Monthly Archives: January 2016
But, Did Your Follow-up Ruin the Deal?
As CEO of Richardson, I head an organization focused on helping other organizations improve their sales execution. And, as a CEO, I am continually the target of prospecting calls and e-mails by sales professionals who base their approach solely on my position.
In my two previous posts — So, You Want to Sell to the C-suite? and So, You Got in to See the CEO. — I shared reflections on what works and what doesn’t. Now, I want to talk about the sales dialogue itself and follow-up.
Gaining access to the C-suite is not an invitation to launch into a soliloquy where you talk entirely about yourself and your organization. You’re there to start a relationship, and what goes a long way in building relationships is making the prospect feel truly heard. In our time-tested and proven Richardson consultative selling methodology-speak, listening is one of the Six Critical Skills in selling. Simply put, listening is the ability to concentrate on meaning, and when listening at the highest level, you are fully engaged and fostering effective sales dialogue.
As a proponent of the importance of listening in the sales process, I expect sellers to focus on what I say and to be attentive. If you’ve gotten my time, don’t miss the chance to actively listen to the information I am providing you. Too often, I am surprised by » Continue Reading.
As CEO of Richardson, a leading sales training company, I am continually struck by how many sales professionals try to sell me solely by virtue of my position.
In my previous post — So, You Want to Sell to the CEO?— I talked about the 30-second window in which I can determine whether the seller is worth my time. I touched on the epic fail on homework and how tricks and fancy talk will backfire.
Tell me something that I don’t know.
Now, I want to touch on something that’s a big issue for me: the predictability of sellers. All too often, when reps are selling to the c-suite, they tell us things that we already know. Or, they place the burden upon me to do the work of answering a ton of questions. All that does is tell me that they don’t respect my time. Their approach doesn’t engage me or hook me into a conversation. It’s like they never considered the next step after succeeding in getting my attention.
I don’t know any CEO who has the time to answer a bombardment of questions from a seller who hasn’t done his/her homework. Our job is not to educate sellers.
What we do in granting time for a conversation is give them the ability to credentialize themselves at the start. We open the door for them to tell us something that we » Continue Reading.
It’s difficult to secure a meeting, or even get through via phone or email to prospect and sell to the C-suite. I am well aware of the degree of difficulty, as I am one of those targets defending my time against countless sales professionals trying to get in the door. For the past 15 years, I have held C-suite positions with commercial training and education companies. Now, as CEO of Richardson, I am continually struck by how many sales professionals try to sell me solely by virtue of my position.
They might have better luck contacting someone on my team, someone responsible for the particular area of business that aligns with their offerings. But, they start at the top, and because I head an organization focused on helping other organizations improve their sales execution, I feel compelled to share my reflections on what works — and what doesn’t.
Epic fail on homework
The first mistake in prospecting to the C-suite is coming in totally unprepared. Instead of impressing me with their persistence in securing a meeting, some sales professionals demonstrate that they’re lazy sellers. It becomes apparent within the first 30 seconds that they don’t know very much about my business. It’s not hard to figure out that they haven’t done their homework, and they’re dead in the water from the outset.
My argument is that it’s easy to find out not only what my role is, and » Continue Reading.
Move away from the computer and coach
Time is a limited and much sought-after resource in the sales environment, especially for sales managers who are being tasked to do more with less. Taking the time for coaching sales professionals can seem like an unrealistic luxury, but the time invested can create greater gains and even more time for the manager. We all struggle with making time to coach so that you have to create a cadence.
There are a few secrets that I have found that can improve your sales coaching techniques and make coaching easier and more effective. The first is discipline. As a sales manager, I disciplined myself to make time for “in-the-moment” coaching every single day.
Each morning, I would walk over to the office or workspace of each of my employees. I said, “Good Morning,” and then asked them three questions:
What was their plan for the day? How were they doing? Was there anything that required my immediate attention or that they needed my help with today?
The whole process took about 20 to 35 minutes. It helped me manage my time, coach my people, and deliver on expectations.
I could tell what I needed to do to coach them in the moment by how they answered the questions. This process surfaced urgent items that needed processing, challenges with a client, any lack of focus, attitudes that were forming, and any performance » Continue Reading.
In my previous blog post, I talked about the need to find time for sales coaching moments. One of the greatest myths that sales managers have about coaching their teams is that it takes too much time. Yes, coaching conversations do take time, but when done right, with the right structure and preparation, coaching can be the most effective use of a sales manager’s time. And, it can actually create more time for sales managers, as they find themselves putting out fewer fires. When sales professionals have the skills and the confidence to operate well independently, they become more responsible and accountable for their own results.
In reality, too many managers commit to coaching without a plan. They can spend hours on one coaching session, trying to get the sales professional to change a
handful of things, overwhelming him/her with a data dump of information.
At Richardson, our target for developmental sales coaching is to focus on one, maybe two, changes that can have the most effective impact. Considering that most people can only change one thing at a time and attention spans continue to shrink, a targeted approach to coaching is better received. Short sessions — 20 minutes or less — can be highly effective. Praise alone takes just a few minutes.
When sales managers don’t take the time to coach, they end up doing more work themselves. They either correct mistakes made by their » Continue Reading.
The business world is constantly churning, which puts pressure on organizations to keep up. Most operate in an environment of globalization, more competition from more places, mergers and acquisitions, reorganizations, and technology disruptions. Still, the end goal never changes: to grow the business and optimize resources.
For sales managers, this means not only staying nimble and being able to switch paths quickly but rallying their troops through effective sales coaching so that everyone understands their role and is equipped to contribute. Coaching is no small task, especially as management layers become flattened and those who remain have more responsibility. Today’s managers have to act fast, shift tactics to address priorities of the moment, anticipate changes, and set a vision for his/her people to follow.
Coaching has become a key component of a manager’s responsibilities, but coaching conversations take time. And, finding time for these conversations, one on one, with every member of the team can seem like an impossible task, especially when virtual teams are involved.
There are, however, several ways to create coaching moments that, over time, can work for both sales managers and their sales professionals.
One sales management tip from my own experience as a sales manager involves what I call “fan moments.” The office environment was a tough one, with a lot of pressure to get things done and no excuses. When tensions ran high, people would come into my office so that we » Continue Reading.
If you are planning on delivering a traditional learning program in a corporate setting, stop. Look at the workplace environment and inhabitants. Listen to the sound of the new commerce.
Workspaces are more open and casual. Inhabitants are more diverse in every way. Mobile devices abound. Paper and writing tables are scarce. There is a sense of continuous motion. Start and stop times are difficult to identify. Organizational hierarchies are nearly invisible.
Now, the largest demographic in the U.S. labor force, workers of the Millennial generation, have often been criticized or, even blamed for some of the generational conflict in the workplace as they push up against the traditional power holders in organizations, the Baby Boomers. Another, sometimes painful, reality is that we are changing and learning from the new workers! The Millennial and other younger generations have grown up with technology in hand. Their hand-helds are their security blankets. They multitask as a way of life, are comfortable in a self-directed learning environment, and are adept in digital and electronic communications, whether e-mail, text, twitter, or video calls.
When it comes to training, Millennials know how to mine data and gather information; they don’t default to an instructor to present fundamental concepts to them. There are many components of traditional Learning and Development (L&D) programs that can be carved out and deliver more effectively on digital platforms. This is where technology shines, with eLearning, webinars, self-paced learning, virtual classrooms, » Continue Reading.