Category Archives: Sales
“It’s The End Of The World”?
This is a post that was originally written and published about this time last year. I thought this would be a good time to bring it to everyone’s attention again. Hope you like it!
With the 100th anniversary of the sinking of The Titanic this past Sunday, I thought it was time to turn some old notes in to a post!
I might be the only person in the world who has not seen the Titanic movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. But I do know that Leo screamed, “I’m the King of the world” in a pivotal scene. That phrase inspired this post.
I had a funny thought one day and combined “I’m the king of the world” with “It’s the end of the world” as a way to remember to keep emotions in check when performing a sales role.
Keeping control of emotions has been integral to my success in recent years. I have always tried not to get too high, or too low whatever the situation has been. Of course, I still get excited when I succeed, and disappointed when I fail. But I try to “limit my rides” on the roller coaster of emotions.
I am not saying don’t get excited when great things happen, or upset when things don’t go your way. I focus on minimizing the peaks and valleys. Once I accomplished this, I did not feel as emotionally exhausted at the end of each day.
About three years in to my tenure with one organization, the bottom fell out. I had a drastic drop in sales with a key account, and the reason for the decline was out of my control. It really did feel like “it was the end of the world”. I was miserable for what felt like weeks, but realistically was only days.
I had a brief meeting with my boss during my “pity party”, and agreed that there was nothing that could be done about what had transpired. We decided to focus on growing the business through other channels. Remarkably when the dust settled by year’s end, my numbers had increased year over year! I refocused after the setback occurred, tweaked my goals and ended up having a record year for the territory.
Emotion is great, and those who know me well are aware that I have always worn my heart on my sleeve (just ask anyone who has played hockey against me). You are only as good as your next sale, so keep moving forward. A loss or setback is like a bad shot in golf, tennis, or a goalie allowing a bad goal. Forget about it and move on quickly, learn from it, and stay focused.
With respect to wins, don’t get overconfident. Things can change quickly in sales. Keep focusing on securing more wins and building on past successes. It is just important to realize that if you “ride the roller coaster of emotions” too often, you are going to get off feeling very very dizzy!
- Wondering why a presentation went so poorly?
- Bewildered by the lack of success of phone cold calls?
- Amazed that a sales call was less than well received?
- Frustrated by the difficulty catching up on paperwork at the end the week?
- Have you thought about what time of day you are typically at your best?
- Do you know when you should not be attempting high level activities?
Take some time to think about this as you plan your next week. This is often overlooked as schedules are planned.
- If you are not a morning person, is it reasonable to expect to hit a presentation out of the park at 8 am?
- If your body and mind is starting to wind down after 3 pm, is that a good time to be starting to phone cold call and expect to be energetic and engaging?
- If you tend to feel sluggish right after lunch, should you be scheduling a sales call shortly after you eat?
- If your organization skills need work, should you be putting off cleaning up all of your To Do’s until late Friday?
I can do a presentation at 8 am because I am a morning person, but I try to avoid them later in the day. Certain people are much more effective well in to the afternoon. Cold call when you are at your best for maximum results.
Lunch affects people differently, so plan your afternoon calls accordingly. I am guessing few people look forward to cleaning up their To Do’s late in the day Friday. Put systems in place to keep up during the week, so you don’t end your week on a bad note!
- When are you at your best?
- Are you working to your body and mind’s strengths?
- Is it time to make adjustments to your schedule?
In sports like hockey, football and basketball, certain athletes get tagged with the name “perimeter player”. They mainly shoot from the outside, or in the case of football, only catch the ball near the sidelines. They play it safe, and stay away from the “dirty” dangerous areas. They can still score from the outside, but are missing other opportunities to score.
In sales, most well adjusted reps have the ability to:
- Sell more products to their most satisfied customers
- Sell to a prospect who has all but pulled out a purchase order number and said “I’m buying!”
- Take over and succeed in a territory that is already on “auto-pilot”
That would be described as perimeter play.
What about getting in to the “dirty”, dangerous areas?
These reps have the ability to:
- Put together action plans and succeed in getting struggling accounts back on track
- Get in front of dissatisfied customers, and fix problems face-to-face
- Make difficult decisions to drop underperforming accounts that will never thrive
- Succeed in spite of lack of leadership and never make excuses
My favourite analogy for this type of work is always related to hockey,
“Who is willing to go in to the corner, get hit by a much bigger player, and still come out with the puck?”
The perimeter players, will let up, and watch somebody else complete the difficult tasks.
The perimeter players may still have a long career, but be just average. If you are looking for average, then you must be ok playing it safe. The repeated overachiever, who is always looking to improve never hesitates and welcomes the difficult tasks on route to massive success!
The questions are:
How badly do you want it?
How “dangerous” are you willing to be?
Only you will know the answer. It’s your choice!
All I wanted to do early in my sales career was manage the team that I was working on. I was young, I was new to the industry and I thought I knew it all! I was confident that some day I could handle the role. Unfortunately changes happened within the company, and I turned down my dream Sales Manager role when it was finally offered to me. Even with that setback, I have continued to follow sales and executive management throughout my career.
I did have some experience managing a team before I was ever interested in Sales Management. I was a Branch Manager in the car rental industry straight out of university. It was a great experience, and certainly taught me a lot about managing a diverse group of associates at a young age. Some of the employees were more than ten years my senior, and I learned very quickly how difficult being in charge could be.
The Sales Manager is arguably the most important person within the organization. They have a direct line of communication with the sales force; the associates who drive most of the front line revenue.
It can be very easy to get in to a rut with your day-to-day role. Sales reps certainly do, and it happens to managers as well. It is valuable to take a step back and think outside the box sometimes, from how you typically manage.
Great sales managers use enthusiasm and excitement to their advantage. They celebrate their team’s wins, while proudly announcing personal and team achievements. They may high-five team members in the office, or keep it simple and just pat everyone on the back when there are reasons to celebrate. The positive energy does wonders for everyone.
I have always been keenly aware of my manager’s actions, and I focus on a few areas:
- how they lead the team
- how they treat me
- how they treat other reps
- how they handle adversity within the team
- the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor and others on the executive management team
If they excel in all the above areas, they probably have “it” with their team. “It” is hard to explain, but it can be summarized as the group is firing on all cylinders, and no issue is too great to break the cohesiveness within the group.
I have reported to a total of 16 assistant managers, sales managers and branch managers during my career. I have also had close working relationships with 12-13 executive managers. This has provided me a rich foundation of experiences.
- As a manager what is it like to have “it”with the group of reps that you lead every day?
- If you have “it”, you can probably describe “it” in general terms, but it may be hard to explain overall.
- If you have never had “it” with your team, would you not like to know how to get “it”?
As I continue to discuss Sales Management in the future, I will build on the theme of having “it”. I will leave you with one other thought to ponder….
Are you just a boss to a group of employees, or is their much more depth to your relationship with the team?
Sarika Periwal reached out to me about a guest blog. I thought it was a great idea to do a post on marketing, sales and service.
For any business to succeed keeping customers happy is essential. It is always more profitable to retain an existing customer who will come back for repeated purchases than to convert new potential customers for each sale that the company makes. Statistics exist to support the fact that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be six to seven times higher than retaining an existing customer. To this effect you need some strong policies which help the company to improve their customer retention rate.
The focus of these policies is to deliver a flawless customer experience when they deal with your company. It does not matter what you sell. It could be a physical product, a digital solution, a service that is offered in special circumstances, or anything else. There are three main areas where your customer or potential customer will interact with you. These are marketing, sales and service. They are also known as the three pillars of successful business. If you manage to get your act together for these three aspects you will have a thriving business model. Here’s how you can do this and benefit the customer and the company both.
All the marketing campaigns that you run are to get your customer’s attention. These all hope to make the right kind of offer to the customers at the right time to tempt them into making a purchase. Here the focus is to build on the trust that the company brand name inspires. To make the customer believe that they have the right solution to their needs and to provide the customer with the ultimate financial deal when they buy what the company is offering.
There is nothing as sad as losing a customer who would have bought from you but couldn’t find how to complete the sale. This pillar deals with providing the potential customer with the ease of buying the product in a quick and hassle free experience. You need to be able to provide the customer with many ways of buying the product. It could be in the shop, online or through partner vendors. There should be many payment options as well. A lump sum payment is easy for a small purchase, but arranging finance options for a larger purchase is a good idea. Also let there be the option of paying via cash, banker’s cheque or credit card. Each customer may have a preference for a specific payment mode.
When it comes to encouraging retention and customer loyalty to your brand it is the after sales service that is most important. Many customers feel that a company loses interest in them as soon as they make the final payment for their purchase. This does not encourage them to buy from the company again. What needs to be done is to make the customer realize that the company is just as interested in pampering them even after the sale has been completed. A well trained team can make this a reality.
Sarika Periwal represents KarmaCRM, an online CRM service for small businesses and individuals. Karma offers a powerful and feature-rich backend system with an easy user interface. This tool can help you manage all 3 areas of your business efficiently. Contact us for more details or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter .
My son played his first season of baseball this past spring. For many other kids on the team, it was their first season playing as well. It was a much different experience for everyone as compared to the kid’s first go-around with other team sports like soccer or hockey.
With those other sports, the concepts were pretty simple in theory as the kids could get out and chase the puck or ball and just spend time familiarizing themselves with the games and being part of a team.
Baseball was a totally different story. Batting was mostly straight forward for them, but fielding was an adventure! All of the parents and coaches were doing their best to help out, but the poor kids were always very confused from the moment the ball was hit. Although quite funny on the surface, you had to feel for them when they all froze in place. Their “memories seemed to erase” and never knew what to do when the ball came their way. At one point or another, most of the parents wished they could get out on the field and make plays themselves!
As I reflected back after the season, our expectations for the kid’s performance on the field was way too high, especially early on. We were asking them to complete very difficult tasks with many people trying to give them directions in pressure packed situations. I did not even start playing competitive baseball until I was 9 or 10 years old.
The first coach was unable to handle the anxiety of helping the kids get up to speed. The second coach was awesome! They stepped right up and said that the kids needed “one voice” to listen to. From that moment on, things ran much smoother for the rest of the year, and the team won a bronze medal at the year-end tournament.
That story inspired this post, as I related it to being new to a sales role or the profession in general. Most of the parents were guilty of expecting more from the kids then they were able to give early in the baseball season. Many sales managers and executives are guilty of doing the same with new reps.
I am a firm believer that the pressure to perform should be minimal for new reps as long as possible. Three months should be the bare minimum that a rep focuses on learning everything about their new role, and not have a manager looking over their shoulder and expecting immediate results.
The “learning/training phase” should be even longer for new reps to the profession. Sales can be generalized as an easy job where you can make a lot of money, but new recruits need to understand that a lot goes on behind the scenes to be able to do “fun stuff” like take customers out golfing, or have long lunch meetings!
Product knowledge is typically the focus for new reps, but there are many more aspects of being a territory manager that need to be analyzed before being “thrown into the wild” and expected to come back with orders. It is not realistic, not fair, and is one of the biggest reasons that new reps quit in such a short time.
Most companies are continually under pressure to put up numbers, and that unfortunately comes at the cost of giving new reps the training and support that they need from the day they start the role.
I would rather sacrifice sales results in the field while new reps gets their feet wet, and properly equip them and held grow their confidence so when they hit the road, they are ready.
The most common words coming out of a sales manager’s mouth should not be,
“How can I help you close that order?”
That makes them a one-dimensional leader.
If a manager wants a rep to prosper and succeed long-term, they will help them dig deep in to all aspects of the role, understand their territory, customers, support staff and company. Then, AND ONLY THEN can they start talking about getting in to the field and securing business.
- What training have you received for a new role (other than product knowledge)?
- Have you ever quit a sales role and realized later that you did not give it enough of a chance?
- When should new reps start focusing on actually closing business?
Eve reached out to me a few weeks ago interested in guest posting on leadership. I was more than happy to oblige. Check out her incredible take on health and productivity!
The modern world is increasingly doing studies on the link between health and productivity. That is hardly a new concept. The phrase “A sound mind in a sound body” is quite old. In general, we all know that if you are sick, in pain, or under the weather, you will not be at your most productive. But what seems to not sink in is the idea that if you really want to excel at sales or in leadership, you really need to be working towards optimal health, not merely avoiding sickness.
Instead of talking in generalities, let’s take one person as an example. Let’s talk about actor, producer, and businessman Will Smith. He has made Fortune’s “40 Under 40″ list. He is the first actor to have eight movies in a row bring in more than $100 million. He came from nothing and is now worth millions. He is viewed by many as an inspiration and role model for minorities. His list of personal accomplishments is quite long.
Focus on Will Smith
Will Smith has said “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might be more talented than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple, right? You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy who just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.”
More than an actor
As indicated above, everyone likely realizes that Will Smith is not just an actor but he is a leader in many ways: A producer, founder of I’m more than one company, community leader and so on. If you have ever seen him work the crowd at a red carpet event, you should realize he is also a consummate salesman. That is part of why his movies make so much money. So when he talks about hustle, he doesn’t just mean “work hard.” He also means you need to sell yourself. Constantly.
What may not be obvious is that in order to have the attitude he has, the first thing he needs is the physical stamina necessary to run you into the ground or die trying. If you have seen him in “I am Legend”, a movie filmed in his late thirties, you have seen with your own eyes the kind of phenomenal fitness he has. Similarly, he trained for months to put on the muscle necessary to portray legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. People who are not super healthy don’t do things like that. They simply can’t.
Health and fitness
So if you want to be a great sales person or leader, you first need to be the best that you can be. And that starts with being as healthy and fit as possible so you have the physical energy and mental focus to out-work others, to recognize opportunity when it presents itself and quickly take action, and to be as presentable and attractive as possible. The reality is that both sales and leadership are about influencing other people. Someone who is healthy and fit is far more personable than someone who is not.
Think about this: Shaking hands is a basic symbol of both friendliness and deal-making. People have to touch you to shake your hand. No one wants that if you are ill. Even if you are in good health generally but know there is room for improvement it can be a good idea to take a medical test to highlight where best to prioritize, be it diet or fitness levels. A routine lab test can highlight any problems or deficiencies you may have meaning you can take measures to address these under the advice of a medical professional.
So get cracking. Watch what you eat. Take your vitamins. Hit the gym. Get on that treadmill. Make sure you are healthy enough to be the last one to get off it when you are up against the competition. In other words: Every day.
If you are interested in having Eve guest post on your blog or website she can be emailed at: email@example.com
These words were once spoken to me by an executive manager, who became a friend I respect greatly to this day:
I will never forget where the conversation occurred, and how it affected me going forward. They were “stamped” in his memory, and the commentary came straight from the heart:
An organization and specifically a sales team “achieving” these five words can mean great things are currently happening or are coming soon. On the flip side, if any or all or these words are “breached” by team members, well let’s just say things may not go as planned!
I have tried to write something very insightful utilizing these five words for at least four years now, but always have trouble.
I will leave it open to your interpretation.
What do these five words mean to you?
I just know that I get to a very good place in short order when I see those five words all in a row!
I had a run in with the District Manager at a large retail account of mine many years ago. We had “philosophical differences” regarding my coverage of one of their stores, and one incident in particular upset him.
My relationship was less than solid with that location’s management team, and I received very little support from the sales associates. During my third year working with the account, the senior manager requested that I conduct another product knowledge meeting for his team on a Saturday morning. I had done that type of training before, but had become frustrated by their lack of support.
I will never forget what I said to him in response to his request that I take time out of my weekend to do training. My wording was all wrong. I said that I would not receive the “bang for the buck” to go and train his team now, and would wait until I received more support from them.
I did not mean for it to come out that way, but it did, and I had to live with the consequences. I remember the rest of the story like it was yesterday. I was numb all over and I felt like I was going to throw up! He stormed in to his office, and started dialing the phone to my regional office. I swear there was smoke coming out of his ears! It was after 4 pm, and my General Manager had typically left by then. But as fate would have it, he was still in the office that day!
By this time I had walked in to his office, I was pleading for him to get off the phone so we could work through the issue together. He was requesting a new sales rep from my General Manager (while I was standing right in front of him). To my General Manager’s credit, he was able to calm him down, and I was able to talk things through with my boss the next day. My management team knew this man quite well, and was aware that he was not my favorite person. I explained my side of the story, and eventually was able to convince the store’s District Manager to keep me on as the rep for both locations.
I was not worried about losing the underperforming branch, but was terrified to lose the local branch that I had worked so diligently to grow over the years. To say the least, I choose my words very carefully in the future, to avoid other conflicts. I retained both branches, but the weaker place never met my expectations.
It is difficult to keep your emotions in check and not say what is on your mind in certain situations. But using your “outside voice” instead of your “inside voice” can have negative ramifications, especially if you catch somebody on a bad day! I learned that the hard way. I will never forget that feeling deep in the pit of my stomach when I almost lost one of my biggest accounts right before my eyes!
- Have you ever wished you had used your “inside voice” rather than your “outside voice” in a specific situation during your career?
- If so, what were the results of you speaking out loud?
Email me at TimMushey@gmail.com to share your story, and I will post the best response on my blog next week!