Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Social Media & Selling - "Catch Them All"

Tags: social media, pokemon go, selling and social media

Guest Post By Alex Cole, Recruitment Specialist, Hire Better Salespeople

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you have all heard about the newest craze- Pokemon Go. If you haven’t, then I’m sure you’ve seen random herds of people walking around with their noses in their phones. Well, that’s because the newest and “greatest” game has graced 2016 with its presence.

Though I am not personally a proponent of the game, I have to give it credit for the impact it’s had on our community over the last week. People are getting out, getting exercise and socializing with other people, who are doing the same exact thing as them!

There are two categories of people here - those of us who sit back and chuckle at those running around trying to catch an imaginary character or those getting out and actively trying to “hunt” them down.

So, how is this relevant to you and what does it have to do with selling?

Typically, salespeople are good at one of two things- relationship building or social selling. Social selling is utilizing social media outlets to: share posts, give business updates, recruit new hires and prospect for new leads, stay connected and many other things. Those outlets include sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Anthony Cole Training Group partners with Objective Management Group primarily for their highly predictive sales assessment. One of the things that their sales assessment tests for is one’s ability to utilize social selling tools. The experiment OMG conducted included the following theory:

“Those that are not good at relationship building will be better at selling socially.”

After comparing 5,000 pieces of data, they’ve concluded this: 11% of salespeople are good at social selling, 16% are good at relationship building and only 5% are good at both. That means 68% of salespeople are ineffective at both social selling and relationship building.

I would say those are pretty concerning statistics. Do your salespeople stink at building relationships? If they do, are they at least good at selling socially? Per the statistics mentioned, it would not appear that way. So, how do you fix the problem?

Well, here are 3 simple tips to help you with your team’s social selling problems:

  1. Make an ACTUAL effort - When people are unsure/frightened/nervous about doing something, they tend not to put in 100%. Change your mindset to be one that says “I can do it” as opposed to “I can maybe do it.”
  2. Set time aside just for social media - I’m on social media 3 to 4 hours per week: writing posts, recruiting for my clients or sharing articles that I find interesting and helpful. If you set time aside and put it in your calendar, you are more likely to stick to your schedule and get it done.
  3. Join groups - It is the easiest step to becoming immersed into the social selling world. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook all have communities and chat groups for sales professionals. Joining these types of groups can help you expand your knowledge base, promote your business and get your name out there.

So, next time you see a group of twenty-something year olds wandering around the local park or gym, know they are chasing an imaginary character, but you are chasing the real thing.

Happy hunting!

The 80/20 Power Curve and Your Sales Organization

Tags: sales management, managing sales teams

coffeecurve.jpg

5 Things to Do to Own a Sales Team Built for Growth

I’m working on an article discussing the 80/20 Power Curve.  It’s the concept Perry Marshall discusses in his book:  The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing.  Normally, I focus on the top part of the curve. The part of the curve that represents about 95% of all the production generated by a sales team (See Figure 1 below)

If you look at your total sales results, you would find something close to the following:

                                         Figure1

 

Total Book

Sales people

Average

 

 20,000,000

50

 400,000

% applied

80%

20%

 

Product

 16,000,000

 10

 1,600,000

Remainder

 4,000,000

 40

 

% applied

80%

20%

 

Product

 3,200,000

 8

 400,000

Sum total

 19,200,000

 18

 1,066,667

% of Total

96%

36%

 

Balance

 800,000

 32

 25,000

Last week, I presented to a group of CEOs at the BISA CEO Summit held at Vanderbilt University.  This slide alone raised a few eyebrows and caused some thinking about the relevance, importance and cost of the 64% of the sales team only representing 4% of the results. (32 sales people responsible for 800,000 of the 20,000,000 in revenue.)  What alarmed me was the bottom part of the 80/20 power curve.  What does the bottom look like? (See Figure 2)

                                             Figure 2

 

Total Book

Sales people

Average

 Balance

 800,000

32

 25,000

% Applied

80%

20%

 

Product

 640,000

 6

 100,000

Remainder

 160,000

 26

 

% Applied

80%

20%

 

Product

 128,000

 5

 25,000

Sum total

 768,000

 12

 66,667

% of Total

96%

36%

 

Remainder

 32,000

 20

 1,563

% of Total

4%

62%

 

Trust my excel spreadsheet.  The numbers add up and they don’t lie.  They may not represent your team exactly, especially if your team has less than 10 sales people, BUT do the math and you will arrive at a similar finding.  Figure 2 is telling the president of the company that of the 50 sales people in his company, the bottom 20 (40%) Represent 32,000 of a 20,000,000 book of business (.0016%).

Regardless of how you dissect it, spin it, negotiate it or defend it, this cannot be what you expected when you hired these 20 people.

So, what do you do? Here are the 5 THINGS:

  1. Start with your sales manager. This is the person responsible for sales, productivity, and sales effectiveness. If ROI is one of the metrics you use to determine success, how would you evaluate the ROI on the bottom 20% of the sales team?
  2. Next, I would look at the recruiting practices. As difficult as this might be, you have to answer the question about under performers – Did you hire them this way?
  3. You will also want to look at the on-boarding and the development plan in place that should be there to improve the probability of success. As above, you have to answer the question – Did you make them this way?  If you didn’t hire them this way – already failures – then you’ve made them this way – turned them into failures.

* I anticipate you might say – “I didn’t hire them, I inherited the team.”  Like it or not, after a year, they are yours!

  1. Look at your systems and processes to make sure they are designed, implemented and executed to support successful sales growth.
  2. Look at your sales system and evaluate how well it is being executed top to bottom. My guess is that your best people execute a sales process and they execute it consistently.

Additional resources:

Hirebettersalespeople.com

Perry Marshal – 80/20 Power Curve

Sales Management Certification Program

Performance Management and the Law of Cause

Tags: sales management, managing sales teams, performance management, cause and effect, Perry Marshall’s Power Curve

Here is the opening paragraph from the IQ Matix Blog – The Law of Cause and Effect by Adam Sicinski

“A person becomes what they think about all day.”

Understanding the Law

The universal law of cause and effect states that for every effect there is a definite cause, likewise for every cause there is a definite effect.

Your thoughts, behaviors and actions create specific effects that manifest and create your life as you know it. If you are not happy with the effects you have created, then you must change the causes that created them in the first place…

Change your actions, and you change your life… Transform your thoughts, and you will create a brand new destiny.

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I’ve been thinking about this for about a week. I was in Pittsburgh last week and one evening my wife, Linda, called me. She told me that our friend, Kim, had called her to inform us that her son, Alex, had an accident while long boarding.  After Linda described the injuries, one of my first questions was, “Was he wearing a helmet?”  She wasn't sure.  This led me to thinking about accidents.

The fall was not an accident. It was an unforeseen incident, but by no means an accident. There was a definite cause and a definite effect that created another cause and another effect and so on and so on until Alex tumbled to the ground which caused severe bodily injury.

(Now…switching gears…)

Recently, I did some simple math in preparation for a workshop I delivered to the BISA CEO Summit in Nashville.  As part of the presentation, I demonstrated Perry Marshall’s Power Curve and the likely diagnosis of the sales teams represented in the room.  In short – about 36% of the advisors represented by a group of 200 advisors were responsible for 95% of the productivity for the entire group.  Once I highlighted the fact that less than 5% of the total remaining revenue was being generated by over 60% of the remaining advisors, I asked the question – “Did you hire them this way or make them this way?”

This is not an indictment of the CEOs present or the firms they represented. Any one of you reading this can do the same math and, if you have 25 or more salespeople that follow the normal 80/20 rule, then you will end up with the same numbers.  The reason I ask the question about hiring or making is because that is “the cause.” 

This group of massively underperforming salespeople is not in that group by accident.  Certainly, they are not in your group by accident. I don’t believe for a second that you intentionally hired 60% of your sales team to represent less than 5% of your sales. However, even if it’s actually 15 – 20%, there is cause for alarm.  And that alarm should create an effect and that effect should create another cause and another effect… and so on…

Which causes me to go back to the title of this post: Sales Management – Performance Management and the Law of Cause.

What is it that your sales manager is doing… or failing to do… that is responsible for the effect?  Here are some questions you might want to consider when attempting to arrive at an answer to that question:

  1. What are the standards for success in your organization? I don’t mean what are the goals; I mean the standards.  In other words, I’m assuming that everyone on the sales team has sales goals, but what standard are they held to?  What percentage of the team consistently performs above 100% of the goal?  What percentage of the team consistently performs between 90 and 99% of goal?  What percentage of the team hovers around 80 to 85% of the goal, is still with you and will still be with you going into next year?  You see, that is the standard of performance that your manager is allowing.
  2. What impact is your standard for success having on the overall performance of the team?
  3. What is happening to the group just below the top tier that consistently hits or exceeds the goal? Does that group have a tendency to a) move upwards towards the top b)stay level or c) slide ever so slightly to your standard of success just before termination?
  4. How well is your sales manager actually managing pipeline? Do they actually manage it or just monitor it?
  5. What inspection process is executed to “inspect what you expect” and what is happening when what is expected isn’t getting done?
  6. How well is the manager inspecting the revenue driver activities and behaviors?
  7. How consistently are the salespeople following and executing the company sales process?
  8. What information is your sales manager using from your CRM that allows them to have productive intentional coaching discussions with the entire sales team?
  9. Finally, what activities and behaviors are you holding your sales manager to that, when executed correctly, would lead to more consistent, predictable sales growth?

Traditionally speaking, when companies think about performance management, most of the focus is on the group that is responsible for driving revenue – the sales team. What needs to happen is that anything that moves should get measured, there needs to be higher standards for keeping jobs and, ultimately, managers need to be held accountable to their own set of activities and behaviors.

Alex is home now and being cared for by his family. Let’s pray for his speedy and healthy recovery.

Additional Resources:

Sales Managed Enviroment® – A development program designed to create high performing sales managers.

Assess Your Sales Process – How effective is the sales process your people are supposed to be following and executing?

Sales Inspiration from an NBA Legend and His Coach

Tags: sales management, Bill Walton, John Wooden, building sales teams, Back From The Dead

The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the very things they don’t like doing.”  

This is a quote from Dave Kurlan’s blog post about Bill Walton and John Wooden (see Additional Resources below).  Dave uses role-playing as an example.  I see this all the time!  Ask someone to role play in front of the group and they shut tight like a clam.  How can you possibly get better at pressure situations if you don’t practice under pressure?

Bill has published and is now marketing his book, Back from the Dead.  I read a couple of lines froman interview with GQ and immediately went to my Amazon add-in and downloaded the book with my 1-click.

Here was my amazing buying experience:

  • I read an article that got my attention.
  • I clicked on a button in my Firefox ribbon at the top of my page.
  • I searched Amazon for “Bill Walton”.
  • The book popped up.
  • I clicked on the little thing on the right side of the page that said, “Buy Now using 1-click.”
  • I wanted the Kindle version so I could read it on the plane without carrying a big book, so when Amazon asked me if I wanted it downloaded to my iPhone, I clicked “yes.”
  • This all took less than a minute.
  • And that, my friends, is today’s sales cycle.

In your sales world, it might not take as many steps or it might be more.  In your sales cycle, it probably takes more than a minute… maybe 30 days, maybe 120, maybe a year.

Bottom line: There is something that stimulates the buyer. The buyer gets the information they want and then… when they want to buy… they want to make the process easy and they want options.  If you are not doing those things (stimulating the buying response – providing information to make a buying decision – giving them options – making it easy), then you are going to lose the sale to those that do those things.  Not only will you lose occasionally, but sooner or later, it will become a permanent condition.

Now, my favorite Bill Walton and John Wooden story.

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Watch the video to get the whole story, but in short, the lesson for the Sales Leader is this:

  • You’ve been hired to do a job – drive sales growth/win market share
  • Part of that responsibility is to put the best team in the market.
  • As the coach, you establish the culture for winning; you set the team rules.
  • You can lead people but you cannot make them do something – players have free will.
  • If someone violates the rules, something has to be done – bend the rules, keep the rules
  • If a salesperson wants to exert their independence, let them. But let them do it somewhere else.
  • They have to want to play for you and win more than compete against you and lose.

Additional Resources:

Dave Kurlan’s blog:
The Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden

Unless you have strong leadership, the money you spend on sales training is wasted. Stop wasting money.  In addition to great players, the key to a sales team built for growth is great sales management Leadership and Management. Read more about our Sales Management Certification.

Make sure you get great players who are committed to winning for you – Hirebettersalespeople.com

Get insight on the 9 Keys to Successful Sales Management 

How Do You Determine the Success of Your Sales Managed Environment®?

Tags: SME, sales management, improving sales results, how to manage salespeople, sales managed environment

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First, it makes sense to define a Sales Managed Environment® (SME™).  For the last 15 years, we’ve built, developed, refined and implemented the principles we associate with a sales environment that is “managed”.  The major components of SME™ are as follows:

  1. Setting standards and accountability
  2. Coaching for success
  3. Recruiting
  4. Motivating
  5. Upgrading the sales force

Using this as the basis for what the SME™ looks like, we next need to determine if, in fact, your environment has been built and is being executed for success.  So, how do you determine that?

  1. You have metrics for success that are consistent with company revenue and profit goals.
  2. You have standards for success that drive success rather than foster mediocrity.
  3. You have “smart” numbers to help you predict your progress towards meeting and exceeding your standards for your metrics.
  4. You inspect what you expect – activity, effectiveness and results.
  5. You pro-actively recruit – you have a candidate pipeline.
  6. You coach people to improve skills and change behavior.

But, ultimately, you determine success by:

  1. Achieving goals.
  2. Getting better individually as well as a team – more people carrying the load/higher percentage of producers hitting 100% of the goal.
  3. This year’s quintiles (sales team divided by production 1/5s) out-perform last year's.
  4. Sales activity/effort is where it needs to be to be successful.
  5. The data demonstrates that the team is more effective and efficient at executing the sales strategy and sales process.

So, the question(s) become(s) – is this happening?  If not, why not and, if so, why?

Not to focus on the negative, but let’s assume for a second that at least 3 of the 5 items determining success are not happening.  Where do you turn? What do you do?  The first thing is to determine why.  The answer to why is this – failure of sales management. 

As a leader, that is why you have a structure that includes sales management.  If you don’t, then part of the problem is that you don’t have a sales management structure or you don’t have sales management executing to the structure.

Unfortunately, if you are the sales manager, then this is a tough pill to swallow... but you have to anyway.  This is the job/responsibility you accepted when you said yes to the job, yes to the responsibility and yes to the compensation.  There is no avoiding this conclusion.  However, you can fix this and there are resources to help you. 

Certainly, as a company, we provide our unique set of solutions, but generally speaking, this is what you should be thinking:

  • What systems and processes do I need to have/build to support sales growth and a sales team built for growth?
  • What assessment tools exist to help me evaluate my skills and the skills/tendencies of my sales team?
  • What do I need to do differently in the area of recruiting to get more “A” and “a” players and stop hiring those that won’t succeed?
  • What is an effective coaching process I can implement so that I can be more intentional and impactful in my coaching? How do I change behavior and improve skill?

Resources for you to examine:

Assessments:  Cost of bad hires questionnaire

Sales Management Booklet – 9 Keys to Sales Management

Recruiting – How to find, attract, and recruit an all-star sales team – tool kit.

 

Understand this: I’d love the opportunity to help you build a sales team built for growth.  Contact me and we can look at the options. However, I know that you have access to lots of resources, so whatever you look for, start with these three – assessment, sales management and recruiting.

Book Review – You Gotta Have Balls – By Brandon Steiner

Tags: sales success, You Gotta Have Balls, Brandon Steiner

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I just heard Brandon speak at the recent Objective Management Group’s Annual International Sales Conference.  The sub-title to the book is:  How a Kid from Brooklyn Started from Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium, and Created a Sports Empire.

A couple of things before I get into the book:

  • If you are in a position to hire someone to speak to your sales team or organization, Brandon is a very good hire. His soft-spoken, easy going manner will not irritate anyone in the meeting by coming across as a brash, aggressive sales guy from New York.  I think that’s a plus.
  • His close is really good.
  • His story about Michael Jordan is very entertaining.
  • There are some great life and business lessons don’t hit you over the head but are really good.
  • I like that he loves and credits his Mom with so much of his success.

Some of my noted captions in the book:

Getting into Syracuse University

  • Brandon had applied to Syracuse and he was getting ready to go into the interview to meet with the admission counselor. He states, “As I went into it, I thought, ‘I don’t want this to be the last time I see this place.’
    • I think this is important because it’s similar to pre-call planning. The first step is to identify the objective of the call.
    • It helped him craft the conversation he needed to have in order to tip the scales in his favor to meet the objective.
  • Here is how he states he started the conversation: “I don’t have any money, my SAT scores are kind of low and my grades are pass/fail.  I’ve been working full-time since I started high school; I’ve contributed to every student club I could fit into my schedule; I’ve been involved in so many activities I can barely remember them all, and if you give me an opportunity, I promise you I will use every inch of this school.  You will never regret letting me in.”
  • How good is that as an opening statement that doesn’t look, act and sound like every other applicant?

Getting the job at Hard Rock Café in NYC

  • Negotiate your first raise before you even get started
    • He was turned down the first time he applied.
    • He went back and suggested they hire him as a consultant.
    • They wanted to hire him for $22,500.00 to be the manager.
    • He declined the offer and countered with:
      • What you need is someone to come in and take charge.
      • Hire me as the assistant general manager at $36,000.
      • Give me a two-month trial period and, if it works out, I want my salary to be $41,000.
      • If it doesn’t work out after three months, you get rid of me.
    • Great advice for hiring the high-priced sales person that is asking for premium dollars to move to your organization.

Not overselling is an underrated part of selling.

Play the game, not the score

  • When you have players on the team that are playing the game and not the score:
    • You cannot tell if they are at quota, above or below. They just keep doing the things they are supposed to do.
    • On Derek Jeter, captain of the NY Yankees: “Watching Jeter at the end of the season you couldn’t tell if they were headed to the playoffs or in last place in the division.”
  • A valuable employee – one playing the game and not the score – will look like a valuable employee no matter the situation or circumstances. Consistency over time equals credibility.
  • This is important when evaluating current a new talent. When someone comes to you with a grievance or suggestion is that the someone that day in and day out performs as an all-star… or one that rides the wave when things are good and complains when things are bad? Pay attention to the source of complaints or suggestions – are they credible?

Selling when you are selling

  • When you make a big sale, keep going and make the second big sale.
  • Don’t worry about celebrating the win or mourning the loss.
  • Shoot your way out of a slump.
  • In his presentation, Brandon told a story about calling a prospective influencer 99 times in two days. Playing the game and not the score!
  • Before you try and sell someone something, make sure you know where their heart is and what makes them tick. That information is at least as valuable as whatever sales statistics you can offer up.

Steinisms:

  • In negotiating, a big part of getting what you want is helping other people get what they want.
  • Your true value is determined by how much you give in value rather than how much you receive in payment.
  • Dig the well before you are thirsty.
  • It’s risky to not take risks.
  • If you use your head, you don’t have to use your feet.

Interesting Answers to the Question You’ve Been Asking...

Tags: failing salespeople, hiring salespeople, managing salespeople

Why Do So Many of My Salespeople Fail to Perform as Expected?

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers and you scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results, what do you do next?  Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that… or you made them that way. Don’t get upset with me or write me nasty comments; the reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done.

So, in general, why do so many sales people fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers.  Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY – Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION – Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

 

 

Additional Resources:

Fishing/Selling – It’s an Exact Science… Kinda

Tags: sales success, selling skills, fishing

I went fishing with a very good friend of mine from First Citizens Bank in NC and he took me to his favorite fishing hole - Lake James.  Keith claims it is the most beautiful fishing lake in the country.  I don’t know if it is - I’ve not seen them all, but this is one beautiful lake!

fishing.jpg

 

Equipment - You gotta have equipment.  According to my guide, Keith Walker, there is no such thing as too much equipment.  I didn’t count everything, but I’m guessing we had 12 fishing rods and rigs, well over 100 different types of lures, and enough different types of hooks for another 25 different types of plastic lures.

Electronic Technology - Two radar screens to determine depth of water, temperature of water, structure underneath the water and visuals to determine schools of baitfish and predator fish.

Boat - A boat well-equipped to handle two people, rod holders, bait well, and a 40 hp four-stroke Suzuki engine to get us to various spots on the vast lake where the fish might be feeding or nesting. And a trolling motor at the bow of the boat so that we could quietly and slowly approach fishing areas.

Intelligence - Most importantly, we had human intelligence.  (That's a bit of a stretch with Keith… but I’ll give him credit for intelligence in fishing, North Carolina basketball J and managing a team of investment advisors.  Any other intelligences attributed to Keith is questionable as it is with all former coaches of any kind as they never fail to let the facts spoil a good story.) All the fishing enablement tools are needed but, without the human intelligence to put the pieces together to develop a strategy to find the fish, lure the fish, and catch the fish, the equipment and technology is, well, just equipment and technology.

As an example, the first place we fished is a place known as the rock pile.  It a rather shallow place in the lake with very clear water and, about 7 feet down, you can see rocks, lots of rocks.  Without the human intelligence, I would have not known to go there first thing in the morning, but that is exactly where we were at 6:30 AM on Saturday where we landed 3 fish and hooked another 3.  Then we moved on… because, after about an hour after sunrise, the fish move on.  Human Intelligence.

The same is true in selling.  You can leverage all the technology available to you, but at the end of the day, the technology cannot do what Dan Sullivan described many years ago in his great book - Selling for the 21st Century Agent.

Technology cannot replace what human intelligence and skill can do:

  • Development mutually beneficial relationships
  • Provide creative solutions to people’s problems
  • Get people to take action

If you find yourself not doing those three things on a consistent basis, then you will find yourself in a boat, in a lake and wonder why you aren’t catching any fish.

How to Grade the Performance of Salespeople

Tags: sales performance, sales results, evaluating salespeople, managing salespeople

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The obvious metric to use to measure performance is the sales results of the individual. If they hit or exceed goal, all is good.  So, that takes care of about 10 to 15% of your sales force.  But, how about the rest of them?  Sure, the numbers tell you they are not performing but, as an effective sales manager, you need to find out why.  The only way to do that is to look at additional data points.

Data points that are “a must observe” to measure performance:

  • Critical ratios in the success formula
    • Are they doing the right effort?
    • How effective are they? What do the critical ratios tell you?
  • Observation
    • Joint calls – Are they executing the company sales steps/process?
    • Joint calls – Are they executing the fundamental sales skills:
      • Asking enough questions
      • Asking the right questions
      • Using stories, analogies and metaphors to weave a story and be conversational
      • Effectively listening
      • Inquiring for further information to clearly understand the impact of problems described by the client
    • Role-playing
      • Do they understand the fundamentals of your sales steps/process?
      • Do they intellectually understand what you mean by consultative selling, challenger selling, and client-focused interviewing?
      • Do they demonstrate in the classroom what you expect them do to in the field?
    • Additional data
      • Pipeline data – Is the volume increasing? Is it becoming more reliable?
      • Stack ranking - Are the various quintiles in your organization performing better this quarter/year than last quarter/year?
      • Sales activity – Are they doing enough effort to give them enough at bats to be successful?

In particular, for this article, I want to share a thought on observing your people perform.  Either in role-play or in live selling situations, you immediately get a reaction when you observe your people perform.  My guess is that your reaction could fall into 1 of 4 categories:

  1. I would not buy from this person ever; in fact, I would love to compete against them.
  2. I’m on the fence post with them; I need more information or more time to make up my mind.
  3. I would not buy from them right now based on what I just saw/heard.
  4. I would buy from this person; they were compelling, they got me engaged, made me discover some things that bother me that I need to fix and got me to a point where I was will to undo any current relationships, add a new relationship and spend money that I didn’t think I needed to spend.

I have a client that just had a sales meeting that included about an hour of role-play covering a very specific step in their sales process. One of the product line specialists/experts commented the following: “With the exception of 2 people that I observed, I don’t believe I would buy from anyone else that I saw in that one hour.”

Wow, what a courageous, honest assessment.

My comment or suggestion to the team is to go back and review all the video or audio recordings of the role-plays and grade them using the standards I suggested above.  Sounds easy enough.  But, it’s not.

Performance management requires the following:

  • Supportive beliefs about what it takes to coach people and get them to perform. If you believe you can manage people better if they like you, then you’re in trouble.
  • Recovering from rejection – If you cannot recover from rejection or fear of rejection, then you probably won’t tell one of the salespeople you work with that you wouldn’t buy from them.
  • Knowledge of desire and commitment - If you believe that all of your people are trainable and coachable, then you will spend a great deal of time with the same people covering the same sales execution problems.
  • Data nutcase - If you don’t look at data, then you won’t be able to have any intentional coaching sessions.
  • Time allocation - If you don’t take time to do ride-a-longs or role-plays, then you are missing two important/non-negotiable data points.

These are just a few of the requirements of effective sales management, leadership and coaching.  The key point in the message though is to do an honest assessment of your talent and then have discussions with them about how you honestly feel about their performance.  Yes, it will be difficult.  Yes, you might lose somebody over this.  And, yes, you might actually get people to work harder at their craft.

Resources to help you improve performance management and intentional coaching:

Sales Management Certification Program:  Link to SME

Why is Sales Management so #$%& Hard:  Articles

Tracking sales activity to get real time sales data:  Whitepaper article

National Webinar series for sales and sales management: Inquire about distance learning call me or text me directly 513.226.3913

How to Win Business in Any Market at Any Time!

Tags: sales results, sales prospecting, saes competition, client focus

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Selling in Any Market is one of my favorite keynote/workshops to deliver. When addressing a group of sales people or sales managers, I always create a stir when I loudly pronounce that the way to sell in any market is to “STOP making excuses and JUST SELL.”

When there are disruptions/economic conditions in your industry that cause you to get out of your normal flow in business, sometimes you end up spending more time playing defense than you do playing offense. 

In our primary markets – insurance brokerages, banking and investment services - disruptions have become a quarterly occurrence.  In my 20+ years in this business, I have asked audiences across the country if they have ever gone through a three-year period in their business when there wasn’t some sort of the disruption in the “normal” flow of business.  In short, their answer was no. In fact, disruptions in flow of business have become the norm.

In a recent discussion with one of our current client’s brokers, they described that the market is a hard market right now meaning that some prices are stable and some are going down.  As a result, some of the markets/carriers were lowering prices to grab market share.  When this happens, a broker’s own clients sometimes decide that it’s time to go for better premiums with the same coverage.  So, when this happens, brokers (like my client) have to play some defense to protect their turf.  And when that happens, brokers have a tendency to take their eyes off of prospecting – they stop playing offense.

I have several clients in the bank-owned investment brokerage business.  Last week, the Department of Labor passed new fiduciary regulations that have caused and will continue to cause a MAJOR disruption in that business.  Studies indicate that companies will literally spend billions of dollars to make sure they are compliant with the new regulations.  Not only will this require an investment of an enormous amount of money, but it will also take millions of hours invested by many for compliance training.  None of these activities are offensive in nature and so, in the end, will actually cost millions, maybe billions, more in lost productivity.

This is not necessary!  Here are just a couple of things to keep in mind as you attempt to manage performance during difficult periods:

  • Unlike 2008 (when a substantial piece of the market DID shrink), the current situation is not the same.
    1. Businesses are not going out of business because insurance premiums are going down.
    2. The amount of money in play in retirement and personal savings has not shrunk. If it’s a multi-billion/trillion dollar pile of money today, it will still be a multi-trillion pile of money once the Department of Labor regulations are fully implemented (January 1, 2018)
  • If your clients have a tendency to want to shop in a tough market, so do the clients of your competitors. Companies are in play, but you have to take the phone “off of the hook” and call them.
  • People that have invested their money with advisors that have not treated them in a way that is consistent with the new regulations (client focused/fiduciary responsibility) will be in the market to find an investment advisor/representative who will.
  • If you find that it is your smaller clients that want to shop – let them. My guess is that, if you let the bottom 20% of your insurance clients go, it will represent less than 5% of your total revenue.  One new client that looks more like your top 20% will replace at least 10 of your bottom clients.
  • If you are a financial advisor – DITTO. Frequently, my friend, Kevin Mummau from CUSO Financial, and I discuss the segmenting of books of business. Time and again, the 80/20 rule applies. Actually, based on his business intelligence, that industry looks more like 30/70.  But, still let the smaller accounts work with licensed bank reps or bring in an associate that can grow by growing with smaller accounts.

The bottom line is this: as a sales leader in an organization, you have the responsibility to keep your people focused on what it takes to win in any market, any environment.  Regardless of the score of the game, you have to…

Just like in a sport of any kind, stuff happens.  A team gets a big lead, catches a break, the wind shifts and the kick goes wide.  It doesn’t matter!  You cannot win just playing defense.

Sooner or later, you have to score more points than the opponent. That is offense!