strategy

Top 8 Reasons to Work With a Sales Consultant

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There’s no doubt about it - hiring a consultant is an investment. That being said, hiring a good sales consultant should pay for itself in no time. Whether it’s helping you pave new revenue-generating paths; building systems and processes that help improve sales efficiencies; or eliminating sales waste from the business, hiring a sales consultant will be one of your greatest business moves yet.

Not sure if it’s the right move for you and your business? Here are 8 reasons to hire a sales consultant:

1. A fresh perspective

Do you ever feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle when it comes to sales growth? You know you have a great product or service, but you can’t seem to gain traction? A fresh perspective from someone who has a proven track record in various industries might be just what you need to get you (back) on track.

2. Uncovering new tools

There might be sales tools or resources that you’re not even aware exist! A sales consultant should be able to recommend tools that will help improve sales performance. And while technology might be something to consider, there could also be some less costly, easy-to-adopt tools that could take you a long way.

3. Sharing the tried and tested

When you hire a consultant, he/she will bring with them knowledge and best practices from a variety of industries. I call this innovating through cross-pollination; taking practices that have resulted in huge successes in one industry and applying them to another.  Chances are, you’ll end up doing something on the sales and marketing front that none of your competitors have even thought of.

4. Learning from others

Along with best practices, a sales consultant often has plenty of knowledge and experiences with what hasn’t worked. And while I’m all for learning through failure, it’s also awesome when you can learn from somebody else’s mistakes.

5. An unbiased opinion

Sometimes we need that unbiased opinion to help make the hard decisions. Perhaps you might need to eliminate a product or service that is not, and likely never will be, profitable. Or maybe you need a third-party to evaluate an underperforming team. Either way, it’s helpful to have someone who isn’t emotionally tied to the decision.

6. A teacher at heart

Most sales consultants love to teach (if you’re working with a sales consultant who doesn’t like to teach, I’d be alarmed.) Instead of paying for costly sales training courses or seminars that may or may not apply to your situation, your sales consultant should offer sales leadership coaching and sales team/individual training as a service that is tailored to your unique needs.

7. A lasting relationship

Whether you’re bringing on a consultant for a complete overhaul of your sales strategy and systems or for a very specific sales project, your sales consultant should provide you with a long-lasting business relationship. He/she should have a maintenance program in place, from quarterly reviews to accountability check-ins.  

8. A vast network

Your sales consultant, by nature, is a salesperson! As such, he/she should have a deep network. If there are other areas of your business that you need help with, he/she should be able to point you in the right direction, simply by reaching out to those he/she has established relationships with.

If you’re interested in discussing your business and how we might be a fit, please feel free to drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you!

4 Ways to Squeeze More Out of Your Day

As business owners and leaders, we often find that we have more things to do than hours to complete them. Here are 4 practical ways to help you become more productive and on top of your game:

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Set Your Top 3 - 5

Years ago, I met with a colleague each morning to set our top 3 priorities for the day. We worked in a fast-paced environment where interruptions were frequent, so we'd ask ourselves, "If I accomplished nothing else today, what 3 things would make today feel like a success?" We would have this brief 5 minute check-in before we opened emails, checked voicemails, or participated in any other meetings. This allowed us to get clear on what ourpriorities were, before allowing others' priorities in.

The 3 priorities for the day were aligned with the top 3-5 priorities we set for the week, which trickled down from the priorities we set for the month, quarter and year. Getting clear on your objectives and the tasks that support those objectives will help keep you on track.

Time Blocking

Time Blocking is a technique used by a lot of organized sales professionals - it allows them to optimize the time spent on sales activities. For example, parts of their day will be blocked out for prospecting, cold-calling, sales meetings, social media activities, networking, and administrative tasks (although hopefully comparatively little time spent on administrative tasks).

The beauty of time blocking is that it is a proactive exercise. It forces you to review the time in the day and dedicate time to what is most important.

Track What Actually Happens

Time Blocking is great in theory, but if you're falling behind on deadlines or failing to accomplish your Top 3 - 5, take the time to track what is absorbing your time. And I mean down to the minute.

I recommend using a spreadsheet to begin with and track your time for an entire week. I even go as far as color-coding for a quick visual of what has transpired (green for what I had intended to do, yellow for unscheduled but important events, red for unscheduled/unimportant (ie. time wasters!).

What do you notice? Do meetings consistently run over? Are you not booking in enough time for travel between meetings? Are you constantly interrupted? Are you spending more time than you realized on time-wasters?

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As you can see in the example, the hour I had dedicated for writing was interrupted by a 9 minute client telephone call (unscheduled but important), followed by a 7 minute social media scroll (unscheduled and a time-waster!) By completing this exercise, I was able to see that the 60 minutes I had scheduled to write was quickly dwindled down by 16 precious minutes!

Once you notice the trends, you can make some choices. For example:

  1. Add more time if the task is value-add. If a certain meeting consistently runs late because 10 minutes is spent talking about the latest Game of Thrones episode, set an objective to keep the meetings on-time and on-point. (But make sure your organization schedules time for "play" and social chitchat - that helps foster a healthy culture!) However, if a meeting runs late because of value-add debate or discussion, perhaps schedule a little more time moving forward.
  2. Unplug to focus. Turn off email and social media notifications. If you can, silence your telephone. Record a voicemail greeting to inform potential callers when you'll be available to call them back or provide them with an alternate number if the call is urgent.
  3. Look for new ways to do things. If something is essential and adds values, but takes too long to do, get creative and find another way to do it.

Take a Walk

Sometimes we reach a point where we're just not going to be productive. Perhaps we have too many thoughts jumbled in our heads, a tough decision that we're stuck on, or have been distracted from our mission due to an unforeseen event or incident. At this point, it's time to go for a walk. Step away from your environment and allow yourself to clear your head. (And track it to find if this is a regular occurrence and needs to be built into your schedule to optimize productivity.)

Too many times, we force ourselves to plow through - all too aware of approaching deadlines or stubbornly determined to complete our task. However, the quality of the work we produce in that space is often not optimal, and the benefits derived from a 30 minute walk can be huge. You can often revive your productivity by simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Try these 4 tips and see your productivity and performance reach new levels.

Shannon Johnston is the Chief Consultant for SBMO Consulting. As sales and marketing growth experts, we help small and medium organizations become mighty. 

What are you NOT the best at?

Deciding what you’re NOT is just as important as determining what you ARE.

I had the great fortune of attending YPO Vancouver’s executive learning event, featuring Harvard Professor Ranjay Gulati. After an entire day of insightful and relevant content, Professor Gulati gave the participants the simple task of taking away one piece of actionable information from the sessions on disruptive innovation, silo-bridging, and level 5 leadership.  My personal challenge is pulling just one nugget of wisdom, but I have finally settled on what resonated the most…

Taking the time to identify what your competitive disadvantage is. That is, taking the time to become very clear on what your product, service or company isn’t (or isn’t great at.)

Business owners and leaders are often high-achievers. We love to be great. We love to excel. We are competitive and we want to be awesome!  Sometimes, this need for greatness can be our downfall; wanting and needing to be everything to everyone. But in doing so, we often lose ourselves and inevitably become mediocre at best.

To determine what you’re going to be not great at, Professor Gulati suggested an exercise where you list the main attributes that your organization could have. From there, rank in the order of  how your business does or should measure against each attribute.

To demonstrate this exercise, Professor Gulati used Southwest Airlines as an example. On the list were a series of attributes that an airline could have, ranging from food service offering to cheap prices to friendly service. Then, he showed how Southwest Airlines ranks these attributes, whereby cheap pricing and friendly service ranked at the top two, and items such as on-flight entertainment and food service offerings ranked at the bottom two. Southwest Airlines became very clear not only about who they are and what they offer, but also about who they are not and what they won’t offer.

Think about your own business. Think about the list of attributes a company within your industry could offer: friendly service, prestigious service, convenience, quality, locations, responsiveness, low price, etc. Then, see if it’s crystal clear about both what your business both is and is not.