Posts by Michael Norton
Our Brand is More Than Just the Logo on our Shirt
The other day, a teenager was approaching me wearing a black concert T-shirt with an image of Led Zeppelin on the front, and the year 1977. He happened to stop right in front of me to wait for traffic to stop so he could cross the street. So, I made a comment letting him know I liked the T-shirt and shared that I had seen Led Zeppelin perform in 1977 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The young man’s face lit up as he told me that it was his dad’s favorite band and how his dad had seen the concert in New York City as well. He also shared that he and his dad bonded over music and how much appreciation he had for classic rock.
Suddenly, I was noticing the words, logos and images on the people I saw walking through the streets, airports and shops. As I was waiting to pay for a parking space, the woman in front of me turned around and she had the word “Empowered” on her shirt. I took the leap and asked her what the shirt was about. She shared that she was at a conference recently for her company and that the word “Empowered” was the theme for their event. And that it was one of her very favorite words. It’s one of mine too.
Many years ago, I happened to be traveling back from an event in Las Vegas. I was representing Zig Ziglar at that conference and I was wearing the Ziglar logo on my dress shirt. There was a glitch somewhere in the system that created a problem for many travelers, me included. The line began to get agitated, and frustration boiled over…
Recognition Begins with Appreciation
The business operates seven days a week in the summer months. Some days are busier than others, with customers waiting in line. Most wait patiently while others, well … not so much.
Inventories can run low and sometimes be out of stock. The point-of-sale system is usually working properly, but sometimes it needs a little troubleshooting. Not to mention the cleaning, maintenance and routine chores that must be tended to daily that are required to keep the business running properly and ensuring amazing customer service.
Observing this team of overachievers, I was super impressed. They worked well together, smiled while they worked, took a genuine interest in their customers and created a wow experience for everyone they served. Many times, I saw them go above and beyond in the way of customer care. They worked in harmony to get the job done. It was a sense of teamwork rarely displayed in even the best of corporate environments.
As in any business, shifts need to be changed and covered; illnesses happen, family vacations are planned and unexpected events can disrupt even the tightest schedules. The team came up with a system to make sure that all shifts would be covered, and although it came close a few times, they never found themselves short-staffed…
Unexpected Advice: Shrug it Off
A friend of mine has spent most of his life in a gym. He has gone from body building to power lifting and then back to body building. He is now in maintenance mode like many his age.
But even now, his shoulders are still very broad and sculpted. When I asked him what he has done over all these years to get that kind of definition and maintain it, he shared this, “I shrug it off.”
At first, I looked at him a bit puzzled. When I asked him to share more about, shrugging it off, and what that meant, I found his answer and philosophy interesting and worth sharing.
Since we were talking about shoulders and working out, I had assumed he meant that he did an exercise known as shoulder shrugs. This is an exercise where we pick up a barbell or dumbbells and raise our shoulders using only our shoulder muscles and not our arms. The move is basically exactly how it is stated, we shrug our shoulders.
He shared that he has always done a lot of shoulder shrugs over the years, and he was very committed to working through several exercises that developed his neck, shoulders and back.
But then he shared something that he believed was necessary to provide his muscles the room to grow and become more defined, and that was equally, if not more important, than working out. He created the “space” in his body by removing the tension and stress that was holding him back. He shrugged them off…
A Healthy Self Image: The Best Sales Training You Can Give or Get
If there was a better and faster way to achieve sales results, you would want to know about it, wouldn’t you?
So, you’ve invested more money in sales training recently and still only see marginal improvement, or maybe even no discernable changes whatsoever. New sales hires come through the onboarding program, but somehow the majority wash out or turnover within the first six months. This has always been a very dangerous and expensive game to play.
There has to be a better way.
Within the past 18 months, your strategy might have been to refocus the training initiatives around remote or virtual selling. As outside sellers became inside sellers, the transition should have been easy enough. I mean really, all we had to do was give them some quick lessons on how to engage, and follow the sales process during a virtual sales call, not unlike what they did when they were visiting customers and meeting new prospects in person. Simple stuff, right?
There must be a more productive approach.
Well, if our new hire onboarding program isn’t accelerating sales success, and our approach to retraining our existing sales force the nuances of selling virtually hasn’t yielded the results we are looking for yet, surely the answer can be found in technology. Let’s evaluate our tech stack, invest in the newest, latest, and greatest apps and tools that will help us transform maybe even automate the way we sell while taking some pressure of the sales organization.
There has to be an app for this.
Not sure if this idea will work for you or your team, but if you will give this blog just a little bit longer of a read, this may just be something that you can tap into to achieve the results you have been striving for. Even if you are already exceeding your numbers, you may want to consider the following recommendation to ensure future success as well.
If there was a better and faster way to achieve sales results, you would want to know about it, wouldn’t you? The answer is yes, I’ll help you with the tough ones.
We build better businesses when we build better people. We build better sales organizations by building better salespeople. So instead of taking an extremely bright college graduate and destroying what otherwise would have been a bright and stellar sales career by introducing them to a sales process that won’t make much sense immediately, make the investment in the person first to make sure they are prepared for adversity, rejection, objections, change, and pressure of working towards quota attainment. Instead of trying to teach even your most seasoned and successful salespeople how to sell remotely or virtually, try equipping them mentally and emotionally with ways to handle the changing sales landscape.
They have the relationships. They know the products, services, and solutions better than anyone. But a change has happened, being tech-savvy and data-driven are now vital to sales success. If this is new to them, shoving it down their throat is not the answer. And I am not talking about coddling them either. What I am recommending is finding the best personal and professional development program that you can that will prepare the new hire, the seasoned professional, and everyone in between work in the most productive mindset possible.
This is your game changer that the competition will miss as they continue cycling through sales process training first.
Now you may be thinking that no one ever did this for you. No, you had to learn the hard way. You cold-called your way through your early career and have the bloody noses, worn out soles on your shoes, and the bumps and bruises that came with going through the sales school of hard knocks. If you could do it, today’s salespeople can and should do it too.
“What got you here won’t get you there.”– Marshall Goldsmith
If a performance development change is needed in your sales organization, you can try researching sales training providers, or maybe call one of them that you had worked with in the past to deliver some sales process training. Or, you could take the time to write a lengthy RFP, invite training providers to participate, assemble a committee to review the responses, invite three or four companies to present their content and facilitators, short list that down to two companies, invite your team back together to select the winner, negotiate and execute the agreement, and then after several months have passed, and the team that needed the most training has turned over again, you can deliver a program that is no longer relevant, if it was ever even really relevant at all.
Or… you could choose the best sales development program that is not really classified as a “sales training” program at all. You could choose to work with a partner to implement a program that has the potential to develop everyone in your organization, and I mean everyone from leadership on down the line. It should be a program that focuses on the people, the most important asset within your company. The content should focus on:
- Building a Healthy Self Image
- Developing and Maintaining a Positive Attitude
- How to Build Winning Relationships at Home and at Work
- Goal Setting and Achievement (Perhaps you can call this Quota Setting and Achievement)
- Creating an Atmosphere and Culture of Hope
Hope? Did he just say hope? Hope is not a strategy. You almost had me, right up until that last bullet point. I mean hope, really?
Yes, hope, I said it for real. Every single person in your organization has hope for something, good family relations, friends, a good social life, to earn a solid income, to be reasonably prosperous, a healthy and happy retirement, happy and healthy children and grandchildren, to go on vacation, to become debt free, etc., you get the point. And yes, everything here requires a strategy too, but when hope is born, potential becomes limitless, dreams can become realities, and sales quotas are crushed.
“Hope is the foundational quality of all change, and encouragement is the fuel which keeps hope alive.”– Zig Ziglar
Hope fuels passion, passion drives purpose, purpose ignites performance, and inspired performance leads to results. We all have hope, and we all want results. It’s really that simple. If you want to build a better team, a better business, a better school, a better community, a better home, work on building the people and watch as the results you achieve are far greater than you have ever imagined possible.
Anyone Else But Me
You will make a lousy anybody else, but you will be the best ‘you’ in existence.”Zig Ziglar
Many of us daydream or fantasize about being someone else. Did you ever look at someone else’s life and wish that you could have their physique, home, money, car or job? I think at some point in life, maybe we have all entertained thoughts about being someone different or having something that we did not already own.
Some of us may have only had a fleeting moment of daydreaming or fantasizing about this. Others of us may spend way too much time coveting what others have. A few of us may even become consumed with an imaginary life lived as someone else. We drift away, wanting to be anyone else but ourselves, or trade what we have for what other people have.
When I was a kid, we vacationed at the Jersey Shore. It was typically in a very small bungalow with lots of other family members and friends popping in and out during the week. It was cramped, usually just one bathroom, and people sleeping on every bed, couch, cot and surface area of the tiny house. I look back on those weeks with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins and remember them as some of the best vacations of my life. But at the time, I also remember wishing I could be going on the vacations that my friends were going on. Even if they came to the same area, they were staying at a much bigger home or nice hotel.
Did I mention that they had air conditioning in those nicer homes and hotel rooms? Yes, not only did I want to be my friends, but I wanted their air conditioning too. I think “Thou shalt not covet your friend’s air conditioning” may even be a commandment. Still, looking back on it today, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world…
What I Wouldn’t Give for Just Five More Minutes
How many times have we thought, “If I could only do that over again?” Whatever that is, there is always at least one thing, maybe several things, we wish we could take another shot at. There are conversations where we wish we could have said something differently or take back the words we spoke in haste or in an unprepared moment.
Oftentimes the do-over we want has more to do with our desire to do something better while seeking another attempt at fixing any mistake or regretful moment where we may have erred. We seek improvement so that the next time we are faced with the same opportunity or conversation, we handle it better.
Second chances are awesome, third chances are terrific, and fourth chances are tremendously amazing. And for a guy who has had way too many do-overs in life, I am grateful for those multiple chances to get it right.
As life goes on and people come and go in our lives, personally and professionally, and as we lose those we have loved, if we are not careful we may find ourselves saying something like, “What I wouldn’t give for one more day or even to have just five more minutes with that person.” Those are always tough moments as we wish that we would have made more of an effort to see them, spent a few extra minutes each week on the phone with them, or invested the time to listen and learn from them…
Conviction Cures Complacency
As a big believer in the less-is-more approach, I find three-word statements to be powerful in their meaning, easy to remember, and in most cases impactful when applied. “Less is more,” three simple words that when we put them together, make so much sense while keeping us focused.
Other powerful three-word statements such as “I love you,” “I’ve got you,” “You are forgiven” and “Just do it” are motivating and we immediately get their meaning. We can apply them in appropriate situations, both in our personal lives and in our professional work.
The three-word headline of this column is a subject I have been speaking about lately with customers, groups, and even family and friends. And these three words started resonating with me as conversations with people from all walks of life and types of businesses had similar experiences that were either happening within them personally, witnessed in their company, or as a general complaint or observation about the level of service they were receiving. That word is complacency.
If you haven’t experienced this yet yourself, I encourage you to put it to the test. Are you or those around you, those you work with, or the businesses you frequent just going through the motions? Does it feel any different than when we strived for excellence, pursued new goals, or worked hard to create raving fans and loyal customers in the past?…
Managing the Game Clock–A Very Timely Sales Best Practice
Salespeople who understand how to manage the game clock for maximum effectiveness will outsell their competition every time. I had two fantastic experiences this week with sales professionals who displayed excellent management of the game clock, or for our purposes, the sales clock.
Most weeks I have one or two virtual meetings with a salesperson who has a solution that I believe might be of benefit to our company, our partners, or our clients. I love to meet with salespeople, first to see if there is a product or service that can be of benefit, but also to see how people are selling these days.
Things I look for:
- Did they do their homework?
- Are they rushed, moving from one call to the next?
- Are they following a specific sales process or methodology?
- Have they taken the time to dress for success even when working from home?
- Are they in ‘tell’ mode or ‘sell’ mode?
- How are they managing the game clock?
The last one is so very important, at least for me. As someone who is also back-to-back with calls, virtual meetings, writing, and client projects, managing my time is always of critical importance. So, when someone respects my time, they earn my respect in return.
This week I had two virtual sales calls with potential technology providers for our business. Both displayed excellent clock management skills, knowing exactly where we were and when it was time to move the conversation along. They did it with finesse and ease. Not only were they professional in the entire discussion, but both also gave me back 5 minutes in my day.
Although the extra 10 minutes is always helpful, they both did something else that I picked up on. Keep in mind these were two different salespeople representing two different companies. They did give me back 5 minutes, but they had a reason for doing it that wasn’t just a gift for me. They used that 5 minutes to send me the follow up email we had agreed on, which of course included a thank you, as well as the information I had requested.
Yes, managing the sales game clock is something top performers have learned to do a long time ago. However, when I realized that two salespeople in separate conversations executed this move flawlessly, my curiosity was piqued enough for me to call them both back to see if I could confirm my suspicions. And I am happy to report that these two sales professionals were well trained and had developed this sales best practice over time.
They used the five minutes after our call and before their next call to send a follow up email, complete with the information I requested, and they updated their notes and the opportunity in their CRM. Much of this was automated through enabling technologies and the way that their CRM was configured, but they wanted to capture any of the notes and important details about the call and make sure it was accurate. Can we imagine the impact if all of our salespeople diligently followed this best practice?
Final Thoughts: There are many aspects and nuances of managing a sales game clock, just as there are in sports. And like most sports, in addition to the game clock, there is often a play clock that has to be taken into consideration. It is no different in selling. If we allow ourselves to get drawn into irrelevant conversations and rabbit holes, before we know it, we are penalized for delay of game, or the game clock expires with the score in the prospect’s favor. Whether it is a 15-minute introductory call, a sales call scheduled for only 30 minutes, or a longer 60-90 minute call, top-performing salespeople know exactly how to manage each one for maximum productivity for both themselves and their prospects.
Time to Put our Heart Back Into it
“That is the simple secret, always take your heart to work.”Meryl Streep
There are many things that I have enjoyed about my journey through life. And one of those things has been meeting so many people and learning about what they do for a living, what their hobbies are, their family history and where they are from.
Having traveled for most of my career, I have shared many planes, trains and automobiles with people who started out as strangers, but as we parted ways, we separated as friends and connected in some way.
What always stood out to me was the sense of pride, joy and enthusiasm many of the people I met had about their work. I have met software developers working on a unique program to improve disease management, teachers and professors who beamed when talking about their students, doctors, nurses, lawyers, bakers, athletes, actors, taxidermists, salespeople, CEOs, stay-at-home parents and so many others that it is impossible to list them all here.
And as I look back on some incredible memories of my time spent traveling, I am most grateful for the conversations with my seatmates as they shared their passion and heart for the work they did. They always took their heart to work. They went to work with a servant’s heart. They saw themselves as more than an employee, consultant or owner of a company. They saw themselves as being a difference-maker in some way…
Four Keys to Achieving Maximum Results
During a recent webinar I participated in, one of the other guests talked about having a passion for success, a passion for winning, and even a passion for losing. When we succeed and as we win, it becomes very easy to follow the philosophy of “Success begets success,” and “Winning begets winning.”
What about when we lose, or don’t experience the results we are looking for? Is it possible or realistic to have the same level of passion? Does “Losing beget losing?” The answer to both questions is yes.
No one likes to lose, but everyone can learn from losing. And this is where the passion comes in, making it possible for us to see what we could have done better or differently. And when we can tap into our enthusiasm for learning from failing, it becomes much easier to find the passion for losing. Even becoming so passionate about losing that we will try new and different things so that we do not fail again in the same way.
Unfortunately, sometimes losing does beget losing. However, this only happens when we fail to take something away from the loss. If we simply accept defeat and keep doing the same behaviors repeatedly, we will continue to lose.