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Hi Folks. In my previous blog post, I was talking about holding yourself accountable as a leader. Well ‘lo and behold this article pops up in my email box this morning.
It is a great piece on the topic of accountability and the 5 areas where you must BE CLEAR for real accountability to truly exist. I will be continue digging into this topic as it relates to sales leadership and management as January progresses.
Here is an excerpt from the article and the link to the entire article is below.
Link to the rest of the article is right here
3 Sales Management Lessons From
The Power of Practice
We all think we are sooooo great! Just wind us up, do a little preparation and let’s go talk to customers. Well the scary characters in Monsters, Inc. would tell you different. Scaring is critically important in their world because the “screams” that come from the children they scare power their city, lights, heat, cars you name it.
The first scene in the movie shows their training area where they practice “scaring.” They have a replica child’s room complete with a “little boy” robot. One of the “professional scarers” comes out of the closet to scare the little boy and he makes some serious mistakes. It is prime learning time for the all monsters on the team because they video tape the simulations. Now they can go back and coach/correct all the mistakes. It helps the individual monster making the mistakes and all the other monsters on the team.
Sound familiar? Folks you are making a gravely serious mistake if you do not conduct simulations with your team. Make them as real to life as you possibly can. Video tape them so you can document progress or regression. Make the simulations part of your weekly/monthly/quarterly sales meetings. Make them fun, have contests around them. But most of all DO THEM!
You should also practice presentations with every rep individually. Don’t leave anything to chance. Give your rep the best shot possible by running through the discovery/presentation/negotiation with them BEFORE they go to it. George Patton, one of our greatest generals of all time, said “Sure I am tough on them during training! I much rather they sweat with me than bleed on the battle field.” Well, I rather my sales people learn in an office from me so they are prepared to get the sale, than by learning a lesson with a client and losing the sale.
The Power of Naming
About half-way through the movie there is a scene where the two main characters, Sully and Mike, are trying to send home the little girl who snuck into the Monster’s world. They are arguing about how to do it when Sully says that he has named her “Boo.” Well Mike is just livid at this development and he says, in a very angry voice, “You named it? You can’t name it; once you name it you get attached to it.” Exactly, once we take the time and effort to name something we begin to place value on that something. It is the reason why I tell all my clients that they should name their proposals.
What is special about an ‘Investment Analysis for ABC Company’ or what about ‘A Proposal for Electronic Payment Services Prepared by Joe Smith Company’? Answer: NOTHING. Both sound as generic as the proposal inside, I would wager. That is why I am amazed when sales management does not make formally naming proposals an air tight rule for every proposal that goes out the door.
The proposal is supposed to be a professional selling document not a glorified descriptive invoice. NAME YOUR PROPOSAL based on what the prospect wants as a RESULT of buying your products and services. A couple of examples I have used:
Each one of the above Proposal Names tell the prospect EXACTLY what to expect from reading the proposal but more importantly each name tells THE VALUE that comes from implementing what is inside the proposal.
The Power of Laughter
Remember when I told you that a child’s scream was the source for power in Monster City? Well by the end of the movie Sully and Mike learn that laughter is 10 times more powerful than a scream so they completely re-engineer Monsters, Inc. Now each monster who visits a child’s room has to make the children laugh instead of scream and the result is a record breaking year for energy production.
Managers, find a way to make sales fun for your team. Have contests, pit individuals against each other, get your team to volunteer for community events or hold them yourself and ALWAYS celebrate victories with your team. Take them out for cocktails or dinner or both, take them bowling, take them to an amusement park, it doesn’t matter what you do, the effort here COUNTS, but try to have fun with your team.
I know you need to maintain a certain professional distance from the team. If you get too close it can cloud your judgment or worse cost you a great sales person or a big sale. I am also aware there is always going to be the need to be tough with your team. There will also always be the need to place corrective actions on 1 or more members of your team. That’s fine just don’t let your managerial brio get in the way of having your team enjoy themselves.
Remember laughter is 10 times more powerful than screams keep that ratio in mind and you will be amazed at the results.
Why do even the most advanced athletes practice the basics over and over?
Why do they review game flims/videos before, during and after an athletic contest?
The answer to the above questions is simple. They do so because they want responses to situations to be essentially automatic. If you can remove the ‘what should I do?’ thought and instead allow the best and brightest to simply react using their God given abilities you have the chance to see real success in athletics. It’s not complicated, you don’t practice and the probability you will ‘choke’ in an unfamiliar situation is VERY HIGH.
It is the same in sales. You have to practice your craft to become the best and also so you can recognize situations and know immediately what the solution to them is. If you can eliminate the ‘I wasn’t expecting that’ commentary, which is another way of saying ‘I choked,’ I promise you will see sales increase.
Now I know some sales people will say ‘I get enough practice in front of my customers’. But think about it for a moment, is that where you really want to practice? What happens if what you try doesn’t work? Whoops, you just lost the sale; and that is the minimum that could go wrong.
The repetition of successful performance results in the “Video Game Effect.” We all know the basic concept of video games. Each level of the game has a ‘boss’ you have to defeat. After learning the needed skills and defeating him you move on to the next level, and so on and so on. Through practice and repetition you improve and have more success in the game. The better you get the more you enjoy the game. The world of sales is no different except that the better we get not only do we enjoy our work more but we make MORE MONEY!
There is science to this as well. When confronted with a scenario you have prepared for, the body will produce a neuro-transmitter called Serotonin. Its main job is to induce a calming effect allowing higher level critical thinking to happen at a much quicker pace. The result is better decisions and actions that dictate performance. Once you start to succeed at the task, the body produces Endorphins which creates the euphoric feeling coming after you have performed at a high level or won a contest. Thus, you become conditioned to want the same feeling over and over which propagates continued performance improvement. You might call it “Addiction to Success.”
Sales managers I strongly urge you to start a regimen of sales simulations with your team. You should have each member of the team submit a situation where they either lost the sale or didn’t move the process forward on a monthly basis. Also, build up your “Catalog” through your experience in the field riding with your team. Turn those actual events into simulations and before you know you will have a docket of potential selling scenarios that you can use to help develop your team and reduce the “Choking Happens Syndrome.”
Last thing; always do a post mortem, an evaluation on both live events and the simulations. Make sure your team knows what they did right, what they could do better and what they better not do EVER again. Eliminate the ‘what if’ from you and your team’s vocabulary and watch the sales numbers soar.
Okay, you conduct the simulation, video tape it and have your results all laid out. Now, you have to relay the results to the candidate. You may think you have learned everything there is to know because of the thoroughness of the simulation but you haven’t.
Our friend “Gauge” tells us how the candidate accepts your critique should be a crucial factor in your overall decision.
Now a short course on how to relay critique. The better the simulation the harsher the critique, the worse the simulation the more gentle. In both cases you MUST relay the facts it is just the manner that will change.
If they did a great job but are thin skinned during the critique that should tell you that they may not take criticism well much less be able to handle adversity. Or as Alec Baldwin said in Glen Garry Glenn Ross “if you can’t take what I am saying to you how are you going to take the abuse you get on a sit?” People who perform well need a more tougher approach because you don’t want some talented prima donna who can’t take coaching. They tend to be complainers and could undermine authority and teamwork.
If they did a poor job but take the criticism well or ask for a second chance to fix their mistakes and put your suggestions in action that should tell you about their resilience. I want somebody with the attitude to try until they get it right. You may be softer in your approach but nobody likes a bad review. If they crumble well… If they are made of sterner stuff they you’ll know by their response.
These examples are the extremes. Your critiques will vary of course as will how you handle them, always based on the individual. What is important is learning more about the candidate and their viability for your position while determining the direction of the interview process.
Check back for my for my next post on Hiring a Sales Superstar!
And remember “You can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!”
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Sales simulations are a KEY tool in discovering the actual skill level of any potential sales hires. Think about it, what tells you more about a person besides how they actually react in a particular situation? And the beauty of the sales simulation is that you can construct it EXACTLY to the experiences you have everyday.
There are a 1o steps that must be adhered to so the simulation will yield the results and information you need to help in your hiring selection. I will detail 9 of them today and the 10th will be in my next post.
That’s it for today. If you have any questions or need any help constructing/conducting a Sales Simulation give me a call at 216-347-6729. Make sure to check back for my next post where I detail out Number 11; How to conduct an effective Critique Session. And believe you me if you thought the Simulation was an eye-opener just wait to see what you will learn by critiquing your candidate’s performance.
“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside themselves was superior to circumstance” Bruce Barton
First let me introduce you to Gauge, he is a member of the BPL: The Best Practice League. His specialty is the hiring and assessment process and he helps us to remember just how important it is to not only ask the right questions but to ask them the right way.
Okay, I promised you the questions to use for a first interview. So below is the link to the document with the questions. But before we get to them, let’s talk about “HOW” to conduct a first in-person interview.
Remember this is an interview not a date. Don’t get swept up in the style of the moment. You are looking for answers that contain facts and figures. The best salespeople know how to make a compelling point . They know how to paint a picture evoking emotion with their words. They also know how to give specifics, facts and details. The less specific an answer is the quicker your @#$%^ detector should be going off.
Make sure you are very clear upfront about what you want from them. You want this to be conversational but you are looking for answers to these questions. If they don’t get to the point don’t let them off the hook. Keep after them a maximum of 3 times on any one question. If they have not answered the question to your satisfaction after 3 tries move on but make sure to notate the miss.
Finally, ALWAYS record your interviews. This kills 3 birds with the proverbial 1 stone. 1) you don’t have to trust your memory or your notes 2) upon reflection you may hear something for better or worse that you missed on the first pass 3) legal protection. Remember, you do have to tell them they will be recorded.
Please feel free to give me a call 216 347 6729 and we can talk through any questions you may have and in the meantime make sure you go to my websites by clicking in the links to the right.
Make sure to check back for the next post when we discuss how to conduct a Sales Simulation and conduct a Critique Session that will give you more insight into a sales hire than you ever thought possible.
Here are your 1st Interview Questions…