Graham Hawkins; author of “The Future of The Sales Profession” was the keynote speaker at the recent Sales Masterminds Forum, part of a series of events Harlow Group are sponsoring along with Salesforce and Linkedin.  I spoke with Graham after the event, where we spoke about many topics facing the IT sales profession.  In this section of the interview, we discussed the vendor rationalisation movement with the modern enterprise technology buyer.

You can watch the full interview here

Get “The Future of the Sales Profession“, by Graham Hawkins here

Come along to the next Sales Masterminds Forum on August 9!


We are delighted to be sponsoring this series of forums which are facilitated by Sales Masterminds APAC.

These event are designed to help sales leaders like you to improve the professionalism and success of your sales organisation.

The presenter for this one is Cian McLoughlin. Cian has invested the last 6 years in conducting win-loss reviews for his clients and has incredible insight into how customers make their buying decisions, and why they select one supplier over another.

Why will it be valuable for you?

Cian will will leverage case studies to reveal the science behind decision making and why human biology has such a profound influence on the reasons we say ‘yes’ to some requests and ‘no’ to others. I am sure it will help you and your sales team to position better to win.

The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion which will address your questions.

On top of all this it is a great opportunity for you to network with your sales leadership peers.

I hope to see you on August 9.

To your sales success!

P.S. – For more sales insights, SUBSCRIBE for email updates.




Youtube machine transcript of the above video:
every business on the planet is now
trying to arrange their vendors into a
vendor stack that’s efficient and so if
you’re a vendor sales person and making
the assumption that everybody can buy
from you think again
hi my name’s Steve Ludlow curator of the
hallo group sales leadership blog today
I have with me Graham Hawkins
thanks for joining us today great for
the sleeve like you know grain is an
author of two sales books most recent
one is the future of the sales
profession and so for those that don’t
know Graham grains got 28 years sales
leadership experience predominantly in a
tech space
author of two books as we’ve just said
recently completed an MBA and actually
doing some maturing and at the RMIT I
believe that’s correct what you’re
lecturing on yeah look a range of sales
and marketing based topics particularly
focused around procurement so and the
changes that we’re seeing there okay
from a sales point of your procurement
from a sales point of make a fantastic
interesting and to those that don’t know
actually was the keynote speaker at the
Sowers masterminds event that hallowed
group along with LinkedIn and Salesforce
sponsored it early on in the week which
is what brought us together today and
fantastic peanut and I picked up a lot
from it I think you said how would you
pick up a lot from it I’ve heard a lot
of content in space but there really was
quite a bit that I picked up from it and
I think the the first thing that really
stood out to me is the concept we were
speaking about with regard to extensions
studies where they’ve discovered that
amongst the sort of enterprise market is
a lot of being the rationalization going
on yeah and and you spoke a lot about
tier two and Tier three vendors being
pretty vulnerable in that environment
and hasseneen to qualify in or out
opportunities based upon this vendor
I guess movement and how a second and
third tier vendors you know supposed to
you spoke about qualifying the mineral
rights and that we just give up on that
sort of enterprise market and go for
tier two and Tier three clients or
having you to see that we should be
managing that as specialist providers in
the market yeah look it’s a really good
question the first thing we have to
acknowledge is that everybody is looking
to try and do more business with less
vendors so rationalization of vendors is
real everyone’s trying to drive cost out
of their businesses and managing you
know vast sums of vendors can be
extremely time consuming and costly so
every business on the planet is now
trying to arrange their vendors into a
vendor stack that’s a
and so if you’re a vendor salesperson
and making the assumption that everybody
can buy from you think again because in
many cases your territory is not as big
as you think it is during the research
phase of writing the book Steve I
interviewed a lot of buyers and lots of
them now put in place a policy for in
fact blocking off panel purchases so in
other words if you’re not already on the
panel you’ll never get on the panel
because they’ve got the door shut
basically so as a salesperson if you
don’t qualify that really really quickly
you can spin your wheels in an account
for eighteen months only to find right
at the end of the sales process when
you’re just about to get over the line
and get an order that someone says no
sorry we’re on you know we’ve blocked
off panel purchases so to your question
if you’re a tier 2 or a tier 3 vendor
looking to try and get into a new
account then you need to quickly find
out if they have got that kind of policy
in place yeah
if you’re a tier 3 vendor a single
private vendor then you need to work out
who the prime vendors are or the tier
ones and possibly align yourself with
one of those as a channel into the
account now you mentioned the Accenture
procurement report 2016 what they found
the key finding really was simply that
all businesses will align themselves
with a small number of strategic
suppliers in order to reduce risk and to
reduce cost sure so you know this is a
very real challenge now for the modern
vendor salesperson is how do you find
how do you identify which accounts to go
after and how do you make sure you’re
not wasting your time on ones where the
door is locked
yeah so as a specialist provider and if
you currently have a direct to market
strategy and you’re a salesperson or
sales leader working within that
function they had the ability to remodel
a go to market strategy to start
partnering with the IBM’s of the world
or fugitives or whatever that might look
like yeah is in your view in the tech
space at least would it make more sense
for these organizations to sort of
reframe who they’re going after and look
at the profile of the typical t1
enterprise that’s looking at this vendor
and and perhaps go after the mid-market
instead where they’re still looking at
innovating and expanding upon the way
they do business so that they can
challenge the t ones
hence looking at new inventors to
partner with in order to get a
competitive advantage yes 100% look in
every facet of go to market planning we
are we are being forced to get more
sophisticated and more targeted yeah I
think everyone agrees so when you sit
down and you do your your target
addressable market your market sizing
and you’re looking at your segmentation
plan you do your buyer personas you
follow that up with your ideal customer
profile yeah all of that needs to be
very sophisticated now you can no longer
afford to just go scattergun or you know
spray-and-pray as I call it yeah those
days are over so to your point we have
to get very very focused on which
segments which target customers you know
which buyers are our ideal sweetspot
type buyers and qualify them very very
hard I said to a client of mine recently
who is really just a very reactive
vendor responding to everything that
came along every proposal yeah I said
look if you haven’t got a very clear
view of the buyer and all of the you
know potential opportunities that you
have to sell to that customer you need
to qualify out and walk away it
strategically withdrawal or I call it
yeah that is you’re going to work out I
guess where you’re most competitive as
well just to be in the race is enough
you need to know that you’re going to be
in that top 2 correctly that was a
significant point of difference correct
and we hear it a lot as recruiters but
I’m sure you know many people viewing
hear this a lot from the initial person
they may approach that looked you’re not
only our vendor panel you know being
presented with a huge obstacle around
that and and that we’re not reviewing
that for the next 12 months is that the
other now on the back of that you hear a
lot of persistent sales people push
through that file at significant I guess
problem or a differentiator in their
product to bypass our procurement or to
be sponsored up if the salesperson to
listen to this each time and back away
early on in the process I could see a
lot of sales people walking away from a
lot of opportunity that potential
they’re competitors that may be more
persistent or innovative to find a way
in so how does a salesperson themselves
know the difference between a supplier
that’s just giving you the lines to get
rid of you and one that genuinely is
going to have that robot 18 months down
the track as you say look I think that’s
part of what separates great salespeople
from you know the also-rans yeah and
that is the ability to quickly work out
whether or not you’re a chance to you
know find a path of least resistance in
on the counter yeah so you make a good
qualifying very quickly and upfront
whether or not you have any way into the
account is critical so yeah being able
to strategically withdraw if you need to
or find a way another angle in you know
you talk about the different military
type strategies frontal attack flanking
to the side and all that kind of thing
you know when I did test planning years
ago we talked about all these different
strategies and at the end of the day as
a salesperson you may have to go and
actually align yourself with one of the
few ones an IBM or a HP in the
technology space in other industries it
might be one of the bigger players in
order to sell to the end-user you might
need to go in by a different channel
yeah that’s the way it is now


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This month, along with Salesforce and Linkedin, Harlow Group sponsored the Sales Masterminds Event in Sydney where we heard the globes most read Linkedin Influencer on the top of B2B sales and author of The Joshua Principle; Tony Hughes, speak about a critical problem facing most B2B sales teams; Creating Sufficient Pipeline.  Steve had the opportunity to interview Tony after the event.  Enjoy.  Check out the upcoming Sales Masterminds events here.


Generating Quality Sales Pipeline – Transcript                                  (99+ percent accuracy)
[00:20 – Beginning]
Steve:              Hi everyone, this is Steve Ludlow from Harlow Group! Today I have with me Tony Hughes, and Tony was the speaker today at the Sales Mastermind Event which is happening every two months. Tony is actually the most read B2B sales blogger on LinkedIn, and he’s spending some time with us today – thanks a lot for having a chat!
Tony:               Thanks Steve, and it’s good to have you on board as a sponsor!
Steve:              Yes, absolutely – met some great people today and there was some great content shared. I just wanted to dig a bit deeper on a couple of the topics that you’ve spoken about at the event today. You mentioned that around 60% of B2B sales teams are short of their number right now.
Tony:               Yes.
Steve:              Why? What’s the biggest cause in your view?
Tony:               Well, depending on whose statistics you believe, anywhere from 40% up to as high as two-thirds of B2B salespeople don’t make their numbers, and there’s a number of reasons for that. Obviously in the as-a-service world average transaction size is getting smaller and selling is not becoming any easier and everyone’s high-value solutions over time become commodities. If you add to that the way that most companies operate is they have this insane, relentless desire for growth, so they’re constantly increasing quotas and reducing territory. So salespeople are certainly in a very, very tricky position today.
Steve:              Who is to blame? There’s a lot of blame put on salespeople, especially from sales managers, but who needs to bear the weight and who needs to solve the problem? Is it salespeople, sales managers, a combination?
Tony:               The truth is everybody does, so from the CEO down everybody needs to own the responsibility of creating pipeline. It’s not really a case of apportioning blame, it’s a case of finding people to take ownership for pipeline creation. The reality is that every salesperson needs to own the creation of their own sales pipeline, regardless of what sales and marketing are doing for them, and also inside sales with sales development reps providing leads.
No salesperson today can make quota just on the leads that come from marketing and inside sales, and the reality is the weakest link in the revenue chain for most organisations is sales management, it’s not the salespeople. Sales managers need to lead, they need to get out of their spreadsheets and they need to get in the field with people. They need to sit on the sales floor and really lead by example, getting on the phones first thing in the morning, using social in a pragmatic way, not a “black hole of wasted time” way, to do pragmatic research and then get on the phone and build pipe.
Steve:              Pipe is an interesting one, because we speak to a lot of sales directors and we ask them at the beginning of a meeting around their sales talent, why is it that the last person failed or that people fail in your business, and there’s two reasons. One is lack of pipeline, and when they diagnose it themselves it’s a lack of discipline around getting on the phone and speaking to enough prospects and using the social phone I think you call it.
Tony:               Yes.
Steve:              So that’s the first thing. The second thing is that when they do get the opportunity to meet with the customer, they have an inability to peel back the layers of their requirements and truly understand the business need in order to sell their solution as the solution to that need. From your point of view, and certainly from my point of view, it’s actually the format that’s the biggest problem.
Tony:               Yes.
Steve:              How do we solve that in our sales team? Sales managers are pointing at their salespeople, saying, “I want you to make more calls,” but ultimately you’ve got to look at the coach for the answers. What can a sales manager do to solve that problem?
Tony:               Sales managers need to lead by example. People are reluctantly investing in technology and tools like Sales Navigator, but what we need is a foundation before we drive outreach, we need the right kind of narrative. What I see in organisations is people mistakenly run a conversation along the lines of “This is who I am, this is what we do, this is how we do it,” and no one is interested in that. No person worth getting to as a potential client is lonely and bored and looking for a new friend, so trying to lead with a “Hey, I want to be your friend,” kind of approach is a mistake. We need to provide value in the conversation, and no one worth talking to is lying awake at night, hoping a rep is going to call them the next day and tell them about their product.
We need to lead with a level of insight, and every person needs to own that. The salesperson needs to think about other customers with common characteristics, they need to understand what trigger events cause those existing customers to start their journey that ended up with them buying something, and use that to generate some kind of insight conversation. So don’t lead with product, don’t lead with solution; we first need to have some kind of relevant insight that we can talk about.
Steve:              Okay. The problem I’m seeing increasingly so is that there’s a lot of talk about social selling. We’re using LinkedIn, we’re using all these sorts of tools, yet one of the things that you spoke about today is making sure your people are on the phone at 7:45 AM in the morning every day and getting out an hour or two or whatever is required of prospecting time, using the social phone as you call it. That’s happening is very few organisations. You mention you sat on a sales floor the other day and it was silent for two hours, and we all see it. What’s stopping these people from getting on the phone, and how do we balance social and hiding behind the keyboard and the screen with actually getting on the phone? What’s the right balance?
Tony:               Social really serves two purposes, and the first is there’s no reason to ever make a truly cold call. We can jump in social, and very pragmatically within a short amount of time get enough context and find a common link. Because the fastest path to revenue is a referral, the most probable chance of doing a piece of business is where there’s a referral, because trust starts very early, so we can do research in social and find an introduction or a path or a point of context. The other reason social is important is about three-quarters of people that we do outreach with will research us. When they have a look at our profile, we want to make sure that we don’t look like a lower-level salesperson but rather look like an industry person with insight.
                        So social is relevant for those two reasons and others that I won’t go into now, but the truth is the phone is the original and most powerful social selling tool there is. The idea is to get human engagement, so that’s why this term that Kenny ~Maddins~ coined, the “social phone”, it’s the social and the phone together is how you go and get the right level of breakthrough.
Steve:              You speak about narrative a lot. What is narrative to you in a sales process and why is it important?
Tony:               Narrative is critically important, it’s the conversation that we’re having, so it’s a case of leading with why the client should have a conversation with us. If we were talking to an existing client, I would try and create a narrative around the fact that I’m not happy with the level of value that they’re getting from us in the relationship. Because every buyer wants a greater level of value from fewer supplier relationships, they’re trying to drive cost out and get greater value.
Steve:              Okay, so you’re working against the flow there.
Tony:               Exactly. Then if someone is not yet a client, I’d be saying, “In working with others in your industry and doing some research on your own organisation, I really think there’s an opportunity for you,” and then you say what you think that opportunity is, “That’s what I’d like to come and talk with you about, and also let you know what we’re seeing with other organisations out there that I think have some relevance.” That’s something that the buyer should want to have a conversation about, they’re interested in what competitors are doing, not that we would ever betray the trade secrets of one of our clients to their competitor, but we can certainly take a level of insight, they’re very curious about that and that’s a good reason for them to meet. Then we need questions that lead to the business value we offer, the outcomes we deliver and the way that we can manage risk.
Steve:              So it’s very much about anticipating a potential problem or challenge they might be facing in their business and leading with that narrative, rather than “Here’s what we do,” and turning that into a face-to-face meeting where that can be delved into a little further. Eventually you’ll get the opportunity to tell them how you can solve their problem, but obviously it’s about exploring that first.
Tony:               Yes. The thing is, if we’re trying to elevate our conversations, we need to talk the language of leaders; if we fail to do that, we’ll get delegated down to who it sounds like we deserve to talk to. We need to talk about the outcomes we know that they’re trying to achieve in their company and industry, how they can manage their risks in pursuing that and then what the business case looks like. The real language of business is numbers more than words, so if we can have that kind of narrative, the person will think, “Wow – this person deserves a conversation with me.”
Steve:              Okay, great – that covers everything off. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today and congratulations on your event!
Tony:               Thanks, Steve!
Steve:              These events are happening every two months?
Tony:               Yes, every two months, and really aimed at the business-to-business sales leadership community.
Steve:              Great, so that’s the Sales Mastermind Event series with Tony Hughes, and we’ve got plenty more speakers coming up in the coming series – thank you so much for your time today, great to meet you!
Tony:               Steve, thank you!
Steve:              Thanks!
[08:38 – End of Transcript]
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Car Allowance

The new fringe benefits tax year starts on 1 April 2016. The ATO have recently announced changes to tax implications for car allowances paid to sales professionals and other employees. The ATO says, “Changes to car allowances mean if you are paying your employees a car allowance in excess of 66c per kilometre, you need to withhold tax on the amount you pay over 66c. If you haven’t been doing this since July 2015, you should begin to withhold tax on the amount you pay over 66c and advise your employees.”

Matthew Hunt, Client Director at SiDCOR chartered accountants says “This change will put a greater onus on employers getting a record of the employees motor vehicle log book, or at the very least an indication from the employee on an at least quarterly basis as to the work related kilometres being travelled, so the employer can satisfy themselves that they are meeting their PAYG withholding tax obligations.”

By our calculations, the new rule may affect employers and sales professionals who:
Pay or receive a $15,000 car allowance who do less than 22,727 km per year, or
Pay or receive a $18,000 car allowance who do less than 27,272 km per year, or
Pay or receive a $20,000 car allowance who do less than 30,303 km per year, or
Pay or receive a $25,000 car allowance who do less than 37,878 km per year.

We are not qualified to give financial or tax advise.   Further advise should be sought from a qualified accountant.  Click here to speak with Matt Hunt from SiDCOR chartered accountants or for more information from the ATO, click here.

We’ve published this as we’ve recently discovered some employers have not yet made the necessary changes in their payroll. We hope this information helps.

To your sales success!

P.S. – For more sales insights, SUBSCRIBE for email updates.

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