Nahan is an independent, family-owned and operated Commercial Print, Direct Mail and Digital Solutions service provider located in St. Cloud, Minnesota. As a leader in the printing industry, Nahan is the go-to resource and it committed to providing end-to-end solutions that add value to communications supply chains.
Meeting Gary and Mike (Teaching Auditors To Sell?)
“I became acquainted with Pivotal Advisors through KDV, our accounting firm, who had retained them to teach their auditors how to sell. They came to me highly recommended.”
“At the time, I was working with another consultant/coach on the East Coast with deep experience in the print industry but wanted someone local, someone with real-world experience. I didn’t want a “career consultant”. I came into the job of leading 11 reps with no sales or print experience and was used to managing for outcomes. Mike and Gary quickly taught me that in sales I would need to manage activities, and the outcomes will happen. This sounds relatively minor but has significantly contributed to my success as a Sales Leader.”
A Chief Administrative Officer Running Sales?
“It’s pretty unusual that someone with my background would be chosen to lead a sales team. Nahan’s senior management gave me the role because they believed that my finance background would add more structure and accountability. They figured that I could learn the print business and a consultant could teach me sales management. Pivotal has used their battle-tested methodologies to teach me sales management and have helped me succeed in sales management.”
A Magic Report
“Being a “numbers guy” I wanted to begin regularly tracking sales and activity metrics. Mike and Gary suggested preparing a weekly Top Five Sales Report. The process is simple. First, ask the sales reps for their Top 5 achievements of the week. It could be sale, getting a hold of a prospect, or working 12 months to get a meeting with a particular print buyer. Second, consolidate the information for all the reps. Third, send it to senior management. It is a brilliant report. Senior management better understands what their sales reps are doing and have better visibility into the sales funnel.”
“After a while I asked if we should stop creating the reports and senior management emphatically said, ‘No.” They liked to know about the activity, especially around prospecting. This report has created a deeper level of trust with the sales team by highlighting all of the good activities that are going on within the sales department.”
Turning the Tide on a Past CRM System Revolt
“A year later, Pivotal helped me implement a CRM system. There was no way that I could have done it without them. One of the complications was, two years before I joined Nahan, they had tried to implement a CRM system. There was an immediate mutiny and the lead sales rep refused to use it.”
“I knew I needed to track prospecting activity and I wanted to implement a CRM but I couldn’t figure out how to turn the tide. So, I asked Mike and Gary.
Here’s the conversation:”
M&G: ‘Tell them it’s optional.”
Me: “What?! If I say that they are not going to use the system!”
M&G: “Tell them that they don’t have to. But, if they don’t use the system they don’t get to keep their prospects.”
“That’s what Pivotal Advisors is all about. Straightforward, real-world advice. Nothing simpler than explaining a natural consequence to the reps of not doing what they are asked. We have now had the CRM system in place for 3 years and it has become part of the standard operating procedure of the sales department.”
Motivating the Reps to Keep in Contact with Prospects
“Additionally, Mike and Gary suggested that I have someone review the contacts listed as Prospects in the CRM system. If there was no activity in the last six months, another sales rep can “claim” and work the prospect. That has really engaged our sales force in prospecting and documenting their activities.”
Double Digit Sales Growth in a “Flat” Industry
Since working with Pivotal, we’ve had double-digit sales increases every year, which is pretty amazing since Direct Mail industry revenues are essentially flat.
The Dynamic Duo
“Mike and Gary complement each other, which is no surprise, since they are brothers. Gary brings a left-brain skill set – Gary did the blocking and tackling of the CRM system implementation. Mike taught me how to “manage” the sales expectations of the senior leadership team and develop my reps. They are the perfect dynamic duo.”
Oh? Well Here’s What Your CFO Would Say…
“One of the things that I have found helpful is Pivotal Advisors’ monthly Sales Leader Alliance meetings. Although I wasn’t as seasoned a sales leader as the other participants, I would often add a CFO’s perspective to my SLA colleagues’ ideas. Many times I would say, ‘Interesting idea. Here’s what your CFO might say about that.’ I’ve called a number of the other participants in-between meetings for help and they always were willing to help me out.”
On-Boarding and Keeping/Firing Reps
“It’s really hard to quickly on-board a new sales rep and get them to be productive. It’s also difficult to determine if, after some point in time, they should be kept-on or let go. The question is, how long should it take to get a new sales rep up-to-speed? In the past, if they were nice and tried hard, we would keep them on. If they were jerks, didn’t work hard, and weren’t particularly effective, we would let them go. We were all over the map and had very little structure.”
“Mike and Gary helped us create the New Sales Rep Progress Report. We went back 15 years and plotted the month-to-month sales and profitability of 25 reps. Now, I can compare a rep who has been here 15 months with the first 15 months of other sales reps. Should we let them go? There are three of us who make that call and, with the report, we rarely have an argument. This is Accountability in action.”