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The Power of YOU!

Power of YOU

This week finds me keeping multiple balls in the air (more so than usual!).  While I’m adept at the juggling act, sometimes keeping things simple results in the most effective of outcomes.  Inspired by simplicity, YOU are the focus of my newsletter article today.

If I was challenged, as I often am, to name the most important thing on which to focus when looking for improvement in sales results, my answer would not be one that you might expect.  There are those of you out there that would most likely think that my answer would fall in some tactical skill category such as being prepared, prospecting, goal setting, closing, asking better questions, listening, or something else along those lines.

There are others of you that would assume that my answer might revolve around the amount of activity that you go through every day.  Again, tactically speaking, these areas would cover cold calls, client visits, touch campaigns, and other activity necessary for increased results.

But, if I was really pressed to name the ONE thing that moves you from mediocrity to WOW it would come down to a 3 letter word.—YOU!  Yes you!

You see, every time you close a deal and your customers make a purchase, the first purchase that they make EVERY TIME is you!  They have to buy into the fact that you are a professional and deserve their business.  They have to buy into the fact that you CARE about them and their needs more than you and yours.  They have to buy into your passion, your focus, and your advice. Your product or service is secondary.

So, my advice, do not underestimate the Power of YOU.  Invest in yourself.  Give yourself the time you need to learn, grow, live your life and your passions. Take the best care of YOU that you can.  When we take time out of our busy schedules/juggling acts and we take care of ourselves, it actually enables us to be better.  We are better sales people, we are better friends, spouses, partners, parents, siblings, etc.  Be YOUR best every day.  Sometimes, it’s really that simple.

Company Culture – How Do You Measure Up?

 

Multiethnic Group of People Planning Ideas

We hear it every day; “I can’t seem to keep salespeople motivated.”  “There is always some kind of problem or issue with my people.”  “They get so negative.”

One of the most overlooked areas in most companies is the environment or culture in which their sales team operates.  At Sales Coach International, we get called in to diagnose problems when a sales team is lacking in performance.  The cry goes out to” Fix Us!”  Often times, we find a stable of talented sales professionals who are starving for recognition, training, attention, coaching, guidance, and leadership.  We find people “going through the motions” at their desks.  We find people who have to come to work to earn a paycheck rather than those who get to come to work to build a career.

The environment that is present in a company is very important to all staff but even more so to a sales force. Salespeople, by the very nature of what it is that they do, are forced to go through very redundant, scripted, and sometimes very repetitive activities such as prospecting daily. After all, as one most aptly put it, “We are in the professional no-taking business.”  It is unrealistic to expect most of your salespeople to be excited to come in and “pound those phones” or cold call on a multitude of businesses every day.  Why is it then, that some companies have huge sales forces that do so with passion and fire month in and month out?  Why is it that some companies can keep salespeople for a long period of time and keep them productive as well?

We believe that the answer lies in the environment in which they work.  We believe that the culture that is created in a sales department is paramount to the success of the team and the individuals on the team.  The good news is that it does not cost a lot of money to create a solid positive, enthusiastic, competitive environment that pulls people into higher results and commands stronger work ethic, more camaraderie, more trust, and more loyalty.

Take a look at the place in which your salespeople work.  How are they physically situated?  Do the newest people on the team have access to the talent that oozes from your top producers?  Can they see them?  Can they hear them?  Often times we see sales departments that consist of many individual offices where each sales rep goes to fight the fight each and every day.  Get your people out of their “silos” and into an atmosphere of excitement!  Reserve the offices for the sales managers who may need to have one-on-one communication and coaching with those on the team. An additional benefit to this is that there tends to be a mutual accountability that grows from people having less limited access to their co-worker’s work habits.

Let the action flow!  If prospecting is something that is done on the phones on your team, make it a team event.  Schedule times where groups of your people do their prospecting at the same time.  By nature, salespeople are competitive.  Let them compete!!  Ring a bell when appointments are set!  Have a contest!  Have fun!  Take the redundancy out of the workday.  Mix it up!

What type of communication culture do you have throughout your sales team?  Do your salespeople feel that they can express their needs to their sales manager freely?  Is there an environment that encourages input from everyone or is it a “head down-nose to the grindstone” atmosphere where it’s every man for himself?  This is an area where we all need to pay close attention.  When a salesperson is new, they may not readily ask questions for fear of looking inept.  Assign a buddy, a peer that they can go to with questions, challenges, and concerns.  It is a lot easier for them to ask their peer how to operate the database for the 3rd time than it is for them to ask their manager.

What do your sales meetings sound like?  Are they run-of-the-mill excuses to get together to go over the numbers?  Do your people look forward to them?  Do you?  A sales meeting is a chance to work on the hearts, the minds, and the gut of all of your salespeople. It is an opportunity for all to communicate their triumphs, their losses, their fears, and their enthusiasm.  It is a chance for management to align the vision, track the goals, inspire, coach, train, and to LISTEN!!  Sales meetings should not be the “you-know-what-runs-down-hill” meetings to beat up an under performing sales force.  Most times, there is nobody that wants to close more business than that salesperson that you are about to burn in your sales meeting.

How many of your people would say that they are overly recognized?  Recognition is one of the most important things to a sales person.  It is almost as important as oxygen! The best part about recognition is that most times it doesn’t cost anything.  Yet, we find that salespeople rarely get the recognition that they need from the company their managers.  There are many things that can be done to recognize your people regularly.  As salespeople, we will go out of our way to make sure that our clients know we care by the way that we communicate with them and tend to their needs.  Why is it that we do not take the same approach with our people?  When was the last time that your salespeople got a handwritten note from their manager?  When was the last time that a salesperson’s opinion was asked in regard to an issue currently being handled by management?  When was the last time that you said “Thank You” to your salespeople?  Every company needs to address recognition as a vital system to be developed.  Success comes by design-not by chance.  What recognition systems can you design for your people?

Within their first 30 days, everyone wonders if they made the right decision to come to work on your team.  Make sure that you develop a “first impression” policy throughout your entire organization.  Instead of going away parties for those leaving, how about a welcome aboard party for newcomers?  Make their first day a memorable one.  Have a company shirt, hat, mug etc. on their desk for them.  Have them set up on e-mail and voice-mail.  Have their business cards printed and waiting for them on their first day.  What would WOW you?  Send a gift with a handwritten card home to their spouse welcoming them to the team as well.  Get out of the box!  Let them know that they are important to the team right out of the chute and they will dig in deeper and become more productive sooner.  Do this, and you will earn the right to expect hard work, long hours, and extra effort.

There are hundreds of other things that can and should be done to enhance the environment in your sales departments.  Challenge yourself to come up with creative new ideas to inspire your people.  Most of all, do not be afraid to have fun.  In fact, go out of your way to make sure FUN is not a four letter word.

The Little Things Really DO Matter!

The Little Things Blog

There is a popular series of books that have been out a couple of years called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”.  When it comes to sales, I do not believe the teachings apply as well.  In fact, it is the small stuff the separates the winners from the average players.

So much is taught in sales about the “big parts of the game” such as the cold call, the pitch or presentation, the sales cycle, working a pipeline, overcoming objections, and closing.  And yet, with all of this knowledge and training, the majority of salespeople still have difficulty managing the entire process through to the finish line.

At the same time, you will find there is a small group of salespeople that focus on, what most would consider to be the small stuff.  What types of things are these?  Here are a list of a few of the little things that matter in the profession of sales:

1-They schedule prospecting time every day!  They realize that, no matter how hot and heavy everything happens to be in their pipeline today, it is the plowing (prospecting) at the top of the pipeline that opens it up for continued results.

2-They build and consistently use a referral generation process.  They know that the best source of new business comes from existing clients and that by leveraging their existing relationships, they actually create a small sales force of their own that “keeps the leads flowing in.”  They also realize that they need to 1) Ask for the referrals, 2) Earn the right to ask, 3) Make it easy to refer, 4)and say Thank You.

3-They use target and personal marketing campaigns.  They realize that, in business, it is not who you know, but rather who knows you that counts.  They create a systemized “touch campaign” that not only reaches out to identified key prospects before they call upon them, but also continues to “whisper in their customer’s ears” regularly.  The true pro realizes that value-add relationships develop loyalty from their customer base so they make sure that all of their touches are unique and value-add.

4-They Say Thank You—A Lot!  Top producers sometimes go back and revisit the tactics used years ago and “dust them off” for use today.  One such tactic is the use of Thank You Notes in the sales process. Too many salespeople rely on brief email notes and voice mail messages to express their gratitude for a sales appointment, a referral, a sale, or anything else.  Although Thank You Notes were very common years ago, they are only in the arsenals of those who wish to stand out today!  By the way, can you say Thank You too much to your customers?

5-They do what they say they are going to do.  Although this seems like a very logical, natural thing for all to follow, the sad truth is that we live in a world where the broken promise is the norm and the “under-whelmed” customer is most common.  True sales pros focus on “managing the expectations” of their customers and adding value in the customer’s eyes by OVER PERFORMING on expectations.

In the marketplace, I suggest that, as sales professionals, we need to make sure that we are focused on ALL of the things that are necessary for our success.  The little things are what separates us from the crowd.  The good news is that, with a little work, you will build the confidence in your “scoring zone” to consistently achieve greater sales results.  So…Sweat the Small Stuff!

 

Are you Just DUMB ENUFF to Believe?

Well, here we go!  I was recently asked if I would like to join a group of Sacramento business leaders in a quest to train for and ride in “America’s Most Beautiful Bike-Ride” which is a 100 mile ride around Lake Tahoe.  The event is on June 3rd and my first training ride EVER with a group is this morning and will be about 35 miles.  Actually, it will close to 45 by the time we ride to the starting point.  Now, this may sound fairly logical to you as we are shooting for 100 in a few short months.  But here is what you need to know:  I have NEVER ridden more than 20 miles!  Nonetheless, I have no doubt that I will be able to do this, and keep up with the majority of the group. Call it blind faith or dumb stubbornness but I see this belief in many entrepreneurs every day…just like this group!

What does it take to have the blind faith to begin a sales career?  There rarely is a curriculum that one gets exposed to extensively until they are “up to their necks in it.”  There is often very little training for the new salesperson outside of product knowledge.  And rarely does someone working their way through high school or college ever state, “I cannot wait to pass this final exam so I can get out into the marketplace and SELL SOMETHING!”  Often times, a sales career is stumbled upon…as are (unfortunautely) many of the skills necessary to excel.  Most times, it is the blind faith and enthusiasm of the new salesperson that gets them started and carries them through the initial period until they woirk their way into a few opportunities or a few sales, thus justifying or validating their decision.  I like to say that often new sellers are “just dumb enuff to believe they can do it”…so they do it!

Think about it:  When you started your career or your company, did you do so with a clearly laid out plan and a strong confidence that you knew exactly what you needed to do and where this thing was headed?  Or did you follow the “leap and the net will appear” philosophy?  Sometimes a decision needs to be made FIRST before anything of value can be craeted.  I have seen many people of considerable talent that wait and wait, pause and ponder, stall and analyze before they even make a move.  They face the curse of the Perfection Trap!  Sometimes, you just need to dive in!

I am a huge fan of preparation and strategy in business and most things.  In fact, I spent 3 hours (and a small fortune) at the bike shop yesterday asking questions about nutrition, hydration, equipment, and other topics.  I have purchased and read 3 books on cycling in the past two weeks.  And I have joined a team (Team In Training) that has massive coaching and support as well as a very thorough training plan.  All that said, I have to DIVE IN for what will be a 45 mile ride this morning!  Am I scared?  A little, yes.  And that is exactly the motivation that I need to get this program under way and hit this goal.  In then end (and I will keep you updated here on this blog) I am positive that this 100 mile ride through the mountains and around one of the country’s most beautiful lakes will “go down” and I will have a wonderful set of memories and a few awesome pictures.  I am just DUMB ENUFF to believe that and thus I will accomplish that!  But for now…..I gotta go get started.

**Post blog post…Although I am posting this today (Monday) I wrote this blog post yesterday morning (pre-Super Bowl) and accomplished the ride yesterday in a much better time and condition than I (or any of the other riders) expected.  Although I was a sore unit last night (and a bit still this morning), I feel awesome.  And…..I am still just “dumb enuff to believe” that I can make to 100 mile ride around Lake Tahoe!  Have an awesome week!

Six specific “thanks yous” to your internal customers

The next thing to remember in our 10 Days of Christmas countdown is that anyone in your organization who touches the customer plays a vital role in the sales process.

In fact, it is that specific group of non-traditional salespeople who ensure your commission every day.

They deliver on the promises that you’ve made.  They make sure that your customer feels the love that you committed.  They serve, they help, they fix, they direct, they listen, they cure, and they deliver.

In fact, without what they do, you cannot do what you do!

When is the last time that you took the time to say THANKS to your internal team?  Every other month this year, you need to identify and go out of your way to let someone know that you appreciate their efforts.

Remember, you are on the top or the bottom of someone’s to-do list every day.

Isn’t it better to be at the top?

Action Step

Identify and write down the names of those individuals in your organization who play a role in your customer care.

  • Who do they speak with when they have a problem?
  • Who speaks to them regarding their billing?
  • Who delivers your products/services to them?
  • Who handled their issues most often last year?

Now, immediately schedule the time to sit down with them to express your gratitude for their efforts and to have a conversation about your customers.  Throughout the course of the year, you need to express your thanks (catch them doing something right) in six unique ways.  Ideas could range from a handwritten note to movie tickets to dinner gift certificates.

Praise in public, because the things that get recognized and rewarded, get done again and again!

Photo by ClearlyAmbigious, via Creative Commons 2.0

10 days of Christmas

It’s the time of year again when thoughts turn to self-improvement and new behavior. 

The New Year brings up an entire host of resolutions for many people.  Commencing on January 1, new commitments will be made to “turn over a new leaf” and do something that requires change in the New Year!

In this spirit I offer a suggested list of New Year’s resolutions specifically for the salespeople on your team – one per day for the next 10 work days on the calendar — with specific action steps included for each.

So here we go. First up:

10 Handwritten Thank You Cards Every Week

The practice of sending a handwritten thank you card is a dying habit, replaced with e-mail.  In my opinion, the art of communicating a heartfelt thank you gets somewhat watered down if it is done ONLY in the form of an e-mail.

So, in addition to your regular e-mail courtesy “thank you,” get in the habit of handwriting a personal note to two people every day.

The recipients of these cards could include:
•    Prospective customers you have just met
•    New contacts from a networking event
•    Existing customers or clients who continue to do business with you
•    Internal customers who help you do your job
•    Past customers who you’d like to invite back

Action Step

Order some thank you notes that are specifically designed for YOU!  Although you can make a positive impact with any nice thank you card, a card that is uniquely yours that will show that you went the extra mile!  You can even customize the cards with your own picture if you’d like.  Handwrite, hand-address, and hand-stamp each card for the best effect.

Photo by Iain Farrell, via Creative Commons 2.0

An attitude of gratitude: the top 10 things for which I’m grateful

Every year my family and I get away for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Whether we visit extended family or it’s just our immediate family, I always look forward to the reflection time I get.  I’ve noticed that as I get older, I often will take stock of and give thanks for three specific areas:

A.    I look “back over my shoulder” at the things that I have been able to accomplish, the people I have met, the business that I have done, the wins, the losses, and the growth during the previous 10 months.

B.    I take full inventory of where it is that I am now and where I stand in reference to my goals in business, quality of life, relationships, health, spirituality and personal /professional growth.

C.    And I look out over the upcoming year and begin to outline and plan who and what I will connect with in my business and personal life.

Each year, regardless of the economy, I find myself adding up the many good fortunes that I have been able to leverage. Also, like most, I start listing some of the challenges that I faced in accomplishing everything I wanted to.

For the purposes of this article, I have listed the Top 10 Things for Which I am Thankful every year:

1.    I am thankful for being given the blind faith and enthusiasm to believe that I can achieve most things to which I set my mind.  I have read many books on self-belief and attitude to the point where I guess I am just dumb enough to believe that it is me who, in fact, decides.

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