Category Archives: Sales Effectiveness
Whenever I speak at conferences or with clients their training needs, I ask this question:
“What will it take to engage your learners?”
From London to New York to San Francisco, the answers are surprisingly similar, and whether I’m talking with sales leaders or corporate learning leaders, there is broad consensus about what is required:
To engage today’s learners, training has to be flexible, personalized, bite-sized, relevant, provide meaningful data, and be accessible on demand across a wide range of platforms and devices.
Significant innovation is necessary in corporate training in order to meet these expectations and address the changing needs of today’s sales organizations.
Not only are learners changing, but the business environment has changed significantly as well. Over the 37 years that Richardson has been helping organizations improve sales performances, the pace of business has grown faster, ultra-informed buyers come to the table having already researched their desired solutions, and productivity demands on sales professionals are considerably greater. Time has never been a more precious commodity, and sales professionals must spend it wisely, maximizing interactions with customers and minimizing days away from the field sitting in training classrooms. This makes it more important than ever to deploy the latest technology to efficiently train sales people and drive rapid, sustained, and measurable behavior change.
A Salesforce in Transition
A driving force behind the need for change is an emerging multi-generational salesforce increasingly comprised of members of the » Continue Reading.
Modern sales leaders and managers are often faced with the challenge of providing multigenerational sales coaching. Providing sales coaching to millennials might seem like a particularly challenging endeavor – this is because there are many myths about the preferences of the millennial workforce that are not true. Understanding how to connect with your millennial salespeople can help you learn how to coach top performers.
MYTH #1: Millennials do not want to be coached.
Not true. In fact, recent studies show that millennials want coaching at work nearly 50% more often than other employees. Also, they seek feedback more frequently than older generations in the workforce (SuccessFactors, 2015).
MYTH #2: Taking a quantitative approach with your coaching feedback dehumanizes the coaching relationship.
Using a numerical rating scale, either against a standard or against a millennial’s colleagues, helps contextualize feedback and provides an opportunity to monitor progress. It’s likely that higher performers will embrace an internal ranking against their colleagues, while a moderate or lower performer may be better served with a comparison against an external standard. The ranking or comparison is not for punishment, but for growth. It can help you establish a common language and calibrate change consistently. Be mindful of your choice.
Key considerations for Multigenerational Sales Coaching
Consider that connecting with millennial employees frequently resonates with their cadence for information and their digital world. Millennials are accustomed to instant access to » Continue Reading.
Why do car dealers still put sticker prices on car windows when we all know that “Dealer Invoice” is not what the dealer actually paid and MSRP is just an artificially inflated number? It would stand to reason that if we recognize this obvious sales tactic, it won’t work … but it does. In fact, experiments show that even a randomly generated price has a direct influence on what we are willing to pay for an item, even when we know that the price was randomly generated. This phenomenon, called the anchoring effect by social physiologists, suggests that we have a common human tendency to use the first available piece of information to make a decision. The initial information is the anchor and provides our brains with a mental shortcut when considering a decision, such as what a reasonable price is for a specific product or service.
The Anchoring Effect In Action
In 2006, Drazen Prelec and Dan Ariely of MIT conducted research to test just how influenced we are by an initial anchor price, even if we know that the price is completely disconnected from the value of the item we are buying. In the experiment, Prelec and Ariely auctioned off everyday items, such as a bottle of wine, a trackball, and a textbook, to their students. Before students could bid on an item, however, they were asked to write down the last two digits of their own social security » Continue Reading.
Proficiency using many different selling techniques is a desired objective. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. An over reliance on certain selling techniques can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four -proficiency traps and how to avoid them. The first was The Technical Trap; the second, The Execution Trap; the third, “The Networking Trap; and this fourth and final trap involves the problem with incumbency mindsets.
A Good Offense can be the Best Defense in Winning Renewal Business
No matter how entrenched sales professionals become in a client organization, at some point they are likely to face competition for renewals. The trap is in taking an incumbency mindset to defend the business as-is instead of forming a fresh deal strategy that is better positioned to win.
When sellers think like incumbents, they want to defend the relationship and preserve everything the way it currently stands. They justify why they should be retained, based on factors such as their long-standing relationship, past excellent service, or the higher costs of transitioning to a competitor.
The problem with this selling technique is its defensive posture. What the situation requires — and what competitors will do — is take the offensive. As an incumbent, we should ask ourselves: What can we » Continue Reading.
When you are thinking about developing your selling skills you might focus on your ability to demonstrate execution proficiency. This sales proficiency is a desired objective for anyone who wants to improve their ability to build client relationships. The ability to execute against client requests denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. Yet, providing an immediate “yes” to all client requests can sometimes lead sales professionals into a trap that winds up sabotaging relationships with clients. In this post I explore the sales trap that involves excellent execution. To learn more about other common sales traps, check out this article on The Technical Trap.
Your Selling Skills Should Be Built on more than Execution
Sales professionals who build client relationships based on responding to their requests with outstanding performance can find themselves in an execution trap.
Consider this scenario:
You have a legacy program or solution in place, and because you have such a solid relationship with the client, he/she asks you to do something else. You are such a known entity that he/she feels comfortable making this request, and you respond by doing what is asked. What could possibly be the problem here?
The trap is that your strong client relationship gets diluted every time you immediately say yes. When you simply do what the client asks, you become just another order-taker. Instead of seeing great value in your ability to execute with excellence, » 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.
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.