Judgment Affects Sales Recruiting

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Feb 01, 2013 @ 10:02 AM

650 BadDecisionsLast week, I was at the Dallas Vistage International Conference.  When I checked into the hotel, there was a group of little girls dressed in performance dance attire.  We got onto the elevator together with several of the moms.  Now I hate to admit this, but by somewhere between the first floor and their floor, they reminded me of the shows like Dance Moms or Toddlers & Tiaras.  I was in the elevator with those kinds of moms and kids.  They weren't particularly modeling upright characters.

On Thursday morning, a dance troupe performed as a demonstration of Innovation, one of the categories for which Vistage gives annual member awards.  The Silhouettes, a Colorado dance company performing in silhouette format, was simply amazing and received a standing ovation.

That afternoon, I went back to the hotel and ran into a couple of the kids with their Silhouettes-logoed jackets.  When they turned around, I realized these were the same people from the elevator.  So which was it, those people or the nationally-recognized Silhouettes who'd performed that morning?  I made a very quick, yet strong, judgment based on no more than thirty seconds.

This isn’t surprising since research shows how quickly first impressions are formed, but it highlights one reason why sales recruiting so frequently backfires.

Judgment can work both ways.  I could have seen the girls in the elevator and thought, “What loving and committed parents. It’s wonderful seeing young girls doing something they love and having fun.”

Salespeople are successful not simply because they're presentable, articulate, engaging and people are comfortable being around them.  They're successful because they're highly-skilled listeners, ask great questions, follow a well-defined, structured process, are unburdened by sales-specific weaknesses and receive ongoing behavior-based coaching.  Most importantly, they may not be anyone like you or other successful salespeople in your company.  This is not to say that you should hire people who don’t share your vision, support the organizational culture nor interact well with employees.

The problem is that we often quickly judge sales candidates based on their presentation and posture.  Most successful salespeople are effective in these areas, but this doesn’t mean they have great hunting skills, are capable of engaging in a comprehensive business discussion and are skilled at helping people understand the complexity and importance of the challenges which they face.

Let me illustrate this by way of a question.  Have you ever hired a salesperson who had all the right stuff during the interviewing process, yet was not successful once you hired them?  The answer is almost always "yes".  Why does this so frequently happen to sales managers, executives, human resources and sales operations professionals?  My experience is that judgment is a significant factor.  Other contributors are lack of testing, using the wrong testing (data gathered in a non-sales context), following poorly-defined sales interviewing process and pressures to hire.  Hiring managers must be highly-skilled at seeing past first impressions, avoid emotional attachment with candidates and finally, practiced and trained on behavioral-based interviewing designed specifically for sales recruiting. 

How is judgment affecting your sales recruiting success?  Does your organization have the right stuff when it comes to hiring salespeople and sales leaders?

Find out how you can improve your sales recruiting.

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, sales assessment, sales hiring, recruiting salespeople, sales candidates, sales personality

Sales Mojo Versus Achilles' Heel

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Jan 03, 2013 @ 16:01 PM


Achilles Heal, sales culture, selling, sales competenciesHaving a great plan isn’t enough. The problem is that we all have an Achilles' Heel.  Frank Belzer’s post, “5 Ways to Restore Your Sales MOJO for 2013!”, offers great tactical advice and provides an outline for a sales plan.

I’m a good planner, but consistent focus and discipline can be a challenge.  Like many of you, I suspect, I alternate between firing on all cylinders and a semi-stalled engine.  When I’m on my game, I’m very focused.  For me, 2013 is about keeping my sales mojo and paying more attention to my Achilles' heel.

As a teenager, I loved science fiction.  I was a Star Trek fan, read many books by Ray Bradbury, Issac Asimov and Kurt Vonnegut.  My favorite though was J. R. R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  Tolkien’s Trilogy, preceded by The Hobbit, was his life’s work.  He literally created the languages and developed ' of history for his stories.

While his works are based on the classic “good vs. evil” metaphor, they're also about struggle, adversity and the human condition.  Bilbo (The Hobbit) goes on an adventure which challenges his complete being.  In The Lord of the Rings, his oldest cousin, Frodo, is tasked with the unthinkable - saving the world from evil.  Despite the overwhelming odds against these lovable Hobbits, they somehow found the will to continue and thrive, driven by a purpose for which neither asked nor knew they possessed.

Salespeople face enormous challenges, including rejection, disingenuous prospects, loyalty, politics, unaligned self-interest and even themselves.  What is your Achilles' heel?  Can you identify and describe it?  Are you doing anything about it?

I believe the biggest challenge which salespeople face is looking at them in the mirror each day.  Whether it’s the challenge of Commitment, Desire, Outlook, Rationalization, Willingness to Change, Open-Mindedness, Humility or Tenacity, we need to honestly identify and work on them each day.  We'll make mistakes, but continuing to put one foot in front of the other is the essence of what Star Trek's Captain Kirk referred to as the "human condition".

My challenge for you is to identify your sales force's Achilles' heel, put a plan together to address it and stoke the fire each day.

evals2

Topics: sales competencies, sales force assessment, sales blog, sales culture, sales people motivation, sales core competencies, chris mott

What are Your Salespeople Thinking When Management isn’t Looking?

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 @ 08:12 AM

Coaching Salespeople, better coaching of sales people, changing outcomes of a sales call

Cost of Sales is a critical KPI, particularly when you operate on thin margins.  Influencing factors include attrition, training, travel, equipment, compensation, recruiting and administrative costs.  Some of these are generally fixed while others can vary widely.

If 100% of your salespeople consistently make their quota or budget at the desired margin, much of the concern about Cost of Sales would evaporate.

So why worry about it? I was speaking with an SVP of a brand-name company with thousands of salespeople.  He told me that most all of their sales teams have only a few (2-3) salespeople achieving quota while the rest consistently struggle.  Let's take a look at a typical sales team of 8 people.

Salesperson

Quota

$ Delivered

Percent

 

 

 

 

1

$1,000,000

$1,100,000

110

2

$1,000,000

$1,100,000

110

3

$1,000,000

$1,000,000

100

4

$1,000,000

$900,000

90

5

$1,000,000

$800,000

80

6

$1,000,000

$750,000

75

7

$750,000

$600,000

80

8

$500,000

$400,000

80

 

 

 

 

Total

$7,250,000

$6,650,000

92%

35% Margin

$2,537,500

$2,327,500

 

 

 

 

 

Lost Margin

 

$210,000

8%

The net gap in margin, $210,000 in this example, replicated 6 times to account for the 5 similarly performing teams in the organization, has a direct impact of $1,260,000 on the Cost of Sales.  You don’t need to be a financial wiz to see that even a small drop in margin has a significant effect on profitability.

My experience is that when salespeople consistently do the things which they don’t want to do (healthy behaviors), good things happen.  Highly-effective people do the hardest and least desirable things first, assuring greater productivity.

In this light, the SVP’s comments illustrate both a huge problem and an amazing opportunity.  Yet most senior executives assume the 80/20 rule will be true, but simply leads to more unacceptable behaviors and outcomes.

Consider what would happen if your financial people were able to account for only 92% of your money or if operations shipped only 92% of your product.  It’s virtually certain that things would change quickly.

Let's put aside the impact on profit and look only at the salespeople.  Self-limiting thinking impacts everything.  For example:

  • I can’t help a prospect who's happy with their current supplier.
  • The economy is hurting our business.
  • It’s OK if I miss my quota as long as I come close.
  • I’m not an executive.
  • I wish that I didn’t have to deal with being rejected.
  • People are under pressure to buy the lowest priced products.

These thoughts influence bravery, execution, adherence to sales process, motivation, outlook and most importantly whether the salesperson can execute the call strategy.

What are your salespeople thinking when management isn’t looking?  Is sales management skilled enough to address this challenge?  What don’t you know about your sales force that’s costing you 8% or more of your margin dollars?  Are you accepting the 80/20 rule, the one which says that 80% of your sales organization is underperforming?

evals2

Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales culture, sales personality, better coaching of sales people, coaching salespeople, lost sales analysis

Fostering Magic Moments on Sales Calls

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Dec 07, 2012 @ 14:12 PM

Closing Skills, Listening, Awareness, Sales Process, sales culture, sales assessment, sales competencies, grow salesIn the movie “Ghostbusters”, Bill Murray’s character closes a deal when he says to the New York City mayor, “You will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.”  After a long pause, the mayor agrees to work with the Ghostbusters to save the city.  If you haven’t seen this movie clip, be sure to watch it.  

Being intentional in sales allows us to create “magical moments” where everything changes thereafter.   In this clip, the Ghostbusters first explain the consequences of the problem.  Bill Murray then puts the solution in a context about which the mayor cares (registered voters) and then goes silent to let the moment happen.  How often do your salespeople trample their work with too much dialogue?

Magical moments can’t necessarily be planned; they must just happen.  They’re caused by chemistry, emotion, process awareness and the willingness to take a risk.  

So what are magical moments?  They’re points in the process when bonding happens, insight occurs, prospects get emotionally connected to the issue, trust is demonstrated and prospects know you “get it”.  

Intuition helps a lot.  For example, how is the person likely to feel when you first meet?  What can you do to improve the connection?  When you sell to a friend, “your relationship” is the elephant in the room, so acknowledge it, validate its importance and ask if you can agree to put it aside during conversations.  

In a recent meeting, we heard an SVP demonstrate his intimate understanding of the business and how it works.   It was comprehensive, succinct, passionately articulated and offered a vision with enough detail to bring it alive.   My colleague recognized this and commented that his description was the most clearly-articulated message that he’d ever heard.  You could see how much positive impact this had on the SVP physically and it was a magical moment.  Afterward, his peers said that they too were blown away by what he’d said and thanked us for recognizing and acknowledging this.  

Salespeople often go too fast on sales calls.  Sometimes they need to slow down to speed up.   Intuition and the universe talk to us all the time but we don’t always listen well.   When someone says something that impacts us, we know it.  The challenge is do we take a risk and respond.   Risk is a funny thing.  In sales, it’s virtually nonexistent since we typically haven’t closed the deal yet and therefore have nothing to lose.  However, our fear convinces us that we’re in danger and then provides a crazy rationalization for not acting.

Magical moments are always around us.  Your salespeople need to learn to see them and act on them.  The irony is that when we do so, it’s frequently by accident.  Then we’re awed by what happened!  The key is to be intentional.  

Being intentional can be taught and fostered through role-playing and coaching.  To learn more about growing in this area, feel free to contact me.

Click me

 

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, sales assessment, grow sales, sales process, Closing Skills, Listening, Awareness

Boxing Cornermen - The Chemistry of Great Sales Leadership

Posted by Chris Mott on Thu, Dec 06, 2012 @ 09:12 AM

Boxing Cornermen Chemistry of Great Sales People

HBO’s 24/7 chronicles the pre-fight training camp for significant upcoming bouts.  This Saturday, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez square off in Las Vegas.  It’s the fourth time that they’ve met.  Pacquiao leads the series 2-1, but Marquez defeated Pacquiao in their last bout.  Expectations and excitement levels are high as the boxing experts see these two being incredibly closely-matched.  We definitely can expect a great fight on Saturday.

Behind the fighters are two of the greatest cornermen in the game, Freddie Roach and the legendary Nacho Beristan.  Nacho’s fighters have won an amazing 25 world championships.  Freddie Roach has trained some of the best fighters in the world and has a storybook following.

What struck me was the nature of the relationship between the fighters and their coaches.  To say they trust and respect each other is a huge understatement.  And, the personal rivalry between Nacho and Freddie is perhaps greater than that of the fighters.  In short, there is a tremendous amount at stake including pride, history and legacy.

Putting the chemistry between the cornermen and fighters aside for a moment, Freddie and Nacho can teach us a lot about being world-class coaches and mentors. 

  • They are creatures of routine and habit.
  • Their workdays start early and end very late.
  • Details are never missed.
  • They will do whatever it takes to win.
  • The emphasis is on fundamentals.
  • Conditioning is paramount to success (behavior).
  • Mental toughness trumps everything.
  • They are masters at diagnosing the situation.
  • Changes are made incrementally and build on each other.

Listening to Manny and Juan talk about their coaches was similar to hearing grandchildren laud praise, honor, respect and unconditional love on their most adored grandparent.  It was a thing of beauty and a wonderful illustration of people helping people for all the right reasons.  My sense is that it’s almost more important to the fighters that they win for their coach than for themselves.

How committed to your salespeople are you?  Would they walk through walls if you asked them?  Is your relationship based on deep respect and trust?  Which elements of a cornerman’s approach are you missing and what are you going to do next?  A sales force evaluation would be a great first step into the ring!  Why not contact me directly?

evals2

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, sales management best practices, compelling reasons to buy, sales personality, Bonding and Rapport, better coaching of sales people, achieving trusted advisor status

How We Think Determines Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Oct 19, 2012 @ 12:10 PM

Quantum physics has shown that matter vibrates at a specific and measurable frequency.  Of course, this includes human beings.  What’s really interesting is that frequency changes based on our emotional state and we attract energy vibrating at similar frequency.creative thinker

This law of nature, like gravity or cause and effect, is termed The Law of Attraction.  It means that our emotional state attracts people and circumstances consistent with what we are feeling. 

Think about salespeople who are on a roll.  Success fosters the opportunity for more success.  When they get in a slump, it's very hard for them to get back on track.  Whether you want to believe it or not, this dynamic affects us in every aspect of our lives, whether we are in sales or not.  It also greatly contributes to our happiness.

When a salesperson is in a slump, the following thoughts could manifest: 

  • Business is hard right now.
  • I can't seem to get anything closed.
  • If I don't fix this soon, I'll be in trouble.
  • This isn't fun anymore.
  • I must be doing something wrong.

Imagine how this thinking might affect them.  What happens to their mood and attitude?  Are they more or less likely to conjure up bravery and passion?  And how does this affect how prospects and clients perceive them?

Consider the impact of a CEO who may exude negative energy compared to another executive who radiates passion for success, commitment to excellence, personal improvement and enormous commitment to their employees’ well-being.  My belief is that the difference, between highly successful companies and underperforming ones, is determined by the nature and consistency of its employees’ energy.

Integrating this principal into your organization isn't easy.  Witness the effort and challenges of culture change resulting from mergers and acquisitions.  It can have a profound impact on your team, company and you.  Identifying the specific non-supportive beliefs, by which your sales force is affected, is critical to the coaching and development process.  For example, a salesperson who is uncomfortable talking about money will avoid this conversation despite the agreed-upon call strategy.  Of course it all starts with the individual.  We need to bring the right attitude, state of mind, passion and energy, which our companies and teams need.

My challenge to you is to implement the following for the next month and see what happens: 

  • Focus and talk about positive things and avoid the negative.
  • Give people your undivided attention.  Listen to them, not about what you’re thinking.
  • Keep a gratitude journal and read it daily.
  • Acknowledge people as human beings, not employees.

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales culture, sales assessment, quantum physics, sales people motivation, sales personality

Do HR Professionals Understand and Respect Salespeople?

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 11:08 AM

HR ProfIn a recent article from Management Association, Mary Lynn Fayoumi talks about the importance of HR professionals having good sales skills.  She speaks about the necessity of “selling” great talent on coming to work for you. 

In a competitive marketplace, where specialized skills and experience are increasingly important, the ability of hiring managers to differentiate themselves and their company is critical.

If we surveyed HR professionals, asking them to define what a successful salesperson must do well, I suspect that articulating the company’s value proposition would rank very high.  The question is how?  The best salespeople help the client to discover that core business issues and unforeseen consequences make the value proposition important.

Salespeople often start off in the right direction, but then quickly find themselves in presentation mode.  The result is a loss of control and differentiation.  I believe that HR professionals suffer from the same problem.

My experience is that far too many HR executives underappreciate the science, art and difficulty of professional selling.  They can articulate the business case, cost and impact of underperforming salespeople.  They understand the opportunity cost of turnover, but they really don’t “get” salespeople and, in too many cases, underappreciate the difficulty of the sales job.  This probably isn’t surprising since most CEO’s have the same challenge because they’re from the finance, operations and/or technical side.  HR professionals also happen to spend a lot of time interacting with vendors who often don’t live up to expectations.

What makes salespeople different? 

  • They are usually highly emotional and sometimes volatile people.
  • They are not good at being introspective.
  • Asking for help is typically a weakness.
  • Compliance is not in their vocabulary.
  • Most are fairly self-absorbed.
  • They love teamwork when they are in control of the team.
  • They should ask questions which make prospects uncomfortable.
  • Details are not that important.
  • The good ones fight when prospects say no.

What percentage of these traits do you think HR professionals possess?  More importantly, how many look for these attributes when hiring great employees and how does this affect the sales talent recruitment?

 

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales culture, sales candidates, sales personality, chris mott

How Well Will You Adapt? – The Sales Seismic Shift

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 @ 09:08 AM

A client of mine sent me an article recently from the Harvard Business Review titled The End of Solution Selling.  It is a long, well-researched piece which challenges the status quo.

A key premise is that customers now are investing a significant amount of time and energy before they engage salespeople to diagnose their own problems and identify the solution. Salespeople, who historically have focused on finding a problem and identifying the solution, now increasingly are seen as unnecessary and redundant. 

Many salespeople view themselves as facilitators of a buying process, which they frequently allow the prospect to design and control. They spend much time explaining why people should buy from them instead of helping the prospect identify the potential flaws in their logic and decision-making. They get lost in the details and miss the opportunity to discuss the big picture, including industry change, disruptive events and how this aligns with or may undermine the potential customer’s strategy.

Yesterday, I spoke to a recently hired sales leader. In our conversation, he shared that while improving the effectiveness of his sales force was an important priority, the bigger issue was getting senior management to understand that “sales” is as important as operations and that great products don’t sell themselves. This comes from a company with over 500 employees.

roaddamage resized 600

Developing salespeople, from presenters of a value proposition to proactive hunters with great consultative selling ability, is the biggest and most important challenge facing the sales industry today. The days of building a relationship and presenting a solution are gone forever. Unfortunately, most salespeople don’t know that a seismic shift has already taken place and they’re not prepared for what’s coming.

Great salespeople love when prospects push back. They relish the idea of being challenged and engaging prospects. They understand that their real value comes from dialogue and their ability to change people’s thinking and perception. In Baseline Selling terms, they spend much time between first and second base, building SOB quality. Remember that SOB means that the prospect is paying more attention to you than anyone else because you have helped them discover new challenges, opportunities and concerns which need to be addressed.

Which percentage of your salespeople are proactive hunters who excel at consultative selling? How many lean in when their prospects push back, not out of frustration but because they naturally engage in honest two-way conversations? Lastly, how effective are your sales leadership skills in developing your salespeople in these critical areas?

Kurlan & Associates, Inc. is holding a two-day Sales Leadership Intensive in Boston on October 3-4. The program is for CEO’s, President’s, GM’s and Sales Leaders committed to excellence.

Topics: sales culture, Consultative Selling, sales model, sales methodology, sales training, harvard business review, solution selling, hbr blog, chris mott

Recession Insures Greater Competition- Sales Professionals Beware

Posted by Chris Mott on Wed, Aug 26, 2009 @ 14:08 PM

 

Frank Belzer's post about Chinese work ethic and competition highlights something most people don't want to think about. The competitive landscape has changed forever.

Putting aside the impact of increased globalization, and the rise of China and India, America's challenges with the deficit, tax and monetary policy and unemployment just to mention a few:  they aren't going away anytime soon.

People are smarter and more cautious, armed with information which may well be inaccurate.  Witness the healthcare debate, under tremendous pressure to make the "correct decision", fearful about losing their jobs and feeling stressed out and overwhelmed.

Competition comes in many forms and from different places. It's direct or indirect, external and internal, foreign or domestic, price based or value based and outside your control or self-inflected. Success will be more difficult to achieve than ever before and, like the economic situation, this won't change anytime soon. 

I'll leave you with some questions to ask and find answers to:

  • How do prospects and customers see you, as vendors or someone of higher value?
  • Do you and your company position yourselves as advisors and, if so, do you act the part?
  • Do you know specifically what your competition does better than you?
  • Are you doing everything you can to impact the sales process even when you are not in control?
  • How has your value proposition been affected by the economy?
  • Are you mentally and emotionally tough enough to fight through these changing conditions to ultimately prosper?

Topics: sales culture, sales management, discouragement, declining sales, chris mott, sales resistance

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