web address for several high quality sources where you can find hundreds of quality articles from some of the top trainers and consultants from around the world. Many of these trainers have books and CD's-and some have free tele-seminars-to help you find other materials for training your team.
Few trainers or consultants will be offended by using their material as a basis for training your team. I get many emails and phone calls from sales leaders asking for my permission to use my materials to train their teams. I'm always flattered and honored-and would never think of saying 'no' because I want them to hire me instead.
4. Create a team library. Having virtually no dollars shouldn't mean you couldn't have resources for your sales team. I have a friend who has built a great library for his sales team for under $80. His team's library currently consists of over 100 books and about 30 CD's. His secret? He did a bit of begging and a lot of shopping at used bookstores. But he has managed to put together a heck of resource for his salespeople. His task now is to get his team members to put the resources to work.
5. Utilize the talent in your company. Do you have salespeople or managers in your company who have mastered aspects of selling or marketing? Use 'em. Put them to use training the rest of your team. In today's economy you can't afford to overlook the talent you have at hand-and if you're like most sales leaders, you've got some great talent you can call upon.
I have a client who has a salesperson who worked previously as a copywriter-and she was a pretty good one at that. What a great talent to have on hand. Another friend of mine has a salesperson that worked as a graphic designer and is wiz at creating fliers, brochures, and web pages.
Budgets get cut and they get enlarged. But no matter what your budget, there really isn't an excuse for not providing your team with the training and personal marketing resources they need. It isn't a matter of money, it's a matter of taking the time to find and utilize the resources.
Here are those resources I promised you:
They should keep you going for a while!
Paul McCord, president of McCord and Associates, a Houston,Texas based sales training, coaching and consulting company, is an internationally recognized authority on prospecting, referral selling, and personal marketing. His best-selling book on referral generation,Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons, 2007), is quickly becoming recognized as the authoritative work on referral selling. His next book, SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar will be released in February, 2008.
Paul is also a senior and you can read more about him here
Today's News: Over at Salesopedia, Clayton Shold is in conversation with Sharon Drew Morgen:
"Sharon Drew Morgen was one of the pioneers in looking at sales from the buyer's decision making process. She suggests understanding the buyers purchasing criteria is as important if not more important that matching features and benefits. This thought provoking podcast includes a great quote from Sharon Drew, "The time it takes the buyers to come up with their own answers is the length of the sales cycle."
Just click on the banner to listen in.
Meanwhile, guess who is in the "hot-seat" over at TSE Dailies? Yep, you are not wrong. Again, just click on the banner to hear the entire five minute interview.
Tomorrow: Join me if you want to find out how to become more efficient, make more sales and turn your limited selling time into real cash.
Link to original post