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Retarded Sales Behavior and The Reasons We Under-Perform33

The Pipeline Guest Post – Dan Waldschmidt

We’ve become a generation of retarded under-performing sales semi-professionals.

Instead of being thought-leaders we’ve become frenetic, selfish territory managers.  Trading one Mickey Mouse sales idea for the next.  Always looking for the quick (and easy) way to make our quota without needing to care too much about the people we happen to be dealing with at the moment.

And our retarded attitudes limit our ability to do anything outrageous.

It’s that simple.

Now before you start thinking that this discussion is another pretentious, irreverent look at intangible sales attitudes, think again.

In fact, forget about everything you thought you knew.  Let’s start with the basics:

Webster’s dictionary defines retarded as: “to make slow; to delay the development or progress of a process or action; hinder or impede”

In essence, retarded sales behavior is about the self-limiting attitudes we put off fixing for way too long.

1. We retard getting therapy

Frankly, most of us need our heads-examined.  Literally.

We’ve become a craft of neurotic protagonists all running around spouting the latest “closing lines” and hoping again hope that we have the luck to churn out a respectable quota this quarter.

It’s all silly.  Olympic champions, super-star athletes, and high-performing executive all use smart peer pressure to bring out the best possible talent in whatever they are doing.

It’s a strategy we all need.

2. We retard doing what matters most

There are a dozen sales tasks we put off because they are scary – calling back decision-makers or prospecting for the right point-of-contact at our optimal contact.  We put off doing the things that make us afraid, that make us vulnerable.

And that’s holding us back and making us losers.  Instead of tackling what scares us most, we do what’s easy and harmless.  And so what’s most important – increasing revenue – is something that never seems to happen.

It’s because we never get started working on it.

3. We retard learning what we don’t know

Ever notice how sales people never tell you the number of times that they fail.  Certainly that makes sense.  None of us want to talk about our idiot moments.

But those idiot moments are the lessons that make us outrageously successful.  Right?  You learn from your mistakes and avoid making them again.    But if you put off ever learning, you never start the process of being successful.

Let’s be frank, it’s not what you do right that makes you bad-ass — it’s what you learn from what you used to do wrong.

4. We retard our investment in others

Instead of caring about others, we decide to keep the conversations about the weather, kids, and our lines of product.  It’s all skin-deal and wonderfully boring.  We don’t venture to care too much.  If at all.  Ever.

Frankly, in our minds, it makes sense that way.  Why care about someone who doesn’t have any money to give to us.

But that’s completely wrong.  It’s about giving to others first.

As an attitude.
As a way of life.
As a belief system.

Look.  Anyone can give when it’s easy, but you’ll transform your business when you give to others without trying to take first.

It’s the difference between being a rock star or in living in denial.

We’re retarded. Underperformers.

And we don’t need to be.

It’s sad how we limit our potential with our fear and denial and procrastination.

Live a higher standard.

Be the legend that you dream about.

It starts with doing that thing you still haven’t started yet.

About Dan Waldschmidt

I am a people strategist. I help people arrive at business-changing breakthrough ideas by moving past outdated conventional wisdom, social peer pressure, and the selfish behaviors that stop them from being high performers.

Using my experience as a technology CEO and my fascination with neuroscience, I help companies build radical conversations in their marketplace.  I have helped companies in Africa, the Middle East – literally all over the world – use extreme behavior to blow away the competition and become the high performers in their industry.

The Wall Street Journal called my blog one of the Top 7 blogs sales blogs anywhere on the internet and hundreds of my articles on unconventional sales tactics have been published.

I’m just an “ordinary dude with an outrageous vision“.

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“Did You Just Say…?” #218

In this instalment, we have a new high (or low depending on your perspective) in call reluctance.  In working with a rep who has avoided prospecting activities lately, during our most recent meeting I asked what he accomplished last week and what his plan was over the next two weeks.  He responded that because of his faith “I am giving up prospecting for Lent”.

Not sure how he meant it because he did not crack a smile, to his credit he did do some prospecting this week, but there you have it.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Implementation vs. Execution19

Sales is a game of words and meanings; the words we use, how we communicate them, their interpretations by the receiver, directly impact the meaning others take away from our message. It all count in sales, and therefore has to be actively managed and results dealt with. This is why language is an important aspect of sales; further, a key attribute of a solid sales culture is a “common language.”  The key in sales is that the communications have to align with actions.

It is no surprise that people often hide behind words, or get very different results than they set out to achieve, based on what and how they communicate, then act.  Case in point is how some in sales the words: Implementation and Execution.

Read On…

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Take The Time – Sales eXchange – 8815

I have a regular spot on a local web channel, and a number of times the host has introduced me as a “sales guru”, and each time he asks “is that a good label, it is what you are right?”  Each time I say, I am not sure, mostly because I am not sure what he means exactly, a lack of comfort with labels of any sort, and it would require me to change my pricing.

However, it does highlight the role and the importance labels and acronyms have come to represent in our society, and in sales.  One or two words or string of letters, conjuring up an image and a set of assumed qualities and attributes to go with them.  Problem is that when those same labels begin to be counterproductive by limiting and narrowing discussions rather than facilitating them and the resulting communication.

Even the most universal labels will mean something different to different people, this difference will lead to misalignment, and the longer that is allowed to continue in the sale, the greater the risk of disconnect, a disconnect that could easily be avoided if sales people fought hard to avoid labels (acronyms and other communication short cuts).

There are two things you can do right away to avoid the trap, and to differentiate yourself and the way you sell.  First, stop using labels and acronyms, just stop.  May take work, but don’t use them anymore, take the time and effort to fully articulate things rather than relying on labels and symbols.   You’ll quickly find that buyers get more engaged because you are not a label machine, but someone who can explain and articulate on a topic, allowing you to sound and influence beyond a boiled down commonality.  Labels do paint a picture, but they also put up barriers to communication, and while it is true that a picture paints a thousand words, labels are more like paint by numbers, which again takes to the lowest common denominator and away from fully engaging with the buyer.

The second takes a bit more finesse to execute, but well worthwhile, stop accepting labels and acronyms from buyers.  The best way to do that is to get into the habit of asking exactly what they mean, you don’t have to be abrupt or rude, a simple, “please help me understand….”.  They will not only expand on their thoughts, which will give you insight into their thinking, but will also give them a chance to talk, which they may not get to do with other sales people.  As they expand on the one or two word label, you have an opportunity to ask key questions that will extend the discussion and offer you solid opportunities to influence their thinking by getting them to actually think through the specifics of the subject, rather than allowing the label to be a headline for key concepts impacting the sale.  It allows you to ensure that things are mutually defined and/or agreed to, and avoid the disconnect and misalignment mentioned above.

I know it may seem easier to just say, well everyone knows what that means, and they mean the same thing when they say (insert label here), but that is not always true.  Even if it is true, you will always find out things that help you move the sales forward when they take a minute to expand on the subject in their own words, you just have to ask.

I know we live in a fast paced world, always something demanding your time, so why not take a short cut here or there.  However, little time you need to stop using and accepting acronyms, and dealing fully with the subject will save you the time of understanding why you lost some deals, or the time needed to go back to correct and resell a misunderstanding.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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How Stop Your Drama Month Can Benefit Your Business15

The Pipeline Guest Post – Marlene Chism

Back in February I reviewed Marlene Chism’s new book titled “Stop Workplace Drama“.  In speaking with Marlene earlier this week, I learned that March was in fact is Stop Your Drama month.  So, it is only fitting that this week’s guest post deal with Stopping Workplace Drama.  BTW, if you want to know why March was chosen to be Stop Your Drama month, click here.

Every year in March we celebrate Stop Your Drama Month. Why March, you ask? Well…most of us are recovering from a very gray winter, with some moments of SAD or depression. We made New Year’s Resolutions but we didn’t keep them and we are rounding the bend to the first quarter.  Many of us are recovering from overspending and over eating during the holidays and Valentine’s day.  Plus…besides Women’s History Month and St. Patrick’s Day, there isn’t a lot of competition, so that is why March is Stop Your Drama Month. Now I’m inviting other businesses to create their own celebrations that will benefit them, their clients and their employees. This article gives you some ideas to use the Stop Your Drama Month theme to have a little fun and improve your business in the process.

Offer Free Advice
The reason you are in business is because you solve some sort of problem. If you could look at your customer’s problem as “their drama” and you as the one who can stop it, you can have some fun with this theme.  Let’s say for example you have an automotive service, and the big drama that your clients are experiencing is the price of gasoline.

Write a short article or a bulleted list that shows your clients three ways to get the most gas mileage. 

Let’s say you cater to Baby Boomer women and you run a health food store. Write a quick article about five foods that are great for anti-aging and offer a recipe using some of these ingredients and foods.  In your title, use the word “Drama” to get their attention.

Offer Specials
What a great opportunity to offer specials for a whole month in the name of stopping drama. For example if you own a restaurant, on your slowest day offer two for the price of one “Stop Your Drama Meal Deals”  or with each parent, one child under the age of 10 eats for free. Or let’s say you own a window washing business and you offer a fifteen percent discount for any orders that take place during March but can be used until September. Own a gym? Offer two for the price of one only during March, and you’ll get new clients every March, two months after the rush for New Year’s resolutions.

Get creative and use March to get yourself additional business, and more clients.

Involve Your Employees
Perhaps the way you celebrate Stop Your Drama Month is to engage your employees. Have a Stop Your Drama lunch and learn. Or have a contest where the most creative way to stop the drama wins $100.  Or, have fun with a “no complaint” month and have each employee make a commitment to drop a quarter in the jar every time he complains and every time she catches someone complaining.  This act alone will eliminate complaints for at least a month and possibly set a new habit. 

Or if you want to go for the positive, ask each employee each day to drop a not in the gratitude jar. The note must be something for which he or she is grateful. At the end of the month have a gathering and pull out of the jar random notes of gratitude.

Engage Your Clients
What if you could do something so whacky that it would put a smile on the face of the person you are serving? What if the DMV asked you to jot a note of appreciation to drop in the gratitude jar right after renewing your license? If nothing else it would generate a discussion and a laugh, therefore you would be helping to stop drama just by being humorous.

Or what if after being served a meal, the waiter asked you to jot down something positive about your experience at the restaurant so he could post it on their website?

The ideas are too numerous to mention, but you get the point. The idea is there for you to use. I believe that we need to stop focusing on how bad everything is, and one way to do this is to step into our power to become creators. How are you going to capitalize on Stop Your Drama Month?

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Ready to Stop Your Drama? Go to www.stopyourdrama.org to sign up for Stop Your Drama Month. Or to get the book, Stop Workplace Drama, go to www.stopworkplacedrama.com

About Marlene Chism

Marlene Chism is the author of Stop Workplace Drama, and a professional speaker. Visit www.stopworkplacedrama.com to see more. Or, to get the  book, and get free access to downloadable products to develop your team,  go to www.stopworkplacedrama.org and join the book club for free.

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Where to Start — Who will Own It?20

Having looked at what a sales process may look like, and then answering the question of whether all companies need one or just some, the discussion then turned to who should own the process in the sales organization.

It is all well and good to have a process, but the benefits are in the execution.  To ensure that you need to have people who will own and drive the process.  A direct and tangible benefit of adhering to a well defined and communicated process (and remember communication includes listening), is that it drives mutual accountability between reps and managers, sales and other departments, and among sales reps.  In that way all in the sales organization own it and its value is reflected and determined in the strength of its execution.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEj8TDuwvok

Related videos:

The EDGE Sales Process
Putting Process in to Action
Does everyone need a process?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Excuse This – Sales eXchange – 8715

I meet a lot of sales people, and while they all for the most part sell something different to their customers, some also spend time and effort selling something to me and their managers: Excuses!  This is not new, I have written about it as have others.

What I continue to find frustrating is the degree to which sales leaders allow it, and as a result unwittingly encourage it, and to the degree to which sales reps continue not only to make them while they fail to deliver, and flaunt it at the same time.  Needless to say, left unaddressed, the upshot ends up being reduced productivity, revenues, success.   Ultimately, it breeds a culture of rationalization that undermines commitment and success.

I delivered a brief presentation to a group of industrial sales people in January, they are in an industry that is optimistic about 2011 and the next few years; their national sales manager wanted to give them a bit of a lift and asked me to speak to the importance of Proactive Prospecting.   Being that we only had an hour or so, I wanted to stay on topic, when one of the reps asked me how to handle voice mail.  I told him I have a specific approach, and I would be happy to share it with him off line, and he can also go to this blog, put “voice mail” into the search box at the top right, and he would have access to very specific step by step instructions.

Two months later, I was talking to the same rep in preparing for an event.  He never did phone me to pick up on the voice mail question, and then went on to tell me that it was still a challenge, and further that “I did not bother to go to your site to do the search.”  When I asked him why not, he said that wasn’t a fair question.  Now this rep has not made their goal for the last eight year, he usually came in at 70%-80% of plan.  The last two years he had a global excuse, the economy; no denying the economy has been weak, but that’s a fact, not an action plan.  To me it just seemed like a lack of commitment; a lack of commitment to the company, but mostly to one’s own success. 

I have no issues with reps who are committed, as witnessed by their actions, not just words, and come up short, as long as they have the discipline commitment and supporting actions that will help them change and improve.  But when you have someone who is not willing to lift a finger to change their reality, especially after they made a deal of it, were provided a solution, and then failed to take action.

While some may argue that commitment is an intangible and cannot be trained effected by a third party, I don’t believe that to be a fact.  Just look at athletes, or an extreme example for sales, but nonetheless relevant, the army.  Discipline that needs to be followed, or there will be real consequences. 

In the context of sales, you can easily sit down with your manager or mentor, and work a plan of action based on your role, targets, strengths and weaknesses.  Yet many sales people don’t, I have written in the past about the fact that many don’t even bother working backwards from their goals to understand what it will take to get there in concrete terms.

There are specific actions one can take to understand what specific actions need to be taken, in what proportion, and with whom, in order to achieve success.  This will help you understand the source(s) of your success, challenges and opportunities in realising it, and from that develop an action plan that will be executed based on the inputs and goals.  There are all kinds of tools and templates available, some free, some software that has to be bought, or you can contact me for some of the things we use.  But it does require that you make the commitment, time, energy and action to act.  But I can assure you that it will take a lot less time, energy and effort than continuing to come up with excuses that do not change the results; and at the same time still leave one unable to enjoy their craft and resulting success.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


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It’s Time to Bring More Craftsmanship to the Craft of Selling30

The Pipeline Guest Post – John Cousineau

Peter Nicholson, Chair of the Council of Canadian Acadamies, notes that as we’ve become information rich, we’ve become so attention poor that there’s been an erosion of the deep, integrative, learning that can only come from honing craftsmanship with 10,000 hours of focused effort. What’s required, in his view, is a more balanced tradeoff between the depth of what we know and the speed with which we can retrieve it. This, in turn, will require creating new ways of interacting with information and colleagues that create a ‘peripheral intellectual vision’ with which deep insights can accrue. It’s something, in my view, buyers are looking for + sales superstars know how to deliver.

Nicholson’s points reminded me of what Jill Konrath cited in a podcast a couple of years ago as the key thing which she felt sales people needed to do more of – THINK. This idea ties directly back to the literature on craftsmanship. As Sennet notes, with craftsmen work has stages and sequences that allow them to pause + reflect on what they’re doing. This allows them to judge while doing. It creates greater satisfaction, and more personal ownership, in what’s accomplished from what’s done.
While it’s important, as in any craft, that sales people own their own skills, efforts, and accomplishments, it’s equally important to break the cycle of missed opportunities to lift others onto the top rung. In Malcolm Gladwell’s view, “there’s a tendency to prematurely write off people as failures; we are too much in awe of those who succeed and far too dismissive of those who fail.” Enough of this madness.

Some of our clients’ most profound advances in B2B sales productivity occur when sales people attack the scarcity of their prospects’ attention with deep insights. Such sales people create significant value for their prospects by creating a vision of the possible. Doing so gains their prospects’ attention. With feedback on buyer actions confirming the value of Reps’ efforts to create value, Reps do it over and over again. Creating deep insights becomes habitual.

Reps’ methods for producing insights are learned through feedback, hours of practice, and creative habits. Those habits include: working hard, rituals of preparation, scratching with a child-like curiosity in an unending hunt for good ideas, building failure into the process (it has to happen for good ideas to emerge), feedback that makes it possible to see and acknowledge ruts, perfecting practice, and making their own luck by how practiced they are.

In my view, it’s time to organize sales work in ways which hone craftsmanship, incrementally improve sales skills, and empower sales people to pursue their full potential for sales superstar-dom. Let’s let 2011 be a year of learning differently. A year in which the craft of sales gains craftsmanship.

About John Cousineau

John Cousineau is Founder + President of INNOVATIVE INFORMATION INC. John has spent 30+ years leading operations research teams, with a focus on helping companies get more value more quickly from their day-to-day business processes. He’s known for creating informed business innovations from clever uses of information + technology.

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Does Everyone Need One?19

Last week I looked at what it takes to take a sales process from concept to reality, actioning it through execution, and clear definition.

On a regular basis I am asked if everyone can benefit from a sales process or does it have more applications for certain companies.  Generally the question is phrased in the context of large company vs. small companies.

In today’s video I look at that specific issue, and provide reasons as to why I do believe that sales process is key to consistent success, regardless – or – despite their size.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMBJ0-tjoPU

See if you agree, and let us know, even if you don’t.

Related video – Putting Process in to Action

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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At The End Of The Day – Sales eXchange – 8619

A few years back, a recruitment firm published the results of a survey identifying the ten most over used buzzwords or expressions.  These included things like “synergy”, and “at the end of the day”; this last one is particular favourite among sales leaders, we’ve all used it, it sounds good, and seems to capture an attitude, but is it the right attitude, outlook and posture for sales leaders, or sales people to adopt?

From what I understand it is supposed to convey that when the deadline comes, the results will speak for themselves. The assumption I guess is that if everything is done as it is supposed to, then the outcome will be what we expect at the end of the process, or the “end of the day”.  Well you know what they say about the risks you take on when you assume.

The reality is that all too many sales leaders are already fixated on the results, at times at the exclusion of focusing on anything else.  There is no denying that results are what count in sales, revenue is the lifeblood of any for-profit organization; having said that, there is also no denying that when it comes to changing results and attaining consistent results, “results”, are a “lagging indicator”, they represent things as they have turned out.  These can be great lessons for the future, but there is little that can be done to alter the “results” once they are in.  The country’s jobless rate is also a lagging indicator, know that almost 10% of Americans are unemployed, does little to change the reality of George down the street who has been out of work for three months, and is about to lose his house.  What would have helped George is to have had something happen to change the result, either with his job or house or both.  “The end of the day”, it is too late to impact the outcome. 

To do that, leaders need to focus on “leading indicators”, to be able to impact and alter results, rather than just review and analyze them.   These indicators will vary from company to company, and based on the process in place and the individual rep’s ability to execute it, may even vary between sellers on the same team, there are some core ones to choose from.  These could be number of prospects engaged in a month; account coverage and penetration for those tasked with growing existing accounts; proposals submitted or conversion of the same proposals.  You can get more specific looking at specific tasks to be taken by the seller or actions required by a prospect.

The key is to identify key indicators, not every action through the cycle, and establish a game plan with the rep to help them understand why certain actions/steps are being designated as “leading indicators”, and how these “indicators” will be used to help achieve collective success.  While it is true that many reps do not like to be measured, in some ways you can’t blame them because often these “measurements” or “stats” are used in a non=productive way.  There is more to coaching and changing results than just pointing out that the “number” or “activities” are not up to snuff. 

As a leading indicator, they should point to where you are versus where you want to be, and what specific corrective actions you can execute to move towards the desired outcome in a consistently successful way, for a consistent set of results.  A focus on leading indicators will not only deliver consistent, predictable, and desired results, but will establish a process and culture of continuous improvement through a focus on inputs rather than outcomes.  At the end of the day, the best way to ensure the outcome, is to alter things at the “start of the day”.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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