Category Archives: Sales

It’s The Little Things That Matter!

Keep Moving Forward!

 

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The Arnold Palmer Theory

Simple but very powerful!

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The 5 Star Five – My Best Selling Tips Ever!

bigstock-Five-stars-on-black-13934966

When I was recently preparing a speech to up and coming sales reps, I realized that I had compiled a list of selling tips that I wanted to share today. Here are the best of the best:

#1 Consult, Don’t Regurgitate – better to listen to your prospect and find out what they really need, rather than “barf out” everything you know

#2 Share, Celebrate and Support –  be a fantastic teammate!

#3 Manage Time, Plan and Prioritize – not the “sexy” part of selling, but crucial to success

#4 Fly Under The Radar, Don’t Be “On It” – if your boss does not have to follow-up with you about things not getting done, that is a good thing!

#5 The Path of “Most Resistance” Pays Dividends – anyone can do the easy stuff, but tough it out and do the difficult (or less desirable tasks) day in and day out

BONUS…

#6 Customers And Prospects Are Human Beings Too –  get to know them on a personal level, make notes and show that you care about them as people too

Keep these close by and refer back to them when you need a gentle reminder of what it takes to succeed in sales!

Good luck!

 

Are You Just A Perimeter Player?

bigstock-A-young-basketball-player-shoo-41654965

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 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?

And….

How “dangerous” are you willing to be?

Only you will know the answer. It’s your choice!

Engaging People Is Not Only A “Work Thing”

Apple And Orange Happily Shaking Hands

The only way that you are going to get better at something is through practice. I read a quote in a hockey book once that really caught my attention:

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect” – Vince Lombardi

Even those with raw talent have to practice regularly. Engaging others in sales and other professional roles should not be limited to work relationships. You should practice engaging others when possible.

My dad was a teacher, and is still very engaging to this day – partially because of his personality, but it was also a necessity for his career. Could you imagine being in front of a class of kids and not holding their attention? Teachers who could captivate the crowd were always the ones that remained memorable to me.  This also meant that my dad and I could never quickly go to a mall because he was always running into people. Conversations would start, and time would pass by. My mom would always comment upon our return, “Where were you? I just sent you for a couple of things!”

There are so many opportunities to engage people outside of work:

  • In line at a store
  • At a social events with friends
  • Business or community events
  • Sporting events
  • On a walk or a run
  • Groups, associations or teams that you and/or your children are part of

I was thinking about this one day after a run, and I reflected on how many people I acknowledge in that 45 minute period. It was about twelve!

  • Some greetings were a simple hello or good morning as I passed by
    • With others I would make a quick comment on the weather, or about the degree of difficulty of a hill that I (or they) had just ran up
  • Some were a quick stop so our dogs could greet each other
    • It was common that I ask for information about their dog, and how the person’s day was going
  • I even complimented one guy who was actually attempting to train his new puppy

When I engage people in this setting, most people are pleasant back. It is common for people to jog with an iPod or Mp3 player, but I will still turn mine down to say something, or at least wave. I have done this for so long it is second nature now.

If I never practiced this skill, and instead just went through the day keeping to myself, it would be unreasonable to expect that I’d be very good at it in a short time period. Skills would develop eventually, but carrying that philosophy over to your personal life just means that you have more opportunity to practice. Then before you know it, the skill improves.

This was not always easy for me; because I was quite shy growing up due to my stutter. Speaking up and meeting people was very difficult well in to my teenage years. But with practice and patience, I consider myself very engaging now, and will always take time to speak with others.

  • Do you only engage new people in work situations?
  • Where can you begin to converse with people starting right away in your personal life?

The most practical business skill that has come out of this for me is keeping conversations going when there is a lot of dead air. I think most of us have experienced conversations that were very one-sided, and it was a struggle to keep it going, and interesting for the other person.

Good luck, and remember to always be in “engagement mode”!

To Give Or Not To Give…

Playing Cards In Hand

That is the question 🙂

Ever see people handing out business cards like they are dealing a deck of cards?

“Come one, come all, everyone gets a card!”

The important question is…

 

did you get a card from the prospect, or the networking event connection?

 

When you get a card, you are in control. You control your own destiny.

When all you do is hand out cards, and often forget to get their card, you wait – hoping one day that they reach out to you.

Uh-oh! Your card may end up in the garbage but you still can connect if you have theirs!

Are You A True Sales Professional?

bigstock-Young-salesman-on-business-tri-5981723

Selling has always been in my blood, and I became a sales rep for the first time in 1999. Since then, I have learned a “couple” lessons along the way performing several different roles. Sales reps sell products and/or services, and can make a good living. In addition to the standard responsibilities, true sales professionals achieve more success by taking their game to another level and have long, prosperous careers. Which one do you want to be?

Having a complete understanding of sales cycles, and mastering product knowledge is imperative for success. Most companies only focus on product training, because that is what everyone does. While others also give insight on sales processes from first greeting/meeting all the way through closing the sale.

That is where things get scary!  Many reps get a false sense of security that this is all they need to know to become successful. In reality, this knowledge only equips them to be “run-of-the-mill” sales reps. The world is full of “status quo lovers”. The following information will give you the potential to become a true sales professional and exceed goals for years to come.

#1 Consult, Don’t Regurgitate

Your job is to sell products and/or services, but people don’t like being sold to. How weird is that? The faster you learn that listening during a customer/prospect interaction is more important than speaking, you will be well ahead of the curve. When you become a consultant providing solutions to their current situation, success will follow shortly. Anyone can regurgitate information and spew it out. Just ask the student who memorized textbooks and got straight A’s, but could not cut it in their chosen profession.

#2 Share, Celebrate and Support

The “relationships” aspect of a sales team is critical to its overall success. You need to give unconditionally, and not be afraid to share ideas and concepts with each other.  I always love to share templates for presentations, bulletins that I distribute to customers or various ideas that help improve my territory.  If you can make your co-workers lives’ easier, why wouldn’t you? The good karma will come back some day. Celebrate each other’s victories, and don’t you dare get jealous if your colleagues get better results!  Put together recovery plans to improve ASAP.

Things don’t always turn out the way that we want them too, so be there to support each other when failure occurs. Keep communication lines open to move past bumps in the road. And last but not least, treat inside sales and support groups with the utmost respect! They are pivotal to the team’s overall success, and are not personal assistants.

#3 Manage Time, Plan and Prioritize

I underestimated the power of being exceptional in this area for a long time, and it affected my results earlier in my career. Planning a schedule as far ahead as a month or more makes things flow better. Putting emphasis on getting out of the office regularly at scheduled times keeps you on track. Paperwork and other less urgent items can be handled before or after prime selling hours. I once worked for a manager who stacked the sales rep’s desks in the warehouse to emphasize that he did not want them in the office for very long in the morning! An extreme action, but he made his point loud and clear.

I always make the disclaimer that priorities over-ride schedules with the following example. If you have a lunch booked with a prospect where the potential is unknown, and your largest customer has a crisis shortly before the appointment, what would you do? You have to understand who your biggest customers are, and the level of service that they need. By the way, do you spend 80% of your time with the 20% of your customers who buy the most? If not, it is time to adjust your schedule and give them the attention they deserve.

#4 Fly Under The Radar, Don’t Be “On It”

Early in my career I had a Sales Manager tell me that one of the best indicators if a rep was doing a good job, is if they rarely heard from the rep’s customers. Be very responsive to your customer’s needs, and take care of them in a timely fashion. If you need help, get it. Never blame others in your organization if they do not respond to you and a customer is left waiting. It is your responsibility to get things taken care of, no excuses!

Keep up to date on everything that your manager requests. It may be weekly call reports, inputting of sales calls and/or opportunities in to a CRM (customer relationship management) program, or general administrative items. Successful sales people always do what is asked of them, even if they don’t like to.

#5 The Path of “Most Resistance” Pays Dividends

Anyone can take the path of least resistance. It is easy to only deal with customers who have great relationships with you and your company, and only sign up prospects that there was little effort involved. But what about handling those difficult customers in your territory, or bringing on prospects where things were more challenging? From those clients, huge growth can occur. In one role I had, the previous sales rep stopped calling on a long-standing account because he was not getting along with the staff. Sales plummeted. From the time I came on board, it only took two years for the account to become the largest in my territory.

Over time, you will acquire “street-smarts” and know when to walk away from business, but more importantly when to move forward when the potential is right before you. Don’t hide behind email or text messaging when problems arise. Face-to-Face is still the best way to communicate, and sometimes you “have to take a punch” to make things right.

#6 Customers And Prospects Are Human Beings Too

It is easy to see through reps whose only agenda is to close sales as quickly as possible, with minimal effort. But the secret is to really get to know customers on a personal level, and make them feel important. It is common knowledge that people like to deal with those they like, know and trust, so take steps to solidify relationships as soon as possible. Get to know special details about customer’s families, their hobbies or even what they take in their coffee. Take notes, keep files and refer back to them before each meeting. I guarantee that they will be impressed with what you remembered, and there is a very good chance that your competitors did not take those lengths to learn about them.

Becoming a true sales professional takes time, and long-term commitment to grow and learn every day. Sales reps tend to be negatively stereotyped, but those that stand out from the crowd, truly care about their customers and can be counted on at a moment’s notice will always be in demand.

Are you in this for just a job, or a long, prosperous career? You make the choice.

Time For An “Engagement Refresher”?

A good reminder for us all 🙂

The only way that you are going to get better at something is through practice. I read a quote in a hockey book once that really caught my attention:

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect” – Vince Lombardi

Even those with raw talent have to practice regularly. Engaging others in sales and other professional roles shouldn’t be limited to work relationships. You should practice engaging others when possible.

My dad was a teacher, and is still very engaging to this day – partially because of his personality, but it was also a necessity for his career. Could you imagine being in front of a class of kids and not holding their attention? Teachers who could captivate the crowd were always the ones that remained memorable to me.

This also meant that my dad and I could never quickly go to a mall because he was always running into people. Conversations would start, and time would pass by. My mom would always comment upon our return, “Where were you? I just sent you for a couple of things!”

There are so many opportunities to engage people outside of work:

  • In line at a store
  • At a social events with friends
  • Business or community events
  • Sporting events
  • On a walk or a run
  • Groups, associations or teams that you and/or your children are part of

I was thinking about this one day after a run, and I reflected on how many people I acknowledge in that 45 minute period. It was about twelve!

  • Some greetings were a simple hello or good morning as I passed by
    • With others I would make a quick comment on the weather, or about the degree of difficulty of a hill that I (or they) had just ran up
  • Some were a quick stop so our dogs could greet each other
    • It was common that I ask for information about their dog, and how the person’s day was going
  • I even complimented one guy who was actually attempting to train his new puppy

When I engage people in this setting, most people are pleasant back. It is common for people to jog with an iPod or Mp3 player, but I will still turn mine down to say something, or at least wave. I have done this for so long it is second nature now.

If I never practiced this skill, and instead just went through the day keeping to myself, it would be unreasonable to expect that I’d be very good at it in a short time period. Skills would develop eventually, but carrying that philosophy over to your personal life just means that you have more opportunity to practice. Then before you know it, the skill improves.

This was not always easy for me; because I was quite shy growing up due to my stutter. Speaking up and meeting people was very difficult well in to my teenage years. But with practice and patience, I consider myself very engaging now, and will always take time to speak with others.

  • Do you only engage new people in work situations?
  • Where can you begin to converse with people starting right away in your personal life?

The most practical business skill that has come out of this for me is keeping conversations going when there is a lot of dead air. I think most of us have experienced conversations that were very one-sided, and it was a struggle to keep it going, and interesting for the other person.

Good luck, and remember to always be in “engagement mode”!

My Collaborative Leadership List!

Here if the final draft of the “Collaborative Leadership List” that I compiled in June 2012 with a “Five Star 5” post. My points are in bold, followed by the contributor’s comments. Thanks to everyone for the awesome additions!

  • Motivate, inspire and most importantly have fun
  • Give an enthusiastic “thank you” when things go well, and a supportive ear when things go wrong
  • Be a positive example with your work ethic, and have a desire to succeed that others are proud to follow
  • Understand that all your employees are unique people and need to be managed accordingly
  • As often as possible smile,  laugh and have a bounce in your step!

“Beat employees regularly with a big stick!” (Joking of Course!) – Stuart Young

“Be authentic and transparent. Say what you’re going to do and do it. Transparency requires humanity. Show your team you’re vulnerable. Not only will they be more forgiving, they’ll be more supportive.” – Chad Miller

“My best leaders have been able to see (and bring out) more greatness in me than I could see in myself. My dad has long contended that the best leaders philosophically approach their leadership with the idea that they need their people more than their people need them.” – Broc Edwards

“Step in and help out when it is least expected just to lighten another’s load.They really appreciate it and most of the time deserve it.” – Tina Del Buono

“I make an effort to catch my people doing something RIGHT, then I praise them for it. Too easy to catch them doing something wrong.
When something goes bad I make sure I am “firm on the issue, not the person”. – Steve Vanega

“On your second point.. great leaders not only be a supportive ear but also takes the responsibility when things go wrong. We have seen this great example through Howard Schultz of Starbucks. On your 4th point, I totally agree with you. This happens in my organization where the leaders often see their followers as a collective unit as opposed to recognize their own unique personality.” – Chen Choon

“We often “Celebrate” as well. Ups, Downs, challenges and all the other nitty gritty goodies that come in sales. Having spirits high and loyalties in check = imperative” – Cara Adams