Blog

>Blog>
­

How Platformax Team Manages Complex Projects

At Platformax we handle complex sales improvement projects, many at times we help our clients look for a needle in a haystack to improve their sales numbers. Over the years our team has perfected a delivery process that helps us stay ahead of the pack. Through this article, I am sharing them with you. We weave the following in every project that we run at Platformax.

 

Communicate, Communicate & Communicate

Time and again I have seen that the success of the project depends on how well the team members communicate not only among themselves but also to anyone likely to be affected or interested in their activities. For example, if a team was about to collect data from a working production line, team members should notify all supervisors and operators in advance and tell them when the data will be collected. Similarly, a team studying how employees in an office use their time should explain that the goal is to identify inefficient systems and not lazy employees. By following this mode of communication, we at Platformax get cooperation from our colleagues and often get suggestions for improvements along the way.

Whenever we are implementing Platformax sales improvement projects at our client’s office, we make sure that we don’t stick to notifying people about the changes, but go beyond and explain why the changes are being done and how it will impact them for good in the short as well as long-term.

 

Don’t wait to plug the hole

Over the years after handling multiple sales improvement projects, I know for sure that when you get better at studying processes, you start unearthing a lot more problems that need to be fixed. Our approach at Platformax is to explore issues in depth and collecting enough data for solving it once and for all. However, many times, some problems are easily fixable and don’t need elaborate analysis, this is what our team calls “Platform-sense”, we fix it then and there without getting into a paralysis of analysis. Our sales Jedi recommends that our team answers these questions before applying their “Platform-sense.”

  1. What’s the worst that could happen if this solution doesn’t work?
  2. How easy is it to undo the change?
  3. Will this delay other actions?
  4. How expensive will this change be regarding money and time?
  5. How much disruption will this change cause to our colleagues and clients?

In case most of these answers tread on the downside, we don’t implement the solution in haste. If the solution is simple to put in place and can be undone easily, we give it a shot.

  

We swim upstream like Salmon

Most of the problems we see are symptoms of other problems buried upstream in the process. For example variation in the product line may be due to the variation in raw materials; mistakes in customer’s bill may be the result of errors in the original order. To make improvements that stick, you must seek out these causes and find ways to prevent them. Whenever your team is faced with a problem, mentally walk through the entire process and see if you can identify upstream conditions that could be the cause of the problem.

 

Documentation wins hands down

In most of the organisations the same problem gets solved over and over again, and every time a hero gets created. At Platformax we are lazy and get bored if we have to solve the same problem twice, to feed our laziness we have created a log of the all the problems that we encounter and the proposed and implemented solutions along with end results. This has created a treasured repository for us, and we pride ourselves in discovering and solving new problems.

 

If you don’t measure it, it is smoke and mirrors

At Platformax we are great fans of Einstein, he said, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” We are not obsessed with measurement, and we have banned people from carrying measuring tapes to our client’s office, however keeping track of where we are and what we do is a part of our core ethos.

Rarely do things turn out exactly the way you plan, and you have to make multiple changes to the process before hitting the optimum point. We monitor all our actions so that we can quickly catch errors and prevent them from snowballing into blunders.

22. 12. 2016|Categories: Productivity, Project management|

Five Signs That Your Sales Head Needs To be Fired

A long time ago, in the land of Persia, there was a small business selling nuts and dry fruits, the owner, Emir Saladin was happy that the sales were picking up and he looked forward to growing his business to prosperous cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, Balkh, and Bamiyan.  To fulfill his dreams, he hired a sales manager called Zabala and started counting his chickens, hoping that the sales would increase and he would be the biggest fruit trader from his city of Isfahan. Time went past, winter came and went, and then the numbers started dipping, his old loyal employees were also unhappy, there was no passion left and customers had started complaining and not paying.

Emir Saladin had never tasted defeat and was known in the city of Isfahan as the best archer in the Persian Empire, so much so that the King of Persia wanted him to train his children on Archery. Emir Saladin, being a simple man with no love for power and fame, quietly concentrated on expanding his fruit business and moved to the city of Isfahan from Damghan, the capital of Persia in those days.

Things started going from bad to worse, and Emir Saladin became very depressed due to the turn of things, especially after Zabala had joined as the sales head. One day at midnight, he got up from his home and started walking towards The Maidan- The City Square.  It was a cold night, and he could barely see anyone else on the streets, as he got closer to the Maidan, he saw another person wearing a robe and walking at very slow pace; it seemed that he was an old man. Upon getting closer to him, Emir Saladin exchanged pleasantries and continued walking beside him.

Emir Saladin did not recognize him; he was Dann, the owner of best sales training firm in Persia, known to everyone as Platformax. After walking by his side for few minutes and as the light from the flames of minarets lit his face, Emir Saladin recognized him and burst into joy; he knew all his problems could be solved if Dann gave him his advice. His joy was short-lived as Dann’s charges were very high and he would not be able to pay it, considering the way his sales number were.

Emir Saladin’s teacher had taught that it’s always good to ask and see how the other side responds. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Emir Saladin decided to ask Dann for a favor and use that advice to improve his business.

Emir Saladin asked, “ What are the signs which tell you that a company should fire it’s sales head?” to Dann. Dann took a heavy breath and said that a Sales Yoda from another galaxy had once told him this answer.

He looked at Emir Saladin, and gave him an ear bud and asked him to clean his ears and then splashed water in his eyes and said, “now that your ears are clean of wax and eyes watered, look for these signs.”

Your sales head practices micromanagement

Micromanagement is a common symptom of poor member leader relationships. A leader who practices micromanagement treats highly experienced and skilled salespeople as if they were novices, double or triple checks work, or places rigid and excessive restraints on the decision making of team members. To someone looking at the team from the outside, it would appear that all decisions and information are being channelized through a very narrow managerial portal. As the team leader frantically attempts to maintain tight control over an ever-increasing array of projects and problems, workflow slows down significantly.

Your Sales head has communication problems
Troubled sales team members and sales head relationship are sometimes characterized by the opposite condition, where the team leaders provide insufficient direction to their teams. Team members may receive vague or ambitious instructions on projects. They may also discover that the team leader has failed to relay instructions or provide an overall context that enables them to understand the larger work issues involved. For their part, team members conceal mistakes and fail to disclose difficult situations. Eventually, these small failures in communication may result in unpleasant surprises for both the team leaders and its members.

Your sale head has increased team stress levels

Team members depend on their leader for feedback, coaching, guidance and recognition. Deteriorating sales head and sales team relationship produce a high degree of stress. A tense and hostile relationship between team members and their leader may cause some members to view the sales managers office as enemy territory. Also, the sales manager plays a major role in guiding members through times of volatile organization change. Members who lack strong bond with their leader are less prepared to deal with such change and will regard it as a stressful, unmanageable experience.

In time, team members will begin to display all the classic symptoms of work burnout, such as low energy level and the inability to concentrate on complicated tasks. When conversing with other groups, they may appear tense and curt. A concurrent symptom is a rise in absenteeism among team members, which is usually characterized by frequent one-two day absences.

Lack of trust within the team

Sales team member and their leaders may experience increased levels of mistrust. When this happens sales team members will respond to their sales head’s suggestions or explanations of altered requirements with lots of skepticism and suspicion, while the leader may be dissatisfied with the sales team’s justification of poor performance or missed milestones. Both the sides covertly hide behind each other’s defenses to try to find out the real story.  As time passes, the sales team members and their leader may respond to the worsening situation by curtailing all communication.

It is our camp versus their camp

Eventually, when the relationship is in its last round, sales team members and the sales head will separate into opposing camps. In discussions with other work groups, both the sides will complain to their respective peers about the difficulty they are experiencing with the other party. In some cases, team members begin to view their leader as no longer being a part of the team itself. So much so that when the sales leader walks into the room, informal conversations will cease or become guarded.

Armed with excellent advice from Dann who ran the most leading sales improvement platform, Platfromax, Emir Saladin breathed a sigh of relief. He had absolute clarity on what he needed to do. Zabala had to go and find another pasture.

This was in medieval ages; if you are still struggling with doing your sales number and keep on changing the sales team like diapers, give us a call. We will define and automate your sales process. I promise you, Dann, the Platformax guru will run it for you.

12. 10. 2016|Categories: Sales tips|

How to Avoid Giving Concessions in Negotiations

A skilful negotiator will try to trade a concession, which in fact costs him a little, but which has real or high-implied value to the buyer and brings a relatively more valuable concession from them. A great deal of skill is required on the part of the seller in raising the apparent cost to him and value to the buyer of a concession he is trading. Concessions must be traded carefully; this is to say you must not take your hands off your concession until the buyer has agreed on what he will do in return. Let’s look at the ways and tactics to achieve this end game.

Don’t harden your stance

In many respects, a negotiation is a vital game played for real results. Any unduly and early attempts by either side to harden its stand or dig in their heels by being inflexible will be met by reciprocal inflexibility from the other side, and the negotiation will break down. It is critical in these cases that at the conclusion of the negotiation both sides agree they cannot reasonably bridge the gap between them at this stage, or in this instance.  Having such a conclusion leaves open the possibility of further negotiation on the same subject or new negotiations in another area.

Keep the door open

A breakdown in negotiation caused by the unreasonable inflexibility of one party will not leave the possibility of new negotiations for the future so open.  At all times even when you have reached a point beyond which you are not prepared to go, you must appear to be reasonable.  Keep in mind that you are playing a ritual game, which is firmly rooted in hard financial reality. For many buyers, much of their sense of achievement comes from playing the game well.

Some quick tips

The definition of successful negotiation from the seller’s perspective is one which ends on your side of the point of need balance. However, the buyer believes that the deal favours him. You can use some of these hints to tilt the balance in your favours and avoid high concessions without getting anything in return.

  1. Allow the buyer to do most of the talking in the early stages, but do not frustrate him by not answering all his questions.
  2. Move the discussion from opening stances to a clear statement of actual stances, taking care to limit your losses; it is your responsibility to save face for the buyer.
  3. Avoid taking a premature stance at any point, which might result in reaching a point of no return too early in the negotiation. It is easier for the buyer to walk away then it is for you in most circumstances.
  4. Try to close on a clear statement of the actual gaps between you.
  5. Trade any concessions one at a time, ensuring that you raise the value of your concessions to him above their cost to you. You have to make a small concession on your side, seem very large gain to him. You can do this by
  • Implying that you really cannot give it.
  • Avoid emotional reactions but satisfy the buyer’s emotional needs. The good buyer/negotiator will try to put you under emotional pressure.
  • By referring to the main problem that will be solved by the concession.
  • Refer to the saving gained by the buyer.
  • Calculate the financial results of the concession.
  • Build up the notional cost or opportunity cost of giving the concession.
  • Start by implying that you are going to give a small concession and then give a large one, or enlarge the small concession.
  • Persuade the buyer that the benefits of the deal without the concession still justify acceptance.
  • Summarise the problem area and offer alternative concessions or a choice of alternatives
  • Show that the concession would put the buyer at a disadvantage, for example, you may not be able to support the product because of low margins.

With each and every concession made, whether from you or the buyer, it is essential that you summarise the details agreed. This will prevent misinterpretations later.  Consider a negotiation successful, if both you as the seller and the buyer meet at the point of balance, wherein both you and the buyer are satisfied.

Srđan Mahmutović is an Entrepreneur and business developer. He has built Spletnik from scratch, starting with zero investment, taking it from barely making ends meet to becoming the highest growth company in the segment in Slovenia. He is an expert sales manager, at only 19 years of age, Srdan had built a sales network of 40 insurance reps for an insurance network.

1. 10. 2016|Categories: Sales tips|

How To Recruit A Great Sales Manager

Undoubtedly sales are the lifeline of any organization and a cure for most of its problems. Most of the startups die a premature death due to lack of sales and not marketing, contrary to what many would believe. Taking this forward, having a great sales manager is essential to building a successful business.

Having said that, finding a great salesperson is fraught with risk, as few know about the secret traits that make a good salesperson. Many people with the gift of gab masquerade as a salesperson; however, if you dig a bit deeper, the veil gets lifted. From my experience of starting an insurance sales company at the age of 19 in Slovenia, and building it up to the number one position in five years, I can say with conviction that a successful salesperson has unique traits. I believe these qualities and not the education background or fluency in English differentiate the good from the not so good ones. Now, I am going to spill the beans and tell you about the traits of a successful salesperson.

Great Sales Managers Have Solid Conviction

A good sales manager must be able to lead the team in an exemplary fashion; his personal behavior must be above board all the times. Most of the sales people join as trainees or cadets at a very young age. They are highly susceptible to their manager’s behaviors and unconsciously adapt it. They do so because for them the sales manager is the role model and most of them aspire to be there. A good sales manager must depict honesty, sincerity, and truthfulness in dealing with people so that his behavior inspires his team in the right way.

Great Sales Managers Have Unflinching Consistency

Elbert Hubbard, the famous American writer, says it very well, “Self-discipline is the ability to do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.”

Good sales managers loathe procrastination and prefer to do things rather than looking for excuses for not doing it. By using the power of self-discipline, great sales managers cultivate a mindset wherein they are controlled and ruled by their deliberate choices rather than by external circumstances, emotions or other’s whims and fancies. A good sales manager would instill the virtues of self-discipline in the team thereby making them singularly focused on generating leads and following the process to convert them to billing dollars.

Great Sales Managers Have Solid Conviction

Great sales manager do not feel the urge to defend their conviction and in the same spirit display the openness to accept contrary or others’ point of view, without slipping into the judgmental mode. Good sales manager have a strong conviction in what they want to achieve and script an action plan to achieve it in full, without getting swayed or distracted by other’s opinion.

If you want to build a great sales team, go and fund a sales leader with an “I must get it” mindset.

Great Sales Managers Have Emotional Maturity

Sales environment tend to be stressful; pressure tends to build up quickly and to top it up the billing counter resets to zero at the start of every financial year. When novice sales managers encounter stressful selling situations, their emotions come to the forefront and start running the sales meeting instead of using a combination of influence and selling skills to turn the tide.

Good sales managers have the emotional maturity to deal with sudden changes, uncontrollable circumstances and unexpected demands from customers, without losing their composure. Sales managers with emotional maturity tend to achieve their objectives faster than those who lack it, and at the same time, it helps them in building a great relationship with customers and their internal sales team.

By using these tips, I hope you will be able to find a good sales manager. In case you need any help or guidance in refining your sales process, don’t hesitate to contact me for help. I have coached hundreds of successful executives on sales and my company; Platformax is packaging these sweet little secrets in artificial intelligence software, thereby making it easier for people to close sales.

Srđan Mahmutović is an Entrepreneur and business developer. He has built Spletnik from scratch, starting with zero investment, taking it from barely making ends meet to becoming the highest growth company in the segment in Slovenia. He is an expert sales manager, at only 19 years of age, Srdan had built a sales network of 40 insurance reps for an insurance network

11. 9. 2016|Categories: Productivity, Sales tips|

So-long to Clients and Contacts. Hello Companies and Persons!

Big news for all of you that have contact with multiple people in the same company when you’re trying to close your deals or if you work directly with end customers.  This week we say so-long to Clients and Contacts and we introduce Companies and Persons!

In Platformax you are dealing with two type of contacts Company and Person.  You will need one or another before you do sales, support or any other actions. All contact details, past and planned activities, tickets, opportunities and actions associated with them that take place in Platformax are tracked in their detail pages. Detailed Company and Person card helps you to plan and to execute your future actions necessary to “close” an opportunity and offer support after that.

 

Person represents individual people. A Person can have Opportunities and you can track them in your sales pipeline.

  • Person is a contact person profile holding contact data (e.g., email addresses, phone numbers, job title, etc) and interaction history.
  • Person can be associated with a Company – but not necessary.
  • Person can have multiple Opportunities open for them at the same time.
  • Person can also have tasks, tickets, orders, documents, time logs, etc.

 

Company represents an organisation above the Person. In real life these Persons are usually company employees. You can find all Persons related to a Company on the Company card.

  • Company is a Company profile holding contact data (e.g., company websites, phone number, main e-mails and addresses) and  interaction history.
  • Company can be related to multiple Persons therein, as well as multiple Opportunities.
  • Company can have multiple Opportunities open for them at the same time.
  • Company can also have tasks, tickets, orders, documents, time-logs, etc.

Both Company and Person can have custom fields. If you require that and your subscription model includes that feature, please contact your dedicated consultant to help you with setting up.

4. 7. 2016|Categories: What's new|Tags: , , , |

Mail inbox with “Zero inbox” concept

Together with telephone, e-mail is the communication form that is used most in business communication today. Unlike telephone, though, e-mail correspondence can be centralized and archived. Many companies use generic email addresses for different purposes, such as info@domain.com, support@domain.com or sales@domain.com. When such e-mails come in, they are often forward to the e-mail clients (Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail or similar) of specific people that are then tasked to take care of them. So far, so good; but when it comes to processing those e-mails there are several problems that need to be addressed.

Let’s say a client sends an inquiry to sales@domain.com. Sales reps John, Sally, Ingrid and Jack all get the message forwarded to their personal e-mail accounts in their Outlook. To illustrate what happens then we will look into several typical scenarios now:

Scenario 1: John is the first one to see this e-mail. He takes it over and answers to the client as john@domain.com. He sends additional questions to the client to get more info about the request so he can prepare to close this deal.

A bit later Ingrid notices this same e-mail, but since she has a better understanding of the product in question she quicly prepares an offering and sends it out to the prospective customer according to her interest in closing the deal.

Sally and Jack have no idea what the other two sales reps already did, so they both send a forward-e-mail to the entire team to find out if anyone is already processing this request. So everybody writes a quick answer which consequently alerts John and Ingrid that they were both trying to close the deal in a different way.

And the client got two different e-mails from the same company, answering the same inquiry in two different ways. Clearly he is confused now. He might also doubt the professionality of the company he just addresses. There is a good chance now that he will reconsider and address another vendor.

So although basically the entire sales team was somehow involved in this single request, chances to close a deal are low.

Scenario 2: Again, John is the first to notice this e-mail. He takes it over and answers to the client as john@domain.com but includes sales@domain.com in the CC. He exchanges two messages with the client and every time their messages go to him and the entire mail group, so Sally, Ingrid and Jack need to keep track. But as they see that John is handling this, they soon just delete the messages as they do not wish to spend any more of their time on this.

Then John informs the client that his colleague Jack will take over to provide better help and to send additional data, expecting Jack to follow the correspondence on sales@domain.com and, consequently, to take over the dialogue with the customer. But Jack doesn’t see this because he just deletes all mails with the customers name in the header.

So what happened here? One customer request generated a huge overhead, with literally dozens of e-mails written, forwarded, received, answered or deleted, most of them with basically zero relevance for most of the acting people. And on top of that waste of labour, in the end the customer will be lost due to Jacks failure to take over when asked to.

And again, although basically the entire sales team was somehow involved in this single request, chances to close a deal are really low.

The solution: Platformax Zero Inbox

To prevent the described scenarios, to raise productivity and to ensure 100% tracking and a consistent customer experience, Platformax supports inboxes with the “zero inbox” concept for generic e-mail addresses instead of mail groups. Rather than forwarding e-mails between team members in Platformax Zero Inbox appropriate actions are defined for each incoming message. That works like this:

All incoming messages on a given generic e-mail address are checked periodically by a dedicated team member who decides whether they will be unprocessed or processed. If he decides to “process” an e-mail, he has to assign the e-mail to one of three labels:

  1. Ignored  – for spam, commercial messages and messages that no one cares about.
  2. Create opportunity – in case of a relevant inquiry or a possible business opportunity which then is forwarded it to the appropriate sales rep’s sales pipeline to be further processed.
  3. Create new ticket or add to existing ticket – in case of a support request or matter that requires team collaboration and further processing, the e-mail message will be transformed into a ticket and delegated to a specific team member to follow up with the issue and the client in order to solve his issue.

Advantages of the Platformax Zero Inbox

Many people mistake their e-mail inbox with a sort of a ToDo-list, resulting in decreasing productivity and, in cases where e-mail groups are in use, in increased overheads due to the involvement of team members that do not really need to be involved in the first place.

 

Using Platformax Zero Inbox ensures that any given e-mail is processed in an appropriate way, that no e-mail gets lost and that no requests will ever go unprocessed. Possible actions to take on each message are common to all team – ignore, create opportunity or create new/add to existing ticket. As soon as anyone chose any of those actions, completion is guaranteed, and further overhead prevented. Zero Inbox let’s your team get focussed on things that need to be done rather than checking their inboxes all the time!

And, apart from unlocking team productivity, Zero Inbox also ensures maximum customer satisfaction, minimizes the chance of loosing business due to poor performance, and finally gives you a powerful tool and competitive edge to prevail in today’s highly competitive market place.

Sign up for your demo now (Sign up HERE) or contact us so we can show you how easily you can implement Zero Inbox into your daily business procedures.

21. 6. 2016|Categories: Productivity|Tags: , |