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5 P’s: Perfect Practice Prevents Poor Performance*

Posted on September 12, 2018 under Sales Management 101.

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“Training your employees can pay big dividends.

Sometimes, it’s easy to underestimate just how much it pays.

Consider an employee who is going to work 2000 hours for you this year. It’s not unusual for an organization to spend only 10 or 20 hours training this person–which means about 1% of their annual workload.

How much training would it take for this person to be 10% better at her job? If you invest 100 hours (!) it’ll pay for itself in just six months. There aren’t many investments an organization can make that double in value in a year.

But let’s take it one step further:

Imagine a customer service rep. Fully costed out, it might cost $5 for this person to service a single customer by phone. An untrained rep doesn’t understand the product, or how to engage, or hasn’t been brought up to speed on your systems. As a result, the value delivered in the call is precisely zero (in fact it’s negative, because you’ve disappointed your customer).

On the other hand, the trained rep easily delivers $30 of brand value to the customer, at a cost, as stated, of $5. So, instead of zero value, there’s a profit to the brand of $25. A comparative ROI of infinity.

And of course, the untrained person doesn’t fall into this trap once. Instead, it happens over and over, many times a day.

The short-sighted organization decides it’s ‘saving money’ by cutting back training. After all, the short-term thinking goes, what’s the point of training people if they’re only going to leave. (I’d point out the converse of this–what’s the danger of not training the people who stay?)

It’s tempting to nod in agreement at these obvious cases (or the similar case of getting, or not getting, a great new job based on how skilled you’ve trained yourself to be–again, a huge cliff and difference in return). What’s not so easy is to take responsibility for our own training.

We’ve long passed the point where society and our organization are taking responsibility for what we know and how we approach problems. We need to own it for ourselves.”*

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Craig J. McConnell

(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable 
 

314-753-2802
1 Seaside Lane #203
Belleair, FL 33756
53 Chula
10902 Big Canoe
Jasper, GA 30143
 
*INC. MAGAZINE

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“Put Me In Coach, I’m Ready To Sell!”

Posted on August 12, 2018 under Sales Management 101.
“Put Me In Coach. I’m Ready To Sell!”

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I’m aging myself by taking such liberties with the lyrics from Centerfield (the John Fogarty hit from 1985), but let there be no doubt, selling is a contact sport and, sadly, too many people enter the game unprepared and for the wrong reasons.

 

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Owners and Sales Managers, a question:  On a day-in, day-out basis, how productive is your sales force (really)?  How much contact do they really have with your customers, current and potential?

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All too often, senior management (across all segments of corporate America) has an inflated, unrealistic opinion of the competency of their sales team – with potentially disastrous long-term results. The perpetuation of sales force mediocrity can be tied to many things (bad hires, no written goals, a lack of accountability, refusal to make the hard decisions), but one thing is certain: for small and mid-sized companies, the risk of allowing your sales team to morph into mediocrity and become the most underutilized resource in your company will create a culture that nurtures underperformance – across all departments.

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With pricing continuing to ‘make no sense’ and margins being tougher and tougher to maintain, owners and sales managers are spread so  thin that effective, hands-on sales management is virtually  non-existent.  There is no one with the time to coach, to train, to mentor, and to hold people accountable.

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In too many cases, the creation of a true sales career path with consistent coaching is an afterthought or a tool that is provided only to the ‘newbies’ and under performers.

If senior management is not using coaching to support your sales team, you’re preventing them from:

*reaching their potential (personally and professionally)

* creating new solutions to old problems,

*and most importantly, from driving positive corporate change as leaders of your organization.

If you aren’t asking them the hard questions, making them do the things they don’t enjoy, and forcing them to improve the areas where they are weak, you are at risk of falling into the trap of sales mediocrity.

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I would proffer that  were you  to put 100  sales men and women in a room (this includes anyone who has any of these following job titles on their business card:  Account Executive, Sales Professional, Sales Rep, Sales Executive, Results Manager, Customer Specialist, Business Development Officer, Sales Engineer, Solutions Analyst, Sales Consultant, Ninja Selling Pro, New Business Development Specialist, etc, etc, etc.), the actual breakdown relative to skill sets would be as follows:

*SALES PROFESSIONALS: only 10% will be true sales professionals i.e. they know how to develop new business, grow revenue with existing clients, and maximize margins (they live to sell vs. just selling to live)

*WANNABEES: 30% will have no business being in sales at all – period.

*SALES/CUSTOMER SERVICE: 35% are ‘place holders’.  They will usually cover their draw, are going to provide excellent service to their existing clients, will follow up on a lead if it’s sent their way, but are way out of their comfort zones when it comes to developing new business.

*DEVELOPMENT TEAM:  the final 25% are solid performers who, with the right motivation, a break or two, and ongoing training will become “PROS”.  They are the future of your company!

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Did you ever stop and think about how many hours professional athletes have practiced in their lifetimes.  Ever wonder why Michael Phelps has a coach to help him with his breaststroke? Or why Dirk Nowitski has a jump shot coach? Or Rafael Nadel a back hand coach? It is certainly not because they are under-performers or WANNABEES. It is to support exceptional performance in the quest for constant improvement.

There is a fascinating book that I would encourage everyone to add to their sales library: Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (the author of Blink).

Early on Gladwell quotes neurologist Dr. Daniel Levitin: “ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert – in anything.” “In study after study of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, chess players, composers, concert pianist, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.”

Gladwell goes on to give other examples: the Beatles, Bill Gates,Steve Jobs and shares this observation from John Lennon: “it was fascinating, the more we practiced, the better we got.”

How many hours of practice do you think the average printing sales person has committed to his or her craft?  How many hours of coaching have they received?

 Are any of us even close to approaching 10,000 hours?

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Do you  know what makes your sales team successful?

Do you have an inventory of their strengths and weaknesses?

Do you have a “custom success profile” of your top producers to use as a barometer for future hires and as a developmental road map for the rest of your team?

Do you know how the SALES PROFESSIONALS on your team actually compare to your WANNABEES (every sales team has some) when it comes to organizational skills, recognition needs, imagination, sensitivity, social need, competitiveness, assertiveness, probing levels, tension, and flexibility?

You should!  The short and long term financial health of your company depends on it!

PS:  In case you don’t recognize the center fielders I’ve pictured (and who I consider the best of the best) , I’ll list the names the next time I post something ‘brilliant’.   As always, thanks for being here.

Craig McConnell, President 

PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

www.printgrowpro.com

Follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/printgrowpro


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Managing Your ‘Unmanagable’ Sales Menagerie

Posted on under Sales Management 101.

 

Managing Your Sales Menagerie

I doubt that there is a sales manager anywhere who has not at one time or another stared out at his ‘audience’ at an early morning sales meeting and said (with apologies to Billy Joel) ‘Man, what am I doing here?”

You get no eye contact (think Southwest Airlines as you try to keep the middle seat empty), body language that is bored and apathetic at best, and in many cases you find yourself trying to have a discussion with a group of people who have suddenly forgotten how to talk.

What are you supposed to do with the reps that expect preferential treatment, never take responsibility, or always find something to whine about?  Or, what about the ones who have lost the ability to think on their own and are quick to blame you for their lack of productivity and have more excuses than Missouri has meth labs?

Remember, you need to treat all your sales people fairly, but you don’t need to treat them all the same.  More importantly, if you have never taken the time to create a ‘sales success profile’ and a ‘talent inventory’ of your team, you are doing yourself and your company a huge disservice.  You need to know what motivates them.  You need to know who needs to take their talents elsewhere.   You need to have a clear understanding of the skill sets and behavioral characteristics that enable your ‘true Hunters’ to consistently develop new business and increase margins.

Every sales team is an amalgam of personalities and styles. I’m going to share with you some of the characters I’ve met over the years; see if you recognize any of them.

Greg the Great

Greg the Great ‘knows’ that you need him more than he needs you.  He’s aggressive, assertive, is a great closer, and doesn’t need a lot of help from you.  He is a ‘pro’ and I would suggest that you be sure to set limits (and enforce them) with Greg, avoid micro-managing him, and then just let him make you look good.

Sunset  Sam

Sunset Sam was Gutenberg’s apprentice and has been in print sales since before color keys.  Sam is very comfortable with his sales volume, his income, and his station in life.  His interest in developing new business is nil.  His interest in new technology and solution selling is non-existent. There’s not a whole lot you can do with Sam, but you’ve got to make sure he is part of the team and you can’t let him become a negative influence. Recognize his long term contributions and encourage him to be the team’s ‘elder statesman.’ Replacing him should be an option (remember, upgrading the level of talent on your sales team should always be a priority), but because of the solid relationships he has developed over the years you might risk losing the business; proceed with caution, but proceed.

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Elizabeth the Excitable

Every meeting and call Elizabeth has is a ‘great’ one.  Her clients and prospects all love her, she isn’t afraid to talk to anyone, she’s enthusiastic and outgoing, and seems to have everything in common with everyone she meets. People love her, but sadly, she can’t close.  Be patient with Elizabeth, challenge her, teach her that the only good meeting is one that results in a second meeting, help her learn how to ask better questions (and become a better listener), give her public accolades when earned, and make sure you review her weekly ‘to do’ list and hold her accountable.

 

Polly Perfect

Nobody has a cleaner, more organized work space and filing system than Polly, but she uses change and lack of structure as an excuse for going into hibernation.  Polly puts in lots of hours, but she is busy, not productive.  She works hard and is a great long term planner, but flexibility is not in her DNA and new ideas and ways of doing things make her apoplectic.  She cares deeply about others but can find something wrong with almost anything.  If Polly’s on your team she will have to be taught to deal with distractions and be willing to embrace constructive criticism.  She’ll need to be carefully coached and be given an opportunity to earn small success experiences.  Building awareness and self-confidence will be paramount.

Timid Tim

It’s hard for Tim to be enthusiastic and it is next to impossible for him to ask the hard questions (“What if the client tells me ‘no’?”). Tim can find a million reasons not to prospect and is always doing research on the internet.  His desk is immaculate, is a great list maker, gets his billing done quickly, his clients are loyal (he just doesn’t have enough of them), and is quiet (and passive) to a fault.  What’s a sales manager to do?  Start with prioritizing the basics:  prospecting skills, listening skills, presentation skills, questioning skills; then help Tim with his self-talk and self-assertiveness; teach him the basics of the communication pie (physicality, tonality, language), and finally, make sure Tim knows that you see him as a part of your team.

 

Debbie Downer

“What’s the use?  My pricing just isn’t competitive.”  Debbie likes to talk about the good old days and blames everyone else for her lack of productivity.  Debbie thinks she is a hard worker but shows up late, leaves early, and loves a long lunch.  Debbie is happiest when the customers call her.  Debbie refuses to set goals (written or otherwise), can be a selfish employee, and has a short attention span.  If you commit to Debbie, know that she will require a lot of attention and patience.  You will need to help her focus and the implementation of an accountability program will be a must.

 

 

Curious Carl

There aren’t many Carl’s around; he is a rare breed because he knows that constructive curiosity builds opportunities and opportunities build sales.  He prioritizes really understanding the customer.  He knows their business and how they create value for their customers.  He understands the issues they face and the hurdles they will need to overcome.  He is a solution specialist, not someone who puts ink on paper. Curious Carl knows it is all about being interested  –  truly interested  –   in the customer.  Carl’s customers know that he is not just asking questions because some sales trainer told him that was a good thing to do.  Carl’s goal is to uncover things other sales reps would leave untouched.  Carl’s curiosity builds trust and understanding and that builds sales.  Encourage all your sales reps to be like Carl.

Lucy The Lifelong Learner

Lucy is my all-time favorite. Like Carl, she is a rare breed. If you are lucky enough to have people like her on your sales team you need to nurture them and clone them whenever possible.    She has a personal mission statement that demands that she never stop learning.  She knows that whether we are talking about learning more about your company’s products, basic selling skills, industry trends, or just trying to figure out how things work, it is very important to always be increasing your knowledge.  Lucy manages her time in such a way that there is always time to read and to learn.

Let me leave you with this reminder.  It’s my version of Alec Baldwin’s famous sales speech from GlenGarry Glen Ross:  ABC  –  Always Be Coaching

All too often, sales coaching is non-existent; it is merely an afterthought.

Don’t let that happen to your organization.

If you’re not using your coaching to support your sales team, you’re preventing them from reaching their potential both personally and professionally.

Professional athletes have coaches.  Why should Greg the Great, Sunset Sam, Elizabeth the Excitable, Polly Perfect, Timid Tim, Debbie Downer, Curious Carl, or Lucy The Lifelong Learner be any different?

 

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

www.printgrowpro.com

www.yolophotographystudio.com

 


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Given A Good Book Report Lately?

Posted on June 25, 2018 under Sales Management 101.

Sales Management 101

“Given A Good Book Report Lately?”

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 Almost 60 years ago, at Egypt Lake Elementary School in Tampa, Florida, Mrs. Margaret Arce assigned me my first oral book report.

THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I remember the stress and anxiety I felt leading up to the ‘big’ day and my inability to sleep the night before.

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I remember my Dad insisting that I write out my report – word for word – and memorize my presentation.  I must have given my report to my Dad a dozen times (which when I think about it today seems a little over the top; oh well, that’s a story for another day).  Maybe that’s where I was first introduced to the 5 P’s:  PERFECT PRACTICE PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.

I remember my best friends Ronnie Ryals and Drew Castillo making faces at me as they tried to make me laugh.

I remember Mrs. Arce standing in the back of the room encouraging me to stand up straight, look at her if I was nervous, and just do my best.

Book reports are obviously important projects for elementary and middle school language classes.  Why?  Because book reports teach kids how to read, write, and most importantly organize their thoughts and share those thoughts with a group of their peers.

Hmmmmmmmmm………………………

 

Do you think sales people would benefit from developing and honing those same skills?  Do you think your sales team could benefit from actually doing a book report?  I do, and here a just a couple of reasons why:

  • just like there is a value to making your kids eat their vegetables, there is a value to encouraging  your sales team to read something – anything!  As Confucius said: “no matter how busy you think you are, you must find time for reading or surrender yourself to self chosen ignorance.”

 

  • Nothing is more difficult than presenting to a group of your peers; regardless of how much experience your sales team has, they can always improve their presentation skills.  They need to remember to smile – people look more trustworthy, confident and friendly when they smile; they should repeat the points they want people to remember and they should talk directly to each person in the room.  PERFECT PRACTICE PREVENTS POOR PERFORMANCE.

 

  • Last but not least, remember, in everyday life we are continually learning from one another. We all draw on the knowledge, skills, and experiences of our friends and colleagues.   We trust their perspectives. 

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I just finished reading William Manchester’s THE LAST LION about Churchill.  You think those speeches he gave, that some say may have saved the world, were spontaneous – think again.

For the record, a quick update on the last book report I gave (Attention all sales managers:  ‘if you’re going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk).  Do you happen to know how many times “Sam-I-Am” (Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham) asked for the order before he got it?

Peer-to-Peer learning is a great way to make sure you don’t allow your sales team to decline into mediocrity.  Mediocrity avoidance mandates that you deploy and implement new management tools that motivate, excite, and challenge your sales team – ‘rookies’ and ‘veterans’ alike.  Adding reading a book and giving a book report to your team’s next ‘to do’ list will do just that.

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Have a great rest of the week!

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

www.printgrowpro.com

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

 


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Closing The Gate

Posted on April 7, 2017 under Sales Management 101.

 

CLOSING THE GATE

 

 

Sooner or later, tribes begin to exclude interested but unaffiliated newcomers.

It happens to religious sects, to surfers and to online communities as well. Nascent groups with open arms become mature groups too set in their ways to evangelize and grow their membership, too stuck to engage, change and thrive.

So much easier to turn someone away than it is to patiently engage with them, the way you were welcomed when you were in their shoes.

There are two reasons for this:

  1. It’s tiresome and boring to keep breaking in newbies. Eternal September, the never-ending stream of repetitive questions and mistakes can wear out even the most committed host. Your IT person wasn’t born grouchy–it just happens.
  2. It’s threatening to the existing power structure. New voices want new procedures and fresh leadership.

And so, Wikipedia has transformed itself into a club that’s not particularly interested in welcoming new editors.

And the social club down the street has a membership with an average age of 77.

And companies that used to grow by absorbing talent via acquisitions, cease to do so.

This cycle isn’t inevitable, but it takes ever more effort to overcome our inertia.

Even if it happens gradually, the choice to not fight this inertia is still a choice. And while closing the gate can ensure stability and the status quo (for now), it rarely leads to growth, and ultimately leads to decline.

[Some questions to ponder...]

Do outsiders get the benefit of the doubt?

Do we make it easy for outsiders to become insiders?

Is there a clear and well-lit path to do so?

When we tell someone new, “that not how we do things around here,” do we also encourage them to learn the other way and to try again?

Are we even capable of explaining the status quo, or is the way we do things set merely because we forgot that we could do it better?

Is a day without emotional or organizational growth a good day?

 

 

Craig McConnell, President,

PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

RETIREMENT REIMAGINED  -  ENTERING ADULTHOOD 2.0

www.printgrowpro.com

“Great selling is a process artfully done.” 

Follow me on Twitter – http://twitter.com/printgrowpro 

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Go Figure? Praising Employees Is A Good Thing To Do?

Posted on November 8, 2015 under Sales Management 101.

Latest Research Says Praising Employees Boosts Productivity After All

The concept behind this piece by Stephen Anderson of Forbes was so counter intuitive to me that I couldn’t help wanting to share it.

 ”Remember when praising was considered a good thing? No more. It’s become almost fashionable these days to think that praise is bad.

It’s bad for toddlers. It’s bad for older children. Maybe even children of any age. And is it bad for employees? If you listen to some experts, it’s almost certainly terrible for them. In fact, employees should beware of bosses who praise them.

But a new study from Harvard Business School suggests that — at least in regard to employees — we have it all wrong.

Telling your employees that they are doing a good job will lead to less stress, higher creativity and better problem solving.
Telling your employees that they are doing a good job might lead to them having less stress, higher creativity and better problem solving skills.

Perhaps the anti-praise movement arose as a backlash to excessive concern for developing “self-esteem” in children. Many feel that the result of instilling lots of self-esteem is not entirely healthy, especially when it is not supported by actual accomplishments. There is a long tradition of thought holding that self-esteem ought to be balanced, if not governed, by humility.

The promptings to humility that derive from the Protestant work ethic are deeply ingrained in the American psyche. The Book of Proverbs says, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” And folk wisdom encourages us not to make much of our deeds so that we don’t succumb to the vice of excessive pride. Think of all the famous literary characters who were undone, or nearly undone, by hubris — Oedipus, Macbeth and Mr. Darcy come quickly to mind, to name just a few.”

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Craig J McConnell

“Entering Adulthood II”
 
(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable
(striving to) Re-imagine Retirement

314-753-2802

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People Don’t Care How Much You Know Until They Know How Much You Care

Posted on July 2, 2015 under Sales Management 101.

Management 101:  How To Make Yourself Care

http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2015/07/02/how-to-make-yourself-care/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Daily Digest Horizon&utm_campaign=Daily Digest Send Test 2015-07-02

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Craig J McConnell

“Entering Adulthood II”
 
(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable
(striving to) Re-imagine Retirement

314-753-2802
 

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Can Small Businesses Afford To Adopt Sir Richard Branson’s Approach To Employee Benefits?

Posted on June 11, 2015 under Sales Management 101.

From Chris Myers, a contributor to Forbes.

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Yesterday, the Huffington Post reported on Sir Richard Branson’s bold decision to extend a full year of paid parental leave for new moms and dads working at Virgin Management. This wasn’t the first time that Branson unveiled an extravagant benefit for employees at Virgin.  Back in September of 2014, he announced that he would be adopting Netflix’s policy of unlimited vacation for salaried employees. Pronouncements such as these tend to get a lot of attention because they question long-held beliefs about the nature of the employer/employee relationship and give us hope for a brighter future workplace. However, not every organization is as large and progressive as Virgin. In fact, over 99.7% of all employees in the U.S. work for small or mid-sized businesses. This begs the question. Can small businesses afford to offer these types of extravagant benefits, or do you have to be a giant corporation to pull it off?

It all comes down to culture.

It is important to look past the specifics of what Branson announced and instead focus on the ethos he’s trying to cultivate.  On many occasions, Branson has stated, “If you take care of your employees they will take care of your business.”  Virgin has a long history of putting its employees first, dating back to the launch of Student magazine back in 1968.  Throughout his life as an entrepreneur, Branson has made an effort to connect with employees on a personal level.  The scope and scale of that effort have grown alongside Virgin, resulting in the grand gestures we see today. The key is that the employee focus has been front and center for Branson since day one.  Once you realize that, announcements like what we saw yesterday seem like less of a revolution and more of a natural evolution for a company that has built its foundation on employee success for over forty years.

It’s incredibly easy for small and mid-sized businesses to dismiss the idea of extraordinary employee benefits on the grounds of cost or logistics.  However, I believe that if they’re viewing it as a cost issue, they’ve already missed the point.  Obviously, most small businesses with only a handful of employees can’t afford to give their team members a full year of paid parental leave. That isn’t the issue.  Rather, the real issue is whether or not that small business can afford to not take exceptional care of their employees and put them first. It doesn’t matter if you’re a company of ten or ten thousand; it is up to the leader to decide what kind of organization they want to run. 

It isn’t about the money.

Nothing frustrates me more than leaders who blame their decision to neglect their team on a lack of funds or authority.  At the end of the day, money and authority have little to do with how you support your employees.   It comes down to having a genuine interest in their lives and wellbeing.  If that interest exists, you’ll see it manifest in the daily actions of the leader and the company.  Perhaps it’s a personal note to congratulate a teammate on a job well done, or taking a few minutes out of your day to counsel a coworker who is going through difficulties in their personal lives. Remember, if a leader is caring and engaged when it comes to the small things, you can rest assured that they’ll do the same thing when it comes to the big things.

 

You can (and should) scale your benefits as you grow.

At my company, BodeTree, we aren’t in a position to offer a full year of paid parental leave, but that doesn’t stop us from doing everything we can for our employees.  We subscribe to Virgin’s idea of unlimited vacation time and go out of our way to treat each other as family.  When a team member has a new child, everyone pitches in to help out.  Sometimes that means that a spouse or co-worker will babysit for the day so the new parent can have a break.  Other times, it’s a matter of handing out “no-strings” vacation days or bonuses when someone is feeling overwhelmed.  When people encounter struggles in their personal lives, our team is there, ready to help.  We care deeply about our employees, and they know it.

We aren’t perfect, but we strive to make our company a place where people feel like they’re part of a family.  As we continue to grow, the specifics of how we show that feeling of family will have to evolve.  However, the foundation that we’ve established will live on even when we’re ten times the size we are today.  At that time, I hope to be able to offer as robust benefits as Sir Richard.  After all, like Virgin, BodeTree will have created a foundation that makes such benefits seem right at home.

When it comes to the question of whether or not you have to be a big company to offer extraordinary benefits to your employees, the answer is yes and no.  Not every company can offer the same benefits popularized by Sir Richard Branson.  However, every company can and should take exceptional care of their employees.  It’s a matter of culture, not money or size.  Even the smallest company can create an environment where their employees feel that they are trusted, respected, and admired. Once that foundation is in place, you can scale your benefits as your company grows.  Maybe one day you too can generate headlines just like Sir Richard.

Craig J McConnell

“Entering Adulthood II”
 
(Continuing to) Make Sales People Memorable
(striving to) Re-imagine Retirement

314-753-2802
 

 


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My Retirement Ramblings (cont.); Sales Managment 101; Thought For The Week

Day 44

Sunday night (actually 12:05AM Monday) I got a solid reminder about what is really important – welcomed a healthy 7 pound 11 ounce ‘baby woman’  into the family – feeling very lucky, very blessed!

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Sales Management 101: Retaining & Motivating Your Sales ‘Stars’

Retaining & Motivating Your Top Sales People -  Is there a secret? Not really  -  my thoughts are below:

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?

 

Thought for the Week

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed………………………….Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle…………………………..When the sun comes up, you better be running.

 Make it a great week!

 

Craig J. McConnell
President
PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro, Inc.
314-753-2802
craigmcconnell49@gmail.com

“Making Sales People Memorable”


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The Importance Of Emotion

Posted on April 21, 2014 under Sales Management 101, Thoughts for the Week.

Sales Management 101*

“Great leaders move us. They ignite our passion and inspire the best in us. When we try to explain why they are so effective, we speak of strategy, vision or perhaps powerful ideas. But the reality is much more primal: Great leadership works through the emotions.”

Hire people with emotion.

Promote people with emotion.

Evaluate people based upon their emotion.

Acknowledge emotion.

Lead with emotion.

Sell with emotion.

Craig McConnell, President, PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro

www.printgrowpro.com

www.yolophotographystudio.com

“Great selling is a process artfully done.”

*from the blog of Daniel Goldman


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