Sales & Sales Management Expertise

In Managing Salespeople, as in Life, Failure is Not an Option

Tags: sales management, sales goals, Sales Strategies

A year ago this past August, I was released from University Hospital here in Cincinnati.  Doctors Augsburger and Correa had performed radioactive plaque surgery on my right eye.  The plaque stayed attached to my right eye for 5 days with a lead eye patch covering it.  I was confined to a lead-lined room.  On the 25th, they removed the plaque (disc), sutured the eye and then sent me home for recovery. I was back to work the following Monday.

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I share this story in an attempt to relate “life happens” to sales management.

Life happens in sales and sales management.  When attempting to manage a sales team, “life happens.”

  • The economy tanks
  • A top producer leaves
  • A new producer that you thought would set the world on fire is going on a PIP
  • The company has changed its product mix, offerings or pricing
  • A new competitor has come to town
  • A new compensation plan is being implemented
  • A new CRM tool is being implemented
  • The Department of Labor passes new regulations, changing the sales landscape for an entire industry 

Despite all the changes and all the “life happens” events that come your way as a sales manager, you are left with one ultimate objective – meet/exceed the sales targets established by the company.  Despite all the obstacles and challenges, at the end of the day, someone in the company is going to look to you and want to know if your team is going to hit the sales goal.

A month after my departure from University Hospital, I met with an oncologist.  Prior to the meeting, I had a blood test completed and a CT scan.  Both tests are designed to look for cancer cells possibly lurking somewhere in my body.  I am to continue this testing every 6 months for the next three years.  I will see my ophthalmologist once every 6 months.  At the end of each time period, all that matters is this: Did I go another six months and stay cancer free?

So, what do you do to get from diagnosis – life event, business event, etc. – to whatever happens next?  Answer: You do everything possible to improve the odds for success. That is what you do.

I have another doctor.  Dr. Peter Shang practices eastern medicine and is a former practicing oncologist.  When I visited with him the first time, he told me one really important thing:  Cancer hates a healthy body.  He told me that we needed to find out how healthy my blood was and make it healthier so that it could effectively fight any cancer cells.  He also told me that cancer loves sugar.  And he told me that regardless of how healthy I thought I was, I needed to get healthier.  This meant exercising 5 days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes a day.

Here are steps that are similar in personal health related problems and business problems:

  • Pay attention to the symptoms
  • Get a diagnosis to identify the root cause
  • Analyze the root cause and identify solutions
  • Determine if the outcome for doing nothing is acceptable
  • If doing nothing is unacceptable, take action
  • Check your commitment to stick to the plan – you must have a non-negotiable reason to stick to it

I just had the second of my six-month checkups for eye, blood and body scan.  All are good.  Also, I’ve continued to work, play tennis and golf.  I monitor my steps, my workouts, and my food intake.  I’d like to report that I’m completely off of all sugar, but I have my lapses.  I was in a great habit of not eating sugar and then, when I hit a body weight target, I allowed myself to celebrate with my greatest food weakness – ice cream.  (If you see me and we are dining, don’t let me eat dessert!)

I work out consistently, and I am healthier now than I’ve been in at least 30 years.  Every time I work out, I talk to cancer.  I tell it that it had better be ready for a fight because that’s what it’s in for.  I work out and think about others who are fighting the fight.  Doug, Ray, Cherie, Brooke and Jerry all are fighting the fight for health.  But… the major motivation is my wife, Linda. She is my non-negotiable reason to stay the course and fight the fight.

In business, you have to have that non-negotiable reason to fight the fight, to overcome the obstacles, challenges, and setbacks.  You are not always going to win the battle every second, every minute or every hour.  But, win the battle every day. Then your days become weeks and the weeks become months and the months become the first year.

In the words of the flight director of Apollo 13, “Failure is not an option!”

Additional Resources:

10 Uncomfortable Deeds that Will Make You More Successful

Download our free eBook, The Extraordinary Sales Manager

Sign up for a free demo of Hire Better Salespeople

Performance Management and the Law of Cause

Tags: sales management, sales goals, performance management, sales accountability

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?

Change Your Habits, Change Your Outcomes

Tags: time management, sales goals, sales habits

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A guest post by Jack Kasel, Sales Development Expert, Anthony Cole Training Group

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” I don’t remember reading any accounts of Aristotle conducting sales training, but I believe he would have been pretty good at it.

I have a statement and a question that tie into Aristotle’s quote on habits:

  • The systems you have in place are perfectly designed to produce the results you are getting.
  • Do you own, and do you like, the outcome you produced?

Habits + Systems = Outcomes.  I think I can get agreement that, if both habits and systems are excellent and well thought-out, the outcome will be what it needs to be.  The problem is this: if either habits or systems are bad, the outcome will never be what it could be.  Here’s the good news though – you are in control of both the habits you create and the systems you follow.

Let’s take a look at habits.  There are many you can create.  One of the best habits you can develop is setting aside an appointment, each week, to meet with your most important customer.  That most important customer is you and the habit you must form is to never… under any circumstances… break that appointment.  During that appointment with yourself, plan and set goals for your week, read things to improve your skills and craft or just spend time organizing yourself.  You will be shocked how much better you can be by investing 30 minutes each week.

What systems do you have in place that will help you succeed? What are key factor you need to achieve to succeed in sales?  Are they introductions?  Cold Calls?  Appointments? Presentations, etc.?  What’s your conversion ratio?  How many calls turn into appointments?  How many appointments turn into presentations?  Have a system, measure the activity, find the gaps, do the things necessary to fix them.

Finally, let’s look at outcomes.  Do you own the outcome you’ve created?  Another way to look at it is, when something doesn’t happen the way you wanted or needed it to, do you look out the window for the reason or do you look in the mirror for the reason?

So, there you go.  A simple formula . . . Habits (good or bad) + Systems (good or bad) = Outcome. If you own the outcome and don’t like it, fix the things on the left side of the equal sign.  Finally, always remember this: Someone needs what you do; go find them.

SUMMARY:
So, change your habits and you will change your outcomes. Remember: schedule a 30-minute weekly appointment with yourself to…

  • Spend time organizing yourself
  • Plan and set goals for the week
  • Read to improve your skills
  • Develop a system and measure the activity
  • Find the gaps and decide how to fix them

Sales Success – It’s a Function of Beliefs, Habits and Skills

Tags: sales goals, sales success, sales habits

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I’m going to skip over beliefs and skills today because, when I started thinking about this post, I decided I wanted to write about habits.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

About 6 weeks ago, maybe longer than that, I developed a new habit – not blogging. It was an easy habit to develop. One day, I didn’t post a blog, and then I didn’t post one the next day, or the next, or the next and, the next thing you know, it’s June 1st. I decided that I’ve had that bad habit long enough and now it’s time to develop a new habit – blogging.

I’ve had this habit before. Usually, it last about 6 months and then I just stop. And then the not blogging habit takes over. The same thing happens with my exercise routine - I exercise consistently and then something happens to break that habit and I develop my habit of not exercising. That is a really easy habit to stick with. Last week, my wife Linda asked me to promise her that I would get up early the next day and go to the club to work out. I promised her that I would and so I have now hit the club 4 out of the last 7 days, played golf once, and tennis twice.

Already I feel better about doing the right thing and getting back into a good habit.

Before I started this post, I googled “sales habits”. Here are the first 5 responses:

I myself have written or spoken about sales habits in the past:

I’m an educator by degree. During my undergraduate work at UConn, my fellow future teachers and I were taught that behaviors and habits are a result of combinations of rewards and consequences. If you wanted your student to develop certain habits or skills, part of the development, in addition to the teaching and coaching, was rewarding success and disciplining failure. Sometimes the disciplined approach was punitive; other times it was a matter of repeating the behavior, skill or activity until they (the person being taught) got it right. Once they got it right, they were rewarded.

Given all of this background, here are my thoughts for today about habits.

  • Good habits are called good habits because they contribute to the successful completion of the goals and objectives you say you are committed to.
  • Bad habits are “bad” because, instead of taking you towards your objectives, they take you away. They keep you from accomplishing what you said was important to you.
  • Keeping your good habits “habitual” is dependent upon your level of commitment to your goals. If you are truly committed and willing to sacrifice immediate gratification for the long-term good, then good habits stick.
  • If you find that you cannot consistently execute your good habits, it is probably due to your lack of commitment to the things you say are important to you.
  • “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” - Vince Lombardi
  • Often the things/habits you need to be doing aren’t urgent: Exercising, eating well, taking baby aspirin, getting enough sleep, prospecting, blogging, etc.
  • Habits become urgent when something else urgent happens: Heart attack, bodily injury, stroke, diabetes, organ failure, put on performance improvement program because of lack of production, lack of website activity.
  • Your habits are expressive of your commitments.

How do you correct your behavior and become more habitual? Here are my 5 Steps to Better Habits:

  1. Identify goals and objectives that are non-negotiable
  2. Have a plan to achieve those goals. Make sure the plan is detailed.
  3. Have a system to track your progress, execution of the necessary habits, activities required to achieve your goals.
  4. Inspect what you expect.
  5. Have an accountability partner that loves you and cares enough about you to hold your feet to the fire.

In addition to the 3,7,11, 10, 25 habits mentioned earlier, execute these 5 Steps to Better Habits and text me at 513-226-3913 with the subject – “Call me about habits.”

 

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