Friday Faves – 6.3.16 (Sunday Edition)

060316NOTE: Work/family travel delayed Friday’s publishing, but the advice is just as good to start your week.

Summer’s coming, and so do the Dog Days of sales – when deciders and influencers vacation and deals slow to a crawl. What can you do NOW to push your pipeline forward and load it up for the Fall? Some good ideas here.

Many Have Forgotten the Most Important Attribute for Success – Character matters – always.

Sales Blind – Periodic honest  self-assessments can uncover deal-killing behaviors.

In the Best Sales Teams, About Half of the People Are in Support Roles – It takes a team and everyone’s contribution matters.

Leading or Following the Client – The fine art of driving the sale.

The Bad Sales Cycle – Just like networking, what you give is in direct proportion to what you get.

Stop Doing Low-Value Work – Time is a finite asset and how you use yours is critical to your success.



Friday Faves – 11.21.14

112114Busy, killer week and also read some great posts.  Hope your week was killer, too.

Yippee ki-yay!

How to Maintain a Resourceful State In Difficult Conversations – You know what you WANT to say, here are some better ideas.

The Mental Game of Success – As I always told my reps, if it’s in your head, the prospect can see it.

4 THINGS SALES PEOPLE DO THAT CUSTOMERS LOATHE – I got the skeevies reading this, but it should be read.

Rethinking Renewals – Don’t curse the farmer with your mouth full, goes the saying.  We love to hunt, but nurturing closed business into lasting relationships is just as important.

A Verbal Painting is Worth A 1,000 Words – Consider all the online meetings and conference calls you have.  Being understood verbally is critical to these media.


Own Your Success – Part 3

This is the final part of a series on the disrupters of self-belief, inspired by a blog post by Jonathan Farrington.  Self-belief is one of the most important factors for success in sales, and ironically, the most frequent disrupter of self-belief is SELF!  To the left, you see how MC Escher viewed himself in a mirror ball.  But, how do you view yourself in your world and what influences that view?

3.  ASSESSMENT – I have long called sales the original equal opportunity employer because everyone is judged by their own production.  Since these are almost always numbers, it can be wholly objective.  The assessment we’ll discuss here is not your annual review, or a stack rank – it is self-assessment.  How you view yourself in your world, your market, your company has the single biggest potential to disrupt your self-belief.

a.  INTERNALIZATION – Good sellers are committed lifetime learners and, as you’ve heard me say before,  we frequently learn more from our failures then we do from our successes.  When a deal goes south, you always want to learn what could have been done differently to change the outcome.  But too often, we internalize the failure regardless of the reason.  That leads to the disruption of self-belief and creates further failure.  ANALYZE but don’t INTERNALIZE.  Trace the deal back to the initial lead, look at every step along the way to examine what could have been done differently that might have changed the outcome.  This is a LEARNING process, not a blame game.  Yes, if you can trace the blown deal to something YOU did or didn’t do, just accept it and LEARN from it.  Making that mistake, and learning not to make it again just made you a better seller!

b.  RIDING THE TIDE – I’ve heard lousy bosses (see Part One of this series) say “When the market is hot, we don’t need salespeople.  The business comes to us.”  Let’s ignore the lunacy of that statement for now, but take a look instead at your market.  Now, this is a frequent cop-out for poor sellers “Oh, my market/territory sucks.” but if you are in a market in contraction, expanding your revenues and commissions is much more difficult, which can disrupt your self-belief.  You must first start with an exhaustive study of your market, looking at 10 year trends and how they have affected your company and your major competitors.  If you see a consistent general downward trend, it may be time to think about a move or a different approach.  You CAN succeed in a down market, but you’ll have to rethink everything to do it.  Just do an ROI analysis to see if it will be worth it for you.  However, if you’re in something akin to the VCR industry, it’s best to beat feet.

c.  TOO MUCH KOOL-AID – Similar to market conditions, the course charted by your company’s leadership may be costing you sales.  It is critical to buy in to and be supportive of your company’s vision and direction.  Clients need to hear your confidence in your company and its solutions.  But, if you joined a forward-thinking company that has become reactive, has lost direction and is now in steady retreat, it may also be time to take your talents elsewhere.  Here, you need to go back to examine the company you joined and the reasons you joined.  How many of those reasons are still there, or are you just down to “great people?”  From personal experience, that ain’t enough.  Your bank doesn’t care how much you like the people you work with.  And don’t be afraid that you’ll lose your friends either.  Those who are really your friends will still be even though you are working somewhere else.

I know that some of this may sound like “cut and run” to avoid facing hard facts. But, if you have carefully been examining the factors I’ve been highlighting over this series, you just may have to make some tough decisions.  Remember, these are YOUR decisions.  You can’t decide how your boss should treat you, how your company should behave or how your market should respond.  YOU own your skills, your self-belief and your SUCCESS!

Use your ownership wisely.

Own Your Success – Part 2

Last week, I began a three part series on the disrupters of  self-belief based on a blog post by Jonathan Farrington.  If you missed that, here it is again.

We Should Never, Ever, Doubt Our Ability to Succeed

As you recall, the first disrupter was lousy bosses.  Today, we’ll examine the second:

2. Peer Pressure (Corporate Culture) has a huge impact on the way  employees behave and feel.  Companies that reward success, for example, inspire others to succeed.  Companies that penalize failure encourage everyone to try to not fail.  Just like taking a Pass/Fail course in colllege.  How can this disrupt your self belief?

A.  HOMOGENOUS COMPARISONS  Lumping everyone into one comparison pool without taking certain qualifiers into consideration can blow away promising talent.  Stack ranking is a good example.  You expect 20 year veterans in established territories to be at the top.  But when rookies see themselves always at the bottom, it can disrupt their self-belief.  Many managers think it shows them what is possible or what they should aspire to.  They don’t need a stack rank for that.  They know who drives to work in a Porsche and parks next to their Hyundai.  Similar to the last post, focus on YOUR territory, YOUR opportunities, YOUR sales activity.  Measure consistently and try to “beat yesterday” each day you come to work.  You will see your results slowly start to move up.  Keep track of where you started (usually $0) and your percentage increases will show you that you are making progress – even if you’re near the bottom of the revenue stack rank.  Heavy hitters didn’t get there in a day, so set your sights on the top, craft a plan and ACT on it!

B. THE PILLORY – A long time ago, I was a manager at a company that held monthly meetings at corporate in which the operations of its 80 or so branches were reviewed.  These were chaired by the CEO and attended by all Senior management and branch managers, some in person and some on conference call.  During these calls the CEO would brutally excoriate branch managers whose numbers were not to his liking.  These tongue lashings would last for as long as he felt it necessary  to instill fear of  failure in everyone.  So, instead of aiming to be #1, managers just aimed to be out of the line of fire.  Not only a poor way to grow results, but when your managers’ self-belief is disrupted, it infects their direct reports and so on down the line.  So, disrupting self-belief with a “top down” approach is especially effective in producing mediocrity.  An environment like makes you re-calibrate success.  Being #1, making $500K or going on the President’s trip may not be things you set your sight on.  At least not at first.  Figure out how to avoid the wrath of the CEO, keeping your numbers above the Mendoza line, then work on moving them up a bit each month.  You CAN get there, but first you need to stay out of the line of fire.

C. SECRET SOCIETY – Does your department or company share best practices regularly?  If so, great.  If the best practices come from people at all places in the stack rank, even better.  That helps everyone grow from peer learning.  Or, does your company discourage collaboration?  Worse, do they practice isolation?  Isolation is a neanderthal sales management technique still used with surprising frequency.  Here’s how it works.

Say you sell widgets that come in 6 colors, including Carolina Blue.  Well, if your territory is, say, South Carolina (where Clemson Orange reigns supreme), Carolina Blue is probably not your best seller.  But, the company needs to sell all the colors.  So, your boss asks you why you’re not selling it.  When you tell your boss why, s/he says, “But EVERYONE is selling Carolina Blue like crazy!”  Making you feel like you are the ONLY one not selling it is a perverse way to get to sell something whether or not is it appropriate for your market.  Forget that you are the #1 seller of orange widgets.  By isolating you (the ONLY one not selling it), it creates a serious disrupter.  Go underground.  Build a network of your peers, where you can hit a happy hour and de-stress, debrief and bounce ideas off each other.  If your corporate culture places walls between you, you’ve got to break some down and share.  What you’ll find, I’m sure, is that whatever problems you are having, others are too.  Some may have even found solutions.  Sharing these will help you all grow.

Next post will examine self-inflicted wounds.

Till then – Keep looking forward and CloseitUP!

Own Your Success

I read an inspiring post this morning on Jonathan Farrington’s blog.  It deals with belief in yourself and your ability to succeed.  After you read it, I’ll share some thoughts on belief disrupters and how to overcome them.

We Should Never, Ever, Doubt Our Ability to Succeed

I’ve seen sellers who have confidence and self-belief fail to succeed.  Since I think in threes, here are my three most common belief disrupters and how to overcome them.

  1. LOUSY BOSSES – They come in 31 flavors yes, but the ones that crush self-belief are usually lacking in confidence themselves and bolster their self-belief by making their people dependent upon them.  Here’s how they do this.
    1. MICROMANAGING – By making you run every idea, every proposal past them so they can “fine tune it” they can make you doubt your capability to create and execute strategy.    To avoid this and not be insubordinate, keep a library of approved strategies, ideas and proposals and when you believe it’s appropriate, use or slightly adapt one of these to CLOSE A DEAL.  It will be very difficult for your lousy boss to criticize you when you have the dough in your hand!
    2. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS – From triple digit quota increases to 28 hour day activity expectations, these can kill your confidence.  Focus on what is possible, set a plan to accomplish that and keep your eye on your own goals.  Chances are if your lousy boss has set unrealistic expectations for everyone, then everyone will fall short and, ultimately, s/he will take the fall.  In the meantime, you achieved the goals you set and confirm your self-belief.
    3. NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT – Despite so much literature for managers (if they just read “One Minute Manager”), many fall into the trap of only interacting with their team in negative transactions, and fail to recognize when they do something right.  Hearing a steady barrage of why did you do this, not this; or how come you didn’t say that; or how come you failed to put a cover sheet on your TPS report will just grind you down.  Set daily/weekly goals for yourself – activity, proposals, ideas or something you can measure and track.  Then, as you achieve these,  reward yourself.  Whether it’s a new sweater, a mani/pedi or a special night out with your partner, if you are not getting positive reinforcement for what you do well from your lousy boss, then provide it to yourself.
Next post, we’ll look at #2 – Peer Pressure (the corporate culture) and then, finally, #3 – Self -Inflicted Wounds.
Till then – Keep looking forward and CloseitUP!