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Articles for Sales Leaders by Dave Kahle

Helping you refine your sales systems and develop your people is the heart of our work.  Read these sales management articles to find insights and ideas on how you can improve your company’s sales effectiveness. 

Check out Dave’s Q & A for sales executives.

SM-44 Multi-tasking, focus, and other stuff
By Dave Kahle
I just had a conversation with a sales manager at my last seminar. The gist of it is this: he has so many competing responsibilities; it is difficult to spend time with his sales team. Sound familiar? It should. I have heard that idea expressed countless times by executives, sales managers and sales people. In one way or another, sales professionals find themselves increasingly occupied by trivial tasks at the expense of the important ones. It is an epidemic that is raging unabated in our economy... [Read More]

SM-43 Gaining Market Share in a Difficult Economy: The problem with relationships
By Dave Kahle
In the B2B world, the relationship between the customer and the vendor, and more specifically, the vendor's sales person, can be of utmost importance. It doesn't take long in the business to understand that if the customer dislikes you, he is rarely going to see you. And if he does know you and trust you, he is more likely to do business with you... [Read More]

SM-42 Your future, the new normal economy, and the biggest announcement of my career
By Dave Kahle
We all feel it. At some level just under the surface, we sense a constant, lingering anxiety. Things just aren't the same anymore. It feels like, at any moment, something could change and we would be in much more difficult circumstances -- out of a job, perhaps, or riding another dive downward in business... [Read More]

SM-41 Do You Have a Selling System?
By Dave Kahle
“I have my own style of selling.”

That is a remark I have heard a number of times, usually from relatively inexperienced salespeople. What they usually mean is something like this:  “I don’t have any real system to what I do, I don’t want any scrutiny, and I probably am not going to learn anything from you... [Read More]

SM-40 How Not to Make Joint Sales Calls
By Dave Kahle
One of the fundamental principles that I've held to for my career in sales is this: One of the best things a sales manager can do is make joint sales calls with his/her sales people. While I continue to believe that, I received an email from an Ezine subscriber some time ago that made me think a bit more cautiously about this... [Read More]

SM-39 First, the Sales Managers
By Dave Kahle
Now that the worst of the recession is behind us, it’s time to think about actually growing the business again.  And that means investing in the improvement of the sales force... [Read More]

SM-38 The Secret Strategy for Meaningful Sales Meetings
By Dave Kahle
Oops! Got a sales meeting coming up in two weeks, better get ready for it. Let's see, what should we do? I'll go over last month's numbers, that'll take a half hour. Then I know! The credit manager has been complaining about the state of receivables lately. I'll have him come in and complain directly to the sales guys. That'll take about an hour. Now what... [ Read More ]

SM-37 Is the solution them, or is it me?
by Dave Kahle
In this economy, everyone is looking for a simple fix to survive and arrive on the other side intact. Some even occasionally entertain dreams of growing just a little bit. Few are happy with their situations. And all but a few point their fingers at the economy as the source of their dismay. [ Read More ]

SM-36 Stop the Bleeding! Why an uneducated sales force is the biggest single drain on corporate profits
by Dave Kahle
The following scenario plays over and over again in every one of your sales territories every day. And it costs you hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. I was working with one of my client's salespeople. The client was an HVAC commercial contractor. The salesperson had an appointment with a prospect who had called and requested a visit. ... [Read More]

SM-35 Why Good Salespeople Often Turn into Mediocre Sales Managers
by Dave Kahle
We've all done it. Promoted a good salesperson, often our best, to sales manager. My files are full of cases where the results were below expectations for everyone involved. Principals and CSOs are often disappointed in the lack of results, and the sales managers are confused and frustrated with the lack of achievement of their teams... [Read More]

SM-34 Are There Best Practices for Salespeople?
by Dave Kahle
One of the most debilitating myths about the sales profession is this: Salespeople can learn on their own, on the job, and eventually become good at their jobs. They'll eventually develop their own style, this myth implies, and that will bring them the maximum results. ... [Read More]

SM-29 Time Management: An Ounce of Prevention...
by Dave Kahle
The essential challenge of effective time management is to spend more of our time doing those things which bring us the best results, and less of those things that don't bring us results. So we struggle, every day, with surmounting this challenge. We try to spend more time with customers, and less with paperwork. We try to delegate portions of our "to do" list that can better be done by someone else. We arrange our days to spend our time doing the most effective things... [Read More]

SM-28 Knowing Your Customers
by Dave Kahle
Again this week I encountered what has become a common event. I was called in to consult with a client. Sales were flat for too long, and the client knew that something had to be done. One of my first questions was this: "What do you know about your customers?" Once again the answer was a glazed look and some mumbling about information in the credit department. Trying to refine a sales system without adequately knowing your customers is like playing pin the tail on the donkey -- you'll stumble around blindly unless you're lucky enough to stick something by chance... [Read More]

SM-27 Fine in the Past: Are You Hindered by Formerly Effective Sales & Marketing Policies?
by Dave Kahle
I call it FIP. Fine in the Past. It refers to all the sales and marketing efforts, ideas, policies, principles, techniques, and strategies that worked well in the past, but are no longer effective. The past is everything that's pre-2005. I still recall a poignant moment with an attendee at one of my seminars. During the break he came up to me and said this: "I've been in business for seventeen years. And we've done well. But now, it seems like everything is changing, and I don't know what to do." He went on to explain that he had built his formerly thriving tool and die business on certain core principles: Quality workmanship, competitive prices, and good service... [Read More]

SM-26 The Power is in the Process
by Dave Kahle
Here's a lesson that every salesperson needs to learn early in their career: Sales is not magic. Just the opposite; every selling situation has a very definable, step-by-step process which, when executed with expertise, almost inevitably leads to a sale. One way to define the job of a salesperson is this: Salespeople manage a sufficient number of customers step-by-step through the selling process. It follows, then, that one way to improve your results is to clearly identify the steps in your selling situation's unique process, and then focus on moving each customer, one step-at-a-time, methodically through that process... [Read More]

SM-25 Frustrated with your company's inability to develop new customers? Try a sales blitz.
by Dave Kahle
One of the most common complaints I hear from my clients is this: "I can't seem to motivate the salespeople to call on prospects and develop them into new customers." There is a relatively simple, fun and inexpensive way to remedy this situation. It's called a sales blitz. Unfortunately, few companies are even aware of it, and fewer yet use it. Here's the problem. Most B2B sales efforts are organized around a sales rep who is responsible for a specific set of accounts, or a specific geographical area. Typically, that rep is expected to grow the business with the current customers as well as to identify and develop new customers. Clearly, most sales people are better at one part of this two-part responsibility than the other... [Read More]

SM-24 The Three Most Common Mistakes Sales Managers Make
by Dave Kahle
In most organizations, sales managers are the essential bridge between the company's sales goals and the realization of those goals. The gritty day-to-day interactions between the sales people and their customers are frequently filtered through the perspective of the sales manager on their way up the ladder. And the aspirations and strategies of the company's management must be imprinted by the realism of the sales manager as they come down from above. Sales managers are the conductors who carefully orchestrate the tentative entanglement of the sales people with their management... [Read More]

SM-23 Accepting Responsibility for Your Sales Success
by Dave Kahle
That we live in a time of relentless and pervasive change is no longer news to anyone. There is one important implication of this situation that continues to be a challenge. That is that our employees need to continually change their behavior to adapt to the world around them. My work of helping companies develop more effective sales organizations always involves making changes in the company. And sooner or later, that means that some of the employees must make significant changes in the ways that they think about, and do, their jobs. This is particularly true of the sales people, who must decide to change their behavior and to implement the best practices that I teach. Beyond that, ultimately, helping people change is the work of every executive, manager, consultant and trainer... [Read More]

SM-22 Transforming Your Sales Force by Creating Specific Expectations
by Dave Kahle
I just finished a phone call with a potential client who had called to discuss a problem. His 18 person sales force was paid on straight commission. All had been with the company for 8 - 15 years and were earning healthy incomes. His problem was that he couldn't get them to do what he wanted them to do. Here's the example he shared. He wanted the salespeople to call on new prospects to expand the company's base. Instead of just seeing established customers, he asked them to call on prospects, and report back to him on the progress they were making. There were almost no results. Instead he got comments like: "I'm not going to do this, I'm not a new salesperson." Or, "That's just more paperwork." This list could go on and on... [Read More]

SM-20 How to Deal with the Salesperson Who Has Leveled Off
by Dave Kahle
Every manager has, or will, confront this troublesome issue. It´s arisen in every workshop for sales managers or branch managers I´ve done. One or more of your salespeople has leveled off. Their performance hasn´t improved much in the last few years. Where before you were able to count on significant increases each year, now you can not. You know that these experienced salespeople can do better, but they seem unable or unwilling to break out of a certain level of performance. You are scratching your head, frustrated, and loosing sleep at night wondering how to improve the situation. What do you do?... [Read More]

SM-19 How Sharp is Your Sales Structure?
by Dave Kahle
How can I get greater productivity out of my salespeople? In one form or another, that's a question every owner and sales manager ponders regularly. As a sales trainer and consultant, it is the basic question that I confront. And it is the underlying question behind every attempt to train salespeople. Investing in training and developing your salespeople is always a good idea. But it isn't the entire solution for many organizations. Often, enormous improvements in sales productivity can be achieved by sharpening the structure of your sales organization... [Read more]

SM-16 Developing Your Salespeople
by Dave Kahle
Is there such an initiative? IS THERE ONE thing you can do that will help you keep the good salespeople you have, motivate your salespeople, stimulate your salespeople to become more productive, and attract good quality candidates? The answer? Of course there is. It's this... [Read more]

SM-15 Is Your Sales System Clogged with Accumulated Gunk?
by Dave Kahle
What's gunk? Any practice that detracts from the salesperson spending time with customers. In other words, other things the outside salespeople do instead of meeting with customers. When we boil down the job of the typical outside salesperson to its essence, it is clear that the one thing we want of them, the one place that they bring value to the organization, the one thing they do that is the essential reason we have them, is interact with the customers. Everything else is a means to that end... [Read more]

SM-13 On Fielding a Directable Sales Force
by Dave Kahle
Do you have a directable sales force? Directable means that your sales force can be counted on to quickly, thoroughly and positively carry out your directions. Such a sales force is both rare, and incredibly valuable to the company. In fact, a directable sales force is one of the greatest strategic advantages your company can have... [Read more]

SM-12 What's a Professional Sales Manager?
by Dave Kahle
I was in the depths of a major depression. As a third year salesperson with a good company, I was doing well, and was on my way to becoming the top salesperson in the nation for that company. But business had slowed down a little, and I didn't have my usual number of proposals out for consideration. So, I wasn't as busy as usual. As my activity slowed, I began to worry. My doubts increased to the point where I had thought myself into a real depression, stuck on the question of "What's the use of trying?" The more negative my thoughts became, the less energy I had. My lack of energy led to fewer and fewer sales calls, which of course, led to less activity. And that led to more depressing thoughts. I was caught in a powerful downward spiral... [Read More]

SM-11 Is Telemarketing Feasible For My Business?
by Dave Kahle
Systematic use of the telephone is one of the fastest growing sales and marketing strategy today. Rapid growth of telemarketing has stimulated marketers from companies and organizations of all sizes to question whether or not there is some application of telemarketing in their business. Telemarketing, perhaps more than any other media, requires a commitment from management to resources and time to make it work... [Read more]

SM-7 Teaching Your Organization to Learn
by Dave Kahle
Are things changing rapidly in your business? Silly question, isn't it? Of course they are changing. Rapid change is the distinguishing characteristic of the new millennium. Take that rapid change and add to it growing competition, increasing complexity, consolidations at every level, and increasing demands from customers and you have the recipe for a business climate that will turn anyone's hair gray... [Read more]

SM-6 Is it Time to Revise Your Sales Compensation Plan?
by Dave Kahle
If you're paying your sales reps straight commission, you're using an obsolete formula. If you're paying your sales reps a straight salary, you're also using an obsolete formula. Read this article to find out a much more effective way to compensate your sales staff... [Read more]

SM-4 The Ultimate Survival Skill for the Information Age
by Dave Kahle
We're living in incredibly turbulent times. The well spring of this uncertainty lies in one of the characteristics of the newly-arrived information age. Business people are being buffeted by an increasingly rapid rate of change. Consider this. In 1900, the total amount of knowledge available to mankind was doubling about every 500 years. In 1990, it was doubling about every two years... [Read more]

SM-3 Popcorn and Other Marketing Mistakes In a Changing Economy
by Dave Kahle
Ten years of competitive hell! That was the title on the seminar brochure I received recently. As I survey some of the forces flowing through our economy, and witness the way in which they effect my clients, I have to agree. The Information Age is certainly one of the most turbulent times business people have ever seen. And the force causing the greatest turbulence is rapid, unrelenting change. Consider this. In 1900, the total amount of knowledge that mankind had was doubling about every 500 years. Today, it doubles about every two years. And the pace continues to increase. One futurist predicts that today's high school seniors will have to absorb more information in their final year alone than their grandparents did in their entire life... [Read more]

SM-2 What's the Best Way to Find a Good Salesperson
by Dave Kahle
Good question! It seems that everyone has a favorite response. Some people only use recruiters, and others swear by networking. But classified ads continue to be the most common choice. Almost everyone who hires salespeople will, at some time, search for prospects via the "help wanted" section... [Read more]

SM-1 For CEO's: How to Model Self-Directed Learning for Your Organization
by Dave Kahle
The challenge for every CEO is to transform his/her organization into a learning organization. Self-directed learning is the fundamental skill necessary for individuals and organizations to survive and prosper in our turbulent times. Those organizations who successfully transform themselves into learning organizations -- organizations which continually process new information and change their behavior on that basis of that information -- will be tomorrow's winners... [Read more]

How Do You Change the Behavior of an Experienced Salesperson?
by Dave Kahle
Every client I deal with, in one way or another, eventually asks that question. The words may be different, but the question is the same. In this turn-of-the-century economic environment, it's a universal question. If you haven't confronted the issue yet, it's only a matter of time before you will. Here's the context in which this question surfaces. The company needs to make some change that impacts the sales force: A new compensation program, a new automation tool, a new sales process, a new way of working with inside salespeople -- a new something. Most sales forces are made up of a variety of people, ranging from the inexperienced rookies, to the veterans who have been around for anywhere from five to twenty-five years. The rookies are eager to learn and quick to adapt to the new thing, while most of the veterans are set in their ways and resistant to the new initiative. The question of how to get the veterans to embrace and implement the new thing always comes up within the framework of a specific change that the company wants to make. From my perspective, however, it is a larger issue... [Read more]



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