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It’s real. Cold Calling is scary to most sales people. In a consultative sales environment phone conversations are still a very effective way to develop new business. But, it’s like the fear of flying. While we consciously know that flying is still the safest way to travel, there is always those planes that crash.

The fear of cold calling, or the reluctance to do it stems from the same fear. We are afraid of rejection, that somebody could hang up on us. We don’t want to be rejected. Actually, in my experience when you prepare properly before picking up the phone, the likelihood of somebody hanging up on you is really slim, but the fear is there.
So what is a sales person to do?

1)Research, research, research
The better you are prepared before picking up the phone, the higher your chances that your prospect will listen. As long as you are targeted in your approach and you know who your ideal prospects are there is really nothing to fear than fear itself.

2) Be personal and professional
There is this common expectation that sales people should be aggressive. In my experience, the more gentle, consultative and professional you are, the higher your success rate will be. Never treat anybody in any way other than the way you would like to be treated.

3) Listen, listen, listen
Don’t rattle off a pitch, but start with a casual introduction and then slowly shift into asking questions. The more information you can extract from your prospects (personal or professional), the better equipped you will be to follow up and build a relationship.

4) Be relevant and honest
It doesn’t make sense to talk prospects into a need. Your product or solution has to be a fit, otherwise you will waste your and your prospect’s time. If you find out that there is no current need, leave a good impression, try to be helpful if possible (by maybe providing an alternative solution) and get permission to stay in touch.

5) Pick up the phone!
Yes you heard me, just do it. There is just no way around it. Well scripted and written e-mails go a long way, but if you are selling in a consultative sales environment you won’t get around a phone call. Trust me, it will pay off!

And finally, get help! There is many coaches out there who are able to help. Prospecting, like all the other sales aspects can be learned. We work with sales professionals every day, helping them become more confident in what they do, even the ones who are very afraid. In our Consultative Sales Certification Program there is an entire module that is focused on prospecting new business.

http://www.getsalescertified.com/curriculum-expanding-your-business

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For over a decade I have been practicing Yoga and it’s helped me stay balanced, as much as one can expect from a Dominant D-Behavioral Type (or Type A Personality) like myself. It’s been a process to focus on my breathing, taking time out of my busy schedule to stretch myself to the limit, but it’s paid off. I am certainly calmer and more focused than 10 years ago.

Take Yoga off the Mat!

Years ago, one of my Yoga teachers kept saying: “What’s really important is that we take Yoga off the mat”.  At first I didn’t quite understand what she meant. But then, one day, I walked out of the Yoga studio onto the parking lot and one of my fellow Yoga practitioners almost drove into me. He was pulling out of his parking spot like Mario Andretti back in his days taking off from the pole position in a Formula One race.

That’s when it clicked. Taking Yoga off the mat means that you practice Yoga and the principles every single day. That means that you should be more mindful, enjoying the moment, breathing, etc.

Take Sales Training off the Mat (= out of the Classroom)

The same principles hold true when it comes to sales training. We need to take it out of the classroom. That’s why I am so passionate about our training model and process. Our Consultative Sales training program keeps the learners (= sales and service professionals) involved in the learning and real-life application process for 6 to 8 months. And I emphasize the importance of applying what they are learning.

It doesn’t matter how good sales training is, if it doesn’t impact with long lasting effects, it won’t make a discernible difference to a sales or service person’s performance.

But – and here comes the important part – the learner has to be willing to take the sales training out of the classroom. That means deliberately and strategically applying the principles of Consultative Selling every single day.

Persistence in Practicing Both Yoga & Sales

Most of the Yoga practitioners who attended the January session will be gone by April. Only the committed ones, the top performers (not that applies to Yoga) will stay the course. In sales it’s about performance, but we also have to be present, and breathing never hurts. Sustainable change however will only happen if we take sales training off of the “mat” – out of the classroom. It’s important to learn about and improve overcoming objections, handling stalls, cold calling and prospecting techniques, etc. I know many sales people who have read every single book ever written about sales. They follow thought leaders and read the newest articles. Some of them are top performers, but too many are just good “students”. And by that I mean, that they can theoretically talk about these concepts, but they can’t consistently and successfully apply them in real life.

And application is key to success. We see that in our sales training programs all the time. We ask participants to apply what they have learned. Their performance improvement is measured by their ability to transfer their knowledge to real live client interactions. Otherwise, spending time and money on training doesn’t make sense. It won’t have long lasting effects.

Whether it’s practicing Yoga or doing sales training, we will best succeed and achieve our goals when we are able to take our goals when we are able to take our practices out of the learning environment and know how to successfully apply them in the field.

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

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For the last couple of years I have set intentions rather than New Year’s resolutions. For one, intentions are “the thing that you plan to do or achieve: an aim or purpose” as opposed to a resolution which is “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. If we look at the standard definitions, it seems clear to me that resolutions are designed to set us up for failure. More often than not, we decide NOT to stick with something. And once we fall into that pattern, it’s easy to give up.

How many people do you know who had made New Year’s resolutions to give up smoking, or to lose weight only to end up falling back into the same habits a very short time after January 1?

So, in setting an intention – a plan, something to achieve – it makes the purpose more realistic and it helps us accomplish it. Baby steps, good intentions and making a plan – how does that sound?

When it comes to sales, here is a wish list of good intentions that would help me in my mission to elevate the reputation of sales and its practitioners.

Sales Culture

Contemplate a change in the culture of your business. Invite your employees to review your sales goals/plan. I mean, ALL of your employees – because in my book, everybody is in sales. If your receptionist is unfriendly and rude, at some point it will have an effect on a prospect or client. You might not hear about it, which is the worst case scenario, but trust me I have stopped doing business with companies whose employees were rude and I know many people who have done the same. By providing transparency and helping everybody within your organization understand that without clients they wouldn’t have a job, you will help them view prospects and clients in a different way.

Everybody Is In Sales

Everybody, and I mean everybody is in sales. Whether they are client facing or not. There is internal sales and external sales. How often do we need to “pitch” an idea to an internal audience to make sure that our clients are happy? So, while the research manager providing data for a project might not touch the client directly, they certainly have an impact on the success of the project. That is the culture that successful companies employ. They help their people communicate with each other, they provide technology to ensure proper workflow, but most importantly they encourage a culture of honesty and integrity and being customer-centered

Training Strategy

I hope that more companies will have firm training strategies. And I don’t say that for selfish reasons only, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Better trained employees are more loyal, they represent your brand better and they contribute to the bottom line.  We see it over and over working with our clients. Employees who had been on the short list of the next in line to be fired turn into jewels for their company once they are trained properly. This is not to say that every employee is trainable and that nobody will ever get fired again, but it means that if you want to be an A player as a company you have to have a solid training strategy.

Honesty and Commitment

Let’s talk a little bit about those virtues and let’s bring them back. They are essential for every company to be successful. Without honesty there is no progress. You need to look at the areas of improvement to fix whatever is not working AND improve what is working to truly stand out.

Commitment (and I am a stickler for this), is another area that is a key ingredient to stand out from the crowd. Once you commit to something, you are putting a stake in the ground and then all you need to do is – well, just do it (Nike!). There is no shame in admitting that sometimes you might have made the wrong decision, but people respect leaders who are committed and good for their word.

So, let us start with intentions to do something, so we allow for small setbacks while intending to stay on course and to achieve our goals. In my world that is elevating the reputation of the sales profession and its practitioners. Why? Because somebody has to do it! And I invite all my readers to join me!

Wishing you a successful 2015 full of great intentions!

 

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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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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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