Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Traits of the bubbly sales rep

I was out on the road doing some field coaching earlier this week with a great sales rep. She was a classic. See if you recognise the type:

  • In her mid to late 30’s
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Bubbly, effervescent and full of NRG
  • Keen to change the world overnight
  • Taking on far too much responsibility
  • Over promising and over servicing clients
  • No idea with time and territory management

From experience these are the reps that will burn out within 18 months at your company. They’ll leave your company and go somewhere else for a:

• Slightly better car,

• Better lap top

• A few extra $’s

18 months later, they’ll be off again.

So, why do you hire them?

1. They interview really well

2. They seem confident and determined to succeed

3. We like their attitude and positive outlook

Top 3 reasons why the bubbly rep won’t last more than 2 years with your company

1. No real process -Sales success is more about following a proven process than it is about having a bubbly personality – give me process over personality every time

2. Shocking self management -The bubbly extrovert often struggles with their self management and wastes enormous amounts of time being in the wrong place at the wrong time (CRMs won’t solve this)

3. Don’t understand relationships -Despite strong first impressions they are not true relationship builders and don’t really understand how a proper commercial relationship works

Who should you hire when looking for great reps?

Glad you asked Steve, as the biggest challenge any sales manger will face is finding great sales people.

My top 7 things to consider when hiring sales people

1. Work out what you want – Finder, Minder or Grinder – This is very important

2. Don’t place too much emphasis on their performance in the interview –it’s of fairly limited value. Dig deeper and look for their values, attitude and beliefs- seek evidence

3. Profile or psych test the sh-t out of them before they start. You wouldn’t spend 50k on a vehicle without a mechanic inspecting it first. Lift up the hood and have a good look at the engine

4. How long have they lasted in previous sales roles – people repeat patterns most of the time- people repeat patterns most of the time – did I just say that?

5. Always be looking for new sales people – if you advertise for a role you’ll attract the gypsies of sales – they are always on the move, they are probably the bottom 20% of the market

6. Allocate sufficient time in their first 3 months for you to be with them. Develop, nurture, coach and guide them when it really matters

7. Trust your gut – My wife is great at this. “I didn’t rate that guy, not sure why, just didn’t like the feel or vibe he gave out”

Your sales conference in the new year

I take a well earned rest from December 18th to January 20th. During this time I’ll be a wrestling referee on most days refereeing daily bouts between my 3 kids.

Tickets are still available if you want to watch.

If you want a hand with your sales conference in the new year please contact me in the next 2 weeks as my diary is filling up quickly for late January, February and March conferences.

I can speak or run sessions on:

  1. What makes a great sales person
  2. What makes a great sales manager
  3. Getting more face to face selling time each selling day
  4. Stop wasting your time with poor collaborators
  5. Adjusting your selling style to match in with your customers
  6. Why setting clearly defined goals is the key to sales success
  7. Is fear holding you back and what to do about it
  8. Selling to different generations – gen X, Y and Baby Boomers

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Please stop them wasting their time

It always amazes me when sales people are trying to win new business how many of them spend so much time selling to the wrong people on an account.

One of the biggest differences I see between the great and the average reps is how they allocate their time.

The average ones spend an enormous amount of time selling to the wrong people.

Just because someone has a certain title it doesn’t mean they have the authority or influence to purchase from you.

There are many great time wasting strategies reps can use but one of the best would have to be spending time selling to someone who has limited influence.

I have seen this time and time again over the years. It’s a complete waste of the sales reps time and your money if you are footing their wages bill.

Try a few of these questions to help work out who’s who in the zoo:

· Pablo, if you were to purchase from us how would you go about making that decision?
· Could we set up a time now for me to meet with the other people who may be involved in deciding? How often (and when) do you get together?
· Julie, can I just ask you, what’s your role in the decision making process?
· How did you organise to purchase from your current provider? Were you part of that process? Remind me again of why you went with them?
· What about Romeo, will he have some say on this or will he be influenced by you?
· How do we go about getting you set up with an account or organising a trial?
· Who else should I speak with about this?
· Why don’t we organise a trial now?

At your next sales meeting ask your reps to explain to you how they know they are selling to the right person on the accounts they are chasing.

Quick checklist for your next sales meeting:

For 5 accounts your team are chasing ask them these beauties:

1. How do they know they are selling to the right person / people?
2. Who else have they met with on the account?
3. How much influence does the person they are selling to have?
4. Who else could have some involvement in making the decision to go with us?
5. Has the person they are selling to boss met you? Why not?
6. Why haven’t they met other people on the account?
7. When will they present to the others who may be involved?
8. Why are they waiting for them to get back in touch with us?
9. What should we do next?

Leave your car keys and lap top with me as you leave today

When your reps give you that nonsense that they don’t want to tread on the person they are selling to toes, politely ask them to leave their keys and lap top with you as they leave the building.

Give them the name of a good recruiter or your competitors details. This is a lame excuse for not being hungry enough for the business.

There are plenty of ways of dealing with this as I’m sure you have told them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Can Linkedin really win you new clients?

Paul was asking in a Linkedin group about ideas on how to best use Linkedin.

Here's what I suggested.

The challenge of using Linkedin as a networking tool to grow your business is a complex one.

I have always found that it takes time to establish mutually beneficial commercial (and personal) relationships.

I see people looking for rapid results with Linkedin.

I suggest to paul try a few of these ideas:

1. Focus on what you can give rather than take. What books do you suggest? Which service providers would you recommend? What did you learn this week?

2. Be active with your network. Communicate ideas of value on a regular basis without becoming a stalker.

3. Pick up the phone or go and have a coffee with some of your best contacts. One face to to face meting is better than 20 emails or blog posts in my opinion.

4. Add your blog to your profile and blog about ideas (regularly) that would would be of interest to your network.

5. Think deeper rather than wider with relationships. Focus on your best 10 contacts and invest in those as opposed to having 986 fairly meaningless Linkedin connections.

Good luck. Be patient.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Selling in the year of the shrinking budget

1% of something is better than 100% of nothing

Have you or your team heard these a few times this year

  • We are holding off on this until the market picks up
  • This has been a tough year so we aren't spending
  • Our budget has been slashed
  • We'd love to go ahead but we wont be able to get the job approved
  • Can we postpone this purchase until next year?
  • We've got a freeze on non essential spending this year
To succeed in selling in 2009 you must develop strategies for dealing with these.

I'm not denying that some of these are not genuine.

A lot of the time you here these objections (lets call them excuses) because you have failed to sell in enough value.

I'd say get hungry and work hard to bring forward the purchase. The longer you leave it, the more likely it is you'll end up with nothing at all.

Do you really understand their needs?

Do you really understand their decision making process?

Do you understand their current process, issues, agendas, the roles of the people you are selling to?

As great sales people know you can normally predict (With about 90% accuracy) what a prospect will say when you are pitching to them.

Be prepared for the above by trying some of these:
  • " That's OK, lets process an order now and we will invoice you next quarter "
  • " Fine, lets break down the payments into bite size pieces"
  • " How much , realistically do you think you can access at this point in time?"
  • " What do you suggest is a way of bringing this purchase forward?"
  • " With what you have to spend, lets look at still providing you with a short term solution "
  • " Lets look at a solution that costs you 30% less and still can assist you"
  • "If you had the money, from what you've seen from me, what would you spend it on?"
Practice these responses at your next sales meeting. Modify them to suit your business.

Get hungry. As Billy Joel says, " Don't let a good thing slip away "

Sunday, August 23, 2009

You have to be cruel to be kind

Have you ever noticed that it’s the poor sales reps that cause you so many headaches?

13 of my favourite excuses from poor performing sales reps

Poor reps develop a pretty good list for why they are not hitting their numbers.

See if you recognise any of these:

1. Personal or family health issues
2. Our price is too high
3. The market has changed
4. The GFC has kicked in and people are holding off their purchasing decisions
5. Those customers are going through a restructure at the moment
6. It’s hard to get appointments at the moment, everyone’s too busy
7. The leads I’m getting from telesales / telemarketing are rubbish
8. The decision maker is not available every time I call
9. I’m waiting on marketing to provide me with more materials
10. I’m still waiting to hear back from them
11. I don’t want to hassle them
12. They are happy with who they currently use
13. This is a poor territory that hasn’t been properly looked after for a long, long time

4 groups you should spend more time with

I think the hardest decision you make as a sales manager each day is how to allocate your time.

Your NRG vampires will drain you. Spend a lot less time with them.

Remember the song by Nick Lowe – Cruel to be kind.

It may be cruel, but really aren’t you just being kind, if you ignore them.

You are helping them to accelerate their career development. Ideally working for your best competitor.

Hang them out to dry. If they really want to be successful they’ll lift.

If you spend too much time with them you’ll run out of NRG pretty quickly.

I suggest spend more time with these groups:

1. Your best performers – Convert them from Good to Great

2. Reps who have the right attitude, a willingness to learn, but may be lacking in the skills

3. Potential reps for your team – Go and have a coffee with someone you’d like to have joining your team

4. Your customers – ideally whilst you are out on the road, coaching your best reps and your emerging stars

So before you leave today, organise to double your coaching with your best 3 performers and half your coaching with your duds over the next month.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting back in front of your clients

Ruth set up over 100 appointments last month.

This is a great effort and shows what can be done when you get focused on what you want. She's also a credit to New Zealand. She beat all the Aussies she was up against.

She won a Borders voucher from NRG Solutions for being the best performer.

I love a good contest for sales people.

Ruth works as an area sales manager for adventure travel company Kumuka.

She knows she needs to be in front of as many of her clients as possible each week.

The challenge for Ruth and her team is when she calls to set up appointments , her clients often say

" There's no need to see me this month, we're OK at the moment ."

Like any great sales person you need to be creative to get back in front of your clients:

9 ideas for getting back in front of your clients

1. We have something new that I have to show you. It's amazing
2. I'd love your feedback on something
3. My turn to buy you lunch / coffee / breakfast
4. I have a referral opportunity for you we should discuss
5. I left my wallet in your office last week (the George Costanza technique)
6. I haven't met your new staff member yet and want to train them / show them
7. I want to discuss a joint promotion with you and get your thoughts about it
8. My new boss would like to meet you - He's single and very good looking
9. I'd like to do a proper price comparison with you, it's easier to explain this face to face

What's your best tactic for getting back in front of existing contacts?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sales Management

How much time are you spending searching for great people?
I went to a talk last week about leadership in business. The piece of content that really caught my ear was around great sales managers and what they are always doing.
The success of your business is all around getting the right people. We all know this, yet how much time are you spending working on finding them?
A couple of the key take aways for me were:
1. View recruitment as a process not a transaction. As a sales manager, you need to be constantly searching for great people. Find them, wine them and dine them. Stick with them. Let them know you want them on your team. Finding great people takes time. Build your network and allocate time for ongoing recruitment.
2. The poor performers (in sales) are always scanning the job ads. The good performers are not actively looking. You need to get active to get to them.
3. Build a culture that will attract great people to your team. If you think you have a great culture now, ask yourself why more people aren't ringing you up to join your team?
4. Keep coaching them once they come on board. The best way to keep your best people is to invest in them. Watch what happens to them as you invest your efforts in to them. The returns can be amazing.
Have a look here for some of my favourite questions an MD should be asking their sales managers.

Coaching speakers for conferences

The actor Michael Caine was once asked by Michael Parkinson who have been some of the toughest competitors he has faced throughout his career? His answer was:

" You don't compete with your peers, you only compete with yourself. You have to ask yourself did I do it better than last time?"

Nothing could be truer in the world of corporate speaking.

Earlier this week Melony and I completed our speaker coaching program for the Microsoft tech Ed speakers.

Webinar to kick off the coaching

The program kicked off a few weeks ago with a short sharp webinar for the speakers. This helped the speakers get a better understanding of how we can best assist them.

The webinar included content on:

Structuring a presentation

Handling questions

Telling effective stories

Maintaining audience engagement

Personal delivery skills

Building effective slides

As the coaches Mel and I needed to ensure that we allowed each individual to really fulfill their potential. Remove any roadblocks that may be restricting them as speakers.

What we asked the speakers to focus on:

There were a few key take away messages from the speaker coaching program this year. We really put the onus on the speakers to work hard at:

  • Using real stories from their own experiences to highlight their messages
  • Providing evidence or proof that their ideas will have traction
  • Inspiring their audiences to take the next step and find out more
  • Looking out for props to use to illustrate their points
  • Engaging their audience with a powerful hook and some compelling reasons to tune in
  • Thinking about the types of questions they could receive and preparing appropriate answers
  • Letting their natural style flow through their presentation
  • Packaging their content in an engaging and free flowing fashion
  • Having a clear and well thought out call to action or next steps
  • Using humour at appropriate times

Some of my thoughts on coaching

The more I coach experienced speakers the more I realise a lot of your success is about getting out of the way of the speaker.

Asking them a range of questions can help them to identify for themselves what would work best for them.

There is no right way or wrong way to deliver a presentation. You just have to ask yourself are you really giving it your best shot?

An effective coach will help a speaker to consider other options and provide effective and timely feedback to them.

One of the key skills in coaching speakers is in adapting your coaching style according to whom you are coaching.

The GROW coaching model

I like to use the GROW model in coaching sessions. In fact I love it.

This is a way of asking the coachee a series of questions.

G = Goal - What are you hoping to get out of this session?
R = Reality - Where are you placed at the moment?How much work have you already done?
O = Options - What are some options we should consider?
W = What next - What are the next steps between now and your presentation?

To get a better understanding of coaching please click here.

Click here to see my top 10 tips for delivering great presentations

One tip for better coaching

To become better at coaching you need to coach, a lot.

If there is one tip I could give to most coaches, it would be this.

" Ask more questions and listen more effectively "

As Michael Caine suggests the real battle for speakers is more with themselves than it is with their peers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Laser like focus or should you take more shots?

To survive as a sales professional in a tough economy you have to decide which way to go?

On the one hand you can argue a case that you should chase down more opportunities because the economy is slower. Widen the top of your sales funnel to ensure you end up with at least the same results as last year. Make more calls, do more meetings, ask for more referrals. Less will be converted, so more shots will help you hit your numbers.

On the other hand it can be argued that you should sharpen your focus. Spend more time working on the opportunities that are most likely to be converted. Be like Bruce Lee. Have laser like focus. Hone in on your very best opportunities and don't waste your valuable time chasing low probability deals.

I guess it depends on what your selling and to whom.

Whatever you do , don't waste your selling time on opportunities you are unlikely to convert. Use your radar and intuition to be in the right place at the right time.

Neil Rackham, author of the famous book SPIN selling favours laser like focus.

Hear and see him in action here

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Structuring your presentations

When you listen to the news they use a standard formula.

Start: Headlines that capture your interest
Middle: Meat on the bones of the headlines
End: Recapping the main points again

When you are structuring a presentation you can apply a similar formula.


Grab your audience at the start by letting them know what's in it for them. Remember it's not about you, it's all about them. You have to know your audience to be successful as a presenter.Let them know who you are and find a way of building rapport with them. People tend to be more easily influenced by people who are like them. Build common ground. Reduce difference. Get them enthusiastic about what you will be covering.


Let them know how long you will be presenting for and what you will be covering. You might suggest they hold their questions until the end as well. Suggest people turn off their phones. Let them know you will email through a copy of your slides to anyone who may want them.

Then tell them a great story that is relevant and linked to your content.

Present your content in the best order for your audience. 3 key messages is normally enough. Go with your best piece of content first. You decide the best way to structure your messages. Use examples, quotes, simple graphs, great images. Tell real stories.

Summarise and draw it all together. Handle the questions beautifully.

Finally recommend the next steps. When, how, who. Show of hands? Who's in? Who needs a bit more time?

Thank them for their time and their feedback.

So just recapping the main points again.

When you present, have a strong beginning that engages your audience, a clear middle that outlines your points and arguments and a great ending leading to actions.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Doing business with people of influence in your community?

I was having lunch with an old friend yesterday. He has recently commenced business as a mortgage broker. It's a tough market to get started in.

We got talking about how he could grow his network and referral base. We started discussing all the people in his local community he is doing business with on a regular basis.

This list quickly grew to include:

  • The bottle shop
  • The service (petrol) station
  • His mechanic
  • His wife's mechanic (the cheaper one)
  • The corner store
  • The local cafe
  • The local bank
  • His Hairdresser
  • His Accountant

Most of these people don't know what he does for a living.

A few things crossed my mind.

1. You can't sell a secret

2. Most people like to do business with people they like and trust

3. Start developing relationships with these people / local suppliers

4. Most people working within a community like recommending other people within a community to do business with.

Community is king in tough economic times. Focus on your local community. Support your suppliers.

Don't forget to let them know what you do for a living. You might also inform them that most of your business comes from referrals from within your community.

Developing relationships takes time. Start off by spending time with the people you want to develop relationships with.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sales pipelines - Plugging your leaks

I was doing some work last week with a team who are not very good at following up on opportunities that are in their sales pipeline. This is costing them thousands of $'s every month in missed commissions

Sales Managers love looking at pipelines. They think this helps them to predict what may be coming up in future business.

Of equal importance to what is going in to your pipeline is how are you plugging your pipe for leaks?

Stop the pipe from leaking

If you want to plug your leaks you need discipline and strong follow up systems. In Business to Business selling today's sale is based on your activity levels over the past 3-6 months.

The best sales people I work with have high activity levels, but more importantly they are great at plugging leaks. They know:

  • Who to follow up with
  • How to ensure they dont forget to follow up at the right time
  • How to position their follow up meeting, call, SMS, twitter or email
  • When to follow up
If you want to more successful in sales I suggest double your follow up efforts. It doesn't matter what system you use, as long as it works.

Double your follow up and I predict you'll half the number of leaks in your pipe.

Each day I suggest you should aim for 10 people you can be following up with. These should be in your CRM, diary , notebook, blackberry or whatever you use to track your movements.

Jeffrey Gitomer knows a bit about all of this. Check him out here:

Monday, March 23, 2009

Presentation Skills - Answering questions

Watch how skilled presenters answer questions

"I can't really comment on that , but what I can say is this.... "

Have you ever noticed how experienced presenters can effortlessly glide from the question to the answer?

It's like watching a bird land on a skinny branch. Something appearing complicated and threatening made to look effortless.

What experienced presenters do is utilise a variety of techniques to make the complex seem simple. You can try them.

These include:

Be clear on what you want to say prior to be asked questions. Use transitions to get you out of any tight spot. "I'd love to comment on that, but in fact what I really want to stress is this..."


"I can't totally agree with that comment but what I can say is this....."

Allow time to let the question land (say 2 seconds) . Accept the question non verbally (head nodding, smiling) and then verbally.

"Thanks for that question Julie, it's something that often comes up when I present on this topic"

Repeat or rephrase the question if need be to allow you time to gather your thoughts.

Answer the question, use someone else in the room to answer it or defer the answer depending on the circumstances.

Above all else , stay calm and relaxed. You only have to look at a presenter to tell if they know their stuff.

Keep your answers relatively brief and prepare for the types of questions you could receive and some potential answers prior to any presentation you give.

Oh, one final thought. If you don't know the answer, mention that you need to look into that and will come back to them. It isn't a crime not to know everything about a topic.

Check out this article for some more tips on presenting and how to persuade an audience.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Does sales training work?

How do you know if sales training will work?

Why do companies invest so much money in something that can be so difficult to measure?

What proof really exists that it will work?

The above 3 questions are not easy to answer. I often say to my clients if you were a racehorse trainer and had 10 horses to train how would you decide to invest your time and money? Would you allocate 10% of your time to each horse or would it be better to allocate the majority of your time to the top 2 or 3? Maybe get rid of the non performers or send them off to the fair ground to give pony rides to little children.

What to consider when developing sales people

  • Positive Attitude
  • History of embracing new ideas
  • Willingness to learn
  • Can handle rejection
  • Strong desire to succeed for a variety of reasons (cash flow / debt / status / ego )
  • Proof that they are adopting the changes you are working on
  • Results - How long do you give them before you let them go?

For more on high performing sales people and the importance of handling rejection click here

What do you think about sales training? Do you think it can make a difference?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The problem with vested interest

If a person who provides financial advice for a living is telling you it would be a good idea for you to meet with them to discuss your financial situation, should you meet with them?

What about a Real Estate agent mentioning that now is a good time to be looking at selling your home?

Or how about the stock broker who is happy to inform us the market has bottomed out and there are great bargains to be had?

The issue of vested interest always puzzles me. The question is, are you really interested in me and my needs or are you more interested in what you have to sell me?

At NRG Solutions we sell Corporate Training Solutions to our clients. I could tell everyone now is the best time to be investing in their staff because:

  1. To have the edge on your competitors it's critical to develop and motivate your people in a slowing economy.
  2. Morale may be low and the best way to get people focused is to show them they matter by investing in them.
  3. There are great opportunities in this market to win new business as so many companies look to trim costs. Your people need to capitalise on these opportunities and need the skills and the hunger to go out and be effective .

You probably wouldn't believe me because I have a vested interest in the outcome.

So what, I hear you say and how do I get around this?

Get people who don't have a vested interest to make the recommendations and watch what happens to your business.

How do you get that to happen? Try hard work, great results and a focus on fulfilling other peoples needs.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Free sunscreen for every home in Australia

Why isn't an allocation of free sunscreen provided to every home in Australia every summer?

( We receive the Yellow Pages every year and never request them. )

I know that people may choose not to apply the sunscreen, but surely it would reduce the chances of people going unprotected in the sun.

Whilst I'm at it, shouldn't local councils employ people to walk up and down the beaches and offer sunscreen to any one who wants it?

Health care costs would surely be reduced in the long term with a proactive approach to skin cancer as opposed to knee jerk reactions.

If you have an answer to the above let me know.

What else do you think should be provided free to every family every year?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Are you successful?

Why are some blogs more successful than others?

I read Seth Goddins blog most days and like it for 4 reasons.

  1. He challenges me to think about how I interact with my customers
  2. He uses normal language not business jargon
  3. He is a marketer with a proven track record
  4. He is a business owner and so am I

One of my goals this year is to expand my blog readership.

This is no easy task. What do you, as the reader want to read?

Most of my work involves helping people to have a decent crack at something. I speak and coach people about sales , leadership and presenting. These are very broad subjects.

What I'm most interested in is why do some people have more of a go than others?

There are rarely short cuts to success in life.

I just read Malcolm Gladwells latest offering, Outliers. He looks for patterns in successful people.

You wont be suprised to find out that he discovered:

The environment you grew up in; A degree of luck; and persistence are all key ingredients.

What motivates you to surf the net, read blogs, go to work etc?

Why are you so successful or for that matter unsuccessful?