Just like me, a lot of people don't know about fractional sales management. In this episode, guest Rene Zamora, President of Sales Manager Now, what is fractional sales management and how it can help you scale your business.
Rene also shares how building a reputation can help sales team get more noticed and have higher chances of closing deals, how they help sales teams align their courses of action with the marketing team to reach their common goals, and why sharing as much information you can with your team is essential. He also shares how you could reward your sales and marketing teams to have more drive in closing deals, and how he got noticed and got found by his business.
Order your copy of Rene's Part-Time Sales Management: For Small Business Sales Teams book.
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Hello, and welcome to this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur. Today, I am delighted to have Rene Zamora joining me all the way from Sacramento, California. We're going to talk about Fractional Sales Management. Rene, welcome to the show. You've been noticed, you've been running your own business since 2006, Sales Manager Now. And I was almost struck when you started to explain to me about Fractional Sales Management, having grown my own businesses and seeing the gap that you scale a business and the skill sets within the business for sales. Tell us how do you help business owners to make sales, Rene?Rene Zamora:
Well, how we help them make sales is we just get in there and lead the sales teams. That's a simple thing about it. The reason I named my company Sales Manager Now, because that's what we are. There's this thing really fancier to say about it, that we understand how to manage and lead sales teams, but of course, that's all in good. But what I've noticed about how we are unnoticed at times in this industry is that people don't know about Fractional Sales Management, just like you. And so what it is is basically it's very simple. We are very experienced senior managers who understand systems, processes, meetings, managing people, strategic planning, understanding niche, and marketing, aligning with marketing. We know all those things already, and we are able to bring those into a small business, but not just one business. We fraction out our time and skills. So we work with three to seven businesses at one time, three to seven sales teams at one time. And the benefit for the small business is that they only pay us a fraction of our total fees and they get the experience that they are not usually able to attract. And I use the word "attract" because most small businesses don't have a challenging and attractive enough job for one senior sales leader to come in and work full time. And so, by splitting it up, it's a little more challenging for us and we have fun.Jim James:
Yeah, Rene, you are absolutely right about that as a company grows it may not be able to afford a sales director, but it needs one to get across the hurdle. Is there a particular phrase or a particular phase at which business owners will come to you?Rene Zamora:
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think a common phrase out there right now is, you know, hitting a ceiling, running up against the wall. You've just grown your business to a point where you've had good momentum, you've got to this place, but then you set your next goal and it seems like getting to that next level goal isn't happening. And you might have, they'll have different reasons - we lost a person, this happened, whatever. But the bottom line is, they need that extra energy, but the owners that come to us are the ones that have tried different approaches. They've tried to hire that leader, they've tried to bring another manager, and they've tried to promote a sales person to a manager, they've changed the team, and they realize they can't find the answer on their own. And so it's usually people who are seeking a new answer. And we're fortunate that we're solving some problems for them.Jim James:
Yeah, so it's really that this small business sales dilemma is, I think, a term that you shared earlier with me before we started recording Rene.Rene Zamora:
Absolutely. Yeah, I call it the dilemma.Jim James:
Yeah, so a couple of questions. First of all, the obvious one, how do you avoid potential conflicts of interest? Because if I'm a business owner, one of the concerns I've got is confidentiality. So how do you address that issue, first off?Rene Zamora:
We need to sign a NDA. Of course, we do all the legal things properly. It's interesting. I thought that when this business discovered me, I'm just going to put it that way. I almost feel like I'm not the founder, I was found. And we can talk about that if we have time. But I thought I was going to be working in a specific niche. It made sense. "Oh God, I am working in telecom right now. I'll just go find all the telecom companies and work with them and make it easy." But it just hasn't worked out that way because clients have found us through the website. So we have been noticed organically, as well as referrals more organic, and they have been in over 25 different industries, and I have not worked in all those industries. So one of the things that makes it easy is that we aren't just taking trade seekers from one and pass it on to another. And I think we've earned integrity with our clients and there hasn't been a concern.Jim James:
Yeah, I think quite quickly, you'd get a reputation in an industry, wouldn't you? If you didn't have that integrity, Rene? Can you also maybe tell us some of your experience of what works in terms of setting up sales for a company as it goes from where the owner or the founder is often the principal sales person, until when you professionalise the sales organisation. Can you take us through some, for like key learnings or key success factors that listeners could take away?Rene Zamora:
Expectations is number one. Everyone wants an accountable environment, but you can't have any accountability if you don't have clear expectations understood and agreed on. So, I could give them a goal, "Here's the goal for this month, go sell it. Okay, here's another goal." Or we could talk about our company goal for the year. We have five salespeople. We need each of you to reach this for us to reach this. This is your job. It's not just the goal anymore. A goal is like nice to get. A job, a requirement is to meet this number. And so, transferring that expectation of more than a number and a goal to actual ownership of your contribution for our total success. And that takes a different, I'd call it a ground of being, a place you're coming from, and an understanding to transfer that to someone. Many owners believe they're already transferring that when they've given them a goal, but they haven't because the ownership and the accountability follow-up. So first thing is expectation, next is monitoring in your sales meeting - how are people doing. The next is allowing people to solve their problem. Okay, you're off track. What are you going to do about it? Okay, so allowing people to solve their own problems that you've hired them to make, support them and encourage them as they need, but they take ownership of it. Celebrating what's working and fixing what's not. I mean, these are just some simple things, but when I say the expectations, there are a lot of details related in what most people call a "Sales Playbook," which is your job description, your compensation, your sales process, your CRM, your target market, which prospects qualify to talk to and which don't. And so those are some other details that maybe people could take the way that, or nothing I created. Just fundamentals that need to be in place.Jim James:
Yeah, and I can see that. Well, I think you say that's nothing new, but often if someone's focusing on maybe product development, they don't have a professional sales background like you do, Rene. Rene, obviously on The UnNoticed Entrepreneur show, we're talking about the impact of a brand and having a reputation. What's your experience of the importance and some of the ways that a reputation can help the sales team to get leads and also to close deals?Rene Zamora:
I know some people have said, "Not that war is a good thing," but I think we use the term, "Softening the beaches," so to speak. And I think a good reputation in marketing allows a sales person to come in and almost have an introduction before they begin a conversation. Just a simple little thing I did when I started my consulting business is I just sent that simple little postcard to people I was going to do a phone call on. And then I called them, but I never asked about the postcard. This is just like minor marketing, right? But I was just listening, as a salesperson, I was listening to the person who said, "Oh, I think I got your card." All the ones that didn't, I never mentioned it because they probably didn't remember it if I did, but the ones that remembered it, then that took my conversation. Yes, that was me. And what we're now in a conversation about something that they had recognized. And so I think that's a simple example of trying to influence that initial sales conversation through building a reputation through building a brand because it alters the buyer's mind and how they listen and converse with you.Jim James:
Yeah, that's a really nice way of building a relationship in advance. And often these things don't cost a lot of money, Rene, do they? Just a little bit of showing some personal interest in where you're going? Rene, switching subjects slightly to internal communication and alignment. With Sales Manager Now, if you go into a company, the brand and the brand promise and the product offering obviously will be different. How do you ensure that the sales team are aligned with what the marketing team are doing? Because my experience is often sales and marketing, although, they're often grouped under the same person, aren't always aligned when it comes to understanding the brand proposition. Can you share with us any experience?Rene Zamora:
The larger the company you get, it seems like the more out of alignment you get in this area. It's going to be egos. So how do we do it? When you post the question to me, the first thing that came to my mind is we communicate. And I see in your emails, 'Keep communicating,' I want to ask you about that, but, you know, that's key. It's asking questions, seeking understanding. If you don't, ask another question. It's being transparent about what's working and not working from a sales perspective. I often share with owners that sometimes people will shut down salespeople's feedback, because they're very loud, they exaggerate, they dramatize. And all that is, it's just like a little kid crying at Target because they're trying to be heard. Okay, so when your salespeople are over-exaggerating, dramatizing, you know, "This customer is going to cancel blah, blah, blah." It just means that they have something they need to be heard. And then they need to know that someone's actually going to do something about it, and then someone does something about it. So with sales and marketing, you need a leader that can facilitate that conversation to make sure both parties are heard and then both parties understand the others and their role in the overall company goal. One isn't better, you need them both. And then also understanding what is possible and what is not possible. You can't do every idea, but once you start talking in a business framework and you have a leader who can facilitate that, the exaggeration, the dramas goes down, because people now know that they could just bring their f eedback to the table and people hear it, we talk about it, and we solve it, or we don't solve it. It's not that difficult, but someone has to want to listen.Jim James:
Yeah, Rene, you said it's not that difficult, but I think we all know, especially in the larger companies, it seems to be getting harder and harder. But in terms of getting the sales team and the marketing team to unite, what about incentives? Because often the sales people get a commission and the marketing people maybe get a voucher for pizza or something. Any guidance or a sort of wisdom on what works in terms of motivating the entire team, because often the source of the argument is actually the remuneration for the two teams isn't aligned with the purpose, is it?Rene Zamora:
Yeah, I don't know. I mean, we evaluate compensation all the time when we go in. I never tried to make everything equal. You know, there are different roles. There's definitely risk in some sales roles, and there's not so much risk in other sales roles, and are usually compensated less. And so, when it comes to how do we get everyone's effort aligned towards striving for more, and so I always encourage owners to try to come find a all-in-employee bonus that we're all working towards some goal. I've done it before. When I was at Cellular One, we were a privately-owned portion of Cellular One, we found three metrics quarterly. Every employee have the same amount of bonus if you are a manager or a lowest hourly employee, we all got the same bonus. We were because all of our jobs impacted these three KPIs. And so that's one way to pull people together without adjusting every salary. I mean, every role has to be competitive in the marketplace.Jim James:
Yeah, so I've got to ask you, you can't mention those three without telling us what they are. Come on, what are they?Rene Zamora:
Yeah, I mean, that was just at Cellular One. It was new customers' churn. So we couldn't lose so many customers, we need to gain too many customers. And then EBITDA. The bottomline, profit. And the company was willing to share what that was. So that kind of uncovered all of how we spent, our over time, and everyone was knowing that. Serving customers, finding new customers, and keeping the bottom line healthy.Jim James:
Okay, yeah, and I think it's really useful. And you've mentioned something very key there, Rene, about transparency, that everybody knew the EBITDA. From an internal communications perspective, what's your view on sharing information that's sort of mission critical to the business with the entire team? Because that impacts as well, doesn't it, the motivation?Rene Zamora:
It does. So first off, I always told my owners, share as much as you're comfortable. If you're not comfortable, it won't come across, right? So you have to find your own comfort in it. Many small business owners don't want to show the finances because they're afraid everyone's going to think that's what's going in their pocket. And that's just a trust issue they got to deal with. But I learned early on from some smart folks, the more business information you share with people is a form of empowering them. So if you're more transparent with more financials, then they can understand and do something with, not just a spreadsheet of a bunch of information. Then it tells that employee that, "Oh, I'm trusted with this." And it's almost like they become, you talk about partners, that you're making them a little bit of a partner at that point. So sharing more business information that is useful for someone is what I've just found to work very well.Jim James:
Yeah, I think that's the ethos behind Ricardo Semler, isn't it? Semler industries in Latin America does that as well, and I've done that as well in my own firms. Rene, you're an entrepreneur. You said the business found you. How did the business get noticed and how have you, as an entrepreneur getting noticed since 2006, so successfully?Rene Zamora:
Well, I was just at a crossroads and I was seeking direction in my life as a consultant. My background was sales, but I was doing high-performance leadership and team training. Which was satisfying to a point, that I had lost the team element, you know, winning together element, but I didn't know that I was just looking for something else. And someone said, after about six months of prayer - I'm very grounded spiritually, so I'm always looking for higher direction. And someone suggested, first time meeting with this person after six months of seeking, seeking, she goes, " Why don't just become a small sales manager for small businesses?" And it was like the bright lights came on and I felt like I'm doing that. Her husband gave me my company name that night. Next day, I owned it. I domained it. I told my other friend that knew I was looking and he said, "I think they know who your first client will be." And then I was a week later that became my first client. That particular sales person I worked with is now the CEO of that business. 16 years later, I still do some work for them. And clients, I've never wanted for clients. And in a consulting world that's very unique to say. I've, at times, been overwhelmed, but not totally. And so I'm now growing and scaling my business. That's more of a challenge and requires more marketing and more PR. Kind of way, I enjoy being invited on as a guest on podcasts to be more noticed. And so that's kind of how it started, and there you go.Jim James:
Great, and you've written a book as well, Rene. Has that been a useful investment of your time to publish a book?Rene Zamora:
It was for me because I went in just because I have something to share that might help someone. And it has, we've gotten some clients from it, but my expectations were low. It was just kind of more of a passion and something I wanted to complete, which I would say for entrepreneurs, a tip I would give that has worked for me is, if you have something that needs to get done and it's important, get it done before you start three more things. If you're going to start three more things, make sure you get that one thing done. When I said I was going to write the book, it was no doubt that I would. Took me five years, I didn't care, it was going to be done. I said I was going to do 52 videos to help people learn more about sales leadership tips, when I was at 47, I had five more to do and they got done. It's like, you have to finish, you have to implement. You can't just keep coming up with ideas which is an entrepreneurial trap.Jim James:
It is Rene, but look with people like yourself on this show sharing such great wisdom, I think we're really going to help my listeners. So I really appreciate it. Rene Zamora, where can people find out about you and Sales Manager Now?Rene Zamora:
salesmanagernow.com. If you're looking for a Fractional Sales Manager and don't want to overpay but get the best, there we are, salesmanagernow.com. If you wanted to get the book, it's at Part-Time Sales Management and you can get that on Amazon in whichever media you like.Jim James:
Rene. It's been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for joining me all the way from Sunny, Sacramento. I really appreciate your time and all your insights talking about Sales Management today. Thank you so much.Rene Zamora:
You're welcome. Thanks for having me.Jim James:
It's been my pleasure to have you on The UnNoticed Entrepreneur, Rene Zamora. I put all those details, of course, in the show notes. And thank you for listening to me, Jim James, host, this episode of The UnNoticed Entrepreneur.