How To Overcome The Top 10 B2B Sales Challenges

How to Overcome The Top 10 B2B Sales Challenges

 

 

The number of salespeople meeting and or exceeding sales quota is dropping each year. Why? If you were in the quality department and not sales you would find root causes. What are the top 10 root cause problems B2B salespeople face and how to you solve them?

 

Thomas Williams and Thomas Sain just released an excellent book: The Seller’s Challenge to help salespeople and sales leaders fix common sales problems.

 

Why is The Seller’s Challenge relevant to every B2B seller and their leaders?

 

Take a look at some of the common sales problems this book discusses and gives you applicable advice to solve.

 

  • What is the best way to sell multiple buyers?
  • What is the best way to research and execute a sales call that moves the sale?
  • How do I influence buyers who are strongly committed to a different course of action? (they are happy with what they have)
  • Why are y sales calls bombing and how can I fix this sales problem?
  • What is the best way to address gatekeepers?
  • Why is the status quo my #1 competitor?
  • When should I participate in an RFP?
  • Why is selling to committees so hard and what should I do?
  • What is the best way to manage price and discount demands?

 

Do I have your attention now?

 

The authors captured my attention because I frequently was asked to solve a number if not all of these sales problems in my career.

 

Not only did I find the content extremely relevant to solve seller challenges, but the way it is written is brilliant.

  • A summary of the sales challenge
  • A story to help you quickly emotionally connect to it
  • Discussion of the challenge and all the dynamics involved
  • An illustration or model to resolve the sales problem
  • A solution and best practices
  • Summary of key takeaways
  • Commitment and action steps quickly after the content for the reader to apply what they just learned
  • Chapter addendums illustrating exactly how to implement the best practices

If you are like me and have been in a sales role or leading sales teams you will agree sales has changed a great deal over the years. I find companies continue to be prisoners to outdated sales processes and they fail to identify the root cause of their sales problems they face each day. The result? Sales teams continue to fail to achieve sales and profit quotas year over year.

 

What do most sales managers recommend who have not read this book?

  • Try harder
  • Try more
  • Sign up for Sales training

Or my personal favorite: “Just make it happen!”

 

And how’s that working for you?

 

Be honest its just us…

 

I highly recommend The Seller’s Challenge as a strategy roadmap to help your sales team achieve and surpass their sales quotas by fixing some of the most common root cause problems they face in todays marketplace.

 

 

 

 

Achieve Sales Goals: Turn “Sales Rep’s” Into “Trusted Advisors”

Achieve Sales Goals: Turn “Sales Rep’s” Into “Trusted Advisors”

 

 

On average 48% of salespeople fail to achieve their sales quotas…why? The number of salespeople not achieving sales plan continues to grow year over year…why? Why do 58% of buyers surveyed share meeting with the sales rep today added no value to the buying process? We have 79% of business buyers share it’s absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson that is a trusted advisor.

 

It is time we turn “sales rep’s” into “trusted advisors “ and the book: The Trusted Advisor by David Maister gives you a roadmap to accomplish this objective.

 

The author starts the first chapter with a simple yet critical question I want you to think about.

 

“What benefits would you realize  if your customers trusted you more?”

 

Maister then goes on to share a list of benefits your company and your sales associate will realize when your buyers trust you more. There is a list of 16 benefits and below are three I have personally experienced.

 

  1. They reach out to you for advice
  2. They bring you in on more advanced strategic issues
  3. They share more information that helps you help them

 

This is not the first thought leader to discuss the importance of trust. In Stephen Covey’s book: The Speed of Trust he shares the specific financial impact to your companies’ bottom line when you have high trust.

 

Where do your salespeople fall on the client advisor relationship spectrum?

 

First we have salespeople who sell on price. It drives us nuts, we have taught them to sell based on the value our product or solution provided but the reality is they sell on price.

 

Then we have product experts, subject matter, and process experts. If a client shares a problem with them (big if) then they connect the dots to solve the problem with a product or service.

 

Next we have the subject matter expert problem solver. This type of salesperson clearly understands their customers, markets and common problems they have. They hunt for customers with those problems and help clients solve them. They are a valuable resource for their customers.

 

Last and the level very few salespeople achieve is that of the Trusted Advisor. They have product, market, and application knowledge. They also know how to help solve problems. The big difference is they also know the customers business of their business. They have a strong grasp of financial business drivers and business acumen. They ask questions and help customers find better more efficient and effective ways to run their businesses and they have a measurable impact on their customer’s bottom line.

 

This level of sales professional is seen as a trusted advisor to their customers because they use a value based sales approach.

 

As you can tell I like to share sales and marketing research findings on why buyers buy and must have in our markets of today to make buying decisions. (Sorry)

 

To paraphrase the research results from a report by The Rain Group…

 

“85% of buyers today expect salespeople to present their solution and identify the value it will bring and less than 15% of salespeople today actually meet this key buyer need.”

 

So how you feeling right now?

 

Are we hitting a little too close to home?

 

From my experience with business owners and investors they usually admit this conversation makes them feel a bit uncomfortable.

 

They know what they want: profitable repeatable growth.

 

They have invested in a sales team, marketing, operations and often product development to achieve what their shareholders want.

 

They have invested in sales training but are not seeing sales behaviors change to meet what buyers require today.

 

Quietly …on their drive home or when they are taking a shower, or if they are like me at 3:00 am a thought interrupts your peace.

 

I don’t think we will hit sales plan and I need to fix this problem

 

If you are a salesperson where do you fall in the Client Advisor Sales Spectrum? (be honest its just us)

 

How much of your day is actually spent helping your customers solving problems? If you are like most salespeople today less than 20% of your time is spent selling.

 

If you lead a sales organization where do most of your salespeople fall on this spectrum?

 

From my experience teams typically hover in and out of product experts and problem solvers. Each team has about 10% of salespeople selling based on price and they are significantly underperforming.

 

If you own a company what impact would it have to have your typically 60% of salespeople on your team who are mid-level sales performers coming in under plan every year produce the results your top 20% of sales performers produce?

 

When your team is trained to understand market problems and sell with a value based sales model they will become trusted advisors to your customers.

 

If you want (need) your salespeople to fix their sales problem of not hitting sales goal and profit objectives I highly recommend you buy the book The Trusted Advisor and follow the author’s roadmap to help your team move from “sales rep “ to “trusted advisor”.

Increase Sales Profitably: Put A Collar On Non-Selling Behaviors

Increase Sales Profitably: Put a Collar on Non-Selling Behaviors

 

 

What % of your salesperson’s time is actually spent selling today? (are you sitting down?) The average salesperson is spending less than 20% of what I call “sellable time” actually doing sales behaviors today. That’s a problem, a big sales problem we need to fix to keep our sales leaders, owners and shareholders happy. In this post we will discuss how to put a collar on non-sales behaviors.

 

Meet Duke, pictured above. He is our current Lab rescue. Our family fosters Labs, and Lab mixes for the Lake Erie Lab Rescue. (an awesome non-profit organization of people who love animals) When the rescue found Duke he was a hot mess: two ear infections, could not put weight on a hind leg, underweight by about 20 lbs., lime disease, and also anemic.

 

For the last few months we developed a plan to bring him back to health so we could find him a forever home. Our plan had very specific behaviors we executed, tracked and even logged on medical forms. We gave him various medicines and a special food. We slowly started walking him and exercising him including water therapy. We put drops in his ears and basically loved on him. He was not thrilled about all these new behaviors but is a gentle old soul and went along with it.

 

The last thing we always do before adoption is spay or neuter. The surgery went great and Duke came home. To insure the incision healed we had to make sure Duke did not bother it. We corrected him many times but his nature was to lick the incision and it started to get infected. So we collared this behavior with a cone he wears for a few weeks.

 

So what does a lab rescue with a cone collar have to do with growing your sales profitably?

 

I thought you would never ask!

 

If you want to increase your sales profitably and create sales velocity for years to come you need to reinforce the sales behaviors you have seen that drive profitable sales and collar non-selling behaviors.

 

Like what?

 

If you read my content you know I have served many companies in a variety of markets both domestic and international over the last 35 years. At the fear of sounding like an attorney, the answer to what behaviors drive profitable sales for you depends. It depends on your company, markets and what your buyer’s journey looks like. That is why we do voice of the customer work and data analysis before we develop strategies and plans.

 

If you have done your voice of the customer work you understand what your buyers want and need in their buying journey. You know their buyer personas, and the value drivers for their businesses.

 

I have worked with 1,000’s of salespeople that have been on my teams and on distributor sales teams and some of the common behaviors I have seen salespeople doing include:

 

Lead Generation

Building and leveraging relationships

Qualifying opportunities

Qualifying prospects

Qualifying leads

Follow up

Making presentations

Servicing customer needs for information on deliveries

Account management

Networking

Trade shows/ Industry conferences

Territory management

Creating monthly email newsletter blasts

Training and education

Training accounts and distributors

Handling Quality issues

Helping AR collect past due funds

Searching for content

Driving and transportation

Creating new customer target lists

Lead nurturing campaigns

Writing content for industry articles and trade publications

Weekly reports

Call reports

CRM updates

Phone calls

Emails

Social Selling

Customer visits to your plant or corporate office

Applications advice

Helping customers sort parts that may have quality issues

Visiting end users with distributors

Tracking order status

Expediting ship dates

Finding out why orders did not ship on time

Dealing with product damages that occurred in shipping

Reviewing plant inventory

Personal Social Media

Personal emails

Webinar training updates

Team sales meetings

Product demonstrations

Creating content

Working with field service to resolve customer problems

Entertaining customers

Booking hotel rooms

Booking airfare

Booking rental cars

Expense reports

Family time

Workout time

Plant tours with customers

Driving late orders to customers

Picking up material and driving to your plant to help make late order re-promises

Meeting with customer engineers and influencers

Meeting with other buyers at key accounts

Meeting with C-suite executives at key accounts

Product installation and repair

Monitoring and helping with product tests

Distributor training

Distributor management

Customer audits and assessments

Computer and IT issues

Booking advertisements

Managing point of purchase

Ordering content for customers and distributors

Company vehicle cleaning and maintenance

Ordering and stocking sales tools

Creating new sales tools

Customer events and outings

 

And you thought you had a lot to do…

 

Is it any wonder when we ask salespeople why they are not prospecting for new business at current and new accounts say it is because they are too busy?

 

Is it any surprise we find the below statistics for sales teams today?

 

The Average Salesperson spends less than 20% of their time selling today

 

30% + of time searching for sales tools (or building them and that’s really scary)

 

40%-50% administrative

 

10%+ non-selling activities

 

Multitasking decreases productivity by 20-40%

 

Workers waste an average of 40% of their workday because they have never been taught organizational skills and how to focus on behaviors that matter.

 

I have yet to meet a salesperson that is not busy. We are all hard working competitive people and the top performers are seen as strategic advisors by their customers.

 

The question becomes: is your sales team busy doing the behaviors you know drive profitable sales based on the VOC work and sales analysis data, or are they just busy?

 

Here’s the deal…some salespeople believe if they are busy they are safe. So they get real busy. How do they determine what to do? There is a high probability they are doing what their sales manager did when they were in sales. They are prisoners to an out-dated sales process…Let that sink in a minute or two.

 

“You mean to tell me my salespeople are doing the behaviors my sales team did say 20 years ago? 20 years ago before we had a customer service department, the Internet, a CRM system, a formal sales process? Before we spent all that money with the consulting firm? Before invested in new IT systems? Before we invested in a marketing department?

 

Yep!

 

Salespeople, like all of us, will gravitate to their comfort zone of behaviors they like to do. If someone has been in sales for any length of time they likely spend a great deal of time in service and relationship activities.

 

One last consideration is fear. Sales people have been managed (not led, true leaders inspire and motivate they do not use fear) by fear for years. If you are fear filled the creative and strategic part of your brain shuts off. So they do not see what behaviors drive the best results so they do what they are told and stay “busy” to feel safe. They are in fight or flight mode.

 

The shame is busy salespeople lack focus and they often experience problems and not hitting their sale numbers like 70% of the sales people and then what do you do? We put them on a PIP…performance improvement plan and share what happens if they don’t improve. Then we see behaviors that really hurt the bottom lines like unnecessary discounting, extended payment terms, promises our products and services could never meet. This results in more fear, even more busy behaviors, more stress, altercations with other departments and so it goes.

 

How do we put a collar on non-sales behaviors?

 

Do your voice of the customer work

Create buyer personas

Map buying journey and what buyers need today to make a buying decision

Mirror your sales process to the buying process 

Determine the behavior your data shows drives sales velocity today

Determine the top 5 behaviors that drive the sales you want

Train your sales leaders 

Train your sales people 

Train support departments on new sales process and how they help

Establish / reinforce service expectations for support departments

Track support indicators weekly

Create leading indicator behaviors sales must execute

Measure those behaviors

Have sales report on those behaviors weekly and in each coaching discussion

Coach those behaviors on four legged sales calls with your team

Coach sales to eliminate, put a collar on non-selling behaviors 

Inspect what you expect

Reinforce behaviors you want

 

When we implemented the above in a number of companies we experienced:

  • Sales growth exceeding 20%-40% year over year
  • Gross profit increases of 6%-10% in 18 months
  • Customer satisfaction increase
  • New business increases at current accounts
  • New customers (one company realized over 200 new large accounts in 12 months)
  • Sales close rate increases of 30%-50%
  • Improved moral inside sales team
  • Improved sales efficiency
  • Reduced cost of customer acquisition
  • Improved relationships with other departments
  • Reduced marketing expense
  • Improved engagement form entire team
  • Reduced turnover
  • Reduced recruiting expenses

 

If you want profitable sales increases you must focus your sales teams behaviors on those activities that drive the maximum return. When your sales team is aligned with what buyers have shared they need and you deliver it when they need it in their buying process your team too will experience the healthy sales results above too.

 

As for Duke, he is meeting with his new forever family today. He is happy, healthy and not only walking on his hind leg but running! He did not want to do everything we had to do get him strong and healthy but we coached and trained the behaviors that would lead to this day where he will be placed with a loving family, and put a collar on those behaviors that did not support our long term goals.

Fix Buyer Problems With Value Based Sales

Fix Buyer Problems With Value Based Sales

 

 

In my last post I shared how a Value Based Sales approach helped a marketing and positioning serve firm land a whale account. This was an example of how to sell a “to buyer”. A  “to buyer” wants to move to a future state. In this post I will share how a value based sales approach helped “away buyers”, buyers who want to move away from pain and how it resulted in a $38 million sales increase in just 18 months.

As we meet with buyers we need to quickly determine if they are a “to buyer” or an “away buyer”.

A “too buyer” wants to improve something, wants to be innovative and has an emotional attachment to a future state. As a salesperson our job to create a value based sales proposal to help them get to this desired future state. In my last post I shared how we helped a client enter a new market and increase incremental sales and profits.

The other type of buyer is the “away buyer”. An away buyer wants to avoid risk, pain if you will. They are singularly focused on moving away from current problems and avoiding future ones. As a salesperson once we clearly understand what they want to avoid it is our job to create a value based sales proposal that helps them move away from problems.

In the 1990’s I was the VP of sales and marketing for Alpha Enterprises Inc. We were a plastics injection molding company that provided plastic packaging and mechanical security devices for the music retail industry. (you know those plastic boxes and devices that have to be removed at the checkout counter? That was us)

In the mid 1990’s the music industry experienced a significant shift in how music on compact discs were going to be packaged. Prior to this time music on compact discs were distributed to music stores and other mass merchants in a 12” cardboard package. This cardboard package was designed to easily fit in what were once record album fixtures. This original packaging also added size to the compact disc jewel case to prevent and or slow down retail theft. Alpha Enterprises manufactures mechanical security devices in plastic for audiotapes and videos at the time. We had a design for a compact disc package, but we had very little sales prior to this market-packaging shift.

Recognizing this large shift in how compact disc music was going to be distributed, we hit the road meeting with as many music retailers, mass merchants and other companies that provided music to locations like book stores and so on and did voice of the customer research.

In our meetings we discovered a number of people in each organization that influenced the purchase of mechanical security products:

 

Merchandising

 

Loss prevention

 

Store design

 

Purchasing

 

Operations

 

We met with purchasing and all the other people who helped influenced the purchases.

 

We found each influencer was also primarily concerned with theft, since compact discs could easily be hidden in someone’s clothing. We also found each influencer had specific requirements and criteria they were looking for as well as pain and problems they needed to avoid.

 

For example: Loss prevention’ main goal was protect the small CD packages in some way to reduce theft and if possible help them reuse security tags that were costing them 6-11 cents per purchase.

 

Purchasing at mass merchants and music stores wanted devices that protected their product at the lowest cost. (and that was not us) They told us they did not have budget to buy loss prevention Keepers.

 

We took a value based sales approach to fix this sales problem.

 

Value based sales is about understanding the business of your customer’s business so we asked a lot of questions:

 

On average how many compact discs do you plan to merchandise per store?

100,000

 

What is your current loss due to theft for audiotapes and videos that have no security protection?

About 15% without a security package but we expect CD’s could be as high as 25%

 

We have heard some theft is internal, other words your employees, and do you have an estimate for those occurrences?

Yes about 2%-3%

 

One solution is to lock the entire product offering behind glass. Have you studied the impact on sales for product displayed live verse behind glass?

Yes, sales increase over 70% if product is merchandised live

 

Talk to me about those security tags you buy. What one do you use, why, and how do customers defeat them?

We use this brand and the customers defeat them by pealing them off or deactivating them.

 

And every security tag is deactivated at check out and leaves with the purchased product?

Yes

 

If I might ask, what do those little security tags cost you?

I won’t give you my exact cost but lets say around 6-11 cents

 

Help me understand your inventory turns how many turns do you want, do you see today?

They shared this number

 

We took all their data and created a value based sales proposal that included risk dollars based on their own numbers. And cost dollars of security tags.

 

We calculated the cost of security tags based on inventory and anticipated turns and shared that number.

 

Then we shared our hypothesis, a creative business idea as their business partner helping to solve this huge risk they wanted to avoid.

 

We created spreadsheets for buyers to plug in their actual numbers in each field to calculate their projected losses and some of those meetings became emotional. (this tool helped establish the cost of doing nothing)

 

Then we shared what we learned in our VOC work and how we redesigned our product to protect and reuse security tags as well as the compact discs.

 

We shared the test results other retailers like them experienced when using our devices and how it drove down their theft %’s.

 

Our buyers to win budget internally to fund our product purchases used our spreadsheets. Our presentations demonstrated the ROI for purchasing our products and it was often a 100% pay back within months.

 

When our competitor mass mailed a sample and a cover letter bound with a rubber band (really, I saw their direct mails on buyers” desks), we spent the time clearly understanding the pain this market shift would cause and the businesses of our customer’s business.

 

What was the result of gathering the “Voice of the customer”?

 

What was the sales growth impact from creating a value based sales proposal and not just selling on price?

 

We experienced a $38 million dollar sales increase in 18 months!

 

Or to put it another way: Market Dominance!

 

What happened next was even more fun.

 

Retailers started calling us because we did such a good job with music CD’s to solve other high theft problems. They shared other products they wanted to see 70% sales increase for but are behind glass but they wanted out live. They shared items in their store that had high theft rates that they needed to lower.

 

 

Large companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, and so on heard about us and asked to meet to understand how our products could increase sales for their retailers.

 

 

This led to many successful new product launches. Eventually this division was acquired by one of the world’s leading security tag manufactures at a high multiple and is thriving today with products.

 

Why?

 

We listened to our customers.

 

We qualified their fear and risk into real $’s.

 

We spoke the language of their business: sales, profits, ROI, inventory turns, shrink (how they described theft)

 

We had business discussions about how our products could impact their sales, reduce theft, reduce the cost of labels and increase net income. (Create value)

 

We showed them how to avoid a problem and pain.

 

After the sale we quantified value.( shared the impact of their purchase decision)

 

We did not “sell” our customers we “helped” them.

 

So how about your company….

 

Do you understand the voice of your customers today? Are you Sure?

 

Is someone on your team asking questions and listening for buyer pain? Who?

 

Have you turned the buying process into a value based business discussion and share how you can impact their bottom line?

 

Do your salespeople understand how to help “to buyers” and “away buyers”?

 

What sales tools have you provided for each buyer type?

 

What impact would an incremental $38 million sales increase have on your bottom line with high gross margins?

 

What shifts are your markets experiencing right now or in the future you can help solve?

 

What if your largest competitor is doing this process right now? (Ouch now that you’re your attention)

 

 

PLEASE take the time and dedicate the resources to clearly understanding what your buyers want and need to buy today, and the process they use. Once you do.

 

PLEASE create a repeatable sales process that mirrors what your buyers want and need to buy today.

 

The above is a value based No Smoke and Mirrors process I have used for over 35 years and it has always driven profitable sales growth. When one client converted to a value based sales approach their close rates went from 42% to over 80% in 18 months.

 

What impact would it have on your bottom line if your sales close rate were over 80% with profitable sales?

 

This strategic business development process always ends with a value based sales proposal and we discuss how what we are selling solves their pain and problem and we connect the dots to how what we are selling impacts their bottom line.

 

Do not “sell” buyers I “serve” them buy with a value based sales methodology!

 

 

Fix A $75 Billion Sales Problem: Product Launch

Fix a $75 Billion Sales Problem: Product Launch

 

 

 

 

Why are we consistently missing our ROI targets for new product and market launches? Why can’t salespeople help us launch into new markets? Why can’t salespeople sell new products? These are just a few of the questions I have heard over the last 30+ years. Yes you heard me correctly this sales problem of new product and new market launch has been around a long time. I wanted to help solve this common sales problem so I called the top expert in product launch: David Daniels and he agreed to an interview. David and I worked together in the past and he has helped many companies like HP, VMware, Dell, Schneider Electric, and Optum, and NetApp: I was particularly interested in how product launch techniques in the fast-pace technology world could apply to manufacturing companies.

 

Hi Dave, let’s start by getting an idea of how big the problem of launching products is in general.

 

Hi Mark, I like to look at the problem as quantitatively as possibly. Unfortunately, there isn’t any single organization tracking the impact of failed product launches. I did some research and extrapolated a financial impact.

 

Clayton Christensen from Harvard estimates there are 30,000 new products introduced each year. He also estimates there is an 80% failure rate of those new products. I’ve seen these numbers thrown around and I can’t confirm their accuracy, but I trust the work of Clayton Christensen.

 

The failure rates seem high to me too. Is there any more data available?

 

As a matter of fact, there is. There are estimates that the average cost to introduce a new product is $5 million. That includes the cost to design, build, and launch it. Another group, the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), has more conservative numbers. They estimate the failure rate of product launches to be between 35% and 49%. These failure rates seem more rational, and they break it down by industry.

 

Assuming 30,000 new products, a 50% failure rate, and $5 million to introduce a new product we can do some basic math to find how much failed product launches cost organizations worldwide…

 

30,000 x .50 x 5,000,000 = $75 billion sales problem

 

$75 billion sales problem. That’s huge. Let’s say I’m off by 50%. That’s still an $37.5 billion problem.

 

Wow that is a huge problem negatively impacting sales and ultimately the bottom line.

 

Exactly. But I want to point out that the definition of “fail” isn’t consistently defined. There aren’t 30,000 complete flops every year (as in selling zero products). There are 30,000 new products that don’t achieve their business objectives and ROI targets. Selling a few products to a few customers can be worse than not selling any at all.

 

Why is that David?

 

It looks attractive at first, but when you look at the long-term cost to support customers, the numbers can get ugly. Many companies double-down too. They want to believe they have the right product, at the right time, and continue to throw money down the drain.

 

In the world of software it seems companies can absorb failed product launch. For manufactures the cost is very real. How would you apply your technology experience to the manufacturing world?

 

You’re right. Software companies don’t have inventory. The variable cost to deliver the next product to a customer is nearly zero. The stakes are much higher for manufacturers who have to inventory raw materials, design, build molds, manufacture the product, inventory products, and ship them. The work to identify a market need has to be every bit as rigorous for manufacturers as it is in tech.

 

What advice from the technology world would to give to CEOs in manufacturing companies?

 

First, the world of technology functions around disruption. It’s able to do that much more nimbly than manufacturers. From a technology perspective many innovations from manufacturers would be viewed as incremental improvements by comparison. But the stakes are just as high.

 

The key to successfully launching a new product (or launching an existing product into a new market) is to quantify, quantify, quantify. The level of work is commensurate with the level of risk you’re willing to accept. If the cost of a launch failure can easily be absorbed, less quantification is needed. If the cost of a launch failure is high, more quantification is needed.

 

What, exactly, do you mean by ‘quantify’?

 

I mean to really understand what you’re about to get into and have a good idea of the barriers to success. Here are some questions you should ask your team:

 

How many potential customers are there for the new product?

 

Who are the buyers involved in making a purchase decision?

 

Do we have access to those buyers?

 

Will those buyers trust us? Will we need to build our credibility?

 

Do we have expertise in this market segment?

 

Those are great questions! I have seen over the years many companies launch before doing the market work, I even coined a term for it: ”Mullet Marketing”. Teams spend way too little time in the front in marketing research ,building sales tools, and training their sakes managers and sales teams but once the product is launched, it’s all hands-on deck to figure out why we are not hitting our launch ROI targets. Its as if you are wiring a house with the power on and getting zapped all the time.When your team has not completed the strategic upfront marketing work, as a salesperson the new launch feels like we are pushing mud uphill. I can’t tell you how many times my teams were told to ” just make it happen“.

 

Yes, I remember when you wrote that article about “Mullet Marketing” it resonated with a number of people in my community. What you are describing is unfortunately happening right now at a number of companies. They launched a new product or service, had very high expectations for sales and ultimately the impact it would have on their bottom line, and their launch was not successful. This is when a number of companies bring me in to help. After their sales teams have been ‘Zapped” a few times as you put it, new product , new market launches are in real danger of missing their ROI’S.

 

I wish they would bring me in much earlier, before the millions and millions are spent on launch assets. I have a Launch Diagnostic Process I have used for over 20 years and I can tell you before a launch what is needed to assure the launch meets the ROI targets.

 

Obviously that’s what so many companies pay you to fix: product launch sales, launch into new markets. Can you share maybe some high level steps in your process?

 

Yes, I have a Launch Process I have refined over the years and I have taught for over 20 years. From a 45,000 ft view it looks like this:

 

First and foremost: Have you defined the goals of the launch and do you have a way to track progress toward the goals? Our initial reaction is to focus only on a sales number but there are many supporting metrics that lead to a sale. If you don’t have a defined goal how do you know you will get there? This is what I ask first. I usually get blank stares.

 

For example, if the launch goal is to get $100 million in sales, I want to know WHEN we will hit the goal. If it’s open-ended there’s not much sense of urgency except from the sales team. I also want to know what it will take to reach the goal. What resources are needed? How long is the sales cycle? What is the expected close rate? How deep of a pipeline is needed?

 

Next, I assess the risk of one of 7 launch choices a company will make:

  • Launch a new product into a familiar market (medium risk)
  • Launch a new product into a new (unfamiliar) market (high risk)
  • Launch a new product into a new product category (highest risk)
  • Launch a version of an existing product into a familiar market (low risk)
  • Launch a version of an existing product into a new (unfamiliar) market (medium risk)
  • Launch a complement into a familiar market (low risk)
  • Launch a complement into a new (unfamiliar) market (medium risk)

 

By ‘complement’ I mean a product or service that adds to or enhances an existing offering.

 

You would think that the decision of which path to take would be made BEFORE the product was designed, but I’ve seen too many times where that isn’t the case.

 

Next, I look for an understanding of the problem a potential buyer actually has. In particular, I want to see if the company has actually quantified the impact of the problem and to whom. It’s easy to rationalize internally that a problem exists. It always exists on a PowerPoint slide. I want to know if the problem has been quantified and there’s data from the market to support it.

 

There are more steps below 45,000 feet, but the three steps above should be enough for any executive to get uncomfortable if they don’t have answers to those questions.

 

What is the current reality? What have you learned so far?

 

What did you plan to happen? What has actually happened?

 

What is the Delta? The launch sales gap?

 

What unresolved market problem does your new product or service solve?

 

Who has those problems?

 

Do they have budget to solve those problems?

 

Are they willing to use their budget to solve those problems?

 

What is your value proposition?

 

Is that proposition resonating with your targeted customers? Why, Why not?

 

Conduct voice of the customer work.

 

Write a Launch Plan that achieves ROI expectations.

 

Work with Marketing to create the sales tools to support launch.

 

Train sales managers about and when to use these sales tools.

 

Train sales team about and when to use these sales tools.

 

Constantly listen to your target customers and use an Agile process to adjust and refine.

 

Thank you David for helping us quantify how big a problem new product and new market launches are. As you shared you have over 30 years experience in the tech market. I am confident your product and new market launch process will have a huge impact with manufacturing companies. The market I have served is the manufacturing market and what I have seen is new product launch and new market launch is a much larger problem due to sunk costs that you indicated earlier. I believe the $5 million estimate is conservative in the manufacturing world when we consider tooling, equipment, time of engineers, inventory, building sales assests, sales training and the possible brand damage when a launch goes bad.

 

If someone is reading this and wants to connect with you, learn more about your services, how can they reach you?

 

My web site is : BrainKraft.com (with a ‘K’)

My email is : daviddaniels @ brainkraft dot com

My contact phone is : 205-677-8120

If your readers want to read more of my advice and experience with strategic product launches that drive a positive impact to your bottom line they can subscribe to my blog :

BrainKraft.com/blog

 

Thank you David for your thought leadership in Strategic New Product, New Market Launch.

 

David also has excellent short video trainings that can be found here.

 

 

 

Are You A Prisoner To An Out Dated Sales Process? Break Free With VOC And Sales Enablement

Are you a Prisoner to an Out dated Sales Process? Break Free with VOC and Sales Enablement

 

 

In my last post I shared how to determine if your sales team is following an out dated sales process. If your team is experiencing declining sales, lower profit per sale, losing orders you should have won and a decline in your sales close % you have a out dated sales process. If your sales team can’t seem to open new markets or sell new products you have an outdated sales process. In this post I share how you can stop being a prisoner to an out dated sales process and break free of poor sales results.

The first step in solving any problem is clearly defining the issues and impacts or as I like to say: “ throwing the skunk on the table”.

Sales is a changing process in today’s markets and we must constantly be sensing those changes and adjusting to them.

Some sales problems sales teams are experiencing today include:

  • Buyers going dark, you thought you had good sales meetings and now no feedback
  • Longer sales process from first meeting to close
  • More influencers involved in purchase decisions
  • Gross margin per sale declining
  • More competitors
  • Strong price pressure
  • Buyers commoditizing products and services
  • Up to 70% of buying journey is over before buyers speak with a salesperson
  • Buyers choosing to do nothing
  • Buyers choosing to solve their needs internally
  • Difficulty in having discussions with buyers
  • Faster service requirements
  • Buyers wanting JIT and not large stocking orders
  • Buyers needing 100% on time delivery
  • Higher quality expectation
  • Real time conversations – wanting answers now when they have them, immediate response

The above are some challenges sales teams are facing with buyers today and there are many more.

When sales, marketing, customer service, Hr and operations align sales teams break free of the above sales problems and win more business.

The trouble is sales and marketing are often not working strategically together and this leaves them both in a prison of their own making.

Are you familiar with what is referred to as : The Prisoner’s Dilemma ?

I found the below explanation on Wikipedia in case this is new to you.

 

The prisoner’s dilemma is a standard example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two completely “rational” individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence rewards and named it, “prisoner’s dilemma”

Two members of a criminal gang are arrested and imprisoned. Each prisoner is in solitary confinement with no means of communicating with the other. The prosecutors lack sufficient evidence to convict the pair on the principal charge. They hope to get both sentenced to a year in prison on a lesser charge. Simultaneously, the prosecutors offer each prisoner a bargain. Each prisoner is given the opportunity either to: betray the other by testifying that the other committed the crime, or to cooperate with the other by remaining silent.

The offer is:

  • If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison
  • If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa)
  • If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge)

It is implied that the prisoners will have no opportunity to reward or punish their partner other than the prison sentences they get, and that their decision will not affect their reputation in the future. Because betraying a partner offers a greater reward than cooperating with them, all purely rational self-interested prisoners would betray the other, and so the only possible outcome for two purely rational prisoners is for them to betray each other.[1] The interesting part of this result is that pursuing individual reward logically leads both of the prisoners to betray, when they would get a better reward if they both kept silent. In reality, humans display a systemic bias towards cooperative behavior in this and similar games, much more so than predicted by simple models of “rational” self-interested action.[2][3][4][5] A model based on a different kind of rationality, where people forecast how the game would be played if they formed coalitions and then maximized their forecasts, has been shown to make better predictions of the rate of cooperation in this and similar games, given only the payoffs of the game.[6]

So what does the “prisoners dilemma” have to do with fixing the above sales problems teams are facing today?

A great deal!

When I helped sales and marketing teams in the past, I always heard the same things…

Marketing would share…

  • Sales is a bunch of “prima donna’s” and they want everything served to them spoon fed on a silver platter
  • Sales has no appreciation for marketing
  • We spend so much time and money creating sales tools and we latter find no one is using them
  • I can’t produce great content if I don’t know what’s going on in the market and sales will not take me on calls
  • We give sales leads and they can’t close them
  • We are crushing our leads generated goals but sales can’t seem to close them
  • Why can’t sales sell new products?
  • Why can’t sales sell more of what we have?
  • Why can’t sales win new business in new markets we identified?

Sales would also say….

  • Marketing has no idea what its really like out here..Selling today
  • Marketing spends all this time and money on new brochures and new sell sheets but they are all ”company speak” I can’t use them.
  • Marketing feels so distant from what is really going on out here today its like they think our customers are like they were 10 years ago
  • Marketing gives me “lists” not “leads” ( there’s a big difference) to chase and they are worthless. It takes time to follow up on each and none of them are actually leads.
  • My buyers say they can’t find what they need on our web site
  • I can’t find the sales tools I need quickly in our system
  • We have the worst web site in our industry
  • I spend more time building sales tool than selling anymore
  • if our product had just one more feature I could sell it
  • Marketing launches this new product, or asks us to open new markets but we don’t have the tools to do so

 

The Prisoners Dilemma…instead of working together many teams choose to stay in a poor performance prison for years to come.They betray each other and in the process lengthens  their time in poor results prison.

 

What if Marketing and Sales would stop complaining about each other and defending their silos and work together? If they did they can both break free from the prison of poor performance metrics and in about 8-12 months be free to be the market leaders they were meant to be.

How do sales and marketing teams break free?

Voice of the customer 

Sales Enablement

 

Since I have shared close to 20 articles on the voice of the customer and shared the financial the impact this work has on sales and bottom line, in this post I will discuss the power of sales enablement.

What is Sales Enablement?

 

Lets quickly review 5 definitions…

 

A strategic, cross-functional discipline designed to increase sales results and productivity by providing integrated content, training and coaching services for salespeople and front-line sales managers along the entire customer’s buying journey, powered by technology.

Brain shark 

Sales enablement is the technology, processes, and content that empowers sales teams to sell efficiently at a higher velocity..

Hubspot

“Aligning marketing processes and goals, and then arming sales with tools to improve sales execution and drive revenue.” 

 The Pedowitz Group

Sales enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content, and tools that help sales people sell more effectively.

TOPO Blog

Sales enablement is a strategic, ongoing process that equips sales teams to have consistently effective engagements with prospects and customers throughout the buyer’s journey.”  – Highspot

From my experience, Sales Enablement is about intimately knowing how your buyers buy today and what they need to buy today. Secondly it’s about having the right content at the right time in the buying journey, in the right format that helps your buyers buy. Sales enablement is about teaching your salespeople a sales process that mirrors how buyers are buying. It is about serving your customers .It is about training and coaching salespeople on what you have, where they can find it and when they should use it.

How about your sales and marketing teams?

Are your teams hitting “their goals” but your overall company is losing?

Do you have a sales enablement? How is it working?

Is there any reason why sales enablement would not work in your sales and marketing efforts’?

When sales and marketing teams start working together strategically with voice of the customer and sales enablement, sales and profits increase, new products achieve ROI targets and customer satisfaction scores climb. Sales becomes less of an art and more of a science. 

In future posts we will unpack sales enablement and how you can use sales enablement to break free from a prison of outdated sales processes and grow sales profitably.

 

 

Increase Sales: Help Your Salespeople Become “Rejection Proof”

Increase Sales: Help your salespeople become “Rejection Proof”

 

 

 

Why do some salespeople consistently achieve their sales growth goals while most (60%)struggles? How do we fix this common sales problem? We must help our salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and become Rejection Proof”.

 

Your salespeople have their sales goals. You shared what you expect in terms of growth from current business and identified the delta. The delta is the difference between the new sales goal and what your current business should do. I refer to this delta as: New Business Needed.

 

Most sales teams will have a big sales problem in November…it will be obvious they will not achieve the New Business Needed part of their sales plan and they will come in around 78%-90% of their sales plan.

 

Why?

 

The most common reasons I have observed over the past 30+ years of leading and coaching sales teams are …

 

A Dated Value Proposition 

 

Do not understand their market and buyers today 

 

Fear of Rejection

 

I have shared in a number of posts how to fix the sales problem of dated value propositions and in others posts how to quickly understand your markets.

In this post I will share how to help your salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and become rejection proof.

 

What is rejection and why do we all try to avoid it at all cost?

 

Rejection occurs when people interact and one says “no” and refuses to act on something that was asked. Rejection is a moment in time judgment made based on a number of factors most people do not realize…

 

Immediate need

Perceived value

Historical Experiences

Cultural differences

Psychological factors

Emotion

Risk tolerance

 

From my experience salespeople experience rejection when the buyer decides, based on what they have been presented and what they believe to be true, they do not trust the product or service will solve a problem or need. Or the buyer fails to have the problem the product or service solves and that is the sales problem of properly qualifying opportunities.

 

At this point in my sales career rejection does not scare me. A “no” just means “not yet” but it took me years to get to this point.

 

I do not own rejection and I do not see it as some badge or scar I need to carry with me and worry that others see it. I see rejection for what it is: a judgment based on information at that moment in time.

 

As I shared in a recent sales conference…

 

Rejection is a moment in time occurrence based on the information at that time… not a painful stain on your soul…once we see it for what it is we can stop being afraid of it”

 

The trouble is as humans we seek acceptance and approval from other people. Couple our deep need for acceptance in our DNA with the needs for safety and comfort and we should not be shocked salespeople avoid asking for the sale due to the fear of rejection. If we feel rejection and not observe it as a judgment we fail to feel safe.

 

How do we help salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and ask for the new business we need?

 

How can we teach salespeople to become rejection proof early in their careers and not wait 20+ years until they see rejection for what it is?

 

I was preparing a workshop to help salespeople overcome the fear of rejection and a friend suggested I should look into the work of Jia Jiang and watch his TED Talk. He has a number of very popular you tubes on rejection and a book titled: Rejection Proof, how to beat fear and become invincible through 100 days of rejection.

 

 

The book: Rejection Proof should be in everyone’s library, particularly sales and sales leaders.

 

The author shares how he set out on a quest to overcome his fear of rejection by purposefully experiencing 100 rejections over 100 days.

 

It is a fun and quick book to read.

 

The examples he shares have a great deal of humor like asking for a burger refill at his favorite hamburger joint.

 

What I found fascinating though is not everyone said “no” to some of his crazy requests like asking Krispy Kreme donuts to make him a donut shaped like the Olympic rings. The store manager not only made one for him but she gave it to him for free!

 

This made me wonder…

 

How many sales could have been won if the salesperson would have asked for the sale and not feared rejection?

 

I led the class on rejection, specifically overcoming rejection and I suggested everyone check out Jia Jiang’s You-Tubes and read his book.

 

What happened next I did not expect…

 

  • One person shared how he was at his fitness club and tried to be rejected by asking for a free massage…they gave it to him!
  • Another shared how he was in a long line at Chipotle, and asked for free chips for his inconvenience…they gave it to him!
  • Another boldly asked to drive my 1972 Corvette, a car that was my dad’s…I said “sure, its just a car
  • Some heard very loud “No’s” like the young man who asked for an attractive young girls phone number while she was sitting with her date (not one I would coach you to try)
  • Or the young man who asked for a “good guy discount” at an auto parts store. The clerk said “ a what?” The young man said I am a good guy and would like your good guy discount… he was rejected!

 

Could it be one reason why top sales performers consistently achieve and surpass their sales and profit goals is because they have had so many rejections they too have become Rejection Proof? I believe it is.

 

I look back over my career calling on customers like: Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, CAT, Blockbuster Cummins Engines, Sony Music, Ford, Nintendo, CA, Microsoft and many more…and I received many more rejections than purchase orders. Those rejections over 30+ years made me rejection proof today.

 

What if we strategically insure our sales teams receive many rejections early in their careers and actually made it an application exercise in their training?

 

If you do…you will have a team of sales super stars blowing their sales goals out of the water!

 

If you need to fix a sales problem, the fear of rejection, I recommend you ask your team to read Rejection Proof and have them set out on a quest of their own to receive 100 rejections as fast as possible.

How about your team….

Are your salespeople losing sales they could have won simply by asking?

What impact would it have your your bottom line if your sales team was rejection proof?

 

Fix Sales Problems With Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Fix Sales Problems With Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

 

 

 

 

A few Salespeople have “IT”. They all need “IT” to achieve their sales numbers. ..What is “IT”? In this post I will discuss Emotional Intelligence and the role it plays in helping our salespeople achieve their profitable sales growth objectives. In the book:  Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal by Jeb Blount

Leading and coaching salespeople you find some salespeople just have “it” and some do not. It’s hard to describe. It is more of a feeling than a word you can use to describe it…at least until now.

For years I have assumed it was experience, product knowledge, sales skills, personality, communication and presentation skills but they just did not completely cover what I was experiencing. What I was seeing is called Emotional Intelligence.

I shared another book on this topic some time ago: Emotional Intelligence for Sales Success by Colleen Stanley.

In that post I shared Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include 3 skills:

  1. Emotional awareness, including the ability to identify your own emotions and those of others;
  2. The ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problems solving;
  3. The ability to manage emotions, including the ability to regulate your own emotions, and the ability to cheer up or calm down another person.

So the topic of Emotional Intelligence is not new. Solvey and Mayer first introduced it in 1990. However it really did not pick up steam until Daniel Goleman a Harvard trained psychologist wrote an article in 1995 for the New York Times about his book: Emotional Intelligence.

To add to this discussion I just competed an excellent book by Jeb Blount titled: Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal . Like the other books mentioned this book is a must have in every sales leaders library. Why? Why this book now you might ask? The short answer is to adapt to a shift that has occurred in “power” during a sale.

The author shares…

“ Technology has disrupted the traditional sales process by giving buyers unprecedented access to product and industry information, more control over the sales process, and more choices of products and vendorsTo differentiate yourself from competitors and hold the short-lived attention of buyers, you need to be a master of emotions, interpersonal skills, influence frameworks and human relationships ”

–       Jeb Blount

For years I have helped companies Fix Sales Problems.  Many companies believe if we just train our people in products, markets and selling skills we will achieve our profitable sales growth goals. However what they all were missing is something that was often a disruption for their leaders to hear:

Buyers buy with emotion and justify their decisions with data

Let that sink in a minute….

So we have been training salespeople for years…in my case over 30 years in product features and benefits, sales processes, closing techniques, how to overcome objections, the challenger model, the sales consultant model, value based selling…and the list goes on but how many of us work on the Emotional Intelligence of our salespeople? Not many I am afraid.

Jeb Blount captures this later in the book…

Managing disruptive emotions is the primary meta-skill of sales. The combination of situational awareness and the ability to consistently regulate disruptive emotions is what puts ultra-high performers on a pedestal above average salespeople….We know that the buyer’s emotional experience along with the buying journey has as much( or more) impact on their propensity to buy from you as anything else…the paradox of emotions is that the same time they are your most powerful ally they’re also your greatest enemy

Let me share a real example ( from my youth)  where I blew it and I hope helps bring the importance of emotional intelligence home.

It was early in the 1990’s and I was leading the retail division of a plastics packaging company. We made retail loss prevention devices to prevent the theft of music and we made video storage packaging for video rental. The video rental market had shifted and we introduced a new product to meet that need I branded: The Squeeze Box. The name described how it worked…you squeezed the bottom of the plastic storage box and the video tape would slide out. I named it that after the song,..mama’s got a squeeze box..but changed the lyrics ..and my competitors can’t sleep at night.

The industry was so excited about this new product we could not make them fast enough. One mold became two, two became four and the demand kept growing. It was an exciting time and did I mention it was also the most profitable product we were selling? We priced it based on the value it gave the end customers not our costs.  Because of the high demand we used this product to gain share leveraging availability based on buyers giving us more of their base business our main competitors owned.

One of my largest accounts was a distributor in Iowa, who was later acquired by Ingram Entertainment. I had a great relationship with this account, its executive team and the buyer. The buyer helped me in the gathering of requirements for this new product design and in our market verification. I helped them use this innovative new product to land large video retailers and some targeted grocery accounts they always wanted. A real win-win relationship.

I was calling on the buyer and he said: “Mark, I am moving to a new division and I would like you to meet Frank (not his real name) he comes from purchasing in our electronic accessories business and has made quite a name for himself here …”

He walked me to Frank’s office and we were introduced. Frank was very rude with my past buyer, almost dismissing him. I sat down to start trying to understand his needs and goals and he quickly said: “what are you doing, I don’t meet with salespeople in my office , this is where I get work done, go find a conference room and we will meet there

Huh?

You heard me, I am a busy guy, I manage millions of dollars of inventory and its time someone whipped you and your company into shape. “

I connected with the executive assistant for all the buyers who had become a friend over the years and asked for an open meeting room. She said: I suppose it is for a meeting with Frank? Sorry you got him Mark he’s kind of a jerk but quite the climber around here” (and she rolled her eyes.)

Frank came in, sat at the head of the table as I guessed he would and started…

I understand we are your largest distributor in this space.

My guess is you use my volume to be competitive with many people in this market?

To increase the sales of your products we need to increase the advertising allowance and we will not be providing you proof of ads as we have been doing. I have done this for 5 years and I know what I am doing.

I see you have been winning more and more of our overall category purchase dollars? …That ends today.

The last buyer was way too easy on his vendors, …I am not.

Your prices are too high and must be reduced immediately and I expect an adjustment for the entire inventory we have on hand. Here’s a report of our current inventory. I need to see the credit transaction in the next 5 days.

As a salesperson you probably do not understand the business we are in and I would not expect you to. Just give me what I need and we will get along just fine. Make me look bad and I will make you pay.

I hear you have a hot innovative product called a Squeeze box? We need an exclusive on it and we will sell it to our competitors.

The rep for your competitor is a golf buddy of mine and his line of plastic boxes comes from a much bigger and more impressive company than your little Ohio company.

Who are your large video chains buying this now direct? That is going to end and you will send them through us too.

The Squeeze box is twice as expensive as the other boxes we buy from you. I weighed it and it’s actually lighter than the other products you sell for ½ the price…you need to drop our price at least 30% immediately. I will not be a push over buyer like my predecessor (your buddy) .

I understand you have independent sales reps calling on all my locations? That stops today and I want their compensation paid back to us as a 5% year-end rebate.

If you do not have to power or you are not smart enough to understand what I am asking for give me the owner of your companies’ name and office number….tell you what… just give me his name I can tell you do not understand strategy…

Well?

( my blood was boiling)

I shared how we have grown with his company based on service and training his salespeople how to sell our products. I personally trained his telemarketers every quarter and his field salespeople. I shared the issues we helped his company with like; on time delivery, just in time inventory, new products we developed for them, training his salespeople, helping his people close large accounts and so on.

I shared I heard each of his requests…and was about to answer them one by one….

“Oh, you think these were “requests” do you? ( he stood up and slammed his hands onto the conference table) No.., you will do what I told you to do or you and I will have a problem, or don’t you understand this?”

You are going to do this right? You want our business right?

 

No!!! (I stood up nose to nose with him and I lost my temper).

How I was feeling inside was like I was in another street fight with a bully. I shared we do not do business this way, we value working with his company because they shared the same values and ethics as our company and I would like to speak with Earl, his boss now, who I have known for years, had dinner at his home,  so we can work this out.

 

Get the F@#ck out of here!… and don’t come back until you give me what I want,… if you call Earl …your sales here are over, do you understand?

 

As I left the meeting room I passed a number of people who obviously heard our heated exchange. I was angry, confused, surprised …and now worried how I will explain this to the president of our company.( dead man walking)

 

Why did this meeting go so bad?

Why did this new punk get to me so much?

 

Working with a coach later in my career , and receiving training and coaching I discovered my emotional triggers are:

 

  • Bully me

 

  • Bully someone who cannot defend themselves or are not there to defend themselves

 

  • Threaten me …fine no big deal, my family? My company? Or someone I care about…game on!

 

  • Treat me like I am stupid, inferior mentally

 

What Frank did in our first meeting was pretty much trigger all my emotional hot spots I was not aware I had at the time. This resulted in a reflex response of threatening him back by bringing the merchandise manager (his boss) into the equation. My voice became louder and my tone became attacking to mirror his. My face became red and the veins in my throat and forehead were enlarged. My physical size was much bigger than Frank so when he stood I stood nose to nose so to speak …all the things I did, I did not think about, they happened as a reflex like when the doctor taps your knee with the rubber hammer at a checkup.

 

I can vividly still remember this meeting as if it were yesterday.

 

Why?

 

Emotion!

 

I let the meeting get personal to me and I reacted with reflex and not strategy.

Frank made our company pay for about 6 months with significantly less orders.

Eventually Earl heard about how I was treated and intervened but Frank and I were never friends. He lasted about 2 more years and was let go. Who was the new buyer? My friend the administrative assistant who rolled her eyes when she booked the meeting room with Frank. She said I was one of the few “Factory Guys” who treated her with respect over the years and would appreciate me helping her be successful in her new role. As the years went by we grew to be a preferred vendor, and won almost all of their purchase dollars in our category.

Your salespeople will be in negotiations that build to red-faced moments.

Are they prepared?

The great news is Emotional Intelligence can be a learned skill and this book : Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal by Jeb Blount will help sales leaders and salespeople understand and leverage Emotional Intelligence.

Salespeople who are trained in Emotional Intelligence sell more at higher profits.

Leaders with high Emotional intelligence drive stronger team performance and are more resilient team members as the US Army found in their studies.

I highly recommend everyone add this book to your business libraries and apply the author’s practical advice.

Are your salespeople emotionally intelligent?

Are you losing sales you could have won with Emotional Intelligence training?

Is there a reason you might not want your salespeople trained in EQ?

As the number of competitors grows and buyers push to commoditize products and service, how your team sells can be your market differentiation.

Buyers today are hungry for authentic knowledgeable salespeople who have a strong EQ so working together you can work through those red-faced moments in negotiations.

I just met with an interviewed a senior level purchasing director with over 35 years of experience on the other side of the desk in a sale. In my next few posts I will share the strategies he teaches buyers to use to disrupt salespeople’s emotions to win lower prices, better service and a number of free services that companies typically charge for.

 

 

 

 

 

Fix Sales Problems: Wear Hats Not Masks Leading Your Sales Team

Fix Sales Problems: Wear Hats Not Masks Leading Your Sales Team

 

 

 

 

As I shared in my post: “ Congratulations you have been promoted to sales manager…now what?” leading sales teams requires new skills you may not have acquired as a sales super star performer. Just because you were an amazing salesperson does not mean you will be a top performing sales leader. A common mistake new managers make is they put on masks of who they think they need to be to effectively lead their sales team. In this post I will share why sales leaders must learn to put on hats not masks.

 

“The most common mistake I see sales leaders make is they wear masks not hats.”– Mark Allen Roberts

…. let me explain.

Leading sales teams is about serving your team and helping them achieve sales goals and objectives. Often those goals and objectives are difficult and seemingly beyond reach for your people.

You cannot and will not effectively and efficiently lead your sales team until you remove the masks you developed over the years and start strategically putting on hats your teams require.

What do I mean by wearing a mask?

A mask is an adapted behavior we all use to adjust to a belief that is often not true. It is something we create to protect us.

You have seen people wearing masks many times I am sure…

 

The person who has to be the smartest person in the room..

 The jokester who makes a joke out of everything..

 The debater who has to win every argument even if they are wrong..

 The intimidator, gladiator if you will..

 The belle of the ball that needs to be the center of attention …

 

What these all have in common is they are about that person, for that person to feel safe. These masks and more were developed to protect that person from triggering a belief that makes them feel they are not safe and to avoid feeling fearful.

There are many others but what they all have in common is they are adaptive behaviors people have developed over time to protect themselves.

Would it surprise you to learn, as much as 50% of your personality was developed by the time you were seven years old? By the time you were eleven almost 90% of who you think you are and how you see the world was developed.

Over time you have experienced both positive and negative experiences. We create masks as defense mechanisms to protect us from future negative interactions. Think of a mask as you playing a role, an actor if you will in a play. You become whom you think you need to be to survive. However these masks prevent us from having authentic human interactions. Those people you deal with feel your lack of authenticity and they put on their masks…resulting in interactions that fail to discuss real issues.

Let that resonate for a minute….

Would you let an eleven year old make key decisions in your life?

Would you let a seven year old run your company? Lead your sales team?

I hear some of you saying..

I don’t wear masks…I authentically lead my sales team”…I hear you but you are probably wrong.

Unless you have worked with a coach, discovered all those false beliefs and reprogrammed them chances are you are wearing masks.

I gave a very short speech on this deep topic recently for a toastmaster’s competition. If this idea of the masks we wear and how they interrupt and interfere with being the leader you were born to be is something you would like to learn more about you could watch my speech here.

 

Wearing masks interfere with leading your teams authentically and must be removed.

 

Masks prevent you from authentically connecting with those you serve and negatively impact you’re your team’s performance.

 

Just as buyers are hungry for authentic salespeople, your salespeople are hungry for an authentic sales leader.

 

What sales leaders, leaders in general for that matter, must do is drop their masks and understand the various hats we can and often need to wear to serve our teams.

 

What are the most common hats a sales leader needs to wear?

 

In “Developing a Leadership Style,” Alan Murray shares six styles of leadership from Daniel Goleman’s “Primal Leadership.”

 

  1. Visionary.
  2. Coaching
  3. Affiliative
  4. Democratic
  5. Pacesetting
  6. Commanding

 

I found this content on how to develop your leadership style and the various hats leaders must learn to wear very informative. If you would like to learn more I recommend you read this Wall Street Journal Article and buy the book.

Hats are about serving others, how you adapt your service based on the needs of others.

The hat you wear helping one salesperson, one employee, may be much different than the hat you wear for others.

If your true goal is to grow your organization profitably you must learn how to loose masks and put on the right hat for each leadership opportunity.

 

How about you?

What mask do you wear? 

What hats do you feel comfortable putting on?

Are there any hats discussed above that make you feel uncomfortable? Why?

Are you letting an 11 year old run your sales team? Your company? Your life?

 

You were born to be great. You are destined for greatness! You have specific gifts and talents to serve others.

 

It is time we all must loose our masks and start wearing the right hats to authentically serve our teams.

 

What we are discussing here is emotional intelligence. In my speech I shared one way to help you identify false beliefs that cause you to wear masks and reprogram them.

 

In my next post I will share an important new book all sales leaders must have in their libraries Sales EQ, How ultra-high performers leverage sales-specific emotional intelligence to close the complex deal by Jeb Blount.

 

If this topic of “masks” is new to you, and you would like to learn more, I highly recommend you read the following books.

 

True Faced, by Bill Thrall

 

UNMASK, let go of who you’re supposed to be & unleash your true leader by Jeff Nishhwitz