Browsing articles in "Big Blog"

Is Sales Coaching Your ‘Big Rock’?

May 20, 2015   //   by Simon   //   Account Management, Big Blog, Management, Planning, Sales Training  //  Comments Off

BIG Ideas from BIG Consulting



Today’s Sales Managers often complain that their life has never been busier. The many task demands fill their day at the expense of arguably their most important focus, people development.

The question therefore is, “Are you giving your people development responsibility the focus it deserves?” Is coaching your sales team the ‘big rock’ you place in your work bowl first?

The recurring picture we see is that busy sales managers focus on too many tasks that don’t add value or drive real change. The focus on people and their ongoing development through coaching sadly becomes the casualty, and yet it is their people, their sales teams that are ultimately tasked with delivering sales targets.

So how can the “busy fool” reorganise the priorities of sales management and still file the sales report on time for the Sales Director?

Here are 5 ideas you may like to consider:


1.  Re-define your role as a Sales Manager & communicate it

  • Take ‘time out’ in your role and review your top priorities
  • Map your responsibilities and quantify the time you currently spend on each
  • Then reset the allocation giving priority to people development whilst still meeting your other commitments
  • Share and communicate openly your revised priorities with confidence, not just with your sales teams but also with your manager and the wider organization so that everyone is clear on your game plan


 2.  Measure it and hold yourself accountable

  • With Coaching now prioritised, make sure you set SMART goals and clear measures so you are accountable
  • Build these objectives and measures into your annual performance review and report them openly
  • Encourage other sales managers in your organisation who also have people responsibilities to follow your lead and help build a ‘coaching culture’


3.  Prioritise and protect people time

  • Schedule time in field with all of your people (including your high performers)
  • As a guide, plan to spend a minimum of 1 coaching day per person per month
  • Set dates and lock them in 3 months in advance
  • Communicate these days not just with your sales team, but within your
  • sales organisation
  • Then take your other meetings in the spare times around your coaching days
  • Protect these dates with discipline and resist the temptation to make changes


 4.  Delegate other tasks and challenge the status quo to create more coaching time

  • Identify tasks that you are able to appropriately delegate to other members of your team and empower them to take responsibility and ownership. This frees up more time for you to re-invest back into coaching
  • Delegation also serves as a great ‘development’ opportunity for individuals within your team and further ‘coaching’ opportunities
  • Identify any non-value, time wasting, non-sales generating tasks and challenge the ‘status quo’. Either re-assess how you can improve efficiency with that task or simply get rid of it!


 5.   Communicate your success stories and results achieved

  • With coaching now a priority in your role, share your success stories and in particular demonstrate the impact it had on the overall capability and results from the sales team
  • Develop a simple coaching measurement tool where you can highlight the time invested in coaching and the direct relationship this has had with sales targets being achieved


The vast majority of sales managers today I believe do subscribe to the view that people development through sales coaching should be a top priority and a core competency within their organisation. It makes logical sense. But the real question that needs to be asked is how many actually follow through with this in reality, and what is holding them back from doing so? In considering the ideas discussed in this article along with a real willingness to make coaching a top priority, what will you now commit to doing today?

As a Business Improvement Consultant to a variety of organisations across a multitude of industries, I have worked with clients on making coaching a real focus and developed programs and tools that drive real change, not just for the sales coach but also for their sales teams. With a change in mindset and measures in place, these organisations have since implemented rigorous coaching calendars where they hold all sales managers accountable to ‘time in field coaching’. This has resulted in dramatically improved capability of the sales team and in some cases seen sales uplift of more than 50%.

Chris is a Business Improvement Consultant for BIG Consulting with a strong history of successful Sales Leadership, Coaching & Development across all levels of the sales organization. We engage with clients on a variety of Business Improvement and Sales Force Effectiveness solutions including Senior Leadership Teams responsible for optimising the sales function, to Sales Managers looking to drive results through their teams, to front line Sales People responsible for accounts or territories… all designed to positively impact sales results.  You can learn more on our website and through Chris’s LinkedIn profile.


How to Get Your Phone Calls Returned

Apr 7, 2015   //   by Simon   //   Account Management, Big Blog, Planning  //  Comments Off


How to Get Your Phone Calls Returned 

It seems that today’s executives have lost their manners. Very few managers seem compelled to return the calls of suppliers following new business discussions,
and it seems to be getting worse.

Instead of taking it personally or wearing the frustration of radio silence, perhaps we sales professionals need to reboot our expectations. Recent thinking indicates it takes at least four attempts to reach someone following an initial meeting, and perhaps that is on the low side according to the client experiences we field today.

The law of reciprocity states that if you do something for your prospect, like write a proposal or supply samples, they will be more inclined to give you something back in return. But the traditional giving seems to have lost its gravitational pull.

If this is the new normal, then what can we do to generate a return on our prospecting efforts? The key is to become more valuable to the customer who is grappling with the decision to change their supply. You need to be positioned inside the tent by being different and much closer to how the customer wishes to proceed.

Below are some initial thoughts on how to be different. We welcome your ideas on what you have found to be effective in dealing with the time poor, rude or simply overrun executives.


1.  Be valuable to their buying process

  • - Are they the decision maker or just the gatherer of information?
  • - Do you know their buying process and decision criteria?
  • - Who else is involved?


2.  Understand their pleasure and pain points

  • - How does your solution increase their pleasure?
  • - How does your solution decrease their pain?
  • - Use this in your communications
  • - Recognise these forces operate on both a business and personal level


3.  Leave a hook after every contact

  • - Send them something – sample, paper, proposal, suggestions for next steps
  • - Have them do something – complete part of a process, a profile, a health check
  • - Set a date for a follow up, and hold them to it


4.  Introduce some appropriate inertia

  • - Include a time limit on a quoted price that will expire after a certain date
  • - Flag the risk of the offer expiring altogether
  • - Flag other competitor approaches
  • - We will move on if we don’t hear from you by a certain date


5.  Seek their help on a dimension of the deal

  • - “Asking for their help” is a powerful way to get them involved psychologically
  • - Follow up on a point of specification
  • - Clarify the quote


6.  Set a meeting assuming they are interested 

“Since I haven’t heard from you, let me make it easy for you to progress our initial discussions.  I am available on Wednesday at 2pm or 4pm or Thursday at 9am or 11am.  Please simply indicate by return which time works best for you.”


7.  Introduce leverage on the slow responder

“I haven’t heard from you and was getting concerned the opportunity may be growing whiskers.  I would certainly appreciate talking with you directly as to where it sits at your end so we can decide how to best service you. 

Alternatively, if I don’t hear from you, I thought you should know that I plan to follow up with – your boss, your colleague, the MD…”


8.  Best time to call

  • - Early or late to get around the gatekeeper
  • - Some say it is between 10am and 12 noon
  • - Never call around lunchtime


9.  Change your media channel 

  • - Use a mixture of office phone, email, mobile phone
  • - Consider communication through Social Media channels such as LinkedIn as some executives use this more out of hours when they have finished with their inbox


10.  Lose quickly

    In an email, give them the choice to advise if they have decided to go elsewhere.

“Hi John, I was concerned I haven’t heard back from you since our meeting/we sent you samples/I sent you our proposal. We have followed through by doing x, y, z as we committed and were now respectfully seeking your feedback as to how you wish to proceed.  If you have decided to go elsewhere, please let me know to save both of us additional work.”


11.  Send a handwritten note

  • It differentiates you from others seeking their attention, makes it more personal


12.  Send them a news article or relevant discussion paper

  • Keeps you top of mind and gives you additional authority on the subject at hand


13.  Use some humour

“I was really looking forward to following up on our meeting/email/proposal but it appears one of the two things have occurred.

Either …

  1. You are no longer interested – if so, you can tell me and I will recover.

                        Or …

  1. You are still interested but something has happened to you – injury, promotion, the alligators ate your arm pits?  I am not sure which it is but I certainly wanted to check on your well-being before we send someone over to check on you.”

Pick your mark on this one but make sure your tongue is clearly in your cheek.


14.  Drop in on short notice

“Hi Susan, I am meeting with another customer right near your location on Tuesday next week, how about I make it easy for you and drop in quickly to reconnect? I can meet you in reception for a 10-minute chat or we can grab a quick coffee next door. Easy?”


15.  ’Have they read it yet’ email follow up 

“Dear Jenny, I wanted to follow up our recent meeting as I was expecting to have reconnected with you by now.

I’m wondering if the reason we hadn’t spoken was because you have yet to review the proposal, you had a concern with the specification or I have been wrong in guessing the best times to catch you at your desk?

Please help me understand where you are at with our proposal which can deliver you savings in the order of $100,000 over your current supply arrangement.”


16.  Last and final

“John, I have attempted to reach you now by phone and email on a dozen occasions, without a single return call.  I can only infer that you are moving in another direction however if that is not the case please call me today. 

If I don’t hear from you I will assume you are no longer interested and trust that we can be of service again in the future.”


17.  Love/Hate relationship

“Hi Ben, it appears we have a love/hate relationship.  I love to give you quality follow up service and you hate to return calls.  

Maybe we can let each other know where you are at so I can direct my love accordingly.
Thanks. I look forward to your advice.”



The 7 Deadly Training Sins – Part 5 / Final

Mar 24, 2015   //   by Simon   //   Big Blog, Sales Training  //  Comments Off

The 7 Deadly Training Sins


This is the final of the series of posts that details all of the 7 Deadly Training Sins.

Scroll down for previous parts of the series or go to BIG Ideas for the complete white paper.


  Consultant Led


SIN #7  Thou shalt not accept anyone less than outstanding facilitators

Temptation:  If you buy off the shelf, as in Sin #1, you are setting up for failure on content. If you buy in a generalist trainer because their fees are cheaper then you are about to commit another costly sin.
Don’t do it, avoid the temptation!

Solution:  For trainees to “buy” what is being sold to them in the program, you need a number of elements of persuasion working for you, not against you. These include early and genuine trust in the provider that they don’t just know their stuff, but that they can take the business and the individuals on the learning journey and safely deliver the outcomes with low risk. By just buying on price, you dramatically increase the risk of destroying value for the business…..and perhaps your reputation at the same time.

In Maister, Green and Galford’s book, the Trusted Advisor, the authors used a neat formula for trust.

T = (C + R + I) / SI

 Where T stands for Trust, which is a function of….

C is Credibility,          R is Reliability,          I is Intimacy,


divided by


SI is Self interest


If your team is going to trust (T) what is being taught to them, then trust needs to be established very early on. Ideally during the build of the program, well before any workshops are delivered. (See above for the solution to Sin #1 and involving the team in tailoring the program.)

The provider needs to assert their credibility (C) from work history, positions held, projects delivered, industries consulted to and results delivered. If you can’t get the answers to these questions, you have the wrong provider.

Reliability (R) means you will get quality often, not just as a once off. Successful trainers need to be flexible and multi skilled to keep more of the people happy more of the time, but can keep changing the people!

Intimacy (I) speaks to the environment that is created and the care for individual’s concerns, needs and challenges. The best trainers establish this comfort very early and remain congruent to it throughout the program. Information is protected, respected and is not shared with other clients.

The final part of the definition of trust is the degree to which the audience sense the trainer is focused on their needs as the client or their own self interest (SI) as the consultant. Your provider might have lots of credibility, be consistent in their delivery with high confidentiality, but if it is more about the trainer’s needs than the those of the you the client, then you have just committed another sin. Trust is impacted and the program loses its impact. Is it worth saving a few bucks by buying on price when value is so much more important.

So you now have a manifesto for choosing carefully and choosing wisely with your next investment in training and development. Your profile within and outside of your business will rest on avoiding these 7 deadly sins. Can you resist the temptations?

The 7 Deadly Training Sins – Part 4

Mar 17, 2015   //   by Simon   //   Big Blog, Sales Training  //  Comments Off

The 7 Deadly Training Sins

This is part 4 of a series of posts that details all of the 7 Deadly Training Sins.

Scroll down for previous parts of the series or go to BIG Ideas for the complete white paper coming soon.


 Consultant Led


SIN #5  Thou shalt not accept less than a day of coaching per person per month

Temptation:  So the training has been delivered and the happy sheets suggested the food was acceptable and the program content had some value. These are NOT the measures of success.

Solution:  Repetition is the mother of skill. We know that if training is not reinforced within 30 days of attending, then 87% of its value is lost. Crickey!

The contribution from regular, quality coaching together with appropriate feedback and guidance is a far greater contributor to overall program success than the initial training itself.

Best practice in many industries, especially amongst the highly sophisticated FMCG players, is to provide a full day of in field coaching per person per month where the focus is to “catch people out doing things well”, together with having constructive conversations in identifying key development opportunities. The coach earns their money when they can demonstrate to the salesperson key areas of development opportunity.

 Consultant Led
SIN #6  Thou shalt not progress without a measurement tool that provides feedback to the individual and links to their KRA’s 

Temptation:  Having put on the training and invested time in the field coaching, surely that will see a lift in capability. Well maybe. But how will you know accurately and on which dimensions has development
taken place? 

Solution:  You need a measurement tool and benchmark that can measure and calibrate where every team member is currently performing against a clear statement of “what good looks like”.

The ideal is for the individual salesperson to be able to self assess current capability versus “what good looks like” and start a development conversation with their manager.

Then they can spend some time in field to demonstrate the evidence of how they are performing versus the self-assessment. The manager then validates the accuracy of the self-assessment against what both the coach and coachee saw on the day’s calls. The data is then recorded, shared with the business and a copy sent electronically to the salesperson’s inbox or performance dashboard.

The ultimate outcome is that the sales person goes in to their annual performance review with absolutely no surprises as they have had at least 10 full coaching days throughout the year and they are very clear about their strengths, opportunities and development trajectory.


We will give more details on each of the 7 Deadly Training Sins in subsequent newsletters and postings – look out for these over the coming weeks!

Visit our BIG Ideas page for the complete white paper coming soon.

The 7 Deadly Training Sins – Part 3

Mar 10, 2015   //   by Simon   //   Big Blog, Sales Training  //  Comments Off


The 7 Deadly Training Sins 

This is part 3 of a series of posts that details all of the 7 Deadly Training Sins.

Scroll down for previous parts of the series or go to BIG Ideas for the complete white paper coming soon.


 Consultant Led


SIN #3  Thou shalt not waiver on the commitment to invest in ongoing development

Temptation:  Sure, you have brought in a training program and had a good year with it. You spent a bit but the market is tightening. Better make some savings on travel, training and advertising. Yep, you will save some money in the New Year but you have sent a clear message to the team that you are not really committed to their strategic development. Shame.

Solution:  To get consistent ROI over time and to ensure that behaviour change is sustainable, you must commit to a multi-year program that builds layers of competence.
Foundation – Intermediate – Advanced. If you stop, you undo all the good work. If you have the right program and provider, training should be easily self-funding. So why stop when things get tight? Research shows that the best companies over invest in tough times and trim when times are good. Are you in the group of best performing companies when it comes to staying the course?

 Consultant Led
SIN #4  Thou shalt not embark on a training journey without the enthusiastic endorsement of the senior leadership team 

Temptation:  Ok, so you are empowered to make decisions for your business and the SLT are busy. Do they really want to be briefed on the program and provider you have chosen to dramatically up skill the sales team? They should be, but it is so difficult to get the air time. That might be so, but explaining why it didn’t work might be even more painful.

Solution:  To build your profile as an effective manager and developer of people, you absolutely should be engaging the leaders of your business in all elements of the program: What are the identified training needs, how will they improve the business performance over time (short, mid and long term), how will you know you have been successful, what ROI can you expect from the investment, what will it cost the business to not build the capability? These are the questions to answer for the SLT.

For your team to see that the Executive are behind the training initiative gives them more reason to buy in and maximise their take out. You could consider having a senior leader open a program, share a video of support or to be part of the program as a presenter, subject matter expert or trouble shooter. The more that they can adopt the language of the program, the more congruent the message of positive endorsement flows to the team. Avoid this one at your own peril.


We will give more details on each of the 7 Deadly Training Sins in subsequent newsletters and postings – look out for these over the coming weeks!

Visit our BIG Ideas page for the complete white paper coming soon.

The 7 Deadly Training Sins – Part 2

Mar 3, 2015   //   by Simon   //   Big Blog, Sales Training  //  Comments Off


The 7 Deadly Training Sins

This is part 2 of a series of posts that details all of the 7 Deadly Training Sins.

Scroll down for part 1 of the series or go to BIG Ideas for the complete white paper coming soon.


   Consultant Led
SIN #1  Thou shalt not buy off the shelf programs or providers!

Temptation:  Sure, buying off the shelf is easier and often costs less. But in training, as with many other professional services, the price is what you pay, the value is what you get. Don’t be tempted by trying to get away with a cheap, generic offer.  It will cost you lots more in the long run.

Solution:  Invest in a tailored program that is customised for your industry, your company and your brands within that industry.  It makes it much easier for the target audience to buy in to and ultimately adopt as their new way.

This will typically involve having your consultant spend some time in the field with your sales people, talking with customers and testing ideas with your managers. It takes a few days but the difference in the quality of the materials when you roll it out is dramatic. The team buy in when they know they were part of the build. They will resist anything that gets imposed on them, especially when it is generic.


 Consultant Led
SIN #2  Thou shalt not run one off events! 

Temptation:  Sure, you have the annual conference and everyone is being flown in. Why not tack on a few days of sales training, and you can tick off your education commitment for another year. Perfect. Not really.

Solution The more effective way to educate adults is to give them a series of mental mouthfuls over time.

Perhaps use the annual conference for a big upfront fast start, but we know that even if they have the best workshop experience they will only retain 54% of what was taught, at best!

So be prepared to spread your program content over the year. By all means have a launch event but be prepared to revisit the content two or more times, whilst going deeper with a greater emphasis on applying learning back on the job, raising the capability benchmark over time.

We will give more details on each of the 7 Deadly Training Sins in subsequent newsletters and postings – look out for these over the coming weeks!

Visit our BIG Ideas page for the complete white paper coming soon.

The 7 Deadly Training Sins – Part 1

Feb 10, 2015   //   by Simon   //   Big Blog, Sales Training  //  Comments Off


The 7 Deadly Training Sins

Have you ever heard a manager lamenting that their company training program failed to deliver? No improvement in capability and no ROI. Pity.

What could have been the cause of this wasted effort, time and expense?

Should the manager look in the mirror and take the blame themselves or peer out their window and blame any or all of the following:

 Consultant Led

  1. The external training provider who prepared the solution
  2. The HR department for scoping the program
  3. The sales effectiveness manager for orchestrating the initiative
  4. The internal trainers who delivered the program
  5. The CFO for not providing enough money for the program
  6. The CEO for not supporting it

In our nearly two decades of experience we have seen millions of dollars wasted on ineffectual forays in to training.  In most cases the intent was right but the strategy and execution were expensive mistakes. Generally, we see evidence that the programs failed because training sins were committed. In many cases multiple sins were committed in the same initiative.


So how will you avoid these 7 deadly sins and set you and your company up for success?

We will give more details and advice on each of the 7 Deadly Training Sins in subsequent newsletters and postings – look out for these over the coming weeks!

Visit our BIG Ideas page for the complete white paper coming soon.

BIG Consulting Opens For Business In Asia

Nov 11, 2014   //   by Simon   //   Account Management, Big Blog, Leadership, Management, Negotiation, Sales Training  //  Comments Off

BIG Consulting Opens For Business In Asia

BIG Consulting is excited to announce that we have now established a permanent office in Singapore. This development will ensure that our Sales Force Effectiveness services can now be accessed more easily across the Asia Pacific region. 

It is with great pleasure that we introduce and welcome to BIG Consulting, Mr Han Peng Ng who will represent us throughout the region.


Han Peng Ng Contact Details


Han Peng joins BIG Consulting as our Regional Business Development Manager. His primary role will be to represent BIG Consulting in key markets across Asia with the specific purpose of making new business contacts. 

Han Peng comes to BIG Consulting with a proven track record in driving accelerated business growth in emerging markets across Asia Pacific having gained a Bachelor of Accountancy from the Nanyang Technological University. He has held various senior commercial roles across multi national Healthcare and Consumer Goods organisations such as Novartis and Hoya. He brings significant experience in business development, market strategy development and possesses a keen can-do attitude.

If you or your Asia Pacific contacts would benefit from an initial discussion about needs in sales force effectiveness consulting or sales training services, please contact us.

The Paradox Of Planning

Aug 20, 2014   //   by Simon   //   Account Management, Big Blog, Management, Planning, Territory Management  //  Comments Off

The Paradox Of Planning

 Consultant Led Planning takes time and sales people are always time poor.
But productive planning is an investment that delivers better results in less time.
So how can you prepare to sell and at the same time make use of your most precious resource – your time?

Start high and aim high
What are you ultimately setting out to achieve? Could you aim higher? What is your annual budget and the associated KPI’s to be delivered? Start here and get really clear on what success in your role looks like. An annual activity that is regularly revisited.

Territory planning
With a clear idea of ultimate results, then consider where will those results come from? The starting point is the company sales strategy and the implications for you and your territory in aligning with those strategic choices. 

Segment your territory by customer value stream and use alternative filters not just existing size. Eg Future potential, strategic importance, ease of execution, degree of influence are some possibilities to use.

Apply a weighted call plan to this segmentation so your coverage and frequency are appropriately weighted.

Call Planning
There are two main considerations in call planning – the What and the How.

The What – this involves setting objectives as to what it is you wish to achieve. The more precise you are with objective setting, the more likely you will achieve your goals. When expressing your call objectives make them SMART

     S           SPECIFIC          Which products, what sort of promotion etc

     M      MEASURABLE      How many exactly

     A        ACHIEVABLE      Have you aimed high but not ridiculously so

     R          RELEVANT        Is your objective relevant to our business and theirs

     T              TIMED            By when are you looking to achieve this goal


  The Howis now the sales plan for engaging the customer and converting the opportunity. Typically it is considering the steps of the sales process and considering your options:

         RAPPORT         How can I engage the customer on this occasion

           NEEDS            What questions will uncover needs and priorities

               SOLUTIONS       What benefits will solve their problems

              OBJECTIONS      What will they likely push back on and how will I solve those issues


Finally the return on investment comes from executional excellence. If you invested the time putting it together, be disciplined in its execution, monitoring what works and what doesn’t.

Train the Trainer or Consultant led training – what’s best?

Jun 5, 2014   //   by Simon   //   Big Blog, Sales Training  //  Comments Off

 Train The Trainer or Consultant Led

 Consultant Led

We are often asked for our opinion on which is the best approach to delivering training. The best answer is probably both!

The case for Train the Trainer

  • We already pay our managers so we can get more out of a fixed expense
  • Our managers know their team and therefore have a familiarity that they can leverage in learning
  • After the initial purchase of content, we can run further training without a variable cost
  • If our managers have to deliver the training, then it is incumbent on them to know their stuff
  • If they are responsible for delivering learning in the training room then it follows that they can reinforce that learning via coaching

The downside of Train the Trainer

  • As managers already have a day job, loading them up with preparing and delivering training is another non core activity for them to juggle
  • As training is a technical skill, they need to be experienced and well trained in the craft to be an effective teacher
  • As content is generally purchased as modules it can take up to a year to deliver 10 x 90 minute training sessions that alternatively could have been delivered by a consultant over two days up front
  • There is often a lower acceptable standard of delivery and measurement when training is delivered in house
  • As the trainer is only exposed to one business, they loose the cross industry and broader perspective of a consultant who delivers multiple programs with a variety of clients in different industries

The upside of Consultant led training

  • High quality, dynamic, impactful learning
  • Managers freed up to support reinforcement in coaching
  • Cross industry experience and perspectives
  • Greater engagement from learners

The downside of Consultant led training

  • If they don’t do their homework it can be generic and lacking in customisation
  • You get what you pay for in terms of quality – if you only pay peanuts, you will get monkeys
  • Unless there is an ongoing relationship post the workshops, you can lose the continuity

The best of both worlds in a hybrid approach

    As modules are a slow burn make a fast start with the consultant up front. Your team gets a deep dive in to a complete program with high quality learning outcomes.
    Then follow up with modular reinforcement via the manager who has to know their stuff to be effective in both training and reinforcement coaching in the field.