Sales Challenges: 4 of 6 - Motivating your Team

Quiz time: How 'engaged' (passionate/enthusiastic about their work) are the members of your sales team?

If they are like today's U.S. workers, then about half of them (51%) are not engaged and almost one fifth (18%) are actively disengaged.

I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.

Sales Challenge #4: Motivating your team

Being in the sales business I have focussed this blog on sales people but actually the information is valid for any team, in any business or role.

Motivation is the skill of getting people to do willingly and well the things that need to be done.

Motivation ceases and de-motivation kicks in when sales people feel compelled to surrender to a request.

Salespeople are not only motivated by money. In fact, there frequently comes a point in many sales careers when money is nowhere near the top of the motivators list.

Never has this been truer than now that "Millennials" are entering the sales profession. We get to hear a lot of negative comments about their attitudes in the working environment.  But have you ever stopped to think: maybe it's not them, it's us?  Typically, we find that most millennials bring bright, vibrant, and creative ideas along to the workplace - if only you can motivate them to do so.  Contrary to what we think, EVEN in sales, it's not always the commission check that provides the incentive. Having your ideas used is very satisfying and thus, a super motivator - being a contributor is certainly high on most millennials' lists of what they want from a job.

So, what do you need to take into consideration when motivating your people?

Successful [sales] management requires the manager to perform a balancing act with her/his time between the team, the individual, and the task (in this case where the task is selling):

  • Focus on the team and the task and the individual gets neglected.

  • Focus on the task and the team and the individual gets neglected.

  • Focus on the individual to the detriment of the team and the task.    

As a manager, you need to make sure you are balancing the needs of the team, the task, and the individuals as well as putting motivators in place (and trying to remove the de-motivators) that will resonate specifically with your people.

You need to get to understand the personal individual motivations of your team (and your manager).  I find that for the sake of expediency, if you distill all the common workplace/industrial motivation theories (Maslow, Herzberg, McGregor, FW Taylor, et al.) you get 5 traits you can work with quite  easily: Achievement, Recognition, Finance, Job Content, Personal Needs.

Do-today Tip #4: Spend some time finding out what motivates your team. Make sure you understand what motivates and de-motivates the individuals on your sales team--ask them!  Undertake formally or informally a motivation audit (click here for a simple example to get you started).

Next time, we'll take a look at how to assess the real experience level of your team.

Read more:
How to Create Clearly Defined Sales Processes and Sales Objectives
How to Build the Right Team
How to Choose the Correct Spot on the Sales Management Continuum

What carrots and sticks are you using to motivate your team? Got a question I can help with? Our online community looks forward to reading your comment and helping with your question.

Sales Challenges: 3 of 6 - Where are you on the Sales Management Continuum?

It's so important that universities offer courses about it, scholarly publications are written about it, and towns hold meetings about it.

We're talking about management. In particular, the sales management continuum.

I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.

Sales Challenge #3: How to choose the correct spot on the Sales Management Continuum

Managing the sales process is more than just giving direction and forecasting.

Managing, or leading a motivated, high performing sales team is both an art and a science. It requires the leader to adopt the right approach for the right people at the right time--it's a dynamic role.

As I frequently remind many of my clients when something goes wrong - it may not be your fault, but it's your problem, and nothing could be truer than when you are managing a sales team. The challenge is to understand how you should be managing the current challenge (or opportunity) that you are faced with.

We get sales leaders to look at what we call the management continuum. The continuum spans:   

Supervisor < > Manager < > Coach < > Mentor.

Supervisors (usually nicely) tell people what to do, usually in the areas of policy, process and procedure.  Your new team member joins and you tell him how to fill out his expenses and how you use CRM, etc.

Managers plan, direct and support their sales people. They point them in the right direction and keep them on track, focused, and motivated to "do willingly and well the tasks that need to be done" - selling!  

Coaches get the best out of their teams by unlocking each person's potential to maximize his or her own performance. Coaches focus on helping people learn rather than teaching them--you don't coach someone on filling out their expenses or using CRM!

Mentors treat their mentees (carefully if they are, in reality, subordinates) as peers, working collegially to get the job done and improve [an already good] performance.  Mentors and mentees work things out between them.

There is a time and a place for everything. As a sales leader, you need to operate back and forth along the continuum as is appropriate for the situation in which you find yourself.

Do-today Tip #3: Ask yourself--I am managing or leading? Am I using the appropriate style for the sales management issue at hand, in this specific instance, with this specific person?

Next time, we'll take a look at how to motivate your team.

Read more:
How to Create Clearly Defined Sales Processes and Sales Objectives
How to Build the Right Team

How good are you at navigating the sales management continuum? Got a tip to share? I'll personally give you a 'thumbs up' if it's a good one. I am also ready to tackle your questions. You know what to do--comment box, type, hit 'post'...

Sales Challenges: 2 of 6 - Building the Right Team

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review reports on current research into teamwork. It seems that the fault may lie more with managers who do not know how to get the best out of their teams rather than the team members themselves.

I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales management challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.

Sales Challenge #2: Considerations for building the right team

Whatever you are selling requires the right team to maximize its sales.

Are you ...

  • selling a commodity or a solution?

  • selling to accounts where you are upselling and cross selling?

  • selling new business into new name, "new logo" accounts?

  • selling a product that takes hours to sell or months?

  • selling locally or nationally or internationally?

Not every salesperson is suited to every type of sale.  

Given the choice, I would do new business rather than manage accounts. It suits my temperament (and I really don't mind cold calling!) but this does not suit everyone.  

Consider: How long is your sales cycle?  
Many sales people need the constant motivation of getting orders every day. Others don't mind a longer sales cycle, and in fact, prefer getting one big order every so often--usually it's less paperwork to contend with!  

Some sales folks enjoy the technical challenge of selling solutions and writing detailed proposals and RFP responses and all that entails whilst some people are happy just quoting and selling commodities.

As Lord Alan Sugar once said, "Pile 'em high, sell 'em cheap." (For my non UK audience, he is the businessman that did the UK version of The Apprentice).

Consider your customers: who are you selling to, at what level do you need your salesperson to operate, and what does the customer expect?  
We worked on a project a couple of years ago to develop a global account process for a client selling in the credit card sector. For the position of 'Global Account Director' (aka salesperson) for one account, we hired an ex-divisional GM - that was the level of experience it took to manage the account to the level the customer wanted.

Here is the point I am getting at: when it comes to sales people, one size does not fit all and while that seems like a blinding glimpse of the obvious, you would be surprised at just how often sales managers hire a mismatched sales person for the job.

No point whatsoever (well, rarely) hiring an account manager to do new business or a new business hunter to manage accounts.  Biggest mistake we see is a sales guy used to getting lots of orders at a [comparatively] low value being given a job selling a few orders at a high value.

Do-today Tip #2: Create a person profile to go with the job description when you are hiring. Use some tools to ensure the person is matched to your specific sales role and the temperament the role needs, not just the skills.  Brief your recruiter or HR professional about the 'type' of salesperson you need--a hunter, a farmer, a solution seller, a commodity seller, a collaborative seller.

Next time, we'll take a look at how to choose the right spot on the
'sales management continuum' to get your sales management style right to match the team.

Read more: see my last blog 


Is Building the Right Sales Team a challenge for your orgainzation? What have you been doing about it? How has that been working out for you? Like an answer to a question? Our readers would love to hear your thoughts and help with your queries.  Comment below to start a dialog.

Posted in Articles, Best Damn Sales Blogs, Sales Management. Tagged as building a team, hiring, recruiting, sales leadership, sales management, sales team.

Sales Challenges: 1 of 6 - How to Create Clearly Defined Sales Processes and Sales Objectives

Read Forbes, Fortune, or any other top sales and business publication. What will you find? Articles about the top sales challenges commonly faced, no matter which product or service you are marketing.
I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.
Sales Challenge #1: How to create clearly defined sales processes and sales objectives
If you don't know where you are going, you are almost certainly not going to get there.
Sales organizations need a road map--the sales process; you need to know what you need to do at each stage of the process, what KPIs to expect at each stage, and how to get sales opportunities through the process from lead to closure.
Then, your sales organization needs to follow that process (preferably mapped in CRM) so you can measure and report on each stage of the sale.
Likewise, for each deal, there is a need for a clearly defined sales objective--what are you selling, for how much, and when.
Do-today Tip #1: Build yourself a dashboard so you can track who has got what in the pipeline, what stage it is at and that the KPIs are being met.
Next time, we'll take a look at how to build the right team.
How has your organization been dealing with this challenge? Have a great story or hot tip to share? Any questions? Our online community looks forward to reading your comment or answering your question below.

Posted in Articles, Best Damn Sales Blogs.

How Power Base® Sellers have adapted to a changed sales eco system

Having been in the sales business for a long, long time, having trained literally thousands of salespeople, having sold and trained around the world, I am often asked "Has selling changed over the years?".  
Well, if you were to read one of the most famous sales books ever, Dale Carnegie's, "How to Win Friends and Influence People", and you read the first few paragraphs without reading the preface, you'd think, "Hmm... this is quite relevant today." Then, when you do read the preface, you'd see that this book was first published in 1936.

So - has selling changed?  Fundamentally no, its been fine tuned, the techniques have been renamed a few times and some have been dropped.  What has changed is buying.

It used to be that the seller controlled the selling and the buyer controlled the buying.  Then, along came the Internet, the information age and social media.  Selling was turned on its head because now, a much better informed, much better educated prospect can control the buying process and selling process, too.

Let's take a look back.

Up until the early 2000's, a professional, solution salesperson (in simplified terms) identified prospects, motivated them to engage, built rapport, skillfully asked questions, identified needs, presented solutions, handled objections and closed the deal.  Buyers were not particularly savvy about what they were buying.  They wanted information and they wanted choice.  They wanted to buy from someone whom they could trust.  
Solution selling, B2B selling, was about personal relationships - prospects were buying trust first and product / services second.  Sales people were "information providers" practicing "personal selling", gaining trust to make decisions easier for the prospect.

Very early into the new millennium there was a paradigm shift.   
There was increased competition in just about every product, service and market sector you can name (B2B and B2C). There was more choice than ever.  The Internet and increased competition drove prices down (and margins!).  More sophisticated solutions had more impact (negative and positive) across entire organizations.  Now, with more information more readily available, multiple decision makers were becoming more involved in more decisions. Enterprise selling was the order of the day and "the Internet changes everything" rang only too true.

Many salespeople, hitherto successful salespeople who had been using traditional 'tried and trusted' solution-selling skills, found themselves struggling in this new enterprise environment.

Then, in the late 2000's the market place was turned upside down.  
Globally, there was a low growth environment.  There was considerable cost scrutiny applied to just about any purchase for anything.  Organizations were barely buying necessities, let alone niceties.   Simultaneously, social media started gathering real momentum, putting information and tools at the fingertips of buyers.
This meant that buyers did not need to engage with salespeople to get information.  They did not need to build a simple, trusting relationship with a salesperson to make a wise decision.  They merely jumped online and asked their peers what they thought.  When they finally called in the salesperson, the decision was nearly made. The buyer - seller engagement was for the purpose of, literally or figuratively placing the order.

For more complex purchases the customer still wanted a relationship with the salesperson but not simply one where they trusted the salesperson for good information.  They wanted advice and input from the relationship; they wanted a problem solver.  They wanted the salesperson to challenge and contribute, not simply present solutions and offer choices.  The salespeople who emerged and had enjoyed success during the recession and into the second decade of the millennium were professionals who had gained insider status and built symbiotic relationships (the customer and the salesperson can't live without each other).  They were the professionals who created demand for what they sold; they didn't simply service demand.

These professionals, whom we call "Power Base Sellers', not only delivered value but they delivered unexpected value - value that the customer did not realize was attainable.  
They created and executed strategies that ethically, quickly and professionally differentiated their solutions from their competitors' in ways that benefited the customer, enabling those customers to make faster, more beneficial decisions. Basically,  the Power Base salespeople let the competition defeat themselves.   In so doing, these salespeople did not just build relationships, they delivered personal value to their contacts (the decision makers and the decision influencers) that gave those contacts a (positive) political advantage, often advancing personal agendas and careers.

So, has selling changed?  For many people it has not but buying has changed considerably. So, sales folks who have not changed with the times are getting left behind.  How you sell has to change. Your competitive advantage has to come from how you sell, not what you sell.

OK but in plain language, has selling changed?  Yes, it has. Buyers want an advisor who will solve problems, not an information provider who can offer options.   In short, they want 'Power Base Salespeople'.
In my next blog, I will talk more about Power Base Selling and how you can develop your sales technique in this direction.


Tagged as Challenger sale, Power Base Selling, relationship selling, solution selling.

Sales Tip No. 28 - New Year Rapport Buidling

New year, new accounts, new opportunities for many sales people and account managers. Then, as we enter 2017 many markets seem to be heating up and so some sales people start to get a little complacent, some even aggressive (thinking they are being assertive!).  Even in an up-market taking time to build rapport is still important, so here are 5 reminders for building rapport:
1.     Be empathetic - put yourself in the customer's shoes.
2.     Use good listening skills - ask open questions, prove you are listening with active listening techniques.
3.     Be assertive not aggressive - if you are "challenging" the customer be careful how you do it.
4.     If you say you'll do it, do it - promises are easy to make and even easier to break.
5.     Talk at the customers level - you are there to understand the customer's needs and explain what you do, not show off what you know.
If you want more detailed information about rapport and empathy email me and I'll send you a white paper.

Rapport - make it happen, don't wait for it to happen!

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as Assertiveness, Challenger sale, Rapport, sales tips.

Sales Tip No. 26 Negotiation - are you really in a position to negotiate?

The current presidential election campaign in the US has me talking to quite a few clients and participants about negotiation skills.  As one candidate claims to be such a good negotiator it has become a hot topic!
In any real negotiation there has to be two conditions in play.  Both parties must have the will to vary the terms and both parties must have the authority to vary the terms.  So here is the challenge in many negotiations - unless you have true executive authority in your organization, the ability to really vary the terms may not be yours - no matter how willing you are to vary them!
This means preparing and planning for your negotiation.  You need to work out before you go into any negotiation three factors.  1) your "walk terms" (your last resort terms, the lowest $ amount for example, that if you don't get you will [have to] walk away.  2) your "like terms" (this is what you ideally would like to get and this would be a very good deal for you.  3) your "accept terms" (this is what you would accept and although maybe not what you would ideally like, is still an acceptable deal for you).
Of course you have to be at the right stage in the sale too.   Most sales people start [trying] to negotiate too early - see my earlier blog / Sales tip no. 6 "are you negotiating too early?"

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as closing the deal, negotiate, negotiation skills, preparation and planning.

Sales Tip No. 25 - Cold calling, no names policy?

Are you cold calling (yes many people still do it) or following up on leads or cleaning lists - but can't get hold of the right contact, especially when the target company has a "no names policy" on the switchboard?
Try this - it sounds counter productive but its not.  Do the research call and the sales call as two separate calls.
Call the target company's switchboard - in a  very friendly non threatening tone say "I wonder if you can help me, please do not put me through to any one, I do not want to talk to anyone.  I am sending an invite to a seminar to your [job title / description], who would that be please?".  Get the details, get off the phone, wait a couple of days and then call them (using your get past the gatekeeper techniques).  
If you want a white paper on calling for appointments, getting past gatekeepers - email me.

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips.

Sales tip no. 24 - No pain? Sell the gain!

Interesting situation with a sales team I am coaching at the moment.  They have been taught to find the technical, business and personal pain - exactly the right thing to do.  Recently on a particular campaign they were finding the people they were approaching had "no pain".

When we dug down into what their solution actually did we found they delivered benefits that could be "of gain" - not just "address a pain".  So when their prospects were saying everything is great we don't have any problems our client was able to put forward arguments to make them "even more productive", "even more efficient", "free up even more staff".

Sounds obvious but with careful positioning and good questioning skills "the pain" became not taking advantage of "the gain".

Posted in Weekly Sales Tips. Tagged as addressing the pain, business gain, business pain, compete selling, no pain, relationship selling, solution selling.

CRM – are you solving your Relationship Management problems or simply automating them?

Do you want to .........
Annoy and upset more customers?
Give out wrong information faster?
Pass the caller to the wrong extension efficiently?
Get your customers' name wrong with increasing frequency?
Handle complaints with no empathy?
Keep your customers on hold for as long as possible?
Generate sales leads you don't contact for ages?
Completely screw up your sales forecasting?
Then you need...........
A Customer Relationship Management system.
There are many benefits to installing and using properly a CRM solution, on premise, in the Cloud, a few users or thousands of users CRM can be an absolute boom to any company.  In fact we have been CRM centric for 20 years except when we started out it was called "Sales Force Automation (SFA)" or "Automated Contact Management and Prospect Tracking".
Whether upgrading from an old or less sophisticated system or going into CRM for the first time (yes some companies DO NOT have CRM) most organizations see CRM as the answer to all their problems.  Sadly what most end up doing is not solving their customer information, customer management, prospect tracking or service problems they automate them, inadvertently delivering even poorer service even faster.
So how do you avoid this?  Here are some considerations:
Firstly think of CRM as business solution based on technology, don't leave your CRM solution entirely in the hands of the IT folks.  The project lead / sponsor should be a sales, marketing or service advocate.
Secondly have a project and change management approach that analyses and maps out your present lead generation, sales, order, implementation, service processes and then with all the appropriate stakeholders map out what you would like those processes to be.  No matter how simple draw a flow chart of the process and at each stage what the outcomes or deliverable s should be for each process.
Next engage some change management principles define how the new CRM will be used to achieve the business change  you need, define what the usage rules (governance) are going to be,  write up and publish the Standard Operating  Procedures.  Have a roll out plan with dates and goals, arrange training and familiarization workshops.  The system may look simple but looks can be deceiving.
Finally explain to everyone WHY you are changing the system.  Some sales and service people see CRM as a necessary evil (enlightened professionals see it as a sales, marketing  and service tool) and if your CRM is either automating the problems or a simply a glorified rolodex then ALL your sales, marketing  and customer service people will see it as evil but not necessary.

Tagged as business development, CEM, CRM.

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