Sales & Sales Management Expertise

How to Win Business in Any Market at Any Time!

Tags: sales prospecting, performance management, increase sales, selling in today's market

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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!

Who is Your Superstar?

Tags: hire better sales people, increase sales, upgrade your sales force, sales habits

Kobe Bryant will be retired from NBA basketball when the final buzzer sounds in tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz.  If you are not a basketball fan or sports fan, this may mean nothing to you.  My intent is to frame a very important discussion about performance around a living legend of the LA Lakers and NBA.

As I listened to ESPN Radio Mike and Mike in The Morning, I heard commentary from former teammates, coaches and opposing players. There was a common theme in there discussion about Kobe Bryant and elite performers in athletics.  To be clear, I don’t believe the common theme is limited to athletic top performers.

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As I started this article, I sent a question to my niece, Laura Wehrmeyer Fuentes.  Laura is an elite performer and vocalist who performs in the greater DC/Baltimore area.  I asked her if she ever bailed on a performance because she felt a little off or hadn’t prepared properly.  Her response:  “No way!  I’ve sung through bronchitis and pneumonia hopped up on steroids when I had to.  The show must go on!”

Elite performers prepare and perform at the highest capabilities regardless of the situation, the score, the environment or circumstances.

Some comments made about Kobe made me think about the content and theme of this article.  Here is just a sampling of what was said about Kobe and other top performers:

  • They demanded the best of others. When others were not performing at their best, giving it their all in practice or in a game, they call them out.
  • When it’s game time, nothing else matters. When Kobe’s family came to LA to watch him play, they stayed at a hotel instead of his spacious home.  He focused on the task at hand.
  • Regardless of the score of any game, if you watched Kobe play, you would swear that the Lakers must be down by 20. His intensity for playing the game rather than playing the score made him elite.
  • When comparing Kobe to Magic Johnson, the comment was made about Magic after they lost the championship to the Lakers. “You couldn’t find Magic in LA.  Here is a guy that likes to be out, is normally seen out and is everywhere where the lights are.  After the loss you could only find him in one place – the gym.”
  • Elite players make other players better. They recognize that they are a big piece of the puzzle, but still only one piece.  They elevate the game of others in order to win the team
  • Elite players have a tendency to rub others the wrong way. Not because they are arrogant individuals, but they have an arrogance about how they view the game and how it should be played and how one should be prepared to play.  They are haters – haters of losing and those un-willing to pay the price to win.

I could go on, but this makes the point and takes me to the question in the title of this article – Who are your elite players and are they doing the things that superstar/hall of fame players do? 

  • Are they elevating others?
  • Are they demanding of others?
  • Are they team-objective focused or focused on their own stats?
  • Do they do everything possible to win individually and get others to win as a team?
  • Are they your go-to people in a crisis?
  • Do they grind and grind to get it done?
  • Do they work relentlessly on their skills?
  • Do they focus on the details of the game so as to eliminate repeated errors or mistakes?
  • Do they call others out?

*Data on approximately 100,000 sales managers

  • Have, on average 43% of the Sales Coaching Competency 
  • Only 39% have at least 50% of the Sales Coaching Competency.  
  • Only 7% have more than 75% of the Sales Coaching Competency and
  • Only 3% spend at least 50% of their time coaching their salespeople
  • Only 7% of sales people assessed fall into the elite status based on performance, sales DNA and 21 core sales competencies.

As a CEO, president, national sales manager, vice president of sales or sales manager, the responsibility you have is to drive revenue.  When that seems difficult or impossible there needs to be more to the solution than work harder, see more people, increase the marketing budget, do more social networking, expand the sales force, etc.  Just like you would look into the numbers (expenses) to figure out how to improve profit, you need to look at the root problems impacting revenue.

It isn’t the latest sales enablement technology that improves sales results.  It is the human technology that drives sales today and will drive sales tomorrow.

Helpful Links/Resources:

Objective Management Group – White Paper on Talent Selection

Anthony Cole Training Group – Link to Sales Management Certification Program

Hirebettersalespeople.com – Self-explanatory link

Burning platform issue – You have a problem now, You want it fixed now – call me directly:  Office: 513.605.1301 or call/text  Mobile 513.226.3913.

 

Picture of Kobe – link to YouTube

Is it an Expense or an Investment?

Tags: building successful sales teams, sales management, Sales Coaching, increase sales

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I just returned from the 2016 Bank Insurance and Securities Association annual convention. As always, it is a great event where competitors come together to discuss processes and strategies to deal with the challenges of growing financial institution-owned investment (broker) programs.

I believe this is actually my 7th conference: the first one being 2009.  As you can imagine, that year was quite a conference as banks and investment firms/companies were in the throws of a financially disastrous economic downturn.  This year, there is a new challenge on the horizon - the impending DOL (Department of Labor) legislation regulating fiduciary responsibility of advisors when discussing, presenting and offering solutions to retirement funds.  Although there was way too much information to get it all a single post, the topic did leave me with much I would like to share with my readers.

So, this is my thought for today - investing in success.

This is going to sound self-serving.  However, I assure you, it is not.  As a company, we have probably invested $40,000.00 in real dollars to learn about the industry the BISA represents as well as learn more about the problems and challenges facing those that are responsible for leading and managing sales teams to meet the investment program goals.  This year alone, and I just finished tallying just my expenses for the trip, we will have invested very close to $20,000.00 so that we can better understand AND service our target market. 

Understand that when I say "our company" I really mean my wife, Linda, and me.  It is our company.  It is our money.  So, every dollar we spend in and for our company that is a dollar that we don’t invest in our own family and future.  It really is our money. The point is that we look at it as an investment and not just an expense.  It's an investment that will return future dollars to the company.

As I was flying back yesterday, I was thinking about that and thinking about those that attended and those individual salespeople (thousands of them) represented by the firms/companies in attendance and I realized a couple of things:

  *  There are people there just like me that are taking money out of their pocket and investing in a future.

  * There are people there that are using company dollars BUT they are using personal time away from their family and investing that time to invest in their future.

  * The investment, either way, is substantial.

  * The investment of time alone is close to three 14-hour days.

My point and suggestion today is this - in order to become all that you can be, you need to personally invest time, money and effort to learn.  It’s more than an investment of the 40 to 50 hours a week working in the business.  It is an additional investment of time working on your business necessary for future success.