Thu, 05/19/2016

Companies leave millions of easy dollars on the sales table each year because their sales teams in different divisions are reluctant to cross-sell company products and services. CEOs and sales managers often try to solve this problem by designing compensation plans that incentivize the sales team to introduce their counterparts to their clients. The plan is good, there is commission to be made and yet, the sales teams continue to operate in different silos. Why? 

You’re working on the wrong end of the problem.

Lack of compensation isn’t the root cause for salespeople not introducing their counterparts to clients. It’s lack of trust -- and who wants to admit that to a member of their team? It’s the proverbial elephant in the room. 

This lack of trust happens for a variety of reasons. Often, it’s simply because the sales teams haven’t bothered to get to know one another. And are you really comfortable taking a stranger to your best client? Others may have had a bad experience in the past, i.e., their counterpart sold their product or service to the client and then had trouble on the fulfillment side.     

Work on the right end of the problem.

Sales managers: Set a key performance metric for members of your sales team to connect with salespeople from other divisions. Yes, it’s sad but true: You just may have to set a metric for building relationships within your own company.   

Teach your team members how to be assertive and clear on their expectations when bringing a partner rep into a meeting. Such expectations can include:

  • Each person’s role in the meeting and how to conduct a team call. Who’s on first works great in baseball, not sales. 
  • The value propositions that will open a consultative dialogue with the client. No product dumping allowed. 
  • Communication – how you expect your partner to keep you in the loop. Overcommunication is best. 
  • Share the level of service you give your client and make sure your partner division is committed to delivering the same.
  • If there is a problem, discuss your expectations for taking care of issues. Do it by phone or in person, not via email, which can be misinterpreted. 

Take advantage of an easy way to grow revenue by embracing cross selling. Set up both you and your partner for success by building trust and setting clear expectations. 

Good Selling!

tags: Denver Sales Management, denver sales training, Colorado Sales Training, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, Denver sales training programs
Fri, 05/13/2016

At SalesLeadership, we are analyzing products and services to help us continue working with the right type of prospects and clients. Now, I am a qualified prospect. I have a need, not a want. I have the money to invest and I am the economic buyer. 

So why didn’t I buy from your salesperson?

He or she just wasn’t that good. And I am a pretty easy buyer, as I love salespeople. So what did they miss during the sales process? 

#1 No pre-call planning or preparation – I ask each salesperson, “What do you know about SalesLeadership?” I am amazed and disappointed to hear these answers:   

  • It looks like you guys do some type of training. (So you didn’t even go to the website?)
  • Yes, I’ve been meaning to pick up your book.  (And you probably will have good intentions to service my account, but never get around to it.)

#2:  Not fully present. If the salesperson had done any pre-call planning, read any of my blogs or my book, they know I rant and rave about paying attention and leaving cellphones out of meetings.

More than one salesperson has brought a cellphone to a first sales meeting with us, setting the phone directly in front of them so they’d miss no incoming messages. The sales conversations were comical.

“Colleen , tell me about your goals and what you are trying to accomplish. Oh, excuse me,” (checking the phone) “sorry about that. Now, what are your goals?” Nope, not feeling the love or trust needed to partner with you. 

#3: Generic Recommendations. One salesperson called in from his cellphone, while driving, to review his high-level recommendations. This was the same salesperson that had asked us to send lots  of information to ensure that his firm could meet our needs. Since he didn’t have the material in front of him, he just gave his canned presentation. Canned is not compelling and doesn’t earn my business. Come on, at least try to link one of your solutions to our prior conversation!

So if you’re wondering why your sales forecast is off, check to make sure your sales team has covered the three basic selling steps to earn a prospect’s or customer’s business: Prepare, be present and align your solutions with your client’s pains and goals.  

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales management, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, sales leadership, Colorado Sales Training, Denver sales training programs
Fri, 05/6/2016

Sure, sales professionals ask effective questions to engage and influence prospects and customers.   Well-thought-out questions can change the dynamic of a sales conversation, set you apart from the competition and result in more business.    Sales managers ask provocative coaching questions to shift behavior, attitudes and skills. 

But let’s set that aside for a moment, because there is one more question to ask in order to raise sales performance.  Gary Keller, author of “The ONE Thing,” shares a powerful, focusing question:

“What is the one thing that you can do today that by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary?” Now, that is a great question!   

For sales managers, the one thing might be carving out more coaching and training time with their sales teams. This should be considered sacred time that all involved know cannot be interrupted by checking emails or taking phone calls.

Maybe, the one thing is investing more time in making your weekly or monthly group sales meeting a great sales meeting -- the kind that motivates salespeople and better equips them to land more business.

Salespeople, your one thing might be to apply the good coaching and training provided by your sales managers. Or, it could be reaching out to other top sales producers to create or join a mastermind group that shares best practices. Your mother was right: “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you what you’re like.” 

Ask yourself this powerful question now: What is the one thing I can do today that by doing it, will make everything else easier or unnecessary? 

Great questions produce great sales results. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales training Denver, Denver Sales Management, sales training, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, Sales Manager, denver sales training
Thu, 04/28/2016

Millennials often are profiled as employees with no work ethic , a high sense of entitlement, even as being delusional about what it takes to be successful.  

But this interview with a young sales manager at a large company should give companies hope that perhaps it’s not age dictating results – it’s simply the person you hired. 

Question: How did you get started?

Answer: I started out as in intern and worked my way up. At age 25, I became a manager and now have a team of 26 people. Our financial results have been at the top of the company, with over 60 comparable branches.    

Q: What has made you successful?  

A: Early on, I found a producer that served as my informal mentor. I’ve seen a lot of situations in offices where salespeople and leaders get caught up in politics. They say what others want to hear. This producer was extremely honest and to the point. He didn’t sugarcoat things. People respect that approach, even though it may turn a few people off. My mentor also took action on a problem rather than stress and hide behind emails. 

Q: As a fairly young manager, what is some knowledge that you wished you would have gained earlier in your leadership role?

A: I’ve been in this leadership role for two years, and one thing I’ve learned is to gain perspective. It’s important to talk to two or three people to get different perspectives on the same issue. It helps me better solve problems. 

Q: What advice do you give to young interns and team members? 

A: A lot of other interns have a tendency to embrace that techie environment where it’s all about work/life balance. I tell the interns that I wear a suit to work, show up first and leave last.  

Be patient. That means starting at the bottom, and doing the grunt work and processing. It’s going to suck, it’s going to hurt a little bit; keep plugging away. Also, be patient with your peers. If you lose your patience with someone, you’re going to lose their respect. 

It was refreshing to interview this young man. And it reinforced an old adage: Don’t judge a book by its cover.  Meaning, don’t buy the stereotypes, whether you’re talking about millennials, baby boomers, people from other nations and of other religions, etc. You’re going to find good and bad in any group of people. And if you’re an employer, give millennials the chance to prove themselves.

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales management, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, sales training, millennials
Fri, 04/15/2016

A few myths of the sales world should be busted, particularly those surrounding the DNA of top sales producers. I’ve heard more than one CEO or sales managers accept thinking such as, “Big producers have big egos — it just goes with the territory.  Top salespeople are lone rangers; they don’t play well with others.”

It’s time to eliminate these bad myths because they’re costing your company thousands of dollars.

Myth number one: Top producers are egotistical and prima donnas — it just goes with the territory. The inference is that top sales producers get to say and do anything, as long as they are bringing in revenue. That type of attitude doesn’t really lend itself to a healthy culture, or uphold core values of respect and trust. 

The Reality: Top sales producers are confident, not egotistical. How do I know? I work with great salespeople, top sales producers that know the day you start believing your own press is the day you quit learning and improving. It’s the first step towards mediocrity and complacency.   

Myth number two: Top producers are lone rangers. Yes, some top producers are lone rangers and produce a lot of business.  Go ahead and hire them, with the clear expectation that this profile won’t help your sales organization scale. Lone-ranger salespeople don’t like helping team members because that “people thing” slows them. Their mantra is that it’s every man or woman for themselves.      

The Reality: Top sales producers are independent and interdependent. They understand that one top sales producer can’t carry the entire company quota. Top sales producers also understand that sales is more complex today, requiring the brains of many, to beat the competition.   

Tim Sanders, author of “Dealstorming,” advises against hiring the lone genius.  “In this complicated selling environment, you should stop focusing on hiring top producers and instead, search out and acquire team players with the tendency to spin up webs to capture sales opportunities,” he writes. 

It’s time to discard old sales myths and start filling your team with confident salespeople that play well with others.  Scale revenues quickly and profitably by hiring the right salespeople, not just the best salespeople.   

Good Selling!

tags: Colorado Sales Training, sales, sales management, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Thu, 03/31/2016

Is anyone besides me tired of hearing complaints from salespeople about how much more difficult sales is today than 20 years ago? The usual complaints are, “The prospect is more educated, no one is picking up the phone, there is a ton of competition.” 

It’s time to stop the pity party and conduct a reality check. Salespeople have more tools to be successful with today than 20 years ago. If you’re not succeeding, it’s probably because you’re spending more time making excuses instead of sales. 

Apply the emotional intelligence skill of reality testing.

Reality Check #1:  In the good old days, the ‘easy’ days of selling, your major prospecting tool was the local yellow pages. You smiled and dialed with the goal of connecting with a complete stranger on the phone. If prospect’s had a display ad, you considered that an “A” prospect. 

There was no prospect website to review. You didn’t have access to LinkedIn profiles to learn more about a prospect’s resume, personal interests and common connections. And you certainly couldn’t do a google search to uncover other important data.     

Reality Check #2:  Salespeople complain that no one is picking up the phone—all they get is voice mail. Back in the good old days of selling, your prospect didn’t even know you called—because there was no voicemail. You often had to drive three to four hours, drop in the prospect’s office, do a quick introduction to start building rapport and relationships. 

Okay, I think I’ve made my point. Here’s another reality check. Prospects are more educated today. No problem. Salespeople have the same opportunity to become more educated because of the enormous access to information that can make them an industry expert and master of sales and influence.   

Your prospect is expecting more today—so what—give it to him or her.

It’s your job to understand the business of business. Examine your last few appointments. Did you walk away knowing the answer to these questions.  How does your prospect make money?  What was the prospects top three initiatives for the year and why?  What macroeconomic influences are affecting your prospect’s business? Make each meeting with your prospect relevant and more than he or she expected. 

Is selling easier or harder today?  I will let you decide because perception is reality.  

Good selling!

tags: sales training, sales management, sales, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, denver sales training
Fri, 03/18/2016

I’ve been in the business of developing sales forces for 18 years. I really struggled my first year. But then I ran an appointment with a very sharp executive. He taught me a valuable lesson when he shared what he told his team: You can’t be more committed to your client’s success than he or she is.

Those words changed the way I approached my sales meetings. I really started testing my prospects on their commitment to success because I had wasted a lot of time calling on whiners, not winners. Excuse makers rather than excellence makers.  

So what can you change or do on your sales calls to make sure you are meeting with winners, not whiners?

1.  Just ask your prospects where this “purchase” or change ranks on their list of priorities. For example, on a scale of one to 10, where does achieving this goal or getting rid of this problem rank? If they reply, “five,” then it’s time to stop the appointment and address the sales elephant in the room. Tell them, “it sounds like getting this done is more of a nice to have rather than a need to have.” Stop wasting time with status-quo prospects. Move onto those that are serious about improving and changing their business outcomes.

2.  Apply the EQ skill of reality testing. Serious prospects allow you access to other decision makers. Are you getting access to decision makers or being forced to ‘guess’ at the best solutions? Is the company committed to setting aside the necessary time, resources and budget needed to invest in your product or services? Or, is the prospect relying on the hope and denial strategy of achieving goals? 

If you want to grow sales this year, work with prospects and customers that are as committed to their success as you are.

Good Selling!

tags: Colorado Sales Training, denver sales training, sales training, sales management, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley
Mon, 03/14/2016

Are Your Salespeople a Competitive Advantage or Disadvantage?

It’s no secret that the Internet has affected the sales profession. Buyers are more educated and more comfortable buying large-ticket items, both products and services, through the Internet. Amazon is one of the leading retailers in the world and does a lot of things right. It has product availability, makes it easy to order and return merchandise, AND you don’t have to deal with salesperson. Yup, the elimination of salespeople is one of its competitive advantages. 

How can that be? Well, how many of you have ever experienced this selling scenario? 

  • You walk into a retail store and you are a qualified prospect. You look around, trying to find a sales associate. When you do find an associate, you have to interrupt her because she is busy checking her latest text on her addict-a-phone. Or she’s chatting it up with a co-worker, completely oblivious to you and your needs.   
  • You meet with a salesperson and are open with your goals and challenges. The salesperson listens intently and makes some preliminary recommendations -- none of which match what was discussed. “Mr. Prospect, I believe we can help you. We are a 150-year-old company and are the largest in our industry.”  (And how does that help me solve my problem?) “We are national and international.”  (So, why do I care?) 

DO THESE SCENARIOS MAKE YOU WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH A SALESPERSON?

So what can you do to make your salespeople a competitive advantage?

  1. Hire salespeople that like sales. Most people get into the sales profession by default, i.e., “I’ll do this until I find a real job.” Salespeople that excel in the profession of sales regard it as a profession, not just a temporary stop-gap measure.     
  2. Hire salespeople that possess the emotional intelligence skill of self-actualization. These individuals are on a constant journey of professional and personal improvement.  You don’t have to force them to learn about their products, their customers, how to better influence people or sell. Self-actualized salespeople are professional sponges.  And because they are on top of industry trends and best practices, and have great influence skills, they add value to a conversation.  Clients leave meetings and say, “Now, that was a good meeting.  She really made me think.”
  3. Give your sales team training.  Most salespeople have only participated in product knowledge training.  Is it any wonder they move give presentations rather than thoughtful, customized options? 

Are your salespeople a competitive advantage or disadvantage?

SalesLeadership is now taking registrants for our May 17 - 18 Ei Selling® Boot Camp.

Call Julie at 303-708-1128 for more information.

tags: sales management, sales management training, sales training, sales, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, denver sales training
Fri, 02/26/2016

Busyness is the enemy of relationships. And I am seeing an increasing trend in salespeople sending emails and texts to customers, often on a topic that could and should be covered with a 10-or 15-minute phone call.  Salespeople are confusing contacting a customer with connecting with a customer. They forget that being efficient doesn’t always translate to being effective. 

Sales managers stress to their teams the importance of customer focus and the value of strong relationships. The salesperson will nod in agreement, return to her desk, and the busyness of life hits. She defaults to electronic communication because it’s quick and easy.  

It’s kind of puzzling. Why aren’t salespeople picking up the phone to connect with their best customers, the very people that write their commission check?  

The answer isn’t good or logical: They are afraid they might actually reach a live human being, and that conversation takes time! It takes only two minutes to craft an email so they resort to efficient behavior, not effective behavior.  

Apply reality testing at your sales organization. Did your salesperson contact 20 customers or did your salesperson connect with 20 customers? Contacting falls in the sales-activity bucket. Connecting falls in the relationship-building bucket. Which approach ensures sustainable growth for your company?  

Sherry Turkel is the author of the great book, “Reclaiming Conversation. The Power of Talk in the information Age.” She shares the story of a law firm that got curious about the power of conversations in this digital age. 

Upon investigation, the evidence was clear. Lawyers that invested more time with clients in face-to-face conversations brought in the most business. They were connecting with customers rather than just contacting them.

I work with a very successful vice president of sales and he has applied the conversation principle for years. He integrates electronic communication with ‘live’ communication by sending sends a quick email asking his client for a short phone conversation. The bottom-line results: He’s been a top producer for more than 20 years.

So here is your challenge for 2016. Start small. Once a day, instead of shooting an email to a valued client, pick up the phone. Start connecting instead of just contacting customers. 

It’s time to pick up the phone. Will you?

tags: denver sales training, sales training, Colorado Sales Training, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, sales management, sales management training
Fri, 02/19/2016

I’d like you to make more money this year and one of the best ways---listen and read this blog.  Have I got your attention?

Research conducted by Tom Corley, author of “Rich Habits” found that 88 percent of wealthy people read 30 minutes for self-improvement each day as compared to 2% of the nonwealthy.  He also found that only 6 percent of the wealthy watch reality TV versus 78 percent of the nonwealthy.  Goodbye, Kardashians! 

Tony Robbins, the mega-successful life coach, shared his rags-to-riches with Oprah Winfrey. He was kicked out of the house at 17 and he decided to get smart.  He read 700 books in seven years.  I am guessing a little of that knowledge help him build his multimillion-dollar speaking and training empire. 

Warren Buffet was asked how to get smarter. He held up stacks of paper and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.” 

Have I convinced you to change your daily habits? Take these three steps to start getting smarter. In the emotional intelligence world, it’s called self-actualization, the need to achieve one’s full potential. Research shows that top salespeople possess this competency.  I like to call them sales sponges. 

  1. Get up. That’s right. Set that alarm 15 minutes early. Grab a cup of coffee, not your smartphone. Read or listen to material that will help you improve personally or professionally. 
  2. Take advantage of commute time.  Turn off the radio and tune into a CD or audio focused on imparting knowledge that will help you personally or professionally. 
  3. Get a strong accountability partner to check in each day to ensure your new habit of learning gains legs and gets cemented into your daily routine. Marshall Goldsmith, best-selling author and executive coach, has an accountability coach that he checks in with every day. 

Are you smarter than you were two weeks ago?  Learn from the best and instill this powerful habit into your daily and weekly life. 

Good Selling!

tags: Colorado Sales Training, sales, denver sales training, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, sales management, Colorado Sales
Fri, 02/5/2016

Top  producers get promoted to sales management because of their ability to source, sell and close business. These individuals are also good team players, optimistic and great at building relationships.

So, with all these wonderful attributes, why are so many sales managers such lousy sales coaches?

Most sales managers get set up to fail. They have not learned the No. 1 skill to develop their sales team:  the ability to transfer the knowledge, skills and habits that made them a top producer.  It’s called teaching, training and coaching, which are different skills than selling and closing business.   

Here’s one key principle that will help you become a better coach: Understand and know the difference between training and coaching. 

Training is imparting knowledge. Coaching is testing to see if the knowledge has landed and can be applied. 

Have you considered SalesLeadership's TAKE THE LEAD sales management program?

Here’s a classic example. The sales manager has taught his sales team the top 10 compelling and customized questions to ask during a sales call. He watches a sales meeting with a new prospect in which the salesperson fails to ask five of the questions.  When the sales manager asks the salesperson why, she replies, “I forgot.” 

The sales manager responds to this trigger and moves into training mode, telling the salesperson, once again, which questions to ask.

Stop the madness. Your salesperson knows what to do and telling them one more time won’t change their behavior. This salesperson either has a self-limiting belief around asking questions or just isn’t buying into your way of selling and influencing. So it’s time to become the coach and get to the root cause of this poor selling behavior by asking great coaching questions. 

“Did you forget or were you uncomfortable? What makes you think the prospect is going to get upset by answering these questions? Is that based on perception or data? When you asked these questions in the past, what was the outcome? What information will you be missing in winning business if you don’t get the answer to this question?” 

 Stop telling (training) and start asking (coaching). 

There is a time to train and a time to coach. Great sales managers learn them and know the difference. 

Good Selling!

tags: Colorado Sales Training, denver sales training, Sales Management Program, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, sales
Fri, 01/29/2016

I love this quote from Nick Saban: “One thing about championship teams is that they're resilient. No matter what is thrown at them, no matter how deep the hole, they find a way to bounce back and overcome adversity.”

Super Bowl 50 is Feb. 7.The top two teams make it to the Super Bowl because of such factors as top athletic talent, great playbooks and, yes, resiliency. Just look at Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning. Critics said he was done because of age, surgeries and injuries. Is he playing in Super Bowl 50 because of his incredible talent or his equally incredible resilience? Probably both. 

Championship sales teams are no different. I have seen really talented salespeople fail because they can’t bounce back from failure and setbacks. It wasn’t the sales playbook holding them back; it was their inability to execute the plays during tough times. 

Salespeople that score low in resiliency score high in stress. They get fatigued and don’t have the energy or creativity needed to pursue and close business. Stress also results in salespeople getting frustrated, giving up on their goals or worse, turning into victims. Instead of taking responsibility for their success, they turn to blame and excuses.

So what can sales managers do to build the resiliency muscle? Here’s my number one tip: 

Teach your salespeople to separate their “DO” from their “WHO.”

Sales is what you do for a living. However, it doesn’t define your character or self-worth. Without this separation of the DO and WHO, salespeople take failure personally. Self-doubt and negative self-talk set in. “I’ve lost my touch. I’m not cut out for this profession. I never was good at asking the tough question.” 

Resilient salespeople take failure on their “DO” side. They don’t let failure define how they feel about themselves. That enables them to get fierce about learning the lessons from failure. “OK, what can I learn from losing this piece of business? What part should I own? What part is simply attributed to learning?” 

I remember my first year in this business, when I was floundering and failing. One of my early mentors helped build my resiliency muscle by changing my perspective. He told me that instead of trying to close business, I should go out and get 100 no’s. His explanation was simple: After you fail 100 times, you learn 100 great lessons and are on your way to success. Now, that was one goal I could achieve! 

I earned those 100 lessons and now I help others learn. Sales managers, keep teaching the hard skills required for sales success. But also teach about resiliency. It will get your team across the finish line.

Go Broncos!    

tags: Colorado Sales Training, sales training, denver sales training, sales management, sales, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, Resiliency, Playbook, Sales Manager
Thu, 01/21/2016

We live in the information age. Salespeople have access to more information than ever to help them succeed, such as webinars, podcasts and a gazillion sales books. So with all this knowledge, why do sales organizations still face the same selling challenges as 20 years ago? Challenges such as:   

  • Gaining access to the decision makers
  • Selling value, not price
  • Writing proposals for unqualified prospects
  • Being in chase mode

Here’s why: Sales managers often work on the wrong end of the problem. To overcome selling challenges, they resort to teaching more hard selling skills. It’s time for a reality check. Most salespeople know what to do. But during tough selling situations, they allow emotions, rather than effective selling and influence skills, to run the sales meeting. It’s the knowing-and-doing gap. 

Every salesperson knows she is supposed to ask questions, listen, provide thoughtful insights and be a trusted advisor. But if she gets in front of a challenging, intimidating prospect, her reptilian brain takes over, and she defaults to fight-or-flight behavior. 

Fight behavior is just what it sounds like. The salesperson gets defensive or nervous. She defaults to a product dump, more commonly known as “show up and throw up.” Or a salesperson can experience a flight response. This is like a scene from the famous sales movie, “Tommy Boy.”  “Okey  dokey. I’m outta here.”  Neither response results in closed business.

Here are three tips to help your sales team members manage their emotions to avoid fight-or-flight responses.

  1.  Get some downtime each day to reflect. What triggers are going to show up today? What response will I choose? 
  2. Name the emotion. When you are getting emotionally charged, the old brain is running the show, not the logical brain. By simply naming the emotion, you gain control. “I am feeling nervous. I am feeling defensive.”
  3. Change your story. Ask yourself this powerful question and apply the EI skill of empathy: “What else is going on? Is the prospect really a jerk or just under a lot of pressure?” Change your story and you will change your emotions, which changes the outcome of the meeting. 

Keep teaching and coaching hard selling skills. Incorporate soft skills into your sales training programs because they help with the execution of hard selling skills.

Join me February 4 for Dave Stein's Sales Executive Series webcast - I will provide more insight on bridging the knowing and doing gap by integrating hard sales skills training and soft skills training.

Good Selling!

tags: denver sales training, sales training, sales, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, EQ, sales management, Denver Sales Management
Fri, 01/8/2016

You’re a top sales producer that has been rewarded with a promotion to sales manager.  You’re excited about the opportunity to grow your leadership skills and help your sales team improve. 

Then reality sets in.  You realize that holding people accountable to sales metrics is difficult.    When asking for reports, you find yourself fielding excuses such as, “Do you want me to sell or generate reports?  I’ve been selling a long time…. don’t need to be micromanaged…”   Or in a one-on-one coaching session, you make great suggestions to improve productivity and sales results.  You get a lot of head nodding and no change.  

It’s time to have the tough love or truth telling conversation.  If not, you’re on your way to creating a mediocre, status quo, don’t rock the boat sales culture.  Many sales managers settle for this type of culture because they are conflict avoidant.  They don’t like having the difficult conversations---who does?  But as a leader, it is part of your role. 

So what can you do to embrace conflict and be a more effective sales manager?    

  1.  Apply a healthy dose of emotional self-awareness.  Schedule time to reflect and ask yourself a few questions:   
  • What makes you think conflict is bad thing?  Change your perspective.  Challenging a salesperson to do better means you care about them--otherwise you’d just let them flounder.   
  • Is your need to be liked greater than your need get sales results? 
  • Do you simply need more formal training and coaching on giving feedback?
  1. Apply a healthy dose of reality testing.  The reality is the most effective sales managers, leaders and coaches stretch their teams.  They teach and instill new habits, thoughts and skills.  

One of my first jobs was in retail, where I was sportswear buyer.  Talk about accountability.  Every day a set of reports would land on my desk informing me of how my merchandise was ‘turning.’  (Or not turning….)

It was not unusual for my boss to come into my office and start drilling me on numbers.   He expected me to know what was selling, what wasn’t selling and my plan to course correct.  By today’s standard, the conversation wouldn’t be regarded as emotionally intelligent because of his demeanor and approach.  However, this tough boss taught me to know my numbers and my business. 

Today, I have a better appreciation for that ‘awful boss” who didn’t avoid conflict.  His high expectations helped me in future positions as a salesperson, sales leader and business owner.   Be that boss and be that sales leader. 

Good Selling!

tags: sales, sales training, sales management, Sales Manager, Emotional Intelligence, colleen stanley, denver sales training
Thu, 12/17/2015

The sales manager is conducting the weekly one-one coaching session with her salesperson.  As they review the sales activity plan, she notices a gaping hole:  the salesperson isn’t asking his best and most satisfied clients for referrals. When pressed, the salesperson replies, “I forgot.” 

This is a good sales manager, so rather than accepting this answer, she redirects the conversation with the powerful question.  “Did you forget or were you uncomfortable?”  

Let’s apply the emotional intelligence skill of reality testing.  Are salespeople really forgetting  to ask their best clients for referrals when this strategy can eliminate cold reach outs, decrease  sales cycles and increase close ratios? It’s time to call this sales behavior, or lack of, what it is.  It’s referral aversion.     

Joanne Black, author of No More Cold Calling, is an expert at helping sales teams build proactive and productive referral strategies. When I interviewed Joanne about salespeople and their reluctance to ask for referrals, she shared great insights into referral aversion. 

“Referral selling is the most personal kind of selling we can do.  Some salespeople feel that asking clients for referrals is pushy and intrusive.  However, the number one reason is salespeople fear hearing no.  The client isn’t satisfied or we said something to upset them.  Rather than face the possibility of a client saying no, salespeople just don’t ask.  The second reason is that asking for referrals is not incorporated into the salesperson’s sales process, so salespeople aren’t sure when to ask.  Often, they wait and wait and then decide it’s too late.”  

Click here to take Joanne's referral quiz

Now, let’s suppose your sales team is asking for referrals but not receiving any introductions. The reason:  your sales team is engaged in ‘drive by’ referrals. Out of the blue, they call clients and ask,   “Bob, who do you know that could use my services?”  The client is not prepared and gives the predictable answer, “Uh, let me get back to you.”   The self-fulfilling prophecy of my clients don’t give me referrals begins.   

Make it a goal to work smarter, not harder in 2016.  Harness the power of client relationships and referrals to accelerate sales. 

Good Selling!

 

 

tags: sales, sales training, denver sales training, colleen stanley, Emotional Intelligence, sales management

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