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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the year is quickly winding down, I wanted to take a look at sales and business development as a practice in 2014 from my very personal perspective. Not that I believe that I am in a position to provide an all-encompassing view of the sales world, but being in the trenches every single day, helping my clients with their business growth, I’ve encountered some who are “naughty” and some “nice”! Especially as I do a lot of prospecting for my own company, as well as for some select clients.

Being in sales means that you put yourself out there in a way that is different from other business areas. You need to bring yourself into the process and without being able to build trust, it will be hard to be successful.

So, taking a look back at 2014, I’d like to share with you what I observed …

Social Selling – Be Personal

Social Selling has become a buzz word and very often misunderstood and/or misinterpreted. Below is the link to an interesting article in Forbes Magazine to that effect.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2014/09/12/the-science-of-social-selling/

Yes, Twitter and LinkedIn are essential when it comes to building relationships and finding decision makers. LinkedIn, in my humble opinion, more so than Twitter, but I let the experts judge that. The question will ultimately always be (and that holds true for every technology) – how to use it. Being a business owner I get messages on LinkedIn all the time, and inundated via Twitter, people pitching their business and telling me about their great services. Although they found me, they often fail to understand what I do and what my business offers. Their offerings are generic, often not relevant and therefore ignored by me. So, borderline Naughty, wouldn’t you agree?!

My approach with LinkedIn and Twitter (which I like to think falls in the “Nice” category) is to build a personal relationship first, look at similarities that I share with people and truly understand their role and their company. People buy from other people, as I have said before and I can’t say it often enough. If you are not building rapport and you are just using generic messages, blasting messages you might as well not use any of the social platforms because they could work against you. Irrelevant messaging is a bit insulting (Naughty?), because obviously the person reaching out hasn’t done their research.

Content Marketing – Be Relevant

Another buzz word. Great concept, but the same philosophy holds true. You need to be relevant and build a unique voice. If you hire people to just write on topics that you provide them with, it will be hard for your readers to find your content engaging (might be a bit Naughty?). When it comes to content marketing, it is important to put a stake in the ground and to create content that is relevant to your audiences. Be edgy, relevant and engaging. (Now that’s Nice!)

Business Courtesy – Treat Everybody with Respect

I have observed that business courtesy is at times taking a back seat. For some reason there are some people who must believe that with the presence of social media networks, they needn’t be as courteous as they used to be (or were they always Naughty?). It’s concerning and honestly a bit frustrating.

Especially, saying thank you and getting back to people has gotten out of style.

Sometimes, I’m inclined to believe that some decision makers treat vendors with less respect (now that’s Naughty, right?). We understand that we are all at times inundated with information. And we understand that decision makers have the buying power. But for vendors, it’s still Nice(!) to get a message when a buyer has decided to work with a competitor.

Commitment – Sticking to a Promise is Good Business

History shows that people who are committed will be more successful than those who are not. Commitment or the lack thereof showed up in many areas in 2014 from my perspective. Once you commit to something, you should stick with it (Nice!). As I’ve shared with many of my contacts, there is never a good time to have a baby! And as experience shows, there is never a good time to do sales training, or to implement a new system. But the rewards for going forward in all these cases are overwhelmingly positive. By dragging out decisions, you keep your company from moving forward on the one hand, but it also shows that you are not good for your word, which can have devastating effects on your reputation (real Naughty!). AND, if you change your mind while planning, just simply communicate it (definitely a Nice!).

Outlook for 2015 – Bright and Sunny

What I personally like about these developments is that the cream is rising to the top (real Nice!). More and more sales people are becoming experts, working hard at being better listeners and trusted advisors to their clients. I see more and more companies who are working at becoming better corporate citizens. They work on their commitment, to their employees, to their clients, to their vendors and to themselves (incredibly Nice!). They certainly have to – competition is fierce. And more and more people are making decisions based on integrity. I’m so impressed that all of our clients are successful with the desire to be Best-in-Class. They want their sales people to stand out from the crowd. So my mission to elevate the reputation of sales and its practitioners is one step closer to becoming a reality.

And so, with buckets full of optimism, I wish you all very Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year!

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In a consultative sales environment, companies that target Fortune 1000 prospects all struggle to stand out from the crowd. How will my sales people get the attention from these prospects? That’s really the big question that keeps all sales managers awake at night.

Some companies think that hiring as many sales people as possible, having them hit the phones and “dialing for dollars” will be the answer. At times they end up hiring “telemarketing” people or sales people who only work on a commission basis to play the numbers game.

But honestly, in today’s ever more competitive environment, do you want your sales efforts to be all about quantity? If you’re looking to stand out and embrace a consultative approach, you’ll agree with me that it’s really all about quality. Once you know who to target and what your unique positioning is, then you can ramp up the call/e-mail volume. But first you need to know how you can serve your prospects best and who your target is.

Be Consultative, Mindful and Relevant

A consultative sales approach starts with understanding what you want to say to your prospects.  Did you develop a message that will resonate with your audiences? Remember, in order for people to buy, your solution has to help them make money, save money or time, maximize their potential and achieve their goals or elevate their company’s or their own reputation.

Focus on Value, not Features and Benefits

Therefore a message focusing on the greatness of your product or service will most likely not be as effective. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and try to find out why you would buy your service. Your message needs to focus on the value to your decision maker. Most sales people lead with features or benefits and forget that their counterparts do the same. For example, good customer service is essential but hardly unique and certainly not a differentiator. Good customer service is also something that people take for granted. Every company with a service offering will claim to have good customer service, they certainly wouldn’t mention it if it sucked, would they?

A global presence on the other hand can be a differentiator, as long as it is important to your prospects.

In the End – People Buy from People

The next step is to develop a message or script that you as the sales person can own. If sales people don’t believe in the message they are communicating, they will come across as inauthentic. Prospects will feel that they being “sold to” rather than advised. As soon as a sales person sounds scripted, people will most likely lose interest. Even when you prospect Fortune 1000 companies you shouldn’t forget that it is people who are making decisions. People don’t like to be sold to, but they appreciate help. If you can offer something of value to them, it will help you build rapport and trust. Trust is essential in building relationships, on a personal and on a business level. Remember the old adage? Know – Like – Trust. Never forget that it is people you are targeting.

Who Are the Decision-Makers?

And then comes the really, really hard part. Who within the organization should you call on? In using a consultative sales approach, it is essential to be clear about and establish who the final decision-maker is or, more likely, who the decision-makers are.

In prospecting Fortune 1000 companies you will need to approach and build relationships with multiple decision-makers, or perhaps a committee making the decisions together. There will be different levels of decision-makers or buyer influencers. And if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll work to understand what is of value and relevance to each of these different influencers. Will they actually be using your solution? Will they be passing on recommendations to use your solution? Or, will they be making the final decision? – In other words, can they say “no”, when all others say yes?

Do Your Research & Be Relevant

A CFO will most likely respond to a message that will help him save money. A COO will be interested in optimizing workflow and a CTO will want to hear about the latest and best technology solutions. A CMO on the other hand will want to hear about the benefits that a technology solution will bring to optimizing marketing efforts and not the benefits of the technology itself.

Knowing who your decision maker is will help you customize your message and it will enable you to speak directly to their needs and the industry challenges. That is why research is essential when it comes to good prospecting.

We have documented time and again when applying a consultative sales approach, how important it is to be relevant (mention industry challenges) mindful (remember, it’s people we are targeting) and to do your research so you come across as a knowledgeable and professional advisor – not as some unqualified sales person trying to sell something.

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Hello All Sales Enthusiasts & Readers, 

Here’s some exciting news! And I wanted to share it with all of you!

As some of you know, I do a lot of high level lead generation work and have been teaching my techniques as in-company training events.

Recently, I decided to share my knowledge, expertise and experience with a broader audience and offer public workshops – starting in my home town of Norwalk, Connecticut.

So, if you (or someone you know) are close to the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut area and want to join me on Nov. 7th and/or Dec. 5th, please check out my workshops and register below.

And if you can’t make it, please share this with people who you think might be a good fit.

Everyone I now struggles with filling their pipeline and this highly interactive workshop will help you and others gear up for 2015.

So, join me for my hands-on workshops:

Fill Your Funnel – Shorten the Sales Cycle & Close More Business” 

A Two Part Workshop to Increase Profitable Sales

My workshops are designed to help you focus on the critical concepts, skills and strategies you’ll need to:

  • Fill the top line of your funnel with qualified prospects

  • Refine your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)

  • Identify and engage decision makers

  • Shorten the sales cycle

  • Leverage social media

  • Make your CRM a Money-Maker

PART ONE: Fill your Funnel & Get Your Messaging Right

Fri, Nov 7, 2014, 9am – 12 pm

PART TWO: Love your CRM & Get It to Make Money for You

Fri, Dec 5, 2014, 9am – 12 pm

Best button for workshops

Monika-Workshop Leader

I’d love to see you there!

Monika

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17 Oct

Don’t Sell me This Pen

by Monika

    Sell Me This Pen – Really?

On occasion I’ve come across the “Sell Me This Pen” concept. The first time I actually heard somebody use the phrase was in the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”, and since then I pay attention when I hear it. Just recently I read a post on LinkedIn explaining that apparently this challenge is part of some sales interviews. The article also stated that this sales interview question (and other similar questions which seem easy enough to answer) has been around for quite some. So, what do you?

Don’t Sell the Pen, Build a Relationship

When companies hire sales people who can answer such a question easily pointing out how great the pen is, they shouldn’t be surprised if they get practitioners who focus on selling the features of their offering rather than adding value to their clients. In my years consulting with Fortune 1000 companies, and small businesses alike, their sales people who live in the B2B world have always performed better when identifying client needs rather than simply selling their product or solution on its features and benefits. When sales people are trained to sell the features of their service/product, rather than being a resource to their clients, they forget about the needs and the business goals of their prospects. This can also lead to talking themselves out of a sale.

There Will Always Be a Cheaper Pen, Won’t There?

Another challenge with the concept of selling on features is that it commoditizes your offering. If you focus on your product/service without regard of your prospect’s situation, the next question will be about price and then (in most cases) the price shopping starts. Selling only on the features of a product/service means you are disregarding your audience’s true needs. And you might be forcing what could turn out to not be a good fit. But let’s assume it is a good fit. Remember, there will always be somebody who will offer the same or similar product/service cheaper.

Help Your Prospect Grow Their Business

In a consultative sales environment you’ll want to move away from a tactical approach of “selling” something, and instead become a trusted advisor. There are no long term prospects for a tactical approach. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being “sold to”!

If you start building a relationship instead, uncovering your prospect’s needs beyond the obvious, and providing a solution that is relevant to their business goals, you will not be as easily replaced by someone who just sells stuff – cheaper!

Once you focus on your prospect’s business needs and how you can help them grow their business, you will not only get their attention, you will also develop longer lasting relationships. Your sales will be more profitable. And as a result, your business will grow, too!

Less Talking & Selling, More Listening

Sales people who are in “selling” mode, simply don’t ask enough questions. And the questions they do ask do not motivate their prospects/clients to speak openly and freely about their true needs. With this approach, sales people are far too focused on the features and benefits of their offering rather than uncovering the needs of their prospect/client. You want to truly be a resource to your prospects, don’t you?

Slow down, listen, ask open-ended questions, and invite your prospect to open up about their business challenges. Then, determine if your offering is a good fit.

If it is, move ahead, make your case and focus on how you can add value.

If it’s not a good fit, explain why, leave a good impression, and perhaps refer a resource and move on to the next prospect. At least you were able to build an honest relationship. If the prospect’s situation changes in the future, they will certainly think of you as a good advisor.

Hire the Right People-Ask the Right Questions

Maybe “Sell Me a Pen” is a funky or challenging way to interview, but it doesn’t reflect what constitutes best practice in a solution-oriented or consultative selling environment. Look instead, when hiring, for sales people who are capable of building long-term relationships and providing value in the eyes of your customers.

It might seem easier to train sales people on using a script and selling a “pen”. But when you consider the costs of on-boarding, training, etc., you don’t want to have them leave and end up at your competition. Especially in industries where sales people are almost a commodity, only management can change the conversation.

I deeply believe selling cannot be about convincing people to buy something that they don’t need, but rather, adding value to your client by providing solutions to help them be more successful. In my opinion, smart managers looking for valuable sales people will be asking different questions, like “How can you help your client grow their business?” What do you think?

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Posted in: CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Sales Certification, Consultative Selling, Sales

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In our efforts as a consultative sales training and coaching organization to comprehensively assist our clients to achieve their business goals, we cooperate with professionals and organizations that provide services aligned with our philosophy and outlook. I’ve been fortunate to work together with Marc Levine of Retensa, who has been helping organizations like Citibank, Prudential, and Kinko’s achieve results by developing business and developing people for over fifteen years.

Marc has been a regional sales rep and sales director in technology and consulting services always producing superior results. Marc’s also been an executive coach and communications trainer helping companies engage people and reduce costs.

Currently he is the Senior Engagement Manager at Retensa focusing on helping companies improve the employee experience and retain top talent.

 Marc Levine

Monika D’Agostino: Hi Marc, and thank you so much for talking to us today. I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about on-boarding and the high cost of employee turnover. Let’s dive into it.

Monika: Why do clients work with you?

Marc Levine: Our clients come to us understand why people join their company, why they stay, and why they leave. Next we help them build and execute retention strategies which may include mentorship programs, manager development and leadership coaching. 

Monika: People often speak about the costs of turnover? What is the real cost of turnover?

Marc: Turnover costs can range from 20% to 150% of an employee’s salary in direct and indirect costs. An employee making $100,000 would cost $20,000 -150,000 to replace. Think of the costs of recruiting a sales rep from external costs of recruiting to internal costs of the time for each person involved in the process. Training costs are high and time consuming. New sales reps may take 2-6 months to reach productivity. Finally there is the opportunity costs of lost revenue in the territory. We help clients determine their true cost of turnover.

Monika: What are our clients struggling with the most?

Marc: Our clients struggle in a few areas. The overall theme is helping them make data driven decisions instead of guessing as to what their employees think and feel about the organization.

For some morale is down and they don’t know why. They’ve tried different things to improve morale and nothing has changed. We talk to their employees and capture an honest understanding of what is happening and present this information to the client. Studies show that the executive team can receive less than 10% of the true frontline employee experience.

Other clients want more efficiency in capturing their exit interview data and need help to automate their reporting. Exit interviews are one of the best sources of capturing the employee experience. Unfortunately, people can be reluctant to be honest with HR. We help clients separate the noise of the vocal minority from how people truly feel about leadership, benefits, individual managers, the company brand, and their coworkers.

Of course others are losing their talent and don’t know what will resonate with them to keep them. We may provide retention skills training that allows managers to see the signs that an employee is about to leave.

Monika: What’s the most overlooked factor in turnover?

Marc: The manager. People leave managers, not companies. Your relationship with your direct manager is the biggest factor. Money is usually third to sixth on the list of why people leave companies. However, with sales reps “messing” with their compensation, which causes them to lose trust in the organization, will also be very high on their list of why they leave. 

Monika: Tell us a bit about Retensa:

Marc: For 15 years we’ve been helping organizations attract, motivate, and retain their best people. Through our extensive research we created a lens to view the employee experience. Our “Employee Life Cycle” model is taught in colleges and Fortune 500 companies. Currently we work with clients in 40 countries and in 13 languages, from Nestle to high growth companies with 30 employees. Our vision is that “everyone works in a job where they feel engaged and inspired.”

We’re here to help companies keep the talent that they want to keep. Your readers should feel free to email me with questions, or anyone would like to receive a white paper on the cost of turnover please contact me at Marc@retensa.com

Monika: Thank you for your time, Marc. I hope that our readers now have a better understanding of why on-boarding and retention is so important to their success.

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Looking at my Facebook page these last weeks was like looking at an Ice Bucket Dropping Contest. Almost my entire feed was filled with people who are either dropping or challenging other people to do the same. While the idea of this challenge is absolutely brilliant, there is one thing that is missing and that is accountability.

Over dinner conversations I have discovered that at least four people I know through friends have done the bucket dropping BUT, they have not donated. I hope that I am the ONLY person who knows people who know people who are not that authentic or honest. BUT sadly, I have an inkling there are other people out there who do the challenge, a wonderful way to self-promote on Facebook by the way, and then “forget” to mail the check.

Many of my readers know that I like comparisons, so this scenario reminded me of sales people who love to have nice conversations, but they don’t sell. Activity doesn’t equal results.

Activity Doesn’t Equal Results
There was a really important step that was missed when initiating the ice bucket dropping campaign. That was to make sure people doing the challenge actually did pay the $100 they claim they did. You would at least assume they did, since it’s all about a worthy cause – donating money to ALS research, wouldn’t you? I’m not sure exactly how it could have been done, but with today’s technology there certainly has to be a way.

I do know however how to make sure that your sales people produce. Don’t incentivize activity. Focus on results.

And by incentivize I also mean that sales managers shouldn’t encourage sales people to just make more phone calls. Sales metrics, as my experience has shown me, should be tied to results and to results only.

It really doesn’t matter how many phone calls, e-mails or marketing touches you make – if they are not successful touches!

All that matters is that every action you set will take you a step closer to closing the sale. Activity is important only if it’s streamlined, targeted and measured against clear objectives. A sales person who makes 500 client touches a week and never gets to go on a qualified sales presentation or meeting will most likely never make a sale. Not a successful sales person, right? But lots of activity!

Hold Yourself Accountable – Create More Opportunities
On the other hand, sales people who work smart will know who their ideal prospects are, research more, find out about their prospective contacts and then make well-prepared calls, followed by well-written customized emails, then follow-up calls, etc. And these sales people will open up doors faster.

These are sales professionals who employ consultative selling skills and strategies.

And in the end, it’s all about holding oneself accountable. Not just for management, but also for one’s own sense of purpose and goal-setting.

My friends and friends of friends on Facebook are not held accountable for their ice bucket dropping. Nobody asks them if they actually donated the money. That’s what’s missing in this process.

Holding your salespeople accountable, also means coaching them and sharing your experiences – successes and challenges. When sales managers and leaders collaborate with salespeople to create goals and ways to gauge their success, salespeople will also volunteer more information and share their insights. So, how could that work?

Working SMART
Laying out the steps which actually lead to a sale and holding salespeople accountable for consistently executing those steps has created higher performing and more successful sales teams. For example, having a check list with questions like:
• Has a follow-up meeting been arranged and committed to?
• What do the prospects perceive to be their needs?
• What value proposition can we develop and apply to this prospect?
• Who are the decision-makers? Who is the final decision-maker (=the Economic Buyer)?
• Do we know the decision-making and purchasing process?
• What is planned to happen after the first meeting?
• Are there next steps arranged?
• Do we know more about the prospect than we did prior to the meeting?
• What is their budget cycle?
• Who do they currently work with? How satisfied are they with their current provider? And so on.

These are questions that not only help qualify a prospect further, but are also essential to compiling data for future prospecting. Don’t ask your sales people to just put numbers on a spreadsheet that would equal the ice bucket challenge.

Make sure the numbers show progress in developing business, deepening business relationships. The numbers should show a path to increased revenue and not just increased activity.

And to everybody who is putting a video on Facebook dropping ice on themselves, be a decent person and write a check!

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For convenience reasons I have my business account and my personal account with the same bank. And that’s not due to my deliberate choice. My previous bank was “swallowed up” by this much larger bank during the financial crisis a few years. Not a particularly good start to begin with, although it could have been a great opportunity for my bank on record to make a splash. Well, they didn’t (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog).

Are Sales and Customer Service the Same?
To me, customer service and sales are tightly interconnected. We teach that in our Consultative Sales Certification program. A good number of our clients offer solutions that are often viewed as commodities, such as logistics services, technology solutions, banking. The only differentiator is outstanding customer service, being in touch with your clients and truly understanding and fulfilling their needs. When you don’t serve your customers well, you probably won’t up-sell and in the worst case scenario, you might even lose them. That seems logical, doesn’t it?

The other day I got a call from the business specialist at my bank’s local branch. This is a person that I actually know because I approached him a couple of times with questions about on-line banking. Never, and I mean never has he asked me how happy I was with my experience at the bank or if he could help me with anything else other than tactical advice.

Do You Do Your Research Before You Pick up the Phone?
So, it was to my surprise when my business line rang the other day and that very person, “my” dedicated business advisor, called and wanted to know how I was doing. My first reaction was “That’s nice, they actually care”. That euphoric feeling only lasted a couple of seconds until I realized that he didn’t know who he was talking to. He didn’t connect the dots or didn’t have notes in his CRM system to realize that he had met me on numerous occasions. AND, he had also NOT done his research. A quick look at my LinkedIn page might have triggered his memory – my photo is there. People who have been following my blog know that I write about this all the time. Research, research, research. It’s one of the most important ingredients in successful selling. How are you supposed to add value if you don’t know who you are calling on?

Don’t Call Without a Purpose!
While a bit annoying, it wasn’t the reason why I am writing about this experience. After a very vague introduction to the effect of “Hi, I am your business advisor at your bank”, there was the general question of how my business was doing and whether he could do something for me. When I asked him what he had to offer, it turned out that he had nothing to offer. How could he? He knew NOTHING about my business!

There wasn’t a special promotion, or an offering that would fit my business needs. There was no purpose to the call. One could argue now that it was just a courtesy call, but the fact that he didn’t know who I was in combination with the fact that he knew nothing about my business just bothered me. Don’t get me wrong, it is very nice to check in with your existing customers and just say hello, but only if you actually know them!

Where Can You Find the Best Business Opportunities? … Your Existing Customers!
I am a customer for crying out loud. Look into your database, check my account history, then check my business and offer me something! If you don’t have anything to offer and you don’t know who I am, you are not only NOT adding value to my day, you are actually interrupting it.
Your existing customers are your best source for new business, but there is an art to it. Just calling and saying hello is certainly not the strategy for success.

Without a Purpose, it’s just a Missed Opportunity
We teach the participants in our training programs to prepare for calls, to do research and to have a plan of action. Even the most senior sales or customer service people shouldn’t wing it. It is so rare these days to get people on the phone, so if they actually do pick up – make it worth their time and make it worth your time otherwise it’s just a wasted business opportunity.

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Posted in: CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Sales Certification, Consultative Sales Certification, Consultative Selling, Sales, Sales Certification

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In sales, should courtesy be tossed out the window?

Recently, I have been following a LinkedIn discussion where the following question was posed?

When calling, should you ask a prospect whether it’s a good time to speak?
Living in a consultative sales world, and teaching the principles of a consultative sales process, to me the answer was simple. Yes. Being mindful is one of the core principles of consultative selling and it should be the core principle when doing business. Where do you stand?

Courtesy Rules
In my opinion, courtesy should never be ignored just to get to results. As a matter of fact, I would argue that the results could be short lived if you just want to get your point across at all costs.
We live in a world where people are looking at different indicators and measures, not only monetary gain and that’s a good thing in my view. Companies are starting to embrace business practices that show that they care. And it has been proven to help the bottom line whether it’s genuine or not.

Is Sales the Exception?
So, why do some people think sales should be the exception? What is the basis of their assumption that in the sales world we can ignore practices that have been proven to work in other business disciplines?
Nobody Wants to be Interrupted (or do you?)

In my many years of calling on C-Level executives, I firmly believe that when you interrupt somebody’s work day, you should always be courteous and professional – first and foremost. Asking your prospect if it’s a good time to speak and giving the person an option will not only leave a good impression, it will lead to a good conversation. If sales people just start off with a generic pitch – and “fast-talking” – they most likely won’t get the attention of the person they are actually trying to connect with. I know for myself that when people call me and start reeling off their pitch, I’m mainly annoyed. For the most part I don’t even listen to what they are saying. My goal is to get them off the phone.

Teach Your People Well, But Not to be Rude
One of the LinkedIn discussion participants even said that he is teaching his people to never ask that question because they then can’t get their point across and it only invites a “No, I don’t have time”. Making that point just leads me to believe this person has no confidence in the people she/he hires to present themselves confidently on the phone.
Of course it depends on the situation and maybe your introduction could start with a simple way of saying, “Hi, I won’t take much of your time. Would you mind listening to my short business introduction if this is a good time for you?” Wording, timing and applying common sense is essential, in life as well as in business. Teaching your salespeople to basically be rude certainly wouldn’t attract me to work for or with a company embracing that sales approach.

Desperation is a Bad Motivator
Salespeople who start off with a pitch in the fear they won’t gain attention can come across as desperate. And that’s one of the reasons why salespeople often have a bad reputation. One person in the LinkedIn discussion said that people should screen their calls and use caller ID to decide if they’ll take the call. Well, many unsolicited calls come in as “Unknown” on my caller ID, so do some calls from Europe. So I am always tempted to answer the phone because I wouldn’t want to miss a call from family or friends in Vienna, Austria, for example. Does that mean I should be punished with rude sales behavior for picking up?

Do Your Research & People will Listen
If you do your research and you know something about the company and the person that you are calling on, you will always be in a better position to open a dialogue. Also, if you introduce yourself via email and then call to follow up, your “cold call” won’t come across as completely out of the blue.

In closing, there are many ways to prospect effectively. I prospect every day on behalf of my clients with huge success. But ignoring courtesy is definitely not part of my recipe.

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Posted in: CEOs, CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Sales Certification, Consultative Selling, Sales

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In recent months I have been observing a quite disturbing trend – a lack of accountability. There are so many reports on the new generation coming into the workplace, the famous Millennials, not being as accountable as other generations, but I deal mostly with Gen X and Baby Boomers and, truthfully, there is really no difference when it comes to being accountable.

So, how can Sales Managers and top Sales Executives contribute to their sales teams being accountable and successful in their organizations?

Sales is a process, especially when it comes to consultative selling and the process only works when you don’t skip steps. Staying in touch with prospects, following up in a timely and mindful manner and following a customer-centric sales process is something that sales managers need to instill in their sales people so they can succeed to their fullest abilities.

But what if the sales managers themselves don’t stick to their process?
What if they don’t stay on track to move things along?
What can they do to hold their teams accountable for moving sales forward?

Lead by Example
It’s hard to expect accountability from your people if you don’t lead by example.

In my work with many companies trying to establish sales processes and programs, I encounter sales managers who don’t stick to their own time-lines far too often.

In our first meeting they usually have a clear picture as to when they want to implement training, who they want to enroll and what the desired outcomes should be, and why they have chosen this approach to support company objectives and goals.

We also ask them to have their team complete our online, proprietary Skills & Knowledge Assessment so everyone will know their current skill level and where their learning gaps are.

Stick to Your Timeline
What sometimes occurs then is a delay in the implementing of that time-line. Not a problem, as long as the reason makes sense for the company, such as restructuring of the team, new team members coming on board, etc.

It seems to be a trend, and when a pattern begins to take shape, I start paying attention.

So, in my mind, the question arises: How can sales managers expect their team to be accountable and productive, if they don’t stick to their own time-line? It’s almost like a parent expecting a child to be courteous while never being polite when interacting with people in front of their children!

Be Accountable

My European background always kicks in when people make promises they then don’t keep. I just simply don’t understand it.
A huge part of my success in sales and business is due to the fact that I always show up on-time, always follow up on what was agreed upon and always follow through on my promises.

And, there is no difference whether I’m dealing with a prospect, a client or a vendor. That’s what accountability looks like – being good for your word.

On a personal note, just pushing the envelope a bit here, in my subjective and slightly biased view, I’ve experienced that it’s usually women who keep their promises.

So, whatever happened to the phrase: “I’m a man of my word”?

Create Stellar Performers
So in closing, Sales Managers – if you want to build a trustworthy, successful team you need to lead by example and stick to the promises you’ve made, otherwise it will be hard to expect stellar performance from your team.

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Posted in: CEOs and Sales, CONSULTATIVE SALES, Consultative Selling

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