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Leadership in Times of Change

Posted by Steve Jones on Thu, Aug 20, 2020

As a leader, have you ever wondered why your salespeople don't adapt to and follow the new guidelines you have established? Often, managers focus their energy on defining procedures and identifying expectations during times of change. However, they fail to understand the impact and personal needs of the employees that are responsible for following these new requirements. 

In today's blog, we discuss why it is so critical for leaders to understand the overall impact change has on employees and how to best get new policies in place with everyone on board. 

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“Due to the virus restrictions, we have had to institute many new procedures. Surprisingly, some of my best employees are struggling to adapt to them!”

“We had to shrink our sales team due to business performance. This required us to juggle some client assignments among the remaining staff. Some have jumped right in, but a few are resisting. We have been clear about why the business needs to make these changes. They should be happy they have kept their jobs, but you’d never know it.”

What’s going on? In the past, our team has risen to every challenge and met every new goal with excitement and enthusiasm. Our compensation is more than competitive. Our competition hasn’t introduced any new products or services that we can’t compete against. We were very clear on the new procedures and assignments, and our performance expectations are basically the same as they have always been.

What could be going on is that you and your managers have focused your energy on clearly defining new procedures and expectations but may not have spent enough time focusing on the personal needs of the employees. When things are changing, employees will often take a step back to understand how the changes affect them personally before they focus on how the changes will benefit the business. They need the time to understand what they need to do differently and to what extent their world is being changed.

They might be asking:

  • “Do these changes affect my work schedule, which will in turn affect my schedule outside of work?”
  • “Am I going to need to rely on or develop a skill I never really needed in the past? Do I feel confident in that new skill? Am I willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the new procedure?”
  • “Will my selling style match well with the new clients I have been assigned, or will I need to adjust? Will I be able to adjust? Do I want to adjust?”

When change happens in our lives, it is natural for us to resist at first, particularly if we thought things were going well before. If the status quo was comfortable for me, I would prefer to leave things as they were. Unconsciously (or maybe consciously), I am hoping that if I resist the change then it will go away. You will let me continue to operate in my comfort zone.

The mistake we make as managers is that we believe all we need to do is clearly explain what needs to be done and why. If we do that, everyone will see the need for the change and jump on board. However, as long as your people are in resistance mode, they are not ready to listen to your arguments on why the changes are good for the company. They are taking care of themselves first.

The next time you need to institute changes take a more balanced approach:

  1. Be clear about the need for the change and the long-term benefits of everyone successfully adopting the new procedures.
  2. Acknowledge that this is a change and seek to understand what concerns your employees may have about adapting to the changes. Be sincere in your understanding that change can be confusing, time-consuming, and scary. If you have the flexibility to accommodate an individual’s specific concerns, let them know that.
  3. Discuss what the employees need to get comfortable with the changes. Do they need more information? Do they need time to learn new procedures before they are implemented? They certainly will need your patience as they adjust, and your understanding if they are not initially skilled at the new behaviors.
  4. As a leader, you need to define the desired outcome. Allow your employees to participate in figuring out the best way to achieve that outcome. If you do this, you will find they will more quickly “own” the new procedures and behaviors.
  5. When your employees struggle with the new “rules of the game” – and they will – be forgiving at first and encourage them to keep working at it. Acknowledge the effort to change, and they will feel you appreciate that it isn’t easy.
  6. When you feel the majority of your folks have successfully transitioned to the new way, take some time to celebrate. Remind them how far they have come, thank them for their efforts, and revisit the benefits of making the changes. This will help them continue to move forward even when they have setbacks.

Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Given the choice, most people will choose to not change what they feel has been working for them. Don’t try to manage the change by focusing on processes, measurements, and results. Instead, try to lead them through the change by partnering with them and supporting them along the new path you have set for them.

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Topics: Sales Leadership, sales management success, managing sales teams, sales leadership development, increase sales, motivating salespeople

What Motivates Your Sales Team?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jul 16, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss motivation in sales.  The problem, in many cases, is that the sales executive in charge of getting more out of their sales team has no idea what motivates those people on the team.  

Without knowing what motivates his/her employees, how could you possibly create a motivating environment?

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As many of you know, we use the Objective Management Group's (OMG) assessment to evaluate every organization that we do sales and sales management training, coaching and consulting for.  The process helps us (and our clients) determine with great accuracy the answers to these 4 questions:       

  1. Can we be more effective (sell more, more quickly at better margins)?
  2. How much more effective could we be?
  3. What would it take?
  4. How long would it take?

Answering these four questions requires the ability to uncover at least two important contributors to improved effectiveness:

  1. Their “will” to improve in selling and sales management
  2. Their ability (sales and sales management DNA)

6 FACTORS THAT DETERMINE THE WILL TO SELL

There are 6 known contributing factors that OMG uses to determine “will to sell”  (click here to inquire about the pre-hire assessment tool).

  1. Desire to succeed in selling
  2. Commitment to succeed in selling
  3. Motivation
  4. Outlook
  5. Responsibility
  6. Enjoyment of selling

A CONSISTENTLY RECURRING QUESTION

I don't believe there is a way to effectively rank those factors in terms of relevant importance.  Having used the tool and delivered results to dozens of companies and hundreds of people, my experience is that these 6 work together to form a puzzle that gives you an overall picture of someone’s “will to sell”.  In this article, however, I want to focus on motivation because,often, when attending my workshops, attendees consistently the question,

“How do I motivate or keep my people motivated?”


ARE YOU MOTIVATED?

What motivates you?  If you are a manager, what is motivating your people?  If you are not motivated to:

  • Be more effective
  • Be more successful
  • Compete to be the best
  • Sell more to make your lifestyle dreams a reality

I have to ask: Why?

ALL ENCOMPASSING - MOTIVATION INVOLVES EVERYTHING

Let me address two things:

  • Personal motivation
  • Motivation of others

My experience – my own true, personal experience - about motivation is that when you desire something greatly in your heart, then you will live and breath the desire to make the dream a reality.  Many of you know I played football at UConn.  I always considered myself blessed beyond reason to have had the opportunity to make my dream a reality.  But blessed does not stand alone as the only contributing factor for the scholarship. 

Yes, I had some God-given talents (nature), but I also had some external factors (nurture) that contributed to my success.  Those factors were Mom and Dad and the attitudes they instilled in me regarding hard work, anything is possible, don’t give up, and success requires commitment.  I learned early on that, if you really want to accomplish something great in your life, you must be willing to give up some things to get where you want to go.

  • When my classmates were going to Lee’s house to party after a game, I did not.
  • I hated vegetables, but my dad told me he would tell Coach Cacia I wasn’t eating right – I wasn’t going to let that happen.
  • At the end of a long day – 12 hours – working on the farm, I still ran my miles and lifted weights.
  • When I got beat on a certain play during practice, I would make that person pay the price on the next play.
  • I ran sprints every day at the end of practice.

THE REAL DEAL – MOTIVATION IS PERSONAL

When I answer the question - How do I motivate my people? - for workshop attendees, I tell them, “You cannot motivate them.  Motivation is an inside-out job and they have to come to the table with their own motivation.  The best you can do is create an environment where people want to come and they want to be motivated and excited because they have personal reasons to be successful.”

While assessing numerous organizations, we have found three things that hinder the motivation and success of the sales team: 1) 90% of the sales managers don’t believe they need to know what motivates their sales people.  2) 25% of the sales managers are not motivated to be successful in the role of sales manager and 3) Virtually 100% of the salespeople lack personal goals, lack a personal goal plan and fail to have a process in place to track if they are achieving goals.

Without knowing what motivates your salespeople, how could you possibly create a motivated environment or sales team? 

Topics: effective sales coaching, sales leadership development, sales motivation, sales skill assessment, sales growth and inspiration, banking sales training, professional sales training, consultative sales coaching, online sales training, sales training programs, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

Call a Sales Audible!

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Jun 11, 2020

In today's blog post, we discuss the importance of calling a sales audible at the line of scrimmage.  Like an elite Quarterback, an elite salesperson must be willing to change things up when they're not working and be open to trying something completely different in the field.

We've all been there before and we all know the definition of insanity by this point.  So, what can you do about it when things aren't going your way and you are ready to increase sales?

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An audible is, "A change in the offensive play called by the Quarterback at the line of scrimmage."

A few years ago , I thought of that definition in Chicago, IL, as my Uber driver made several deviations from her GPS directions in transporting me from the Midway Airport into downtown.

As I rode along with the windows down on a beautiful and sunny day in the Windy City, my thoughts turned from sightseeing to salespeoplespecifically, the need for salespeople to make changes on the fly, whether that be during the initial phone call, the first meeting, or even at the time they present their solutions.  

Is there a better time than right now to try something different in your sales approach?

Anyone and everyone who has had any exposure to our company knows that we are completely sold on the importance of process.  We have table-pounding conviction around how important it is for a business driven by sales to have certain key processes in place regarding their sales infrastructure. 

And, of course, we believe that sales training creates the most return on a client’s investment when the salespeople and sales managers are following a sales process where opportunities are moving through the funnel in a stage-based and milestone-centric manner. 

We believe that firms who don’t have a consistent sales process (everyone following the same steps and using the same terms to describe stages in the sales process) but who implement such a process can often see a 15% to 20% increase in new business sales.

But, here is something worth rememberinglife is complicated.  Ferris Bueller (I can’t come to Chicago and not think of him) told us to slow down or we might miss something

And the same is true with selling.  Sometimes you just need to slow down and do something unconventional.  Sometimes you need to do something that is contrary to what even your training has taught you to do. 

Sometimes you just need to call an audible.

To be clear, usually your training is going to be correct.  But, sometimes, you will need to remember that selling is both science and art, and the art part means you might need to listen to your heart and occasionally let that heart override your mind. 

Of course, the best in the business know when to listen to their head and when to listen to their heart.  And if they get it wrong every so often, so what? 

They get back up and they keep going.

So, listen to your heart.  Sometimes you will need to call an audible to get back on the saddle and to increase sales within your organization.

Topics: sales performance, sales management secrets, sales succes, sales meetings, sales performance poll, sales plans, sales talent, sales priorities, sales management responsibility, sales professional, sales systems, sales skill improvement, sales thinking, sales trainers, sales myth, sales practice, sales management, sales results, sales prospecting, sales techniques, sales tips, sales improvement, sales success, sales leadership development, sales problems, sales recruiting, sales onboarding, sales menagement, sales management tools, sales productivity, sales recruitment, sales skill assessment, sales madness, sales training courses, sales training workshops, sales training seminars, sales training programs, sales team evaluation, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

Why is It So #%&@ Hard to Solve the Sales Growth Problem? – The 5 Constraints to Growing Sales – Part III

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 26, 2017

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In my series (see previous posts) regarding the constraints to growing sales, the two remaining topics are:

  • Ineffective motivation of the sales team
  • The “just enough is good enough” approach to hitting setting and hitting goals

THE POWER OF THE “RIGHT” MOTIVATION

Ineffective motivation of the sales team is not uncommon and it is the subject of one of the more frequent questions people ask me: “Tony, how do I keep my sales people motivated?”  My first response is normally a question in return:  “Do you know what motivates your people?”  The most common answer: “Well, uh, yeah, I think so.”  I cannot help myself when I ask, “Do you know or do you think you know?”  Their most common answer: “I think I know.”

With that in mind, how do you possibly motivate people when you just think you know what motivates them?

What we know about motivating salespeople is that it has changed over the years.  When we first started evaluating sales teams using the #1 Sales Evaluation Assessment – Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation and Impact Analysis – the findings told us that people were externally motivated.  Motivation was money and the things money can provide.  Today, however, we see a different set of results (Read this HBR article on motivating salespeople).

The current findings tell us that sales teams are highly motivated to succeed, but the source of motivation is internal rather than external.  They are motivated by a job well done. They want to be recognized for success and they are motivated by achieving their own personal standards for success and achievement.

I was 9 years old when I walked off the football field the very first time.  I had just finished practice and my dad was waiting on the sideline for me.  He asked me what I thought and I told him I loved it.  “Someday I’m going to go to college to play football.”  Dad asked me if I was sure and I said “yes.”  He then told me, “College football players are in great shape so, if you are going to play college football, you’ll have to be in great shape. Take off your helmet and shoulder pads and start running some laps.”  I followed his advice and I ran laps every night after practice to get in shape to play college football.  In February of 1973, I signed my letter of intent to go to the University of Connecticut to play football.

My dad - my manager - knew my goal and used that occasionally to keep me on track.  Occasionally, when I would fall off the training wagon, he would ask me if I still planned on playing college football.  I would always answer, “Sure!”  He would then say, “Well, I wasn’t sure. I haven’t seen you run or lift weights in a while.”  That’s all he needed to say.  Off I went.

When you know what motivates your people, you can then have the appropriate discussions to keep them on track.

 

“JUST ENOUGH” IS NEVER GOOD ENOUGH

“Just enough is good enough.” THIS MINDSET DRIVES ME CRAZY!  How do you know that this is your culture?

  • Year over year growth is one of the metrics you use to determine if you are getting better
  • Comparing one unit in your organization against another is the way you communicate to the teams about which ones are having success – stack ranking and comparing the rank of one team against the others as a way to explain, “If they can go from #22 to #15, then so can you!”
  • Hitting sales goals on the backs of the few
  • You have people on your sales team who - month after month, quarter after quarter and year over year - fail to hit their sales goal.
    • I don’t mean those that are at 99% one year and 101% the next and then 95% the third
    • I mean those that consistently perform in the low 90’s or high 80’s.
    • Those people that fail to perform still earn incentive comp, are not subject to any disciplined approach to improving skills or changing behaviors
    • There is never a discussion that sounds like, “What happened to the superstar sales person I thought I hired ____ number of years ago?”

I understand how this happens. There is so much pressure to just hit the numbers that, at the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how you hit the numbers; you just have to hit them.  But what are the long-term consequences of this sales environment?

  • Turn over of really good producers that are tired of carrying the load
  • Producers who are close to being really successful manage themselves downward instead of upward.
    • They witness that there are no consequences for failure
    • They become “at leasters” – “I’m not as good as Julie, but at least I’m not as bad as John.”
  • Recruiting top talent is difficult because, when they talk to your top performers, they tell them that there will be a lot of pressure to perform because nothing happens to the slackers and the company depends on the top producers to make up the difference.
  • When goal setting time comes around, people at the top get more heaped on them and those in the middle to bottom of pack argue that the goal you give them was never one they bought into.

 

SETTING THE BAR FOR SUCCESS

Bottom line is:

  • Organizations have to have a mind-shift first about what it means to be successful in the organization.
  • There have to be systems and processes in place to catch failure before it happens rather than when it actually happens. Failure never happens all at once. It’s gradual; however, instead of addressing the issues when they appear, managers put salespeople on “double secret probation.”
  • The metrics used to determine success have to include diagnostics of the improvement of quintiles year over year. (See chart below for a snapshot of quintile performance.)  The idea is that when you take the snapshot next year, the numbers for each quintile have to be better than the previous quarter, year, etc.
  • A willingness and commitment to set the bar higher for success and then hold people accountable to actually DOING the THINGS required to be successful rather than just looking at training data.

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I will continue to explore and discuss these constraints to consistent and predictable sales growth.

Additional Resources:

The 80/20 of the 80/20 - What it means for your company and next steps

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Topics: sales leadership development, sales performance coaching, sales productivity, predictable sales growth, sales management responsibilities, sales motivation

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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