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    Blog Index
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    Five "No-Nonsense" Moves for Sales Leaders

    There’s talk about how complex selling is today with good reason. There’s more and hungrier competition coming from all angles, waves of new technology disrupting just about every industry and increased indifference among prospects. But perhaps there’s not enough discussion about how difficult it is to lead a sales team today in the midst of these factors.

    Being an effective sales leader not only means thinking strategically, and understanding the value of your products and services to the market so you can lead the charge, but it also means being able to guide your sales team in the midst of this change, being able to read what’s happening in your market, and helping them stay focused and motivated when the results may not come easily and quickly. Most important it’s about generating revenue in an environment where the number of variables have increased, and you have to be adept at so many disciplines to make sense of what’s going on. Understanding how to respond to continued disruption in the marketplace will give your team the greatest chances of success. Here are five tips:

    Train: Making sure your sales team is well trained in the essentials of selling is important in competitive markets. It is difficult to always know what’s going on as a sales leader, but when you focus on training, you can uncover skill gaps that are preventing your organization from winning. You should always be focused on sharpening the skills of your team, and identifying whether you have a skill/performance problem when revenue is slow coming in, whether you have challenges reading and staying ahead of the market, or whether you are most likely on target and will close deals because your team has worked effectively throughout the sales process.

    Meet: Among my most effective years managing sales teams, I developed a habit of meeting daily with my team to set the tone for the day, reinforce our messaging, and to bring overall focus and confidence to the group. Regular meetings with your team to understand what’s going on with prospects will prevent you from going months before you realize they have nothing that will realistically close. A short meeting of 15 minutes or so, for a round-robin of updates and an opportunity for you to ask questions and provide guidance, will keep your sales team on their toes, and you alert to potential pipeline problems early.

    Integrate: This is a business environment where business disciplines are integrated. There’s overlap in activities performed by your sales, marketing, service, and operations departments, in addition to other areas in the business. If you do not have a strong focus on making sure that every job that touches the client in some way, supports your team closing the sale, it may potentially be a reason why you don’t get the sale. Today, you can lose a sale with a bad social media post that you know nothing about. Make sure your organizational efforts are well integrated – and that you are engaged in companywide strategy across departments that can enhance sales.

    Participate: Most sales teams today need a squad of players who can effectively play different roles and positions during the sales process. One of those players is you. Being the sales manager, vice president, or entrepreneur in the sales process brings a level of depth and credibility to the sales conversation and will result in confidence inside your potential customer. This will also bring confidence to your sales executive and provide a different personality to contribute to winning the business. Today, sales leaders must also sell.

    Consult: When I was a young sales person in the media business, I worked for a division leader who relied heavily on industry consultants to help him understand and maneuver the market, which at the time was undergoing major disruption. I saw the impact of a seasoned advisor on our business, and how it helped us make the right decisions, form new connections, and prioritize the right moves. As a sales leader you need outside counsel, with industry veterans, insiders, and different voices that can help you grow during demanding times. Make sure you find and consult with experienced colleagues so that your perspective and decision making doesn’t become too insular.


    Discover and Align With The Right Idea

    Will you do the things necessary to reach new levels in your career or business? Are you motivated to take the steps necessary?  Do you have a belief system that produces greater achievement or mediocre performance?

    Over the years I’ve hired many people, including salespeople and fairly early in the process I can tell whether the person is going to succeed or struggle. Those that succeed decide that no matter what, they’re going to succeed. That means whatever the weather, no matter how hard it is to do the job, how hard is it to get through to new prospects, and whatever the tension that arises in the sales process, they are motivated. Others are slowed down by just about everything you can imagine. I’ve found that a person’s internal motivation, whether that person is an entrepreneur, salesperson, or any ambitious person is what will ultimately make the difference.

    A person that wants a bigger life is not discouraged by the inevitable setbacks and slow points. That’s because the goal is bigger than the barrier. If you are looking for the difference in your performance., it may just be that you are not aligned with the big ambitions but rather the small inconveniences of life.

    I remember a salesperson that worked for me, whose number one goal was to purchase a house. To him every deal was an opportunity to earn more commissions and move closer to saving his down payment. This goal inspired him to quickly respond to incoming inquiries, blast out contracts, and jump on what seemed like small opportunities. Tiny sales opportunities turned into bigger opportunities and he developed such momentum that it seemed like he was an unstoppable sales machine. In less than a year he had saved all of the money he needed and was able to buy a new home. Of course, his next motivation was fixing up and furnishing his new home.

    What drives you – or what should drive you? Are you in touch with the most relevant ideas and opportunities in your life? Do you realize that you are well-positioned to be more, have more, and do more? Or are you aligned more with your setbacks and difficulties?

    Discover your motivation and you’ll discover new accomplishments in your life, career, and business. Get aligned with the right ideas and actions.


    Develop the Hustle Attitude

    In my keynotes, I often tell the story of how I bootstrapped my fledgling company into a multi-million-dollar enterprise. Frankly, there was no other way to do it. Growing meant relying on a certain brand of savvy, and action, that can only be described as Hustle.

    The idea of hustle is a recurring theme on the Internet today. There are lots of powerful quotes from a wide variety of respected authors and speakers that show up on social media each day – all day. These quotes call out to you to “Hustle!” in poetic and often graphically beautiful images, but what is hustle?

    In the case of bootstrapping a venture it meant first sensing an opportunity, deepening our understanding and belief in it, and then selling our ideas and concepts to others. After a little success, maybe earning a little money from the marketplace that you then reinvest  into your business.

    The next step is selling your new and improved version of your company, products and services to others, this time with evidence that someone else values it. If you’re guessing that hustle is a game of leverage, you’d be correct. You start with something small – a concept, a skill, an asset that you believe in. Then you find a way to add to it, and then add to that, and then add to that, until you have something bigger. Hustle takes vision, confidence, lots of energy, lots of salesmanship, patience, consistency, and stamina. You could probably best describe it as an attitude.

    The hustle attitude is not taught in colleges, and in fact, the more you know academically, the more you just might can talk yourself out of this approach because hustle does not conform to the precise, order of personal and professional success sold by institutions – educational, corporate, legal, and otherwise. Your success is not based on credentials or pedigree – it is based on self-reliance and determination. It is not based on resumes, or the right job posting. It is based on taking responsibility for your success and making yourself impossible to ignore.

    What’s different about hustle is the notion that you give yourself no excuses. It’s also that you start with any open door, any advantage, any asset, and convince yourself that what you have is enough to accomplish a big result. Hear that? Everyone has something that they can use to hustle and turn into an extraordinary career or business.

    If I could teach any person just starting out one key skill it would be how to hustle. Hustle in your career and business is about creating enough leverage to break through. You get new contacts, you get that first client or two, you start making a few dollars. Hustle is putting yourself in a position to gain bigger and bigger rewards and responsibility by demonstrating that you’re someone that should be invested in – and most important that you can help a client, an employer, an investor, or anybody get their desired result.

    A hustler is looking to accumulate advantages that make it harder and harder to ignore. Yo define yourself as a success, no matter where you are starting -- and then you make it so. Are you ready to hustle your way to success?

    Ask yourself these questions:

    Will you package yourself well – to look like someone that others want to deal with?

    Are you willing to act, knock on doors, and try to make something happen – even when it’s not clear acting will result in anything?

    Will you have something meaningful to say when you meet someone that makes them want to connect with you – and stay connected to you?

    Are you focused on what you can contribute to the world – and are you leading with that idea – and not what you want to take from the world?

    Are you willing to show up – early – be your best, have a great attitude, follow up when no one else does or responds, and do what you say you’ll do?

    Are you willing to demonstrate a spirit of success rather than a personality of complaint, chaos, and negative energy?

    Are you willing to eliminate time wasters. You know, this TV series, that meet-up where underachievers gather, etc.

    You might add to this, Are you willing to work for FREE? I know, this is a no-no in today's politically correct world, where so many people feel taken advantage of and want to run to court, but I have worked for free more times than I can remember -- and volunteering at the right place, and working your butt off there, is the ultimate demonstration of hustle.

    There’s so much more that I could write about here, but this is a good list from which to define your hustle strategy. One more thing. Find a place where you can make a difference.

    In a small company, or non-profit trying to make its way in the market what is needed are high-energy hustlers. If you’re a leader, it is about getting everyone inside aligned with this kind of mindset, doing extra to complete the work necessary, and focusing on getting results. Time matters and you must also get results quick without the typical resources such as product inventory, money to market heavily, large staffs, or some favorable position in the marketplace. That is what hustle is about. Is this something you can contribute to?

    Some folks are at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding what hustle is about. They may not feel the urgency that’s associated with hustle. Other times, they might believe they have little in their favor, and just don’t believe it’s possible to multiply that into anything. They see disadvantage. And then there’s the person who lacks confidence is full of excuses, or is simply lazy so they find reasons not to act. Sometimes a lack of confidence creates a laziness – a mindset that can make you spiral downward.

    By the way, hustlers do not count days off -- they are "all-in."

    The hustle mindset is grounded in finding a way to seize the moment. It’s about seizing opportunities, no matter where you are, and no matter what you have -- or don't have. Hustlers are optimistic and sometimes even naïve but this all works to their advantage. The hustler doesn’t know that they can’t do something, and that’s why they do it. Stop making excuses and start hustling.

    Trust me. It works. I needed to create a multi-million-dollar company -- and hustle did the trick.


    Three Steps to Meeting Client Needs

    I recently shared this simple formula for framing sales conversations with prospects with a company I’ve been consulting with. I think this process works well for business-to-business sales professionals, as well as business to consumer sales professionals.

    Most sales professionals understand that selling effectively requires building rapport, and establishing trust before the client will realistically consider any solutions you might propose. However, few sales professionals approach building this confidence with the prospect in an organized fashion. Moreover, in some industries where the sale cycle may be long, the contract value significant, and multiple decision-makers and influencers are involved, the situation might demand that the sales professional build relationships and awareness with many stakeholders inside the client organization. With the proper focus, this can be accomplished with ease.

    I recommend you approach the sales process by framing your overall value in three ways. That is, (1) Selling yourself, (2) Selling your company, and, (3) Selling your products, services, and capabilities.

    Selling Yourself

    We all know that a sale occurs from a combination of factors. It is not only that the product or service meets the client’s needs but that they also have confidence in the total package – the person responsible for their account and the company that is delivering the product or service. That is why hitting these three points is so crucial.

    So, what should you be saying and doing to sell yourself? And what are you selling when you sell yourself?

    There are five things I’ve found most important in Selling Yourself:

    1-Likability – you are someone that the client wants to deal with.

    2-Knowledge of the deliverable required – and the path to get there.

    3-Judgement in the process, and your skill at account management.

    4-Experience working with clients and with this need – or a similar need.

    5-Integrity – you can be trusted to do what is required, that what you say is accurate, and you are looking out for the client.

    Now there is one more thing that you are selling, when selling yourself, that is subtle, but I make sure it comes across. That is, selling yourself as someone who will follow-up until a deal is done. In doing so, you will influence the prospect’s behavior and normalize the consistent follow-up required.

    Selling Your Company

    There is lots of sameness out there, so when selling your company you are looking to make the point that your company is truly unique. Sometimes sales professionals will fixate on obvious company values such as reliability and getting the job done on budget, but these values are expected. In selling your company, you must sell:

    1. You’re a problem-solver (The obvious – and not so obvious)
    2. You’re unique: There is something, no one else can say (unique understanding of the market)
    3. You are trusted by major organizations
    4. You have accomplished major projects
    5. You are forward-thinking in a way that the client needs to be

    Selling Your Products

    Finally, you get to selling your products. And when you are selling your products remember that you are selling them as a solution to a client’s problem. That is where you should always be focused. Not on the details and attributes of your product per se, but how it meets your clients needs. I’ve found there are a few things important here:

    Experienced sales people know these steps are important. But I’ve found that even with decades of experience selling, you can forget how significant these steps are, get lazy about them, or allow pressures, fatigue, and even frustration to stop you from taking a methodical approach to selling. Remember these three steps, and you’ll find more success in your sales efforts.


    The Sweet Spot of Growth

    I’ve been involved with thousands of companies, organizations, and entities in my career. The vibrant, successful, and growing organizations have a certain feel. The stagnant, rudderless, and shrinking organizations also have a feel. Often the people inside organizations that are not growing are aware of what’s happening, but often they are not. Sometimes a lack of growth and a lack of the ingredients for growth can be seen in the attitudes, energy, and pace of the people. But you must know what to look for and pay attention to. That is one of the first things I look at when I try to help an organization become more successful; “Is there anyone engaged in the sweet spot of business growth?” Can this organization win?

    The sweet spot, a term often used in sports, is where the ball is most effectively hit. It is where the cleanest shots occur – the center of the bat or a racquet that creates the greatest impact when it meets the ball. Businesses have to find the sweet spot in their markets. That is where the organization’s capabilities, talent, and approach meet outside opportunities and then exciting things happen. You might think of the business as a bat, and the opportunity as a ball. In baseball for example if you hit the ball at the right moment, on the right section of the bat, with the right speed and strength, and angled in the right direction, you get a homerun, or as they say, you “hit it out of the park.”

    Getting to the sweet spot requires that you step up to bat, and that you swing. No swing. No hit. And one of the first things I look at is whether an organization is consistently swinging or whether most of its team members are spectators looking for someone else to step up to the plate. In business swinging means sales, marketing, and business development; with clear targets, focused and determined effort, and relentless proactivity.

    You find the sweet spot only with lots of experience in live selling situations where the stakes are high. You find this spot when you have to deliver, and you have to combine your training, conditioning, savvy, and mental toughness to get a result that you need to reward clients (in sports these are fans and sponsors) and advance. To grow as an organization, you need people who work hard enough and diligently enough on the right things to score. Without this, you will certainly lose.

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