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Sales Management 101: Keeping You ‘Stars’

Posted on August 29, 2012 under Sales Management 101.

 Retaining & Motivating Your Top Sales People -  What’s The Secret?

It’s far from ‘brain surgery’ or ‘rocket science’ and it really isn’t a ‘secret’:  If you get the right people in the right places doing the right things, your sales results can be amazing.

But how do you find and keep the ‘right’ sales superstars?

And more importantly, how do you guide the ‘right’ superstars toward success at your company?

For starters you have to hire smarter.  The era of ‘hire and hope’ is gone and (as I jump back on my ‘importance of testing soap box’ again) every sales organization needs to know exactly what the success profile for their top producers looks like.  As a part of the interview process, you need to evaluate what drives and motivates a candidate and then compare their behavioral assessment to those of the top performers (success profiles) on your team.  An analysis of the behavioral assessment should not be the only determinate, but if a candidate’s levels of assertiveness, imagination, social need, competitiveness, and sensitivity (as determined by the assessment) don’t compare favorably with your top producers, you should probably move on to your next candidate.

In most cases, top sales people are pretty well compensated (or they should be).  But are they looking for more than a paycheck? Absolutely!

They are looking to be managed!

They want a clearly defined career path meaning that, like their non-sales brethren, they are entitled to quarterly performance reviews that are based upon more than whether or not they made their numbers.

Like professional athletes, they want ongoing coaching and will continually want to be exposed to new ways to learn and to grow.  If you don’t have a sales manager who is willing and able to coach, mentor and motivate,  the sales superstars will always be looking elsewhere.

Sales : 3D Sales Revenue Crossword on white background Stock PhotoSales : Three man team of sales people stand in front of a business profit growth success chartSales : simple business chart

What are some other things you have to do to keep your superstars?

1)     Give them autonomy

Top sales people want and expect a degree of freedom. Your most successful sales people are going to be self starters; let ‘em run.

2)     Give them recognition

Although they will seldom admit it, most top sales people thrive on recognition; give it privately and publicly.

3)     Reward them

In sales, “What gets measured gets done.” And ‘You get your reward.”  Be creative when considering special perks for your top producers.

Sales : sales trend Stock PhotoSales : Disabled businessman smiling in office Stock PhotoSales : teamworks to make success in business Stock Photo


4)   Give them negotiating authority

And customers prefer working with sales people who have the authority to make decisions on the spot.

5)     Give them cutting edge sales technology

Top sales people recognize that selling is an art and a science; give them the sales aids they need: PDAs, contact management software, etc.

6)   They need to have pride in the company

Top sales people want to work for and be part of a winning team; success in sales is tied to believing in the company, manage accordingly.

7)   Hold them accountable

Top performing salespeople expect to be held accountable. Make sure you set clear standards and expectations.

8)    Listen to them

Many top salespeople leave their jobs because they feel they are not listened to. Become an active listener; solicit their opinions.

9)    Treat them with respect

Top salespeople work smarter and harder than average producers. Treat them well and when dealing with your sales team remember: Everyone needs to be treated fairly, not necessarily the same.

10)               Make sure they know you appreciate their efforts

Periodically, send your top producers a handwritten thank you note (to their home where the spouse or significant other will also see it) letting them know how much you appreciate their efforts (an email will work also, but will not be as impactful).  Don’t be afraid to consistently verbalize how much you appreciate their hard work.

Sales : Confident businesswoman giving a presentationSales : Men shaking hands as a sign of friendship and agreementSales : High resolution graphic of hands holding the word success.Sales : handshake isolated on white background

Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

One of my clients, recently changed jobs.  She received an unsolicited call from a head hunter (don’t fool yourself, your top people receive the same kind of calls weekly) and without compromising her existing commitment to her current employer, went through an extensive interview process, and ultimately received a solid offer.

When she notified her currently employer of her intention to leave, guess what they did?    They fell all over themselves (for the first time), telling her how important she was to their long term objectives; she was personally contacted by every top executive in the firm (for the first time);   she was publicly and privately praised for her contributions and efforts on their behalf (for the first time);  they committed to giving her additional support staff to help manage her existing business;  and they matched the competitive offer (actually ‘sweetened’ it a little with a ‘stay’  bonus).

But you know what?  It was too little, too late; she was already on her way ‘out the door’.

The bottom line:  Your top producers know they’re top producers and will do whatever it takes to stay that way.  They expect opportunities to develop their sales skills and will demand smart coaching, strong guidance, and solid mentoring.  They are lifelong learners and will always prioritize perpetual improvement.  Career development will always be a top priority for them and they will demand a defined training curriculum.  The question is:

Are you prepared to provide it?

Have a great rest of the week and remember:  if you EVER have the opportunity to help some one, just do it!!!

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”


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Thoughts For The Week

Posted on August 26, 2012 under Thoughts for the Week.

Thanks for being here, make it a great week and always remember:

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and



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Sales 101: Blogging

Posted on August 22, 2012 under Sales 101.

Developed any good habits lately?

Blogging has become one of mine.

Try it; you may like it; regardless, it will help your business (just listen to Tom Peters and Seth Godin)

Have a great rest of the week and remember:  you are your brand; you MUST be consistent in words and actions.

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and





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Sales 101: Motivation, Crash Diets, Sales Quotas, Seth Godin, and Good Habits

Posted on August 21, 2012 under Sales 101.

What motivates you?

Your boss?  Your co-workers?  Your spouse or significant other?  Your elected officials? Brian Tracy?   Fear of brown recluse spiders?

I doubt it (well maybe the spiders a little).

Motivation isn’t that complicated:  you have to motivate yourself – period.

Never forget that real change and personal growth have to come from the inside.  This is why I am not a big fan of the Tony Robbins/Zig Ziglar ‘retreats’ ( since both of these gentlemen are extraordinarily $ucce$$ful, you might want to stop reading today’s post immediately ).  You come back from one of their shows hyped, excited, and full of new ideas you’re going to try – personally and professionally.  Forty eight hours later, the real world has kicked in and you fall back into your old habits.  This is because external motivation is artificial; it doesn’t last for very long.  Real motivation is the  drive and energy that you create internally.

Your success in sales is tied directly to the kinds of habits you have and develop.

How are your prospecting skills (you can’t prospect sporadically and be successful!)?  Listening skills (you must become an active listener!)?  Cold calling (you should really never make a totally ‘cold’ call!) skills? Presentation skills? Questioning skills?

Only through practice and repetition can you  lock a  habit into your subconscious.  Once it’s locked in though, it becomes automatic; it becomes easy; it actually becomes exciting.

From Seth Godin:

“Crash diets don’t work. They don’t work for losing weight, they don’t work for making sales quota and they don’t work for getting and keeping a job. The reason they don’t work has nothing to do with what’s on the list of things to be done (or consumed).”

“No, the reason they don’t work is that they don’t change habits, and habits are where our lives and careers and bodies are made. If you want to get in shape, don’t sign up for fancy diet this or Crossthat the other thing. No, the way to get in shape is to go to the gym every single day, change your clothes and take a shower. If you can do that every single day for a month, pretty soon you’ll start doing something while you’re there… If you want to make sales quota, get in the habit of making more sales calls, learning more about your market and generally showing up. If you show up, with right intent, you’ll start making sales.”

“The secret isn’t a great new pitch or a new pair of shoes. The secret is showing up. Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. But it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract you from the thing that’s really frightening you–the shift in daily habits that would mean a re-invention of how you see yourself.”

Have a great rest of the week and remember:  there is nothing wrong with saying “give me 24 hours to think about it.”

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and










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Thougths for the Week & Sales 101

Posted on August 19, 2012 under Sales 101, Thoughts for the Week.

Sales 101 #1:  Here’s the good news:  nothing is permanent.  Here’s the bad news:  nothing is permanent.

Sales 101 #2:  Take a long, hard look at friends, co-workers, clients, and even family and  –  Let go of negative people.  They are major destroyers of self esteem and self confidence.  You only have yourself to blame if you surround yourself with people who suck the happiness out of you.

Have a great rest of the week and remember:  you will fail at some point; fail fast; learn quickly; MOVE ON!

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and



Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and





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Sales 101: Empathy Drives Sales

Posted on August 13, 2012 under Sales 101.

Empathy is defined by Wikipedia as: “the capacity to recognize or understand another’s state of mind or emotion. It is often characterized as the ability to “put oneself into another’s shoes” or in some way experience the outlook or emotions of another being within oneself.  Empathy does not necessarily imply compassion, or empathic concern because this capacity can be present in context of compassionate or cruel behavior.”

Empathy Drives Sales

Brian Tracy says that if you’re “telling, you’re not selling.’  Great sales people ask great questions and are able to really find out what is really important to their prospects and clients.  The great thing about an emotional competency like empathy is that it can be developed and enhanced.  It just takes practice and has to become a habit.

The really great sales men and women listen, understand what the customer wants, and either give it to her or send her somewhere else where they think they can get it.  That’s empathy; understanding the customer’s needs.  It’s not rocket science, but not everyone can ‘put themselves in the other guys shoes’ every day.

I ran across an article in the July/August issue of Orion magazine that I felt was worth sharing (at least in part).  It was written by M. Sanjayan a global enviornmental leader and head scientist for The Nature Conservancey.

The topic was conservation, but I think you’ll see where his words could be applicable to all we do.  Change is never easy for any of us, but without it, we cannot grow.

“These days the need to be right trumps our ability to listen, to really hear what someone else is saying and acknowledge it as valid.  People who have never been to war talk about the war on nature.  People who demonized red or blue states wonder why their ideas are being demonized.  We have a suicidal streak:  we caricature anyone who disagrees with us, and in the process, we marginalize ourselves.  Is it any wonder that ‘believing in climate change’ has become a matter of cultural identity and not science?”

“Empathy is hard.  You have to be willing not only to state your beliefs, but also to hear and figure out where someone with different beliefs is coming from.  We prefer the comfort of like-mindedness.  But you don’t make friends with your friends.  Instead of embracing collaboration, modern conservation has lurched between conflict and nonconfrontation.  Being empathetic does not mean compromising, nor does it mean hiding your true colors.  But it does mean putting yourself in another’s shoes and feeling their pain and using that as a launching point for change.”

Have a great rest of the week and remember:  Sometimes ‘it is what it is.’

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and

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Sales 101 & Thoughts for the Week

Posted on August 12, 2012 under Sales 101, Thoughts for the Week.


We aren’t born with our beliefs.  Our beliefs aren’t in our genes.  Our beliefs aren’t second nature.  Our believes are acquired.

Our beliefs are formed by the way we think and (sadly perhaps)  our subconscious mind will not and cannot reject the things we tell it; that is just the way  our brains works. Waking up in the morning full of angst and dread and knowing that “I’m going to have a crummy day’ will result in a guess what:  a’crummy day’.

So just like Stuart Smalley of SNL fame, always be aware of your self talk.

Remember, we talk to ourselves ALL the time (55,000 – 60,000 thoughts per day),  so do what you can to keep those thoughts as consistently positive as possible.  It can be as simple as reading quotes like the ones below right before bed and as soon as you get up in the morning.  Give it a try for 26 days, make it a habit, what have you got to lose?




Make it a great week, never hold a $1000 meeting to solve a $100 problem, learn from your past, always BE NICE, begin each day looking for something to be grateful for and just watch what happens, and finally: 


Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and


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Thoughts for the Week

Posted on August 5, 2012 under Thoughts for the Week.

Have a great week, make a difference, pay it forward,  be memorable and remember:  life is way to short to spend (any) time with folks who suck the happiness out of you.

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

Follow me on Twitter – and


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