Fri, 03/27/2015

In last week’s blog, I shared my new favorite book, authored by Stephen M.R. Covey, The Speed Of Trust.  I shared Covey’s work regarding the three components of trust:  character, competence and commitment.     

Let’s talk about the third component in building trust:  keeping commitments.  You sign up for the profession of sales which means you commit to do the work necessary to achieve the sales goal.  That commitment may mean “X” amount of outreaches each day, each week, to insure “X” amount of qualified appointments.  You commit to joining several associations to build a network.  Commitment can also be as simple as practicing and improving selling skills to increase close ratios.    

 It’s easy for a salesperson to think, “Well, if I don’t hit my revenue goal, I am the one that gets hurt because I don’t earn as much commission.” 

Not true.  The company gave you this sales seat.  In your interview, you didn’t say, “Well, I can’t really commit to do what it takes to hit my revenue goal.  Can you give me a little wiggle room for error?”  When you accept a position, you committed that you would do the work necessary to hit the revenue target.

The company builds out their strategy based on your commitment to hit your sales target. Now, I understand there are companies that hand you crazy revenue goals, with absolutely no thought or detailed analysis.  I’m not talking about that crazy scenario—that’s another blog. I am talking about sales organizations that take time to set realistic, achievable, stretch goals.   

When salespeople don’t honor their commitment of doing the work for which they are hired, the entire company suffers.   For a software company, it means they don’t have the dollars to invest in the brightest and best developers.  In a manufacturing company, there aren’t dollars to invest in new equipment, so the company falls behind in its competitive advantage. 

And here’s the really bad news.  Your boss and peers don’t trust you!  They might like you; however, they don’t trust you to get the job done.  Honor your commitments and do what you get paid to do.  Trust does accelerate the speed of sales. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Fri, 03/20/2015

Marginalizing the emotions of others is bad for business. In fact, in his defining work, Working with Emotional Intelligence, author Daniel Goleman found that 67% of the competencies essential for optimal performance in the workplace are directly related to emotional intelligence. Despite this, new research indicates that, as you look higher in the ranks of corporate management, you see diminishing levels of this important skill – and this is something that should be of concern to anyone committed to the success of a company.

Action-oriented leaders are often essential for a company’s financial future. However, when these actions lead to marginalizing the thoughts and feelings of others, they can actually be a hindrance to success. This makes it important to build and maintain emotional intelligence skills at all levels of management. Being aware of your employees’ feelings and taking time to complement their successes and constructively guide them past their mistakes can help ensure better interpersonal office relationships and higher levels of productivity and workplace satisfaction.

Please visit our free resources page for more information about developing and sustaining EQ, or see how well your company is doing by taking our sales EQ quiz.

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Fri, 03/20/2015

I recently read Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust.  Not sure how I missed this one, however, it’s my new favorite.  In his book, Stephen talks about three areas of trust:  character, competence and commitment.   

Now most of us have talked about the importance of character.  We aspire to show good character in our roles as leaders.  We look to hire salespeople that are honest.  My ‘duh’ moments came when I delved into the other two areas related to trust discussed in his book:  competence and commitment.    Let’s take a closer look at competence and building trust with members of your sales team.  

Sales managers are charged with leading the sales team.   Salespeople watch the leader, like kids watch parents, to see if words and actions are congruent. 

I have the good fortune of working with some of the best sales managers in the world.  One of the key differences between great sales managers and average sales managers is competence.      

For example, a key role for sales managers is training and coaching his/her sales team.  If you can’t demonstrate high level selling skills, a salesperson isn’t going to ask you for advice.   (It’s kind of like asking an out of shape person to be your personal trainer.)  And since you can’t provide advice, the salesperson’s skills often remain average---like yours.  

If you aren’t modeling emotion management, there’s a good chance that you are building a sales team that buckles every time adversity hits.  Emotions are running the day rather than effective sales and communication skills.  As a result, days are lost on the calendar recovering from set-backs rather than bouncing back. 

Competent sales managers run good sales meetings.   Are you showing up late, harried and unprepared for meetings?    Or are you modeling the behavior you’d like your salespeople to demonstrate during sales meetings with prospects and customers such as:

  • Pre-meeting planning – what questions and answers do you need to prepare?
  • Purpose and objective - do you have defined agenda or is this a ‘wing-it’ meeting?
  • Listening - are you telling or gathering information from your sales team?    

Competent sales managers earn trust and develop sales teams that are open to following their advice and guidance.  Trust really does accelerate the speed of sales results.    Stay tuned for Part II.   

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, sales managers, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Fri, 03/13/2015

March 17th kicks off the NCAA Men’s March Madness College Basketball Tournament  where 68 teams participate in a single-elimination tournament competing for the national championship.    There’s also a little bit of madness in the sales world.  March 31st marks the end of Q1 in 2015.  Is your sales organization on track for revenues or are you on your way to ‘elimination rounds?’ 

John Wooden and his legendary UCLA dynasty won 10 NCAA national championships.  And while the tournaments are labeled March Madness, you will find there was no ‘madness’ in his approach to building great teams.   If you want to improve sales results, look no further than studying the habits and attitudes of this great coach.  

#1:  Teamwork.  John Wooden embraced and practiced the concept of team.  He said, “It takes 10 hands to make a basket.”  How about your organization?  Who are the 10 hands involved in acquiring and retaining customers?  Sales is not a department and it takes ‘many hands’ to win and retain business.  Take time to appreciate the invisible talent involved in creating a great client experience.   Write a thank you note to team processing orders.   Buy the warehouse crew lunch.  Bring dessert for the accounting department.   It takes 10 hands to win and retain business.

#2:  Emotion Management.   “Master your emotions or they will master you.”  This quote from Coach Wooden can sound a little soft, especially in the hard charging game of college basketball.   John Wooden recognized the importance of emotional intelligence over 30 years ago.  He knew he could recruit the greatest athletes in the country.   However, if those athletes got frustrated on the court they would not be able to execute the plays. 

The same philosophy holds true in sales.  You can learn a sales playbook full of the great selling skills.  Can you execute those skills in high stakes negotiation?   Too often, emotions start running sales meetings rather than effective consultative selling and negotiation skills.    

#3:   Passion.  I am guessing the teams participating in March Madness are passionate about the game of basketball.  How about you?  Do you love sales?  Do you work hard at honing your selling and influence skills?   Are you an expert in your field, which makes customers eager to meet with you?  If you don’t love sales or what you are selling, do everyone a favor:  get out of the profession.  It’s too hard without passion and your sales spot on the team is too valuable to be wasted on mediocre attempts at greatness. 

It’s March Sales Madness.  Finish Q1 strong.  Recognize your team mates, master your emotions and have passion about the game of sales. 

Good Selling!

tags: colleen stanley, sales, sales training, sales management
Fri, 03/6/2015

In the early 1960’s, Walter Mischel, professor at Stanford University conducted the infamous marshmallow test.  Mischel and his team of researchers tested four year old children on their self-control, a skill often referred to as delayed gratification.    Each child was presented with a marshmallow and given a choice:  eat this one now or wait, and enjoy two marshmallows later.  

His research showed that children displaying self-control at a young age achieved more success as they moved into adulthood.  They typically scored 200 points higher on SAT scores and enjoyed more professional and personal success. 

So what does grabbing marshmallows have to do with hiring good salespeople?   Perhaps everything.     

Here are three places where poor self-control impact sales outcomes. 

#1:  Prospecting.  The sales manager works with the new hire on designing a sales activity plan that insures a full sales pipeline.  The new hire is pretty good at executing the sales activity for the first month.  Then the need for instant gratification kicks in.  The marshmallow grabbing salesperson  doesn’t take the time to calendar block time for proactive business development each week.  The only plan being followed is the ‘what am I going to do today’ plan.    Prospecting efforts are inconsistent and so are the sales results. 

#2:  Skill Development.  The salesperson connects with a prospect; however, the conversation is short, stilted and non-productive.   Marshmallow grabbing salespeople don’t and won’t take time to practice and hone their selling skills.  The salesperson possessing delayed gratification skills will put in the work of practice to earn the reward of a conversational and relevant sales call.  

#3:  Major Account Selling.   Elephant hunting takes time.  There is no room for instant gratification in the pursuit of large deals.  The high self-control salesperson puts in the time on pre-call planning, designing effective questions and value propositions to uncover the gaps in the competitor’s services.   They take time to meet with multiple decision makers.

The marshmallow grabbing salesperson looks at the work required in pursuing the big deals and give into the pull of instant gratification.  They pursue low hanging fruit, rather than big deals.    

Apply self-control and design several interview questions to test for delayed gratification skills.   Let your competition hire the marshmallow grabbers. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, Hiring, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Fri, 02/27/2015

What is a practice proposal?  Practice proposals  are those time consuming documents created for prospects that have no intention of doing business with your company.  This can be the prospect that buys on price not value.  Or, the prospect that doesn’t really have any pain, however, thinks it’s always a good idea to take a look at what’s out there.  (Yawn…..)

So how does this price shopping or 'content with current vendor' prospect end up in the sales pipeline?  It could be lack of hard selling skills or sales experience.   It’s usually due to lack of assertiveness, a soft skill. 

When the price shopping prospect asks the salesperson to “put something together,” non-assertive salespeople go along to get along and invest time on writing proposals they have no hope of winning.  They avoid rocking the sales boat and avoid truth telling conversations such as, “It sounds like the main decision criteria for your organization is price and we aren’t the low priced provider.  My firm probably needs to bow out….even though we would like your business.”   

Assertive salespeople are comfortable stating what they need because they know win-win relationships are just that---both parties win.    With the "it’s always a good idea to look prospect," the assertive salesperson might say something like this.  “Ms. Prospect.  I really appreciate the opportunity to bid on this work.  However, I haven’t really heard enough reasons for you to switch from your current vendor….is there something I’m missing?” 

Examine the proposals in your sales pipeline and do some serious reality testing.   Did you write proposals to go along to get along?  Do you have evidence that your prospect is committed to changing vendors or improving their current situation? 

Stop going along to get along.  Good business is a win-win scenario.  Get assertive, be nice and ask for what you need. 

Good Selling!

 

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, proposals, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Fri, 02/20/2015

Many owners and sales managers have been successful as a salesperson.  However, in scaling and building a company, it’s no longer how good you are….it’s how good  you are at building and training your team to take your sales to the next level. 

As the great author Maya Angelou said.  “When you know better, you do better.”  SalesLeadership wants to help you ‘do better’ in hiring and training top sales producers.  Join fellow CEO’s and sales managers at this content filled and sales leadership changing boot camp.  CLICK HERE FOR AGENDA

DAY ONE:  ‘High-er Expectations’  – How to identify and hire top sales talent

Can you really afford another bad hire?  Hiring is one of the most difficult AND most important decisions in accelerating growth.  Studies show that the wrong “hire” impact is 3-5 times the annual compensation of the position.  (Not to mention opportunity costs, reputation and personal mental energy.) 

Key Take-Away’s:

  • Telephone interviewing techniques that quickly qualify or disqualify candidates.  Stop wasting hours interviewing candidates that can’t or won’t sell.
  • Customized interview guide that helps you identify the best candidate for YOUR industry, YOUR culture and the lifecycle of your company.  
  • Behavior based interviewing skills.   Avoid hiring mistakes based on gut and missed competencies,  e.g. self-starting, problem solving, work ethic. 
  • On-boarding tips for decreasing ramp up time and increasing revenues. 

DAY TWO:  Professional Training and Coaching Skills – Good to great

Managers are easily distracted by the administrative requirements of running a sales team.  In the end, skill development and coaching contribute the most to the bottom line.  Research shows a coached team will outperform a non-coached team by 20%.

Key Take-Away’s:

  • Better diagnose sales performance challenges.  Work on the right end of the problem.   (Do you really need to tell the salesperson one more time….?)
  • Learn the difference between training and coaching.  Discover the power of ‘baton’ training to hone in on specific skills or attitudes.   
  • Develop skills to transfer the knowledge and habits that made you a top sales producer.
  • Avoid the top three training and coaching mistakes made by sales managers.  
  • Discover how to be the sales leader people want to follow and model. 

INCLUDED IN THE PROGRAM:

  • Telephone screening templates and guides
  • Proven behavioral based interviewing questions
  • Templates for pre-briefing and debriefing sales calls
  • Templates for role plays, exercise and drill skills
  • Tip and tools for running more effective sales meetings
  • Coaching and Feedback questions
  • Breakfast and lunch

INSTRUCTOR:

Colleen Stanley, president of SalesLeadership is the author of Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success.  She is also a monthly author columnist for Business Journals across the country.  Prior to SalesLeadership, she was Vice President of sales for Varsity Spirit Corporation where she directed a national sales team of 130.  During her 10 years at Varsity, sales increased from 8M – 90M. 

Clients include:

Blue Sky Restoration, PCL Construction, ThinkHR, Arthur J. Gallagher, Clear Channel, OtterBox, BIC Graphic and Clear Channel.

tags: sales, sales management, Sale Training, Emotional Intelligence, Sales Manager
Fri, 02/20/2015

Multitasking was once hailed as a special skill – one that needed to be honed in order to effectively navigate the business world. We now know however, that multi-tasking is not a skill to possess, but rather a habit to avoid.

A 2014 study conducted by Stanford University found that people bombarded with constant information from multiple electronic resources had a more difficult time recalling information or switching between tasks than those who focused on a single task at a time. This same study found that people who term themselves “effective” at multitasking were the slowest of the bunch, often having trouble organizing their thoughts and filtering irrelevant information.

In our constantly connected world, putting down your electronic devices can seem impossible. It is not; but it is a skill that may need to be relearned. At SalesLeadership, we provide a number of free resources, training opportunities, and weekly tips that can help build important listening and EI skills. We encourage you to browse our site, follow our blog, and contact us with any questions you may have. 

 

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Fri, 02/13/2015

Sales managers often invest time teaching their sales team new selling skills and behaviors.  And many wonder and ask the question, “Why isn’t my sales team getting this?”   The reason is most sales managers have never been taught how to be a good coach.  As a result, they work on the wrong end of a sales performance challenge.  Click here for our upcoming sales management workshops.  

It’s important to know the difference between training and coaching.  Training is imparting knowledge.  Coaching is making sure new skills ‘landed’ and can be executed effectively and consistently.  Coaching is where sales skills and results dramatically improve.  Here are three tips to make you a better sales coach.

#1:        Repetition, repetition, repetition.  Sales managers often grasp selling concepts and skills quickly.  As a result, they take that same expectation to their sales team.  They teach a sales concept once, conduct a couple of role plays and then expect the salesperson to demonstrate sales mastery.  What’s wrong with this picture?

Mastery of a skill is achievable only through repetition.  It’s neuroscience 101.  Neuroplasticity is the brains ability to adapt and build new neural pathways. As behavioral psychologist Donald Hebb discovered, cells that fire together form new habits of thinking and skills.  We like to tell our clients to aim for 144 repetitions.  By that time those cells are wired for consistent sales execution!  

#2:   Ask, don’t tell.  Most sales managers are assertive so their natural response to a salesperson’s question is to give a response.  The next time a salesperson comes to you with question, check your impulse control and ask three simple questions:

  • What do you think?
  • What have you tried?
  • What are other options to consider? 

Your value as a sales manager is measured by your ability to teach and transfer knowledge.  It’s not how much you know and do.  It’s what your sales team knows and executes.  Click here for our upcoming sales management workshops. 

#3:  Impulse control.   All of the above requires the emotional intelligence skill of delayed gratification.  Coaching takes time and patience.  The effective coach must put in the work of planning effective one-on-one coaching sessions and sales meetings.

For example, do you have a defined purpose or objective when meeting one-on-one with your salesperson?  Or are you defaulting to the ‘wing-it’ system of coaching?  Are your sales meetings operations meetings or skill development meetings? 

As the great Vince Lombardi said, “They call it coaching, but it is teaching.  You do not just tell them it is so, but you show them the reasons why it is so and you repeat and repeat until they are convinced….until they know.”

Good Selling!

tags: Emotional Intelligence, sales, sales training, sales managers, colleen stanley, Coaching
Fri, 01/30/2015

SalesLeadership is presenting a 1-day workshop that will help you advance your organization from satisfactory to excellent to extraordinary.  Do you know what is recognized as the most important capability for leaders to develop?  Click here for the workshop details.

 

tags: sales, sales management, sales management training, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence
Fri, 01/23/2015

Hiring top sales talent is no easy task.  More than one sales manager has been frustrated because he discovered he hired a terrific interviewer---not a terrific salesperson.   There are several reasons for misfires on talent acquisition. 

Salespeople get promoted to sales management with little training on behavior based interviewing skills.  (Click here for our hiring and selecting top talent workshop.)   A lot of sales managers only interview for sales experience or experience in their specific industry.   This experience is important, however, equally important is interviewing for emotional intelligence skills.  EQ is a key predictor of success in life and in business.    

There are several emotional intelligence skills that impact sales success.  Assertiveness or the ability to ask for what you need is an important EI attribute to include in your next sales interview.    Research conducted by the Corporate Executive Board shows that top salespeople are assertive.   Assertive salespeople are comfortable asking the tough questions during a sales call and stating what they need to create a win-win business relationship.  

A great interview question to test for assertiveness is,   “Tell me about a sales call where the prospect was hesitant to share budget or didn’t have a budget.  What did you do?”  Listen to see if the salesperson demonstrated assertiveness and uncovered budget by asking more questions before writing a proposal.   Non-assertive salespeople acquiesce to the buyer’s process and follow the ‘go along to get along’ sales approach.  The result:  wasted time writing practice proposals and sales pipelines with prospects that are aren’t willing or able to pay for the value your company provides.    

Building a great sales team starts with carefully selecting each individual on your team.  Interview potential sales candidates for hard selling skills, industry knowledge and emotional intelligence.  Soft skills make a difference in achieving hard sales results.   Join us on March 3 & 4 and learn how to hire top sales producers.  http://bit.ly/1CJUkLZ

Good Selling!

tags: Sales Manager, sales training, sales, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, Sales EQ
Fri, 01/23/2015

Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer, two of the leading researchers on Emotional Intelligence (EI), have developed a model in which EI is divided into four main branches. These are:

  • Perceiving Emotions including nonverbal signs such as facial expressions and body language
  • Reasoning with Emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity in their expression
  • Understanding Emotions, which requires critical thinking to fully grasp their source and complete meaning
  • Managing Emotions, including regulating your own emotions and responding appropriately to the emotions of others

The branches of this model are arranged from basic psychological processes to those of a more complex and integrated nature. Some believe that these abilities are inborn, but we have found that through education, training, and guidance, EI can be developed and strengthened in nearly anyone.

Can EI be learned? Of course. Through training, you can develop the tools you need to effectively perceive, reason, understand, and manage emotions. This, in turn, can result in more beneficial relationships with current and potential customers, greater productivity, and enhanced workplace interactions.

What is your company's Sales EQ and where is there room for improvement? Click here to find out.

tags: Emotional Intelligence
Fri, 01/16/2015

I met with a few business colleagues last week to share goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.  One of my associates shared that she was looking for a new assistant.  She had fired her previous employee because in her words  she was a “95 percenter.”     Obviously the term intrigued all of us so we asked for the definition.  My colleague explained.  “My assistant was actually pretty good.  However, she just couldn’t complete the last five percent of a project or task.” 

This 95 percent remark got me thinking.  Where am I performing at 95 percent?  Where is it easy in the sales profession to give 95 percent rather than 100 percent and what are the implications?   Here are a few areas to think about. 

  • Business Development.  Your goal is to make 10 outreaches a day, both prospecting and client calls.  Life sets in and you complete 95 percent of the task.  That doesn’t seem too bad until you do the math.  10 times 95 percent equals 9.5, a shortfall of only .5.  However, multiply that number by five days a week, four weeks in a month and twelve months in a year.  The number changes from .5 to 120 contacts not made. By applying the five percent rule, what existing relationships could have been deepened with further contact? What new lines of business could have been sold? What new opportunities could have been opened? Five percent adds up.
  • Thank you notes.  You’ve just closed a large contract because of a referral from a strategic alliance partner or client.   You look at the clock and it’s the end of the day.  You want to go home so you choose the 95 percent route.  Instead of taking two minutes to craft a handwritten note, you shoot off a quick email of thanks.
  •  Finish the race and apply the five percent rule to pen a personal note of thanks.  Since no one is doing it, your thoughtfulness will stand out. 
  • Selling skills.  We work with clients on the “Take 10” strategy.  Take 10 minutes every day to listen to a sales audio, read 10 pages of a self-improvement or sales book.  Take 10 minutes to review your notes from sales training.  There are 2700 minutes in a 45 hour week.  The “Take 10” strategy is only  .0003 percent of your week!

Okay, enough with the numbers.  You get the idea.  Apply your emotional self-awareness skills and ask yourself the hard question, “Where am I only giving 95 percent?” 

Make it a goal to be in the 100 percent club this year.  Small steps lead to big successes. 

Good Selling!

 

tags: sales, sales training, Sales Manager, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence
Fri, 01/9/2015

It’s the beginning of 2015.  There are new sales quotas to achieve and opportunities to develop.   One of best ways to ensure you will hit your quota is to fish where the fish are biting. 

This is the time of year where sales professionals develop their Top 10 or Top 25 List of prospects.  Here’s an important tip to remember.  You can be the greatest salesperson in the world, however, if you call on prospects that don’t match your demographics or psychographics, you are going to be busy and broke.  

Get clear on your ideal client.  At SalesLeadership, we coach clients to look at both the demographics and the psychographics when developing their Top 10 list.  Many salespeople miss revenue goals because they only look at demographics when developing their target prospect list.  Demographics such as size of the company, number of employees, and revenues are important.  Equally important is the psychographic or the attitude and values of your best prospects. 

When I ask salespeople to describe their best clients, I often hear, “They treat vendors like partners.  They are proactive in seeking solutions.  They value outside counsel and opinions.”   None of those answers have anything to do with demographics.  They have everything to do with psychographics, the attitude or values of an organization. 

In the sales training business, we win more business with companies that value education and outside advice.  It is as important as the demographics which include size and revenues of the sales organization.    

Apply the emotional intelligence skill of reality testing.  Conduct a win-loss analysis and see how many opportunities you lost because--- you shouldn’t have called on the prospect in the first place! 

Set yourself up for success in the New Year by fishing where the fish are actually biting!

Good Selling!

 

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, Fishing
Tue, 12/23/2014

It goes without saying that listening to current and potential clients is key to making sales. However, listening requires more than simply hearing the words – it requires knowing how to read in between the lines and offering useful and honest answers to unasked questions.

The old adage is true: the question being asked is seldom the real question. Questions such as, “How long have you been in business?” may seem fairly straight forward, but lying just below the surface are questions about your credibility, your experience, and your performance. This makes it important to develop skills that allow you to garner those deeper meanings and provide answers to even the questions that are not directly asked.

SalesLeadership is pleased to offer training tools that teach valuable listening skills and help build client trust and confidence. Our training workshops provide in-depth information and integrative techniques to help ensure mastery of a variety of sales skills. We would be happy to discuss our training with you in greater detail and to answer any questions you may have about our services.

Please visit our free resources page for additional information about leadership development, listening skills, and emotional intelligence.

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