Blindfolded senior businessman trying to catch dollar bills banknotes flying in the air on gray wall background. Financial corporate success or crisis challenge concept

Sales Blind2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One of the most common comments Sales VP’s make in speaking about their team is that they fail to ask for the order, or go in for “the close”.  Now I can hear some of you saying “close, no no no, we don’t do that in sales today”.  I don’t take that comment so literally, I think it refers to a scenario we all have seen, where there is an opportunity to move the process forward, or everything is in place, and rather than moving to implementation, both the seller and the buyer allow for creep, creating an ongoing cycle, rather than to the objectives set out at the start.  A condition I call “Sales Blind”.  The sale goes on and on, things look good, but never materialize, and then you discover another vendor won the opportunity.  I find this happens with a couple of types of reps, who are two side of the same coin.

The Forever Seller

First are those sales people who are really great at selling and love the discovery process to no end, literally.  They will reach out to anyone in the buying company to get the right answer, and the right people engaged in the process.  They ask questions that not only demonstrate their depth of knowledge of the subject, and at the same time get the prospect to think and rethink what they set out to buy and achieve.  They enjoy the process so much, completing the deal leads to their fun ending (till they start the next sale), and as a result at times it seems they make little effort to close the deal, as it will end their party.  Sounds absurd, but if you have managed many sales people, you have had one of these people on your team.  I had one, this was one of the best sales people I worked with, but would never take things to the last next step.  I was and am convinced that it was not a question of ability, but one of “the hunt being more fun than the kill”.  Being “Sales Blind” they are happy selling without regard for the outcome.

Relationship R-Us

The second is the hard core relationship seller.  I often ask groups of sales people what they want to do with new prospects they meet.  The ones who answer “create rapport” or “build a relationship”, fall in to this group.  Have you ever had someone on your team who was loved by the clients and prospects, yet continuously came up short at the end of the year?  This is them.  Relationships are great, but what they should doing for new prospects and clients is helping them achieve objectives, through that process they will also help their employer by generating revenue.

There is a Cure

The good news is that “Sales Blindness” is a curable condition.  Through active coaching and setting account/opportunity based milestones and timelines.  This will surface key barriers that the rep needs to eliminate and reestablish some deal vision.  Both these types of sellers have the requisite skills, they are just blinded a bit from seeing past a point, once you help them through that they are often your best reps and role models for other team members.

Arctic Wolf_Webinar_email-webinar--300
Share
Brock

Sales Manager Survival Guide – Book Review2

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

One of the great things in what I do is the opportunity to meet a range of thinkers and doers involved in sales and helping others sell better.  So when one of these people, in this case, David A. Brock writes a book on a critical subject like sales management, it is an opportunity to learn and share with others in my circle.  But when the subject is one you can relate because you have lived it, it is a bonus.

Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales’ Front Lines, is a book I wish I had way back when I was promoted from being territory rep to sales manager.  At the time I floundered to make the transition, and worked hard to understand the difference between selling and leading a sales team, a process and transition that would have considerably easier and more productive had I had the Sales Manager Survival Guide.

The book is laid out to help you succeed in the role.  Notice I said the role, not just if you are new to sales management, this book will help you whether you are new sales manager, or have the benefit of experience. In fact, the more years you’ve been doing it, the more you are likely to get out of this book, on first read, and beyond.

Starting with the key definitions and elements of the role.  A point that is often glossed over is not just that managing is different than selling, and that while your past experience and successes will help you, it is no longer about you doing it, it is about getting “things done through your people”.   As Dave highlights this is not about doing for them, or telling them, it is about getting things done through your team.  This clearly leads to a focus on coaching.

The book looks at this from the ground up, Dave avoids the trap of using “coaching” as a catch phrase for some many things talked about a lot, rarely done right.  Right up front he lets the reader know that “coaching is the highest leverage activity a manager can take to drive the performance of his people”.  From there he goes into great detail about the difference between managing and coaching.  Dave introduces introduce stats to help frame things, helps you to see the difference between coaching and the fact that coaching is ongoing not periodic.  I love the line “Coaching is a contact sport!  You can’t fake it.”  Too many do try and fake, or want to make it a genteel feel good exercise.  It is not it is about driving performance, and that requires contact, not a hit, but contact/connection between the coach and the rep whose performance you need to affect.

The book follows through looking at recruiting and onboarding, managing performance.  I love Part Six, the exploration of the Tactical side of success.  Sales is all about execution, and in this part Dave breaks it down in a way you can put in to practice right away; you will be able to apply this to your world, rather than having to apply your world to suit the methodology.

As a bonus, Dave concludes with a discussion of what manager need to understand about success in the role beyond impacting the performance of their team, and to improve manage and develop themselves, again, an ongoing process.

You can make the transition from front line sales to front line management, you can become a leader who develops great sellers, but that will not happen by osmosis, which seemed to be the plan when I was promoted.  Lucky for you, you won’t have to, you can succeed by embracing the steps, tools and practices presented by David Brock in Sales Manager Survival Guide.

Learn more and download sample chapters here.

Become one of the thousands of sales professionals receiving my latest updates on sales execution, tools, tips and more.

Join Now!

Training vs. Improving – Sales eXecution 2981

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

iStock_000002705035XSmall

People often confuse training for a bunch of things that may or may not need to be present to achieve what they really want to achieve which is usually, change, and more specifically a change for the better, improvement. But improving, especially in sales, take a whole lot more than just training, and certainly more time than most people consider when it comes to training.

Training is an easy check mark on the KPI card, but improvement requires, planning, effort, and patience. All too many leaders “just train”, and often simply train their sales people to do the same thing, some times better, sometimes not, but “we trained them”. Sort of like an annual tune up on your car.

Training is part of the process, but it starts with planning. What are trying to change, and more importantly to what end. There are some who will do assessments, but then fail to set specific targets or outcomes for the training. “As a result of the assessment and interviews with Trainer X, the goal for this program is to increase pipeline value by X%; or to improve the conversion rates from stage X to stage Y of the process; or to reduce the sales cycle from an average X weeks to, X minus weeks” Or any other objective. To achieve improvement, you not only need to set goals, but benchmarks so you can measure progress, and metrics so you can manage progress.

Speaking of manage, why bother training the front line if you don’t train the managers. Or let’s be more accurate, train those leading your front line to really lead. But training is not enough, as Steve Rosen always reminds me, coaching and leadership is an ongoing process, as is development and lasting improvement for the front line.

As with any other improvement process your company takes on, it need to be planned, “sold” to participants, delivered, and then driven, not just left to “happen”. Sounds simple, I’ll bet a bunch of you reading this are saying, “Of course, why is this guy stating the obvious?” Sure, it’s obvious, but think back to your last training, sales or otherwise.

Unless it is an iterative process with specific goals, it is just a feel good KPI exercise. And don’t be fooled by assessments that capture your unfounded subjective observation that will seem to improve if for no other reason than the fact that you paid attention to it, ticked off on your list, and feel good about the fact that you rep is “now also responding”. The only thing that changes is the reps ability to give the right answer the second time around. Objective measures that lead to improvement, feeling better is not improvement.

There is an old joke in the training business, ask a leader “if you had a 14 year old daughter, would you rather she had sexual education at school, or sexual training.” And everyone feels good about choosing education over training. Go for improvement, the means is secondary.

Tibor Shanto    LI Bottom banner

There Is More To Leadership Than Leading – #SPS15 Special0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

woman with sketched strong and muscled arms

There is a lot written about leadership in general, and more specifically sales leadership, I have contributed my share to the din. This is a clear indication that no one has really figured it out, if they had the book will have been written, millions of copies sold, and people move past the debate, and focus on the next thing.

One common theme in pieces about leadership is how the leader needs to be involved and leading the process. And while that is true, the nature of that involvement differs based on who you read. I have always been an advocate of “leading from the front, not behind a desk”, and the assumption many take is that this literally means out in front of the troops Napoleon style. But I truly think that the best form of leadership, and means of driving change, the right change, not just change for change sake, anyone can rearrange the furniture and replace the curtains, is to not be part of the action. The best leadership, and I see things through the sales filter, is change that comes about in what appears to be in an organic way, initiated and completed by the sales rep/team, with only partial prints from the leader.

Managing/Coaching sales people, is really an exercise in selling. In a conventional sale we are trying to get the buyer to purchase our “stuff”, as a means of helping them achieve their objectives. Well as a coach, you are trying to get the sales person to integrate and take on your view alongside or instead of their current view or means of executing. That being the case, it really is best approached as a sale itself. As such, you not only have the opportunity to get the rep to buy into the change, but the means by which you do that could itself be a model or at a minimum, reinforce the process.

Everyone buys into the notion that “people don’t want to be sold”, and so you need to create a buying environment. The flaw with that in coaching is twofold. First While people may not want “to be sold”, they often need to be, that’s why we hire sales people. And the fact that the rep took on the job of selling, they have de facto declared that they want to buy, or buying to your process, otherwise, why are they working for you.

So how do we pull this together, simple, much like buyers like to hear things come out their mouth more than the sales reps, even when it was the sales person who choreographed the moment, sales people, especially established, good sales people who need to be taken to the next level, respond to ideas and actions that are their idea, not the managers. Meaning the best thing a manager can do lay down the bread crumbs, and let the rep discover things on their own, and when they do, you can become a resource in their journey to success.

How do you do that, I am old school, put the focus on your sales process. You have one right? Clear stages, specific activities in each stage, objectives, desired outcomes, tools, contingencies, and most importantly, clear reasons to disqualify. Each stage supported by an evolving playbook, and a clear next step go-no go, criteria. If you have this, you’re set to help the rep discover what you want them to, without directly leading them. If you don’t, you can call me and we can get you started.

As a first step, you can join me and my colleagues today for the 2015 Sales Performance Summit, webcast live from Toronto.

Tibor Shanto

 LI Bottom banner

Key Sales Management Actions To Prepare for 2015 – Live Panel Discussion0

November 12, 2:00 pm Eastern

2015 arrow

2015 is fast approaching, hey if your sales cycle is longer than 8 weeks, you’re already selling in 2015. All this adds up to the fact that you need to prepare now, well actually November 12, at 2:00 pm Eastern.

I am pleased to be part of a leading experts on sales, planning and sales leadership.

The time to start thinking about 2015 is here, planning should be well underway. Making time to plan for 2015 while closing 2014 can be a challenge. Take a break from Q4 to get some ideas on ways you can lay the groundwork for a great 2015. Join sales experts Steven Rosen, Lori Richardson, Lee Salz, Dan Enthoven and Miles Austin and I, as we present key actions that are important to focus on for a stellar 2015. With years of experience in sales and sales coaching behind them, our panelists will share what they have learned–saving you time and effort in your 2015 planning activities.

The Panel:

Lori Richardson – Score More Sales
Lee Salz – Sales Architects
Steven Rosen – STAR Results
Dan Enthoven – Enkata
Miles Austin – Fill the Funnel
And I

This will be a lively unscripted event that is sure to bring up some new things for you to think about. Please join us to give your 2015 planning a boost.

Register

Development vs. Budget Cycles0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca 

DvB

I, like many in my profession have a unique perch when it comes to looking at sales. We are actively selling, and as a result face many of the challenges and opportunities our customers do. But we have two added bonuses that many don’t. First is that we get to see how a host of sales organizations deal with specific aspects of sales, while any one of my customers may know more about how they sell, and why they are good, and what they want to develop, I have the benefit of seeing a range of best practices. I can see what works, what doesn’t, and what almost does and would with a bit of focus and development. Second, I can take the above and continuously synthesise into better methods, better execution and better development.

With that I, and I am sure many of my peers, have come to learn that is that budget cycles and development cycles are rarely in synch. How organizations deal with this is often the difference between great sales companies, and a bunch of also-rans.

Certain habits and changes take more than 12 moths to evolve, sales culture, processes and habits are one, but most companies spend silly time tying one to the other. This time of year, budget and planning time, really highlights that. One company I have been engaged with for some time is an example of how not to do it. They have decided that based on current numbers, they will need to cut budget for 2015, and her words, not mine, “training is on top of the cutting list”. I’m game, I asked, and “what forced you to cut?” You know what they said, lack of sales, “and the pipeline is weak going into Q4.” But she did ask me to call at the end of Q1, “maybe the numbers will improve”. Now I know what you are thinking, but I have been through this before, with them, they tie development to budget, not making the link to the possibilities of going the opposite way, budgeting the development.

By contrast, I have clients who do not want to hear about anything less than a 24 to 36 month plan. Their growth plan is to go form the current revenue $350 million to $1.8 billion, three years. Not unusual to have a three year plan, but they also tie the development plan to three years, along with targets, incentive and what I and my peers bring to the table. Their cost is not greater, it is just amortized, differently. Their development is not governed by budgets, but their budgets are driven by development.

It is funny how the same people look at other assets and are able to spread the cost and return expectations over the life of the asset, but when it comes to training they get hung up. Not training due to budget issues, is like not fueling up the truck due to the same budgetary reasons.

I know some are thinking “it’s different” (isn’t always when it comes to rationalizing) “other assets can’t get up and leave, what happens if I train them and the leave”, and many of you have heard y answer to that before: WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T TRAIN THEM AND THEY STAY?

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto 

Join me for The Objective Seller Webinar at 2:00 pm Eastern

Excuse My Typos – Just Busy Establishing Plausible Deniability0

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

steelmonkeyys0

Mantras such as Just Do It, or Execution – Everything Else Is Just Talk, are a great way to put a focus on DOING things rather than just being a bystander or just talking about doing things or worse, talking about why you did not do it. But they are just a starting point, the objective is to do things progressively better. While I remind all of us in sales that sales success is about doing things, I also regularly have to add that it is about doing it right, doing it consistently, doing it well, doing it to the best of our abilities, and challenging ourselves to continuously improving those abilities; not just mail it in so you can say it is done, as all too many are apt to do.

I see this in all aspects of sales, those who just make ten calls to ten sequential names on a list, and call it prospecting; versus those who initiate contact and engagement with ten 10 prequalified, researched, planned and targeted viable potential buyers, using all the tools available to them, from traditional to social and everything between. Both groups can tell me they prospected, both start out with the same objective, one group merely completes a task, in the narrowest sense; the other fully executed a strategy, and the results clearly reflect both efforts.

If you’re going to start the endeavour, why not do it right, fully and completely? Some may just write it off to a lack of commitment, but I believe it goes further than that, it goes to a lack of accountability and responsibly. Finding it safe and safer to blend in to grey rather than expend or invest in the effort to commit to either black or white.

You see this characteristic present itself in other ways. Two or three times a week I get an e-mail from sales types where at the bottom it has a disclaimer along the lines:

I am sending this from a (insert brand or type here) mobile device, sorry for any typos.

Now I am the first to admit that I regularly have typos in my blog posts, despite the effort to read and reread them before posting, but when I mess up, I thank the folks who point it out and take steps to not repeat it in the future. But rather than doing it right, it strikes me that the people in question go for establishing plausible deniability from the outset, even before the outcome is known. Or maybe they know what results their efforts will yield, and find it easier to establish plausible deniability than the work it would take to ensure the right outcome.

We all know that many of today’s mobile devices have some form of auto word correction/completion utility which sometimes insert the freakiest words instead of the word we were looking to type, but it is up to me to ensure that I communicating what I intend, not the devices’ algorithm. Where is the accountability and responsibility for the quality of the result? Sure it is just an e-mail, but it is an e-mail that reflects on the writer, and by extension their work, further their commitment to doing things right. If one can’t be bothered for such a simple thing, how much more effort will there be for more demanding things leading to and from the sale.

Another example of this half-assed approach is sales forecasts. While again automation has helped, it is still a question of garbage in garbage out. Talk to most sales people, they will tell you that their task is to submit a forecast. While their company is looking for an accurate forecast, one that will help them better run their business, understand potential order flow and resource requirement, protect margins, which in turn help make the product and your selling more competitive. I have had more than one rep tell me that they in fact have two forecasts, one they share, and the other is their own secret stash of opportunities. They care less about contributing, than covering their ass. Sure some of this is a result of a poor pipeline and opportunities to forecast, but the root cause is the same. When asked why, they unabashedly will tell you that it is a CYA exercise, completely discarding accountability.

What’s worse is their managers perpetuate the problem, discounting many of the forecasts and scaling things back subjectively to cover their own. They could and should work with the reps to A) understand what is expected; B) more importantly to actually be able to deliver a forecastable set of opportunities, that when proper weighted based on the companies defined sales process will actually deliver the results forecasted. But it is easier to scale back, build in “a plausibly deniable” buffer, and move on to the next task.

Managers can also do a better job of setting expectations. We have all seen instances where they set the task of their reps doing 10 calls, and they get exactly that, 10 calls. How much more effort would it take to articulate what those 10 calls are really meant to do in terms of engaging with real prospects, and pipeline opportunities. I know of one company where they have dictated that reps make 100 calls a week (either phone or door to door), probably twice what the team was (and is) used to. Well they got their 100 or so calls, without much lift in prospects or pipeline.

Mutual accountability up and down the line, with clear expectations set not just for results, but how to best achieve those results can go a long way to improving those results. Allowing cracks to be filled with plausible deniability not only kills results, but creates and fosters a culture without accountability, and no focus for change and improvement. If as a manager and an organization, you stop allowing people to establish plausible deniability, you will take a major step towards establishing a foundation of accountability, responsibility and success, a culture that will consume less resources while yielding more and consistent results.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

The Two EX’s of Success0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Picture1

Most people, and contrary to rumors, sales people are people, when faced with completing a task, especially a difficult task or one they don’t like, will do one of two things. I call this the Two EX’s of Success. They will either EXecute, or make EXcuses as to why they did not execute.

Now I know there are some reading this saying that’s not entirely so, there could be reasons, extenuating circumstances, etc., sure there could be, but that doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t make the effort to execute.

Some tell me they weren’t quite ready, they needed to make some adjustments, get ready, needed to have things just so or in place, the cosmos aligned, or whatever.  None of that matters, they didn’t execute.  Maybe I can help you relate differently, you know when your flight is delayed, and you face getting to an important meeting late, doesn’t matter what the airline says, it doesn’t change the fact that it was late.

No matter how badly one executes, it is better than the best excuse.  We can fix things done badly, but you can’t help those that don’t do it, we can’t even begin to evaluate what may need to be addressed.

I can understand the various reason for performance anxiety, poor performance is not a source of pride.  Or is it.  After all don’t we have respect for those who try and fail, then try again, until they make progress, and then start it all again to take things to the next level.  The bonus in sales is you make money as a result and get to keep your job.  The downside is that even make you make excuses you all too often get to keep your job.  This often leads to a culture of excuses.

Let me be clear, I don’t blame the reps, it is usually the managers’ or management’s fault.  If you have kids you know that you need to set the expectations and rules.  When I meet with front line managers and their seniors, and ask what their expectations are of reps, you get clear big picture stuff like results, but little clarity around the activities that lead to those results.  A lack of consistency on reviewing, training and reviewing the activity and the quality of execution.

Further, when those same managers are challenged about the results, their failure to execute their mandate, what do they do, offer up excuses, excuses excepted by senior managers.  I can tell my kids not to feed the dog off the table, but if I do it, what’s the take away?  Discipline is a hard thing to balance, and I am not advocating an intolerant culture, but excuses, no matter how creative, or how hard market conditions may be, will not lead to improvement or success, execution will.

One way to change excuses to execution is to utilize a clear process, a roadmap if you will with activities, objectives, and desired outcomes.  This allows you to take the subjectivity out of discussions, allowing reps to lower defences, and accept that they can do things badly, as long as they do things, rather than being frozen by fear of failing.  Central to success is a proper review regime, again the accountability for this is the manager’s not the reps, and rather than feeling pestered, it will show them you care and willing to help.  Add a solid long term coaching plan, and you have a platform for ongoing success and improvement.

May sound odd, but let’s encourage them to do things badly, rather than accepting brilliant excuses, that probably required more creativity and effort than the completing the task in question.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

Protecting New Recruits From The Mediocre Masses – Sales eXchange 2110

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

change

Many in sales buy into, or more accurately, settle for the 80/20 rule, one example would be 20% of a company’s reps generating 80% of sales.  This post is less about disputing or validating the accuracy of the rule, if you want that, download The Shanto Principle; but more about how to ensure that your new recruits develop to be the 20%.  AT the same time, you can you use the same tactics to move from the 80% group delivering just 20% of the revenues, to the 20% club, the group that makes a difference.

Let’s look at a new rep joining a company, being social critters they want to fit in, be part of the team (part of the crowd, easy to hide in a crowd), they look around the office and take in the atmosphere.  Part of the ritual, is talking to their colleagues, getting the lay of the land, “how are things done around here?”

So who is likely to be in the office, who is likely to have time to just “talk”, rather than being out at client/prospect meetings; who lacks the discipline to not stop what they had scheduled, and shoot the breeze with the new guy?  You guessed it, the members of the 80% club.  The 20% club is too busy being out and driving revenues.

This is not to say that the 20% club members are not willing to help a new person out, on the contrary, they do, but they are not in the office, hanging around, they are making things happen.  So for the new team member, they need to make the effort to find and engage with the 20% club members.  In fact this can be an early indicator as to what you hired, how well do they seek out, engage with and model the 20%.

This is why the onboarding process is crucial, managers and organizations must proactively guide and steer new recruits, even experienced sellers, sheltering them from the 80%.

Picture the new recruit in the office with the all-knowing non-producing masses, as he or she stands up to peak out over their cubical walls, and the see the 80% members at their desk, getting ready to prospect, getting ready to learn about the new product, getting ready to go and ask the manager for a further discount so they can win the deal – putting more effort into selling the need to discount than they did selling the prospect on the value, getting ready finish their picks for the pool; for the most part, getting ready.

What is the take away for the new recruit – “hey this is the way they do things around here, if I’m gonna fit it, I best do the same”.

Stepping out to do the things the 20% do requires guidance, or expectation from their manager, and the ability to against the crowd.

Inviting the 20% club members to mentor new recruits not only instills good habits in new team members, but develops future leader in the process.  This in turn can help you increase the quality of the team, and tilt the numbers in your favour, over time, you can move the dial from 80/20, to dare we say it, 70/30.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

Author #Interview – Josiane Chriqui Feigon – Smart Sales Manager0

By Tibor Shantotibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Smart Sales Manager

If you are not familiar with Josiane Feigon, you should be, and if her predictions come to be you will be soon enough.  As you’ll read below, she boldly predicts that by 2015 inside sales will overtake field sales, as that unfolds, she will be in greater demand.  Josiane heads up TeleSmart Communications, and is leading practice and thought leader in the area of inside sales and management.  A recognized consulting, she has designed and delivered coaching, and training solutions for world class companies such as companies, including Cisco, Autodesk, Citrix Systems, Adobe, and others.  She is also the author of two books on inside sales, Smart Selling on the Phone and Online: Inside Sales That Gets Results, and her most recent, and a complement to the first book: Smart Sales Manager: The Ultimate Playbook for Building and Running a High-Performance Inside Sales Team.

It was this book that was the focus of a recent conversation I had with Josiane, below are exerpts of that conversation.

TS:  You say that inside sales is going to overtake field sales by 2015. How can that be? And how does that affect how companies sell?

JF:  Today’s inside sales organizations are growing rapidly – for every 15 inside salespeople being hired, only one field person is being hired. The traditional sales organization structure is changing to meet the needs of today’s elusive and busy customer who is mobile, connected, independent, and wants everything NOW. Inside sales can build more – and often better – relationships virtually in much less time than it used to take face-to-face.  TS: In your book, you start out by saying customers these days are “mad as hell.” What are they mad about? What is going on with them these days that’s affecting their buying decisions?

JF:  Customers have become incredibly intelligent and assertive- they are putting their foot down and saying “they are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” They are tired of outdated sales techniques, hundreds of powerpoint slides to make a point, being stalked and chased by desperate salespeople. They are also very independent AKA “elusive” and like to self-educate.

TS:  Many of today’s inside sales managers were promoted out of the cubicle into management. How is managing in today’s digital world different than when they were selling?

JF:  Most of today’s managers were once individual contributors. Many of them manage with the old, brutal sales blueprint of success: aggressively chasing down customers and holding them in a headlock while they present and coerce them into buying. They keep doing it today, even though it no longer works, on the theory that it has to work sometime! But managing a high-performing inside sales team in the dynamics Sales 2.0 ecosystem is completely different. This new world is digital, diverse, and connected. Customers do their own research, and talent expects works to be F-U-N.

TS:  How do organizations identify great inside sales managers?  What are the primary attributes successful managers need?

JF:  I believe a good manager must first be a good coach and in my book, I outline Ten Qualities of a Compassionate Coach

  1. Be a good listener. Use the same active listening skills that make you a good salesperson. Give the rep your full attention, and listen without interrupting. Be empathetic and compassionate, and don’t get defensive.
  2. Be observant. You can learn so much about your team members just by paying attention to the way they present themselves, the objects they choose to have around them, the friends they hang out with, whether they speak up during meetings, how they listen when you talk, how they interact with others . . . the list goes on and on….
  3. Be patient. Some people are quick studies, but not everyone. Behaviors can change; everyone has his or her own unique rhythm. Give them time to develop.
  4. Be supportive. Make sure that even the least skilled know that you believe they have what it takes to improve and get ahead. Some team members may just be waiting for permission to be seen as the top dog on the team. Treat them as if they deserve to be in that spotlight.
  5. Be flexible. Change can be effected in a number of ways. If one approach fails, try something else. Be creative. Keep an open mind, and become sensitive to differences and different ways of doing things.
  6. Be interested and aware. Take time to get to know the salesperson you are coaching. What do they like? How do they live? This will give you insight into what motivates them.
  7. Be perceptive. When your intuition kicks in—and it will! —trust it.
  8. Be energetic. A good coach has energy that is contagious and persuasive. Model the kind of positive energy you want to see.
  9. Be focused. As a coach you must detach yourself from your own pressures and focus on the person you are coaching.
  10. Be trustworthy. Above all, coaching must take place in an atmosphere of safety and trust. Your team must trust that you are working in their best interests. Your team members are your potential superheroes. Treat them with respect and confidence.

TS:   Some people think cold calling is dead. But in your book, you introduce the concept of potent prospecting. Can you explain what that is?

JF:  New tools have eliminated the cold call and redefined prospecting: The days of robo-dialing and making cold calls without any information are gone – there’s no excuse for it. Potent prospecting works more holistically. It brings together the rest of the Sales 2.0 ecosystem – the customer, the talent, and the tools – and a working alignment with marketing. Prospecting efforts are strategic and sophisticated: they’re all about the best practices of engagement, collaboration, education, application, and social activity.

TS:  Why do so many inside sales managers insist on tracking dials & talk time as a primary metric of productivity? Is that lazy management, or just lack of knowing where else to look?

JF:  Metrics are definitely overdue for a metrics makeover because many metrics are outdated stereotypes of how to measure success. Managers must also redefine what productivity means so instead of saying “it’s awfully quiet out there, no one’s on the phone” they need to listen for the virtual, the digital and the social conversations and measure the new sounds of silence.

TS:  What are two takeaways from the book for finding and hiring new sales talent?

JF:  Every inside sales organization is unique. That’s because they each have different go-to-marketing strategies based on their individual provide/service, price points, sales cycle, direct/indirect purchase channels, target audience, sales locations, and talents. These are living, breathing micro businesses that are constantly in flux. But they all have one thing in common: the never-ending quest for good talent. Managers must develop an “always-be-recruiting” strategy that includes a referral network, and strong screening and interviewing techniques that help qualify and identify inside sales superheroes. Managers must also structure their inside sales organizations with the right roles and match them with people who fit those job functions. This is the first step in defining a “multicareer” ecosystem that attracts ambitious talent on a career trajectory.

That was just a bit of a great conversation. You can find more at TeleSmart Communications, and you get both books at Amazon, they make a good set.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

 

wordpress stat