A Call to ACTION!

There is something very refreshing about those who take action. People make investments daily in lots of “things” designed to make themselves and their companies better. Whether it is a gym membership, a training course, a book, a new piece of technology or something else, we make purchases regularly designed to increase our output or improve us in some way. And yet, it becomes more and more evident to me that people often do not invest the primary ingredient needed to get the true benefit from their investment. That ingredient is Committed, Focused ACTION!

I just recently ran of my Sales Manager Boot Camps in Omaha, Nebraska. It was a terrific event with attendees from several different industries. Not unlike many of my training programs, each person in attendance had wonderful and very enthusiastic things to say about the Boot Camp, my delivery style, and the content. But one company in particular has since then (a mere two weeks ago) taken massive action on the introduced strategies and ideas and has also put into immediate use many the tools that were offered.

Wade Mayfield and his team Thermal Services in Omaha, NE have immediately put the Sales Coach International Seller Rating/Ranking Grid that was introduced at Boot Camp into to immediate use. They have (in two short weeks) had every leader on their team in every division of their organization (sales and non-sales) break down the important factors of Attitudes, Skills, and Activities necessary to perform and to thrive in his organization. Subsequent to this analysis, each leader has assessed and rated each player on his/her team in each of these dimensions, identifying strengths and opportunities for growth. These manager/leaders now have a road map to coach and improve their people’s performances daily through focused field training and coaching, one to one meetings, Individual Development Plans (IDPs), and other coaching initiatives….and they are being held accountable to doing just that.

In addition to the above, one division of the company through one manager (Phillip) is in the midst of developing a series of key Pay Attention! points” and key questions (specifically introduced in the Boot Camp) for what would typically be considered a non-selling position (plumbers) to identify additional opportunities in every call. Also, one manager in particular has taken to heart many of the strategies that were introduced at Boot Camp regarding the creation of more powerfully focused Sales Meetings. He (Lucas) has, since Boot Camp, invited a vendor to be a guest speaker at one of his sales meetings and, in advance of the meeting, actually inspected what he expected with that vendor. He made the vendor lay out a specific plan of action and agenda to his meeting (vs. the “shoot the BS” meetings of the past) and rolled in the vendor’s information with his specific application and execution training. How do I know this? I received a detailed Thank You card from that manager yesterday outlining his successes. Action, action, action!

There are many more examples of massive action from Wade and his team of rock stars that I can cite from just the past two weeks. The tip of the spear (acting as the catalyst) for this action has been Wade himself. Wade attended the Boot Camp along with all of his managers while in the middle of a major physical move of his office. In fact, after seeing me speak at a Vistage meeting, Wade was the catalyst that was instrumental in getting the actual event put together in the first place, securing the training venue and sparking a group of CEOs to take part by enrolling their leader/managers.

I just spent an hour on the phone with Wade and his partner, Barry going over each of the action steps that they have taken in the past two weeks and identifying the plans for each of his leaders based upon the Boot Camp. His entire organization now has a clearer vision and set of marching orders based upon the action of the leaders—not the training alone. Wade and his team invested thousands of dollars and two days of their lives to be exposed to new leadership initiatives at my Boot Camp. Since then, they are ensuring a climb to $20 million in sales this year through committed, focused action on what it is that they learned. I would place my bets on Thermal Services growth this year and beyond.

So, what is it that you are missing in your expectations of results thus far this year? Where have you made an investment that is not paying off yet? Where can you apply some committed and focused ACTION in your life to spark your results?

  • That gym membership will not help your fitness and weight loss without you investing your efforts and action.
  • That training course you and your team attended means nothing without your investment in the changes and action identified.
  • The books and Cd’s on your desk will do nothing for you without you actually reading/listening to them and taking action on the ideas they offer.
  • Wanting, intending, thinking, wishing, and hoping are truly not ACTION WORDS and rarely, if ever, produce any change or positive results.

So….pick one area of your life (business or personal) and be “just dumb enough to believe” that taking ACTION will produce what you desire. Dive in! Get busy! Don’t over-think anything. Commit to spending at least 90 days on the change and the growth you desire and watch the results start to pile up. Be awesome, be courageous, and win on purpose!

Preparation + Practice = Profit

I was watching some golf on TV this past weekend and happened to notice Vijay Singh’s name near the top of the leaderboard for the first time in (what seemed like) a long time.  I did a little research and discovered that he has won over $65 million dollars in his career and over $2 million of that was last year.  Not bad for a guy that I thought was washed up.

For those of you that do not know, Vijay Singh is one of professional golf’s most ardent “practicers.”  He is well known for spending hour upon hour on the range honing his swing, polishing his skills, and trying to perfect a game that cannot be perfected.  Vijay Singh is not the most naturally gifted.  He is not the longest hitter nor the best putter.  He simply works harder than most and practices his skill daily for hours.

I recently also read an article on Peyton Manning, one of the NFLs all-time greatest quarterbacks.  As many of you know, Manning did not play in 2011-2012 due to a series of 4 neck surgeries.  By the way, his team, the Indianapolis Colts, went from being a perennial playoff team to last place in his absence.  (How’s that for valuable?)   Last year alone, Peyton Manning earned a salary of over $11 million dollars and next month is up for a $28 million dollar payday if the owner of the Colts does not trade him to another team due to his injuries.

The interesting part of the article that I read was in regards to where he may go if he does get “let go” by the Colts.  The article referred to his current home in Indianapolis where he has a basement called “the cave” where he spends hours upon hours per week studying and analyzing game film to truly understand the defenses that he is up against each week.  Peyton Manning is not fast.  He is not mobile.  He is, however, one of the most prepared quarterbacks to ever strap on a helmet and lead a team.

If you were to look at the majority of professional sports teams and professional athletes in general along with the schedules that they keep, you would see that the overwhelming majority of their time (even though they are the TOP of their games) is spent in strategy, preparation, and practice.  In fact, I would bet that percentage is close to 90% just in rehearsal for the “game.”  That leaves only 10% of their time left for the actual game itself.  So, they are earning 90% of what their pay doing the things necessary to win! (to practice)

Imagine if salespeople understood that the money that they earn comes 90% during the time that they were preparing for and practicing their “stuff” that they need to execute on during the sales cycle.  Imagine if they scheduled the time to practice.  In the world of sales, we find the exact opposite.  If ever we see training, strategy, preparation, or practice as a part of the salesperson’s time, it is most likely about 10% of their time.  That means that 90% of the time, salespeople are “in the game” and trying out their moves on the customer!

So here is my suggestion for all of you salespeople and sales managers reading this post.  (BTW, just reading this puts you in the minority because most salespeople/leaders don’t engage in their profession enough to want to read, learn, and think.)  Let’s make a pact to schedule 45 minutes a day, three days a week, for the next 3 months to do NOTHING but work on the skills that are necessary to GROW your business…not to MAINTAIN it.  Let’s figure out the things on which we need to improve. Let’s NOT just keep repeating and rehearsing our pitch.  Here are a few things that you can do during your “training time.”

  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice THREE voicemail messages to get you call returned.
  • Think of, plan, write down and practice 6-10 provocative questions you will ask to better diagnose the customer’s current situation and desired business outcomes.
  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice appropriate responses to manage the most consistent customer concerns or objections that you run into each day.
  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice 5 comfortable CLOSING questions that you will ask each and every time that you have earned the right to do so. (“So….what’s our next step?”)
  • Have role PRACTICE (not role play) sessions with two other colleagues in which you not only practice your message, questions, and objection responses but in which you also listen to someone else give theirs.  (What may sound right to you, coming out of your mouth, may sound odd to you, coming from someone else.)
  • Think of, plan, write down, and practice what the first 3 minutes of a sales call will sound like to better “set the stage” for your success.
  • Define and practice a “trade show approach” to a prospective customer.
  • Define and practice a “30 second networking event approach” for your next networking event.

These are just a few ideas to get you started but there needs to be many on your calendar.  It seems that we have two considerable challenges as human beings:

#1—The areas in which we have some skill and thus some success, we do not regularly try to improve.

#2—The areas in which we have difficulty and challenge, we avoid and thus, never work to get better.

Let’s change that…..NOW!  This week, start your practice routine and build it into your schedule every week for the next 3 months.  I’ll bet you start to win more often and earn the results and the PAYCHECK you deserve.

The three Ps of effective networking

We’re powering our way through the 10 keys to effective networking, and here are the Three Ps that will enable you to take advantage of the next networking even you attend: Plan, prepare, practice.

How do you plan for a networking event? Think about the questions you are going to ask: What do you want to know? How are you going to ask them?

You want to ask questions that cannot only carry the conversation, but can also provide the information you need.

Think about it: You are telling a story through the questions you ask. It will be obvious if you know your industry real well. So know the industry of the people that you’re talking to. Have some timely information to offer. Be flexible. Adjust to the person. Adjust to the opportunity. Adapt.

In short, be a professional.

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Want to get more done in less time? Practice

To effectively manage time, you have to be efficient at what really matters. So where do you need practice?

Brian Tracy’s book, “Eat That Frog” is about time management, and it has a section called “Define Your Key Result Areas.”

Now, for sales professionals, there are a lot of key result areas. Let’s take, for example, prospecting. It isn’t just dialing the phone.

  • You’ve got to know what to say if there’s a voicemail.
  • You’ve got to know how to address a gatekeeper.
  • You’ve got to know how to deal with automated attendants, how to work your way through that process.

We find that 8.3 out of every 10 calls a sales professional makes ends up in a voicemail system. We need to practice how to get through some of those myriad ways that voicemail is designed to keep us out. You need to practice what your script says, or your voicemail message says, in order to get more calls returned.

I need to practice how to get that gatekeeper on my side. And when I get that live person or that decision maker on the phone, I have to be very clear in what the purpose of my call, and I have to practice what I’m going to say. I have to practice what I’m going to ask. I have to practice how I’m going to respond when they have questions or objections.

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You can’t manage time

There’s no such thing as management of time. There’s only management of what we do within the amount of time we have.

Of course, many people use tips and tricks to get things done in the allotted amount of time. But a lot of times we feel like we are victims to other people’s time, priorities and projects.

Consequently, a lot of us are running around like a chicken with its head cut off.  And we’re trying to figure out how to get all of the things done that we need to get done in the time allotted.

Too often, the things that get put at risk or the things that get moved off the calendar are the things that are most important to you; your priorities; your time with your family; your time with your most important customers.

And that’s not a good feeling. It’s like you’re just shut down. You reload, refuel and go out there and do it again, and find that you’re still not make progress toward your most important goals.

So let’s do something about that. Let’s look at the three P’s that are essential for time management:

  • Planning
  • Preparing
  • Practice

You might say, “OK, I can see how planning fits into this. I can even see how preparing fits into this. But how does practice fit in?”

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