LSA Global Insights Newsletter

8.26.2017

How to Optimize Sales Performance in the Face of Increased Pressure

You need to optimize sales performance to  stay in the race and win.

Sales and sales strategies have become more important and more complex in the last few years.

Although there are hundreds of technology platforms available to support sales teams and sales leaders, most sales forces struggle to optimize sales performance in the face of these challenges:


  • Intense competitive pressures and rapid shifts in the marketplace
  • Increased commoditization and pricing pressure
  •  More savvy buyers with greater expectations and information
  •  Greater difficulty consistently attracting, developing, engaging and retaining top sales talent that fit the sales strategy
  • Growing internal pressure to focus on short-term performance at the expense of long-term health and success

For sales leaders willing to look beyond a weekly sales forecast, there are a few smart moves you can make to greatly optimize sales performance. The key is to align sales strategy, culture and talent. Our recent organizational alignment research found that sales leaders across all industries who achieve this three-part alignment grow revenues 58% faster, are 72% more profitable and retain customers 2.23-to-1 compared to their less aligned peers.

The good news is that sales growth is within reach. 

Sales Strategy
It all starts with sales strategy. Our research found strategic sales clarity accounts for up to 31% of the difference between high and low performing sales organizations. High performing sales leaders start by creating a sales strategy that outlines clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take. Done right, a successful sales plan sets a sales force up to perform beyond just the sum of its parts because it creates ruthless focus and alignment.  

You will know that you are headed in the right direction in terms of clarity when your sales strategy outlines:

  • Target Clients: Where you should win the majority of the time. 
  • Differentiation: What differentiates you from the competition in the eyes of your target clients in a way that drives premium pricing, increases qualified lead generation and improves customer retention.
  • Success Metrics: How sales success and failure will be measured at the corporate, team and individual levels. This includes identifying how sales, marketing and other functions need to work together to execute the sales strategy gracefully with your customers' best interests at heart.
  • Sales Processes: Which critical few sales processes matter most in terms of meeting your sales targets and executing your sales strategy.  
  • Sales Barriers: What top 10 barriers to overcome for sales success during the next 12 to 36 months.
  • Action Plan: How, specifically, to execute your sales strategy and surmount the key barriers based upon your identified strategic priorities. 

If you want to optimize sales performance, start by creating a clear, believable and implementable sales strategy that is aligned with the overall business strategy. The clarity will lead to better decisions and greater levels of empowerment to serve your target clients.  

Make sure your sales leaders leave no doubt that they are fully committed to the plan before you move into implementation mode. 

Want to learn more about how to optimize sales strategy, download the Full Sales Performance Article Now

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Business Sales Training Programs Need Sales Coaching to Succeed

You need a coach for business sales training programs to take you to your next peak of performance.

Sales success can be elusive. 

Based upon having measured sales training programs for the last 20 years, we believe that business sales training programs on their own are often an exercise in futility.

Sure, customized and targeted business sales training programs help sales reps to become more aware of what it takes to perform and the gain the specific consultative selling skills they need to succeed. But our research shows that business sales training program participants must be consistently held accountable, must believe the new skills and knowledge are required for them to succeed, and must have a competent sales coach to help them improve.  Without all three, only 20% sales reps change their behavior from business sales training.

Processes must be implemented to measure the progress of each sales rep and to encourage skill adoption when it matters most. And, to ensure continuous learning, each sales rep needs a sales performance coach who can provide the support to improve.

What does it take to be an effective sales coach...the kind of coach that capitalizes on and is a necessary part of any business sales training program?

1.  Believability. 
A sales coach is believable only if they have not only “carried a bag” successfully, but also if they have successfully managed and coached other sales force’s before. Sales coaches need to know what it takes to motivate and support behavior change in a way that works for each coachee. 

2.  Performance. 
The fundamental purpose of a sales coach is to help improve sales performance in a way that aligns with both the sales strategy and sales culture.  Make sure that expectations are clear, goals are defined and progress is tracked along the way.

3.  Feedback. 
The best sales coaches provide a mirror into strengths and weaknesses and focus on improving future performance. They know how to encourage with authentic, timely, accurate, and precise insights, feedback and encouragement.

If you want to improve skill adoption from your business sales training programs, incorporate targeted sales coaching into your training design.  Reps who receive consistent and frequent sales coaching outsell their peers 4-to-1.

Want to learn more about supporting solution selling training skill adoption and performance improvement?  Download The Truth about Sales Coaching and the Biggest Mistakes to Avoid

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

7.23.2017

How to Build Higher Levels of Trust in Leaders

Silhouette of one businessman lending a hand to another over a chasm

Based upon the results of over 500,000 employee engagement responses per year over the last 15 years, one area stands out as having the highest correlation to high levels of employee engagement compared to any other - the ability of Leaders to Build Trust. 

And companies with higher levels of employee engagement report 18% greater productivity, 12% higher customer satisfaction and 51% less voluntary turnover while companies with less engaged employees report 12% lower profits, 19% lower operating income and 28% lower earnings per share. So employee engagement matters to the people and to the business. 

Unfortunately, recent research shows that less than half of employees trust senior management, and less than one-third believe CEOs are a trustworthy source of information. 

"Trust in Leaders" measures the degree to which employees believe that the leaders responsible for setting the direction of the organization are capable and trustworthy. This is not only about trust in the strategic direction itself, but also about trust in those who are setting the direction. Why? Because our research shows it is possible to believe in the direction without fully believing in the ability and integrity of leadership to steer the company effectively to get there.

The Definition of Leaders
We define leaders as those responsible for the direction and goals of the company. While each company defines leaders a bit differently, for purposes of our research, they typically consist of those with a manager title and above. 

The Questions Related to Trust in Leaders
Are your leaders trustworthy? Back in the 1980's, Stephen Covey defined trust as the combination of character and competence. It makes sense to us that leaders need to have both traits to be trusted. A person of high character and integrity but who does not produce results is not credible or trustworthy at work because they do not get things done. And conversely, a person who gets things done but has questionable character is also not credible. If you are not credible at work, you are not trustworthy.  

To test the level of trustworthiness of leaders, we typically use four measures: 
1.     I trust the leaders of this organization to set the right course.
2.     I trust the senior leadership team to lead the company to future success. 
3.     I believe the leaders of this organization are honest and trustworthy. 
4.     The leaders of this organization demonstrate integrity. 
All four questions have between a .73 and .77 correlation with employee engagement and rank in the top ten out of all the questions we ask in our Best Places to Work survey each and every year.  



Voice of the Customer

"We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a management development solution to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution with the support systems necessary to make a real difference. I recommend them to anyone looking for real results."
Sally Buchannan | VP Human Resources | Sony

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Benchmark Your Management Practices to See Where You Stand

4 judges are holding up low scores

Are your management practices where they need to be?
To increase productivity and speed up decision making, most companies have flattened their organizational structure and given managers more responsibility over more employees. From a customer experience perspective, managers direct as much as two-thirds of the workforce responsible for defining, delivering and improving the customer experience.

According to a recent Harvard Business Review Study, the most enduringly successful companies, those delivering a 10-fold return to investors over a ten year period, excel at ten specific management practices. 

Unfortunately, manager performance is not meeting expectations.  Nearly 70% of executives are only "somewhat" or "not at all satisfied" with the performance of their companies' managers. And a stunning 81% of managers are not satisfied with their own performance. 

To make matters worse, even though the top area of training spend (35%) is on management and leadership, management training by itself is ranked as highly ineffective. Only 10% of respondents to a recent McKinsey survey said their companies' frontline manager training is effective in preparing managers to lead.  

We know from our own experience with clients that frontline managers do not receive the training required to prepare them to lead successfully, anticipate problems well or coach their direct reports effectively.



Voice of the Customer

"We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people. LSA designed a modular and customized management training program curriculum that allows us to deliver top quality solutions to our managers and leaders. We consider LSA to be our learning and development partner and our LSA consultants to be an extension of our team."
Lisa Bruun | SVP Human Resources | Ellie Mae, Inc.

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


6.26.2017

Talent: 1/3rd of the Recipe for Success

Out of 3 men trying to scale a wall, only one succeeds with a ladder

The goal of talent management is to create and sustain organizational excellence through people - specifically by attracting, developing, engaging and retaining the top talent that makes sense for your specific business strategy and unique organizational culture.

Done right, effective talent management can differentiate your company from the competition in both good and bad times. Done poorly, inconsistent and unaligned talent management approaches can grind your company to a halt.  

Proactive and differentiated talent management can certainly lead to extraordinary results. Just think of the last time that you were on a team that was firing on all cylinders. To take your talent management to the next level:

  • Know what constitutes high performance in your organization and then hire, cultivate, promote and reward people appropriately based upon their contribution and potential.
  • Invest wisely in employee selection, onboarding, compensation, career development and succession planning.
  • Have clear, accurate, fair, meaningful, aligned, timely and achievable success metrics for each and every employee. 

Many human resource leaders are adept at the individual steps required to attract, develop, engage and retain talent. In our experience, however, few organizations have an integrated talent management strategy that is aligned with their business priorities and corporate culture. 

Sure, recruiting's hiring forecast is typically linked to a budget that was an output of the strategy, and employee engagement has gained importance as of late; but beyond that, most talent management functions appear reactive and un-tethered from the strategic and cultural realities of the business.  

If you are looking for a sustainable and profitable talent management strategy to help grow your business and your people, there are three critical factors our Organizational Alignment Research uncovered that need to be in place. And all three need to be inextricably connected and aligned.
  1. Your Business Strategy - the clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take.
  2. Your Corporate Culture -  how things truly get done in your organization including the way people think, behave and work.  
  3. Your Talent - how you attract, develop, engage and retain talent that fits your unique situation.


Voice of the Customer

"LSA Global's ability to engage and retain talent has been a blessing.  Their ability to help us sort through complex organizational changes and provide flexible, customized information gives a high level of comfort and confidence in the work. They helped us identify and take actions to engage and retain talent while addressing the concerns of our unique workforce. In all, LSA provides us with great value and expertise, and I would highly recommend them."
Mike Normant | Senior Director Training | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Benchmark Your New Employee Onboarding Process

A hand is helping a kid climb over a wall

Is your speed to productivity for new hires where it should be?
Most new employees take between 3 and 24 months to get up to speed. This wide disparity provides wonderful opportunities for organizations to decrease ramp time and improve speed to productivity for new employees.  

In a recent survey, 210 CEO's estimated the time for a typical mid-level manager to reach breakeven as 6.2 months. Using an average salary of $100,000, the difference between a 3-month ramp and a 6.2-month ramp is approximately $26,500 per employee. 

This does not account for differences in revenue, margin, utilization, or productivity. It is only the salary side of the equation. For a company hiring a minimum of 100 new employees per year, this creates a $2.6m window of opportunity for an improved new hire process. For companies closer to the 24-month ramp-to-productivity mark, the opportunity is as large as $17.5m. 

The main point is that, when combined with the common challenges of hiring the right employees and creating an environment for them to thrive, most organizations have ample room for improvement in their new hire processes. 

Unfortunately, many companies continue to struggle with the most controllable part of the equation - effectively and efficiently assimilating new employees. When companies decide to improve their new hire process, they are typically reacting to some combination of the eight drivers listed below with "speed to productivity" being the #1 mega-driver for most organizations.
  1. Increase speed to productivity
  2. Improve the company's ability to scale
  3. Increase employee engagement and retention
  4. Improve utilization of key methodologies, systems and practices
  5. Improve the overall new employee experience
  6. Improve the overall consistency of the new employee experience
  7. Increase company, product and service knowledge
  8. Decrease assimilation time and costs
These eight drivers typically occur for companies that are facing high growth rates, struggling to retain top talent, changing go-to-market strategies, or feeling increased pressure to improve productivity.

So the question becomes, how do you create a new employee orientation process that hits the mark for your specific situation?   Properly designed new employee orientation programs can make a measurable difference.  Just ask our clients. 
  • At Microsoft, we decreased their new hire ramp time by 50%.  
  • At VMware, we increased speed to quota by 27% and had 100% new hire and hiring manager satisfaction.


Voice of the Customer

"Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this new hire program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course."
Farhat Ali | President and CEO | Fujitsu

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned

5.29.2017

The Only 2 Negotiation Tactics You Need to Know

2 businessmen pulling on a rope in a tug-o-war

What if your sales team could anticipate 97% of what's coming their way during sales negotiations? 

Surprising research tells us negotiating boils down to only two main tactics that cover 97% of what will happen in each and every negotiation.

The Sales Negotiations Research
Our sales negotiation experts have been on a relentless pursuit to determine if negotiation tactics followed any kind of predictable pattern or if negotiation is truly as random and unpredictable as most companies think. 

The research took over three years in nineteen countries, involved Fortune 500 firms from a wide range of industries and ended with a collection of the "most difficult" and "most common" verbal negotiation tactics. 

The results surprised us. While negotiations often feel unpredictable and challenging, 97% of the verbal tactics used globally followed a very predictable pattern that could be reduced to just two main propositions. 

Just think about what this means for sales teams and sales negotiation training, coaching and preparation.

Typical Situations
Most of our clients who are looking to improve their ability to negotiate are facing intensified pricing pressure, increased deal complexity, longer sales cycles, more internal and external stakeholders and roadblocks, greater competition, and more challenges quantifying their value, impact or differentiation in a way that matters to the buyer

These situations are exemplified by four common client quotes uncovered by the research:
  • "Your competition is so much more flexible than you are..."
  • "You are way out of line with the market..."
  • "Everyone else gives that away for free..."
  • "Your service and reliability are lower than your competitors..."
Do any of these sound suspiciously familiar? Did you know they are all basically code for "I can get the same thing cheaper somewhere else?" 

It takes a little practice, but eventually you can recognize these seemingly disparate tactics as variations on a theme with two main elements.

"So, what does all this mean?"

We think it means a total redefinition and simplification of B2B sales negotiation. It changes how negotiation courses should be taught; it changes how you and your sales team should prepare for negotiation; it changes how you should capture data in your organization; and it changes the results you can expect from negotiations.

If we can successfully anticipate 97% of what's coming our way, we can better prepare for and change the nature of the negotiation with our customers.

This data flies in the face of how virtually every negotiation writer and consultant thinks about negotiation. For example, there is a book out now by a distinguished Business School Professor entitled 53 Negotiation Truths.   How does any individual negotiator or company prepare and build competency in as many as 53 truths? Another example is a recent ad in Selling Power Magazine. It included no less than 5 lessons, 9 important methods, 7 key behaviors, and 12 predictions. While the ad only had 33 items to be concerned about vs. the 53 in the book, can an individual or an organization truly optimize and adopt 33 items?


Voice of the Customer

"LSA Global's sales negotiation training and consulting provided the tools and practices that have significantly enhanced our win rate. Their team understood our business, its challenges and framed the learning in a way that we understood. I am very happy with the value we have received, and would highly recommend LSA to others looking to improve their sales negotiations results."
Jeff Bizzack | President | ServiceSource

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Assess Your Sales Negotiation Capabilities

shocked man reading a long list of negotiations

According to Forrester Research, buyers now have access to 60-90% more information than sellers.   


And not surprisingly, buyers are leveraging that information for deeper discounting at every turn while attempting to "commoditize" seller offerings to gain even deeper concessions.

Unfortunately most sales approaches used today to combat increased negotiation pressure were developed in the 1970's and 1980's and are no longer relevant to today's marketplace.   In a nutshell, too many sellers are losing the negotiation game.

 The highest performing sales negotiators:
  • Understand and prepare for 97% of the verbal negotiation tactics they will encounter.
  • Know the consequences to both parties in the event an agreement is not reached.
     
  • Know what a great deal looks for both sides in the event agreement is reached. 
  • Provide multiple solution options that change the conversation from dividing value to creating and dividing value in a way that makes sense. 


Voice of the Customer

"What I liked best was the 100% focus on live sales negotiation opportunities. We put over 100 negotiations through the process and had immediate impact. Furthermore, using the blended approach of technology and live consulting, we achieved these results with our sales team quickly."
Monte Roy | Senior Vice President of Sales | Information Builder

About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


4.24.2017

Leading Virtual Teams - The Top 4 Challenges and 3 Winning Strategies

3 men trying to communicate through bull horns illustrating the kind of challenge virtual teams face

We call them "Virtual Teams" but the only thing virtual about these teams is their cyber office. Otherwise, these teams are made up of real people solving real problems and producing real deliverables. 

These teams have some special challenges. If you are leading a virtual team, there are three dimensions of communication you need to know.  

Distributed Teams are More Challenging
Let's start with the problem. Why treat virtual teams any differently than other project team? What's special? Distance. This translates into four specific challenges:
  1. First, where's the informal communication that happens at the coffee pot or water cooler? "So tell me, Eric, how many of these kinds of projects have you worked on?" or "I have a few simple questions I didn't really want to raise in the team meeting - you know, I didn't want to look dumb, but..."
  2. Second, what are you going to do about that old rule of thumb that 75% of communication is non-verbal when the only communication you have is verbal or written?
  3. Now add that most teams hit headwinds and must rely on trust and commitment to stick together when the going gets rough. Can you build trust and commitment across time zones?
  4. Then there's the logistics: What time do you meet? And where do you keep the project's "stuff"?
Three Winning Communication Strategies of Leading Distributed Teams
Notice the key term is leading. Not organizing, but leading. 

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, emphasizes that "leaders have followers." To be a leader of a distributed group of people that you don't see daily, you must be conscious of three dimensions of communication.


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned


Project Team Toolkit

a graphic of 5 oarsmen (plus their coxswain) all rowing in the same direction the way project teams should work

Do you need to get your team rowing in the same direction?


Recognizing that nearly all projects are accomplished through the concerted, coordinated work of project teams, effective project team leaders balance the art of leadership and the science of project management.

Whether your teams are made up of part-time volunteers or highly-skilled professionals, their productivity and success is dramatically affected by the relationships within the team and the ability to function as a cohesive unit.

Project teams have a special challenge: they come together for a temporary assignment in which they face a unique problem. Successful project teams build a positive project team environment and learn to work together to solve problems even in the face of conflict. 

This research-backed project team toolkit includes:
  • The Critical Characteristics of a Great Executive Project Sponsor
  • The Top 5 Warning Signs of a Bad Project Leader
  • The 3 Keys to Successful Project Leadership
  • How to Break the Resource Gridlock: Prioritize to Accelerate
  • Must Have Tips for Getting the Project Resources You Need to Succeed
  • Proven Strategies on How to Better Choose Between Projects
  • The 6 "Get Right" Basics of a Great Project Kick-off Meeting
  • The Top 4 Project Challenges Every Team Must Overcome
  • 3 Proven Steps to Better Manage Internal and External Project Stakeholder Risks
  • The Top 5 Warning Signs that Your Performance Environment May Be Destroying Your Project
  • 20 Project Management Best Practice Templates
  • 5 Steps to Get Your Project Team Pulling in the Same Direction
  • How to Best Handle a Fixed Deadline when Project Scope is Unclear
  • Top 10 Project Mistakes and How to Prevent Them


About LSA Global
Founded in 1995, LSA Global is a leading performance consulting and training firm that helps high growth technology, services, and life-science companies create a competitive advantage by powerfully aligning their culture and talent with their strategy. Learn more about getting aligned