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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It's Not Net Sit, It's Not Net Eat, It's NetWORK

by Admin 21. October 2011 18:14

Question of the Day
I enjoy reading your column as a marketer and small business owner I appreciate all of your good advice.  Have you ever addressed the issue of getting buyers, or your potential decision makers, to answer your phone calls or emails? One of the most frustrating parts of my business is connecting with a potential customer and then they never return calls or emails. Any suggestions? At what point do you stop trying to connect? Example, several weeks ago I was at a networking event and a woman gave me her card and said to call her to set up a meeting, we spoke at length and she was very interested in my services. I called she suggested we get together the first of April and gave me a list of questions I needed to be ready to answer. First week of April I contacted her she said call her April 8th, on April 8th she said call her the 15th...etc, until a week ago when her assistant said she will call you back, of course no call. I am sure I am not the only one who experiences this. Your thoughts?

-Joan

Well first of all Joan congratulations on networking. That is of course your best opportunity for you to find opportunities. When you speak to someone at a networking function you always want to ask about them first. The questions I recommend asking to everyone you meet are;

“What do you do?"

“How long have you been doing it?"

“What do you like about it?"

And “What is a good referral for you?"

The reason these questions are good is because networking is not just about you it is about learning about the other person. You are not trying to sell, you are trying to learn to see if you can help them and potentially build a “strategic alliance”(a strategic alliance is someone you build a relationship with to try to help refer business to each other).

There are times when someone will say, “Hey you sell web design, our company really needs a new web site, why don’t you call." Then you call the next day and leave message upon message and nothing happens. People are willing to say lots of things to be “nice." In a networking environment, people often think of themselves being in a somewhat social atmosphere so people say what they might socially with not a lot of meaning.

I recommend when someone does approach you about your product or service, always pull-back a bit. What I mean by that is if someone says they need a new web site, say to them, “wow you guys are a very well known company, I can’t imagine you need help with your web site?”. You will either hear something like, “well, you never know…” which means there is really no need they are just being nice or they might say, “ no we really have been looking into updating ours. We really don’t know what we need but we talked about making some real changes”. I would ask a few more questions to pre-qualify that this is real and say, “ Well if you want to sit and talk a little about what your needs are, I would be more then willing to learn more about what you need to see if I can help. What do you think?”.

It is important to pre-qualify any opportunity to see if it really is one. Pulling back with a few “take-away” questions with assure one way or the other if it is a true prospect or not.

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Using Sales Hiring Tests

by Admin 13. August 2011 16:41

When hiring, employers must make sure that the application and assessment process meets the 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”)

 

 

 

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Cold-Calling Legislation

by GSchulz 28. January 2011 22:57

The following legislation has been in place for some time. I felt the timing was right to reprint the article – Lately, people have asked me lots of questions about the new bill that passed on the subject of phone solicitations, which we affectionately call “cold calls.”

“So, Greta, don’t you think it’s unfair that they don’t allow people to do their job? Thousands of people are employed by these ‘marketing’ companies, and they’ll be out of work.”

First, let’s understand the legislation. It does not say that you cannot solicit on the telephone; it allows people to put their name on a national list so they will not be called. I have not seen the percentage of potential prospects that actually have made that request, but do you really think it will decrease your business?

Second, stop whining. Our country was built on entrepreneurs creating businesses based on opportunities. The telephone, and the wide usage of it, led to the brilliant idea of using it to solicit business. Times change, however, and so do ways of doing business.

Third – and most of all (some of you are not going to like this) – stop cold-calling. Okay, maybe in some cases, at least in the beginning, you need to do some cold-calling. But are you developing a system for referrals and networking? Are you asking for referrals as a part of your business plan, or is your plan haphazard?

Don’t you want to conduct business in the most effective, efficient, and pleasant way, which is through networking and referrals?

How many of us would rather do business with someone we were referred to? The meeting is more pleasant, more interactive, and, if someone referred a customer to you, someone probably has already sung your praises. (Which is so much better that your doing it, right?)

Here are some tips:

1. Create a system to generate more referrals. That means actually setting goals for how many referral meetings you will hold in a particular week or month. Then talk to as many clients, friends, colleagues, etc., until you meet your goal.

2. When you have those meetings, remember, they are not about you. The philosophy is “givers gain®*” – straight out of the Business Network International handbook. That means ask about the people attending, their businesses, and how you can help them. Help them grow their business, and they will help you grow yours.

3. Create a picture for them. I have a great example I heard from Wendy Widmann, an office-products sales consultant who said, “A good referral for me would be if you see on e of those big red office products trucks parked in front of an office building, give me a call.” I bet when you see one today, you’ll remember this article.

4. Make a top-10 list. When someone asks if they can help you, be very specific and help them picture your ideal customer. Show them your list – of the top 10 companies you would like to be introduced to. You never know whom they know.

So don’t worry about rules and changes. After all, change makes us better: It forces us to think in other ways. This is growth. Have at it.

*® is a registered trademark of Dr. Ivan Misner

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