Chief Sales OfficerThe challenge is how to use those 10 hours in (insert city here) effectively.  This article tells the sales leader how to spend time, their most precious commodity. 

 

Download the complete Guide to an Effective Location Visit by clicking here.

 

To be effective, you need to know what’s going on.  How do you gather the right information?  Some leaders provide a template for their teams to complete in advance.  This can prevent them from surfacing issues that don’t fit into the pre-determined format.  Some leaders ask for a presentation, but give no specific guidance.  “I want to see what they focus on” is the idea here.  Much gnashing of teeth ensues as the team tries to anticipate the leader’s expectations.

 

This scenario has become even more confusing with the proliferation of cheap data.  Some Fortune 1000 companies now capture enough information to paralyze their leaders.  Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran several articles on this phenomenon.  One issue: some organizations capture data without having any specific plan to leverage it. 

 

You need a framework for thinking.  The smart way of understanding a situation is to view it through multiple lenses.  The sales leader should “frame up” the visit by visualizing this  Venn diagram:

 

sales leader venn diagram

 

A Venn diagram shows all possible logical connections between sets of items.  The advantages of this process are many.  First, it makes clear big issues that pop up across multiple lenses.  More importantly, it reminds you to look at your business from your Customers’ POV.  Finally, you have to evaluate Competitors on a market or LOB level.

 

Each lens can be divided into two actionable parts – “Ask For” and “Ask About.”  Here are some examples.  For the complete Guide, you can go here.

 

Customers

Ask For:   

  • The recent churn report showing new and lost business with reasons
  • A report showing each customer by potential (not current) spend
  • The sales manager to walk you through how he uses the CRM tool (on his computer!)

     

Ask About: 

 

  • Are there any recent changes in the customer personas we are targeting?
  • Any recent developments in Buyer Behavior?
  • Do we understand how much it costs to sell the product (Customer Acquisition Cost)?

     

Employees

Ask for: 

 

  • Exit Interviews for the last few months
  • A sales rep to explain their comp plan to you in simple language
  • A sales rep to explain how quotas were determined

 

Ask About:

 

  • How many hours a week do reps spend in sales-related activities?
  • How much time do managers spend in the field coaching?
  • What activities prevent the team from moving faster?
  • How closely is your Hiring Process being followed?

 

Competitors

Ask For:

 

  • The 10 most recently completed Win/Loss Interviews
  • The competition’s marketing plan and lead generation tactics

     

Ask About: 

 

  • When was the last time we performed a Mystery Shop in this market?
  • Are any new competitors emerging?  How are they gaining market share?
  • Are we monitoring our competitors’ reps’ LinkedIn activity?  Are they telegraphing their selling activities to us?

     

This list of things to Ask For and Ask About is your starting point.  It’s infinitely customizable to your specific situation.  Next time they ask you to “power down all portable electronic devices” on the plane, start your own list.  Use the Venn to spot logical relationships between items in the different lenses. Your visit will be well-rounded, effective, and full of timely topics.  You’ll watch your team think on their feet.  You will gain more insight into their grasp of the market – and its potential.

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark Synek

Leads SBI client engagements, primarily in the Enterprise space, and is typically engaged at the senior sales and CXO levels.
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Few people in the sales and marketing world besides Mark can claim they are former opera singers. And now SBI clients everywhere are singing his praises. Perhaps that’s because Mark has taken his extremely diverse background, which includes post-graduate work at The Juilliard School and living abroad for several years, and distilled it down to an enormous passion for helping sales and marketing leaders make their number.

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