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Lee Novak, one of the top sales executives in the country, launched his Ulitzer blog to share his experience, insights, and sales coaching tips. Lee Novak, a Sales Management Executive for 25 years, uses a proven people-first, client-first philosophy. Lee has a reputation for building teams that not only are high-performance groups but also that do business the right way, at the right time and for the right reasons. Novak publishes his Ulitzer blog posts on his two topic sites: Lee Novak on Ulitzer (http://leenovak.ulitzer.com) Team Building (http://teambuilding.ulitzer.com) Sales Coaching (http://salescoaching.ulitzer.com) He received numerous awards for his sales leadership, innovativeness and measured performance while working in various executive roles at ADP Dealer Services (a Fortune 500 company in the technology and service sector) for 21 years - where he was... (more)

Coaching the Star Performer

Dear Lee, I have a tenured sales person who has a history of overachieving his sales quota for the past three years. In fact, he has been one of the top performers in the company and is excellent at closing business in competitive accounts. However, his service after the sale and his follow through is the worst on my team. Clients have complained frequently about feeling as if, he only cares about them when he is selling them something and then he disappears, doesn't return phone calls, etc. I have attempted to coach him on this deficit but quite frankly, he doesn't take criticism very well and I have seen no improvement. How can I counsel him to improve without damaging his level of high performance? Frustrated in MN Dear Frustrated, As a Manager you have to always manage with the following three pillars. First is the CLIENT, second is your TEAM and third is th... (more)

The Most Important Marketing Question

I was listening to a product launch webinar early this morning. The speakers were droning on and on about technology and architecture and innovation.  Not a customer benefit in sight - other than the usual generic claims of 'market leading' performance,' unmatched' reliability, 'next generation' features and all the other 'me toos'.  To be fair, the vendor was presenting the product facts quite well.  But they were leaving it to their listeners to sift through the technology claims to apply its capabilities to their own situation. This is a high risk approach. Especially if your competitors are sharing powerful stories that hits those listeners right between their eyes. The simple fact is that marketing is not about you. It's about your customers and how your company or solution can help them be successful in their business. You're probably thinking "But I have cust... (more)

Put Your Competition in the RearView Mirror

One of my first CEO clients - a leader in the early days of the Search industry - gave me a great piece of advice about the competition.  I still follow it. "If you pay too much attention to the competition - you'll always end up following them." At the time I actually think I thought he was nuts. After all, as a young idealistic marketing consultant, competitive analysis was one of those B school standards near and dear to my heart. Now, some twenty something years later, I see how brilliant he was. Companies have to think for themselves, not like their competitors. I'm not saying that you have to ignore your competition. That'd be kinda silly, now wouldn't it. What I am saying is that companies have to stop focusing on what their competition is doing as the baseline for defining their future direction. Following the competition's lead won't help you be a leader. ... (more)

Stop Blaming Sales!

I had to remind a client of that fact as we were discussing their last product launch - a launch that was less successful than they'd hoped. The executive was complaining to me that the revenues just hadn't ramped as expected. The field was discounting, selling point products versus the complete solution, so margins were disappointing as well. The company had to finally assign quotas against the newly launched product to get the field to pay attention to this revolutionary whatchamadoodle. The field hadn't even found early reference customers - the company had only targeted the ones nominated by engineering. Does anyone else smell a rat? I surely did. I hear this story too often. All about how sales is the reason that product launches and marketing efforts fail - why our marvels of innovation never achieve the recognition (or revenue) they deserve. What a bunch of bal... (more)

Plug Your Marketing Leaks

Marketing is making strides in lead generation, but how kinetic is their nurturing? Lead nurturing is often thought about as being found with a flag waving when your leads decide to take action about resolving a problem your products or services address. If this is your marketing strategy, you're leaving a lot to chance just hanging around waiting to be found. Maybe for some of your longer-horizon leads this is fine, but it's not going to help you speed up getting quality opportunities to opt into sales conversations. You've all seen those funnel diagrams that show spouts of leads leaking out of them at different points during the buying process. In order to stop the leaks and add momentum to your nurturing, you've got to get commitments to action. The higher a sense of commitment you can create, the farther and faster your leads will move toward becoming sales op... (more)

Successful Management Development Depends on Four Things

When choosing a leadership development programme, one may encounter courses which promise “facilitation by experts.” The experts will have a background in a particular industry, and will draw on this background as they develop managers from the same industry on their programme. In this way, ex civil-servants will train other civil servants, ex manufacturing directors will instil leadership and management disciplines in those working in manufacturing, ex-lawyers will develop other lawyers, and ex IT professionals will inculcate “soft skills” in current IT professionals. When the development focuses around technical information, it is easy to understand why those with a background in a similar industry might be preferable. Non-lawyers will have no grasp of technical aspects of law, non-IT professionals will know little about the technical issues facing those working a... (more)

Twenty Five Motivational Quotes and Thoughts for Today's Sales Leaders

The following represents twenty five of my favorite motivational, thought provoking and inspirational quotes which I have accumulated through the the years. I hope that you will find them useful, enjoyable and entertaining as you prepare to slay the competitive dragons! OVERCOMING OBSTACLES AND SETBACKS 1) Fall Down Seven Times Get up Eight. 2) If you are going through hell (lost a deal, behind plan, etc.) keep going. 3) Believe that you are going to turn this setback into a comeback! It is inevitable that some defeat will enter even the most victorious life. The human spirit is never finished when it is defeated... It is finished when it surrenders. PATIENCE 4) Walt Disney was turned down 302 times before he got financing for Disneyland. 5) A handful of Patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. 6) Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping... (more)

The Ten Attributes of the Magnetic Sales Professional

Google “what it takes to be a successful salesperson” and one will get 121,000 different perspectives on what it takes to be one. However, in today’s competitive landscape what companies are truly looking for is, the rare individuals who can overachieve the sales and revenue goals, retain and increase the share of wallet of the existing client base and have the ability to drive new business in the unsold prospect arena. Sales Organizations want Magnetic Sales Professionals not simply, successful sales associates. They want individuals who will create a positive legacy and at the same time provide sales results without comprising profits. The attributes of this rare sales specimen are wider, deeper and broader than the average or sales all star which include: I. Leadership - Magnetic Sales Professionals view themselves as business franchisees, their territories as a ... (more)

My Quota is Gigantic!

Dear Lee, Last year I was a record setting sales rep at my company selling high tech solutions. Today I received my annual quota for the new year and was shocked to see that my account list shrunk by 10% and my quota is the highest in the company.  I am  very frustrated with this. I attempted to negotiate a reduced quota with my manager but he dismissed my request, saying that he has full confididence that I will figure it out. My quota is gigantic but my spirit is weak. Any suggestions? Down in the South -   Dear Down in the South, I am sure that you are familiar with the biblical story about the tiny frail warrior David slaying the Giant, Goliath. If Goliath had been  a man of average height - who would've noticed? Who would've cared.? Remember the bigger the challenge the greater the rewards when you overcome them. Last year when you received your annual quota... (more)

Building Next-Generation Tech Leaders

I spoke to Mike Lim, VP for Engineering at Exist, who by the way is currently enrolled at the prestigious Kellogg-HKUST Executive MBA program, about this and here's my non-verbatim summary of our short exchange: Give people the opportunity to lead, even with small projects. Assign him/her a role, instead of giving tasks. This will give the person room to be creative and innovative. This'll give him/her a chance to demonstrate what he/she can be capable of. It's not having the title of a "manager". One can be a mentor to another, give inputs and share his/her experience to a peer, and not have the role of a manager. That's why "we get people to work as a team, so that we can see the dynamics." Implement "shadowing". New hires and folks fresh out from college need to be ramped up to the way we do things, technologies and tooling that we use -- and shadowing gives the... (more)