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Are you Ready?


Are you ready to do what it takes to get what you want this year? Then consider taking the Engage Selling Three-Step Challenge to achieving your goals, creating your path to success - and taking your career wherever you want it to go!


Step 1: Dream.
If you can't picture it, you can't reach it. Period. So whatever you want to achieve - you first have to envision it!

How do you go about getting clear on your vision, and what you want? Find somewhere quiet where you can concentrate, and then spend the time to ask - and answer - such questions as:

1.    What do you stand for?

2.    What do you want to have in life?

3.    Who should you associate with to achieve this vision?

4.    What are you most grateful for today, and how will you express it?

5.    How long do you expect to live, and when do you want to retire?

6.    What will you do with your time if you live longer than you expected?

7.    What are you willing to give up? 

Step 2: Plan

Now that you have your clear vision, it's time to determine what outcomes or goals you need to set for yourself this year, to help you begin to realize it.

1.    What, specifically, are your revenue goals for 2015? For each fiscal quarter? For each month?

2.    How much more money will you make in 2015?

3.    What will you need to do to increase THAT number by an additional 20%?

4.    How many inactive customers will you revive?

5.    How much business will you get from your existing customer base?

6.    What will you do to ensure the loyalty of your best customers?

7.    How many new customers will you bring on this year?

8.    What will you do to enhance your skill level this year?

Step 3: Act

Finally, once you have your vision and plan in place, it's time to start taking action towards achieving your desired outcomes.

Based on your list of what you're going to accomplish this year, you need to ask yourself the tough questions, like:

1.    What specifically do you need to do to achieve your goals?

2.    What do you need to plan to accomplish your objectives?

3.    What tools do you need to realize your vision?

4.    Whose support do you need to enlist to make it happen?

If you are specific and sincere enough, the answers to these questions will tell you exactly what you need to do each day to move closer to achieving your goals, and realizing your ultimate vision.

I also encourage you to make two or three notes beside each goal, explaining precisely how you will make each one happen by answering the questions above. Then, once it is complete, prioritize this list into the following three categories:

1.    Things I commit to getting done in the next six months.

2.    Things I commit to getting done in the next twelve months.

3.    Things I commit to getting done over the next three years. 

Once your list is prioritized, the final step is to do something immediately to accomplish one of your goals. No hesitation. No procrastination. And the sooner you can take action, the better - preferably within 24 hours of writing down the goal.

For example, if one of your goals was to attend a sales conference this year, spend 20 minutes on the Web searching for relevant conferences in your industry. If it's more training you're after, search the Web or call some local training companies to obtain their course listings. Or if your goal is to make five new calls to prospects each day, start sourcing the new leads and entering them to your CRM now.

Whatever your goals, the important thing is to begin to work towards them today. There's nothing easier than getting into the habit of putting difficult tasks off, and before you know it, another year of opportunities will have passed you by.

Now that you know what you want, and what you have to do to get it, acting on your plan right away will help you start building momentum towards the kind of continuous action you will need to make all those dreams come true.


Your Secret Sales Force


“Buyers believe buyers first, the seller second and the business third.” This is a direct quote from a technology entrepreneur I coach and he is right. Testimonials have amazing persuasive powers. They touch on both the facts and emotions that drive people to make decisions. They reaffirm that your claims are credible and that your services are the real deal. They validate the value you deliver to the prospect. And they do so with a message that is unmistakably authentic and sincere.

When a client says great things about you, about your work or the products you sell, give them the opportunity to turn that praise into a testimonial. Simply ask: “I’d really love to share your success with others. Would that be okay?” People generally like to be helpful to other people, but they’ll rarely think to give you that all-powerful testimonial unless you ask.

Here are the some great ways to acquire testimonials:

1.    Contact your passionate newer customers. Get on the phone and call your newest customers. No matter which industry you serve, the most passionate praise you’ll find for your work and the service tends to come from customers with whom you have only recently started doing business. Follow the lead of Audi. Less than 30 days after a new car purchase an Audi representative calls to confirm that the customer is happy with the purchase and to ask for feedback on the dealership. If that feedback is positive the surveyor asks if that information can be shared.

2.    Contact your wise and insightful repeat customers. Your repeat customers, while perhaps not as excited because they are used to the great service you give them, provide prospects with important insight about what makes your product or service worth buying. Make a point of calling up people you’ve been doing business with for a long time and ask them why it is that they call on you. The answers you get will often include a great sentence or two that can be added to your testimonial collection. Again, all you have to do is ask.

3.    Make it easy for people. One of the most common comments you’ll hear from clients when asking for testimonials is “Well I’m really not much of a writer, so it’s hard for me to put it in words.” The real power of testimonials comes from the fact that they’re not polished, that they’re authentic and from the heart. A business owner I know recently told me that he interviews all clients starting with  “Finish this sentence in twenty-five words or less: I really like (product/service/person) because . . .” This approach works because it gets right to the point about the feelings people have for you, and how what you do.

4.    Do unto others. Write testimonials for others in your client community and those whose services have impressed you. This creates reciprocity, and sends an important message to everyone about the high standards you have not only as a supplier, but as a buyer, too. Social networking sites such as LinkedIn are handy tools for doing this. (Please note that I am not suggesting you use the LinkedIn “endorsement” function. That I find useless and annoying. Instead, use the functionality that lets you actually write a testimonial for the client, supplier, or partner.) You will find that they will return the favor with glowing references for you too.

5.    Thank your customers regularly. When you ask for a testimonial, you are battling with numerous other competing customer priorities. By thanking them (sincerely!) for taking the time to act on your request, your customers will treat your request with higher priority. And when you receive the testimonial, be old-fashioned; send a handwritten thank-you note!

Testimonials are the most influencing way to convince prospects to do business with you, allowing you to state “Don’t just take my word for it, have a look at what my customers say . . .” When you do so, you deepen prospect confidence and dramatically reduce barriers to closing the sales.


5 Tips for Eliminating Negativity on Your Team


Negativity in the office can be a real business killer. I’ve seen good people and great teams erode rapidly because a single poisonous thought permeates the team. This crops up more commonly in today’s market, where volatility and constant change can often be the only things that are standard and can shake any business.

As a sales leader, it’s imperative to have your employees talking positively about their team members, your products and services, and their performance within your market, regardless of your competition, price or the economy. Any negativity will permeate out to your clients and impede your ability to grow.

Regardless of whether business is slow or crazy busy, you need to implement measures that will generate enthusiasm and positivity among your team members to ensure they stay upbeat and positive about their jobs. 
Remember the golden rule, the way your team treats each other is the way they will treat your clients, partners and vendors.

Here are five ideas:

1.    Stop complaining! On a day-to-day basis, there are a million reasons to complain, and if you’re taking advantage of those, you need to stop. Take a step back, reorient and ask yourself, “What can I do differently in these situations? How can I improve my performance? How can I change?” Take control of the situation instead of complaining about the issues over which you don’t have any.

2.    Don’t allow negativity about customers to be broadcasted internally among your team. I once had a boss who imposed a strict rule. If you were caught once speaking negatively about a customer you were warned. Caught twice you were written up. If you were caught three times…you were fired! While it may seem harsh, my former boss understood that success is achieved by providing a positive customer experience. This philosophy boosted our office’s customer satisfaction scores from mediocre to number one within a single quarter.

3.    Focus on yourself and your value over the competition. Too many employees focus on “what the other guys are doing” and get wrapped up in how that affects them. You have no control over what your competition is doing, so stop worrying about it. Instead, make the experience of doing business with you unique.

4.    Mentor and coach the team. Make your team members feel valued by taking one-on-one time with them that’s devoted to improving their skills. This mentoring and coaching can also help you pick up on any negativity that’s permeating the team and identify its source.

5.    Share every win. During team meetings and through e-mails, texts, or even your company website, discuss and broadcast your team’s wins! These could be external wins (bringing on a new customer) or internal wins (completing a big project or winning a business award). Share each success with the entire team, so each member of your team knows that success is possible and worth chasing after. There are few greater motivators than positive reinforcement and acknowledging your team’s successes.

Negativity not only drives away customers, but good team members as well. The end result of continued and unchecked negativity can be catastrophic for your business! It’s therefore vital to realize that eliminating negativity from your team starts at the top with you! It’s only after you become passionate about your products, services, customers and company, can you expect your team to follow suit.


How to Find Your Winning Sales Team


There are millions of great sellers out there in the marketplace. And yet sales VPs and business owners are always complaining to me their searches for strong candidates are coming up short. Why is this?

Simple! Lack of creativity in the recruiting of candidates. Those that are complaining are stuck in old routines – using the same resources and recruiters. This, in turn, has them looking at small batches of resumes and hiring the best of the worst. It instead takes a much larger pool of candidates to find the right people.

One of my past articles described the concept of ubiquitous selling and lead generation (Sales 3.0: Be Ubiquitous – Invest in Print Marketing This means in order to attract the best prospects you have to be everywhere – in print, online and in person.

Being ubiquitous also applies to recruiting a fantastic sales team. You have to cast a wide net, through the use of multiple resources, to find the best sellers. Some might already be employed at other companies, and some might be actively looking for work. The more ubiquitous an approach you take, the higher the odds of locating and attracting candidates.

Here are five techniques that will help you find and land the best sellers for a winning sales team:

Use local resources

If you’re hiring within the area, then advertise in local trade journals, newspapers and online classifieds such as Indeed, Kijiji and Craigslist. You might be thinking, “No way. Those resources will only give me the low-end sellers.” But remember, you want to avoid the trap of having too few resumes. Ubiquitous recruiting is about increasing the number of candidates to choose from. And some of the people you find through local resources could actually be great hires.

Also consider mentioning your search in conversation at area Chamber of Commerce and association meetings. Your peers might know of sellers who’d be a good fit for your company.  

Grow Social!

LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media sites are great for spreading the word you’re hiring, especially if your business has an online environment. You might require your sellers use these tools as part of the job, so the candidates who respond through these sites are already proving they’re comfortable ‒ or at least familiar  ̶  with them. So in other words you’re attracting candidates with the social media you need them to use to be successful – increasing the likelihood of success.

Look to your own team

We all know the value of word of mouth. Companies often forget, however, that some of the best referrals come from their own employees. For example, one of your sellers has worked at several different companies with a dynamo who’s always top-of-the-list in sales. And this individual is looking for a new opportunity. If you’ve created a system that encourages your employees to refer sales reps  ̶  and offers rewards for doing so ‒ then you’re more likely to find potential hires to add to the candidate pool.  

Ask customers and suppliers

Those you do business with are a great recruiting resource. Of course, you never want to poach from customers or suppliers, but it’s OK to ask your buyers who they buy from and if they would be a good fit for you! For example, ask your customers, “Are there any sellers who call on you from other companies who’d be a good fit for us?” If there are, asking for the customer’s recommendation could lead to a stronger business relationship.

And what about the sellers who call on your suppliers? Are there any who stand out as possible leads? Your suppliers know you well and they might have access to networks and people you don’t.

Look outside the box

Lastly, pay attention to the sellers in your local environment. For example, an Engage client was recently searching for a junior inside sales rep. The company had gone through the usual recruiting routine for nearly six months without success. All that changed, however, when my client visited Best Buy to purchase a stereo.

One of the young sellers demonstrated such impressive sales acumen they were invited for an interview. That candidate ended up being hired and trained and is now one of the top inside sales reps for the company!

It just goes to show you never know where good talent will come from. Don’t be afraid to talk to retail sellers who appear energetic and enthusiastic. Or even to your personal service providers if they’re in a sales role.

So the next time you’re looking for great sellers, remember to be ubiquitous. Use as many recruiting resources as you can to receive the largest number of resumes to choose from. Within that pool of candidates you’re sure to find sellers who’ll ramp up the success rate of your company


Use the S.A.L.E. Methodology to Counter Any Objection


We all face questions and objections from buyers. The key to creating a nonstop sales boom is in reframing these objections as simple conversation starters that lead towards a sale. In doing so you will reduce your anxiety and will be able to work through them more effectively.

S = Stop and listen. That’s right. I am saying that the best first step in answering questions or objections is to stop. Do nothing. Say nothing. Just for three seconds. Three seconds is long enough to create some space, some thinking time between the question and your answer, but not long enough to be awkward.

A = Acknowledge the question. When you are selling you want your buyers to be talking and asking questions. That is a sign they are engaged. Silence or apathy is deadly. In order to keep the conversation going, thank them for making the statement. I am not advocating that you agree with them. Just that you acknowledge. A simple statement such as the ones below will do the trick:

·         Thanks for sharing that.

·         You raise an important point.

·         I’ve never thought about it that way.

·         You are smart to be concerned about that.

·         I appreciate you being honest with me.

Showing appreciation will show the client that you care about the conversation. When you show that you care about the conversation, and value what the buyer has said, they will say more.

L = Ask a question and listen to the answer. Before you answer the question you must truly understand what the client is stating or asking. Use one of the following questions to clarify what the buyer is asking for and to help you better form an answer:

·         What do you mean by that?

·         How much of a discount are you looking for?

·         Why is that important to you?

·         Have you seen something else that includes that?

·         What do you like about that approach?

·         Is that a deal breaker for you?

·         How much too high are we?

Continue asking questions until you truly understand the issue your buyer has raised. Only then will you be in a good position to answer it properly. Kevin Poppel from Ag-Power Enterprises always likes to advise his team: “Once the client has stopped talking wait at least three seconds before you say something. That’s the best way to ensure you not only don’t interrupt but you let the buyer completely finish his thought.”

E = Provide an example. The best way to answer questions from buyers is to use the words of your clients. Let’s face it, your buyers will believe your clients more than they will believe you. You are, after all the “salesperson,” trying to earn a living. While most sellers spend their time developing case studies and testimonials to provide outcomes data on their solutions for their website, the best sellers use this data to answer questions and deal with objections posed by clients. Let this become your million-dollar strategy—your killer app, the secret weapon that allows you to exceed your revenue goal year after year.

Here are two examples.

A professional services seller gives this response—after having stopped, acknowledged, and listened—to a price objection: “At ABC Company they were also initially concerned about the price. What they found is that with the reduction in contractors required for data entry from three to one, they were able to save over $100,000 in labor costs in one year. This more than paid for the $24,000 project purchase and provided a four times return on investment in 12 months.”

Lee Harbin at Dolphin Professional Services also stops, acknowledges, and listens effectively when addressing a question about the timing of delivery. He then states “The implementation team at our largest client was originally concerned about our ability to deliver a project of this magnitude as well. What they discovered is that our structure allows us to ramp up quickly with the right resources, ensuring that we have never missed a deadline with them in over four years.”

Use the SALE methodology to keep the buyer engaged through the sales process. Remember, the more the buyers are talking the better chance you have to make the sale and create your Nonstop Sales Boom. The minute they shut up is the minute the sales start slipping away.


Fire These Customers Immediately


Not all clients are created equal. Nor should you be compelled to treat them equally. There’s no law stating you must sell to everyone, or keep servicing clients that are the wrong fit for your business.

It’s as fair to say that your business has outgrown some types of customers as it is to say that you have some customers that you should have never brought on in the first place. (You know who they are!)

If you’re miserable working with a client that you know isn’t profitable for your company, you won’t be motivated to serve them well. And, if that client isn’t receiving the best treatment, they won’t hit their desired goals. By virtue of this predicament, you’ve created a lose-lose situation: You’re not helping the client reach their objectives and they’re not helping you reach yours.

Besides the ones that are clearly not profitable for you, here are four other types of clients that must go immediately:

1.    The ‘no one else matters’ client. These are the clients that expect you to work only for them and all the time. They drag quick calls into 90-minute meetings, and 90-minute meetings into all-day events. They call you on the weekends on your cell phone. These relationships never work and turn ugly when their inappropriate expectations aren’t met. I fired one of these ‘I expect you to be in my office at 8 a.m. tomorrow’ clients after only one month. Life’s too short.

2.    The ‘Sword of Damocles’ client. Walk away from any client who constantly peppers you with threats. Perhaps they threaten to withhold payment, leave for the competition, or shop your solution around. You can’t do your best work for them if you are constantly under negative pressure. Recently a staffing agency I work with fired a customer who used at least one ‘or else I will…’ in every meeting. Morale in the office improved immediately and the client was replaced within the month.

3.    The ‘check is in the mail’ client. You aren’t a bank, even if you work for a bank! Cash flow is the lifeblood of any business. When a client starts abusing the financial aspect of the relationship, talk to them immediately. If they will not rectify the situation, stop work until they do, or fire them immediately. No matter how prestigious. Recently a software client of mine cut off software support and turned off the online database for a client who was 90 days late with payment. The check was couriered overnight that day.

4.    The prima donna client. Success and failure should be a shared experience. When you and the client achieve a desired outcome, it should be celebrated as a team effort. And, when something goes awry, there shouldn’t be any finger-pointing on either side. Each accepts responsibility for their part in what went wrong and quickly resolves the issue. Rarely is a mistake one-sided but if it is (and all on you), accept responsibility immediately and resolve the issue. If a client is continually parading your joint success as their own singular success while at the same time foisting all the blame on you for failures, your relationship is one-sided and can never be profitable for you.

Firing a client may mean a short-term hit to the organization’s profits, but it’s critical for the long-term emotional health of your team and the company. Firing a client now not only frees up time for you to spend on more profitable clients, it also provides a boost of morale internally. When you step up and fire a bad customer, you win everyone’s trust, loyalty, and respect. Especially your own.
The easiest, most respectful way to fire a client is:

1.    Call them. Do not use email. Thank them for their business to date and explain that you’re not the best fit for them moving forward. Try, “Thanks for considering us. At this point I don’t think we are the right fit for helping you meet your goals.” Always keep the focus on their interests.

2.    Be professional. Don’t use this call as an excuse to tell clients all of the things that are wrong with them and their approach. Simply tell them that they will be more successful working with another company.

3.    Recommend another option for them, even if it’s a competitor. This way you can find them a new home quickly. For example, I always have a list of other sales consultants that would be a better fit for prospects that call Engage Selling in case I am not.


Prospects to Disqualify

Thinking back over 20 years of my sales career I've met five kinds of people whose behaviors lead me to believe I should disqualify a them as prospect forever.  I write about them in my recently released book Nonstop Sales Boom available now.

You may have run across them in your work as well. They are:

1.    The Shopper. You learn that the prospect is considering two well-known competitors with whom they have a long, successful buying history. You are the last one into the process and the prospect cannot tell you why clearly they would consider an alternative nor are they willing to allow direct communication with the decision maker. This is a sign they are using you to compare pricing and features.

2.    The Snail. A time frame and a budget cannot be established. The prospect is telling you that someday in the future there might be a reason to go forward but nothing can ever be set in stone. Deadlines come and go. This is a sign that while they might be interested there is no urgency. After six months of following up with a prospect I once had a sales VP say to me, “You know Colleen, I’m retiring this year and don’t want the expense to hit my budget and reduce my bonus. This project can be my successor’s project!” Some projects are just not ready to be pushed forward..

3.    The Hide and Seeker. You can’t meet with the decision maker. If you are being prevented from meeting the buyer, this is unequivocal proof that you cannot win the business. A software executive I work with is assertive in this qualification step and states to his prospect: “In order for us to move forward I will need to meet with (name of the buyer).” If the prospect says no, or stalls, he continues,“I’m sorry then, we can’t go forward.” This is a nonnegotiable item for the seller. Notice that his position is a statement, not a question, which positions him as a peer, not a subordinate. Subordinates beg to speak to the decision maker; peers tell gatekeepers how the process works. In this example, our seller is successful in getting to the buyer 75 percent of the time. The other 25 percent he drops the buyer and focuses his time on the buyers who are serious about doing business with him. Not surprisingly his Nonstop Sales Boom has lasted over five years.

4.    The Stacked Deck. The decision criteria are obviously set up for the competition. A number of years ago, an American-based prospect of mine listed as their number one and nonnegotiable criteria that the software had to be made in the United States. This was a deal breaker for us because the company I was selling for at the time was based in Canada. Buying something locally made in the United States was more important to the prospect than then best fit. At this point it was better to disqualify the prospect and move on. Why waste time with a prospect who will never buy?

5.    The Criminal. You see signs of unethical, illegal, or subversive behavior! A client of ours was recently asked if her daughter was single during the sales process. She took this as a sign that she should move on! Another business services client (and a Fortune 100 company!) recently took a call from a client who had no website, no listing in the phone book, no credit history, and asked if he could pay cash on delivery. Yet another was asked for courtside tickets to a Los Angeles Lakers game before the decision was to be made. Best to walk away.


Sales 3.0: Be Ubiquitous - Invest in Print Marketing

For the past few years, Sales 2.0 has been all the rage with its electronic approach to sales and marketing. We’ve been wrapped up with how low-cost and quick e-mail and web marketing are and with trying to reach the widest audience possible with our banner ads. Meanwhile, print has gone by the wayside.

Electronic marketing is efficient, yes. However not enough companies, measure the actual effectiveness of these digital campaigns. Sure, we know we have millions of web hits and send thousands of e-mails monthly but by relying mainly on electronic, we also know that our response rates are actually dropping and aren’t as effective as direct print marketing. According to the Chief Marketing Officer Council, targeted direct print mail has a 4.4 percent response rate versus 0.12 percent for e-mail. And, 79 percent of consumers act on direct mail immediately whereas only 45 percent have the same response with e-mail.  So while we feel efficient sending out so many marketing pieces, we are actually less effective per piece!

Why is this?

·         Our electronic content is being filtered into Spam folders.

·         People are tired of receiving online newsletters.

·         We’re adding more businesses to our list that are irrelevant prospects.

In my opinion, Sales 2.0 is done. Finè. It’s time for Sales 3.0.

A ubiquitous method

With Sales 3.0, we keep electronic marketing, and we balance it with other approaches. John Wanamaker famously said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half.” What he meant is you need to be ubiquitous with your marketing. So, in addition to electronic, give equal emphasis to phone calls and print marketing. Wait, print? Yes, print. You might cringe, picturing the associated cost, but that very feature in itself can be a good thing.

Here’s why:

·         It forces companies to become more targeted with marketing. Rather than send a million print pieces to random people that could be customers, you distribute 1,000 or 10,000 to people who you know are buyers.

·         The cost makes you more aware of a print campaign’s effectiveness. You pay more attention to your return on investment.

With targeted print marketing, you also need to know your audience. Executives tell me they pay attention to items that appear customized for their needs. If it looks like you took the time to understand them ‒ versus an anonymous mass e-mail ‒ they’ll pick up that brochure or catalogue.

For example, one of my clients is a software provider for the home healthcare market, which tends to be low-tech. Therefore, the company’s marketing is low-tech. They find, out of all the marketing methods, postcards work best. Even though this company has cycled through three VPs of Sales that have each said, “We have to do webinars! We need banner ads! We need e-mail marketing!” those approaches have always failed to generate leads because they were aimed at the wrong audience. The VP then leaves and the sales team returns to postcards with better results.  

Add value to your marketing

Another reason to add print marketing for the more ubiquitous Sales 3.0 approach is it gives your company an edge on the competition. Print has been out of fashion for so long, there’s less “noise” in the marketplace and you’ll be noticed.

But, just as with electronic marketing, you should think in terms of “selling” people on your company. This especially goes for young companies that have relied solely on electronic marketing. One of the best ways to attract consumers is to add value with client feedback. Include as many testimonials and case studies as you can in your product brochures and mailings. Think of adding 70 percent value with client feedback and 30 percent marketing. Or, even better, 80 percent value and 30 percent marketing.

Putting it all together

We’ve discussed why adding print makes you more powerful in the market. Now let’s look at how to blend all your Sales 3.0 approaches effectively. The savviest clients I work with recognize the importance of targeting companies at different levels in order to increase response. They create a list of their best buyers and will, for example, send an e-mail on a Tuesday, a phone call on a Thursday and a print mail on a Monday. By increasing their marketing approaches, they can increase the cadence with which they contact the buyer. If you sent three e-mails in three days, that would overwhelm companies and come off as desperate. But, an e-mail, a call and a print piece won’t because it’s a variety of media types. Each one of them feels different to the buyer.    

So remember the Sales 3.0 approach: keep the electronic, and give phone calls and print their equal share in your company’s marketing. A friend of mine with a small consulting firm in Germany always sends out an eight-page newsletter in printed format. And you know what? He just landed the company’s biggest client – a six-figure business – because the buyer happened to read that print newsletter. Are you missing buyers by not embracing Sales 3.0?


Take Care of You, Take on the World

You know how it goes. You’re having a hectic week of client meetings or at a tradeshow and things begin to slide in the self-care department. Eat a greasy meal here, pull a late night there, and then load up on caffeine to push through.

A few days of this and you’ll be feeling pretty rough. But go beyond that ‒ regularly neglecting both your physical and mental wellbeing ‒ and you’ll simply rob yourself of the ability to perform and network with clients to the fullest. And, you’ll set yourself up for serious repercussions. Just ask Arianna Huffington, owner of the award-winning Huffington Post.

Two years into her venture she woke up on the floor of her office in a pool of blood with a broken cheekbone. She had been routinely pulling long hours and skipping sleep for her digital news site. Finally, her body said “Enough!” and she collapsed in exhaustion against the edge of her desk. This wake-up call led to the publication of her book Thrive, which shares scientific research about the connection between wellbeing and productivity.

So, what does it mean to maintain your wellbeing as a seller? It means you can:

·         Work at peak energy, especially when meeting with customers

·         Be balanced both physically and mentally so you come across as positive, motivated and excited – exuding an energy that people want to be around

·         Be present and focused

·         Be creative and solve problems quickly

I fortunately haven’t been sick on the road for at least ten years. And I travel on airplanes a lot, which are incubators for germs. I attribute my health to a few key methods I practice to stay balanced.

If you’ve fallen off the wagon, follow these tips to regain your wellbeing and be at your best.:

Count those sheep

According to the National Sleep Foundation, we need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Everyone can survive a little deprivation once in a while, like taking a red-eye flight home from a conference or pulling an all-nighter to write a proposal.

However, we need to make up for that loss of sleep or we won’t be fully functional.  Our hormones that control appetite will get out of whack and lead to weight gain. And we’ll trigger inflammation in the body that can cause illness. Instead of following up with clients in the week after that tradeshow – a crucial window of time, – we’ll find ourselves out sick.

Here are a few techniques to help you sleep:

·         Turn off all electronics – laptop, smartphone, Kindle, TV – an hour before bedtime. The latest studies indicate the light from these devices interferes with the secretion of the hormone melatonin, which brings on sleepiness at sundown.

·         Eliminate any light in the bedroom as this also interferes with your natural sleep cycle. Turn your alarm clock away from the bed and put your smartphone on the floor or in another room. Also consider using an eye mask.

·         If you’re head’s swirling with stressful thoughts, jot them down on paper. I once told a client suffering from stress-related insomnia to keep a gratitude journal. Before bed each night, they listed ten things they were grateful for that day ‒ and they didn’t need to be work-related. “Choosing a healthy dinner” and “Calling my mother” counted. This helped my client achieve a positive frame of mind that made them sleep more soundly.

Schedule R&R time

A fellow business owner is having a great year  ̶  likely to finish with a salary of half a million to $600,000. I recently asked if he was taking time off this summer. His reply? “No way! I haven’t been doing well enough for long enough to take time off.”

He believes just a couple days away with his family will cause his business to plummet. This attitude harkens back to the 1980s and 90s when being busy rather than productive was the focus. Since then, many have realized it’s not the best way to work. 

The truth is we all need to rest and recharge our batteries. Even unplugging for the weekend can make a difference. Another client learned this the hard way by pushing himself to a heart attack.

He was pulling 60-hour weeks and couldn’t turnoff. When he did take that rare vacation with his wife, he left the cottage every day for Starbucks to check his work e-mail. This client wasn’t a business owner and had a large corporate structure around him, so it was completely unnecessary.

I tell clients to think of it this way: Selling is a creative pursuit. Taking a step back gives you a fresh perspective on the business. Your mind’s free to entertain new ideas about how to achieve better success when you return from vacation.

You are what you eat

My former co-workers and I used to say if you’re going to work a tradeshow booth you can’t survive on a bag of Fritos™ for lunch. Otherwise, you’ll be a zombie by afternoon.
Eating clean – especially on the road ‒ is one of the hardest things to do, but it makes a huge difference. I also like to carry snacks, which is helpful when you don’t know what will be available to you.

Here are smart choices for that afternoon pick-me-up:

·         Protein bars

·         Nuts – especially almonds

·         Sugar-free dried fruit

The sales field also has a tradition of social drinking. And I’m certainly known to enjoy wine with dinner and a glass of scotch for dessert! You take a client out to discuss things in a more relaxed setting. Limit yourself on the booze, though, and be sure to drink lots of water – especially if you’ll be flying out. You don’t want to return to the office dehydrated, which takes more than one day to fix.  

Go vertical

When it comes to exercise, weekly activity is important, and here’s another tip: Standup. Back in 2012, the New York Times and NPR reported that getting up from your desk every 20 minutes and standing for two minutes can profoundly affect your health and focus. One of my clients has a complete open office structure with rows of desks and no dividers between workstations. All the desks and chairs are fully adjustable so employees can raise them to a level where they’re standing and then lower them to sit.

Another client, a Fortune 10 customer, programmed their computers to send a reminder to take a break every 45 minutes; to go grab water, stretch and chat with a neighbor. This works well for sellers since they’re usually high-energy and don’t like to be still for too long.  

Creating a work environment like this that gets you moving, in addition to eating clean, sleeping enough and scheduling R&R time, are among the best investments you can make toward your wellbeing and your job performance. Make these adjustments, and you’ll be working and networking to your full potential. Remember, you can’t make sales if you are flat on your back, sick in bed!


Seller Types, Implementation & Accountability: Why Sales Training Doesn’t Work, Part 2

In Part ONE of the series, we discussed how the willingness and ability of individual sellers have a direct impact on your company’s growth. And, that once you evaluate team members, you’ll know if sales training is needed and how to customize it.

Now it’s time for specifics. How can you determine, more precisely, where individual sellers fall on the willingness and ability spectrum? How can you leverage and nurture their abilities? And, how can you fully implement sales training and hold sellers accountable for their progress?

Let’s start by identifying the four types of sellers:

  • Stagnant
  • Sloth
  • High Potential
  • Champions

Using a diagnostic tool of 4 boxes set in a square chart - divide your sales team into these 4 different categories.

Set the ability on the vertical line with high ability at top and low ability at bottom. On the horizontal line is willingness, with low willingness at left and high willingness at right.

If we work through this chart, here’s what we’ll find for each type of seller:

These are individuals with low willingness and high ability. Therefore, training them with new ideas to make them change and achieve growth won’t work. They’re content with the strong skill set they have  ̶  hence, stagnant. They’re not willing to learn new methods to achieve better results. Often, Stagnants are veteran sellers who are happy with where they’re at: managing current accounts, not having to make new calls, and satisfied with their current salaries.

Instead of trying to make them grow your company or adopt new ideas, Stagnant sellers could do much better with maintaining your business and account management. Consider reallocating them to new roles that play into their talents, such as account managers, or providing training that leverages what they’re already great at and are willing to do more of.

For example, a client in the paper products field needed to grow the business by 10 percent. However, the seller that covered the industrial sector ‒ and the company’s biggest client  ̶  flat out refused to participate and was visibly hostile during a training session. He was unwilling to accept new ideas, yet was very skilled and successful at what he was doing.

Evaluating the situation, we determined his expertise was this major industrial customer. We changed his pay and made his sole objective to manage the one client. The result? He’s pulling in even higher numbers on the account and the company is happier.

These are sellers with both low willingness and low ability. Sloths won’t grow your company. They also won’t expand current accounts because they lack skills and don’t want to learn. Essentially, there’s no use for Sloths on the sales team, so let them go.

High Potential
This covers team members with high willingness and low ability. They want to grow and try new things ‒ but they lack the know-how.

These are individuals you need to train, coach and mentor because they’re your future superstars! Stay on top of them and make sure they’re implementing new sales skills on a regular basis to grow your business. Recognize and celebrate their wins with them. Add bonuses to keep them motivated.

These sellers are the cream of the crop with both high willingness and high ability. They’re the top one or two individuals on your sales team. They’re always over target and they’re growing the business like crazy.

With Champions, the key is leveraging them to encourage growth among your other sellers. For example, you can:

  • Make them subject matter experts within the company
  • Give them new projects
  • Allow them to expand their territories or have better ones
  • Let them run monthly training sessions to give them a leadership role
  • Join them out on sales calls to document how they’re achieving success

A client of mine in the healthcare field followed this last step with great results. The sales team was struggling with a new launch, so the VP shadowed a Champion seller. He recorded his language and style to share with the team. Turns out, the other sellers were particularly receptive to the information because it came from a top performer versus an outside consultant.

Implement and hold accountable

Once you’ve classified your sellers and the initial sales training is complete, it’s time for your company leaders to buckle down. That means using two powerful drivers of growth: implementation and accountability.

To avoid sales training falling to the wayside, the leadership team must install the framework for implementation and accountability before the first training session. This means:

  • Schedule coaching sessions
  • Set targets
  • Plan to measure progress
  • Tell sellers they’re responsible for what they learn  

Then, after training, the leaders need to closely coach and monitor activity. Have sellers document the top three ideas they’re committed to implementing. Compile a list and share with the sales team so everyone remembers what they thought was best practice. Use this list in your one-on-one coaching sessions.

“Hey John, you wanted to do A & B. How’s it going? How can I support you? Do you need more information?”

Once those first three items are in effect, return to the list to determine what’s next.

Set individual targets

It also works to establish growth targets for individuals rather than a broad one for everyone. A high-tech client had a positive outcome with this. He tracked seller progress through activity-based key performance indicators (KPIs), which both provided an early warning if something needed correcting and gave ongoing feedback about which activities were best for achieving particular kinds of sales.

This client also held the sellers accountable through one-on-one coaching, regular sales meetings, and executive gatherings to go over KPIs and prospects. Within a year of sales training, the team achieved their growth targets each month and, for the past two years, has broken new sales records each successive quarter.

Every company can achieve this type of growth. The first step is to always understand where your team members fit within the Ability and Willingness matrix, followed by appropriate training. After that, all it takes is a deep focus on implementation and accountability. With these drivers of growth, you’ll be surprised how quickly your sales take off!



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