training

Number One Predictable and Treatable Flaw in Salespeople

Most professional salespeople in my experience have a Low C drive as measured by The Predictive Index survey.  What this means for those unfamiliar with PI, is that they run away from, or at minimum prefer, environments that do not have the need for:

  • Process
  • Consistency
  • Focus
  • Long attention span
  • Methodical work style
  • Patience
  • Sympathetic listening
  • Repetition
  • Time

Here is the problem with those realities.  “One of the strongest forces in the human organism is the need for consistency,” states Anthony Robbins.  Love it or hate it, as human beings we need it.  Think of those you know who are inconsistent.  Words like this may arise to define her or his behavior:  unstable, fickle, wishy-washy, flaky, untrustworthy.  Sound like a a great label to you?  Me neither.

Sustainable sales success is a consistent coordination of many things.  However, if a salesperson lacks the focus and discipline to consistently do the necessary things, then that success will be elusive.  At best, they can hope for peaks and valleys in performance.

As a leader of salespeople, how do you install skills, behaviors and habits into your people that will truly stick given that many of them struggle with what I’ve shared above?  Below are three straightforward options that have worked both for me and my clients:

Stick to a sales process, philosophy and language

Many sales leaders get just as impatient and bored with any process as their people do.  This leads to an ‘expert of the month club’ where the language for sales success continues to change.  Once you have vetted a solid process for your team, use it.  Everyday for a long time.  Too many sales leaders change approaches before they have enough performance data to validate if a process was actually the right one or not.  Odds are it was good enough to merit the results, if their people would have actually committed to it.  But, why commit when I know the next ‘sales book’ or ‘sales expert’ is going to impact our team next month?

Repetition is the key to truly learning

The fear here is that I and my team will get bored and disengaged if we keep talking about the same things.  Will it take some discipline to keep using the language?  Yes.  Will it frustrate some who feel ‘I already know this’? Yes.  However, if you do your homework you’ll realize that the pain associated with repetition is how sustainable success is earned.  This is how you instill a language and a culture within your team.  It will also take the load off of sales leadership to constantly be doing something new and different.  There are few right ways to run a sales team, and constant change doesn’t happen to be one of them.  Once you pick a process, decide how you will train and consistently reinforce it every day, week, month and quarter.  At each interval make an intelligent decision as to how you will continue to reinforce key principles that lead to your team actually practicing and using any desired skill.  Teams tend to do what the boss cares about most.  With your behavior and language you will be transforming your team through boring old repetition.

Train and develop your people for the job, but manage needs and drives of the individual

Sales people are human beings, not machines.  There are practical limitations to how much each of us is willing to change based on our needs and drives.  When we are pushed beyond that capacity we get de-energized, disengaged and disinterested.  As a leader, get to know each of the individuals on your team and learn what drives them.  Where do they get their self-confidence?  What parts of the job take the most energy?  Then, listen to them.  Yes, if you are in sales there are numbers to hit and a job to get done everyday.  However, if your needs are not getting met, what position will you be in to be truly productive?  I use The Predictive Index with my clients, but there are other valid and reliable tools on the market to gather similar intelligence on you and your people.

If you would be interested in having me take a look at you and your team as it relates to sales results, philosophy, process and language simply reach out via the contact page and use my name to schedule a meeting.  If you are already one of my clients, you already know the drill.

 

We've Been Honored for Superior Sales Training – Again!

top-twenty-listing-top20salestraining2013We can’t help but toot our own horn – if you haven’t heard already, take note that we’ve been honored once again for superior sales training tools and services.

PI Worldwide, our parent company, was recently named to Selling Power magazine’s 2013 list of Top 20 Sales Training Companies. The list appears in the summer (July/Aug/Sept) issue.

“When a company has adopted an excellent sales training program, the proof is the reaction of the customer,” says Selling Power Founder and CEO Gerhard Gschwandtner. “Good sales training actually enhances the buying experience for the customer. A high-quality sales training initiative is one of the best investments a sales leader can make to become more successful and more competitive in any market.”

Selling Power uses five criteria to create the list:

  1. depth and breadth of training offered
  2. innovative offerings (specific training courses or methodology) or delivery methods
  3. international capabilities
  4. ability to customize offerings
  5. strength of client satisfaction.

We’re a repeat winner, by the way, having made the 2010 list also.

For more information or to order a copy of the magazine, please visit www.sellingpower.com or call (540) 752-7000.

Follow these links to learn more about our Selling Skills Assessment Tool™ and our Customer-Focused Selling™ training program.

Can Science Improve Sales Performance?

A new book by PI Worldwide CEO Nancy Martini says “yes” and backs it up with more than a dozen real-life examples of how scientific measurement improved sales performance.

Leveraging her 30 years of sales strategy and performance management experience, Martini and co-author Geoffrey James, a journalist who writes a daily column for Inc.com, show how statistically valid measurement can improve every element of the sales environment.  (Full disclosure: ADVISA is a PI Worldwide-member firm.)

Martini and James detail examples of how sales teams were measured and how those metrics changed as a result of better hiring practices and better targeted coaching and sales training.

Examples include:

  • Descriptions of how the Clark-Mortenson Agency used assessment tools to provide individual sales people with personalized overviews of their strengths as well as skill areas that present opportunities for growth.
  • Details on how Yankee Candle used scientific measurement to identify the right people to hire, and then used customer case studies and role-playing to focus on leveraging each individual’s natural behavior to sell. In turn, the brand helped sales revenue for trained individuals increase as much as 40 percent.
  • Specifics on Meadowbrook Golf’s program “Managing for Individual Success” and how the company employed scientific testing and measurement to help its top managers understand what motivates their employees.

As a special offer, we are making available a free download of the first chapter. Go here to read Chapter One. The book is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at other favorite booksellers.

Self-discipline and reinforcement are keys to effective training

Training can be wasteful and worthless for you and your employees.  Training takes time.  Costs money.  Takes key people out of the job for a period of time.  If you wanted to list out the reasons not to do training you could produce a nice-sized list even longer than this one.

Effective training involves two variables every time:
  1. Self-discipline
  2. Reinforcement
Without those two variables, training can be a waste.  The two variables are in order of importance as well.  Consider the changes in your own life – the important lessons that have stuck with you to this day.  What is consistent with each of them?  Likely, self-discipline and reinforcement were involved in all scenarios.
Without self-discipline our behaviors do not want to change.  As human beings we have the distinct ability to say “no” or “yes” to things our bodies/minds want.  Breaking habits developed over time are not easy.  Our bodies want to continue doing what they’ve been doing.  Self-discipline is the opposite force that must be larger than the habit.  Over time, the need to exert self-discipline lessens as the new behaviors firmly take the place of the old behaviors.  Self-discipline is a limited supply resource in that we only have so much of to dole out.
Reinforcement is the other critical piece of the equation for effective training.  This is the outside influence or accountability that keeps us, or our employees, on the new behavior path.
Consider New Year’s resolutions as a great example of reinforcement.  Andrea decides that after New Year’s Day she is going to go to the gym every day and give up soda.  For the first week, she makes it happen.  Then the following week she skips two days because “something came up”.  Then in week three of the new year she only goes once because “things just got busy”.  Then in week four all behaviors are back to “normal” for Andrea.  There was no reinforcement to produce the new desired behaviors.  The self-discipline alone ran out after one week, which can be typical.  She lacked outside accountability to shore her up.  Most of us need a person or outside force to keep us on track with new behaviors.  The more ingrained the old behavior, the more reinforcement we will need to enforce the new behaviors.
On a go forward basis, once you know the new behaviors you wish to see from yourself and your employees, consider how much self-discipline will be necessary and what reinforcement you will be able to maintain to make them happen.  Without those pieces you should reconsider your investment of time and resources.
Ask yourself this:  “Do I have the self-discipline and reinforcement in place to sustain these changes I wish to see?”

I-It vs. I-You. How are Sales Superstars created?

I-It = Viewing people solely as instruments to be used toward our own goals.  I am “I-It” when I care not at all about your feelings but only about what I want from you.

I-You = A special bond, an attuned closeness that is often-but of course not always-found between husbands and wives, family members, and good friends.

When we are in I-It mode we treat other people as means to an end.  In the I-You mode, our relationship with them becomes an end in itself.  (Daniel Goleman; Social Intelligence)

So, how are sales superstars created?  I-You and I-It is how.  Let’s define a sales superstar – an individual who consistently achieves above average revenue results while maintaining a role as a consummate team player and positive employee role model.  Would you like to have more of them?  Me too!

I-You and I-It cuts to the heart of this conversation.  In selling situations we can find ourselves on the wrong end of an I-It conversation.  The “I” is the prospect and the it, more often than not, is the sales person.  The salesperson feels objectified, disrespected, made to feel small, and often a second-class citizen.  That is what being “It” feels like.  Not something you want to do for a living.  It is unsustainable for most mere mortals.

The I-It is also a glass ceiling for sales superstar impostors.  These are the individuals who produce sheer numbers but tend to be a negative influence and suffer from “too-heavy-to-handle” ego.  They are the “I” and the company and clients are the “It.”  Meant to serve their own ends.  As you can imagine, this is also unsustainable.

I-You is the secret.  “I” actually care and am interested about “You,” regardless of any positive outcomes for me — where I ask questions that strike to the heart of problems that matter to you and are relevant.   Not, simply the problems that happen to be solved by my products or services.  The I-You is the person who legitimately cares about others, and in turn, others trust that person.  They should.  These are the gems that take a reasonably good sales team and turn them into super heros.

The great news, in most cases, is that this mindset can be trained to those willing to learn them.  Like anything else, there has to be a will to become better, and an authentic passion for what you are selling and the good it brings to clients.

Do you have a sincere interest in re-engineering the human side of your business?  Contact me.

The number 1 reason your bottom 25% of sales reps will never succeed

Everyday new business development teams take to the phones or the streets to make deals for their companies, and for themselves.  The facts are that most sales representatives are not successful in most companies.  Take your company for instance.  How many reps achieve quota each month or quarter?  How many times is the top sales person the same individual from previous months or quarters?  Why though?

The number 1 reason the top stay at the top and the bottom are likely down for the count is self-confidence and humility.  Neither of which, I feel, is mutually exclusive.  In my work aiding managers in managing difficult people, executive team building, and improving sales performance both elements are critical to the superstars of sales.

Self-Confidence

This is the easy one of the two.  If a person has the right P.I.® (Predictive Index®) profile for the job, and their manager is giving them what they need, self-confidence is a natural outcome.  The logic is simple:  You give me what I need the most + I get to do what I need to do each day = Self-confidence.  If a sales manager leverages assessments this can be achieved in most sales reps.

Humility

This is the tricky one.  I haven’t found any assessment for this trait, and it can take forever to learn.  However, it can start with self-awareness.  If someone is mature enough to accept who they are, and to realize that whatever they are is ok, they are on their way.  Humility is also found in those who help others with no expectation of personal gain, those who do not feel belittled by the success of others.  Those who are resolute that a career is important but falls way behind the most important priorities in their lives.  They seem to be unshakable, rarely intimidated, and often the most likable and approachable people in the world.

Now back to your bottom 25% reps.  They likely lack self-confidence because they are trying to be like someone else.  They likely feel that the way one person realized success is the exact way that they must behave to do so.  This is a recipe for little to no self-confidence.  How can you be self-confident when you are working at NOT being yourself?  They likely lack humility in that they must bolster small wins to earn praise and recognition.  They become angry, emotional, and often times vacant in their roles.  That is a helpless combination.  When you profile your top sales representatives, consider both self-confidence and humility in their elixir of success.  Odds are that if you give them what they need to be successful, and they have balanced and fulfilling lives outside of work as well, they’ll meet their balanced scorecard metrics.

Click the image below to get a complimentary profile on your top two sales people:

See my top reps profiles

A Customer Focused Sales Process

Todd,

I really loved the training and it has already made a huge difference for me. I have been in advertising sales for a long time and implemented the consultative sales approach.  I have been through consultative sales training before but I learned a lot more in general and most importantly how to implement it for South Central A|V through your training. I have been with the company a year now and was having trouble transitioning consultative sales techniques from advertising to selling specific products and services. I am confident that I will proceed with much more success now that you have helped me to understand that this approach can work with the products and services I represent now.

Thank you for making me a consultant again,

S.

I posted this note because it demonstrates that the transition from product sales to a consultative sales approach is not easy, even for successful, seasoned sales professionals.  For me this note stressed the importance of building good sales process training into your sales training curriculum.   A process that can be understood, implemented, practiced, and repeated is critical to transitioning a sales force to a consultative sales approach.

Want to learn more about this client (they do GREAT work), click below:

www.southcentralav.com

Putting the Wind Back in Your Sales

We work to help our clients improve their businesses in a variety of ways, one of which is sales assessment and training.  Not surprisingly, since the ecomic downturn, sales is an area that companies are clamoring to shore up.  Many leaders are realizing for the first time that they have serious gaps in both sales talent and skills which had been previoulsly obscured by reasonable profits and growth.  This realization is fueling sales leaders across all industries to seek out sales training curriculum and sales process training.

A word of caution, corporate sales training is a multi-billion dollar industry and if you’re serious about putting the wind back in your SALES, you must start by doing a thorough assessment of your salesPEOPLE.  Sales training is a tactic that may or may not pay dividends depending on the strategic goals of your business, the unique strengths and limitations of your salespeople, and the coaching capabilities of your sales managers.   Consider these realities

  • Sales performance is a function of one’s natural proclivity to enjoy and be motivated by the nature of the work.  Some people are inherently more comfortable with the risk of cold calling and asking for business.  Some people are drawn to relationship building and networking and are naturally good at it.  Some people enjoy and are motivated by the unpredictability and variety of a sales role.  Some people relish the challenge of being told no.  You can provide all the motivational sales training in the world and not move the performance needle at all for some people.  The Predictive Index ® tool accuratley and reliably measures the inherent personality drives and needs that directly impact sales performance.  Casting the right types of people in sales roles can have a dramatic impact on performance. 
  • Sales performance is also a function of people having command of core sales skills and confidence in using them consistently.  Sales skills are distinct from product training and industry expertise.  Today’s salespeople need mastery of the top dozen consultative sales skills in order to navigate successfully through a hypercompetitive marketplace and in order to build credibility with much more savvy buy;ers.  Skills such as setting a verbal agenda at the opening of a call; or the use of thought provoking questions to uncover buyer’s needs; or using link statements to differentiate the value of your solution; or the use of an objection handling process to navigate the close; or use of a targeted campaign to harvest referrals from satisfied customers.  The Selling Skills Assessment Tool™(SSAT) can demystify how your salespeople are arriving at their results by providing a diagnostic picture of individual, group and salesforce strengths and weaknesses.

Put simply, an understanding of your salespeople in terms of both personality and skills is a prerequisite to corporate sales training.

Customized Sales Training is Key to Success

Too often sales manager training generates a spark of enthusiasm for the strategies and tactics people learn in the training but the energy quickly dies out once the training is done.

When you undertake your sales training development you should customize the sales training curriculum to your specific market.

For example, if you’re selling to OEM’s producing large equipment, the sales cycle is going to be long and complex.  An approach that emphasizes consultative sales training is going to work best in this market due to multiple contacts a supplier must make and the project management skills they must employ to move from early design concepts to final shipment.

For such a complex challenge any sales assessment of skills necessary for success must include a focus on personality factors such as decision making – in addition to classical selling skills like “opening” and “closing.”

On the other hand, many sales challenges involve only one or two contacts.  In these situations the primary sales skills of establishing a relationship and identifying motivations to buy are critical – there simply is no need for project management skills and decision making is greatly simplified.

To be successful, the sales training curriculum for such different challenges must accomodate the differences.

Driving to Better Sales – Video 1 – Overview

The “Driving to Better Sales” video series focuses on improving sales performance through systematic sales manager training through construction and use of a Sales Performance Dashboard.  The Dashboard contains the critical information necessary for sales training coaching.  This first video provides an overview of the sales assessment and sales team training methods which are central to ADVISA’s sales performance program.  The use of a personality assessment for how to motivate employees becomes a key element of our sales leadership approach.