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Put Me In Coach!  I’m Ready to Sell!

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.


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?

What I am concerned about is that all too often, senior management (across all segments of the graphic arts industry) 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 printing 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.

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 non-existent.  There is no one with the time to coach, to train, to mentor, and to hold accountable.

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

If you’re 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.

As a hypothetical experiment,  I would proffer that if you were to put 100 graphic arts 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 20% 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: 20% 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!

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?.

Custom Success Profile

Do you really 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!



It’s All About Talent

Kids take building blocks and create magical structures intent on reaching the sky. However, they quickly discover that, without a strong and stable foundation, their ‘dream castles’ quickly fall into piles of rubble.

Managing the talent of your existing employees – and nurturing this talent to improve your bottom line – is like these building blocks. Unless you understand your existing ‘foundation’ – its strengths, weaknesses, skills, and passions – you’ll never be able to build that ‘dream castle’ organization.

Historically, the word ‘talent’ would be used to describe some very successful people in specific arenas:  Michael Jordan in basketball, Luciano Pavarotti in opera, Meryl Streep in acting, Michael Phelps in swimming, or Bill Gates in computer programming (we sometimes forget his forte before he started Microsoft).

In corporate America today however, the word ‘talent’ has to be applied across the board: every industry, every company, every position.

There are no exceptions.

To compete in today’s business climate, a company has to be a low-cost producer, provide world-class customer service, and offer complete solutions while generating ‘next day’ turnaround.  But a company’s best path to continued growth and profitability is still tied directly to its foundation – its talent. How you develop it, how you manage it, and how you find it is what makes the difference between stagnation and growth.

Most companies lack a system to measure their existing talent capital. Without an ‘inventory management’ system in place, it’s impossible to know if you have people who are ready for new challenges, are being under-utilized, or need to be re-deployed.

Professional sports teams do it right; they know their talent. They identify their super stars and build a team around them. They identify players who could become stars. They single out players to develop and, finally, they identify players who are clogging the system.

Since there are no scouting programs or college/high school drafts in most industries, how can we apply the processes of a professional sports franchise to our companies? Remember, if you don’t know what makes your team successful, it’s impossible to move forward and continue the process.

The answer: Talent Inventory Management

Pre-employment assessments have been around for a long time and it’s a rare employer who would, in today’s economic climate, merely ‘hire and hope’; but assessing potential candidates is no longer enough. You must have a complete inventory of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing team to insure that, as Jim Collins from Good to Great fame would say: “…you have the right people on the right seats on the bus”.

In other words: You have to manage your talent.

The goal is to treat your employees as an appreciating asset and actually create an inventory management system to select, develop, and manage this very valuable resource.

Psychometric Assessments

By assessing everyone in your company, you’ll be able to build success profiles by job class and a complete template of your ‘people grid’ —  the foundation upon which you can build.

As a general rule there are two broad categories of psychometric assessments: aptitude/skills assessments and personality/career assessments.

Aptitude and skills psychometric assessments are designed to measure a candidate’s

*verbal reasoning – critical evaluation of information and reading comprehension

*numerical reasoning – logical interpretation of numerical and statistical data

*abstract, mechanical or spatial reasoning – pattern recognition, logic and how quickly an individual can master a new task.

Personality and career psychometric assessments will look at and measure areas such as

*ways a team member thinks and acts in different situations

* Interpersonal styles as applied to conflict and leadership issues in the workplace

*patterns of coping with stress

*interests as applied to types of activities at work

*individual motivation keys as applied to how employees approach their daily tasks

*work values issues that reflect what factors make work worthwhile for an employee

Problems occur for businesses in the gap between what jobs require and what the people in those jobs bring to them. The larger the gap, the greater the potential for ‘drama’ and the problems become more pronounced and frequent.

The goal of psychometric assessments in relation to the creation of an employee talent inventory is to prevent gaps through good employee selection and promotion decisions and to close gaps whenever possible by turning the ‘intangibles’ into ‘tangibles’ and then using that knowledge to determine good and bad job fits.

What’s in it for you if you make the effort to assess ALL your people and create an ‘inventory of talent’?

Sales growth, higher margins, improved levels of customer satisfaction, reduced spoiled work, reduced employee turnover, improved individual productivity, improved team morale, reduced recruiting time/cost, and reduced training time/cost are just some of the benefits that will be the end result of this exercise.

There are psychometric assessment tools readily available to show talented employees exciting career options, eliminate ‘gut feel’ hiring and promotion decisions, and to create more productive relationships between employees and their supervisors.

Take advantage of them.

The DEI Prospect Management Selling System
There are schools of thought out there that contend that training and coaching are tools to only assist underperformers.  I disagree. 
All you have to do to look at the number of professional athletes (Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Tiger Wood  -  the list goes on and on) with personal coaches to understand that everyone  -  seasoned sales professionals and rookies alike -  can benefit from objective third party analysis and development.
Since 1979, Stephan Schiffman’s proprietary DEI Selling System has trained over 500,000 sales people (over 9,000 companies) - across all industries and all levels of experience.
SalesGrowPro has partnered with The Veritas Training Group out of Cincinnati to help companies increase revenues and cultivate positive change while helping sales people make more money, have more fun, and live fuller lives using the DEI system.
Prospecting is the lifeblood of any true sales professional, but most sales people  don’t prospect (enough) or don’t have any sort of prospecting plan. 
Why?  Because they are not being held accountable for the development and implementation of a prospecting plan. 
Selling is an art and a science.  You have to respect the art, but you can’t ignore the science.
Prospecting trumps all other sales skills. If, as a sales person, you’re not able to get in front of enough people, your career in sales is going to be shorter than you might like. You can have great interpersonal, interviewing, and presentation skills, but if you can’t prospect effectively and track your numbers, you will not be successful.
Obviously, social media has changed the ‘rules’ of prospecting.  It is no longer as simple as identify & pursue;  attract & pursue is a better approach in today’s tech savy enviornment;  but  social media is only one dimension of a prospecting plan.
Remember:  today’s prospecting = tomorrow’s sales = tomorrow’s commission $$$$$ and sporadic prospecting just does not work.
As one of the world wide partners of Veritas Training Group/DEI Sales System, I can deliver to your sales team a truly unique, self policing, sales and prospect management system.
Training is delivered in a workshop format where sales professionals learn new selling skills and “self policing” prospecting techniques.
Unlike other programs, with SalesGrowPro/DEI, change and accountability are immediate and easily measured and monitored.
The DEI Prospect Management System is simple, easy to implement and costs are far from prohibative for companies large and small.
So don’t overestimate the competency of your sales team.  Don’t accept sales mediocrity.  Don’t let one of your most expensive and critical corporate asset -  your sales team –  underperform and under produce.
Call or email me today and learn more about how you can develop a more effective way to supervise, coach, train, and mentor your sales team.
PrintGrowPro is a resource for contract sales management expertise for commercial printers.  PGP provides ongoing accountability and coaching to help insure top line growth.
If you have too many ‘farmers’ and not enough ‘hunters’, I can help.
If members of your sales team aren’t ‘making their numbers’, I can help.
If you are concerned about embedded sales mediocrity, I can help.
For printing companies needing sales management help, but concerned with the associated costs and long term commitment, PrintGrowPro is the answer.
SalesGrowPro Reverse Risk Consulting
Employees are the lifeblood of any business.
From customer interactions to internal teams, having the RIGHT employee in place is the difference between running a successful business or not. The question is how do you find the RIGHT people? How do you keep your hiring standards consistent throughout all departments? How do you arm your managers with hiring practices and policies that do not set them up for failure?
SalesGrowPro presents the Hiring Suite. A unique personality & integrity assessment system that takes the guess work out of interviewing. By measuring ten dimensions of personality, four dimensions of integrity and basic academia, the Hiring Suite system will help insure that you get the RIGHT employee in the RIGHT position.
The Results: Lower turnover, lower absenteeism, less medical leave, less workers compensation claims, increased teamwork, and increase efficiency and increase profitability for your company.
If you are tired of making hiring mistakes (or letting the wrong people go), SalesGrowPro’s Reverse Risk (no cost) Consulting can help.
If conflict between employees and supervisors is creating too much drama, SalesGrowPro’s Reverse Risk (no cost) Consulting can help.
If you are tired of poor results because employees don’t match the demands of their jobs, then SalesGrowPro’s Reverse Risk (no cost) consulting can help.
I just need to ask you to take a few minutes to talk to me about your challenges and goals.  After we review our session, if I think I can help, I will offer to make your organization better, at no cost to you. 
SalesGrowPro Reverse Risk Consulting is a ‘pay it forward’ approach to business.
Please call for more information.
Thanks for taking the time to learn more about PrintGrowPro, SalesGrowPro, The Hiring Suite, and the DEI Prospect Managment System.

 Craig J. McConnell
PrintGrowPro/SalesGrowPro, Inc.

YouTube: PrintGrowPro1

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 Grow sales via better prospect management:
What it does:
·         Drives sales behavior
·         Creates accountability
·         Becomes a management tool to coach and help people to succeed
·         Creates a common language and unified sales process
·         Forecasting tool
·         Central point of information about new business opportunities
Why it works:
·         It simple and requires very little time to use
·         The system is visual and easy to understand
·         Internet based – can access from anywhere as long as you can reach the Internet