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


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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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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The Secret to Hiring a Sales Powerhouse

by GSchulz 20. April 2011 22:52

The secret to hiring a sales powerhouses hi is to radically reengineer your hiring process, which concludes with a powerful 20 minute interview.

Step 1. Define the ideal candidate. Describe your selling environment which identifies the perfect salesperson. For example: “Our ideal candidate has successfully cold called CEOs, presidents and owners of medium size companies and can close sales for conceptual services prospects will help their business but is not a necessity. Our ideal candidate is successful at finding budgets when there are none, and can close for $50,000 long term contracts in two calls or less. The candidate must have had prior earnings of at least $80,000 per year. Be very specific. Not about what you sell, that’s secondary, about the environment that you sell in.

Step 2. Search. Write compelling advertising copy which describes the ideal candidate so they read and say, “That’s me”, while differentiating your organization from any other. Look outside of your industry so you don’t get stuck with industry re-treads with below average selling skills. If they are leaving their organization, there is usually a reason. Plus, someone from the outside can ask the question, “why can?t we do that” and someone inside has a pre-conceived notion of why.

Step 3. Qualify: In a five minute telephone screen, read your pre-determined key criteria and ask the candidate to prove they can meet them.

Step 4. Test: Use a proven test to separate those that will sell from those that can sell.

Step 5. Conduct the interview. DO NOT tell them all about your company and why they would enjoy it. Make them sell to you why you should hire them.

To separate the “real candidate” from their “interview face”, you must run the interview dramatically different from most employment interviews. In 20 minutes you must get the candidate to reveal how they would act in a tough selling situation. How?

You have to act like the toughest prospect they’ll encounter. Yes, you need to be tough. Like the toughest experience you’ve ever had in front of a prospect.

Begin the interview without the normal pleasantries. You are not there to make them comfortable, you are there to test there abilities. Start with, “Are you my two o?clock?” “Go in the conference room, I’ll be there in 10 minutes.” Make them wait. Don’t smile. Don’t be nice. After 10 minutes, walk in, then say, “We’ve only got 20 minutes for this interview to cover an hour of information. Ready?”.

This is the first test. You want someone who’ll push back to get control. At the very least you want someone who’ll try to break the ice and bond with you. If they roll over and act like a compliant puppy dog, (by answering,”yes” or “sure”) you know they’ll wimp out in front of tough prospects. Ask “prove it to me kinds of questions”. “We’re looking for a strong closer who can handle themselves well in front of presidents and CEOs. Prove to me that’s you.

Keep the pressure on. Look for signs of discomfort or emotional involvement, such as rapid eye movement, giggling, staring at the ceiling or out the window, movement in the chair and changes in voice pitch or volume.

Here’s a strong move to determine if they’ll really make cold calls. “If we get beyond this interview to the next step, (remember to keep the pressure on!), you?ll be required to find $250,000 in new business. Once you?ve identified whom to call, how would you get appointments?”

The answer you are looking for is some form of cold calling AND referrals. In a new position they will need to cold call. If they say that it’s the only way they know how to start in a new position, you know they will. If they cave in and start talking about research, letter campaigns and marketing… you know you don’t have a hunter in front of you.

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Ask Questions, Don't Read Minds

by GSchulz 5. April 2011 15:56
Well James, you certainly have an interesting product,” the prospect said after an hour long meeting. James was confused. He wasn’t sure if this guy was trying to give him the cold shoulder or if he really was interested in the product.

“I’m sorry. When you say ‘interesting,’ what exactly do you mean?” James asked innocently. “I mean just that. It’s very well designed and planned out. I see so many places in our company where we could really benefit from putting it into play.

”James was still slightly confused. “Oh, okay. Where exactly do you have in mind?”  "At first glance, we could definitely use it on the front end,” the prospect replied.

“What made you think of that?” James continued, still trying to catch on to his prospects’ train of thought. “I’m just remembering the difficult time we normally have collecting on outstanding accounts. Your product could easily cut our overdue accounts from 120 days to 90 days at least. That would lift a huge load off of our cash flow.”

“So you think just one would be necessary then, for your front office?” James asked. “Just one!? No way! We would need at least two right away. Our field specialists could cut the time they spend on paperwork in half if they had something like this to use,” the prospect answered excitedly.

Quick question for you – who exactly sold the product between James and his prospect above? All James did was ask questions, and what came of his efforts? Every salesperson’s dream prospect – a self-qualifier.

James could’ve very easily pushed this prospect away by doing what every other salesperson does: agree and hope the prospect keeps talking. Unfortunately, this commonly results in the salesperson keeping the conversation alive by filling in with meaningless “salesy” statements, ultimately loosing their opportunity with the prospect.

So what did James do to keep the sale alive? He asked questions! When James didn’t fully understand where the prospect was going with a statement, he asked him to explain.

I know what you’re thinking. It sounds too good to be true. But think about it. If someone cares enough about you to ask questions to make sure they fully understand your needs, won’t that make you feel more confident in the products/services they’re offering? Of course!

So here’s what you do. The next time you’re with a prospect and he compliments your product, instead of answering with the typical “thank you,” ask why he is offering the compliment. His answer will help you learn why this prospect is interested in your product. And when he explains why he likes your product, he’ll be fortifying his reasons to buy. He’ll self-realize that he needs what you have to offer.

Remember, no one believes what you tell them…they believe what you ask them. If you could turn a prospect on the edge into a self-qualifier by just asking a few simple questions, is that something you’d be interested in doing? Click here to share this post.

Why Fishing and Sales are Similar

by GSchulz 30. March 2011 23:47

Being the fun-loving Floridian that I am, I absolutely love to fish! A couple weekends ago, my husband and I were out in the boat with a friend of his that happened to be a novice fisherman. Peter and I were determined to teach him the ropes.

After watching him fish for the first half of the day, I figured out what he was doing wrong. Every time he saw that he was getting a nibble, he immediately jerked the line to attempt to catch the fish. What he didn’t realize was that when he jerked the line, he was yanking the bait out of the fish’s mouth. Every real fisherman knows that when you see you’re getting a nibble, you have to let the line out a little bit in order to really allow the fish to get a hold of the bait. Then when the next nibble comes, let the line out even more to really let him grab on. Finally, when you get a really big bite, you can jerk the line, hook the fish, and reel him in.

As I was explaining all of this to Peter’s friend, I couldn’t help but to see the similarities between fishing and sales. Think about it…in fishing, the first nibble isn’t the time to reel the fish in. In sales, the first time you speak with a prospect and he shows a little interest, you can’t expect you’re going to close the deal right then and there. Just like in fishing, you have to tease your prospect a tiny bit by “letting the line out” slowly. And when the prospect bites hard, you reel in the deal.

To better understand this concept, let’s look at an example. Sue with ABC Company is meeting with James of XYZ Company to discuss potential business. When Sue begins to recommend which of her products would be best for James, he retorts with a quick “you know, I think what you’re saying might be great, but I think the company that I’m with now has a product that better fits me.”

Instead of assuming that James is 100% happy with his current company and has no interest in making a change, Sue should let the proverbial line out a little bit and reply “You know, maybe you’re right. If they have a product that better suits you, maybe you should stay with them.”

“Well, I do like the complementary products you offer, but I’m just not sure,” James says.

“We do have some great complementary products, but do you really think that if you’re not happy with the primary product that we offer, you’d be happy with us in the long run? Maybe it would be better for you to just stick with the company you’re with.”

Finally, James replies, “No. You know what, I really admire your honesty and I feel like your company is the better fit for me. How do we get started?”

The moral of the story Sue didn’t immediately give her entire “we’re great, we’re wonderful, switch to us” spiel when James showed his first bit of interest. Instead, she continued to go negative and push James away, helping him self-realize that ABC Company was the better fit for him. People don’t believe what we tell them, they believe what we ask them. If Sue were to come straight out and tell James that her products and company were the better fit for him, do you think he’d believe her? No! Sue had to help James realize for himself that ABC Company was the better fit.

So the next time your prospect starts to go negative by saying they’re not sure your company is right for them, go MORE negative. GO FISH! Let your line out! Once you get a big enough bite, hook that prospect and reel in a client!

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