The Sales Expeditor

Chris Mott

Recent Posts

Do You Leverage the Most Powerful Selling Tool of All?

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Feb 05, 2018 @ 14:02 PM

intro.jpg

Depending on which data you use, the percentage of salespeople who make quota each year is no bigger than around 50 percent. While no one is happy about this and the year-over-year quota attainment doesn’t vary by much, many of us seem to have accepted this as being “normal”. There are few business leaders I’ve meet who would tolerate performance like this in other departments and in a moment, I'll share a powerful tool that can help every salesperson attain quota, regardless of skill level.

The top priority for virtually all the companies I work with is new business.  This is a combination of new accounts, expansion of share in existing accounts, selling a company’s complete product and service lines, and penetrating other groups and divisions.

Salespeople that don’t make quota typically have a pipeline without enough (number and size) quality new opportunities while a small percentage of salespeople have good pipelines but aren't very good at closing.

As a sales development expert, experience has proven that real, sustainable sales force improvement requires a change in culture. This means greater transparency, more accountability, constant focus on training and coaching, the recruitment of stronger salespeople, impactful sales management and great systems and processes. The return will be profound, but it takes time, effort and commitment.

Everyone needs short-term wins.

Do you have a structured, milestone based, KPI driven referral and introduction program? If the answer is yes, I’m preaching to the choir. Unfortunately, it’s a rhetorical question and the vast majority of companies and sales organizations say, "No." Your size, sophistication, verticals served, products and services don’t change this answer by much.

Among the many reasons why, discomfort asking clients/customers for help is at the top of the list. This may well include you. Here are some of things I hear when I ask, "Why?" 

  • What if they say no?
  • I’m not sure if they are really happy.
  • Have I / we done enough for them?
  • They might be uncomfortable being asked.
  • I don’t want to upset them.
  • …..

If you have an established business with some happy repeat customers, you must create and execute a formal process that nurtures and drives introductions and referrals. This includes everyone.

An effective process sets the expectation that you will be asking for help (with introductions) when the time is right. It nurtures existing customers, fostering their desire to help you and assures you are helping them in unsolicited ways. Everybody from the CEO to line staff needs a role, defined expected behaviors and measurable metrics. It needs to be fun, rewarding and celebrated.

I’ve asked thousands of salespeople what percentage of their time is spent in “real high-quality selling situations”. I have never heard more that 25%. The power of introductions is significant particularly when measured against effort. It’s ongoing, helps with pipeline challenges, improves relationships, is great practice and can leverage the entire company.

The table below uses traditional, generic conversion ratios to show how much more effective and simpler it is to generate revenue when you are getting quality introductions.

intro-table.jpg

You can do this - it's easy.  It's actually easier than what you are doing today!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: getting referrals, referrals and introductions, reps making quota

The Case for Using Audio for  Great Sales Coaching

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Dec 11, 2017 @ 13:12 PM

audio.jpg

Have you ever recorded a new voicemail greeting only to re-record it multiple times because the words were not right, your tonality was off, the flow was bad or you just didn’t like how you sounded?

When we call a business for customer support, virtually every major company has a “This call may be recorded for coaching” message. Many technology companies with inside sales organizations use call recording software, yet many don’t leverage these tools for coaching.  When I ask a group of salespeople how often they listen to their own sales calls  less than 10% typically say yes. When I ask about the frequency of calls they record the number is even lower.  If salespeople simply asked more and better questions and more relevant questions their success rate would rise, yet almost no one reviews and improves their single biggest asset - how they sound on the phone.

The reasons for not recording and listening include: 

  • I don’t know how 
  • It will take a lot of time
  • I’m not sure what to coach people on
  • People don’t like listening to themselves
  • I don't think it will really help?

Salespeople frequently struggle with transitions because they spend too much time in some areas and not enough in others. If you break a call into simple parts; the introduction, rapport, expectations, questioning, summary and next steps you can identify the areas that need the most work. 

One of the biggest obstacles to being effective on the phone is expectations. Identifying a clear, appropriate, desired outcome and getting the prospect to agree to this upfront helps enormously. Pre-call strategy helps but what actually happens on the call is usually quite different from what was strategized and practiced. Without hearing the actual call, sales managers must coach to the outcome instead of what caused the outcome.

To have real impact on their salespeople, sales leaders must help their salespeople identify what they could have done differently and how this will improve their conversations and their outcomes.

Common opportunities for improvement are:

  • Did the salesperson ask one question or three at a time?
  • Did the prospect answer the question?
  • Did the salesperson repeat the question if necessary?
  • Are salespeople asking for clarification on the “labels” used, i.e. happy, fast or expensive?
  • Do salespeople allow their prospects to finish?
  • Are they interrupting?
  • How often are they summarizing?
  • Are they saying things to keep their prospects comfortable?
  • What was said that your salespeople missed?

A simple way to get started is to have a salesperson pick a call they want to review. Using the questions above as a guide, listen to it and make notes on the challenges / opportunities for improvement. Then, listen to the call with the salesperson and stop at the point(s) where you heard something important. Ask them what they heard. Your goal is to get them to identify the areas for improvement. Ask them what may have caused the challenge identified and what would have happened if they had done something different.

You may have to tell people what you heard, but resist your desire to explain. When salespeople self-discover their challenges it sticks, when you tell them, it may not. 

As for those who don’t use audio coaching enough, the question you need to ask yourself is, am I going to continue to accept my own rationalization for not leveraging this powerful tool? Can you imagine elite athletes not watching game film? I can’t!

Image Copyright iStock Photos

Topics: sales management, Sales Coaching, chris mott, coaching salespeople

Sales Selection - Should You Go for Skills, Industry Experience, or Talent?

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Nov 28, 2017 @ 10:11 AM

selection.jpg
Image Copyright iStock

I have met with hundreds of salespeople who appeared viable, only to see them stumble badly in their sales interview. Often, they were candidates whose resumes were full of relevant experience, came highly recommended or were great at quickly establishing relationships.  Here are some reasons as to why this might happen.

Sometimes, experience provides hiring managers with a false sense of security, believing that candidates will quickly ramp up, require less training and present with credibility early in their tenure. However, without proper vetting, experience can be very misleading. Lacking a clear understanding of whether the candidate possesses the required competencies for the specific role and day-to-day responsibilities, experience which appears to be strengths could actually be weaknesses in disguise. Expect challenges if the competition, decision makers, pricing strategy, size of company and resistance from their prior selling environment are different from your selling environment. For example, salespeople who have great industry background in a long sales cycle will likely have a hard time adapting to a shorter sales cycle.

One of the biggest challenges occurs with something we call, Why Buy vs Why Me?This occurs with salespeople who have sold products or services that customers will purchase, but they must determine who to buy it from. Getting those salespeople to sell products or services where the question is "Why buy at all?" is extremely difficult. In the services space this is particularly problematic. Salespeople that have sold “why me?" focus on differentiating the value of the solution instead of helping their prospects discover that they have challenges that need to be addressed.

Many companies, particularly later in the selection process when multiple interviewers get involved, spend too much time “selling” the opportunity. For salespeople who are good at relationship creation, this significantly limits their ability to gather critical information. This can result in hiring people who are good at bonding and rapport but not consultative selling. The capacity to build strong relationships quickly is critically important but it’s only step one in getting people to open up and talk honestly.

There are many salespeople who are students of selling. Whether this comes from training, reading or other sources it’s a good thing but knowing what to do is not the same as doing it. For example, think about the last time a salesperson had the correct strategy prior to a sales call and then returned having done something completely different. Candidates who are articulate and knowledgeable will sound great but frequently their expertise is more theoretical than behavioral. 

Imagine a candidate who comes referred, quickly and effectively builds relationships, and knows your industry. Which of the following is your starting point?

  • They look like a great candidate, or
  • I need to ignore all of that and interview them as if I know nothing about them?

I’m all for having a candidate referral program but that’s as far as it should go. That leaves talent as the primary quality you should seek.

I know you may be a New England Patriots hater, but their coach, Bill Belichick, says he looks for three things:

  1. Love of football
  2. Work effort
  3. Unselfishness.

In addition to a love of sales it’s essential that new hires have significant passion to improve. Passion combined with humility with help salespeople work through the highs and lows of selling, open the door to impactful coaching, improve your sales culture and help lower resistance with prospects.

Would you benefit from having more salespeople with these traits? Accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments will help you select salespeople with the sales core competencies required for success in the role.  These are the best.

Topics: sales recruiting, hiring sales candidates, sales selection, sales assessments

Sales Leaders Should Function Like Chiropractors

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 @ 20:11 PM

chiro.jpg
Image Copyright iStock Photos

I was at the Chiropractor this morning having a sometimes too frequent adjustment. Terry, who I’ve seen for years, has a photo of a perfect road that turns sharply, exposing torn asphalt, then straightens into a perfectly paved road again. The caption says, incident, acute care, rehabilitation and maintenance. Today I was in rehab. I’ve learned (Rather slowly) that when I stop the maintenance it usually leads to rehab or acute care.

The term manipulation (one definition) is to move something from one position to another i.e. my vertebrae need to be moved from out of alignment into alignment. When I’m on track this is quick and painless and when I am not on track I need multiple visits and the recovery (muscle, bone and ligaments) takes longer and is more painful.

Developing salespeople is challenging primarily because it requires that salespeople change their behavior in response to another person’s actions. Building a strong relationship tends to compensate for the need to change behavior. Salespeople have needed to develop expertise delivering a value presentation and invest time with their prospects. That has changed.  Today, your salespeople must be capable of being the value in the same way that advisers do requiring salespeople to change their behavior. To succeed at this, practice, role-play, demonstration, risk taking, great planning and fundamentals must be embedded in the sales culture and sales management DNA.

Consider the following statements. Do they sound familiar?

  • Sales managers are often too hands off
  • Their coaching involves diagnosing the situation and providing feedback on next steps
  • Role-play has a more limited role
  • We don’t test people’s ability to react in the moment, i.e. “your price is too high, what do you say?”
  • Weekly practice time is very limited or non-existent
  • We don’t know enough about the details of our salespeople financial situation
  • We as managers don’t practice

Unless your top performers lack the passion and incentive to be better as salespeople, and many do, the salespeople who need more rehab and acute care will generally be your mid and lower tier performers. However, depending on how much growth potential they have and how quickly this can be realized, you may get great value from investing your time in them.

For sales development to have an impact, you need highly motivated (to be better) people, a well-defined milestone-centric sales process, that you hold people accountable to following. Schedule and hold daily / weekly 1-1 meetings, regular small group practice, clear measurable KPI’s, salesperson-created personal development plans which are reviewed weekly, the ability to ask, not tell, lots of patience, the desire and willingness to allow people to make mistakes, learn in their own way at their pace and a high degree of personal humility. Sounds easy huh? Oh, and one more thing. You must love coaching people more than selling!

Topics: sales management, sales leader

Why Thinking is Such a Bad Thing for Salespeople

Posted by Chris Mott on Mon, Oct 30, 2017 @ 14:10 PM

negative-self-talk.jpg
Image Copyright iStock Photos 

I recently conducted several two-day sales intensives with dozens of successful veteran salespeople. We spent much of the time discussing how their thinking impacts what they do and don’t do on sales calls.

As with most of the salespeople with whom I have worked, their pre-call planning was woefully incomplete and focused on what the prospect wants to accomplish. Understanding the prospect's agenda is critical, but developing and confirming a meeting agenda will usually result in a positive step forward. That is consistent with a defined sales process and a required sales best practice.

Examples of desired outcomes are:

  • The prospect is 100% committed to changing how they buy something
  • If certain things happen the prospect will get the financial decision maker involved
  • Agreement to fully discuss the cost of the current problems

Assuring that meeting outcomes are win-win requires salespeople to challenge or push back on their prospects. Early in the sales cycle, salespeople tend to accept the amount of meeting time a prospect offers instead of respectfully asking for the amount of time needed. Later in the sales cycle, instead of defining the parameters of a successful trial and what happens when it’s completed, salespeople are often OK with simply reaching the trial stage.

The actual lessons from the training, submitted by the salespeople below, illustrate why salespeople fall short.

  • Always make sure key decision makers approve next steps.
  • It is okay to say “No."
  • Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions – you can always apologize.
  • Stop wasting time - Reach higher in the organization.
  • Bring a conversation to your level or terms to establish equality.
  • Be skeptical of good news.
  • I assume I’m further along in the sales process than my customer is.

Behind each of these lessons is a belief which strongly influences behavior. Because these beliefs occur without us being fully aware of them we “think” ourselves into the wrong action.

If you don’t recognize that spending time with non-decision makers is a waste of time you won’t reach higher in an organization. When you are not OK saying No, you will work only on the prospects agenda. Getting excited when you hear what sounds like good news prevents you from verifying that it is actually good news.

Identifying and becoming aware of non-supportive selling beliefs is the only way to change behavior. Take a few minutes right now and evaluate your beliefs and how they impact you as a salesperson or sales leader and read Dave Kurlan's terrific article for his slant on sales beliefs.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, chris mott, self-limting beliefs, sales effectiveness, negative self talk

Are Your Salespeople Great Ambassadors?

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Oct 07, 2015 @ 12:10 PM

Recently, I was at a conference and the terrific keynote speaker shared a story about a one million dollar account, the no-brainer annual renewal, and how the salesperson completely blew the deal with one ill-conceived sentence. In this scenario, the salesperson completely failed to understand and appreciate some of the sensitivities of his corporate audience. It is important to recognize that Management is responsible for recognizing these challenges while providing skills coaching to a salesperson's Ambassadorial temperament.  

Have you have ever conducted a customer feedback survey? If so, you have likely heard things that made you cringe. Customer-facing people will create, reinforce and often taint client and prospect perceptions of your company. Problems with messaging, tone and clarity usually have quite a lasting impact. 

In this video, I discuss this and offer some important insights.

Do you want to know more about what motivates and holds your salespeople back? Take a few minutes to complete the checklist below.

evaluation_checklist_cta   

Topics: chris mott, coaching salespeople, account management, win-loss analysis

Selling Value When Your Prospect is a Price Shopper

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Oct 01, 2015 @ 10:10 AM

Have you ever been in a scenario where you had to sell value, but your prospect was interested in nothing other than how low you could go? That might be an exciting proposition if you were trying to win a Limbo contest, but if you are trying to win the business and protect margin, you may have quite the challenge on your hands. In order to sell value to price shoppers, salespeople must be very highly skilled along with having supportive sales DNA and beliefs. Additionally, it will take lots of practice. Salespeople who tend to become emotional could lose objectivity and if they identify with buying based on price, they won't push back. If salespeople aren't comfortable having a financial discussion, they won't be effective at discussing the very issues that create value.

In this short video, I explore this challenge and sales management's response.

Is it important for you and your team to be more effective at handing price shoppers? Are you losing too many deals and wasting too much time? Get some quick feedback on your sales force and the other things that might be causing this.

evaluation_checklist_cta 

Topics: Sales Coaching, chris mott, selling value, price shoppers, improve win rates

Are Your Salespeople Really Selling Consultatively?

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Sep 29, 2015 @ 12:09 PM

Do you sell consultatively? Salespeople and sales leaders frequently think that they are, when in reality, they are either selling transactionally or applying solution selling. Does that statement bother you? Does it raise any questions? According to Objective Management Group and its data from evaluating and assessing close to a million salespeople, salespeople possess an average of only 48% of the attributes of a consultative seller. 

My video post today discusses this in some detail. Watch it and then go ask your saleseople to define consultative selling. You likely be frustrated by the answers.  

If you need to hire salespeople who have great consultative selling ability, read our whitepaper on sales selection.

whitepaper banner

Topics: Consultative Selling, recruiting sales people, chris mott, hiring great salespeople, selling value

Sales Leaders Can Benefit From Forgetting What They Know   

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Sep 17, 2015 @ 10:09 AM

When sales managers know their salespeople quite well, that can be a really good thing. However, there is a difference between knowing them and knowing what makes them tick. Understanding what motivates them, how they process information, when to nurture and when to push are indispensable for coaching them to the next level. What happens when sales managers don't know their salespeople as well as they should? As they said in last night's GOP debate, the current occupant of the White House just doesn't know what he doesn't know. When sales leaders don't know what they don't know, there can be tremendous risk.

Insight from people and organizations who are not directly invested in the existing people, systems and processes can help you develop a new perspective if you are open-minded enough.

This short video discusses why sales leaders may reject information that does not represent their opinion or frame of reference and cause them to miss an opportunity for greater understanding, change and improved performance. 

Building a world-class sales force requires that we continually update our perception of what we believe we know. Evaluating your sales force using a new lens will challenge your assumptions and identify the things that you didn't know that you didn't know.        

evaluation_checklist_cta

Topics: developing better sales teams, developing your sales people, sales development, better management skills

Are You Frustrated With Your Salespeople? - Coach Your Sales Managers.

Posted by Chris Mott on Tue, Sep 15, 2015 @ 08:09 AM

It shouldn't be a surprise that employees apply more of what they learn when training is supplemented with coaching. But how frequently does that happen and how effective is the coaching when it does happen?  You might be surprised...

Dave Kurlan shared some mind blowing statistics from Objective Management Group (OMG) in this 2009 article about sales leaders. Please take a moment to read that and then return here.  

Many sales leaders are not having appreciable impact on the sales force. Since the majority of Presidents and CEO's rise to their positions from technical, operations and finance roles, they may not see how important it is for sales managers to be coached.  Sales VPs and Directors may have come from similar backgrounds where sales management coaching did not take place and as a result, may not know the importance of providing high impact coaching like this..

In this short video I discuss this challenge and offer a recent client experience.

If you want to be a better coach, why not attend our Sales Leadership Intensive later this month. Click on this link for more information. 

Topics: sales management training, chris mott, sales growth, manage sales more effectively, coaching sales managers,

Subscribe to Email Updates

Scan the QR Code with your smartphone for immediate access to Chris Mott.

Chris Mott LinkedIn

Sales Leadership Intensive

http://www.kurlanassociates.com/sales-leadership-event/

hiring mistake calc