Can You Use A Sales Caddy?0

By Tibor Shanto - tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Caddy

While Labour Day may be behind us, it is still too early to put the golf clubs away, or to take in a tournament or two on the television. I am not much of a golfer, they have banned me from a number of courses on suspicion that I was there to set the world’s record for size of divot. What is interesting when you watch the pros is their reliance on their direct and extended team, while they may strike the ball alone, their caddy is right there on the battle field, intimately involved in key aspects of the game, and the outcome, be it a win or a loss.

While many sales professionals play golf, they don’t allow that kind of thinking to enter their day to day selling. While they are open to help, input and support on the links, they often turn away from or refuse help on the sales field. They are open to suggestions from their managers, or respected peers, but when the time to “play” comes, they tend to want to go it alone. No what you would expect, given that they carry the revenue responsibility for their companies. The best reason I can think of for this is ego, a necessary but not singular sales skill or trait.

I say this because I remember sitting with a VP of Sales some time ago, he understood he need outside help, felt that we could collaborate, but was reluctant to commit. When I asked why, he said:

VP: “If I bring you in, what does that say about me?”

He is not alone in thinking like this. On a regular basis I hear VP’s say, “Well that’s what they pay me for”, or something to that effect. The same lone wolf superman outlook many of his reps had, they didn’t need anyone telling them how to things, that would be a sign of weakness, not good for the ego; they can continue to bring in 95% of quota on their own, they don’t need help doing that, thank you.

As for the VP, I think that they are paid to drive performance, behaviour and success, I am not sure the intent is for them to do it all, strategy to tactical roll out and execution, hiring the right resources, internal and external, are like closer to the mark.

There is often a sense that if they hadn’t been able to drive a set of behaviours or to get the team to adhere to the sales process, it is a case of the people not getting it; rather than maybe the VP’s skills are vision, strategy, the ability to align that strategy with other internal departments, and buyers, gather a team who understands the strategy and has the means to execute the tactical steps needed to succeed, and make the VP look good, and stroke that ego.

Which is the realization the VP above had when I responded to him:

VP: “If I bring you in, what does that say about me?”

ME: “Well even Tiger Woods has a caddy”

He got it, his ego was able to deal with it, and more importantly the outcome, success, greed, recognition trumped, and in fact feed his ego.

Time you got a caddy!

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Sales Apprenticeship – Sales eXchange 2122

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

apprentice

Sales like any other craft takes practice, evaluation, more practice, repeated coaching, and just when we think we have it down, we need to practice some more; and then things change, which means we get to practice some more.

I recently saw Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, and Mastery, discussing what it takes to become a master at something. One thing he pointed to was the effectiveness of the “apprenticeship” programs developed as far back as the middle ages. Specifically, that the years of apprenticing, the constant practice of the craft, led to the critical number of 10,000 hours of active practice and execution that led to mastering the craft. A concept later popularized by Malcolm Gladwell.  Of course those who truly mastered their craft kept practicing and improving throughout their career, building on the 10,000 hour base, not resting on it.

Consider that in North America, there is an average 1,760 hours of active sales time. Add to that many studies peg the amount of active selling time for B2B reps from a low of 15% to somewhere just under 50%. Going with the 50% range, it means that a committed sales person will take almost 12 years full time selling to hit that 10,000 hour mark.

Given that most sales people are only evaluated by the results, rather than the quality of the effort, it often clouds how effective their apprenticeship is. Often they make quota for reasons other than sales ability, market conditions, weak or easy quotas, and more. Many sales people are unleashed on the buying public well before they are ready to succeed for their clients, companies, and most importantly for themselves.

Add to that many are offered little training or leadership in their formidable years (which again could be their first 12 years on the job). Based on stats, only about half of B2B companies offer formal sales raining, and some that think they are delivering sales training, are in fact focused on product training, or order processing training. You can find other interesting stats by reading Why a Lack of Sales Training is Hurting Your Company–and What to Do About It.

Many sales leaders who don’t hesitate to cuss out the manager of their favourite sports team for being slack on training or practice, will regularly tell me that their people do not require training, “my people have five, ten, 12 years of experience”. When I ask if that is ten years of continuous growth and improvement, or the same year ten times over, I either get a silent look or the door. None of which changes the fact that only about 60% of reps made their quota based on the latest studies. Many of those are repeat achievers, and still employed by the same company. On an individual level, very few sales people will pick up and read a sales book a year, and then put into practice the things they read, next time you are interviewing the next superstar, ask them what the last book they read was.

The great thing about apprenticeship is it was a proactive approach to ensuring one was qualified based on practice and experience and supervised coaching, all leading to the perpetuation of the craft and a flow of qualified craftsman. Something available and mandatory for other mission critical roles in most enterprises in the form of Continuing Education, often tied to licences and keeping their job. A standard that would not be bad for sales either.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

 

 

Interview – Nick Stein, Senior Director of Marketing and Communication at Salesforce.com (#video)2

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Nick Stein, Senior Director of Marketing and Communication at Salesforce Work.com.  Nick shared a number of insights and best practices around driving success through peak sales performance, and creating a proactive sales culture, all in the same environment that reps and front line sales managers use to drive revenues and day to day sales activities.

We discussed alignment, the importance of consistent and constant sales performance management.  One interesting point Nick discuss was the power and financial pay-off of one on one coaching; with only 10 minutes of 1:1 coaching, reps increase results by 17%, usually the difference between making or missing goal.

Many organization understand the need for sale performance, but now they have a means of delivering in a way integrated with daily sales realities, rather than as a separate process.  The fact remains that knowing and planning don’t always translate to being done, with Salesforce Work.com companies can execute their sales performance management improvement plan, because as with other aspects of sales, it is all about execution – everything else is just talk!

Enjoy, and let us know your reactions and thought:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Why Are You In Sales? – Sales eXchange 20020

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

200A

At the end of this post I will ask you a specific question that I would love you to answer, and I thank you here in advance.

Two things happened this past week or 10 days that led to this week’s Sales eXchange  being a bit different than the usual, and isn’t that what we always strive to be in sales.  First is the fact that this is the 200th Sales eXchange post, and while I had given it much thought, someone asked if I will be marking the fact in any way.  The person that asked me was a young person at an event I participated in recently. The event was organized to present young people with different options for their life after school.

One of the questions going into the event was “What do you want to be?”  Some had very clear ideas, knowing exactly where they want to go.  One young lady was determined to become a speech pathologist due to a friend she had in grade school.   She structured her high school curriculum to set her up for a path of success in post-secondary school, and to her dream career.  Others stated a number of different career plans, some very specific, marketing, finance, construction, software design, and more.  Others were a bit more general, the young man who asked about the 200th post simply stated business.  As an aside, it seems he had been spying my blog (and others) to glean ideas for his high school business class, at least someone is getting value at an early age. But in the end no one said they wanted to go into sales, not one.

Consider that according to the United States Department of Labor, there just under 14 million people employed in sales as of May 2012 in the USA.  The same department pegs the number of lawyers at under 1 million, and software developers (systems and applications) also under 1 million.  Yet fewer than a handful of institutions offer a degree in selling or sales.

There were a number of kids who talked about becoming lawyers, software developers, doctors, even golf pros, but not one said sales.  Which begs the question that if no one sets out to become a sales professional, where the hell did we all come from?  Are we progressing as a profession, or just a modern day version of post war refugee camps full of people making due while they find their next destination?  Are we a repository of other professions outcasts, with the occasional diamond in the rough?  After all, almost 50% of sellers do not make quota, this would not be tolerated in any other department.

So here is my ask – take a minute and think about where you are in sales as a career, how you got here, how you’re doing.  Then take a minute and in the comment box below, tell me:

Why Are You In Sales?

Tibor Shanto

 

Houston, We Have The Solution!74

On Thursday October 18, The Proactive Prospecting Workshop is coming to Houston, specifically to Four Points by Sheraton Houston Southwest, at 2828 Southwest Freeway, Houston.

If you are in B2B sales, and need to engage with more new prospects, mark this date on your calendar, then sign up for this full day interactive prospecting program.

Whether you are with a small company or large,  veteran or just launching your career, this workshop will give you the fundamentals needed to connect and engage with more qualified buyers.

We leave dogma at the door, this is not about old school vs. new school, this is about executing a proven methodology for prospecting more effectively and filling your pipeline with the quality prospects in the right  quantities.  This is the same program that has helps thousands of sale professionals improve their skills and increase prospects and sales.  Sales professional in dozens of companies are using the methods and process delivered in the Proactive Prospecting Workshop to deliver consistent results.

What you’ll learn…

  • Overcome the fear of cold calling
  • Develop techniques for making successful cold calls
  • Take a proactive role in filling your sales pipeline
  • Write effective e-mails – Leave voice mail messages that get returned
  • Handle Objections – win more  appointments

To learn more about the results sellers have realised just click here to read success studies, or watch what they said after attending the Proactive Prospecting Workshop.

Every New Customer begins as a Prospect!

Start filling your pipeline with Real Prospects!

Learn more at www.proactiveprospecting.com
Sign up today, seating is limited to 100 people!

Early Bird Specials Available – Multi-Attendee offers
ADDED BONUS – 500 FREE leads from LeadFerret.com
The Proactive Prospector’s Guide to Objection Handling Booklet

www.proactiveprospecting.com
Call – (855) 25-SALES

Sign Up Today! And always be confident when asked:

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Sales Summer School34

The most valuable, complete sales training of the summer!

Featuring me and 18 other well-respected sales innovators, authors and trainers from across North America, Sales Summer School delivers ideas and actions that you can take immediately to improve your sales results.

You can select from over 30 courses with a wide variety of topics ranging from tips and techniques for interviewing for your next sales position to obtaining strategic referrals and partners, through to coaching your sales teams as an effective leader.

My course is GAP Selling – Leveraging Process and Execution, is coming up next Thursday, August 2, at 4:00 pm Eastern.  GAP Selling – Looks at hoe to deliver value.  Almost every sales conversation starts or ends with the concept of value; at the same time there are as many different understandings and definitions of value as there are sellers and buyers. Without a clear and actionable definition of value, many conversations between buyers and sellers are less than effective, and do not help create a buy. Starting with that definition of value, participants will then learn the five step process to leveraging that value right through the sale, from the initial engagement to winning the client. The overarching goal of the process is to focus on the buyer’s objectives, and delivering specific means of helping the achieve those objectives. Steps include: 1) Identifying and validating buyer’s objectives 2) Understanding why buyers really buy 3) Why Buyers buy and don’t buy from you and your company 4) Converting the above to impact questions and quality conversation 5) A structured follow-through approach to maximize impact and progress Participants will learn how to use the above to create alignment with the buyer, their objectives and buying process.

You can see the other courses, schedules, and register by clicking here.

Each course is scheduled for 60 minutes and there is always time available for live Q&A with the audience.

You would have to pay thousands of dollars to hear these speakers live. Your investment of $47.00 per event will prove to be the most valuable career investment you will make this year.

Look down the list of Presentations and Speakers, select those that you would like to attend, and the rest will  be taken care of behind the scenes.

As an attendee, you will receive access to a recording of the event for your review later on, and will also be given exclusive access to a private LinkedIn Group reserved only for attendees of Sales Summer School. Each of the instructors is an active member, and are available to answer your questions on sales and sales management. Private access to this group of experts is worth more than the price of the ticket itself.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Systems Don’t Bend, but You Can! – Sales eXchange 15150

Last week I met a young man, fresh out of school, entering real estate as a career.  He seemed excited when he discovered what I did for a living, only slightly deterred when I kept insisting my work is best suited to B2B sales, not the residential or consumer focus he was dealing in.   He was keen to tell me that he had just started a company sponsored prospecting program, one his company had employed for all their new realtors with great success.

As he was telling me about the program, which based on what he told me seemed sound and effective, and has delivered consistent results for his employer, he seemed to be hiding a question or a comment.  It turned out that there were aspects of the program that “didn’t appeal” to him, and he was going to ignore or change them, and he was looking for some “expert advice” as to how to change the prospecting system he was being taught.

While it would be easy to write this off as being due to his inexperience, the reality is that you run into the same thing with “experienced, tenured” reps.  In fact the latter group is often worse, the newbie reps want to change or avoid things they don’t understand or scare them, which is the likely scenario with prospecting.  The tenured reps, ostensibly should know better, but they still change things they are presented by sound sources, because they’re experienced, have “earned the right” to do it their way.  Often this “right” is absent when looked at through the filter of results.  Much better to do it the right way, despite rights you think you may have earned.

I since looked up the trainer and their system, and it has a solid track record, what I read made sense, and the broker my new friend works for has been number one or in the top three realtors in their region every year in the last ten years; despite my ego, doesn’t sound like it would improve instantly or measurably from my input.

So in effect, what this young man and every other wannabe, was looking for was my permission to skirt the hard work needed to succeed in his field.  When taken to its logical conclusion, he was looking for me to OK his plan to be at best average, or in many cases where people fail to apply the discipline of success, a failure.

These same sales people don’t apply the same approach to their own athletic pursuits, the need to challenge and stress to improve.  The young man in question and I initially started talking about the Toronto Marathon which we had both run the week before, he told me about his training routine, how he not only keeps to a training regiment, but how he continues to ramp up the routine in order to improve each race he runs.  He spoke about the challenges, pain, recovery and the process of improvement.  The same process he should apply to his sales.  He finally connected the dots when he realised I was telling him that to achieve the improvements in his sales that he was experiencing in his race times, he would have to adopt the complete program, stick to it, and execute it day in and day out if he wanted to see the improvement in his sales result.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Train them or help them sell better – Sales eXchange – 14762

If you are in sales you have likely seen or participated in a discussion about whether sales training works or not.  You have likely heard that it works when there is follow-through, or if there is buy in from front line sellers, or the degree to which management is committed to supporting the new training.  While these and other factors do play a role, I see a variation the last point as key.

While most have framed their reasoning and discussion around the argument of
management/leadership commitment, I believe it comes down to something more profound
and less often discussed, intent.

Just as intent will differentiate sellers in their buyers’ eyes, intent is more often than not the determining factor is sales training success.  Many companies embark on a training program because it is one of the things they (feel they) have to do.  While there is the underlying understand that training is a good thing and does lead to improvement at some level, it is often something that is done to satisfy a KPI, or is one of the things that was an initiative on the calendar for that fiscal year.

I recently was involved in a discussion with a company that typified this approach.  Several times we talked about the “need” for training, but when we tried to dig down and understand what were the specific objectives for the initiative, the discussion was held to a superficial level.  Any attempt to understand what the underlying factors were, how they wanted to see the team be different as a result of the initiative were met with generalities, “more revenue”, “better interactions”, “more profitable relations”, and more.

When we tried to take the discussion to a deeper more specific level, we met with surprise about the questions, and told that it was part of a greater plan.  We felt that if we were going t contribute to their success, it would be integral for us to understand the plan, what had already been addressed, if or how was it adopted, we were met by surprise for the question, rather than specific answers.

As part of any engagement we like to meet with reps and managers in advance, as an informal assessment (we often will conduct formal assessments), yet this is at time seen as a foreign request.  When it is, I have become suspicious about the intent and nature of the commitment.   It is as though they were telling us that the important thing is to have training, not necessarily to help the team sell better.

To me if the intent going in is wrong, the results will not be far from that either.

Next Step

  • Understand what specifically you intend to get as a result of any training
  • Spend longer sourcing the training than it takes to deliver it
  • Share your goal with the chosen training partner in advance, not after

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Contest – Enter To Win!29

PROACTIVE PROSPECTING!

As you may have noticed over to the right, we are presenting the Proactive Prospecting Workshop in Toronto/Markham, scheduled for April 13.  We want your help in spreading the word we are holding a contest.

Prizes:

First Prize

A collection of three top sales books, including my award winning book on Trigger Events.  PLUS, if the winner is in the Toronto area the day of the workshop, you will be our guest free, bring a friend, and hey we’ll find a seat for them too!

Second Prize

A copy of the award winning book on Trigger Events

What you need to Win

Simply promote the workshop by tweeting it to your friends, followers, neighbors, former lovers, etc.  But to qualify and win the tweet has to include three things:

The following tags – #ppmark #contest #toronto (all three tags need to appear in each tweet)
This specific link to the workshop site – http://bit.ly/PP-contest
Your twitter ID – very important as we it to tally your totals

Here is an example:  I wanna go to the Proactive Prospecting Workshop in #Toronto http://bit.ly/PP-contest #ppmark by @you #contest #toronto

And remember if you get your friends to retweet, it adds to your total.

Good luck, and if you have question, just write us at info@sellbetter.ca

Start tweeting and Good Luck!

It’s Not Always Easy18

Earlier this week, I posted on two related or intersecting topics sales leaders need to manage and improve. First, their view of, and approach to sales training; second the alignment of their sales assets with clearly identifiable market segments.

Based on some feedback, I want to expand on some key points and make sure that the wrong message is not being taken away.

With respect to KPI’s and training, I was not saying that KPI’s do not belong as part of training initiative.  In fact there needs to be metrics, measures and other indicators to ensure that the training is effective, implemented and is delivering the desired behavioural change.  Those same indicators should then be utilized to refine training strategy and implementation.  What I was saying, and don’t apologize for, is that sales leaders need stop making decisions on training in order to meet one of their KPI’s.  Not only does this not result in training that moves the dial forward, but more importantly communicates a clear message to their sales teams.  The message is that it is OK to just go through the motion to meet the basic requirement without regard for the end result.  After all, if the VP can get by with training that does not change sales behaviour, than why can a rep take a similar view, “you wanted five face to face visits, you got five”; KPI met, sale or not.

The question of alignment extends in to training as well.  Just as you don’t want to misalign the resources based on the type of buyer involved, you also don’t want to assume that all your sales people will benefit from the same type of training.  I have written in the past that there needs to be no democracy in sales training.  Indeed, when it comes to sales training, one size does not fit all.  Many have taken a forward step of separating new recruit training and some form of “advanced” training; others created online programs better matching requirements and content.  When actively managed this moves things in the right direction, when not, which is often the case, this type of training just invites the KPI mentality highlighted above.  This happens eve when there is testing built into modules.

In the end, as with anything strategic and core to business success, it is about having a long term view and the backbone to execute, especially when long term results and success will materialize after the next fiscal quarter or year end.  Let’s start by removing the KPI for cosmetic band aide initiatives.

Next Step

  • Develop or ensure your sales process aligns with and reflects your market’s buying process
  • Make sure you have the right people on the bus
  • Use the two above to determine he right training to create success behaviour

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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