I just want my backyard tree trimmed ! How hard can it be?

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I talk and write a lot about building winning sales teams and how to conduct better sales conversations.

Well in this case, I am a buyer trying to decide on who to choose to trim by backyard tree that is slowly in decline.

How hard can it be, right?

Wrong !

So far I have had 4 different tree companies come by for an assessment and a quote, so far this is what I’ve got;

Prices ranging from $850 to $2,800 to trim the tree and prices from $1,800 to $4,500 to cut the entire tree down.

When I asked what kind of tree it is, get this --- I’ve gotten 4 different answers, poplar, manitoba maple, a mulberry, a weed tree. In each case I was dealing with a licenced, trained arborist.

Some have said just trim the dead wood out and the rest will live another several years, others said if you cut out the dead stuff the tree is going to die within another year

When I asked whether I needed a permit or not, 2 said no, 2 said yes for sure you need a permit

Here’s all I need;

Do I need to have it trimmed down, or do I need to cut the entire tree down for safety reasons, I don’t want to cut the entire tree down necessarily for environmental reasons (we need as many trees as we can get), when can you do it, do I need a permit, and how much is it going to cost

I am now more confused as a buyer than when I began my buying process,

So guess what, my decision is stalled. 

I don’t really know what to do. So I’m going to do some more research on my own, and maybe get a couple of more quotes to make sure I’m doing the right thing

I realize this is a consumer sale, and not a very complex one at that. But it’s an important one to me.

 

Just imagine in the B2B sales world with higher end more complex risky decisions, how confused a buyer can get receiving different answers, different stories, different solutions, and different pricing.

That’s the opportunity for the astute sales person – help the buyer make the right decision, help them thru the process

The huge lesson here, not once did any of the companies really try to get from me what I wanted or needed, and not once did any of the companies try to get a commitment from me, they provided a price and walked away. I just need help to make the right decision, and I am not price driven, I want confidence that my problem will be solved.

We in sales need to make sure we are not thinking about the product or service or price as much as we need to think about the buyer. How can we help them make the right decision, how can we help them thru their buyer journey.

I know we talk about this all the time, but talk is cheap, most of us don’t do it enough.

We need to work really really hard to actually put our minds into the minds of our customers, to try to understand how they are thinking.

We need to anticipate and question and learn from and about them so we can help them.

Before you pitch, prepare, think, and question, help your buyer decide

The next time you have a stalled deal, we often say we havn’t created enough urgency for the buyer, think also, have we helped them thru their buying thinking process.

I would love to hear your viewpoint on this topic, please feel free to comment.

 

To read about other sales leadership topics or to increase your sales productivity check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

 

The most transformative sales coaching element is coaching to the individual-The #1 Hack to improving sales performance

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Every sales team has a mix of different personality types. As leaders and sale’s managers we have to work at managing and coaching to each individual to optimize performance.

The easiest approach to managing sales people is a broad-brush performance and or activity perspective. This will reap average performance because its an average performance management system.

This lack of specificity in coaching fails to address the different work styles, attributes, experience, objectives, and motivations. This results in a lack of new ideas, a lack of effective collaboration, deeper and more meaningful learning is missing, and performance becomes a challenge.

To get above average performance, you need to manage and coach using an above average process. To do that you need to coach to the individual.

What motivates one person does not motivate another. I believe that for sure reps need to be self motivated, that’s an obvious given. But to get the extra mile from your people, to receive exceptional effort, it helps to ensure they are being supported and coached in a way that increases their intrinsic motivation, not hamper it.

I have read from some sales experts that say reps need to be self motivated and we can’t as managers influence them. Hire motivated reps, and fire unmotivated reps, while that is partially true, I don’t entirely agree. I have seen highly motivated sales professionals become disenchanted from lack luster sales management.

In a tight labor market I would not want to make that assumption.

I know from my own experience, I was a highly motivated and driven sales person. That was inside me and no one could take it away. But I would go the extra mile, put in the extra effort, and stay longer when I was working for someone that I looked up to  and felt supported by.

One of the steps a leader needs to take is to determine what makes each of his or her people tick, what’s important to them, what style are they, how do they learn, and what motivates them. Assessments are also a great asset to help in this process.

HBR published an article on the topic of managing to different personality types by Suzanne M. Johnson Vickberg and Kim Christfort (April 2017). 190,000 people completed their assessment and they described the results and how you can capitalize on cognitive diversity. It clearly works.

Specific coaching is an underused tool that offers superior results.

It’s one of the most important transformative elements of effective coaching—coaching to the individual.

Are you coaching to your individual team members? Feel free to comment.

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization thoughts refer to my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, feel free to order my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

e-mail mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, speaking or consulting feel free to contact me.

"Erosion of trust"-A very public lesson for all leaders!

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Trust is our most important asset as leaders, when it’s broken, look out.

Whether it happens innocently or not, if you lose the precious trust that you have developed, it is very difficult to retrieve it.

The SNC political meltdown is a perfect leadership lesson.

I’m not going to hypothesize on what happened in Ottawa, only to say that for sure trust was broken in a variety of ways and it will take Canadians and people in the liberal party a while to put it behind them.

It is a perfect example of trust gone wrong, and a leader, supposedly being unaware of it, which in and of itself is a significant problem.

This is a wide open public story for all to see, but this happens in companies every day. And then leaders wonder why there is a lack of engagement with their employees.

Employees start to question what once was a given, they start negative water cooler talk, turnover increases, and at the end of the day results suffer.

If the leader doesn’t address the issue head on and just waffles and tells lame stories or excuses, it will not stick and the problem will linger. A toxic culture is usually the result.

Let’s take this very public occurrence as a lesson to all of us in leadership positions to not take anything for granted. We have to communicate, ask questions, and spend time with the very important people that report to us, ie; all of them.

Our role is to lift up those who report to us, to coach them, to help them be the best they can be.

Our role is also to deliver a vision and a strategy and execute on what our stakeholders expect of us.

Its extremely difficult to do any of that in an environment of distrust.

When there is trust, everything happens quicker, more smoothly, and more efficiently. You get to the issues and challenges quicker as people are not afraid to bring them up.

Creative new ideation, and innovation happen in a freer, open, collaborative environment.

There is a lot to great leadership, hundreds of books are written on the subject, but I believe creating, developing, maintaining, and living a trusting environment is the most important lesson of all.

And its something you can’t fake or snap your fingers and expect it to be so. You have to lead by example everyday to develop it over time.

Please feel free to comment on this topic of trust in leadership—not politics.

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization and leadership learnings refer to my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, feel free to order my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, part time sales leadership or contract work, advising, or speaking engagements contact me directly;

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

Why are so many of us in sales still spewing out product garbage, too soon and too often?

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It’s crazy to me that we still need to coach sales people not to sell on product. I was just reviewing some old books on my shelf and came across the gem, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book sold millions and has been talked about for decades. It was published in 1989 by Simon and Schuster, 30 years ago.

Here you go, page 244, “An effective sales person first seeks to understand the needs, the concerns, the situation of the customer. The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions to needs and problems. It’s a totally different approach. The professional learns how to diagnose, how to understand.”

“It’s a totally different approach” – Yah  30 years ago it was!!

I realize that today we are also striving to advance the conversation to insights and value creation, and helping customers with ideas and scenario’s that they perhaps havn’t even thought of.

We still need to help customers solve their business problems by developing outcomes for them that resonate and are meaningful for their business and for them personally.

It’s curious to me that many sales consultants and thought leaders talk about this as if its new thinking.

I remember a family friend who sold for a paint manufacturer, yes paint. He traveled all over Canada selling paint. He was a good friend of my dad, and I was just a kid at the time. So this was 40 plus years ago.

I’ll never forget him talking about selling in our living room, smoking his pipe (yes he was smoking a pipe-not very popular these days). He talked about helping his customers, he never talked about the product.

Why are we still even having this conversation?

Because reps astonishingly, are still doing it.

Lets make 2019 the year we pause, think, ask questions, sincerely care about the outcome, and listen, I mean, really, actively, listen.

I help coach professionals on this topic among others on a continual basis, yes its still an issue.

It’s very rewarding to see them make the shift into outcomes and how they see very quickly that it changes the whole dynamic of the conversation they have with their clients in a positive way.

Please feel free to comment on this topic and join the conversation.

For more information and insights in regards to coaching and other sales organization thoughts refer to my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, you can also order my book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, part time sales leadership or contract work, advising, or speaking engagements contact me directly;

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

Are you a Super Bowl Sales Coach? There are 4 fundamentals which will help you become a "Super Bowl" Sales Coach.

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Are you a Super Bowl Coach?

There are 4 tried and true coaching fundamentals which will help you become a “Super Bowl” Sales Leader.

As human beings we are searching for meaning in our lives, some seek money and power and status of course. I think that is fleeting, while temporarily satisfying, in and of itself, it doesn’t add much meaning to our lives.

To truly have meaning in our lives we need to add meaning to other people’s lives. To make a difference, to contribute in a positive way.

As sales leaders it’s about helping team members be the best that they can be and helping them meet their objectives and goals, both at work and in their lives.

One sure fire way to do that, is through effective, meaningful coaching. The benefit of great coaching is that results happen.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a big sports fan and an even bigger football fan. I believe that there are so many parallels between sports and sales leadership and especially sales coaching.

I love watching the intensity on the sidelines of some of the great coaches, how they are so in the moment, watching every play, adjusting, being right there with their players on the field of battle.

Watch the two, very different coaches at this Sundays Super Bowl, Sean McVay and Bill Belichick.

One will be out there fist pumping on occasion, the other will be more stoic and even tempered, but no less intense.

I’ve read a ton from many of the coaches that I admire, like Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, John Wooden, Bill Walsh and Pat Quinn.

There are so many lessons to be learned by studying these greats, not only on how they coached but on how they lived their lives.

They are not remembered for their status, or how much money they made.

They are remembered for their results, but even more importantly they are remembered for the meaningful difference they made in the lives of those that they coached.

I have been a leader for over 20 years, I have studied and read about the craft of leadership and coaching, I became a certified coach in two different coaching programs, and then I wrote a book about it; The Street Savvy Sales Leader.

In addition to that experience, I also interviewed over 100 sales professionals.

There is no doubt that effective and consistent coaching is a Sales Team Game Changer.

This is my 2-minute summary of what it takes to create an effective coaching relationship.

The 4 Fundamentals of Great Sales Coaching

Number 1: Trust.

You need to be authentic, genuine and sincere and have the best interests of your people at heart.

You need to care.

This means listening to your reps, asking thoughtful questions and being collaborative and willing to have a constructive back and forth conversation vs being solely directive.

The greater the trust, the more open your team will be and the more you will learn about them as people and what their issues and challenges are.

That’s when the magic happens, when you can really help them be their best selves, through effective coaching.

Number 2: Specific.

It is important that the coaching is specific to each individual’s needs and goals.

You need to coach to the unique level of experience, skill set, challenges, strengths and weaknesses, talents, and character of each individual.

Reps need and want the coaching to be unique to them personally.

Real-world, relatable examples work far better than textbook scenarios or theory.

Number 3: Credibility.

Salespeople need coaching not only to come from a credible source but also to be credible.

In other words, the Sales leader is leading by example because of their experience and expertise.

Sales people in this case will truly value a coach’s viewpoint and recognize the benefit of collaborative creative new ideas and strategic account and sales call assistance.

Number 4: Timely.

Coaching needs to be timely, in real time if possible.

The immediate application of coaching lessons leads to sticky learning.

Coaching around a sales call for example should be right after the call, or same day, but no longer than 24 hours or it will not be nearly as effective.

John Wooden talked about the fact that if he couldn’t coach in the moment or within a few minutes of the event, it was a waste of time and you might as well not even bother.

In Conclusion; Great leaders are also great coaches

There is so much more to coaching, the above are 4 meaningful fundamentals to think about in your coaching moments.

They will help lead to greater performance.

Think about it—How do you want to be remembered?

Do you want to be remembered as one among many managers, or do you want to be remembered as someone who made a meaningful difference in people’s lives?

I pick the latter!   

Effective coaching means you need to take the time, it means you need to shift from it being about you, to its being about the people that report to you.

If you’re ready to be a Super Bowl Coach, ready for transformation, and ready to make a difference contact me today.

Email me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

It will lead to greater results—Effective coaching is transformative!

 

To read about other sales leadership topics or to learn more about sales coaching, check out my website www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com .

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, or advising feel free to contact me for a free consultation by email mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

Some of My Favorite Quotes For Sales Are About Preparation, Why Is that?

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Preparation for me is part of my coaching that I give on a regular basis and it is a part of the culture that I always instill in sales teams.

I know from personal experience that the more I prepared, the better the results I achieved.

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” Vince Lombardi

Certainly, there is a balance, you don’t want to be stymied and end up not doing anything, but if I was to choose between under preparing and over preparing, I’d pick over preparing in most cases.

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail” John Wooden

Due to the buyer challenges we face today, sales must step up to the increased expectation around the sales conversation. To meet those expectations, it requires thorough preparation. I think the more seasoned you are, the more knowledge you have, the easier you can adapt and meet each selling situation, but even seasoned sales professionals need to spend time preparing for each customer interaction to ensure they are maximizing that extremely valuable customer face time. Typically, you don’t get a second chance.

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” Alexander Graham Bell

Getting to the value outcome or solution outcome that matches the client’s needs is the main objective. Getting there requires a deeper understanding of the buyer’s decision process. 

If the value lies not in what you sell, but in the insights and innovative thinking that you bring to the table, then preparation is key.

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax” Abraham Lincoln

Even existing clients are often too busy to return your calls or take the time for a face to face meeting. This is the number one challenge facing sales forces today.

This makes it even more compelling to ensure sales is supported with the tools they need, and the time they need to be ready for their sales engagements. As organizations we must ensure we are not inundating sales with non-sales stuff. We can’t expect sales to be on top of their game and win new opportunities if you have them mired with administrative trivia and other tasks that other departments or support should be taking care of.

“Success is where preparation and opportunity meet” Bobby Unser

That about sums up the challenge. I have said this repeatedly for many years now, the sales rep is the differentiation. I think it has always been that way, but you could get away with more in the past. You could have a good relationship, or you could be the best at follow-up and paying attention to detail. You could have the best solution and price. Now you must have that little bit extra that requires an enormous amount of extra preparation for the rep.

“What you know and how you leverage it is the biggest factor in your success…. How we sell is more important than what we sell” Jill Konrath

One of the most important, limited resources a sales rep has is their time. I am constantly reminding reps with how important their time is, and thus how important it is to spend it wisely. Company’s don’t have a lot patience with numbers not being met. As a result, you need to be productive quickly and consistently to be successful.

“Measure twice before you cut” My Dad

The list of preparation quotes could go on, they are simply an example, to ensure we do not underestimate how important it truly is.

For more information, suggestions, and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, and/or order my book The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, or speaking engagements

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

10 Sales Compensation Principles "To Think About" When Designing or Modifying Your 2019 Sales Plans

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When trying to identify the right commission structure, design, and payment method for your sales organization, remember this: the plan needs to start by being aligned with the values, culture, and strategy of the company to ensure that the reps are selling what you want them to sell, in the volume you want them to sell it, and to the customers you have targeted. Equally important is that the reps are highly motivated to make it happen.

The sales compensation plan can also encompass areas that are mission critical to the organization such as customer satisfaction metrics, longer-term contracts and customer retention. Your compensation plan can be individual based or team based or a hybrid of the two. I think they can work equally well depending on the circumstances.

There are some who believe that sales compensation is an outmoded way to pay sales people, I beg to differ in most cases, I will cover that discussion in a separate Blog post-it’s very important but too much to cover here !

The compensation plan should be a collaborative effort from sales, marketing, and finance. It is much better received when the sales organization is engaged from the beginning to ensure it is bought in and it is going to meet the objectives of the organization.

I recall more than one instance where a compensation plan was launched without sales input and there were glaring challenges that ended up derailing many meetings and slowing sales momentum with a lot of water cooler talk about how the compensation plan is not working or is flawed in one way or another.

My experience suggests that time after time if you engage some sales representation in input to how you pay them or how you want to change how you pay them, that input can help prevent many potential mine fields. I have witnessed this first hand more than once.

I have been engaged in many compensation committees, designs, plan development, and implementations. The best experiences were in situations where the sales group was engaged along the way. 

I experienced one organization whose compensation plan was the most complex I have ever seen in my entire career in sales. There were way too many gates to reach to make plan, and it took an inordinate amount of time to fully understand how you were getting paid. This was a recipe for disaster,and resulted in a sales team that was not fully engaged.

 

10 suggested rules to follow in the overall thought process when developing a sales compensation plan;

 

1) The compensation plan needs to be in keeping with the overall objectives, culture, and strategy of the organization.

2) Ensure the plan is in sync with your company’s marketing efforts and go to market strategy, its critical that sales and marketing be aligned and one way to do that is thru compensation (entire separate discussion warranted on this topic).

3) The plan needs to be within the company’s budget and be able to be launched from a systems perspective.

4) Base versus upside comp needs to be determined, how aggressive do you want the upside vs base pay. Do you pay on sales or margin (separate discussion altogether)?

5) The plan should be clear and simple; the sales force should not need a financial analyst or a lawyer to help them figure out how they are going to get paid. Believe me, I have seen examples of this.

6) The design of the plan should be different for different types of sales roles. A hunter or business development role or builder/farmer should each have a different plan. Gaining a new client is much different from retaining and growing an existing client and the plan should reflect that difference. A territory rep plan should be different from a major account management rep plan.

7) The plan should be clearly measurable, meaning the reps should be able to understand that if they sell x they will earn y. There is no place for ambiguity in a sales compensation plan.

8) The plan needs to be motivating, the reps should to be able to review it and say to themselves, “yes I understand this”, “I know why the company structured it this way”, “I know why they want to pay me this way”. “I get it and I know what I have to do to earn the income that I signed up for and potentially more on overachievement”.

9) The plan can include professional behavior or performance management elements, it can include a team element if that is deemed important as well.

10) The plan should also be timely. This means a couple of things;

a) The plan should be launched prior to the new selling year or as a minimum, in conjunction with the new selling year. The sales force should know right from the get-go in the new year how they are going to be paid. There should be no guessing, conjecture, or hearsay.

b) Payment should be made in a timely fashion, either soon after the month closes for a monthly plan or soon after the closing of a sale. If paid on billed revenue than as soon after the bill is sent as possible.

c) Any disputes or issues should be dealt with rapidly. Don’t nickel and dime the sales force, it will demotivate the reps.

 

When it’s time to launch the compensation plan there should be a well thought out launch plan. Issuance of the documentation (the actual plan), including examples, a presentation and review session from management, or the compensation plan owners explaining in detail how the plan works using examples, the rationale behind the plan, along with Q and A.

 

For more information, suggestions, and insights into sales compensation and other sales organization imperatives see my website, www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com, and/or order my book The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide To Building Teams That Consistently Win New Business.

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com

For individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, or speaking engagements

mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

Are You Having Productive One on Ones With Your Sales Team Members?

Photo by Daniil Silantey on Unsplash

Photo by Daniil Silantey on Unsplash

Are You Having Productive One on Ones With Your Sales Team Members?

A Brief Guide to Conducting Meaningful Sales Rep One on Ones

 

I have always had the practice of meeting salespeople one-on-one every week, even if it was over the phone. My experience is that even the most experienced and seasoned salespeople need and want one-on-one interaction, whether it be for encouragement, help with problem-solving, support with strategic thinking, assistance with call planning or reviews, or internal help, like guidance on collaborating to receive support from other departments.

Even if they know what they need to do, having someone to bounce ideas off is extremely helpful. The essential thing is that the manager needs to be able to add value to the sales representative—they need to be able to help in some way. If the manager doesn’t add or offer any value, the one-on-ones won’t be of any value and won’t be welcomed. In fact, the reps will do whatever they can to avoid the manager, as they will be viewed as a waste of reps’ time.

In my one-on-ones I would always have a specific agenda but also always left time open for free dialogue. The agenda typically included:

 

actions review from previous meeting

results (or the lack thereof)

funnel review and discussion

what needed to be done to move business forward

strategic account planning

help/resources needed

current or immediate known challenges or issues

potential challenges or risks

any coaching opportunities that may have arisen and not yet been covered

personal/career development discussion, if needed or requested

any actions requiring follow-up

open discussion that may surface items

 

You want to ensure that these meetings aren’t viewed as simply the manager’s way to get caught up and keep an eye on things so that they are seen as being on top of things for their boss. While it is certainly important to catch up, the focus should be on the actual coaching and value-add of the manager–sales representative discussion. It’s not about you the manager, its about the rep and how you can help him or her be the best they can possibly be.

During the writing of my book The Street Savvy Sales Leader, I went through the process of becoming a professionally certified business coach by the Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (Conducted by Shift Coaching, shiftcoaching.ca). It was an extensive process that included several interactive training clinics, a substantial reading list, role-playing, observing practice-coaching sessions and putting in actual real-time, practical coaching hours. In all, the certification entailed well in excess of 70 hours[LC1]  of effort.

I wish I had gone through a coaching process like this earlier in my sales management career, as I would have been a more effective leader and coach if I had. I would recommend becoming a certified coach (from a reputable organization) to any dedicated Sales manager. It will make you a more seasoned, thoughtful and respected Sales leader.

Again, actual coaching means that you need to develop consistent and regular conversations that serve to help the sales process and sales rep development. These conversations need to be planned and must link to what you are trying to achieve as an organization and the culture you are creating.

Any additional thoughts and ideas on one on ones?, Would love to hear them, it is so important and needs to be a priority in all Sales Managers schedule.

For more information and insights into sales organization imperatives see my website,  www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com , or to pre order my upcoming book, The Street Savvy Sales Leader, A Guide to Building Teams that Consistently Win New Business.

Street Savvy Sales Leadership offers individual sales or sales leadership coaching, workshops, contract work, advising, and speaking engagements.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at mark@streetsavvysalesleadership.com

 

Mark Welch

Founder

Street Savvy Sales Leadership

www.streetsavvysalesleadership.com