The paperclips didn't need a sales pitch. Neither do your clients.

SELLutions

A Great Salesperson is Not Your Best Manager

by Admin 6. February 2012 16:43

The most common questions I think I get, hands down, are: “Greta, where do I find a good sales manager?” or “Who on our team do you think would be a good manager?” Most of the time, they take their best salesperson and promote him, or they take somebody who has been in the field or sold before and hire her. What happens? Well, I’ll tell you: More often than not, it’s unsuccessful. To illustrate why, I’m going to tell you a story about Evan.

I work with a very prominent, high-end Web design company, one of the largest in the country. It has a wonderful reputation, and its salespeople are skilled, though they needed to learn some process. So the company hired me about a year and a half ago.

The sales manager they had was absolutely fabulous at sales – one of the best I’ve seen. And when I taught them my sales process, most of them – and certainly him – took to the process like a duck to water. The sales manager, named Don, took this process and made it his own. He totally got it, he understood it and he started selling like nobody’s business.

Well that’s great, but how were the others doing? They weren’t really hitting their potential. Why? Because they weren’t really being managed. Now, don’t get me wrong. Don was one of the best salesmen I’ve ever seen, but management and sales are two completely different things. So the owner and I sat down and talked. I said: “You know, I think you are holding Don back by making him a sales manager. He could be not only your top salesperson, but he could make a heck of a lot more money, and I don’t think he enjoys what he’s doing.” He said: “Well, what do you think we should do?”

Now, before I talk to you about Evan, I want to tell you a little bit about how the organization works. They have salespeople who will go out, cultivate the business, gather it, get it to a point where they have some technical conversation ready to happen, and then they have what they call “business consultants” come in to talk more on the technical side. That being said, their salespeople and their business consultants were both involved in my training and both learned the process.

But Evan, who was a business consultant, learned the process inside and out. Why? In my opinion, it’s because he’s a real process-oriented guy. Most salespeople believe whatever they want to believe, but Evan believes one plus one equals two.

So, when I suggested to the owner, Jeff, that he should make Evan the sales director, he almost fell over. He looked at me like I had three heads, and told me that Evan had never been in sales before. I said that’s precisely it. What I meant was that most of us think incorrectly about what we need in a sales manager.

A sales manager does not need to be the best salesperson because, unless you can teach someone through osmosis how to sell, that particular skill is not transferrable unless it is taught and accounted for. Even if they could articulate it, it really doesn’t make any difference because it can’t be repeatable and made accountable for unless it has steps to follow. Here is why Evan is a good sales leader:

  • Strong coaching. He could coach because he didn’t have his ego all tied up in “when I was a salesperson, this is what I would do.” He was a coach because he understood that coaching through a particular process allows for repeatable, accountable success and a clear understanding of what went wrong if a sale isn’t made.
  • It takes leadership. A leader is somebody who doesn’t tell someone what to do, but asks questions and gets them to realize what they should do. Evan was very skilled at this because the most intelligent people are the ones who ask, not tell. When someone self-discovers an answer to a question, it becomes theirs. When it is theirs, they learn.
  • Keeping people accountable. This is the one that most sales managers miss on. Because they will allow a salesperson to say everything looks good when nothing is happening. So, the proper way to manage a sales group is by keeping them accountable by the activities they do. Coach them through each step of the sales process to get closer to the next step in the process, which is closer to the close.

After pondering this for a month or two, Geoff decided to make Evan a sales director for about 90 days to see how it went on both sides. It’s almost a year later, and it had to be the best decision they ever made. In one year, they went from $3.5 million in revenue to more than $5 million. I think I can take some credit for that, but Evan can take much more of the credit for keeping them accountable, coaching and leading them to success.

So, how are you going to find your next sales manager?

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Sales Assessments: To Test or Not to Test

by GSchulz 4. September 2011 18:16

When hiring, employers must make sure that the application and assessment process meets defensible standards. With the excessive use (and often misuse) of internet- based “quick, easy and free” personality tests offered as hiring tools, violations of rules set forth by the Department of Labor are becoming more frequent. Though the Department of Labor document citing the guidelines is considered unexciting and often tedious reading, it should be considered required reading for any employer or manager in charge of hiring or promotion decisions. Adhering to the guidelines as best as possible could keep employers out of harm’s way when it comes to legal battles.

The Department of Labor offers 13 different guidelines that employers should follow when deciding on an “assessment initiative”. They are as follows:

  1. Use assessments and assessment tools in the manner in which they are indicated or advised (follow the directions!). When employers misuse an assessment tool or program, they could potentially face legal issues in the future.
  2. Use the “whole- person approach” when testing. Remember, no test is perfect! Use an assessment test, or maybe even a combination of tests, that will give you as much information as possible about behaviors most important to your business.
  3. Use tests that are unbiased and fair to all groups. Even tests that inadvertently discriminate may keep employers from gaining a qualified and diverse work group and may kindle, you guessed it, more legal battles.
  4. Use tests that are reliable. Make sure that the questions offered on the test are not tricky and that they seek specific responses.
  5. Make sure that the assessments being used are valid for the specific purpose intended. This may be considered one of the most important criterions in the selection process. Validity is simply the specific assessment’s ability to measure the target characteristic at a level that can be useful to the employer.
  6. Assessment tests must be appropriate and applicable for the target population of desired employees (a.k.a., tests must be specific to your trade). For example, you would never give a person applying for a job at a burger joint an assessment designed specifically to assess dental hygienists.
  7. Instructions and all other documentation must be completely comprehensive and easy for applicants to understand.
  8. If the assessment test requires proctoring and/or administering, make sure that the people performing these actions are properly trained and qualified to do so. Some instruments require an extensive certification process to administer, proctor, and score tests.
  9. Provide consistent standard and uniform testing conditions in order to obtain more consistent results. The key is keeping test takers from being distracted to assure the integrity of the test results.
  10. Provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Remember: no group should ever be disadvantaged by the test or the conditions under which the test is taken.
  11. Strong test security is important if the test results are going to be useful. Tests and their scoring should never be assessable to the general public.
  12. Test results must be maintained in a confidential manner. Most effective are tests taken over the internet requiring a username and password.
  13.  Accurate interpretation of results is tremendously necessary. Nothing is worse than bad interpretation of good data. Don’t let that happen to you!

Though these guidelines might sound dull and restricting, the Department of Labor does support the use sound testing and assessment strategy, and actually acknowledges the difficulty employers now have of “attracting, developing and retaining the best employees.” They go on to say that a well built and solid assessment strategy can “maximize chances for getting the right fit between jobs and employees.” (DOL publication, “Testing and Assessment: An Employers Guide to Good Practices”)\



Have more questions about the best way to train your sales team? Looking for a training program to help increase your sales? Need a keynote sales speaker for your next business event or conference? Contact our sales consulting company to help! Click here to share this post.

Common CEO Questions

by GSchulz 26. August 2011 15:12

I thought I would write about the most common questions I get from Presidents and CEO’s around the country about their sales organizations. It doesn’t matter the industry, the time of year or the economic outlook, these are pretty consistent.


1. Why don’t our sales people prospect more as opposed to waiting for business to come in?

Human nature is to take the path of least resistance. If enough business for them-and this might be a completely different number then for you and your goals- is walking in the door or calling on the phone, why should they prospect? Being reactive is a whole lot easier then being proactive so if you haven’t made those activity goals very clear then why should they?


Revenue goals are important but activity goals are a whole lot more important. Yep, you read this right, more important. When someone is consistency meeting their activity goals then you have the ability to track #1, are they committed to what you have asked them to do (this is huge), #2 you can help them on what they are actually saying and doing in front of  a prospect to improve their closing ratio. Without knowing the amount of calls they are making consistently, this information is completely irrelevant.


2. How do I motivate my sales team to do more?


First of all, do more then what? There needs to be goals established for them as mentioned above, for revenue and activity. You may already be doing that and congratulations if you are. They still may be falling short so I have a few questions for you to ponder.

  1. Are they making more money then they have previously either in this position or another? If so, they may not be motivated enough to work hard enough to reach a goal you want them to reach. We often take the goals we set for them last year (and the year before and the year before) and hike that number up 10% or 15%. That may be your goal, but if it isn’t necessarily theirs and if they don’t see a need to reach so high, you could be in some trouble. They can be motivated to reach that number, but you better have that discussion with them not for them. 
  2. If your salespeople don’t reach goal (whether revenue or activity) what is the consequence? Salespeople -actually all of us-are just big kids. They need what is expected of them to be clear and laid out, they need to know the benefit of reaching and exceeding those expectations and the consequences if they don’t. Be careful not to just assume that if you tell them the goals and leave them alone they will get there. They might but if they don’t, wouldn’t you rather try to help them rather then having a revolving door of salespeople through your organization?   


3. I can talk to a local business person about our product/service and sell it and I’m not even a salesperson? Why can’t they?


In order to answer this, I'm going to make a few assumptions. As the owner (president ,CEO) of an organization, a conversation you have with a colleague will be different then a sales person has because you aren’t selling anything. You are more often then not, having a conversation about some other topic as well, the local state of business, the economy, politics, take your pick, but there is a much higher level of conversation happening so it doesn’t feel like a sale. There are other factors as well. Maybe you are someone of stature or clout in the community and people look at you as an equal, a partner, maybe even someone that can help them down the road. So shouldn’t your salespeople be seen different then you? Actually, the answer is no. Every day we teach people how to treat us. If we are acting like a salesperson, they will be treated like one. You don’t act like one. So the key here is you need to get your salespeople to act as an equal, a partner not a person trying to “pitch” something. When they accomplish that, they will be able to sell like you do.


Have more questions about the best way to train your sales team? Looking for a program to help increase your sales? Need a keynote sales speaker for your next business event or conference? Contact our sales consulting company to help!

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Finding and Paying for a Top Sales Team. A vs. C Players

by GSchulz 1. March 2011 00:00

A smart executive in the hiring field explained this to me years ago and I never forgot it and use it to help clients hire talent every day. What if the bottom quarter of your sales team produced as much or more revenue than the top quarter? What would that do for your company? What if you ignored the 80-20 rule and only expected the best results from your sales team? What if you replaced the bottom quarter of your sales team with “A” players, those who qualify among the top 10% available for that position?

If any of these questions have crossed your mind, then you?ve thought about “top grading”, a form of upgrading leaving you with only the best people available in your company. The only reason that people avoid top-grading is because of the obstacles they might face.

Well, here are ten of the most common obstacles and some solutions on how to overcome them:

1. Problem: You can’t afford to hire “A” players.
Solution: Yes you can! You are already paying for “A” players through your losses! Acquiring “A” players will allow you to compete, and succeed, in sales.

2. Problem: You think that you are hiring top “A” players, but they are actually “C” players in disguise.
Solution: Use more accurate assessments! There’s no one to blame but yourself if the wrong people are being hired. Use the best assessments available that have a proven record of distinguishing the “A” players from the “C” players.

3. Problem: “C” players don’t hire “A” players.
Solution: Take control! Though “C” players won’t hire “A” players, oversee the selection process and mandate that the “C” players hire “A” players.

4. Problem: Subordinates tend to give “A” players bad reviews.
Solution: Don’t allow subordinates to evaluate! Make all hiring decisions yourself.

5. Problem: You want to hire “A” players, but every talented person brought in is rejected by the current team and ends up quitting. Solution: Make sure to provide new “A” players extra protection from current personnel. And, if “A” players are still quitting, be persistent! Be prepared to replace the “A” players who are leaving with new “A” players. Show that you are in control and that you’ll stop at nothing to hire only the people who are best for the job.

6. Problem: You have little to no “A” players in your office… at all.
Solution: Reassess your current management positions, and redefine your entire management staff to include continuing evaluations of current staff and recruitment of “A” players. Do more work in recruiting and identifying the “A” players available to hire, and keep hiring them!

7. Problem: There is no time to top grade; short-term results are needed, and jobs are on the line.
Solution: The worst mistake here would be expecting “A” player results out of the existing “B” and “C” players- this would make stress levels rise and drive the best remaining talent to quit. You should never just drift with “C” players. By top grading you will improve short-term results.

8. Problem: When I advertise it doesn’t work.
Solution: Advertising is very effective if you learn how to write an ad. The ad needs to speak to them. Someone needs to read the ad and say, “wow, that’s me, I can see myself there doing that.”

9. Problem: You don’t want to let go of loyal “C” players.
Solution: Evaluate your sales team. Loyal “C” players should be given a chance to rise to a higher status (”A” player) with the good examples of more “A” players. Make sure to keep an eye on progress though; if “C” players aren’t becoming “A” or “B” players, it may be time to let go in the name of the business.

10. Problem: I don’t know where to find “A” players? When I am looking for a new person I can rarely find someone that I think is an “A” but I need to fill the spot.
Solution: First of all stop looking when you need someone, look everyday. Two, know exactly what you are looking for and have a very clear picture of what that looks like so you can communicate that to others. Great people are right under your nose but you can’t look only when you have an opening. Find someone great and make an opening.

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