Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's in your back pack

What’s in your back pack?

Have you seen the movie up in the air?

George Clooney is great as the character Ryan Bingham. As a side to his main role as a corporate terminator he’s a motivational speaker. His talk is titled what’s in your back pack?

I’ve always thought that sales professionals need a tool kit or a back pack with them every day.

Your team are road warriors. Out in the field day after day. Great warriors needs a kit bag full of goodies to ensure they not only survive, but also prosper.

Have you had a good look recently at what they are taking in with them each day to every call? It might be time for a refresh.

What do your team need in their back packs?

Here’s 11 things sales professional should be carrying in their back packs.

1. Ear wax remover. Most sales people should actively listen more. This might help to remind them.
2. Attitude spray. Spray this on the top of your head before you go in to a call. This makes you feel assertive, positive and confident.
3. Ideas box. Always take in at least one fresh idea from the box in to each call. This is very important for existing customers.
4. Bullshit detector. Strap this on to your head. When the customer starts talking switch it on. It helps immensely if you know the people you are trying to do business with are telling the truth. Just make sure the customer doesn’t ask you if they can borrow it when you’re talking.
5. Note book and pen. Last time I checked it helped to write things down when you are with a prospect.
6. Deodorant and mints : If you stink your prospects think your products stink
7. A map of the country of Hungary. It might just help remind them they need to be hungry to be successful.
8. A radar. I talk about great sales people having a sadar. A sales radar. They are in the right place at the right time. Turn your sadar on. Should you really be calling on this customer now?
9. A stopwatch. How much time should I allocate to this call?
10. A diary. Write down the next steps with dates confirmed at the end of the call, in front of the prospect. Avoid ambiguity. Get it in writing. People have a habit of forgetting things.
11. A picture of one of their personal goals. What do they want to achieve this year? New car. New house? New wife? Now stay focussed , get the sale and your one step closer.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The key trait for sales success

The key trait for sales success

I was out for dinner having some noodles last sunday night with family and friends. One of the people I was having dinner with has been tasked with finding 3 sales people to assist her in a new business venture. She asked me how she might identify great sales people.

Now you know as well as me that the average performers are easy to find. How do you really find someone that will make a real difference? I found myself racking my brain. Searching for the one trait that over and above will make the biggest difference to sales success.

I was thinking; confidence, adaptability, interpersonal skills, relationship builders, problem solver, change embracer, etc.

Then it struck me. What really makes the big difference when it comes to success in sales. Just two simple words.

Follow up.

I'm convinced that the high performers have worked out that most things that are being sold will not be purchased right away. No matter who you are selling to and how quickly they make decisions. People need time. They need to discuss with others. Just because you are selling doesn't mean they are ready to buy now.

If you have sales people on your team who know how to follow up properly think about the amount of business they would bring in.

There is a fine line between great follow up and becoming a stalker.

Most sales people who do follow up tend to follow up too soon and with too much eagerness.

Their failure to have a proper follow up plan costs them dearly. They get caught in that dreadful cycle of meaningless call backs and leaving messages that get you nowhere, fast.

So how can your team become better with their follow up skills.

Here's 5 tips.

1. Train them properly in what is great follow up and what is being a pain in the arse!
2. When their successful follow up process wins new business, highlight it to all the team at a sales meeting. Catch them doing things right.
3. Regularly provide with them fresh reasons to be calling their prospects.
4. When you employ new sales people explain to them that their success will not be immediate and that's OK with you. Give them a realistic timeline of when you expect results by and why great follow up will be critical to this.
5. Audit them and possibly their prospects occasionally to check on how they are following up. Are they sticking to the process or have they forgotten about it?

Here's an idea for you.

Next time you are looking for a new sales person, go shopping for something. Ask for 5 quotes.

Notice which of the 5 people selling to you has the best follow up process. If you like them you might just offer them a job.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Captain or Coach

Leading a sales team is like skippering a cricket team.

When I captained cricket sides I was often fortunate to have a coach as well.

This allowed me to get on with inspiring the troops, maintaining my own performance and focusing on getting the tactics right.
As a great sales manager you know that you often have to wear both hats. Captain and Coach.

Here are 3 reasons why this can be dangerous.

1. If you are always coaching what will happen to your own numbers?
2. If you are too busy watching your own numbers what happens to your teams results?
3. Are you really appropriately qualified to be the coach?

I think you almost need to spend about half your week in captaincy mode and the other half in coaching mode.
Great captains seem to get the balance right between being soft on people yet firm on outcomes.

Captaincy in the sporting world (and no suprise its the same for sales managers) is about:

• Realising that leadership will never be a popularity contest - They dont need to like you (sure it helps). They must respect you.

• Integrity - Do your actions every day match your words?

• Reading the play. You have to almost instinctively know what the next quarter holds for each of your team.

All well and good in theory - How do I become a better captain of my team?

1.Have a long hard look at yourself tomorrow morning in the bathroom mirror. I know this can be daunting but can I suggest you do it totally naked? Might be best to lock the door. Do you look like a leader? How's your health, diet and exercise routine? Are you working too hard putting out fires? Is this effecting the way you think and act each day?

2.Spend time each week really looking closely at the results of each of your team. Forget about what they are saying. What do the results tell you. Realise that for most people change is very hard. What you are seeing now will only keep reappearing week after week. Remember the movie groundhog day with Bill Murray? If the evidence aint there accelerate their movement to the departure lounge. Hire slow, fire fast.

3. Spend more time with other leaders / captains. Talk to them about about their approach to captaincy. How do they get it right? What mistakes have they made and how have they learn't from them?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Multiball can be dangerous

Multiball can be dangerous

I broke my highest score on brickbreaker last week.

It’s a game I play on my blackberry. A bit like space invaders.

OK, I know you don’t care about that. As a Sales Manager you should care about this.

There is a feature in brickbreaker called multiball. This kicks in from time to time.

Those of you that used to play pin ball might recall the same feature.

When multiball occurs instead of only focussing on one ball you have 4 balls you need to watch. Initially it looks great and helps you score more points quicker than normal because 4 balls are in play.

Then because you are trying to watch 4 balls at once instead of one, guess what happens?

Correct. You lose all of them. Normally quite quickly.

It’s actually easier to score when you only have to watch one ball at a time.

A bit like batting well in cricket. One ball at a time. Maximum focus on each ball. That’s all that matters.

Focus on your best opportunities

When I’m playing brickbreaker it’s a great reminder for me about selling and how it is changing.

Old school Sales Management was simple. Get them seeing more customers more often and play the numbers game. Eventually someone will buy something. Another “no” gets you a step closer to another “yes”.

New school of thought. Devote more effort and focus to the best opportunities you have. Lack of focus today is killing you and your sales team.

There are too many possible opportunities available.

There are also too many potential competitors pitching for the same bits of work.

How do you know which opportunities your team should pursue?

What does a good opportunity look like?

It depends. Try these criteria:

• They have purchased from you before
• There is a connection between you and the buyer
• The decision is rarely based on price
• You have personally met with the people involved in making the decision
• They have articulated dissatisfaction with their current provider
• When you met with them their non verbal behaviour indicates they are telling the truth
• They have requested specific needs, which you understand, and tailoring to suit their requirements
• They understand what makes your offer different to your competitors
• They have indicated a timeline related to purchase with a sense of urgency to get things moving
• The buyer has a personal need you can fulfil

Why do your team spend so much time chasing down bad opportunities?

Salespeople by nature can be overly optimistic. Not always realistic. Every opportunity is “looking pretty good!”

Remember when you interviewed them for the job? Wow they were impressive.

If the largest portion of their income is based on a retainer, they’ll fill up their days with all kinds of low value activities.

If you want to sharpen their focus, pay them properly for bringing in good pieces of new business.

Reward them for the steps they are taking in getting closer to a “yes”.

Be careful how you measure them. If you measure call rates that’s all they will focus on.

Most reps need more opportunities in their funnel. Then they need the skill at working out which of these opportunities deserves maximum focus.

The best reps double their efforts with their best opportunities.

Why not get them to spend twice as much time on their best potential opportunities?

I’ve changed my strategy with the use of multiball. Laser like focus on one ball only is leading to better results.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Great habits for sales people

The habits you see now will only become more ingrained over time

What a beautiful garden

We recently moved into a new street.

I noticed that there is a house at the end of the street that has the most immaculate front garden.

Beautiful hedges, greenest of grass and never a stray leaf. Almost every time I walk past this house the owner is in his garden.

He’s beavering away. Trimming, pruning, nipping, cutting.

It might be his hobby, a form of therapy, who knows? I’d say that it’s become a daily habit for him.

Are you still hosing your driveway?

I also noticed yesterday that not only was he watering his plants, but he was also giving his concrete driveway a well deserved drink. Seems a bit strange. Not only is it illegal in Sydney, but it’s also a complete waste of our drinking water.

Then I thought, well, he’s probably always done it, so the chances of him stopping doing it in the future are very unlikely.

The older people become the more ingrained their habits will become.

So as a sales manager how does that help me?

Get them started with great habits from day 1. Recruit wisely and develop your people. Ensure you are clear on the behaviours you are consistently seeking.

10 habits I see in great sales people

1. They make telephone calls every day to potential and existing customers. (How about 10 by 10? 10 calls by 10am)
2. Always asking their satisfied customers for referrals
3. Working on getting better at using their technology – sat navs /blue tooth / blackberries / Iphones / CRMs etc
4. Get a commitment in their diary from their customers at the end of each sales call about the next steps
5. Constantly tracking their sales data, monitoring their funnel, filling up their pipeline
6. Updating their customers data after each sales call
7. Having a personal health and fitness regime
8. Always trying to get better – listening to sales CD’s, reading widely, associating with the right people, etc
9. Have a system for generating new leads
10. Their sales calls follow a proven process and they are always looking to refine this

They shouldn’t be overly reliant on you to drive their results.

The longer I have been in selling, which is now about 32 years, the more I realise the best performers have created great repeatable habits for themselves.

They don’t need to rely on you because the habits they have created drive their results.

Lazy sales people will go to the path of least resistance.

Please don’t let them get good at being bad

If their habits are bad, they are just getting better at getting worse, each day! Imagine doing the same thing badly every day for twenty years?

Inspire your reps to create great repeatable habits.

Have you ever tried breaking a few of your own bad habits? It’s not easy. How would you do it? Can you replace an existing bad habit with a new better one?

My new neighbour has some great habits, and a beautiful garden to show for it. He also has a terrible habit. Hosing his driveway. If only he could replace his driveway hosing habit with something more beneficial.

Next time you’re out with your reps ask them if there are one or two of their habits they think might be worth replacing.

You might also ask them if they have some feedback for you on a couple of habits you could replace