Thursday, February 26, 2009

Roadmap for Sales Recruiting Success

By W. D. Cravenor

Sales recruiting, with all its analytics and fineries is, in the final analysis, a craps shoot.

One would think that future performance—based on responses to numerous traditional evaluation methodologies—could be predicted, however this is not so. Ultimately the desire exhibited by a prospective new hire is the “x” factor that eludes all analysis models, despite claims to the contrary.

What constitutes the greatest factor(s) resulting in the complication of the decision making process, thereby frustrating all attempts that would otherwise lead to a successful hiring decision? Generally speaking, the following two factors result in new hire decision failures:

1. The prospect underestimates the difficulty of the job.

2. The prospect overestimates her or his ability to meet minimum performance expectations associated with the job.

Given these two considerations, what must employers do to keep these two factors from wreaking havoc in their recruitment and retention best practices? The one word answer is disclosure.

Employers are frequently not willing to divulge the nitty gritty aspects of a position in question, choosing to give greater focus to the clinical list of requirements contained within what is communally referred to (in HR speak) as the all encompassing “Job Specification”.

While Job Specifications generally perform well in apprising the candidate of the minimum requirements and expected functions, or even desired outcomes, HR’s performance in communicating exactly how the work will be accomplished to meet minimum expectations is abysmal.


While my view is not necessarily supported by empirical research, suspicion dictates that the HR professional tasked to write the job description & specification, (hopefully with some help from the functional department manager), while being well intended, is the last person in the organization who should be responsible to cipher the “how” question.

Obviously, if everyone involved in the hiring process understood the answer to this question, the 80/20 rule would become a thing of the past—but it is not.

So we muddle through, as looking in a brass mirror, seeing some reflection but knowing all the while that the truest picture will never come into focus without the passage of time.

Time is the ultimate vindication of all hiring decisions. When you factor in short terminations for sales positions (less than 1 year in tenure), time reveals that—from a purely functional basis—hiring decision makers get it wrong over 80 % of the time.

What can be done to improve this performance? Here are a few recommendations:

1. HR should consult with the hiring manager and a select committee of at least three top 20 (%) producers, who have been in the position for at least two consecutive years, for the purpose of developing “action statements” related to how performance was achieved. These action statements should be incorporated into the job specification as examples of expected performance attributes.

Concentration should be given to real-world, street-level activities, actions and mindset that lead to the accomplishment of stated performance goals & objectives.

2. Have one of your “top 20” select committee team members conduct a Discovery Process (DP) with the candidate in question.

The DP contains four action steps, as follows:

Step 1 Defeat, in the candidates’ mindset, any notion related to the simplicity of achieving position-related expectations by providing real world, position-specific details, constituting a no holes barred full disclosure of the challenges presented. A complete review of the action statements contained within the job specification should be undertaken to insure the candidate has a correct interpretation and understanding. A Q & A session should be conducted with the candidate to confirm understanding.

Step 2 Defeat the candidate’s overestimation of her or his own ability by setting up a real world, field-based Operational Scenario (OS) that is preset for failure. If the candidate can survive this failure in a real world setting without loosing composure, they will become more open to Coaching for Success (CS). A loss of composure in the presence of failure is also telling in determining the future viability of a candidate. “The same sun that softens the wax hardens the clay.”

Step 3 Based on management’s review of the results of the OS and the candidates’ willingness to continue in the DP, have the same top twenty producer, along with a second rookie (less than twelve months of tenure) continue the DP by debriefing the candidate on exactly how they have achieved expectations, providing detailed information & explanations of their day-to-day activities, attitudes and recommendations for future performance. The candidate should be given ample opportunity to ask questions and get feedback on their Action Plan for Success (APS). The APS should be requested from the candidate prior to step 2.

Step 4 Conclude the DP by:

A. Step 2 & 3 OS employee participants complete a Prospective Peer Evaluation Form, (PPE) indicating their recommendation to HR and management regarding the candidates’ viability in the position on a host of criteria.

B. Management, in conjunction with HR, makes a final hiring decision, taking all traditional evaluation methodologies, (Targeted Selection, et al) into consideration, along with their supplemental evaluations related to the DP, OS, CS, APS and PPE, advising the candidate of their determination.

C. The recommending Step 2 OS employee participant will serve as a CS Mentor, working with the new hire, either locally (preferred) or virtually to begin performance evaluation in concert with the new hires’ APS and direct line management.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Deployable Virtual Training Environment (DVTE)

Here is a good article discussing how the USMC is leveraging DVTE's:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Deployable Virtual Training Environment (DVTE) is a laptop based platform for a wide variety of training simulations in the USMC.TRASYS web. DVTE consists of two main components, the Combined Arms Network (CAN) and the Infantry Tool Kit (ITK). The current version of the CAN was developed by the ONR VIRTE program as part of its Demo 3 and is based on the JSAF simulation. It uses the Open Source Delta3d toolkit for visualization. Each laptop can be reconfigured to simulate a variety of USMC platforms including the M1 Abrams, Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAV), LAV-25, AV-8 Harrier II, and the AH-1 Cobra. A typical DVTE suite consists of 32 laptops and a modified NVisor SX Head-mounted display (HMD).
The Infantry Tool Kit consists of a number of stand-alone games and simulations. The main simulation is a first-person shooter called VBS. Other applications include: the DARPA developed DARWARS Tactical Iraqi (part of the Tactical Language & Culture Training System family) and the ONR developed Close Combat: Marines, MAGTF XXI, and TacOps MC.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.-- Samuel Ullman

From Walk the Talk and M. Anderson, Great words to inspire great attitudes...use this to build results!

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Pragmatic Approach to Developing a Center for Excellence (C4E)

A Pragmatic Approach to Developing a Center for Excellence (C4E)
Performance Improvement

A Proposal Targeted to Sustain Enterprise-Wide Continuous Improvement

Mr. Rich Mattern, CEO
Raymond Handling Solutions, Inc.

W. D. Cravenor
SunChase Consulting,
a division of SunChase Products, Inc.

April 17, 2008
Aliso Viejo, California

I. Purpose

Establish a Center for Excellence (C4E), to be instituted as a forum to facilitate and foster the development of departmental performance expectations targeted to sustain enterprise-wide continuous improvement.

II. Process

Phase 1 – Perform baseline departmental performance measurements based on the criteria as detailed in section IV below.

Phase 2 – Establish Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Specific (SMART) departmental performance expectations/goals.

Phase 3 – Perform a variance analysis of actual departmental performance to established expectations.

Phase 4 – Develop written action plans to address all negative variances to expectations, including specified timelines for the restoration of performance to expectations. The internal designation for this initiative is Dealer Review and Action Plan, or DRAP. Point values should be assigned to measurement categories to designate achievement of planned expectations which should be used in consideration of merit increases, promotions/demotions and/or terminations.

Phase 5 – Quantify results—Actual to Plan, (DRAP).

Phase 6 – Revise Expectations & Action Plans as necessary to facilitate continuous performance improvement.

Phase 7 – Develop and implement Center for Excellence (C4E) quarterly and annual awards for performance above expectations.

III. Payoff

By implementing the aforementioned C4E, the following benefits should result:

1. RHSI will achieve continuous departmental performance improvement.

2. RHSI will meet and/or exceed fiscal (EBITDA) goals.

3. RHSI customer satisfaction will be enhanced.

4. RHSI will experience increased market share.

5. RHSI employees will generally experience an improvement in their overall quality of life.

IV. Departmental Performance Expectations Development

Key departmental metrics should be established for each operating RHSI department and compared to plan, as follows:

A. Sales

1. Gross Profit (GP) (for the period) to plan

2. Gross Sales (GS) (for the period) to plan

3. PNTR to plan

4. PUTR to plan

5. Number of New trucks sold to plan

6. Number of Used trucks sold to plan

7. Number of new logos (new, first time accounts) sold

8. % new logo GP to total GP

9. % new logo GS to total GS

10. Weighted Funnel Value to Weighted Funnel Value Standard, as follows:

Activity/Sales Cycle Identifier Weighted Funnel Value
Prospects 0% of dollars in play
Qualified, First Meeting w/ UDM 25 % of dollar in play
Presentation, Proposal Issued 50 % of dollars in play
Sold, Written Order Confirmation 90 % of dollars in play
Closed, Delivered and Paid 100% of dollars in play

Total all accounts to arrive at Weighted Funnel Value. A Spreadsheet is available to track this upon request.

Tip: For Account Manager’s, Weighted Funnel Value should be equal to or exceed 3X their monthly quota.

For new hires use ramp quota, as follows:

Months on Job % of Full Quota
1 – 3 0 %
4 25 %
5 33 %
6 50 %
7-8 66 %
9-11 75 %
12 Months or more 100 %

11. Activity Measurement to Plan, as follows:

· Prospecting – dials, door knocks, business cards collected
· Discovery – first appointments and follow-up appointments
· Proposal – Proposal Dollars to Plan per period

12. Close Ratio to plan – Use Total $ Sold/Total $ Presented, as follows:

Tenure in Position Recommended Close Ratio
1-2 Years 33 %
3-5 40 %
6-8 50 %
> 8 years 65 %

Major Account Managers should utilize the GSSBI Model to overcome pricing objections and facilitate the translation of acquisitions from an expense to investment on the client’s balance sheet. Additional details and training relative to GSSBI component strategies are available upon request.

13. Systems $ Sold to plan

14. Allied $ Sold to Plan

15. Customer Satisfaction Ratings to Plan

16. Employee Retention, (all personnel carrying quota) to plan

17. Lost Sales to plan, as follows:

· Deal count
· $ count

18. Pump-in, sales generated out of assigned market, but delivered in market, to plan.

19. Pump-out, sales generated by HRSI personnel for product/services to be delivered to clients outside of the RHSI coverage area.

20. Ratio of Pump-out to Pump-in. Use 1.2 (pump-out) : 1.00 (pump-in) as a starting guide.

B. Parts

1. GP Wholesale Sales to plan

2. GS Wholesale to plan

3. GP Front Counter to plan

4. GS Retail

5. Lost sales to plan, as follows:

· W/S
· R/S

6. Inventory turns to plan, as follows:

· Total
· Fast Moving

7. Obsolescence Reduction to plan, as follows:

· % of total inventory
· $ amount
· Number of SKU’s

8. Customer Satisfaction rating to plan

9. Employee Retention

10. Training/Proficiency Certifications

C. Credit

1. Collection Activity to plan, as follows:
· % of Sold and Delivered accounts paid within 30 calendar days
· % of Sold and Delivered accounts paid within 60 calendar days
· % of Sold and Delivered accounts paid within 90 calendar days
· % of Sold and Delivered accounts paid within 120 calendar days

2. Bad Debts Management/Collections to plan, as follows:
· Total $ bad debt for period
· % total $ bad debt to total $ billed 1-120 days aging
· % bad debt collected to bad debt billed
· Total $ bad debt collected to bad debt billed

3. Customer Satisfaction rating to plan

D. Shop/Service

1. GP Labor (Warranty, W/S, R/S, Used) to plan

2. GS (Warranty, W/S, R/S, Used) to plan

3. GP per WO, to plan

4. GS per WO, to plan

5. Total flagged hours to plan

6. Average flagged hours per headcount to plan

7. Training Certification

8. Customer Satisfaction rating to plan

9. Average Response time to Standard

10. Average Repair time to Standard

11. PDI completion time to Standard

E. Customer Service

1. Customer Satisfaction

2. % Work Orders closed as promised, as compared to plan

3. Sales by Category to plan, as follows:

· Batteries
· Allied
· Labor
· Rentals

4. GP by Category to plan, as follows:

· Batteries
· Allied
· Labor
· Rentals

F. Used/Rental

1. Number of units rented in period versus standard

2. Number of units available to rent versus standard

3. Number of rental days booked in period versus standard

4. % booked days to total available days versus standard

5. Rental GS in period versus standard

6. Rental GP in period versus standard

7. Lost Rental $ versus standard

8. Lost Rental days versus standard

9. Battery/Charger GS to plan

10. Battery/Charger GP to plan

11. Customer Satisfaction rating to plan

12. Parts & Labor Cost Containment vs. Plan

G. Transportation

1. GP transportation sales versus standard

2. GS transportation versus standard

3. Total units transported versus plan

4. Customer Satisfaction rating to plan

V. Concluding Remarks

The proper implementation and administration of the DRAP will permit the dealer principle and other members of executive management to optimize expense control and gross profits, increasing EBITDA while providing enhanced clarity and speed in the diagnosis and treatment of performance deficiencies.

As a result, enterprise continuity is accentuated and the reliance of staff on the interdependence of departmental operations is heightened. DRAP spotlights performance below expectations, permitting quick identification, before it can propagate across departmental boundaries, infecting up-line functional areas.

I have effectively used DRAP in working with over 21 Mazda dealers in Southern California, resulting in the migration of my assigned district from last to first in the Pacific Region. If you would like additional information relative to Funnel Management or GSSBI training, please call 949-338-7387 or email at .

Good Selling!

Curriculum for Sales Staff (front-line, client facing):

By W. D. Cravenor

Target Area: Attitude & Motivational Orientatiion (AMO):

AMO Modules:
1. Goal & Objective Orientation – SMART
2. Opportunity Ownership–Attitudes & Abilities
3. EPIP Guidelines & Enforcement
4. EEOC Policy – Discrimination & Harassment in the Workplace

Target Area: Field Sales Planning Fundamentals (FSPF):

FSPF Modules:
1. Personal Income/Sales Performance Development Plan
2. Components of Successful Field Sales Business Plans – SMART Goals
3. Target Markets
4. Prospecting Methodologies – Resources & Utilization
5. Activity & Active Sales Funnel (ASF) Goals
6. Closing Ratio and EBITDA Forecasts
8. Business Plan Execution Guidelines
9. Product & Sales Certification – Requirements & Completions

Target Area: The Sales Cycle Defined (SSD):

SSD Modules:
1. Business Plan Review – Plan your work, work your plan
2. Prospect Planning – Daily, Weekly, Monthly
3. Cold Calling Techniques
4. The Client Qualification Process - UDM Identification & Related Parties
5. Discovery – The GSSBI Model
6. Presentation Planning & Execution Fundamentals
7. Overcoming Objections – Methods & Desired Outcomes (ACAC Model)
8. Closing – Techniques & Skills
9. Active Sales Funnel Utilization & Maintenance
10. Order Quality Management & Procedural Guidelines for Success (Booked Business)

Target Area: Building Back-Office Efficiencies (BBOE):

BBOE Modules:
1. Product Certification Training
2. Activity Tracking - Utilizing the Shipman/DEI Model
3. Funnel Metrics - The Shipman/DEI Model
4. Sales Performance Planning
5. Account Management
6. Territory Management
7. Time Management

Target Area: Career Development Planning (CDP):

CDP Modules:
1. Fundamentals of Business Communications
2. Career Plan Preparation Guidelines
3. Writing Your Career Migration Plan

Curriculum for Sales Management (Managers - VP’s):

By W. D. Cravenor

Target Area: Recruitment & Retention (R&R):

R & R Modules:
1. Targeted Selection – The DDI Model
2. EPIP Guidelines & Enforcement - Managing Performance below Expectations
3. EEOC Policy – Discrimination & Harassment in the Workplace
4. Headcount Management – How, Who, Where, Why and When to Hire
5. Replacement Theory

Target Area: Sales Management Fundamentals (SMF):

SMF Modules:
1. Business Plan Preparation Guidelines
2. The Sales Cycle – Block and Tackle
3. Sales Process Management – The “GSSBI” Model
4. Time Management
5. Activity Management
6. Funnel Management
7. Territory Management

Target Area: Attitude & Motivational Orientation (AMO):

AMO Modules:
1. Managing Employee Motivations - (DDI)
2. The Why vs. How of Sales Management

Career Development Planning (CDP):

CDP Modules:
1. Managerial Communications - Leveraging Tact & Diplomacy for Desired Results
2. Career Plan Preparation & Review Guidelines
3. Writing Your Career Migration Plan
4. Fundamentals in the Assessment of Staff Career Migration Plans

Training's “Bill of Rights” by W.D. Cravenor

By William D. Cravenor, M.I.M.

1. Training is not just a box on the organization chart–it is everyone’s responsibility

2. Training is a continuous activity–it never stops

3. Training should promote continuous improvement–good enough is never good enough

4. Training involves day-to-day communication with staff–to exhort, encourage, and exchange ideas for process, performance and revenue improvement

5. Training (in a formal classroom setting) should not consume peak sales time (7 AM to 7 PM), i.e., brown bag lunches, if necessary

6. Training should be progressive–leveraging technology (VLE’s) to connect staff to core competencies

7. Training is pragmatic–meeting the real-world needs of real people to produce real results

8. Training is spontaneous–addressing needs in a timely fashion before they become problems

9. Training is specialized–to meet the specific demands of individual staff in their position and level of maturation

10. Training is localized–if at all possible, should be conducted in the closest proximity to the location wherein desired results are to be achieved

11. Training is results based–there are no substitutes for desired results

12. Training is dynamic–quickly adapting to the changing needs of employees

Friday, February 20, 2009

Operational Plan for Revenue Performance

Home Loan corporation/Lending Tree Sales Operations Support (SOS)

Operational Plan for Revenue Performance
Beyond Critical Mass

Submitted to

Anthony Hsieh, Chief Executive Officer
Tomo Yebisu, President
Sean Wilson, Senior Vice President
Pat Lee, Vice President Production Processing
Jess Smith, Director of Sales


W. D. Cravenor

Aliso Viejo, California

Table of Contents

I. Purpose & Introduction—Why SOS?

II. Process: SOS Strategic Goals & Objectives

A. Concentric Organizational Structure—Circle 1 Management

B. Transfer, Translate & Inculcate Cultural Values

C. HLC/LT Employee Recognition and Incentive Management System

D. Tear Down and Re-build the Recruitment & Training Process

E. Implement a Formalized Career Growth & Migration Planning Hub

F. Revenue Metrics Management—A Bottom-Up Approach

G. The HLC/LT Experience—World-Class Customer Satisfaction

III. Payoff: Key Benefits & Concluding Words

I. Purpose & Introduction—Why SOS?

HLC/LT leadership is dedicated to enhancing long-term revenue attributed to the establishment of a one-stop-shop nationally recognized point of reference for all services pertaining to the finding & financing of real estate and related product & service offerings.

Baseline Observations

A primary step in the development of an operational plan to secure long-term, EBITDA positive, scalable growth is to identify and analyze baseline criteria—a snap-shot of the current state of affairs within HLC/LT. In this regard, the following observations demand notice:

As HLC/LT continues to experience exponential growth, the need to refurbish and re-engineer the infrastructural base—enabling on-going maturation­— becomes more intense. Present resources are already being stretched to capacity. Infrastructural absorption—an index of recourses to utilization is a key metric to predicting the proximity of critical mass.

HLC/LT cannot afford—in its present state— to incur the fixed costs required to achieve 20,000 units without a paradigm shift. At the current rate, HLC/LT will need a minimum of 20 buildings and 6,000 employees to achieve this production goal—assuming current efficiencies are not adversely impacted. The demands of scalability require a refocus of resources to achieve primary corporate goals (a partial listing):

Corporate restructuring plan completed
Market share dominance achieved
Loan volumes in excess of 20,000 units
EBITDA performance at or above planned expectations
Scalable, sustained growth insured
Corporate values enriched
Brand valuation enhanced
Shareholder valuation increased

Unless specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely action plans are promulgated—addressing the above-stated corporate goals—being endorsed by all concerned parties, the opportunity for sustained growth beyond critical mass will be severely diminished or eliminated.

To achieve sustained revenue growth beyond critical mass, the following seven broad-based strategic objectives (developed in conjunction with SOS) should be given careful consideration.
II. Process: SOS Strategic Goals & Objectives

A. Concentric Organizational Structure—Circle 1 Management

HLC, since its genesis, has adopted a top-down corporate structure. This structure, during the earlier stages of the company, was necessary to impart the vision, values and entrepreneurial spirit of Anthony Hsieh.

As HLC/LT has grown, the reach and penetration of leadership’s values among rank & file revenue-producing staff has significantly diminished. Continued erosion, combined with planned exponential growth, has the potential to create a breading ground for asymmetry to standards—jeopardizing sustained revenue potential.

As the coping mechanisms within the existing infrastructural resource base become overtaxed—a present situation—negative externalities ensue, and threaten to stymie progress beyond critical mass.

These negative influences are diametrically opposed to the harmony and long-term well being of the enterprise. Indicators of the need for change include:

· Average Revenue Contribution (ARC), (per revenue-producing employee) is decreasing or not being optimized
· Greater reliance on true (net growth) to sustain the pace of sales and EBITDA performance to plan from existing revenue-producing employee base
· Increased PIP enrollments, as a percentage of total, among revenue-producing employee staff
· Increased revenue-employee attrition, as a percentage of total, month over month
· Reduced revenue-employee retention, as a percentage of total, month over month
· Greater percentage of recruitment effort assigned to back-fill vacated revenue-producing positions rather than fill new openings generated from true, net growth
· Increased lead to lock cycle times
· Decreased overall lead to stip conversion
· Decreased overall stip to lock conversion
· Increased lost sales
· Decreased overall conversion
· Decreased repeat revenue
· Reduced order quality
· Ratio of activity to locks diminishing
· Ratio of leads and locks to cancels increasing
· Degradation of corporate culture
· Internal diminishment of brand valuation
· External diminishment of brand valuation
· Decreased borrower satisfaction

To defeat these influences, HLC/LT executive management will need to develop a new concentric organizational structure, dedicated to establishing the preeminence of every revenue-producing employee (at the center) of the HLC/LT organization.

Under the new structure, at the most fundamental level, there are only two classifications of employees: revenue producing and non-revenue producing. All revenue producing employees are at the center of the corporate structure—inside the inner circle (Circle 1) that represents the heart & soul of HLC/LT—REVENUE!

Everyone else is outside of this circle. Their primary functions are also simple—support everyone in Circle 1.

Concentric circles radiate from the center. The greater degree of contact and influence extended on revenue-producing employees requires greater proximity to the Circle 1. As influence diminishes on revenue production, the circles grow larger and larger in circumference, extending the radius from Circle 1.

Six circles radiate from Circle 1. Executive management resides in Circle 7—the least influential group in the process of producing revenue.

B. Transfer, Translate & Inculcate Cultural Values

Due the degradation of signal quality, HLC/LT management will need to translate, and then imbed the existing cultural values within the heart, mind & spirit of each employee.

These values must be transferred from the top to the center of the HLC/LT organization. Circle 1 employees must be the values of HLC/LT­—to simply articulate these values will not suffice. Additionally, what the values are is not as important as how to live them. SOS has recommended a five step values progression, as follows:

1. Adopt the re-visited, translated corporate culture—everyday
2. Adapt to change—it’s inevitable!
3. Abound in performance and attitude—it’s no longer optional
4. Achieve your personal & professional goals—you earned it!
5. Anticipate personal and professional growth—you deserve it!

C. HLC/LT Employee Recognition and Incentive Management System

SOS will develop and implement a broad-based employee incentive and recognition management system. System attributes will include:

· Source and conduct semi-annual Peak Performance company-wide recognition trips, catalog merchandise programs, collateral and cash incentives—themed HLC is ME! or LT is ME! These incentive & recognition initiatives will be managed by a third-party vendor experienced in staging such events. SOS will manage bid process.

· Produce and distribute departmental and company stack rankings, detailing all revenue-producing results for all revenue-producing employees.

· Develop & implement company-wide promotional events, dedicated to enhancing revenue results.

D. Tear Down and Re-build the Recruitment & Training Process

Re-engineering the recruitment and training process for all revenue-producing employees, including front-line management staff, is critical.


Key specifics related to recruitment include:

· Develop and implement a behavior and experience based Targeted Selection Recruitment Protocol, using the Development Dimensions International (DDI) model. Under this protocol, SOS will prepare detailed questions pertaining to the following operational disciplines:

a. Time Management
b. Organizational Skills
c. Overall Sales Ability
d. Dedication and Ownership of Opportunity (Attitude)
e. Ethical Considerations
f. Teamwork
g. Communication Skills

Respondents are required to provide detailed answers to each question in the form of a specific Situation, Task or Action and Result (STAR) for each question. Information is collected, analyzed and tabulated during a final data integration session prior to making a hiring decision.


Key specifics related to training include:

· Training Bill of Rights—HLC/LT management will need to commit to adopting the following twelve ideologies:

1. Training is not just a box on the organization chart–it is everyone’s responsibility—especially those outside of Circle 1

2. Training is a continuous activity–it never stops

3. Training should promote continuous improvement–good enough is never good enough

4. Training involves day-to-day communication with staff–to exhort, encourage, and exchange ideas for process, performance and revenue improvement

5. Training (in a formal classroom setting) should not consume peak sales time (7 AM to 7 PM). Brown bag lunches, if necessary

6. Training should be progressive–leveraging technology to connect staff to core competencies

7. Training is pragmatic–meeting the real-world needs of real people to produce real results

8. Training is spontaneous–addressing needs in a timely fashion before they become problems

9. Training is specialized–to meet the specific demands of individual Circle 1 staff in their position and level of maturation

10. Training is localized–if at all possible, should be conducted in the closest proximity to the location wherein desired results are to be achieved

11. Training is results based–there are no substitutes for desired results

12. Training is dynamic–quickly adapting to the changing needs of employees

In light of the renewed focus on training, the following actions should be taken:

· New “pit focused” curriculum developed

· Specialization—discipline specific instruction offered—those who do the work teach their areas of expertise

· Revised and expanded new-hire class—more emphasis information that matters most

· Pit Practicum’s—Intense one-on-one, instructor-to-employee, sessions designed to attack specific performance opportunities—at their work station

· Revitalize Success University – See Career Planning (section E below)

E. Implement a Formalized Career Growth & Migration Planning Hub

Under the HLC/LT is Me! umbrella, develop and implement a formalized Career Growth & Migration Planning Hub within a re-vamped Success University.

Key attributes pertaining to career migration planning should include:

· An intranet-based Career Growth Matrix, permitting any employee to accurately access the steps required to qualify for any position within the company—regardless of their current position, education or ability.

· An intranet-based transcript system, detailing dates and grades of courses taken in pursuit of any career migration plan.

· A formalized policy developed & endorsed by executive management that requires every employee to have a career migration plan on file with Success University.

· Career Planning Progress Reviews should be offered quarterly to all employees to insure sufficient employee progress to their individual plans.

F. Revenue Metrics Management—A Bottom-Up Approach

SOS should become the central data base for Revenue Metrics Management within the HLC/LT organization. The need for centralized metrics management is critical as the organization continues to grow.

The drum-beat of the top 2% of producers within the company is not sufficient to sustain growth. Circle 1 employees must be managed from the bottom-up.

The lowest common dominator among revenue-producing employees holds the greatest promise for incremental revenue growth. Seemingly insignificant increases in performance within this sector will translate into substantial revenue. Only once all employees in this sector have been energized and challenged to raise their performance above the corporate average for each and every performance metric will HLC/LT achieve their overall revenue goals.

Economies of scale in the utilization of performance data, at the employee level, will serve to drive increasing effectiveness and efficiencies in the process of producing revenue. Key considerations include:

· Standardized daily stacks—ranking every revenue-producing employee by market, division, function

· Extrapolated month-end performance to plan projections detailing progress & pace

· Recognition updates on contests, promotions, Peak Performance, etc.

G. The HLC/LT Experience—World-Class Customer Satisfaction

As HLC/LT continues to grow, the task of leveraging the brand valuation will become increasing more challenging. HLC/LT will need to begin the Customer Satisfaction benchmarking process to transition the service offering into a world-class experience.

Customer Service Excellence—key initiatives:

· Pursue ISO 9000 series recognition for process control and Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

· J.D. Power & Associates Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI)—an excellent source for navigating the CRM/CSI process

· Complete the Six Sigma black-belt certification process

III. Payoff: Key Benefits & Concluding Words

HLC/LT is—to be sure—a great company! Notwithstanding these sentiments, transitioning this enterprise into a dominant, world-class corporate giant will be a daunting task.

The remaining distance of the journey for HLC/LT is far greater than that previously covered. Along the way there are numerous obstacles—and opportunities.

This Operational Plan for Revenue Performance Beyond Critical Mass was written to insure that HLC/LT arrives at their appointed destination on time—having achieved every goal and objective.

To accomplish these goals & objectives, the Lending Tree brand must be surpass Countrywide and other online lenders. Are these brands anticipating & planning for similar growth? Most assuredly!

What will differentiate HLC/Lending Tree from the rest of the market? Here are a few suggestions:

A highly compensated, motivated, incentivized and informed work force
Abundant and robust opportunities to stay and grow within the company
A highly loyal work force
A scalable infrastructure that nourishes, rather than stifles, growth
A corporate organizational structure dedicated to revenue production
A corporate culture that is real to all Circle 1-6 employees
A CRM system second-to-none within the real estate lending marketplace

Thursday, February 19, 2009

7 Keys to Operating A Successful Direct Sales Organization

by W. D. Cravenor

Method of Operations Overview in Executive Direct Sales Management

The following seven focus areas represent an overview of the critical keys prerequisite to initiating, implementing and maintaining a vibrant, robust and successful direct sales organization:

1. Headcount Management

Hiring right includes:

the right people
in the right numbers
at the right time
for the right positions
within the right budget
performing the right functions
to produce the right results, month in and month out

Recruitment is a never ending process, even in times when headcount and productivity are optimized.

To facilitate headcount targets, all interviews will be conducted utilizing a Targeted Selection approach, ala DDI. This situational based focus, in consideration of each candidate’s background, leaves little room for subjective reasoning, in the evaluation and avoidance of vague, "blue sky" responses. This screening methodology is also instrumental in separating "wheat from chaff" as related to specified selection criteria.

Each candidate selected, prior to offer issuance, should be required to execute a “Performance Expectations Acknowledgement,” (PEA), which constitutes a personal action plan, detailing each and every performance attribute, as well as specific goals & related timelines for accomplishment. An expectation must first be set to be managed to.

Contained within the PEA is specific Performance Improvement Program, (PIP), ramification “triggers” pertaining to any potential failure to produce the specified results within the indicated timeline parameters.

2. Attitude Management

The goal of this focus area is to proactively insure that all team members maintain an attitude that is worth catching!

Incumbent with this focus area is a total ownership of the opportunity at large by all staff.

Attributes of total ownership include a:

Complete call-to-action and since of urgency with respect to the delivery of sales results.
Unanimous "share of voice" among all staff in terms of the delivery of the corporate mindset to the market.
Dedication to team play and servant hood.

Proper attitude should be easily observed in the following behaviors:

energy, excitement and enthusiasm
drive, discipline, dedication and determination
time, temperance and tenacity

The above describe behaviors, displayed over time, will birth an “attitude of success” that has been proven to produce sustained results.

3. Sales Process Management

Critical Sales Process Management includes, (not intended to be an exhaustive listing):

Sales Objective Development:

A. specific, measurable, attainable, relevant & timely, (SMART goals)

B revenue over units

C. billed over booked, (realization to approximate a 1:1 ratio)

D. built-in reserve or breakage on rep to manager, managers to directors, directors to RVP’s, RVP’s to SVP/EVP

E. YTD to YTD bonus calculations, (“flash-in-the-pans” need not apply)

Selling for Success Fundamentals:

A. UDM ID - Ultimate decision maker identification, with preferred C- Club orientation.

B. Team selling approach, utilizing engineering, implementation and customer retention staff as extensions of the sales organization, thereby enabling reps to promise good and deliver great.

C. The three-call-close, (keeps reps from becoming "professional visitors"):

- discovery: 80 % listening, asking the right questions, to the right people, gathering the right information, to address the right situations impeding access to identified client goals. Set second appointment, (3-5 business days out to facilitate CSR collection and engineering analysis) prior to departure.

- Proposal development, presentation and mini-close: 80% talking, communicating service & product laden solutions to conquer previously identified situations. Present benefits and financial impact on organization of each solution, from a P & L perspective, (to translate the sale from expense to investment status). Gain initial agreement(s) via verbal, LOI or signed contract. Re-calibrate solution(s) as necessary and set third appointment prior to departure.

- Closing: Re-present client goals-situations-solutions-benefits-impact dollars and close, close, close.

D. “Feet-on-the-street“: Managers, Directors, RVP’s, SVP/EVP leads by example, in-the-field, with rep staff, on a regular basis.

E. Inspect what you expect: Weekly one-on-ones with all staff, SVP/EVP with RVP’s, RVP’s with directors, directors with Managers, Managers with rep staff.

F. “Ticket-to-ride“: Reduce tacking/reporting on performers, (at or above 100 % of plan YTD), increase tracking/reporting on non-performers, (including ramp period).

G. Three Strikes Rule: Effective upon failure to meet expectations for any three months within a 12 month, (PIP enforcement along the way).

H. Promotions/Incentive Management - Keep some skin in the game and keep it fun.

4. Activity Management

The nuts and bolts of the business: standardized goals for weekly dials/door knocks, first and follow-up appointments, proposal dollars generated and sales.

Specific activity models vary with industry, sales rep title and target market.

5. Funnel Management

Five bucket funnel, weighted based on funnel position and probability of close, ala Siebel/DEI/Shipman. All reps required to maintain a minimum of 3x monthly sales plan in their funnels at all times, (weighted). Rep funnels ramp to Managers, Managers to Directors, Directors to RVP’s, RVP’s to SVP/EVP.

6. Territory Management

By zip code for key accounts, equalized by market potential, based on total revenue opportunity. “Challenge & split” guidelines in place across all boundaries.

7. Account Management

Account Management should be segmented by monthly revenue potential. Major account "blue sheet" sessions should be held each month until total addressable revenue opportunity acquired exceeds 80 %, (within each account). Account Management goals include:

A. growth of existing base depth - sales of existing products to existing clients.

B. growth of existing base width - sales of new revenue stream products & services to existing clients.

C. growth of incremental base depth - sales of existing products to new clients.

D. growth of incremental base width - sales of new products to new clients.