The Gateway Arch is the iconic symbol of western expansion of the 19th century in the United States, and where John visited last week while conducting kickoff meetings with a new customer based in Missouri. Click on the arrow above to hear more about our “Ask a Sales Leader” series featuring Bevin Mercer Carter, as well as how to establish Trust and Rapport early in new opportunity development. We are getting close to the middle of 2016 if you can believe it! Tighten up your Sales Pipelines now to close “16 strong.

In this month’s OTRA John visits Bath, England known for its natural hot springs and 18th-century Georgian architecture. The second stop is Stonehenge, the well known prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England that was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986.Hear what John has to say about our upcoming newsletter which will include articles on The Characteristics of New Sales Hires and the importance of understanding the Decision Qualification Criteria that buyers use to select vendors.

Posted on the RS Fitness Facebook Page, February 2016


Precor Incorporated and Hilton Hotels join forces and host World Class Fitness Equipment Sales Training in Dubai.

American sales training experts – John Flannery and Susan Wilcox brought their “PBO” game to Dubai last week, when Precor hosted their dealers Middle Eastern Sales Conference at the newly opened Hilton Al Barsha.

PBO, primary business objective. If you are a salesman and you don’t understand your customers PBO then you are in the wrong job.

That was the message, loud and clear. “Understand your customers business, understand what makes him happy, understand what worries him and what keeps him awake at night”. Do this and demonstrate this to your customer, that you understand their business. Do this and suddenly you are no longer a salesman, you are a trusted business advisor. That’s a nice place to be…

RS Fitness represented by General Manager Andy Staines and his Sales Managers: Ayham Al Masri, Raido Raad and Abhi Murali attended the sales conference, learned from the Precor Team and passed the “PBO Test”. Not only did the RS Fitness team pass, they passed all the other sales teams from around the Middle East taking part in the conference.

Big shout out to the RS Fitness sales team…and a round of applause for John and Susan.


As a brief recap from the first part of this series, you have now 1) established qualified opportunity criteria, 2) begun coaching opportunities in early stages of development and 3) practiced skill conversations with members of your team. With that foundation in place, you’re ready to start analyzing individual and team pipelines.

Just as a doctor establishes a few baseline measurements before a more intense examination (e.g. height, weight, blood pressure and pulse), we will look at three “macro” components of a well-balanced, healthy pipeline.

  • Size of Opportunities: Is there a reasonable mix of small, medium and large opportunities in your pipeline? The most dangerous pipelines are the ones filled with unqualified opportunities. Almost as bad are pipelines with just a few large opportunities that create a “make or break” scenario. If you land the few “big ones”, you hit your plan. But, if you don’t and only get one out of the three, then the quarter or even the year is shot. We only recommend this “elephant hunting” style when you supplement your big ones with smaller, more easily attainable business in order to mitigate any risk.
  • Opportunity Velocity: How long does it take for a medium or large size opportunity to go from lead to close? It’s important for management to establish reasonable baselines for how long an opportunity should reside in each stage of the sales process and monitor this movement. Often opportunities will slow down or stop, and if they do, it’s a perfect time to implement the proactive coaching regiment we suggested in the first part of this series. Another way to keep things fresh is to age opportunities against a reasonable benchmark. This helps to remove stalled or dead business before it drags into Q4 with no chance of closing.
  • Volume: How many overall dollars (or euros, yuan, pounds, etc.) should be in your pipeline at any given time? The best way to solve this calculation is to gather historical data that tells management:
  1. Average sales cycle, or average time from lead to close. Let’s say this is 6 months.
  2. Weighted probability at each stage. At the halfway point, what we call the evaluation stage, we can assume there is a 50% probability to close.
  3. Any surplus or deficit in the salesperson’s performance to date. For this example, there is none.
  4. The sales rep’s annual or monthly revenue plan. We’ll use $2MM per year, or $165,000 per month.

Here is the calculation: Monthly Revenue Plan ($165,000) x Average Sales Cycle (6 months) = $ 990,000.00   At the Evaluation stage, only 50% of opportunities are likely to close, so reps need double that amount, or fill their pipelines with $1,980,000 of business, in order to ensure they will hit target. You can apply the same type of calculation to all stages in your pipeline to build a more accurate picture of revenue health.

We’ve run this calculation for many of our customers and would be more than happy to share examples with you. If you’re interested, just contact me at Don’t wait to start examining your pipeline and looking for the three components we discussed – opportunity size, velocity and volume. Do it now while there’s still time to course correct (if needed) and have a successful, profitable 2016.

(Part 2 of 2)



You just wrapped up Q1 of 2018. In the next week or so, you’ll have a full tally of how your sales teams did with top and bottom line results. For many, the New Year comes in fast and furious as you recover from the year-end push and assemble your teams to plan for the rest of the year.

So, exhale for a moment and breathe deeply; now is the time to take a good, hard look at your opportunity pipeline for the balance of 2018. Are there enough qualified opportunities in development to enable you to exceed your revenue plans? Ignore the old adage that you need to have “three times” the revenue in your pipeline to hit your annual plan – it’s not only a bad guess for how to hit your number, but it’s also a dangerous precedent for sellers who aren’t sure what a healthy pipeline actually looks like.

Here is what your sales leaders need to do NOW to make sure there is enough revenue working:

  • Establish Qualified Opportunity Criteria: this should have been done by January 1, but if you haven’t done it yet, it’s not too late. Make sure each member of your team knows the criteria required to categorize an opportunity as qualified. (We have done this with our customers, and can send anonymous examples to you by request to
  • Coach Opportunity Development EARLY: don’t wait until the negotiation is coming to a head to parachute in and close the deal for the seller. Salespeople learn nothing from this, except perhaps how you close, which won’t help them when you aren’t there. Set a schedule with each of your reps to coach them on how to successfully navigate their open opportunities, and make sure a complete job is done in early stages.
  • Practice Skill Conversations: from prospecting to qualification and all the way through negotiation, make sure your team members are fluent in all aspects of the conversations they will have with customers and prospects. Not all sellers need every skill improved; a good benchmark is to pick one skill per rep per month and ensure that it is really mastered.

Once you have these basics in place, we can look at how to build the right opportunity mix for a healthy, balanced revenue pipeline (read Part 2 of 2 coming next week). But without doing the work to establish opportunity criteria, coaching opportunity development and practicing skill conversations, you’re sure to have some gaps in your pipeline that will make it very difficult to achieve your annual plan. If you do the heavy lifting now, you will avoid the year-end fire drills that many organizations go through to hit their numbers in Q4.

(Click here to read Part 2 of 2)



On May 13, John will be speaking to the Association of Language Companies (ALC) at their Annual Conference in downtown San Diego.  (Click here for more information and you can review the program here.) The title of the session is “Establishing Value Around Your Product and Service”, and a description of the program is below.

Making sure that a customer or prospect understands how they use your product or service to increase revenue, decrease cost or mitigate risk is the key component to establishing value. But before we can “ tell “ someone what our value proposition is, we must first understand how they operate today in the absence of what we are selling to them. Make sense? Is it easier said than done? Definitely.

All the features and benefits in the world don’t mean anything until a customer or prospect has a clear understanding of how your product or service addresses the challenges they are facing and helps them to meet their business objectives. So, it makes sense that we must first understand what the business objectives and challenges are before going into how we can address or improve them.  This concept is so basic and fundamental that it is often overlooked. On May 13, we will make sure we all have the concepts right before we leave the session.

ALC is a national trade association representing businesses that provide translation, interpretation, localization, and language training services. 

If you would like to join us, please contact Malinee at for more information.

Last week, John traveled to Columbia and St. Louis, Missouri to begin the development of a customized sales process for a new customer. Click on arrow above to hear more about our “Ask A Sales Leader” segment, and about an upcoming speaking engagement in San Diego for John in May.

Greetings from atop the tallest building in the world here in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 2700 mind boggling feet in the air!  We conducted two workshops there last week, and had attendees from 8 different countries who shared their experiences on buyer behavior in their respective markets.  Click on the video above to hear more.

The international insight gained in the discussions around the room during our sessions helps all salespeople to hone their skills for value creation. While there are always subtleties from a cultural and linguistic capacity, buyer behavior around the world is fairly predictable in the enterprise selling world. Brian Tracy shared this same sentiment with me, citing the fact that “the differences are the 20% of the 80/20 Pareto Principle, and where the seller can shine by adopting the correct way to match buying behavior with the selling efforts”. 

execute_2Flannery Sales Systems just completed work with three of our customers to finalize their 2016 Sales plans, and the contributions we made fell into one or more of the five categories listed below. Companies spend hundreds of hours building plans for their sales organizations to define territory coverage, compensation, strategic and key account designations, product introductions with cross selling opportunities, and managerial responsibilities. These plans are usually delivered in January, often times at a kickoff meeting, and the fanfare around the rollout builds excitement for the coming year.

Here is a checklist that senior executives and sales leaders can use to make sure all of the critical items are in place for a successful 2016:

1- Strategic Plan Communicated: a sales leader with whom we work says the summary of this plan should be no more than 2 pages long, and it should be reinforced with all employees on a monthly basis. The plan’s brevity forces key players to make decisions on which channels to market, key strategies to penetrate each, and which team members will be assigned.

2- Clear Expectations Set: all players on the team must know what their revenue targets are, where their “patch” is to work, and how their success will be measured and compensated. There is nothing like ambiguity to distract from full concentration and effort. A sales process helps transform the overall strategy into a tactical execution plan, providing all customer-facing roles with clear direction on how to take each opportunity from lead to revenue.

3- Managerial Cadence on Reviews Scheduled: all of the front line sellers should know when and how they will be reviewed to discuss opportunities, accounts and overall pipeline. This schedule should be “cast in stone” and should include the information that sellers need in advance of the coaching session. Reviews that are done on an ad hoc or catch you soon basis are a recipe for failure.

4- Information Dissemination: you must establish how customer-facing roles will share information within the organization. For most companies, this centers around the use of a CRM system, but other tools such as configure/price/quote tools, customer service updates, and product inventory updates should also be documented. Marketing and sales must be on the same page here to ensure the message the customer receives is effective, and if not, to develop a feedback loop to course correct.

5- Identification of Leading Indicators: clear, simple metrics should be in place to help sellers and their managers know if there is enough activity in the pipeline well in advance of the upcoming month or quarter end.

We hope these tips help your senior leaders to develop and communicate a clear, effective and actionable sales plan for 2016!



This month John is on his way to Dubai, UAE. He will be meeting with a global manufacturing company, working with their dealers from Europe and the Middle East to improve their selling skills with a focus on their customers. Flannery Sales Systems’ sales process expertise, customized programs and experienced delivery team has a proven track record of success in the 14 countries they have worked in.

John would like to meet with any interested local Sales Leaders during his stay. If you live there, or happen to be there between February 13th and February 20th, please join John for a coffee or a walk through the amazing skyline. Contact John at, and we hope to see you in Dubai!