The Sales Expeditor

Chris Mott

Recent Posts

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

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.        

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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,

What Untrainable Salespeople Sound Like and What That Means to You

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Sep 09, 2015 @ 09:09 AM

When a salesperson needs help, but appears to be untrainable or uncoachable, it's like they are a fish out of water. We know that selling has changed dramtically since 2009. The pressure on companies to adapt to these changes are greater than ever. Unfortunately, a measurable percentage of salespeople lack the personal incentive to change. All too frequently this includes top performers. Building a great sales force requires a core of people who are fundamentally sound and committed to improving their skills and effectiveness. In the video below I discuss what it sounds like when salespeople aren't Coachable and/or Trainable.         

If you want to learn more about your salesforce and how much better it can be click on the link below. 

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Topics: sales training, sales motivation, chris mott, coaching salespeople

Should I Replace Myself As Sales Manager?

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Dec 11, 2014 @ 13:12 PM

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Should I hire a sales manager or not?

Hiring the right sales manager will have a profound impact on your sales force and pay great dividends over time.  Accomplishing this takes planning, effort, commitment, and the willingness to address your personal skill gaps. 

Important considerations include:

  • Am I willing to manage them correctly?
  • Do we have the necessary infrastructure?
  • How will they be compensated?
  • What is my role?
  • How do i ensure the investment pays off?    

My post today discusses this question and some critical factors to consider.

Click on the icon below and download samples of our sales and sales management candidate assesments.

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Topics: sales management, sales managers, CEOs impact on sales, great sales management training

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