Posts Tagged ‘Sales Culture’

EVERYONE is in Sales

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The CEOs of some of the companies I work with do something special every week—a weekly radio address to their team where they celebrate the “wins” of that week and commend the individuals that got them there. The purpose of this address is to get everyone excited about the victories, but more importantly to get everyone understanding that they play a pivotal role in the success of the company.

It takes a lot of contributions at every level to make that success happen. But at the end of the day, success comes down to bringing in revenue. In other words, no matter what your position, it all comes down to sales.

Everyone from the CEO to the custodian benefits from the success of the company, and everyone ultimately feels the pain when the company doesn’t do well. That’s why all employees must see a direct connection between their work and the sales that bring in the revenue.

Just because “sales” isn’t in your job title, doesn’t mean you’re not accountable to bringing in revenue.

The fact is that every business needs more customers at a higher price. That’s the game—no matter what your position. If you can’t prove through a weekly report to your boss that you made at least five times your salary for the company that week OR decreased company expenses by double your salary, you’re not paying your way—plain and simple.

So, get focused on those revenue-producing activities—everything else is noise.

Acres of Diamonds: Show Me the Money!

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010
© Virusowy |

© Virusowy |

Last year I finally read Acres of Diamonds. It’s a century old, yet its truths are timeless.

This pastor, lawyer, speaker, politician, and university president – who collected $11 million from his speech by the same title and donated it to students – spoke of the riches that are available to all of us and how we search for them in all the wrong places.  The acres of diamonds, you see, are in our own backyard.

He tells of struggling merchants who know nothing about the people living near their businesses, nothing about their families or their kids, their joys or sorrows or aspirations.  They just plain don’t care about people – and THAT’s why they’re poor. They don’t see opportunities because they don’t know that people will show you how to help them—IF you just listen.

A metaphor for business? My thoughts exactly.

Here’s a thought. What would happen if you eliminated all the drama from your sales team? Work would no longer look like an adult day care because people would be accountable for their own problems and solutions.

What if instead of having to manage people, a sales manager could focus on improving sales?  No managing the frail egos of people who complain about minutiae; every sales person 100 percent accountable for his or her results; no dealing with “hurt feelings” – because you’re dealing with grownups who know that their feelings are their choice.  Just imagine it.

Stay with me here. In this little dream, the sales manager would spend:

•    a third of his or her time generating leads for the sales team;
•    a third making the sales operation optimally effective;
•    a third coaching the players on positioning, strategies, techniques, and sales skills.

How would that change things?

Are you ready for the change? It’s not that hard. Simply make sure that you instruct people to own their problems and find solutions fast. If anyone comes to you with a gripe or a whine, stick your fingers in our ears and shout, “I’m not listening, I’m not listening.”  Tell them to come back to let you know what they did to create a quick solution.

Do this and sales will accelerate!

Turning Your Market into a Buzzing Hive of Opportunity

Saturday, January 9th, 2010
© Inventori |

© Inventori |

If I owned a tattoo shop for businesspeople, I’d ink the same thing over and over onto client after client:  Life gives to the givers and takes from the takers.

It’s not just pithy, you know—it’s true.  If you want to put your business on the receiving end of the giving, it’s time to dig in and give like crazy to your customers.  The key is to abandon the terrible goal of “customer satisfaction.”  You don’t want satisfied customers.  You want customers who are passionate.

Comedian Demetri Martin gets at the difference between satisfaction and passion when he calls graffiti “the most passionate literature there is.”  It’s always something like “U2 ROCKS!” or “I LOVE SHERYL!”  He wonders why you never see “indifferent graffiti,” like “TOY STORY 2 WAS OKAY,” or “I LIKE SHERYL AS A FRIEND,” or “THIS IS A BRIDGE.”

Of course he knows why, and so do you.  That’s why it’s funny.  People don’t act on mere satisfaction.  They don’t express mere contentment in five-foot-high spray-painted letters.  They act on PASSION.  And the best thing you can do to turn your market into a buzzing hive of passionate customers is to spend the first 90 days of your relationship giving and giving and giving.  And giving.

Research has shown that businesses with ongoing client relationships (as opposed to one-time transactions) generally have 90 days to convince the client that they’ve chosen the right business.  Let those 90 days expire and you’ve lost the best chance you’ll ever have to capture them heart and soul, earning their undying devotion—and getting them to buzz to their friends and colleagues about the great decision they made.  Yet many businesses close the sale, then turn their attention to other sales, other prospects.  And the honeymoon’s over before it even begins.

You want to make those first few weeks a time of tremendous generosity on your part so your new client knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he or she made the right choice.  Short, sweet, personal touches are best.  If you know your client is relocating, send a pizza during move-in week.  Send over a lawn-mowing service.  Promote their businesses in your lobby.  Send laminated articles pertaining to their business or offer shredding service.  Offer a customer orientation program to help them maximize their own potential.

If you let your customers know that you are not just satisfied but THRILLED to have their business and eager to make their lives easier and better, why on Earth would they keep it to themselves?  Your name will end up in a thousand sentences beginning with “Oh my gosh, you won’t believe…” as they share their good fortune with everyone they know.  Be of extraordinary service to your customers, especially in the first blushing weeks of your relationship, and you won’t be able to STOP the buzzing even if you tried. 

And who’d even want to try?

Remove the Risk, Reap the Reward

Thursday, December 17th, 2009
© Keeweeboy |

© Keeweeboy |

We’ve all been there.  The car salesman slides the paperwork across the desk at you, pointing at the signature line.  Just this one last step, he says, and there’ll be no way out.

At least that’s how it can sound to the customer as she wipes her sweaty palms on the blue Naugahyde, wondering if she’s doing the right thing, wondering if she’s considered everything, wondering if she’s taking too big a…


RISK is the dark underbelly of every opportunity, our mother’s voice warning us that there’s no free lunch, P. T. Barnum chuckling about a sucker being born every minute.  Suddenly the salesperson is the snake in the Garden, hissing “How ’bout them apples?”—and Eve is sliding her checkbook back into her purse and looking for the exit.

All agreements entail some degree of risk.  The best thing any business can do to earn the trust of a potential customer is reverse that risk.  You can’t lose it completely, but why not shift it onto your own shoulders?  If you as a business can make it clear that all of the risk will be assumed by you, not by the customer, you’ve removed the last real roadblock to the relationship.  If you can really demonstrate that there’s nothing to lose and much to gain, signing on that line goes from a sweaty-palmed “I do” to a simple agreement to dance for a little while and see how it goes.

So how do businesses remove the risk roadblock?  Depends on the business.  Parents who agree to sign their kids up for karate lessons at a reasonable ten bucks a pop get walloped at the first lesson with the oh-by-the-way cost of the karate uniform.  Once again Eve’s looking around for the exit.  What if little Cain and Abel decide they don’t LIKE karate and we’re stuck with two skimpy white bathrobes?

A smart businessperson will recognize that moment of risk paralysis and create the antidote before the venom can even set in.  “The uniform is absolutely free for the first thirty days.  If you decide not to continue, there’s no charge.”  Voilà!  The risk is assumed by the business, and Eve signs on the dotted line.

“But I can’t be giving away free uniforms!” says the shortsighted dojo owner.  Fine.  Try your own way for a month.  Count the customers walking out the door when they hit that risk roadblock.  Then try risk reversal for a month.  Sure, you’ll get a few customers who fizzle out before thirty days have passed, but you’ll also have a slew of customers with happy kids hooked on your product, parents who signed on for the sweet and lucrative package deal—customers who would have bounced off that roadblock if you hadn’t so wisely removed it.

So you’re not selling karate lessons.  But what are the roadblocks that get YOUR customers’ palms sweating—and how can you reverse that risk and dry those palms?

What makes a world-class salesperson?

Saturday, November 21st, 2009
© Rmarmion |

© Rmarmion |

There’s no end to the list of qualities that make for a great salesperson.  But when it comes to assessing your sales team, sales managers often focus on features that are secondary or worse:  Who’s a hard worker?  Who do I like the best? 

These may be fine qualities for a mail-order bride, but when it comes to salespeople, likeability and even hard work don’t necessarily add up to closed sales.  Instead, focus on five basic competencies as the backbone of your ongoing assessments:

1.  Selling skills.  All right, wise guy, I heard that.  If assessing salespeople on their selling skills sounds as obvious as assessing beekeepers on their beekeeping skills, why are selling skills so often completely ignored in assessment plans?  Too many sales managers see salespeople on the phone all day and think it MUST somehow add up to sales.  This just in: Even a monkey can hold a phone.  You need to ask yourself whether your salespeople are exhibiting the basic skills that make sales happen.  Do they know how to find and nurture solid prospects to keep the sales funnel full?  Do they know how to ask the right questions?  Do they know the difference between the end of a conversation and the closing of a deal?  These and a dozen other skills add up to genuine sales competency.

2.  Communication skills.  Can your salespeople make complex ideas simple?  Can they get customers talking by asking open-ended needs questions?  Do they move easily among the three perspectives (I—you—they)?  Are they outgoing, energetic, and people-oriented?  Do they really listen as well as speak?

3.  Presentation skills.  Presentation is more than just communication.  We’ve all had the experience of listening for an hour to a smooth and gifted communicator, only to realize we have no idea what was actually said.  Presentation requires an understanding of form—the creation of a psychologically effective whole, with a beginning, middle, and end, that gives the listener not just information but comprehension.  A presenter is constantly assessing his or her presentation through the eyes of the listener and making a human connection that brings mere information to life.

4.  Product knowledge.  All of the above skills add up to candy-coated squat if a salesperson doesn’t have a soup-to-nuts, quick-draw understanding of your products.  Pop quizzes work wonders.

5.  Personal growth.   Show me a salesperson who’s convinced that he’s as good as he can get and I’ll show you a dud on the way to obsolescence.  While he’s busy polishing his trophies, hungrier salespeople who know there’s ALWAYS more growing to do, more techniques to perfect, and more skills to build, will eat his lunch.

Both your sales meetings and your quarterly assessments should focus not just on sales numbers but on whether your staff is on track in these five crucial competencies.