Articles by Chris Peterson
A childhood friend of mine has made a nice career in coaching college football. As with most coaching careers, he’s had to make several moves over the years. He was the Linebackers Coach at a national powerhouse FBS school for a few years before getting promoted to Special Teams Coordinator. From there, he moved into a Defensive Coordinator at another FBS school. Not a national powerhouse, but he was the D.C. – a huge promotion. Although I’ve kept up with his progress, and have been proud of his accomplishments, we lost touch with other shortly after high school. Until recently. A few years ago, my friend took a job as the Head Football Coach at a Division II college. It was then that I started hearing from him. First, asking me to like their Facebook page. Then, reaching out to me to donate to his organisation to help them buy new helmets. Yes, new helmets. He’s the Head Football Coach, and he’s reaching out personally to raise money for helmets for his players. On their Facebook page, I see pictures of him in the weight room with the players, and I read most of the content which is written by him – the Head Ball Coach, the HBC. I’m waiting to see photos of him mowing the grass one day. Sales leadership challenges My friend’s not a control freak – he’s the Head Football Coach at a Division II college. That’s what they do. They don’t have powerful boosters, full-time strength trainers, or social media coordinators. Most of these duties, and about 1,000 others, fall on the shoulders of the Head Ball Coach. Sound familiar? If you manage a sales team in the security industry, it probably sounds like your job. You’ve got 1,000 things to do every day, and a staff of one – the person that looks back at you in the mirror every morning. Most of you have a personal quota to deliver, and some of you also manage other departments. How do you effectively manage the sales people? What do you do? It can be so daunting that your jobs blend into each other, and you find yourself is reaction mode all the time … always, always, always putting out fires. I’ve found that clarity can sometimes help shift professionals out of reaction mode and throw them into a strategic and proactive stance. Strategies for effective sales management Below I’ve listed six best practices of sales management that I hope adds some clarity to your job and sales leader. Use this list to define your weekly activity, and to check yourself at the end of each week. 1. Growing the top line. Above all else, your job is to grow the top line revenue of your business. There will be dozens of requests and temptations throughout the week that will not lead to you growing the top line. Instead of trying to create the willpower necessary to ignore these requests, simply define the things you must do each week to grow your top line, and make sure those things are done. All the distractions will take care of themselves if you take care of the things that matter most. 2. Always be in recruiting mode. Almost every sales team I encounter needs sales people. Many times, they’re not interviewing because they don’t have any candidates. There is no more important action you can take as a sales leader than to keep you team fully staffed with the most talented and hard-working performers possible. The best way to accomplish this is to always be in recruiting mode. If you have three openings, you should be looking. If you have a full staff, you should be meeting potential future team members. You’ll either be expanding or replacing within months – get out there and meet those people before you need them. Get in the field with your team, work with them, and debrief at the end of each day 3. Effectively on-board new sales people. After working extremely hard to find, interview, and hire new sales people, most companies drop the ball during those critical first 90 days. When your new sales people join your organisation, they should have a program that takes them through their initial three months of employment, with the goal of having them fully ramped. Too many companies lose precious time by giving their new sales people 12-18 months to start performing. Not only have you lost several productive months, but you have no idea if they’re succeeding until it's too late. Develop a plan, create short-term Key Performance Indicators (KPI), and coach them to achieving those KPIs within their initial 90 days of employment. You’ll be shocked at the success you have from this simple activity. 4. Set the right expectations. When I ask sales people about their expectations, I usually receive an answer that includes their sales quota. When I push for more, I get nothing but blank stares. Sometimes I’ll hear an arbitrary metric like “I need to quote three times my quota every year”. Your sales people need to understand the expectations you have for them, and they need to know that you’ll hold them accountable. Calculate KPIs that make sense, and that are unique to each performer. Don’t blast a blanket statement to everyone like “quote 3X your quota”. Understand the ratios for each person to develop accurate KPIs, and then break them down to weekly or monthly numbers. 5. Get in the field and coach your people. If you’re not in the field managing your people, then you’re not managing your people. You can’t improve your team’s performance in a conference room or by reading CRM reports. Get out there. How are they managing their days? How are they presenting your company? How are they supporting your channel partners? Get in the field, work with them, and debrief at the end of each day to clearly communicate how they can improve. 6. Run productive meetings. Sales people don’t hate meetings. Sales people hate bad meetings, and most sales team meetings are bad. They’re long, redundant, and don’t serve a purpose for the team. Learn to run a productive sales meeting, and run it. There are many methods and philosophies, but a few cardinal rules that I have: don’t conduct pipeline reviews in team meetings, keep every meeting under an hour, and follow an agenda. Sales Management is a job that can’t be summed up in one article or a list of six best practices. However, if you use this list to help define your weekly routine, and you hold yourself accountable to this list, then you’ll be much further along than your competition.
Winning full engagement from your prospects is tougher today than ever before thanks to the Internet For months, maybe years, you’ve worked to secure an appointment with a prospective customer. You’ve utilised your network, and shown persistence. You’ve consulted with your boss, brainstormed with your peers, and even asked for advice from your friends. You’ve given it every ounce of energy you have, and finally… finally, they’ve agreed to an appointment. The day arrives. You’re prepared. You have a list of great questions. You deliver your presentation based on their unique scenario. They laugh at your jokes. You establish action items. And then… they never return your call. Has something like this every happened to you? This type of outcome is more and more common today among security integrators and others involved in sales. Most salespeople are following strategic approaches that were developed before the Internet became an omnipresent tool for our customers. Whether you’re working with security, IT, facilities, or upper management, your customers’ perception is that they don’t need you. They’ve got Google – why do they need you? You could perform perfectly in an introductory sales meeting, but if you don’t get your customers emotionally engaged, you’ll lose. In today’s marketplace where prospective customers don’t think they need us, you have to create fully engaged customers. Below I’ve outlined four strategies to help security industry salespeople achieve this goal. If you follow these steps, you will create complete engagement with your customers. Understand your customer is thinking about everything except youWhen you scheduled a sales meeting 15 years ago, your prospective customers were prepared and ready to learn. Whether they purchased from you or not, you were a source of information for them. Today, they think they don’t need you. Again, they’ve got Google. When you arrive for an appointment today, your prospects are thinking about everything except you: the email they just sent, the meeting they have scheduled at 3:30 with their boss, the argument they had last night with their spouse, etc. When the receptionist notifies your contact that you’ve arrived for your meeting, your contact is probably thinking “Damn, I thought maybe he’d forget.” Know that your prospectivecustomers are thinking abouteverything except you whenyou arrive, and it’s your job toshift their attention Our perception is opposite. We woke up thinking about this appointment. We’ve been preparing for days. We’re ready to roll. This causes a huge disconnect, and it’s made possible by your customers’ acting skills. They’ve learned to smile when they greet you, laugh at statements that are supposed to be jokes, and nod incessantly throughout your presentation. You think they love you, but they didn’t hear a word. They’re really good.The key to our first strategy is that you understand this reality. Know that your prospective customers are thinking about everything except you when you arrive, and it’s your job to shift their attention. Shift their attention within three minutes of shaking handsSales are won between the lobby and the conference room. If you’re going to win, you have to shift their attention away from that email they just sent and to something else. Please notice that I didn’t state that you should shift their attention to you – that’s impossible in the first three minutes. Shift it to something else, and then bring it back to you. How? The “how” is easy. It’s understanding the process that seems to be hard. Most salespeople want to shift right to the meeting, and the prospects give the impression that they’ve succeeded because of their acting skills – nodding, laughing, etc. Below are a few ways to shift your prospects’ attention from their current thoughts to something else. Once we get them to “something else,” we can bring them to our agenda much easier. First, we’ve got to get their mind off that email or the meeting with their boss. You’ve done your homework. You know what interests them. Ask them about it, and be transparent. “I saw on LinkedIn that you graduated from Vanderbilt. Do you ever get back to Nashville?” Ask them about something happening in their marketplace. Put the burden on them to teach you. “I’ve been reading about the new HIPAA regulations that affect video surveillance. How does that impact you? I’m not a HIPAA expert.” Finally, if everything else fails, and you’re not prepared, ask this simple question: “Are you ready for …?” You can fill in the blank any time of the year. “Are you ready for school to start / warmer weather / ISC West / etc.” You’ll be shocked how many open-ended discussions result from this one question. Also, this question magically tells you whether your prospect is in socialising mode or task mode – which will help you in your presentation. You could perform perfectly in an introductory sales meeting, but if you don’t get your customers emotionally engaged, you’ll lose Position yourself with authority before asking questions For decades, we’ve been told to ask questions of our prospects and shut up. It’s about them, and asking them questions will help us understand their problems and provide the right solution. This approach doesn’t work today. Unfortunately, they’ll still answer your questions, but with one word or inaccurate answers. After a while, they just want to get rid of you – they’re sick of answering the same questions over and over again. In order to be great, we need to receive better than the one-word “check the box” answers. We need to understand the back stories of the answers. “Why is IT so involved in security?” “Why is your executive management so opposed to hosted services?” Unless you get answers to questions at this level, you’ll lose. How can you get your prospects to answer so transparently? Don’t start the meeting with questions – start the meeting about you and your expertise. I know this is different than everything you’ve heard in the past, but this is a different age and different type of prospect. You have to establish yourself as an expert by illustrating how you’ve helped other companies in their market or similar to them - then they’ll answer your questions in a candid and helpful way. Once you do this, then explain that you need to ask some questions to make sure they’re a fit before moving further. Think about this approach for a moment. You spend a few minutes illustrating how you’ve solved their problems before and that you understand their business. Then, you let your prospect know that you’d like to ask a few questions to make sure they’re a fit. Now your prospects have a reason to provide complete and honest answers – they want to be a fit for your solution. Don’t start the meeting withquestions – start the meetingabout you and your expertise Depart with confidenceI’ve seen hundreds of very good sales presentations ruined at the end of the sales call. The sales person performs well in every way possible – positioning themselves as experts and professionals. When the presentation is over, they transform into a desperate child looking for validation with comments like this: “So, what did you think?” “How does this compare to our competition?” “Do you see any reason you wouldn’t move forward with our solution?” In the 1990s and before, these comments were called closing questions. Today, they’re annoying and somewhat pathetic. After you’ve shifted their attention to you, positioned yourself as the expert, and received honest and open answers to your questions, you don’t need to know what they think. They think you’re a superstar, and you need to act like it. Here are a few tips: When you’re done and it appears the questions are coming to a close, announce “I have to run to another appointment. However, before I leave I want to make sure you’re OK with these action items.” This statement illustrates that you’re in demand, but still secures the action items. Pack up and leave, say goodbye using each person’s name, and head to your car. Get in your car and get out of there. If you’ve got to check email on your smartphone, wait until you’re out of sight. Do not sit in the parking lot for 15 minutes like you’ve got nowhere to be. In conclusion, winning full engagement from your prospects is tougher today than ever before. Twenty years ago, you were their source of intelligence, and they looked forward to sales calls. Not today. Google is their go-to source for information. Your sales call is simply an interruption - unless you follow these four strategies. If you do, you’ll be able to create fully engaged customers and completely differentiate you and your company from the competition. Save Save
Vector Firm announced celebrating the third anniversary of its Vector Firm Academy, an online sales training platform built solely for system integrators and their technology partners. Vector Firm, a globally renowned sales and marketing consulting and training firm focused on the security industry, was founded in 2010 by Chris Peterson, an industry advocate driven to help companies drastically improve their sales and marketing performance. Intelligent strategies and effective tools Vector Firm creates intelligent strategies, repeatable processes, and effective tools that position security professionals to significantly surpass their sales goals. The key differentiator of Vector Firm is its narrow industry focus and its incessant pursuit of modern ways of selling and marketing. Their philosophy is that business-to-business buying behaviours change continuously and that the changes are different for every industry. When asked about their philosophy, Chris Peterson stated “That’s why we stay focused on system integrators. If we tried to stay ahead of these buying trends for everyone, we’d be delivering below average ideas.” Chris adds, “The statement ‘sales is sales’ hasn’t been true for about 20 years. Everything Vector Firm and its Academy do are based on this philosophy.” Vector Firm Academy Peterson launched the Vector Firm Academy in 2017 to teach and impart modern ideas of effective selling As a natural outgrowth of his mission, Peterson launched the Vector Firm Academy in 2017 to teach and impart modern ideas of effective selling that work perfectly with the modern way of buying. Continual sales training programs are provided to systems integrators and their technology partners on a monthly basis and include dozens of topics on the science of selling. Vector Firm Academy and its campaigns to accelerate every step of the buying cycle have in turn empowered countless security industry professionals to meet their sales goals. The Academy is a continual sales training program that provides lessons on different topics each month. Training accessible on-demand To accommodate the hectic schedule of salesperson, Vector Firm has designed its training to be accessible on-demand by its members. Specific topics and campaign takeaways are covered each month, allowing attendees to receive best-in-class sales training without occupying too much time away from prospecting, working with customers and continuing to evolve as a company. On the celebration of Vector Firm Academy’s third anniversary, Peterson said “Academy has been the highlight of my career. I launched Vector Firm in 2010 to help companies in the security industry drastically improve their sales process. While that was rewarding, I was touching one company at a time.” Up-to-date sales training He adds, “With the Vector Firm Sales Academy, we’re helping hundreds of salespeople from dozens of companies simultaneously. The cool thing is that we charge per person, so the one-person shop can access the same services as the large global company.” Systems integrators and their technology partners who are looking for up-to-date sales training built specifically for them can learn more about Vector Firm Academy and subscribe to a monthly membership of sales development by visiting the official website.
PSA, a large consortium of professional systems integrators, announced its plans to launch a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) program. The program is designed to help systems integrators diversify their service offerings and realize the full potential and benefits of a managed services business model. It will hinge on uniting industry leading partners in cybersecurity and cloud-based security solutions, training and certification opportunities and financing options from PSA. “The security industry is on the edge of its next great evolution in terms of systems integrators becoming managed security service providers,” said Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of PSA. “Our program is poised to help those progressive integrators who are already at the leading edge of this market; evolve their own businesses in a way that leverages the technology advances in the market so they can tap into additional revenue opportunities and accelerate their business growth.” Virtual and in-person training opportunities PSA will provide integrators with virtual and in-person training opportunities to guide them on their path to becoming managed security service providersPSA will be partnering with industry leading solutions providers to bring cloud-based cybersecurity services, video management, remote video monitoring and access control solutions to systems integrators as part of a comprehensive program that will help support them in implementing this new business model into their existing business constructs. In addition to the product offerings and financing options, PSA will also provide integrators with virtual and in-person training opportunities to guide them on their path to becoming managed security service providers. Workshop for security integrators PSA will host an immersive workshop for integrators interested in becoming a managed security service provider at PSA TEC on Monday, March 11 titled “The MSSP Model Changes Everything! Are You Ready?” The session will feature insights from industry insiders on compensation practices, financing, sales strategy and account billing and revenue recognition practices of an MSSP model. Experts joining the session include: Bill Bozeman, President & CEO, PSA John Mack III, Executive Vice President, Co-Head of Investment Banking, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions, Imperial Capital Lessing (Les) Gold, Partner, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP Chris Peterson, Principal, Speaker and Consultant, Vector Firm Charlie Regan, President, Gorrie-Regan Andrew Lanning, Co-Founder, Integrated Security Technologies Educating integrators in doing business It’s a fundamental change in how they do business and PSA is prepared to help integrators navigate those finer points"“We recognise that this kind of shift in how integrators do business is significant. It changes the way they compensate their sales teams, the way they sell, the way they install and maintain systems – it really changes everything,” said Bozeman. “That’s why education is a key part of this program; it’s not just about having new products and services. It’s a fundamental change in how they do business and PSA is prepared to help integrators navigate those finer points.”
The programme is designed to promote best practices & business development opportunities Security-Net, a global provider of security system services to customers both locally and nationally, has announced a strategic partnership with Vector Firm to develop an enhanced sales training programme for its team. Founded by Chris Peterson, Vector Firm is a consulting company that has specialised in developing training programmes for more than 70 companies within the security industry. The programme is designed for Sales-Net members, a committee comprised of representatives from each of Security-Net’s 21 North American member companies, as well as each member company’s individual sales team to promote best practices and business development opportunities amongst Security-Net members. The programme consists of monthly sales leadership meetings and a monthly sales webinar, with as many as 130 people participating in the learning programme. Providing greater value to members “By engaging in professional sales training across our membership, Security-Net is able to provide additional tools that we expect to see implemented consistently across our organisation,” said Skip Sampson, President of the Board of Directors of Security-Net. “This is a great example of how we are able to provide greater value for our member companies.” “The sales training engagement with Security-Net has been successful because of the sales leadership’s buy-in and commitment to the programme" “The sales training engagement with Security-Net has been successful because of the sales leadership’s buy-in and commitment to the programme. They’ve taken the baton from me every month and implemented the tools. Because of their efforts, our strategies and ideas are being implemented in the field within days of our sessions,” said Peterson. Business development committees Over the past several years, Security-Net has focused on creating committees to foster sharing of best practices and business development opportunities in specific areas. Sales-Net members collaborate on national accounts strategy, project management and lead generation. OPS-Net was created to enhance communication between project managers and installation teams, while Tech-Net brings together the top technical experts from each company to share information about the latest security products and to troubleshoot any technological problems or issues with implementation.