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Do You DO A Good Job Of Executing A Consistent Market Plan?

Do you have a “Market Plan”? At Strategen we define a market plan as the segment of the overall business plan that states…… Continue reading.

Are You Happy With the Performance of Your Manufacturing Team?

Do you have a set of metrics to determine the performance of your manufacturing team? Are these metrics broken into subgroups for each manufacturing department? Another way to ask the question is how do you know if you’re manufacturing team is performing at peak performance? Are there key performance indicators that you should be measuring to determine manufacturing performance?…… Continue reading.

Do your product/projects meet your customers’ expectations?

The title of this newsletter “Do your products/projects meet your customers’ expectations?” Is a critical question that you should be asking constantly in your business. The first question I would have for you is how do you know if your products/projects meet customer expectations?……. Continue reading.

Are your projects completed at or below budget expectations?

Completing projects or delivering products at or below your budgeted cost expectations is critical in meeting financial projections for your company. While this is intuitively obvious, our experience tells us that the metrics required to determine this on a real time basis is something that is not necessarily an active function within all businesses……. Continue reading.

Do your projects ship on time?

Delivering on time, in our experience, is a measure of quality. And in order to ship/deliver a product or project on time we believe it is imperative to track this metric and report it for every function that has any responsibility for a product or project…… Continue reading.

Do You Ever Have Difficulty Collecting Final Payments for Projects?

Last month, we discussed the need for clear and concise definitions of what constitutes acceptance and transfer of ownership to be included in quotations. The need for these clear and concise definitions becomes apparent at the end of a project when you, as the supplier, are trying to collect the final payment….. Continue reading.

Do Your Quotations Clearly Describe Customer Acceptance and Transfer of Ownership?

Over the last few months, we’ve been writing about the communication chain from the customer through the manufacturing function. As important, if not more important, is the understanding between you and your customer of “what constitutes the customers’ acceptance of your products or services and when transfer of ownership takes place”…. Continue reading.

How Good is The Good Communication Between Sales and Applications Engineering?

Over the last few months we have been writing about the communication chain from the customer through the manufacturing function. We have noted that communication of customer expectations is critical, and often, not done with excellence….. Continue reading.

How Good is The Good Communication Between Engineering and Manufacturing?

The topic last month was: How good is the communication between Sales and Engineering? We pointed out that this is important as engineering needs to understand “what was sold”…Continue reading.

How Good is The Good Communication Between Sales and Engineering?

We feel it’s imperative that communication between the sales and engineering functions be excellent because engineering needs to know exactly what was sold. If engineering doesn’t know, quantitatively, exactly what was sold, they will not be able to engineer to meet customer expectations!…Continue reading.

Do Your Design Teams Perform Service and Startup Calls?

In our previous newsletter we observed: “An engineering staff that is not capable of going to the field and working with your customers is an engineering staff that, we feel, is operating at 50%.” This observation is based…Continue reading.

Are Your Engineers Engaged with Customers?

Maybe a better question is: are your engineers capable of meeting with your customers? Many times, we feel that engineers are not sufficiently trained to…Continue reading.

Does Engineering Get Completed On Time?

After a sale is completed and the project scope is defined, a project is generally turned over to the engineering department. Having engineering involved in a final quote process for a large project is crucial to…Continue reading.

Are You Happy with the Performance of your Engineering Team?

Do you have a basis to measure the performance of your engineering team? What I’m getting at is do you have a set of metrics that measures engineering performance? Metrics such as…Continue reading.

Are You Happy with the Performance of your Operating Team?

Have you ever asked these questions? Do you have the systems in place to provide answers to these questions? We would love to review these questions with you and see how we can improve your overall operating performance. Continue reading.

Are You Happy with Your Customer Development Efforts?

The first question is: do you have an active customer development process? We use the term “customer development” in place of market development because I believe it brings more focus to the process. “Customer development” focuses on the customer rather than the much more intangible “market”. Continue reading.

Does the Market Know About Everything Your Company Offers?

How can you be sure that your market knows, in detail, about your complete company offering? Do you have general branding advertising? Do you have specific target market communication campaigns? Continue reading.

Do Your Salespeople Sell Everything You Offer?

Do your salespeople sell everything you offer? This seems like a silly question, but our experience shows that salespeople sell things they feel comfortable selling, that they know about in depth, and that offer the most compensation. Continue reading.

Do Your Salespeople Make Enough Sales Calls?

Do you salespeople make enough sales calls? Do you have a system that monitors your salespeople and the number of sales calls they make a day? Does your monitoring system include a metric for who your salespeople are calling on? Continue reading.

Do Your Salespeople Know and Manage Their Quotas?

Do you have a quota system?

• If you do, is it something that you manage on a regular basis with your salespeople?
• Is it part of your sales meeting agenda?
• Do your salespeople pay attention to their quotas on a daily/weekly basis?

Continue reading.

Are You Happy with The Performance of Your Salespeople?

Do 20% of your salespeople sell 80% of your volume? Have you ever asked yourself this question and if the answer is yes I would suggest that you look at the skill sales sets of your salespeople and your overall sales control and reporting systems.  Continue reading.

Are You Happy with Your Margins?

Achieving acceptable or excellent margins it’s something we all strive for. Simply said, in order to increase gross margin, we can either increase the sales dollars or decrease the material, labor and/or overhead costs. This is many times easier said than done. So how can this be accomplished? Continue reading.

Are You Happy with Your Sales Volume?

This seems like a very fundamental question, but I’m not sure we ask ourselves this question enough. To be happy with our sales volume, I think it’s important that we have a firm understanding of what our sales expectations are, and that those expectations are communicated to all people in the organization on a regular basis. Continue reading.

Performance Questions

Have you ever asked yourself “performance” questions about your Sales Organization? Questions like:

1. Are you happy with your sales volume?
2. Are you happy with your margins?
3. Are you happy with the performance of all your salespeople?

Continue reading.

Following-Up on the Close Date

The last newsletter focused on the importance of following up. This month let’s look closer at why we need to follow up on the estimated close date and the importance it has in planning and scheduling. All opportunities need a realistic estimated close date so both sales and the balance of the company can plan their next actions. From the standpoint of the sales team, when the order is going to be placed drives their schedule and effort required to verify they get the order…continue reading.

Follow-Up

The last newsletter focused on planning.  Now let’s look at the follow-up required to support the KPI’s and your business plan.  Following-up is a key component of the sales process and many sales people struggle with it to the extent that some hardly do it.  Is it because they do not think it is worth doing?  Is it because it takes time to do taking time away from other things they believe are more important?  Regardless of why, it is critical to their success that they make following-up a habit…continue reading.

Planning

The last newsletter focused on your “KPI’s and Dashboards”. Now let’s look at the planning to support the KPI’s. With the start of the new year just a few weeks away it is a perfect time to update or create your Strategic Plan for 2021. You have a Vision for your business and this Vision forms the basis for your Strategic Plan. Write down three or four main strategic initiatives for…continue reading.

KPI’s and Dashboards

The last newsletter focused on “defining your most important measurables, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)”. Now let’s look at using Dashboards to manage your KPI’s. Dashboards are utilized to summarize details that are important and keep them in a place that is easy to access. For most people today, that is your computer and cell phone….continue reading.

KPI’s

The last newsletter focused on “getting ready” for the sales and business that is coming your way as you attack the market and win market share. Now let’s look at defining the most important measurables, Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), for your organization so you know current status and can change to take advantage of situations…continue reading.

Get Ready

The last newsletter focused on getting the sales to increase market share. Now let’s look at what to do with the new sales and the importance of your people to “Get Ready”. Because now is the time to attack and market share is up for grabs you must be able to capitalize on the business when you get it. Your competition is struggling and worried about the future and many companies are reducing head count and making cuts. What a terrible position to be in but not you. Now is the time for attack mode and increasing not cutting…continue reading.

Get the Sales

The last newsletter focused on cash management and the importance of getting cash so you can use it to maintain operations. Now let’s look at getting back to business and the importance of your people “Getting the Sales”…continue reading.

Get the Cash

This is a perfect time to look at the impact CASH has on your business. The three most important rules of finance are 1) Get the Cash, 2) Get the Cash and 3) Get the Cash. Knowing where the cash will come from and how you are going to manage the cash should be a top priority that you address every day…continue reading.

How Am I Going To Change?

What a time to be a business owner! Your world has changed and no matter what business you are in, things are different today than you forecasted and planned for just a few months ago at the start of the year….continue reading.

Managing your Opportunities

The last newsletter discussed the third component of managing the Opportunity Log, knowing the probability that you will get the order when it is placed for each opportunity so you can manage your opportunities and close enough sales to meet your quota…continue reading.

Do Your Sales People Know the Probability of Getting the Order?

A key component to the management process is the Opportunity Log that lists each Opportunity with a realistic estimated close date, the status of the opportunity within the customers system and the probability that you will get the order when it is placed…continue reading.

Do Your Sales People Know the Status of Their Opportunities?

A key component to the management process is the Opportunity Log that lists each Opportunity with a realistic estimated close date, the status of the opportunity within the customer’s system and the probability that you will get the order when it is placed. …continue reading.

Do Your Sales People Know Their Estimated Close Dates?

The last newsletter discussed managing the quantity of opportunities your sales people have so they can close enough sales to meet their quota. A key component to the management process is the Opportunity Log that lists each Opportunity with a realistic estimated close date, the status of the…continue reading.

Do Your Sales People Have Enough Opportunities?

The last newsletter discussed how having and making the sales quota is critical to the success of the organization and individual sales person.

The “Individual Sales Plan” we discussed will define the quota that the sales person needs to meet and the way to meet this quota is to close opportunities. The sales persons opportunities will be listed in their Opportunity Log that we…continue reading.

Do Your Sales People Make Their Quotas?

The last newsletter discussed how critical to success having an “Individual Sales Plan” is for the sales person and can help separate those that sell from those that do not. A key component of this plan is the sales quota. A sales quota is the minimum assigned individual sales target for a specified period expressed in dollars or number of products or services sold…continue reading.

Key Components to an Individual Sales Plan

The last newsletter reviewed the “conviction to do what is right” and mentioned that “Top Performers” “believe in what they are selling” and are comfortable talking about the features and benefits of their products or service and connecting these to solutions…continue reading.

Believe in What You’re Selling

The concept of “Believe in What You’re Selling” is critical to success in sales and can separate those that sell from those that do not. Think about this for a minute, with the right kind and amount of training, sales people can learn the features and benefits of products and services so they are armed with the basic information they need to call on customers and prospects….continue reading.

Conviction to Do What is Right

The last newsletter reviewed “Top Performers” as leaders that have the “Courage to Win”. With this courage, we also need the “Conviction to do what is right”. When the thing to do is obvious, then the conviction required to perform is minimal, but when the situation goes against the norm or standard or is not the easy option, then the decisions become more difficult and the conviction required to make the decisions and stand by them is critical to success.

Conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion”. “Top Performers” are firmly convinced of…continue reading.

Do Your Salespeople Have the Courage to Win?

The last newsletter discussed the fact that “Top Performers” are leaders and that leadership related to the sales process can take the form of having the “courage” to do what is necessary to succeed.

That is, to “Win”. Today, many people conform to belong and to be part of the group or team instead of striving to be leaders. Typically, these people lack the “courage” to take a stand or to push back against those they confront and work to do what is right and what is needed to succeed where others fail…continue reading.

Leaders Win

The last newsletter discussed the fact that “Top Performers” are winners and it is their skill that set them apart from others.  A key skill that “Top Performers” have is leadership.  While leadership is hard to define as it means different things to different people, leadership related to the sales process can take the form of having the courage to do what is necessary to succeed.  That is, to Win….Continue reading.

Top Performers

“Top Performers” are winners and winners are great to be around. “Top Performers” are the best of the best and have skill sets that set them apart and drive them to do better and be better.

We talk quite a bit about Top Performing sales people in the 50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People book, but each business contains (or needs to contain) “Top Performers” in every department. It makes us better, it makes our teams better, it makes our customers better and it makes our Bottom Lines better. “Top Performers” are leaders and they need good leaders to see their full potential…Continue reading.

Habit 50: Follow-up cold calls with a phone call, every other day, to secure appointment.

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 50: Follow-up cold calls with a phone call, every other day, to secure appointments.

Last month’s newsletters talked about the importance of making cold calls. This month, let’s discuss following-up. We firmly believe that “Follow-Up” is the most important function in sales and in management for that matter. You can do all the planning, all the organizing, and all of the executing you want, but without follow-up, you’re dead….Continue reading.

Habit 49: Make regular cold calls that are integrated with existing customer calls, project calls and “C” and “D” calls

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 49: Make regular cold calls that are integrated with existing customer calls, project calls and “C” and “D” calls.

Last month’s newsletter talked about placing the “Target Account” list into a 90 day calendar. This month, let’s look at the importance of making cold calls. Much of today’s conventional wisdom is against making cold calls. It is thought that with the Internet, e-mail and all the modern conveniences, cold calling is….Continue reading.

Habit 48: Place the “Target Account” list into a 90 day calendar

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 48: Place the “Target Account” list into a 90 day calendar. Last month’s newsletter talked about sorting the “Target Account” list geographically. This month, let’s look at placing the “Target Account” list into a 90 day calendar.

Start with a rule of thumb: call on customers and key prospects four times per year and utilize your geographically sorted “Target Account” and customer lists. With this strategy, it is easy to start building your 90-day calendar….Continue reading.

Habit 47: Sort the “Target Account” List Geographically

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 47: Sort the “Target Account” list geographically. Last month’s newsletter talked about maintaining the “Target Account” list once it is created. This month, let’s look at utilizing the “Target Account” list by sorting the list geographically. Typically, you have invested many hours in creating your “Target Account” list and many more hours maintaining it. Why not invest the time to maximize the use of your list by calling on the as many of the right people as you can when you are…Continue reading.

Habit 46: Maintain the “Target Account” list on a weekly basis

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 46: Maintain the “Target Account” list on a weekly basis.

Last month’s newsletter talked about developing “Target Account” lists and detailed how to do that including where to do the research. This month, let’s look at maintaining the “Target List” once it is created. We find that many time sales people overlook not only the importance of creating a focused “Target List”, but the critical need to maintain their list…Continue reading.

Habit 45: Do the Research!

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 45: Do the Research!

Earlier newsletters talked about developing “Target Account” lists. How do you do that? Where do you do the research?

There are many databases available including your own customer list that can assist you in developing your “Target Account” list.

Regardless of the service used, the important issues are the search criteria. The development of data is not what you are after. You are after the development of accurate data that….Continue reading.

Habit 44:  How Much Should I Travel?

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 44: How Much Should I Travel?

Travel is a relative thing and I don’t think there’s any real benchmark that accurately predicts the perfect amount of travel. It’s not about how much you travel it’s about how much you sell.

If you are hitting your numbers, $2400.00 per hour for example, I think you are traveling just about right and more travel could be a waste of time and money…Continue reading.

Habit 43: Break Bread with Them

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 43: Break Bread with Them.

I’m sure that you would agree that the sales lunch or dinner can be abused. I suggest that this is an incredibly powerful tool to build relationships and sell. It simply depends on how and when it’s used.

Building credibility and building relationships is crucial to your success. Early on in a career it is pretty hard to spend all of your time on “C’s” (quotes submitted for approval) and “D’s” (quotes approved for purchase) as they simply do not exist…Continue reading…

Habit 42: Make the Sales Calls!

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 42: Make the Sales Calls!

Every salesman knows that making sales calls is really what they’re all about. What separates the average salesperson from a “Top Performer” is the “Top Performer” knows who to call on, when to call and how often to call. This seems like pretty straightforward stuff and I’m sure that most salespeople believe that they truly are doing a great job.

“Top Performers” develop “Target Account” lists. From these lists, they’ve developed…Continue reading…

Habit 41: Do You Like Us or Not?

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 41: Know your customer/prospect’s justification methodology and prepare and present a written justification for every “C” project.

Knowing the customer/prospect’s justification methodology is only half the battle. The other half is being able to prepare justifications so that you can determine if a project is likely to be funded or not. There is no sense chasing a project that does not have the possibility of being funded. Although, politically, you may have to go through some effort to maintain the relationship, this effort can be modified for poorly justified projects, to save time. Continue reading…

Habit 40: Do You Like Us or Not?

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 40: Know if your company is the preferred vendor or not and why.

Once an opportunity has moved in the sales cycle and you’ve qualified the opportunity as a “C”, submitted for approval, it’s very important to find out if the customer/prospect likes you and/or your company or not. You do that by asking a simple question. That question is: “Are we the preferred vendor?” It’s a straightforward and honest question that deserves an answer. Continue reading…

Habits 38 & 39: Know Your Competition

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at: Habits 38 & 39: Know Your Competition. This should go without saying but I’m sorry to say that very few salespeople actually know anything about the competition. Understanding the competition needs to start with a list of competitors. Do you have a list of your competitors? If you don’t, you need to get one and you need to get it soon. Continue reading…

Habit 37: Get the Prospect/Customer to Your Facility

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 37: Plan and execute a visit to your facilities to introduce your people, your company and your processes to every “D” opportunity. It’s just as important, if not more important, to get your prospect/customer to come to your facility to view your facility and meet your people. Continue reading

Habit 36: Let Your Customer Do the Selling

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 36: Let Your Customer Do the Selling. Why should you work so hard when you can let your customer do the selling? This doesn’t sound right, does it? Or does it? Prospective customers/prospects field visits to existing customer sites to demonstrate your product or service is a crucial “Sales Cycle” event. Continue reading…

Habit 35: Who’s Really Involved?

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 35: Who’s Really Involved?  Sometimes the “Sales Cycle”, takes so many turns and so many different events happen that you might lose track of who, on the prospect/customer’s team is really involved in the decision making process.You must know who is involved and ask until you get the answer.  Continue reading…

Habit 34: Know Every Customer/Prospect’s Fiscal and Budget Constraints

This habit seems to be self-evident however, I feel I must really emphasize “knowing when the money is going to be released.”

It’s a lost art, I believe, to be there when the purchase order is written. One of my partner Lou’s mentors once told him: “Lou, it’s not an “order” until the invoice is paid.” Well, let’s turn this around a little bit and phrase it this way: “It can’t be an order until you get the order.” Continue reading…

Habit 33: Know Every Customer/Prospect’s Fiscal and Budget Constraints

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 33: Know Every Customer/Prospect’s Fiscal and Budget Constraints. What does this really mean? The answer is: it’s very simple. Fiscal constraints are: The time of year that the customer/prospect’s fiscal year begins and ends and the methodologies used to approve budgets. Continue reading…

Habit 32: Develop an “Account Plan”, at the Beginning of an Account Relationship

To continue with the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 32: Develop an “Account Plan”, at the beginning of an account relationship. When I talk about the “Account Plan”, many people think I am talking about an “Opportunity Plan.” An account plan is simply a description of where you believe a new account will grow. Continue reading…

Habit 31 – Write out the “Sales Cycle”, “Account Plan” and “Opportunity Plan” for every “C” and “D” Opportunity and Maintain them Religiously

To kick off the “Account Development Habits”, let’s look at Habit 31: Write out the “Sales Cycle”, “Account Plan” and “Opportunity Plan” for every “C” and “D” opportunity and maintain them religiously. Before you can write out a “Sales Cycle” you must know the definition of the term. For the purposes herein the “Sales Cycle” is the string of events that will happen from the beginning of the opportunity until the end of the opportunity. Continue reading…

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habits 28, 29 and 30

Habit 28: Be at ease with people.
Habit 29: Make people feel at ease with you.
Habit 30: Determine and accommodate a prospect’s/customer’s country quickly and modify your communication style to accommodate theirs.

Last month’s newsletter talked about being “on time” for appointments. This month let’s focus on being at ease with your customers, making people feel at ease with you and accommodating how people deal with others. Continue reading…

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit 27 – Fifteen Minutes Early

Continuing with the Six Interpersonal Skills let’s look at Habit 27, being “on time”. Last month’s newsletter talked about Appearance and Demeanor. This month, let’s focus on being “on time” for appointments.

Arrive at appointments 15 minutes early. Many people refer to this as Lombardi time and it’s a great idea developed by a great man and we’ve adopted this practice in our professional life. We can’t tell you the number of times that being 15 minutes early has been a big advantage to us. Continue reading…

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habits 25 and 26 –  Appearance and Demeanor

The May newsletter completed “Part Two”, the twelve “Sales Skills”, and it is time to move to “Part Three”, “Interpersonal Skills”.

“Interpersonal Habits” are about how sales people relate to customers and prospects. Most sales seminars and sales skills books, pay very little attention to this area. Although most of this is common sense, there is a good deal of skill involved, and these skill sets must be learned.  Let’s look at Habits 26 and 27 – Appearance and Demeanor. Continue reading.

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habit 24 – You are a Professional!

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills let’s look at Habit 24: You are a Professional!

Last month’s newsletter talked about the importance of hand delivering quotes when possible. This month, let’s focus on why it is important to be a professional.

This HABIT really separates the top performers from everybody else. It’s not just the HABIT, but it’s the performance that the habit demands. It’s easy for anyone to say, “I’m a professional” and, in fact, anyone that gets paid is, by definition, a professional but that’s not the point. Continue reading…

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habit 23 – It’s Important to Hand Deliver the Quote

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills let’s look at Habit 23: It’s Important to Hand Deliver the Quote. 

Habit 23: Deliver “C” and “D” quotations in person.

Last month’s newsletter talked about “Closing” on the sales call goal skillfully. This month let’s focus on why it’s Important to hand deliver the quote. In previous newsletters we talked about classifying opportunities and specifically, “C” and “D” opportunities. To refresh your memory on the definitions of these classifications:

  • “C”, is a qualified event for which a quotation has been presented and the prospect has submitted the quotation for purchase approval.
  • “D”, is a qualified event for which a quotation has been submitted for approval and approval has been received and purchase is eminent.

When you think about all the effort that you expend developing specifications, quantifying specifications, communicating information and actually developing a quotation for a “C” or “D” opportunity, it shouldn’t surprise anybody that quotations. Continue reading…

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habit 22 – Closing

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills let’s look at Habit 22 – Closing.Habit 22: “Close” on the sales call goal skillfully. Last month’s newsletter talked about setting a goal for each sales call.  This month, let’s focus on one of the most important components of the sales cycle, “closing”.  

Much is made of “CLOSING.”  Hundreds, maybe thousands of books have been written about proper closing methodologies. Books have been written about the “ABC’s” of “closing,”presenting detailed recipes and step-by-step procedures for “closing.” Continue reading…

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habit 21 – What’s the Goal for the Sales Call?

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills, let’s look at Habit 21 – What’s the Goal for the Sales Call? Habit 21: Set and close on a goal for each sales call, whether the sales call is in person or on the phone.

Last month’s newsletter talked about understanding the difference between features and benefits and not introducing benefits until a need has been qualified as genuine pain.  This month, let’s focus on defining the goal for the sales call. Continue reading…

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habits 19 & 20 – Is It a Feature or a Benefit?

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills let’s look at Habits 19 & 20 – Is It a Feature or a Benefit? Habit 19: Understand the difference and the uses of features and benefits. Habit 20: Know not to introduce benefits until there is a need that has been qualified through genuine “PAIN.” Last month’s newsletter talked about confirming problems as NEEDS and determining the level of PAIN to improve the sales cycle and determine the need of your target customer so you can offer your solution tailored to that customer. This month, let’s focus on…Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habit #18 – How Do You Determine PAIN?

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills let’s look at Habit #18 – How Do You Determine PAIN? Confirm problems as NEEDS and determine the level of PAIN. Last month’s newsletter talked about leveraging probing (asking questions) to improve the sales cycle and determine the need of your target customer so you can offer your solution tailored to that customer. This month let’s focus on how to determine the PAIN associated with the need. Continue Reading.

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #17 – Do You Know What Questions to Ask?

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills let’s look at Habit #17 – How Do You Determine PAIN? Confirm problems as NEEDS and determine the level of PAIN. Last month’s newsletter talked about leveraging probing (asking questions) to improve the sales cycle and determine the need of your target customer so you can offer your solution tailored to that customer. This month let’s focus on how to determine the PAIN associated with the need…Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #16 – Do You Know What Questions to Ask?

Continuing with the twelve Sales Skills, let’s look at Habit #16 – Do you Know What Questions to Ask? Probe (ask questions) to determine if the target company has problems that your products or your company is likely to be able to solve…Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #15 – How Does Your Customer/Prospect Make Money?

Last month’s newsletter talked about using an Initial Benefit Statement at the beginning of the sales call, to summarize agreed benefits thus far in the sales cycle. This month let’s focus on the importance of understanding how your customer makes money…..Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #14 – Tell Them What They Like/Love So Far

Last month’s newsletter talked about telling the customer/prospect why you are there and summarizing the benefits they have accepted so far in the sales cycle. One important skill taught in professional selling skills seminars is the summarization skill, and this skill is used in the Initial Benefits Statement…..Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #13 – Why You are There!

The June newsletter completed Part One, the twelve Organizational Skills, and it is time to move to Part Two, Sales Skills. Top Performers have developed these skill sets to the point that they are second nature and a part of who they are and what they do. These skills have become habits. For those who are not Top Performers, these are skills that need to be…..Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People – Habit #12 – Paperwork is a Pain!

Continuing with the twelve Organizational Skills let’s look at Habit #12 – Paperwork is a Pain! Update expense reports daily and submit expense reports weekly. Paperwork is a pain, particularly call reports and expense reports. So when is the best time to do them? The answer is immediately.

Do not, under any circumstances…Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #11 – Target Accounts

Continuing with the twelve Organizational Skills let’s look at Habit #11 – Target Accounts.

Develop and implement a Target Account strategy that focuses on past successes and the leveraging of those successes.

Last month’s newsletter discussed having a plan, a plan that outlines what you’re going to sell and to whom you are going to sell.  This assumes that you have a list of people that can use what you sell.  This may be a huge assumption because there are very few people that are actually proactive in determining to whom they’re going to sell…Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #10 – What’s the Plan?

Write an opportunity plan detailing each opportunity in your portfolio.

Top Performers have a written plan for every opportunity and every event in each opportunity’s sales cycle. To many, particularly those that are not Top Performers, this seems like a lot of work; however, once you get used to developing a written plan for each opportunity, it becomes second nature, easy and rewarding.

These plans are road maps to the close. They will help determine, if in fact, the opportunity will close or if it is a dead end opportunity. Milestones are needed to track success. If success is tracked by the “seat of your pants” opportunities can be chased to the end without realizing it is at a dead end. Have you ever sat in sales meetings and forecasted the same opportunity month after month after month after month? This repetition shows there is no plan. Without milestones, tracking the sale is impossible and forecasting is, at its best, a guessContinue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People – Habit #9 – Call Reports

Write a call report, thank you letters/email, assign tasks and assign follow-ups immediately after each sales call.

Who does call reports anymore? Does your sales team do call reports? Do they do them every day? Do they do them after each call? Do they do them at night or at lunch? These questions drive most managers and salespeople nuts because they hate call reports.

What’s the purpose of the call report? There are many options, but let’s try this: the purpose of a call report is to summarize, briefly, who was seen, what happened and what will happen next. This information should be integrated into the opportunity summary so that it can be referred to when planning and making the next callContinue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People – Habit #8 – What’s a Customer Management System?

Use an integrated customer management system that includes e-mail, contacts, calendar, task manager, opportunity tracker and a report generation system.

Does your sales team use a customer management system?  Many salespeople believe they are using a customer management system when in fact what they are using is an e-mail and calendar system.

A customer management system is a system that includes e-mail, contacts, task manager, opportunity tracker and a report generation system.  In addition, a customer management system integrates all of the data so that every opportunity has every bit of data information, related to that opportunity, available at a glanceContinue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People – Habit #7 – How Much Have You Sold?

Continuing with the twelve Organizational Skills let’s look at Habit #7 – How Much Have You Sold:

Know your quota and actual sales month to date, quarter to date and year to date. Know your order balance as it compares to your quota and have a written plan that outlines how any short fall in revenue will be produced by product and by customer/prospect.  

Does your sales team know exactly what they sold last month?  Do they know the exact products or services and the dollar amount of each sale?  If not, can they put their hands on the information in seconds?  Most salespeople cannot and that is a problemContinue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People – Habit #6: Predicting the Future

Continuing with the twelve Organizational Skills let’s look at Habit #6: Predicting the Future: Know which opportunities are going to be funded, know when they are going to be funded and know this on a daily basis.

Up to this point, discussion has focused on D’s and the funding of D’s.  Well, how do you turn C’s into D’s?  This takes as much focus and sometimes more focus than closing D’s.  Knowing when opportunities are going to be approved for purchase by your customers’/prospects’ management, while not as exciting as developing an approved opportunity, is nevertheless crucial information and is necessary to controlling the sales cycleContinue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People – Habit #5 – Is the Money Real?

Continuing with the twelve Organizational Skills let’s look at Habit #5 – Is the Money Real?: Know which opportunities are funded and when the money will be spent.

Salespeople work with a wide variety of opportunities and at any one time could have literally hundreds of quotations in their portfolio.  How do they manage the sheer number and determine where to spend their time?

In last month’s Newsletter, it was stated that a salesperson should spend their time on D opportunities.  Well, that assumes a perfect world and the world is not perfect.  So if a sales person cannot spent all their time on D’s, where should time be invested?  In the real world, time should be spent turning A’s to B’s and B’s to C’s and C’s to D’s and closing D’s. That’s the real world.   …Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People Habit #4 – Which One’s More Important

How do you know which lead or quote or project is the most important?  It surprises us how many salespeople do not know the answer to this question.  We find it’s because they have no methodology to classify quotes, leads, projects or inquiries.  Without this methodology it is impossible to answer the question.  So what is the methodology?

There are many approaches.  All of the customer management system available today have a methodology for classifying sales opportunities.  The important question to ask is “How should you classify opportunities so you spend your time on the ones that are most likely to yield an order”?  …Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #3 – The 90 Day Calendar

Continuing with the twelve Organizational Skills let’s look at Habit #3 – The 90 Day Calendar: Plan a business and travel calendar 90 days in advance.

Habit 3 takes time management to another level by taking the focus on time from Habits 1 and 2  and using it to plan the salespersons business and travel calendar 90 days into the future.  The goal is to provide focus to the salespersons schedule so they are doing the right thing at the right time to maximize their sales effort……Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #2 – The First Thing Each Day

Continuing with the twelve Organizational Skills let’s look at Habit #2 – The First Thing Each Day: The first function of each day is to review a daily calendar and decide which tasks you will do and move tasks that will not be done that day to another day.

Habit 1 is about task development to maximize time invested daily, weekly and monthly and Habit 2 continues the focus on time management by defining what tasks are done each day with the hours available.Sales people are typically aggressive in nature and often have large tasks lists that contain more “things” than they can do in a day….Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: Habit #1 – Time for Tasks

Starting with the twelve Organizational Skills, let’s look at Habit #1 – Time for Tasks: Top Performers plan time each day to do specific tasks.  The day is divided into segments dedicated to tasks such as follows: follow-up calls, quoting, trip planning, calendar development, account plan development and other daily tasks.

Time management is at the core of performance for Top Performers.  They understand how valuable their time is to themselves, their company and their customers.  As defined in our book, a salesperson selling $3 million a year working ten hour days has revenues of $1200 per hour and a salesperson selling $6 million a year has revenues of $2,400 per hour.

How do these salespeople manage their time?  What do they do with every hour of every day to make sure they sell $1,200 to $2,400 per hour?  Top Performers know how to…..Continue Reading

50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People

This month we turn our focus to a topic at the core of our business, developing and driving proactive sales organizations and sales people.  We understand that Top Performing sales people are critical components to a sales organization and in our book, “50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People” we cover the skills required for Top Performing sales people.  We know Top Performers are not born.  We also know that with training and mentoring, we can develop Top Performing sales people if they have the desire and discipline to be Top Performers…..Continue Reading

Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan (Part 7)

The Strategic Plan is a tool that should be used to improve the operation of the business. The newsletters from the past several months have discussed three steps involved in tying employee performance to the Strategic Plan.  Each is a key component to successful implementation of the strategic plan and all are equally important to the success of the Plan and the Company….Continue Reading

Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan (Part 6)

Continuing the discussion this month with “Visual Management to Show Continuous Progress and Status”, let’s look deeper into how to define and use visual management tools.  The key to visual management is that it needs to be easy for people to use and the information displayed needs to drive improvements and track performance to a defined goal.  Performance data is what is important and needed to drive the business and this comes full circle back to the first step, developing measurables and key performance indicators (KPI’s) that really drive what you do and when managed and measured tell the truth about the business…Continue Reading

Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan (Part 5)

By Bill Phillips, Strategen, Inc.

Continuing the discussion; the third step of our three step process for Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan is: “visual management to show continuous progress and status”.  To review, the three important areas for metrics in Strategic Planning are:

1)    Performance metrics
2)    Follow up to determine progress and status
3)    Visual management tools to show continuous progress and status.

Newsletters from the past several months have dealt with the first two steps in detail.  Visual Management is my favorite of the three steps and can be the simplest to implement and use.  It surprises me how much information business people collect, do not look at and do not show the people doing the work….Continue Reading

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Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan (Part 4)

Continuing the discussion of the “Follow up to determine progress” step of our three step process for Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan let’s look at how important this step is.  We ended last month with:This “Follow up” function is the coaching function.  It is the “tape” that is viewed after practice and the games.  It is the “Feed Back” that is required to improve. And it is the one thing most managers do not do because they do not know how, are uncomfortable evaluating performance or they would just rather not coach – they would rather play the game. True “Management” is coaching….Continue Reading

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Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan (Part 3)

In December and November we discussed, in detail, the basis of Strategic Plan metrics and the need to establish realistic, simple and attainable metrics tied to goals and objectives to guide the overall company and individual departments.

We also developed the concept that management is responsible for the overall company goals, objectives and metrics and that it is critical that the people have a say in establishing their departmental goals, objectives and metrics, negotiating with management to settle on the final ones.  This helps place the ownership on the people for meeting their goals and objectives..Continue Reading

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Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan (Part 2)

In November we discussed the basis of Strategic Plan metrics and the three areas for metrics. They are:
  1. Performance metrics
  2. Follow up to determine progress and status
  3. Visual management tools to show continuous progress and status
This month we will start the discussion of all three in detail and discuss methods for all three areas….Continue Reading


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Tying Employee Performance to the Strategic Plan (Part 1)

For the past several months we have been looking at building a great team of employees and how important it is that your team understands your Strategic Plan and your Vision.  Now let’s turn our focus to the performance of this great team of people and how their performance impacts the success of your Strategic Plan…Continue Reading

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How to Recruit the Right People

Last month we finished with a paragraph of questions and the first of those questions was “Are you a good recruiter”.  Let’s dig into this question this month and see how the answers can affect your business.  To start with we can expand the “you” to your team and include in your team all the sources you use to recruit people.  Building a great team takes time and many people under estimate the importance of continually improving their team…Continue Reading

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Are People the Key to Your Success?

Last month we concluded the Five Essential Components to a Strategic Plan series with “Define Your Current and Future Resource Requirements” and discussed the fact that recruiting and retaining people will be your biggest challenge and potentially will have the most affect on your ability to operate and grow your business.  Let’s dig a little deeper into this and see how this affects your business and more importantly, you as the owner… Continue Reading

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Define Your Current and Future Resource Requirements

In the previous few months we have asked that you define your products and/or services and your value proposition, look at why people buy what you sell, define what you sell and what you want to sell and define the specific companies and the people inside of those companies that will buy what you sell.  Now let’s look at the “defining your current resources and future resources needed to meet your goals (people, skills, technology, machinery, facility, finances, etc.)” component of your strategic plan…Continue Reading

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Define the Specific People Who Will Buy What You Sell

In the previous few months we have asked that you define your products and/or services and your value proposition, look at why people buy what you sell and define what you sell and what you want to sell.  Now let’s look at the “defining the specific companies and the people inside of those companies, who will buy what you sell” component of your strategic plan.  How do you and your sales team define who will buy what you sell? Initially when we ask our client’s this question, typically they quickly answer with a large, global view of their customer base.  Most sales organizations do not even have target company lists… Continue Reading

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Define What You Sell and What You Want to Sell

In the previous few months we have asked that you defined your products and/or services and your value proposition and look at why people buy what you sell, so now let’s look at what you sell and what you want to sell.  Have you ever compared what you actually sell/take to the market vs. what want to sell? Have you ever compared what you actually sell/take to the market vs. what want to sell?  This is a comparison that needs to be made and analyzed on a continuous basis to verify that you are staying focused on the right things… Continue Reading

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Why Would Anybody Buy What You Sell?

In the previous few months you defined your products and/or services and your value proposition, so now it is time to look at why people buy what you sell.  Have you ever asked your customers why they buy what you sell?  If so, did you write it down or can you write it down now?  Have you ever asked your sales organization the same question?  Once you have the answers, from your customers and your sales organization, review them and see if they match your “answers.” I hope that you see these “answers” match the value proposition that you have drafted … Continue Reading

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Essential Components to a Strategic Plan for a Manufacturing Facility

Considering the “Top five essential components to a strategic plan for a manufacturing facility” from last month’s newsletter, let’s look at the first component, Define your product/service and your company’s value, “your value proposition”.  We have touched on this in the past and we work with all of our customers relentlessly to keep this in the forefront of what they do.  A business plan should be a living, breathing document; always adjusting and modifying to meet customer and market demands for what you do best.  Let’s consider this month’s component in two parts.  First, defining your product/service then secondly, defining… Continue Reading

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The Top Five Essential Components to a Strategic Plan for a Manufacturing Facility

By Bill Phillips, Strategen, Inc.

The Business Plan. What a concept and when used correctly what a great tool to keep you, your people and your business focused on the right things and keep the company headed in the right direction.

Before the plan can be used it has to be developed and written. For many business owners and managers the thought and then actions required to develop and write the plan is an uphill battle.

If you are one of these people don’t feel bad. We find that only 5 percent of businesses have a business plan and of those only 35 percent use it to operate their business. The starting point is making the decision to write a business plan and pledging to actually use it in the day to day management of your business.

There are many “helpful” books, software packages and online tools that claim to help develop business plans, but it is our opinion that the average person is so overwhelmed by all the information and tools at their disposal, they lose track of the key components that a business plan needs to include.

It is quite simple actually and when taken for what it is – a planning tool – the business plan can be written relatively quickly.  Let’s look at the five essential components of a basic business plan:

  1. Define your product/service and your company’s value, “your value proposition.”
  2. Define what you sell and what you want to sell.
  3. Define why anybody would buy what you sell and why they would buy it from you.
  4. Define the specific people that will buy what you sell.
  5. Define your current resources and future resources needed to meet your goals (people, skills, technology, machinery, facility, finances, etc.).

Defining each of these is typically not easy and requires you to really know your business and customers; but take the time. It is worth it!

The business plan is a critical component of leading a business so why not start writing one today. Don’t worry about being perfect or correct at this point, just think and write, then talk to your team and start molding your plan. Before you know it you will have a new tool that you can use to manage your business.

The next, and in our opinion, the most important step is implementation. This is the area where most owners and managers fail.  Implementation is where you make it happen.  It requires focus, dedication and constant follow up.  Most owners and managers don’t like these functions and need implementation help.

We are having great success coaching and implementing these methods and skills and our clients love it!  At Strategen, Inc. we don’t advise, we make it happen!

About Strategen, Inc.

Bill has over 25 years of experience in manufacturing organizations.  Bill will go into a company and develop tailored strategies to assist with management and growth and then help implement those strategies.

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Need Help Growing Your Manufacturing Business? Experts Say Strategic Planning is Key

(Brookfield, Wisc.) – When John Miller took control of the family business, Engineering Specialists Inc., one of the first things they wanted to do was improve the company’s performance but they weren’t sure where to start. “The main challenge we faced is that the company never really had any type of formal sales program, so we needed to develop and implement a sales strategy to grow the business,” said Miller.

Engineering Specialists Inc. of Brookfield, Wisc., is a systems integrator that designs and builds factory floor automation. Applications range from small, single purpose machines to large-scale systems capable of automating a wide range of processes. Their products are used in factories and municipalities.

As Miller was doing the research to determine who was best suited to help his company grow, a colleague referred him to Strategen Inc. of Plymouth, Wisc. Strategen Inc. is a hands-on strategy-consulting firm that specializes in developing tailored strategies to define and penetrate markets, develop and implement strategic plans, increase the efficiency of operations, increase margin and provide the greatest flexibility possible for technical product and service companies.

“In essence, we’ve helped Engineering Specialists in all facets of the business – strategic planning, sales, engineering, manufacturing and project management. I’m happy to say business has grown substantially – more than doubled — since we started working with the company,” said Strategen Inc.’s President, Lou Busalacchi, who, with his partner Bill Phillips, last year authored the highly regarded book, “50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People: What Really Separates the Top Income Earners from those who Struggle to Survive.”

The key to Strategen Inc.’s success is experience. Busalacchi spent more than 43 years working in component and capital equipment and systems manufacturing companies before going out on his own. He has experience as a sales person, sales manager, V.P. of Sales and Engineering, CEO and Chairman. He was a turn-around specialist at both Kohler General Corporation and the Roberts Sinto Corporation.

Busalacchi’s business partner, Bill Phillips, has similar experience. In his 25 plus years in the industry he has worked in focused and driven organizations of every size, from very small to some of the largest in the world. He used to work for General Motors and Applied Project Integration, Inc., where he managed major capital projects and gained a reputation for excellence in project management. He also has a proven record of defining and penetrating markets, developing new products and processes, managing multi million dollar capital projects and bringing them in on time and on budget, thus producing the client desired outcome. His work has earned him a reputation as a hands-on executive, building empowered winning teams across functional lines.

“When we come into a company, everything is hands-on. We develop and implement the processes and systems that will produce the results the client needs. We do this by taking the pain out of doing the day-to-day things that keeps the business going so they can focus on sales or operations or the other areas of the business that need attention” said Phillips.

Strategen Inc. helps the client determine if the existing personnel possesses the skills that are required to grow the business. If the existing people need new skills, Strategen Inc. will develop and implement the training required.

If new people are required Strategen Inc. will find those people and teach the clients how to find the right people in the future. Strategen Inc. will also teach the client how to develop and implement the right processes to make sure those hired do their job well. Accountability is of course figured into the equation.

Early on in the process of working with Engineering Specialists Inc., Busalacchi provided members of the sales force with copies of his book, “50 Habits of Top Performing Sales People.”

“We originally wrote this book so we would have the process by which we train owners and sales organizations all in one place,” said Busalacchi. “The clients kept on asking and asking if we could put all the information being provided in one spot, so we went ahead and published the information in book form, and started handing copies out to people on our clients’ sales teams.”

The book offers advice on how members of a sales force may want to structure their day to get the most done. It also makes recommendations on how to prepare and make sales pitches, how to keep track of prospects, and how to cultivate relationships with key decision makers at the companies being courted. Doug Graf, one of the top performing sales people at Engineering Specialists, Inc., says it was great to have the entire process laid out for him.

“I have been using these 50 habits in my sales efforts for the last six years. By implementing these habits into my every day routine I have been able to grow relationships with my customers at the same time double my sales,” said Graf, who is a sales engineer for Engineering Specialists, Inc.

Heath Brabazon, President of Green Bay, Wisc.-based Brabazon Pump, Compressor & Vacuum, has also seen huge improvements in his company’s bottom line since he started working with Strategen Inc. “Overall, we found the sales training to be the best we have received. It was a good experience that helped us find better people, hold our sales staff more accountable and provide them with the structure they need to become top performers,” he said.

“Our clients are businesses that want to grow but have a challenged skill set for growth. What we do is find or teach the skill sets they need so the end result is they maintain profitability and also grow profitability,” said Phillips. “The book is just one of the many tools we use to do that.”

While Strategen Inc. offers services such as market definition and planning, strategic planning, competitive analysis, process and systems development and team development, it really focuses on implementation, which is Strategen Inc.’s biggest differentiator. The company also assists its clients with marketing expansion, licensing agreements, coaching and mentoring.

The latter is the service Engineering Specialists Inc. was most interested in. “It’s nice to have an experienced and proven person from an outside standpoint to bounce off ideas and to listen to for different recommendations or experiences that they have had with similar situations that may be new to me,” said John Miller.

“Unlike most consulting companies, we don’t have a recipe that we use with all companies that hire us. We don’t have a ‘one size fits all fix,’” said Busalacchi. “We have been around long enough in our target markets to know even if companies manufacture the same thing they can’t be operated the same way. People are different and perceptions for the way their business should be handled are different. We approach every company uniquely through a six-point program that we use to uncover the unique problem and solutions for each client.”

Strategen Inc. makes strategy happen through a strategic six-point planning process. Phase one involves research into the market, product and customer. Phase two is to analyze the company’s objectives. Phase three is business and marketing planning. Phase four is to develop goals and objectives. Phase five is implementation of the business plan and phase six is maintenance of the practices put into place.

“What the client wants is a way to get out of their pain, but they don’t have the time to do it as they are tied up with ‘day to day’ issues. We get in there and we work with them, we go to meetings with them, we travel with them, we handle recruiting and hiring, and when necessary firing employees for them and we take care of training,” said Phillips.

To find out how Strategen Inc. can help your business grow, or to hire Lou Busalacchi or Bill Phillips to help you grow and focus your business, or to speak on the topic of growing a profitable manufacturing business, call 920-889-9659 and ask for Bill or send an email to bill@strategen1.com.

Contact Strategen

    W5895 Pheasant Lane
    Plymouth, WI 53073

     920-889-6956

Order your copy of "Getting Off the Bid List" or "50 Habits of Top Performing Salespeople" from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Why Strategen?

Growth happens from an objective view. Strategen works with you to evaluate and identify the primary areas of your business that require improvement. Using our 6-point business planning process, we will develop and implement a custom-tailored strategy for your business.

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