Archive for September, 2017

Challenging the Sales Leadership of “We’ve Always Done It that Way”

How many times have you heard those in sales leadership roles when given a new way of thinking state something like “We’ve always done it that way?”  This tunnel vision thinking fails to move the individual, the team, the organization and even the customers forward toward even greater success.

Those involved in continuous improvement hear this statement or something similar to this statement numerous times.  For example, a chair is in the corner of a room and has been there for years.  When asked why is the chair there, the answer is “because it has always been there.” The chair serves no purpose except requiring cleaning people to move it to dust and clean around it.

I remember a story about a young woman who questioned her mother why her mother cut the ends off a roast. The response was because that was what grandmother did.  The young woman asked her grandmother the same question.  Grandmother’s answer was to get the roast to fit into the pan.

“We’ve always done it that way” is being heard more in SMB sales leadership than ever before. This statement becomes a fallback position of complacency.

With greater emphasis on content marketing, social media marketing and changes in the buying decision making process, how the sales process is implemented may require minor as well as some major tweaks.  Yet, reluctance to let go of the status quo by many in sales leadership roles is still very much present.

Last night I heard a compelling presentation about how a local airport could be a dazzling economic gem. Beyond what appears to be considerable mismanagement, there also appeared to be an attitude of “we’ve always done it that way.”

For anyone in any sales leadership role including those on the sales team as well as all employees within the organization to be satisfied with the status quo of “We’ve always done it that way,” limits everyone within that organization. Human beings are designed to change.  Organizations are created by human beings.  Efficient and effective change is required to stay competitive in today’s dynamic business marketplace.

The questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you willing to be that change? – Your decision
  • What do you need to do to be that change? – Your critical thinking skills
  • How will you go about to ensure the change is positive and sustainable? – Your ability to execute
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A Human Malady: The Status Quo of Achievement

Many people continually strive to change the status quo.  Then once they reach whatever they want to achieve, receive their accolades, they stop.  I was reminded of this when listening to Coach Lou Holtz give a commencement speech and he shared his greatest mistake.

Listen to Lou Holtz speech

Status Quo  of Satisfaction

We observe this in sales.  For those who meet sales goals, they suddenly become satisfied and stop prospecting.  Coasting now becomes the observable behavior and translates into complacency.”Why sell more?” becomes the rationale question to justify this coasting behavior. Continued achievement will give them no more in sales compensation.

How about with personal or professional development?  People reach a level of achievement and stop learning.

status-quoWe see this by the number of books people read or don’t read. Are you one of the 42% of U.S. college grads who never read another book after graduation?

The world is changing minute by minute because of technology through connectivity and innovation.  Artificial intelligence (AI) along with robots are here not to mention all the other scientific inroads.

When we find satisfaction with the status quo, we are not growing. We are not moving forward.

My father and his family were immigrants into this country.  All three of his brothers until they died had a tower of books to read.  The older two brothers along with my father died before computers became part of every day life. However the third brother used the Internet on a daily basis to find answers to his questions.

Each year I draft a personal improvement plan that includes 100 hours of off site professional development.  This year I will be learning about real estate as a recent move has made me realize I know very little about land and real estate.

My own personal and professional development includes reading at least 1 hour every day.  This is not difficult to do given how many articles I read along with professional publications, blogs, newspapers, etc.

The status quo of achievement is indeed a human malady and translates into a barrier to continued any success be it sales, leadership or even health. Once we realize we must look to always challenge the status quo, we can indeed understand life is truly about moving forward, seeking that next level of achievement.

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Do These Limitations Unknowingly Restrict Your Sales Success?

In sales, there are many limitations to sustainable sales success. What I have discovered through years of experience reinforced by actual data from the Attribute Index, there are four somewhat hidden limitations that restrict sales success as well as in life in general.

Sales Success Limitations

Self Esteem (Self-Acceptance) – How do you appreciate your own unique self worth? Additionally one bases these feelings on “internal factors, as opposed to external ones.  This internal feeling of value allows them to appreciate themselves based not on what they do, what role they occupy or what success they attain, but rather how they judge themselves based on who they know themselves to be inside.” (Source: Innermetrix)

Remember Sally Field when accepting the Academy Award said “you really like me.”  She was revealing her own self-esteem with those four words.

Role AwarenessHow aware are you of your role in the world? Each role has specific expectations.  If someone does not understand those expectations, they may have further lack of clarity as to what he or she should be doing.

Self Direction How well are you excelling in your chosen career path? People who set personal goals, operate with a passion in this endeavors, be open to change and have a strong sense of duty to their own ideals and goals do not experience this limitation.

Possibly you have heard the statement “realizing your potential?”  When there is a lack of clarity with self-direction, potential is not realized.

Internal Temperament What is your degree of optimism or pessimism?  Our internal temperament is how we tend to view our lives either overly positive or overly negative through our biases.  Some individuals have no biases and are neutral.  I have come to call this potential limitation our “internal passion indicator.” 

Until we have absolute, clear, crystal clarity, we will continue to face our own internal limitations.  Now is not the time to meet the enemy and discover the enemy, the one keeping you from sustainable sales success is you.

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Buzz Words Don’t Sell

Believe it or not, some believe that adopting the most current buzz words will dramatically their increase sales.

Right now the most popular buzz word is sales enablement.  Before that we had trusted advisor, consultative sales,  development specialist, relationship expert, you get the drift.

In many instances, buzz words tell others how you do what you do and not what you do.

In sales, what sells are the results outside of the relationship.

What your sales leads want to know is results do you, your products or services deliver?

The Fallacy of Buzz Words

When a particular buzz word is adopted, sometimes the salesperson believes others know what that word or words actually mean as in sales enablement. Additionally there is a presumption by using a particular flavor of the month moniker, it will reveal the salesperson is ahead of all those other salespeople.

Possibly in selling to much larger organizations (500 employees or more) which represent less than .5% of all U.S. business (source U.S. Census Bureau), their decision makers may know and may embrace these words.  However, at the end of the day, regardless of business size or industry, results are what matter.

Results usually show up in the value proposition, but not always.  Again, many in sales lose sales leads by going into the reeds along the bank.  They stir up a lot of mud and any initial clarity regarding their value proposition is lost.

If you want to adopt any current buzz word, go ahead.  Just remember, buzz words do not sell.  People buy you first. Next they buy on emotions justified by logic.  Finally they buy on value that is unique to them.

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Let’s Stop Selling to the Quick Fix Need

A great friend and colleague, Dan Waldschmidt, wrote an outstanding blog about the charlatans who provide success advice and are liars. What Dan was addressing was those in sales who sell to the quick fix need.

Read Dan’s blog posting – Why Most Success Advice Is Bullshit and What to Do About It.

These salespeople be them executive coaches, organizational consultants to even instructional designers, look to the quick fix need of a sales lead.  They usually know their sales solution is not effective (doing the right thing) and therefore not sustainable.  Maybe this is why so many salespeople hide from return on investment (ROI).

My History of the Quick Fix in Sales

I first saw this for me unethical sales behavior when I was involved in instructional design.  As a subcontractor I was tasked with writing sales training (instructions) for retail salespeople to sell through a series of computer prompts.  The way the training was scheduled was not going to be sustainable.  Additionally, these salespeople were not being trained on the entire sales process.  This sales training was all about selling without any solid establishment of a relationship.

Later as I established my own executive coaching and consulting practice, I had numerous sales opportunities where the client wanted a quick fix.  I knew that a one time learning event provided very little long term cognitive retention.

How can anyone change his or her behavior when he or she forgets the knowledge to change that behavior?

When the client insisted on a one time learning event and wanted “loosey goosey” outcomes such as “improve communications with customers” or “be better leaders,”  I respectfully declined and stated my sales solution would not be sustainable.

Every potential client told me “well, so and so” said he or she could do it.  I would respond with “Then I would reach out to that individual. I know from my education and experience, what you want will not happen in a one day or two day training event.”

Many people will always be attracted to the quick fix for a variety of reasons.  The only way to provide sustainable solutions is to stop selling to the quick fix.  Take the hit in your sales.

And before you hear some internal response such as “this is what the client wanted” to justify selling to the quick fix, remember your sales solution should be effective (doing the right thing) and sustainable.  You should be able to quickly provide a measurable return on investment (ROI).

As Dan said:

“Success is you doing the right thing. When no one is watching. When it’s hard to do.”

Dan goes on by saying:

“It’s the mindset and the actions created by that mindset that lead to the outward evidence of your success. Stop buying into other people shortcuts.”

The last sentence could be easily rewritten as “Stop selling into other people’s quick fixes.”  For the “quick fix” is a shortcut and truly not sustainable.

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9/11 Dispels the Leaders Are Born Not Made Leadership Myth

Today here in the USA we remember that terrible day 16 years ago when nearly 3,000 lives were lost on American soil.  From the stories of the survivors, we know without question the leadership myth that leaders are born not made is just that a myth.  From the first responders to those brave Americans who attempted to take down terrorists (Todd Beamer “Let’s roll”)  on a plane (Flight #93) over Shankesville, PA, we heard and saw average people made into leaders because of the events of that horrific day.

Throughout history we have witnessed leaders being made by life’s events.  One of my favorite leaders was Audie Murphy. The reason I find him so fascinating was he had no leadership characteristics that many believe leaders must have such as:

  • Wealth
  • High intelligence
  • A family of influence
  • Average age 40 to 60
  • Highly educated
  • Good looking (handsome to beautiful)

Audie Murphy was a poor Texas dirt farmer who enlisted in the Army to provide for his siblings as his father had left the farm and his mother had died.  He didn’t even have a high school education.  His family was not affluent and he lied about his age to enlist.

Yet this poor, rather uneducated, very young, man became the most decorated U.S. solider in WWII. His background defied the leadership myth that leaders are born not made.

After leaving the service, Murphy wrote a book, To Hell and Back, which was turned into a movie.  He played himself in that movie and went on to become an actor.  He unfortunately died in an airplane crash at the age of 45.

Each of us has the ability to be an incredible leader. Of course we must have strong personal convictions (positive core values) so we do not fall into the leadership trap of “go along to get along.” We must be motivated to become a leader because of family obligations to one’s personal purpose to helping others as we saw on 9/11.

So the next time you read or hear this leadership myth that leaders are born not made, remember 9/11 or look to a family member who defied this myth.  I am sure you will see leaders are made each and every day regardless of demographics or circumstance.

 

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Why Go Along to Get Along Isn’t Effective Leadership

Regardless of organization, many in leadership roles embrace the “go along to get along” philosophy.  The problem with this belief is it demonstrates a lack of effective leadership.

Effective is doing the right thing.  In doing the right thing, leaders must first know what the right thing is. This knowing suggests the leader has strong personal ethics and is not willing to concede those basic core principles.

The Hollywood movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was all about the “go along to get along” philosophy. This fictional story though really non-fictional revealed how basic core principles take a dramatic hit when the “go along to get along” belief is embraced.

Lately I have witnessed a lot of “go along to get along” behaviors by local government leaders especially.  No one wants to rock the boat, to challenge the status quo.  So they sit like little bobble head dolls nodding their heads in agreement (go along) because they want to get along.

Some may remember one actress who won an academy award state “you really like me.”  The desire to be liked is inherent in most individuals as human beings are social creatures.

However real progress does not happen when everyone thinks the same way. Disruption is needed. Disruption will upset some people.  Leaders must have the fortitude to handle those upset people.

One impediment to effective leadership is a misplaced sense of loyalty.  Leaders sometimes are loyal to an organization or to one or two people.  They fail to understand where they should place their loyalty.

We witness this misplaced loyalty among politicians who are loyal to each other or to special interests. Then there are business leaders who are loyal to their shareholders at the expense of their customers.

Another impediment is the inability by those in leadership roles to provide constructive criticism without personally attacking others.  If some leaders had greater emotional intelligence, improved negotiation and communication skills, they could effectively communicate a “disruptive idea” without others being offended.

Effective leadership always returns to doing the right thing.  So the next time you are in a position where you as a leader (and we are all leaders) are considering “Go along to get along,”  remember to ask yourself what are the “right things” you are sacrificing? 

 

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Have You Considered Your Sales Solutions to Have These Two Qualities?

Sales solutions that are both efficient and effective have a far greater probability of turning customers into loyal customers or continued sources of sales referrals.  What happens is in the hurry to “close the sale,” some salespeople focus on the efficient and not the effective.

Efficient Sales Solutions

When the sales solution meets all the criteria as in investment, delivery, etc., it suggests it was efficient.  Things were done right.  The right answers were given to the right questions.

Effective Sales Solutions

To be an effective sales solution means doing the right thing.  Possibly the salesperson knows even though his or her solution is efficient, it may not be effective.  For example, sales training during the holidays usually lacks short and long term cognitive retention.  People have their minds elsewhere.

Another no effective example might be given 2 – 8 hour days of training knowing full well the “brain only absorbs what the butt will endure.”  Such a schedule may be efficient and yet it is not effective.  A better sales training solution would be 2 hours a week over 8 weeks.  Sometimes there is push back on this scheduling, yet a good salesperson can demonstrate how such a sales solution can deliver far better results.

Losing the Sale

Many salespeople are not willing to lose the sale for a variety of reasons. Several times in the past I have been asked to deliver one or two day sales leadership training.  Given the behavioral outcomes the clients wanted, I had to turn down the sales because I knew the attendees would not change their behaviors. The clients were convinced this type of sales leadership training could be achieved.  I suggested to the clients to reconnect with their past vendors because given my knowledge and experience I could not secure those desired behavioral changes.

Sales solutions that are both efficient and effective may take a little longer to earn or close, but the results are far more sustainable from loyal customers to more sales referrals.

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Evergreen the Essence of Content Marketing

Content marketing is incredibly successful strategy and tactic for your buyers to begin to know you and trust you. To solidify this budding relationship requires fresh, relevant articles or what is called “evergreen.”

Can you bring a fresh and yet lasting perspective to what you are sharing?  What you don’t want is your marketing efforts to read or sound like the efforts of others or be seasonal as in the “best holiday marketing approach.”

Content Marketing Helps Buyers to Find You

Your potential buyers (think ideal customers) have specific wants and needs. In many instances, others have attempted to either meet those wants and need and have failed.  Their solutions were not sustainable.  The desired results were not achieved and probably not clearly identified during the sales process.

Your content marketing must demonstrate you have a fresh and sustainable perspective.  This is not the time for hot trends or the flavor of the month sales solution. Your ideal customers are seeking insight.

Evergreen marketing also relies on SEO. The inclusion of keywords not only in the article, but the rest of your website is essential.

How do you know if your content marketing is evergreen?  One way is to see how many times the article or blog posting has been viewed.  This article “My Best Referral Is Anyone with a Pulse” since its publication in February of 2015 has been viewed over 50,000 times and continues to secure monthly reads now 2.5 years later. LinkedIn is another marketing site that allows some limited statistics as do some article directories such as EzineArticles.

By reading and responding to comments from different sites where you have posted your articles, videos or podcasts is another way to learn if your content marketing reaches the evergreen status. The comments by others can provide you additional ideas in what your readers are seeking as well as what challenges are your readers facing.

Remember your content marketing efforts be them articles to videos to podcasts should have an everlasting quality to them. The question you may wish to consider asking yourself is “Will this perspective always be fresh and green like the evergreen trees or will it be green only part of the year?

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Isn’t It Time to Stop the Must Have Leadership or Sales Skill?

Is it just me or are you as tired as I am about all the postings about having this must have leadership or sales skill?  Do this or learn that and “wala” you will be a top sales performer or authentic leader.

Please give me a break!

This desire to find the magic number one skill, trait, quality, call it what you will, regardless of role is complete and total hogwash. Fact – There is no number one top sales skill.  Those seeking the “must have” are really seeking the quick fix to cure what ails them.

Many sales coaches, marketing experts or leadership consultants who write about this or that being the must have or top sales skill recognize the never ending desire for the quick fix.  They are meeting a need, but their solutions are potentially unrealistic for their clients.

Human Beings Are Unique

When we look to find the must have sales skill or leadership skill, we are forgetting this basic premise about human beings.  We are all unique.  We have different experiences.

From those different experiences, our brains are wired differently.  We may be intrinsically motivated by Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose as it relates to people (Theory of Self-Determination).  However, how those motivators are connected to each other is unique based upon his or her own life experiences. This uniqueness can be further identified through the work of Dr. Spranger and Allport.

Take Advantage of this Labor Day Special Opportunity (until 9/5/2017) to

Learn What Motivates You as well as Know Your Talents and Behaviors

If there truly existed a must have sales skill or leadership skill, doesn’t it make sense that everyone who have this skill would be able to increase sales?  So why do so many sales professionals still fail to meet annual sales goals? Why do we keep reading about a new must have sales skill?

Human beings are unique and complex. Our brains co-exist with our minds where all our experiences reside. Add in our emotions and we realize there is not just one “must have” sales skill.

If you disagree, then take this free 170904-Short-Sales-Self-Assessment and identify the one must have top sales skill. Then have another salesperson take the same assessment. Do you both share the same top sales skill?

May you enjoy a most prosperous and enjoyable Labor Day.

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