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.
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.
Years ago, I was introduced to a concept that I found really helpful in the management and motivation of my sales team, and then as my responsibilities grew, I found it was beneficial to the entire company. It was called “Good News Friday.”
The idea is that each Friday the team would jump on a call and share the best news of the week. The top performers loved to share the business they had won during the week, opportunities that were advancing, and news about new prospects. We did it in such a way that it wasn’t boasting or bragging, it was done to help inspire others.
Those who were not performing as they needed to be, both from a personal or company perspective, began amplifying their sales game. No one wanted to show up without something good to report, so they worked hard to make sure that they could participate on “Good News Friday” with everyone else and feel good about what they shared. And everyone knew that they would be called out by peers if they were fabricating their story or results.
After a while, I changed it up a bit. “Good News Friday” was still going on in each team or department, but what I added was asking different individuals who needed a little boost to join me on another quick call on Mondays. During this call, I asked each person what they thought the one thing that they could do, and were in control of, that they could look back on Friday and claim the week was a sales success.
Even top performers who were in a bit of a slump found this helpful.
Is it a simple approach? Yes. Are others doing it? I hope so. Are they doing it and seeing better results? If they are doing it right. Here is what I mean by doing it right. The goal here is not to ‘tell’ our salespeople what to do during these calls, that guidance comes as part of our coaching and mentoring. The Monday calls were asking each team member what they thought would define their sales success for the week. They needed to own that. My job was to talk them through it and ask clarifying questions so that we both understood the expectation and the metric we would use for achieving a successful sales week.
This had to be something that they could be proud to share with their teammates and their manager. No fluff, no easy tasks, no ‘get-out-of-jail’ free cards. It had to be quantifiable achievements, specific activities, and results-oriented. As this practice became repeatable, instead of fearing “Good News Friday,” they couldn’t wait to participate and get their turn on the call.
Final Thoughts: Just as a reminder, sales leadership and sales managers would do well to take off the superhero cape and not jump in to rescue their salespeople. Make it about them. Use the word “You” instead of “I” or “Me.” Resist the urge to retell your own triumphs and successes. They already know you are the boss and how you got there. Make this about them and watch them grow, claiming sales success and earning an income that they may have never dreamed possible.
When it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In school, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play, and being “nice” to them. In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends…not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who care about you.
There is a feature in a local newspaper where readers are invited to review their favorite restaurant. The articles are wonderful publicity for the restaurants. One of the key elements I see repeated is that patrons know the names of the owners, hosts and/or servers. And, many of the restaurant workers know something about them as well. They know if the guests prefer coffee or tea with breakfast. They may even remember their favorite meal, asking if they want “the usual.”
Put yourself in the seats of those guests for a moment. How would it make you feel to have your favorites automatically placed before you without having to explain your preferences? It would make you feel at home or as if you’re at the home of a good friend…someone who knows you well and wants you to have what you want. That type of response is the ideal when it comes to serving your clients’ needs and it can be created no matter what your product or service is.
You may think you’re in the business of selling automotive services, home remodeling or repairs, printing services, financial services, tutoring or signage, but you’re not. Even if your products are sold only to other businesses, the business doesn’t make the buying decision. A person does. You are in the people business. Learning to make people feel important and cared about will help you make both the initial sale and long-term sales over the course of your career.
Maybe you sell tires, not breakfast. Even so, you should introduce yourself to each client and give your name. Use your clients’ names in conversation during the sales process. Inquire about the use of the vehicle. Does the client have young children or a teenage driver? If so, safety will be an important issue to discuss with them. Do they have a home where some off-road driving is involved? Or, do they travel for business and need highway tires? All of these answers help you lead them to the best choice for them. Keeping a record of their answers will help you build long-term relationships.
No matter what your business is, every client should receive your best care during the sales process and after. During the initial sale, get them talking and take good notes. Enter the information into your client database. My colleague Harvey Mackay has a long list of details he requires his salespeople to gather about clients over time. This includes not just information required to do business, but a few personal details such as birthdays, whether or not they’re married, children’s names, and whether or not they have pets. That information is used to make contacts and to start conversations with clients after the initial sale.
People like to do business with people who are like them, who demonstrate that they care about them beyond making the sale, and who keep them in mind when something new that might be of interest to them comes along. That type of treatment makes clients feel important. They come to rely on businesses and salespeople they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart.
Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.
There is a popular statement among business professionals, owners, and salespeople, and it is based on the book by Rick Page titled “Hope is Not a Strategy.” In this context, hoping to grow our business or hoping that we will make a sale without a solid strategic and tactical plan is true.
Hope is not a strategy.
However, there are times where hope is the absolute best strategy and approach. The business owner without hope to better serve their customers or community will settle for the low-hanging fruit and more than likely accept mediocrity from themselves, their employees, and the products or services they provide. The salesperson who only focuses on making a deal, with no focus on developing winning relationships is likely operating without the proper context of hope. Hope in business and in selling eliminates a “One and Done” or “One Hit Wonder” mentality.
Conversely, the business owner, the salesperson, and each one of us who has hope, works with hope, and lives with hope, is more likely to move from the simple practice of “hoping” and into the planning, doing, and achievement required to reach our dreams and goals. Hope drives change. Hope adds the “will” to our “skill.” Hope powered by encouragement creates a completely different mindset…
You may have had the perfect meal recently, accompanied by a perfect bottle of wine. Maybe you had a perfect tee shot, driving it dead center in the middle of the fairway. Or maybe you had the perfect start of your day with time spent reading, exercising, and a healthy breakfast. But have you ever met a perfect person?
I don’t mean the perfect person for you; many have met their soulmate in life. And I don’t mean the perfect person to help you out when you needed it, like the perfect friend.
What I am asking is, have you ever met a perfect person?
A person who is perfect in every way. There is not a blemish to be found on them or in them. They are never wrong. They have never made a mistake. They have never had a bad day or created a bad experience for anyone. They practically walk on water. Oh, well there was that one perfect guy who walked on water. But since then, who?
Like me, who is far from perfect, I am sure you have met a few folks along the way who believe that they are perfect in every way. When they are wrong, it’s usually someone else’s fault. When they are right, they are really right. And they usually prefer to keep company with friends who they believe are less than perfect, just to maintain an air of superiority. Believe it or not, some of those perfect people who are without fault even judge the rest of us at times.
Before we completely turn the page and allow last week’s Thanksgiving holiday to pass us by, I wanted to take a moment to thank every one of you who have done your very best to truly focus on what you have been most grateful for this past year.
You may not think it matters, but I can assure you that your sense of gratitude and appreciation never goes unnoticed.
And as we roll into the new year, I firmly believe that it is our gratitude and appreciation for the three C’s that may still be ahead of us —
Challenges, Chaos, and Confusion —
That will make the difference. I know that these don’t sound like “Winning Words,” but they are, and let me explain and why I see them as game-changers.
If we had to list all the challenges or difficulties that we have witnessed or that we are experiencing personally, we would have a very lengthy list. Collectively the list would seem insurmountable. So why would I intimate that a challenge is something we should be grateful for? It’s because in every challenge we see someone who emerges and goes out of their way to help someone else. We see people sharing God’s love, pursuing God’s will, doing God’s work, and doing it for all of God’s people…
One question that I seem to be getting more of these days is around motivation. Not only are people asking how to get motivated, but they are also asking how they can stay motivated.
People often say that motivation doesn’t really last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily. – Zig Ziglar
Ziglar certainly knew a lot about how to motivate us and more importantly how to keep us motivated. And he would also be the first one to remind us that motivation is temporary unless it is coupled with action. It is one thing to be motivated about setting a goal or getting inspired by the thought of a new project, and it is something completely different in taking the actions necessary to achieve our goals or complete our projects.
Sometimes we can use a motivated mindset as the spark that leads us to take the actions necessary for our productivity or success.
For some of us, this is how we are wired. When we are feeling good and life is better than good, finding sources of motivation is easy, our creativity is inspired, we are filled with hope, and we end up crushing our tasks and to-do lists. When we are feeling motivated, we may exercise a little longer and push a little harder.
When we are feeling motivated, we may make better choices in what we do, what we eat, and how we treat our bodies.
But what happens when we aren’t feeling so good, or when life isn’t going quite the way we want it to be going? What happens when we really don’t feel like exercising, going to work, or staying on our eating plan?
Sometimes it is the current or the wave that gets all the attention, but maybe we can first begin by talking about the pebble and the ripple, and even our own role as either one in the creation of those rippling waters, currents, and waves.
As we do, there are a few things about being the pebble or the ripple that we should keep in mind.
The first is that there are times where we can be both, making our initial splash or point, and then doing our best to perpetuate a shared feeling or message.
The second thing to consider is that both the pebble and the ripple can either be positively charged or negatively driven.
And lastly, most times the pebbles that generate the biggest ripples are the same ones that carry the message the farthest and have the greatest impact.
Some throw pebbles of negativity, trying to do as much damage to the calm of the water as possible without a care for the lingering effect those ripples may have on anything or anyone in their path. Others cast pebbles with a clear sense of purpose and desired outcome…
In the words of Forrest Gump:
My mom always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
The one thing that separates a good movie or mystery from a great movie or mystery is the element of suspense and surprise. As each story plays out, what will happen next will keep us on the edge of our seats, perhaps shock or scare us, make us laugh, and hopefully astonish us in a good way.
It’s when what happens next is completely expected that leaves us feeling a bit disappointed.
I find that most of us who really enjoy mysteries and thrillers look forward to the unexpected outcome, and the twists and turns of a book, television series, movie, game, or competition of any kind. It’s when we already can predict or even see what happens next that we lose interest.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. And although there are many of us who really enjoy a great mystery, there are many more of us who need to know the plot, the players, the situation, and an ending that they had already figured out, or probably at least anticipated. Previously, we might have known the camp that we fell into; those who love a good mystery or those who really need to know what’s happening next.
However, this year has given us all a reason to try and get ahead of what happens next, wanting to know what we should expect and when we should expect it…