Archive for November, 2011
How to hire great sales people or any employees is an ongoing dilemma for sales management. In Good to Great, Tom Collins talks about having the right people in the right seats. Yet this is truly only part of the hire right success equation.
The right people and the right seats implies that the seats are readily identified. From my experience, most job descriptions (seats) are antiquated and truly do not reflect what actions the employees are currently delivering. Then what happens is the wrong person is truly placed in the right seat because of this old information. Another failing is the organization has not effectively communicated to sales management where the bus is going. Sales Training Coaching Tip: It is truly hard to hit an unidentified moving target.
What I believe is a more complete statement is having the:
- Right People in the
- Right Seats using the
- Right Talents making the
- Right Decisions in the
- Right Time Frame securing the
- Right Results in the
- Right Environment (Bus)
While this is happening, then alignment between existing strategies, structure, processes, incentives and people must also be considered. Jay Galbraith through his 5 Star Model puts this alignment into a great and doable perspective.
Of course all of this takes time.
However if you do not have the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over?
Sales Training Coaching Tip: Do overs or redos drain corporate coffers more than probably any other action because this is failed execution.
Before your sales management hires right for that next sales position, talk to your sales people, look at the job description as well as the performance appraisal process. Identify the sales results you are seeking and if those results are in alignment with the organizational strategies. Then determine if you are hiring for the right talents.
By hiring well, you will avoid firing often.
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Having a web presence is critical to increase sales. How your site is constructed is part of being people friendly. Yet one missing and key puzzle from many websites is the person’s name. The reason for this missing piece is that many websites are owned by non-employed businesses (businesses without employees) or what is called “Single Office Home Office” (SOHO). These dedicated entrepreneurs in their desire to appear bigger than they actually are will talk in generic terms about their team, but do not provide specifics such as their real names. Unfortunately, this mindset violates the first two of the three sales buying rules and immediately begins to create sales objections.
For example, today I received a Twitter follower notice. I clicked on the website and was taken to a site that had very little traffic (presuming this from Alexa.com ranking). Then I attempted to learn who the actual person was behind the Twitter handle. I had to go to Amazon.com to find the book that was being promoted to learn the author’s name. (The graphic of the book was so small I could not read the name.) Then I did a quick “Google” search and very little appeared. Even though the website had social media links, in the first 10 hits, 7 hits were about the book with one being social media, Facebook. LinkedIn, GooglePlus and the primary website did not show up on page one. Sales Training Coaching Tip: To be the Red jacket requires 100% alignment between all marketing mediums.
If I was searching for leadership training or leadership development, this site leaves out the Who and Where on its primary website even though its Twitter ID indicates Washington, D.C. In a few quick strokes of the key I did manage to locate the individual on LinkedIn and possibly he does not need to have alignment between his marketing messages. His LinkedIn profile shows his corporate logo and not a face which is a big No No for LinkedIn. (I am surprised he has not been reported.) And again, if people buy from people they know and trust, not having a real picture is like waving a the Red No Trust Flag. Sales Training Coaching Tip: If your name cannot be easily found, most people will not make any additional attempts to learn more about you.
In this age when people can write anything on their blogs and websites, establishing first glance credibility through your web presence is critical and must include your name. From a quick review of this particular business, it appears this individual is leveraging existing government relationships and does not need to actively market his services. His website is more of a billboard than an inbound marketing channel. This reminds me of the old story about putting all your eggs in one basket as well as build it and they will come.
Yes, your web presence must be people friendly to increase sales. What that means is to make sure you include your real name in your site whether it is under the tag “about” or “about us” some other descriptor such as internal hot links. Remember people friendly means first people and second friendly. People from my observations and own personal behaviors do not buy from robots or vague businesses.
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Years ago, the first how to increase sales marketing action a small business took was to take out a paid local advertisement in the Yellow Pages because local customers used their fingers to walk through those hundreds of yellow pages. Now the Internet has replaced many of those heavy Yellow Books, but local marketing is still the mountain top. A recent study from the CMO Council reaffirmed how critical the localization of messages, images and interactions are to build customer relationships as well as overall marketing effectiveness.
What was impressive in this survey was 86% of national marketers are looking how to improve their local marketing content to increase sales. However the execution of these actions has only satisfied 52% of those surveyed.
What this means is smaller businesses without internal marketing departments or big budgets for marketing agencies or consultants will need to revisit their marketing asap to ensure they are tapping into the local market searches so that they too will increase sales. Additionally with voice search such as through Apple’s Siri, even the more traditional web searching will change.
The advantage is small business owners can leverage social media through a variety of free tools to compete with the national companies. By taking the time to invest into a solid strategic planning process including both marketing and sales plans, these crazy busy forward thinking leaders can get ahead of the local search flow and actually capture part of that market fairly easily. The goal of how to increase sales is suddenly far more simple than it was.
No longer does a small business need to advertise in this telephone directory or that one based upon geography. With the right key words and a mobile friendly website, small businesses can now reach those very vocal local customers.
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In working on several articles for a joint newsletter than I publish with Laura Novakowski, the word leadership surfaced. As someone who started an executive consulting and small business coaching practice with a leadership focus, this word is important to me. Now with the College Success Boot Camp being planned for 2012, leadership has once again become word number two with values being word number one.
Unfortunately, the local to regional to state to national to global stages continue to demonstrate the veil of leadership. A colleague across the pond, Andy Ferguson, refers to it as a cultural of crap. Regardless what you call it, bad leadership is far more evident than effective leadership.
My sense is this veil of effective leadership continues because of this one word – fear. People are fearful to point the finger at bad leadership behaviors or at bad leaders. After all, when you point the finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at you not to mention all the political correctness about being judgmental.
Another even larger fear is the fear of losing business. If you say something about what is, is, then you may lose business. Of course these folks have probably known you for at least 10 years and haven’t bought from you yet. However, there is always a chance and you do not want to cut off your nose to despite your face.
Yet the veil of effective leadership must be pulled down in a respectful way. Unfortunately, challenging the many veils of effective leadership is viewed as a threat to those behind the veil or supporting the veil. In many cases there is usually more than one person behind the leadership veil. Respectful discussion or dialogue in many instances is impossible because people take such comments as personal attacks as they are part of the problem.
Life could be much simpler if we could pull the veil down much like Toto did to the curtain hiding the Wizard of Oz. All it takes is a commitment to challenging the status quo, to separating the message from the messenger, to utilizing higher order thinking and cognitive skills and to staying in alignment with positive core values as demonstrated through specific behaviors.
We as individuals are responsible for our own destiny. We can either march like lemmings following the veil of effective leadership or decide to step away from the crowd and make the common sense and courageous announcement that the young lad did in the child tale of The Emperor’s New Suit or Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson:
“But he (Emperor) has nothing on at all.”
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Checking progress through quarterly sales goals reflects an applied MBA learning objective in many instances. In today’s world where change is sometimes faster than SuperMan, this MBA learning objective is old school and not does help small business owners, sales professionals to C Suite executives stay with the flow less alone ahead of the flow of business.
With so much emphasis on each organization having its own dash board depending upon its business model, sales goals require a weekly if not monthly check. To wait three months to determine where progress has been made or not made is foolhardy and fails to capitalize on potential new opportunities.
Now for some crazy busy small business owners, they may check revenue through increase sales, but in many cases the revenue is not tied to specific goals because these folks lack a solid strategic business plan from which to take action. These individuals are engaged in the role of Captain Wing It where they spray their behaviors all over the place and then pray something will stick. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Most people place more value in the written grocery list than they do planning their businesses or professional careers.
Recently after speaking with several potential clients (all of whom shared with me that they had MBAs), I recognized this check in of quarterly sales goals was definitely old school MBA and signaled a cruise control mentality. Even with businesses that have good quarterly growth, what would happen if the small business owners tightened the goals and directly connected them to monthly sales growth projections? Would changes in the marketplace be easier to recognize? Would they be off cruise control and taking advantage of opportunities not recognized or passed by?
The marketplace is different mainly because technology has made it global. Now with the ever growing influence of mobile technology such as searching using artificial intelligence like Siri (iPhone) today’s landscape is being quickly altered in weeks if not months. If as Google suggests 50% of all mobile searches result in a purchase, waiting three months to determine if quarterly sales goals are being met may ignore this new revenue opportunity.
Forward thinking leaders of today recognize that monitoring all key metrics from their business dashboards to balance scorecards identified within their strategic planning process is critical to go beyond surviving and into thriving. With the end of the year fast approaching, possibly now is the time to rethink the how, the why and the when for checking quarterly sales goals.
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Years ago my Swedish grandmother said “You get more with honey than you do with vinegar.” Even though Daniel Goleman’s book Working with Emotional Intelligence would not be written for another 40 years, my grandmother and many others from even earlier generations understood the essence of emotional intelligence.
For those in businesses especially for crazy busy sales people who are continually looking to increase sales emotional intelligence is one of the keys to sales success. Each experience can build upon improving emotional intelligence. Here is where age and being a woman in sales have a slight advantage.
Recently I received some correspondence forwarded to me by a strategic partner who had sent out an email to her list regarding a joint project. Here is part of the email that I received:
“Please tell me the qualifications of the person giving the seminar. I took an idea, no capital, developed a global company selling in __ countries in __ years. I have my MBA from an Ivy league college, a law degree and 40 years of business experience. What can you offer me?” (As a side note, many emails promoting an event do not publish the person’s credentials because there is a presumed trust factor between the sender and the receiver. )
At first blush, the normal, human reaction is to be somewhat taken back by such a response. However, by understanding emotional intelligence and infusing it into every day behaviors (after the gut reaction leaves), allowed the following response:
“No one cares how much you know
until they know how much you care.”Share on Facebook
Pick up any professional development book or article on sales training, executive coaching, continuous improvement, and these three words, competencies, skills and talents are used synonymously to differently depending upon the author and his or her level of expertise. For how we define words as we age and gain more experiences will change from the basic definitions as supplied by most dictionaries such as Webster’s. These differentiations will create misdirected results.
One of the best examples of explaining the false rationale behind competencies is in the book Fail-Safe Leadership. This is a great primer for business leadership to align organizational leadership with self leadership to achieve the desired results. Now in its eighth or ninth printing, Fail-Safe Leadership is one of the few books to illustrate why growing competencies, skills or talents leads to poor results through this one paragraph:
“…use the designated leadership characteristics as a yardstick against which to train and develop all individuals in the company who are in positions of leadership. The assumption is, if you grow leadership qualities in people then somehow this will positively impact corporate results.” (Used with permission)
Human beings are unique creatures and through their beliefs, their knowledge and their experiences they bring different competencies as well as skills and talents to the table as the perform their roles and responsibilities. To identify one competency, one skill or one talent as supreme over all others ignores the richness and potential contributions from each individual.
Then there is the issue of skills. What are skills? Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary traces this word back to the Old Norse mean distinction or knowledge. Additional definitions range from using one’s ability effectively to technical expertise to a developed aptitude.
Examining the word talents returns to the Latin for talent being a measure of money. Contemporary definitions include an aptitude, the natural endowment of a person, general intelligence or ability. The words skills and talents even though are different can be used synonymously.
The point is until an organization through its business leadership has a shared meaning for competencies, skills or talents, then as the authors discuss in Fail-Safe Leadership a lot of hoping for the desired results becomes the default behavior. Sales Training Coaching Tip: Begin with the desired results then work backwards.
For business leadership to reach that next level of performance or results always begin with an assessment of current awareness. This might mean having focus groups on what does this word or that word mean to you as an employee or customer? Formal assessments specific to each person’s beliefs and behaviors can also be undertaken. Organizational assessments also help to accurately assess the real problem and not the symptoms posing as problems.
As you review your sales training, your continuous improvement process or even your own self development, look to what you are attempting to achieve, the desired results, first, then assess your awareness of how you are going to secure those results. By taking this action, execution will be more likely to be successful.
P.S. If you want a fairly simple read on how to stop the bleeding in your organization along with a proven doable workbook, then this new eBook Triage Business Planning may make sense to you.
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A recent blog post over at Partners in Excellence caught my eye where David Brock sat down with the authors of a new book, Trusted Advisor Fieldbook, and discussed how to build trust. The discussion was good as was the blog posting.
As I thought about everything I have read, observed and personally experienced, the concept of being the model sales manager, the model sales leader, is missing something because we observe models all the time in business, in life and yet poor behaviors are still rampant in spite of people trusting each other. Models are much like competencies in that one size does not fit all. Maybe this helps to explain part of the disconnect between observed behaviors and desired behaviors.
President Theodore Roosevelt was the first person I discovered even though others are given credit who said:
“No one cares how much you know until the know how much you care.”
Caring and trust are part of that entire gamut we now call emotional intelligence. When people have high emotional intelligence, their behaviors are far more easily authentically demonstrated that just having trust alone. By the very nature of emotional intelligence, the behaviors are for the most in alignment with the emotional intelligence ranking.
A colleague of mine Dan Waldschmidt said several month ago:
We don’t have a selling problem, we have a caring problem.
The over emphasis on technical sales skills to increase sales even those associated with being a trusted advisor fail to factor in the emotions because people buy first on emotions then justify that experience with logic. Here is where emotional intelligence becomes critical and where many in sales drop the ball because their ongoing need to increase sales or close the sale take priority.
What would happen if sales people, sales managers or people in general would think about others first, care and then develop trust? I can sense some who might be reading this inwardly groaning at such an idea.
Yet, caring, truly understanding the potential client’s needs, his or her decision making process is what leads to that buying decision being made in your favor as the salesperson. Sales Training Coaching Tip – A great book is A Seat at the Table if you truly wish to connect and earn favorable buying decisions.
Models by their very nature suggest some replicable formula do this and get that. Models work for processes to showcasing the latest fashions.
Yet, models are cold, inhuman when it comes to actual
authentic and caring behaviors.
To be successful in sales or in life in today’s technology driven world requires the ability to demonstrate authentic caring behaviors through high emotional intelligence allowing those personal connections to be made and develop. By caring more and selling less, increase sales will happen.
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With the push to increase sales as the end of the year quickly approaches, marketing and selling activities are in full throttle. Yet sometimes their results are not what they should be because of a lack of alignment. This business alignment is not just between marketing, selling and the sales process but throughout strategies, structure, processes, rewards and people.
The 5 Star Model for Organizational Alignment is one of the best representations to understand how critical alignment is to overall productivity and ultimately results. Gaps between any of these five areas create what I call dripping faucets and hence drain away those precious profits.
Beyond organizational alignment is probably a change in belief. Many in sales think marketing is a waste of time, a drain on the overall organization’s profits while those in marketing believe sales people are self serving ego maniacs only concerned about how to increase sales and make life miserable for everyone else in the process. To be truthful years ago in my corporate role, I did sometimes have that negative viewpoint about some sales people I had to work with day in and day out.
Part of these beliefs are due to basic confusion between these three terms of marketing, selling and sales. In my book, Be the Red Jacket, I discuss this confusion in great detail because until crystal clear clarity is achieved, then misdirected actions continue again leading to poor to no results.
When organizations and the people within these collective and collaborative teams recognize that both marketing and selling are twins in the sales process, then and only then will the goal to increase sales happen with the greatest efficiency and effectiveness. Both marketing and selling are necessary to increase sales.
One does not top the other.
A business could have the best solution (product or service) in the world and unless the target market knows about it, the sales people and the rest of the organization will remain pocket poor. Conversely, the business solutions could be well know and if the sales people cannot get a firm commitment from the target market, again pocket poor is the end result.
Both marketing and selling strategies and tactics must be mastered in today’s global business community. By ensuring organizational alignment and removing constraining beliefs (one is better than the other), then the goal to increase sales will be realized.
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With the majority of small businesses being sole proprietors or what some call SOHO (single office home office), business to business networking is one of the primary marketing strategies. Yet in spite of all the articles, the conversations, many of these small business owners become unplugged or overloaded as they engage in conversations with other small business owners or business professionals.
The Wall Street Journal recently offered the Top Eight Rules of Networking. Just as we had multiple exposures to our arithmetic facts to remember them, it appears that same exposure, call it spaced repetition or memorization, is necessary for some crazy busy professionals as well as those new to the entrepreneurial ranks.
What is also quite evident is that effective business to business networking begins within your strategic plan and especially your marketing action plan. Here is where you identify your:
- Target Market
- Ideal Customer Profile
- Market trends
- Strengths and Limitations
- Opportunities and Talents
All of these elements are present in most of your conversations as you spread your message (marketing) to new potential customers, strategic partners and centers of influence.
Now for some individuals business to business networking is about spraying and praying. They actively work the room by spraying their efforts all over the place and then hoping something will stick. These folks are truly unplugged from what needs to happen.
On the other side, you have the folks who just pump and dump as Jeb Blount wrote in his book People Buy You. Here you are the overloaded business networker who appears to be somewhat desperate because he or she is so focused on the goal to increase sales, he or she forgets about truly caring about other people.
By remembering as Zig Ziglar said “Sales is the transference of feelings,” this may help you improve your business to business networking behaviors. After all, people do buy from people who they know and trust. So the simple question is:
Are your business networking behaviors demonstrating trust?
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