Just Make A Movie…
Few people realize the opportunity they have right in front of them. They think some bolt from the blue is going to hit them and change their fortunes forever.
George Lucas recognized his….
“When I was in film school, the big issue was
‘When are we going to get to make a movie?’ …
They gave us 32 feet of 16 mm film which was exactly 1 minute of film … I turned it into a 1-minute movie.
If somebody gave me 100 feet of film … I made a movie out of it. And the other kids basically didn’t. They had the same 100 feet of film. They had the same camera. And, they just said ‘When am I going to get to make a movie?’ And I just kept making them.”
…and the result was
What are you going to do with your opportunity today?
Sales….. Like Lightning
This is a question that hangs in the air during virtually every conversation between owners, C-Level and Sales Management. One of the tried and true methods to achieve at least half of the equation is to conduct a sales blitz. The trick is how do you morph a temporary sales boost into the “new normal”?
A sales blitz is designed to fulfill the urgent need of increasing sales pipelines immediately. And most sales organizations know the basic “flavors” of blitzes with formats being designed for, at best, impermanent returns. I say both goals of an immediate sales bump and establishing the “new normal” are possible.
It’s a challenge melding lead generation, continual development training and motivational sales meetings, I grant you, but if you run a Blitz using this system be prepared for a revenue growing, “sales climate changing” event.
S.E.T.U.P. your team for success
This step should start minimally 60 days before the blitz. Map out EVERY detail from the initial touch, phone dial, live visit, all follow-up and ongoing relationship builders and more. At the planning meeting ask these questions:
What market/area are you attempt to penetrate?
What is the goal(s) of the blitz? Short term, Mid Term and Long Term?
How can you warm up the market/area you will be blitzing?
What will you use to warm them up? What frequency? What platform?
What products fit/are most desired by this market?
What vendors should you team with?
What should your teams have with them? Brochures? Giveaways?
What will be the competition’s reaction?
These questions are a great starting point but you have to go deeper yet. We all know long term sales success is about the grind. Doing the little things everyday that build best practice habits that ultimately pay off. It’s the same here only we need to “microwave” the process a bit.
Day 60 should begin with teaching of an effective lead generation system and every system is made up of 3 things, tactics, strategy and learned skills.
Many of the tactics and strategies that need to be adopted are here http://matriximpact.com/site/?p=1125.
Your team also need SPECIFIC skills. Those skills need to be practiced in real-life simulations tightly tied to the reality they will experience. Here are 5 of the skills that will be required of anyone participating in the Blitz.
Client research and its application
Tele-Sales: Warming up the drop-in
Lobby Intro: Getting past the Gate Keeper or at least gaining needed info
Benefit Value Discussion: Setting the hook to continue the discussion
Facility Walk-through Technique: How do you maximize contact with the right person?
Wrapping up the visit: Very few drop-ins will result in a sale. The real goal is increase and expand in your sales pipeline
There should be a regular schedule of training leading up to the Blitz event. Refresher classes, reviews and Blitz day reminders for everybody involved. This is why there needs to be a Blitz QB. One who can coordinate information, learning and distribution for all the Blitz teams.
There are many tools needed for a successful Blitz. Call Template, all lead generation letters, impact touches, pairing maps, company intelligence, handouts, giveaways schedules and more, all customized for your business and for the goal of your Blitz.
The key is to be prepared and start the assembling of your tools sooner rather than later.
Users & Interface
Everything management does HAS TO BE hands-on. Management needs to be the great guiding hand in the structure of the Blitz but it also needs to be a participant during the Blitz days. I have had everyone from Middle Managers to Vice President’s of Sales to Owners come up to me after a Blitz and effusively say “John, thank you for making sure I was on a Blitz team”.
Think about it. They get out of the office routine of meetings and problems and get to spend minimum 2 days with sales people and customers. They find out what the ground troops do on an everyday basis and what has changed over the years. They hear first hand customer’s issues and concerns. It can reinvigorate the most curmudgeonly of management and this isn’t even the best reason.
When a prospect/customer is introduced to the Vice President or Owner the look on their face is priceless. I mean WOW, the VP or Owner took time out of her/his day to come and visit. Few gestures have a greater customer service impact than this.
Sales people MUST take ownership as well. They have to be involved in all strategy discussions. There a a multitude of tasks that need to be divvied up among the sales team. A sales person has to be the in-office Blitz QB. This is a critical position. Their job is to coordinate all activity. They have to stay in touch with the teams and provide updates. They are also troubleshooters as opportunities or problems come up. Depending on the size of the blitz you can have as many 2 or 3 QB’s to ensure you have proper support.
The bottom-line: from ownership to front-line sales, everybody plays a crucial role in the execution of a successful Blitz .
This is what it is all about! You need to GUARANTEE your team is prepared, practiced and energized. If you do you will be SETUP! to have a successful Blitz day(s) and to continue your success throughout the year.
After your strategy meeting(s) you need to conduct
Weekly update meetings: No longer than 30 minutes but it is CRITICAL to make sure everyone is completing their assigned duties, remember there is no small job when executing a Blitz.
Minimum of 3 education sessions: Would you rather your salespeople practice on their customers or with you?
Blitz Kickoff: Night before the Blitz you cover every detail and logistic necessary and take all questions. Team & territory assignments, Car stock, Vendor presentation and motivation. Make sure you have daily goals and prizes for performance as well.
Blitz Day: Everybody rallies at central location, unless territory demands call in. You go over any final pieces and send them off to kick BUTT.
Blitz Day Re-Cap: Everybody reconvenes at central location. You cover the results, hand out daily prizes, share successes, what worked and what didn’t then break for dinner.
Blitz Wrap Up: Similar to Re-Cap. You also need to triage all leads and assign to proper parties. Agree on timing of followup meetings to check progress of leads, generally think 2 weeks out, a month out and 90 days out. This will allow you to see “the toothpaste getting squeezed through the tube”.
Below are the Performance results from a tightly run, well executed Blitz.
You need to lay the ground work for continued nurture prospecting that leads to a steady stream of sales revenue for the foreseeable future. This process focuses on installing habits in your sales team and helping to either create or augment a lead generation system. When executed correctly, a Blitz will bring in immediate sales dollars and set the tone for ongoing success within your current selling environment.
A Blitz is not a band-aid type solution to improving sluggish sales. It’s an organic, holistic method to improving today’s sales revenue AND your overall sales atmosphere, establishing a “new normal” to your team’s everyday sales activities and results.
How To Improve Your Conversion Rate 50% When Calling Prospects Part 1 of 3
I do not believe in classically defined cold calls; Picking up the phone and calling a list of contacts that we know nothing about. We live in a digital age and those types of calls are analog. I do believe, as professional sales/business people, that we absolutely NEED to make as many calls to potential clients as possible. The question is how we do it.
There is soooo much we can do to warm up these calls and to make them more impactful than our predecessors could possibly imagine. The first part of this strategy starts with our willingness to put in the time to do research BEFORE picking up the phone. I am not talking about writing a thesis on each potential but there is work to be done BEFORE we pick up the phone.
The Library and Linked In
Almost every suburb now has state of the art library facilities that you don’t even have to go the building to use and it only costs you a trip to the library to get a library card to allow you access. They have online research tools like Reference USA, Regional Business News or Glassdoor, any one of these will give you more information than you can possibly imagine.
Then there is Linked In. This is the greatest free research tool ever invented. You can find out, in great detail, the professional specifics of virtually anybody or any company. The search tool is also top notch. What I like most is being able to search by school as well as other categories. I mean why not start with people you either went to school with or attended your school?
End of Part 1
The bottom line is with a minimal time investment you can learn gigabytes of information about potential clients before ever talking to them. All it takes is the want to on your part, the desire to differentiate yourself and services to the potential BEFORE they even know who you are.
Each piece of this process builds the needed momentum to get an increase of 50% in your conversion rate. My next post will teach you the most impactful way to get a potential client’s attention before you call.
In the meantime, you can either make sales or make excuses but you can’t do both!
5 ½ Reasons Why You Should Include Simulations in Your Hiring and Training Processes
People are your most precious resource. Nobody WANTS to make a mistake in hiring or promotions. When it comes to training Andy Grove, the Intel visionary, said it best, “The most important charge a good manager owns is the responsibility to continuously train his/her employees.”
Below are the 5 ½ reasons why simulations should be an integral part of your hiring, promotion and training processes.
The 5 to 1 Ratio
A mis-hire/promote costs the company 5 times the candidate’s annual compensation ($50,000 salary costs the company $250,000).
With training its just as easy to see the ROI. A business parable for you:
CEO said to the CFO ‘We have to train our people to get better.’
CFO says ‘Yea but what if we invest time and money to train them and they leave us to go to our competitor?’
CEO shoots back ‘What if we don’t train them and they stay?’
Whether it is a mis-hire or a less than adequately trained employee the impact on client relations, revenue, productivity, supervision time and morale is negative and it is huge.
The Power of Proof
Have you ever had an interview where the person told you they couldn’t do the job? Or have you ever had a person who “stretched” their abilities in the interview and as a result you were cleaning their messes for days, weeks or months after?
A best practice simulation provides you “Point-to-Point Correspondence” with the job. When the activities found in the simulation are a replica of activities that are required on the job, you get an accurate portrayal of skill level.
This is also why simulations are critical to training. Do you really want salespeople “practicing” on customers? Of course you don’t! General George Patton once said “The more my troops sweat in peacetime the less they bleed during combat.” Simulations are a must in all continual development.
How do They Handle the Debrief
Once they perform in the simulation how do they respond to constructive criticism? Are they thin-skinned? Do they gloat? Is their self-confidence warranted? Many times, you find out the best and the worst of people by observing how they handle coaching.
It also opens a window to know how they learn best. Through the Debrief you will discover what they will and won’t respond to. This can be invaluable as you continue to train and develop your team.
Go to the Video
When recorded, simulations help reduce, if not remove bias and subjectivity in the hiring process in one BIG way, “The eye in the sky does not lie.” You don’t want a he said/she said situation in any business scenario, but especially in simulations.
Here’s a great example of the benefit of recording simulations: A hiring manager who got a ‘good hit’ off a candidate, in an interview, might get a completely different feeling after watching a recorded simulation. The candidate might be the most charming person in the world, but when the time came he didn’t have the skills he trumpeted. In any business, that is a disaster averted.
Recorded simulations are irreplaceable in training as well. There is nothing better than being able to go back and review specific areas for either praise or correction. Plus, reviewing with individuals their recorded progress or regression is a very powerful training tool.
Even if somebody is an A-Player it does not mean they are perfect. Too many onboarding programs fail to adapt to the candidate, thus slowing the speed to effectiveness of the new hire.
Simulations don’t just weed out bad candidates. They also help you to assess a good candidate’s specific strengths and weaknesses in a hyper-accurate way. This allows you to design/implement an onboarding process to speed them to productivity. Not to mention it helps in offer decisions like salary negotiations.
5 ½. Positioning Your Company as the Best
The War for Talent is upon us and there are only so many A-Players out there. The mistake most organizations commit is purposefully making the hiring process easier out of fear of losing the candidate.
Thomas Payne said, “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.” Being with the BEST requires paying the PRICE. Candidates learn respect for the position and respect for the company by demonstrating how seriously the company takes the hiring process. The best candidates don’t want to be with some company that just rolls over. Remember everybody wants to belong to The Club that is impossible to get in.
87% of people who voluntarily (i.e .Quit) leave a company do so because of a lack of growth and development opportunity. Its human nature to want to improve, to develop new skills, succeed and advance. If you have good people, make them better.
Use simulations to continually train and develop your team. And you know what they call the company with the top employees… they call that company the BEST!
To ensure you are hiring A-Players and for training to be impactful and ‘sticky’ both have to be closely tied to how things are actually done in your organization. This is why simulations are such a critical management tool.
Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Sales I Learned From the Movies: Monsters, Inc.
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:
- “How to Improve your Sales Team While Increasing Sales Revenue”
- “Increase the Productivity of your Customer Service Team and Watch your Sales Soar”
- “Creating a Lead Generation System that Produces an Ongoing Stream of Quality, Qualified Leads”
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.
Hiring A Sales Superstar: What We Are Looking For
“You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you.”
“96% of all sales managers have NO formal interview training” this quote is excerpted from an article in Selling Power Magazine. WOW, what a scary statistic! Suddenly those “hiring horror stories” make absolute sense to me.
The funny thing is, that of all job titles, I firmly believe that a sales manager, if they were successful as a sales person, should be a FANTASTIC interviewer.
Think about it…
they would be skilled at asking questions and listening
they would understand how to dig in to any area that didn’t make sense or where information was lacking
they could piece together all the elements of the hiring process so they could make a well informed decision without sacrificing their gut instinct
they would have set questions they would ask of every candidate and not “wing it” or “shoot from the hip”
and most importantly they would know what makes a “qualified” candidate based on an established list of requirements
Well, we just named our poison didn’t we? Over the course of the next couple of posts we will examine the intricacies of interviewing and what every sales manager needs to do to minimize mistakes and make sure their next hire is a Sales Superstar!
First up, we will be discussing “what” we are looking for in a sales candidate. Let’s begin by distinguishing between skill sets (SS) and talent/traits (TT). Skill sets are learned behavior that we have mastered to one level or another based on repetition, ability and success. Talent and traits are things we are born with like being tall or running fast. Both SS’s and TT’s are important but TT’s are the determining factor of a successful superstar or an also-ran. This is because either you have these things or you don’t and if you have the right TT’s you can master EVERY skill set needed to be a success in sales.
The most important TT to have is DRIVE, the need to achieve something that nobody else can. Believe me, some people just don’t have this trait. You know these folks, they are likable enough people but many times will not push that extra inch to win.
A person with DRIVE wants to win at virtually everything they do. Video games, being the most well read, making more calls than their teammates you name it they want to be the best or as Anne Elbery, a friend of mine, says “why play it unless you are in it to win it”. That, in a nutshell, is how somebody with DRIVE thinks. Be the best at everything and if you come in second there are no moral victories only winners and losers. Isn’t this EXACTLY how you want a salesperson to think and act, always optimistic of a positive result and willing to work as hard as needed to make winning happen?
Next you should be looking for INTELLIGENCE. You can’t fake smart and there is no work around to stupid. This trait allows for the sales person to be an idea generator and to be astute enough to understand complicated concepts that could effect their success. It also gives them the ability to create and use a large word inventory and, as noted in Forbes Magazine, business executives possess one of the largest vocabularies in all professions. Sales people need to be able to learn and adapt in a verbal environment. The lack of this trait would hamper their efforts at basic communication much less closing the sale.
Being NATURALLY CURIOUS is the next trait they need. A sales person must absolutely HUNGER for information. They should always wonder how thnks work, why prospects do certain things and they should always be asking another question. Sales people who don’t ask questions are called order takers or worse… unemployable. Asking questions has got to be akin to breathing for sales people.
Questions like “why would you want that” or “what does that mean” or “how does that happen” should be asked by EVERY sales person on every sales call. Being NATURALLY CURIOUS means asking the needed questions that you have not even thought of yet because these are based on the situation you are in at the time.
And one more thing, if the person you are interviewing does not avail themselves of the opportunity to ask questions and learn everything they can about your company when you give them the chance… be afraid, be very afraid and don’t invite them back to continue the hiring process.
COMMUNICATION SKILLS is next on the list. Without this, no ideas are transferred to the customer and if they were it was probably done just bad enough to ensure a missed sale. People with good COMMUNICATION SKILLS are generally great influencers of opinion, a needed ability in sales wouldn’t you agree? They also rank very high in expressive spontaneity, the ability to think on one’s feet. This very important trait allows you to capitalize on all the time, work and money put into finding prospects if on no other level than making sure their first opinion of your company is a positive one.
The final trait you absolutely need to have in a candidate is GUTS. Your sales person has got to take chances to go for the brass ring and sometimes that means pushing past their comfort zone and that takes GUTS! This trait also helps a sales person to develop their emotional intelligence (thick skin). Most, if not all, average to bad sales people take rejection personally allowing a few bad calls or appointments to keep them down while providing a near endless supply of excuses. Sales people with GUTS simply dust themselves off and start over, then DRIVE kicks in and they don’t stop until they succeed.
That’s it for today! Look for these 5 traits in ALL your candidates. The ones who have them will be a source of pride and sales for years to come. Also look for these things in your existing staff and if you weren’t hiring maybe it is time to start…