How to Sell a Service Mindset to Carnivore Salespeople

By Jim Cathcart

After years of your sales team seeing prospects as “fresh meat,” how do you cultivate a service-oriented mindset?

Well, it’s not as complex as it might seem. It is not like getting lions to become vegetarians. Instead, it’s about showing the value (e.g., payoffs) of doing things in new ways.

Setting the Right Vision

There’s a common saying in management: “What you measure is what you get more of.” In other words, what you inspect tells people what you expect. If someone wants to gain your approval or praise, they’ll do what you are measuring. If it’s sales calls, they will do what they can to increase the number of calls. If it’s new contracts, they’ll focus only on signed orders.

A utility company in California once implemented a new system to increase customer orientation and service quality in their call center. They told their people they would be rewarded based on the length of time they spent on phone calls with customers. The thinking was that longer calls would be perceived as better service.

But there were unintended consequences! Upon hearing of the new plan, the workers started placing people on hold so call times would be extended. Service didn’t improve – but call length did increase. Service quality, on the other hand, got worse.

Next, management said, “No more long calls. We will now measure you based on the number of calls you handle.” Workers immediately adapted. They started hanging up on customers so they’d call back and score two calls for each inquiry.

Finally, the leaders realized their errors and changed to a system of customer satisfaction measures that directly involved customer feedback.

Playing the Sales Game

In some fields, there is a long history of aggressive and manipulative sales practices. Customers have become numb to advertising that offers a wonderful new experience – only to be contradicted in practice by uncaring salespeople. They think, “Same rust, new paint.” Good words and slogans – promises of great treatment and respect for the customer – have just become “white noise” to many buyers. They expect to have to play the sales game, and they hate doing it.

The big question, then, is: How do you get salespeople to stop focusing just on closing techniques and profit margins, and start truly trying to help people? As with the utility company above, there is a bigger issue here than just what you measure. Measures communicate priorities, but mindset drives the culture. That is why we need to reorient the thinking toward seeing customers as assets instead of targets.

What’s the Purpose of Your Business?

Hint: it is not profit. All businesses must earn a profit in order to stay in business, but the purpose of each business is something different. Profit is a by-product of what you do – not the reason for doing it. Of course, profit is necessary and important, but your product or service has a greater value than just stimulating revenue.

The purpose of automobiles is to provide enjoyable and reliable transportation – not to generate profit margins. The purpose of banking services is to give people more control over (and security about) their money. The purpose of computers and smartphones is to give people more control over their day-to-day lives and the information flow in their work. The communication capabilities of your technology are the reason profit can be produced by selling them. But profit, again, is the by-product.

The more people see the value in what they do, the more commitment they make to doing it well. A salesperson who truly understands how their offer helps others – and makes the world a better place – will be far more persuasive in a sales dialogue than someone who simply knows 15 power closing techniques. All of this starts with how you talk about the job.

Salespeople are not paid for making sales. They are paid for helping people at a profit. If they make lots of sales and many of them “unwind” or result in high-cost customers, then profits will drop, work will be miserable, and the business will fail. It’s not the number of sales that counts; it is the number of happy customers who pay you on time and speak well of you.

Jim Cathcart is a long-time contributor to Selling Power and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. He is the original author of Relationship Selling plus 17 other books. Cathcart.com helps organizations increase sales engagement and self-motivation. Contact him at info@cathcart.com.

Posted in: Sales Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Training | Leave a comment

Compassion Fatigue: It’s Here, It’s Real, and It’s Hurting Your Sales Game

By Karyn Mullins

You’re constantly outsourcing your energy. Every customer and salesperson who needs compassion, you’re always there for them. But filling up their tanks is draining and that can quickly attack your team’s sales numbers.

Believe it or not, this feeling has a name. “Compassion fatigue” is defined as fatigue, emotional distress, or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others or from constant appeals from charities.

Especially in sales management, the strain from being a mentor and sounding board leads to a reduced sense of personal accomplishment, increased stress, and mental exhaustion. And this stress is an epidemic in today’s workplace.

According to a 2017 Udemy report, “Workplace Confidential: The Real Story Behind Stress, Skills, and Success in America,” millennials, Gen Xers, and baby boomers all admitted to having increased stress levels over the past year.

Compassion fatigue is real and it could be putting your sales career in danger. Take a look at how to determine if it’s a problem for you – and learn steps for dealing with it at work.

Why Compassion Fatigue Is a Problem in Sales

As sales managers, it’s your job to lend an empathetic ear to your customers and salespeople. All successful sales managers understand sales isn’t about selling, but rather about relationships. Building those relationships depends on your ability to care about every life aspect a customer is willing to share.

However, caring too much can hurt.

Becoming overly empathetic means you’re feeling customers’ or salespeople’s emotions, experiencing their fears, and relating to their dreams. Becoming overwhelmed with everyone else’s issues and concerns leaves little time to address your own. This distracts from other customers, your team, and, ultimately, your sales goals.

More importantly, it’s easy to lose your sense of self when compassion fatigue hits. You lose that spark, motivation, and goal-oriented attitude that made you a success from the start.

How to Recognize an Issue

Like I said before, sales management jobs require a certain degree of empathy. Without it, you’ll be unable to connect with customers and your team. However, being aware of the signs of compassion fatigue will help you recognize when that compassion has begun affecting you in a negative way.

A few signs are:

  • Decreased focus
  • Lowered cognitive abilities
  • Unusual drop in productivity
  • Emotional intensity especially surrounding work issues
  • Lack of energy
  • Decreased overall well-being
  • Lack of interest

Remember, compassion fatigue isn’t something you wake up with one day. It happens over an extended period of time after offering too much empathy and energy to your customers and team. Simply being aware of the symptoms and taking note of how you’re feeling at the end of each day is a good way to keep yourself in check.

Overcoming without Offending

Sales jobs require you to focus on your own well-being from time to time. If you’re not up to par, it’ll be impossible to strategically plan your sales management goals, give customers the information they need, and, overall, be your sales-powered self.

However, stopping compassion fatigue from hurting your sales career means you’ll need to remove yourself a bit from the empathy role. Not approaching this carefully leads to hurt feelings and dented egos.

Overcoming compassion fatigue starts with self-care and self-management. Take time outside of work or even a few days off to do activities you enjoy. Go for a walk, eat at your favorite restaurant, or meet up with an old friend. No matter what you choose to do, try to disconnect from all work-related activities.

When you come back, practice self-management. Be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to empathizing with customers and team members. Strategically schedule your days so you’re not spending back-to-back calls with the emotionally needy.  

Regain your focus and put time and energy back into selling by creating a step-by-step action plan for helping your team hit your sales goals.

Karyn Mullins is the president at MedReps.com, a job board that gives members access to the most sought-after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Karyn on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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How the Best Sales Managers Control Time

By Kevin F. Davis

The biggest problem sales managers face is not having enough time to get everything done. Unfortunately, the way many sales managers problem-solve with their salespeople ends up in creating more “stuff” for the sales manager to do. And that leaves less time for more important priorities, like sales coaching.

I have never met a participant in my sales manager programs who thought he or she was spending enough time coaching salespeople. Not having enough time for sales coaching is a huge problem – because a lack of coaching leads to a host of problems…not enough salespeople at quota, high turnover of salespeople, slow ramp-up of new hires, and lousy sales numbers, just to name a few.

Now, I’m the first to admit that some of the distractions sales managers must deal with are out of their control – such as requests from upper management to attend meetings, or the submission of necessary reports.

But I also hear from sales managers about other problems like this one: Suppose a sales rep contacts you and says, “Hey, Boss, we’ve got a problem.”

Notice that the salesperson tells you “we’ve” got a problem – not “I’ve” got a problem.

Most sales managers will listen to the problem and then – not having the necessary information to make a decision – says to the salesperson, “Let me look into it and I’ll get back to you.” In the blink of an eye, two things have just happened that are typically associated with being a subordinate in a relationship: 1) the sales manager accepted a delegation from a sales rep, and 2) the sales manager offered to provide the sales rep with a progress report!

And there you have an example of why many sales managers give themselves more stuff to do. We love being problem solvers for the sales team. It’s something we thrived on when we were salespeople, right? So our natural instinct is to get involved with every request that comes our way. And then our sales team gives us even more of their problems, and we have no time remaining to coach salespeople.

Operating in a reactive mode such as this is not good for sales managers or their sales team. You know how all this plays out: You come to the office with a great plan for all the things you want to focus on and then, WHAMMO – you get an incoming problem, then another and another and, before you know it, it’s 5 p.m. and you’ve just spent all day addressing other people’s priorities. Meanwhile, you had no time to become a sales coach. No wonder there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day!

The best sales managers are masterful at taking control of their time. Here are three strategies I share in my sales management seminars:

Strategy #1: Make sure your salespeople “own” their own problems.

The next time a sales rep approaches you with a problem, listen but do NOT offer your own ideas or allow yourself to be dragged into the drama. The goal should be to help that salesperson figure out a way to deal with the problem on their own. Successful sales managers ask their sales team what I call the two magic questions:

  1. What have you done about it so far?
  2. What do you think ought to be done next?

Pretty soon you’ll notice that your salespeople will come to you and say, “Boss, I’ve got a problem and here are my two best solutions.” Wouldn’t that give you more time for sales coaching?

Strategy #2: Tame the email monster.

I recently spoke to a sales manager who estimated she spends roughly two hours every day sending and receiving emails. That equates to 500 hours a year – or more than 60 days of her time! Imagine if she could just reduce that time by 25 percent. That would be an extra 125 hours a year for more coaching. Check your email less frequently and set team standards for email that include “NRN” – No Reply Needed” in the subject line. Finally, send shorter emails yourself.

Strategy #3: Think about your “to-don’t list,” not just your to-do list.

Most of us come into the office each day with a list of things we want to accomplish each day. The best sales managers also have a clear to-don’t list – they know what they are going to STOP doing, like responding to everyone else’s problems, answering every single call, or responding immediately to all their emails, texts, etc.

When you stop being everyone else’s problem solver, you’ll have much more time to spend on what should be your number one priority: coaching salespeople. You are the only person on your sales team who can fill this vital function for your company. Sales coaching is the priority that will contribute most to the sales team’s results.

Every day you face a choice of whether to be a reactive firefighter whose time is lost by an endless number of seemingly urgent distractions – or whether you will become one of the best sales managers whose time is focused on sales coaching, sales pipeline management, pre-call planning, and other priority tasks so essential to becoming a successful sales manager. In this daily choice lies your sales leadership destiny.

Kevin F. Davis is the president of TopLine Leadership and the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness, which has been named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of two sales books: Getting into Your Customer’s Head and Slow Down, Sell Faster! Kevin is a thought leader on buyer-focused sales training and playbooks, and the sales coaching and leadership skills so essential to steering your team to success. Visit TopLine Leadership, Inc. for more info.  

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Your Most Valuable Selling Skill and Other Important Insights

By Ben Taylor

We asked sales professionals across industries what challenges they anticipate this year. After receiving hundreds of responses, Richardson compiled our 2018 Selling Challenges Study. The results provide a panoramic view of ground-level challenges in sales today. Here’s what we learned.

Competing Against Low-cost Providers

Sales professionals are feeling the pressure to articulate the value of their solution amid inexpensive alternatives. More respondents cited this problem than any other in the study. Connected to this challenge was another common response: “gaining higher prices.” During the negotiation process, more sales professionals are struggling to maintain control and generate mutually beneficial outcomes.

Strong sales professionals overcome these challenges by converting demands to needs. This approach is important because needs (e.g., “I need more flexibility in the payment schedule”) are much easier to discuss and resolve than demands (e.g., “I can’t pay that much”). Once specific needs are understood, they may identify multiple options for meeting the need, which does not necessarily require concessions. In the end, they maintain the scope of the work and the pricing.

Creating a Targeted Prospecting Strategy

The increasing sophistication underpinning sales automation tools is motivating sales professionals to redesign their prospecting strategy. However, process improvement isn’t the same as sales improvement. CRM systems offer a range of capabilities, but the customer must be at the center of most decisions.

Getting to the right stakeholder is part of the challenge behind creating a targeted prospecting strategy. More sales professionals are discovering that developing a brand marketing mindset helps clarify the right leading message – starting by considering what kind of customer they want to talk to and what those customers care about.

Understanding How Buyers Make Decisions

Having more stakeholders on the buyer’s side of the table leads to a complex decision making process – the result of multifaceted business needs. Sales professionals must remember to take the time to ask questions that reveal the decision making tree.

Doing so requires relationship building. Information moves freely with an established relationship between the sales professional and the buyer. The buyer is likely to recoil from direct questions about the decision making process if they come before the sales professional has prepared some groundwork.

The Status Quo Remains Powerful

This issue garnered among the most responses of all questions across all categories for the past two years. Meanwhile, the problem is growing.

Buyers today have more options. Each of these options has several possible outcomes. This complexity and the need to fulfill day-to-day responsibilities creates inertia. Additionally, buyers are considering the ROI of their decisions. In doing so, they’re asking themselves which metrics will matter when gauging the effectiveness of a solution.

However, sales professionals can remind buyers that making no decision is, in fact, a decision. Standing still carries risk – especially as the competition moves forward. Conveying this message requires a proactive mindset around a process that makes it easy for the buyer to do business with the sales professional.

Balancing Sales and Relationship Management

Increasingly complex sales require more follow-through. As a result, the sales professional has less time to pursue new opportunities. At the same time, more sales professionals are working to become trusted advisors. This approach also takes time. In fact, “becoming a trusted advisor” was the second most popular response to the question of how best to manage accounts and expand relationships.

Sales professionals should communicate their intention to keep new product discussions separate from work already implemented. This approach permits time to focus on “whitespace” in the account without impeding on the value expected from previous solutions.

The Most Valuable Selling Skill Is…

Respondents cited “asking insightful and relevant questions to understand customer needs and challenges” as the most valuable selling skill in 2018.

Competition has forced many businesses to leverage nuanced differentiators. As a result, sales professionals recognize the need to make a greater effort to understand these details across a range of customers. Moreover, insightful questions are an early step toward shaping the customer’s thinking by directing their focus to areas where the sales professional can offer value.

To reach a close, a sales professional needs a path. The customer’s responses to insightful questions reveal that path. Effective sales professionals start by offering context. They explain their thought process and why they’re asking the question.

The buyer is changing, and sales professionals must change with them. With a refocus on the right selling skill, the strongest sales professionals stand to gain big in 2018.

For more information, visit this report summary page (where you can also download the full report).

Ben Taylor is the content marketing manager at Richardson. He has an MBA in finance from LaSalle University and more than a decade of business and writing experience. He has covered content for several brands, including Nasdaq, Barclaycard, and Business Insider.

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The High Value of Lifelong Learning

By Jim Cathcart

“Created and repaired in the USA…but made somewhere else.”

When I grew up it seemed every disposable product was labeled “Made in Japan” or “Made in China.” If it was easy to reproduce – or inexpensive – then that’s where it was made.

It may have been made in another country, but we often had to repair it or replace it. “Made in the USA” products were produced in Detroit or Pittsburgh or Chicago. They were solid, reliable, and substantial.  

At least that’s the way it seemed to me from my home in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the late 20th Century.

The Growing Influence of China

Japan had its renaissance a generation ago and, today, its innovative products are serious players in the world markets. China, on the other hand, has remained mostly a manufacturing economy.

For the past few years I’ve been making annual trips to China to conduct seminars on leadership, sales, and communication skills. My audiences have been 1,000 to 2,500 young success seekers who sit enthralled with learning for up to six hours a day as I share ideas and techniques. It’s not that I’m necessarily that interesting but rather that they are that interested. These folks are hungry! They’re eager to learn.

For generations the Chinese have been learning, copying and producing what the USA and other countries have thought up, tested, and refined. But now, their leaders are encouraging them to innovate. They want to learn to think like we do.

The Will to Prepare

There are 400 million millennials in China, born between approximately 1980 and 2000. By contrast, there are 80 million millennials in the USA. China has more young adults than we have people of all ages in our entire country plus all of Canada!

And they work differently than we do. They spend years learning, practicing, and studying. Long before they need to take an entrance exam or compete for a job, they are spending hours every day in intense study of their chosen craft. Plus, they want to learn to think like you do. One-third of all international students in U.S. universities are Chinese students – learning here, then returning home.

Why does this matter to you and me? Because these are the people with whom we will be competing in coming years. They are learning English, studying in our schools, learning our techniques, and competing with our products. So far, it’s been mild – but wait till they start innovating! When their creativity and entrepreneurial juices are unleashed there will be no force large enough to resist them.

The Value of Lifelong Learning

What can you do about it? For one, learn like they do. Start spending a portion of each week learning skills and techniques you don’t need…yet. “Yet” – that’s the word to watch. Business is fine now, but what is the next stage of business for you? With whom will you be competing for tomorrow’s sales? What technology will you need to understand in order to keep up? What could you learn now that would give you more options later?

What technology could you begin to invest in today that would expand your capacity to reach more customers with more services next year? In the new book, Sales Ex Machina, authors Victor Antonio and James Glenn-Anderson show exactly how technology is not just augmenting but replacing the human element in some of the sales steps we thought only we carbon-based life forms could handle.

In order to remain a leader in your community and industry, and against impressive new competitors, you and I must continually innovate and prepare. Learn to use technology we don’t yet believe we will need. Create new solutions – exciting ways to do things better than before – and prepare for opportunities you haven’t even seen yet. Get ready…for more than you originally thought you’d need to be prepared for. Just keep growing, learning, experimenting, collaborating, and improving. That’s the American Way and it is what makes the rest of the world want to be more like us. GBA! God bless America.

Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, is the original author of Relationship Selling and one of the world’s leading professional speakers. Jim is a regular contributor to Selling Power and a certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer. Contact Jim at Cathcart.com.

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Why Some Millennials Avoid Sales – and What You Can Do About it

By Jamie Crosbie

According to a research study conducted by Harvard Business School in 2014, sales positions (including sales management openings) are increasingly becoming harder to fill. In part, this is because younger workers do not appear to be all that enticed by a career in sales. Other surveys and studies have highlighted the fact that millennials are not as easily lured by traditional incentives such as money or prestige.

What Do Younger and Older Workers Value?

When surveyed about their preferences, the Harvard study showed that 64 percent of older workers listed stability and income as compelling reasons to work in a given field. Younger workers, however, put a higher value on quality of life and making a difference in the world. That means, while older Americans workers are more likely to be impressed by money, their more youthful counterparts find greater significance in doing something they enjoy or being of service to humanity in some way.

This may explain why other studies have shown that millennials often prefer creating their own path such as starting their own company. Far from lazy, younger workers simply prefer to emphasize quality and value over long-term security or income levels. Having grown up during the Great Recession, they are skeptical about finding career security by staying for decades at one particular company.

Whereas 53 percent of baby boomers stated they would rather work for a single employer for their entire career, 45 percent of millennials opted for changing jobs at regular intervals. They are also more comfortable with acquiring new skills. As much as 77 percent of millennials stated they are willing to return to school in order to add additional skillset, although rising educational costs may begin to dampen that enthusiasm.

Recruiting Younger Sales Talent: Retool Your Company Messaging

The hard truth is that sales organizations are fighting a losing battle with time. Aging sales professionals are getting harder to find, just as the up-and-coming millennials are turning away from sales. To effectively fill empty sales positions, companies need to aggressively target talent. To do so, they must also change the message to fit the emerging millennial narrative. This may mean adding value by helping them build fulfilling and meaningful careers.  

To compete, companies need to rethink and retool their message by emphasizing quality, individuality, flexibility, and community service. Besides helping fill empty sales slots, purpose-driven companies are more likely to have brand-loyal customers.

Take, for instance, the rise of small neighborhood brewers and microbrewers, which are challenging the status quo of larger companies. The emphasis has changed from mass-produced quantity to high-value, handcrafted quality.

This niche market is a good example of the differences in mindset and emerging marketing trends. Microbreweries are generally more inclined to craft unique, high-value fare. They also espouse a message based on community involvement, coupled with creative approaches and solutions. Their message is not just about beer, but also concerns reaching into an increasingly interconnected world.

While many other examples could be cited, it comes down to the perceptions of the upcoming generation. Companies that ignore the new models will face stiff challenges as younger sales talent move toward other careers. The bottom line is that, like sales, you have to tailor your message to your targeted audience, creating value for the buyer (and, in this case, the seller as well).

Jamie Crosbie is founder and CEO of ProActivate and an accomplished senior executive with a proven record of sales leadership success. A certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer, Jamie helps companies of all sizes increase their sales productivity by training them to think – and therefore act – differently. Contact her today to learn more – jcrosbie@proactivate.net or 214/720-9922.  

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Everything You Need to Know to Sell to Today’s Enterprise CIO

By Sharon Gillenwater

Recently we did a deep dive into the backgrounds of CIOs by analyzing data regarding nearly 1,000 CIOs in the Fortune 500 and beyond. If you are familiar with our service, you know we maintain in-depth profiles of several thousand CIOs as well as thousands of other C-suite executives. And, while much of our focus tends to be on their business initiatives and challenges to help sales teams create compelling strategies for partnering with customers, our profiles also contain rich, personal information, such as their hobbies, where they are from, and where they started their careers.

We set out to answer three questions:

  1. What does the enterprise CIO archetype look like?
  2. What do enterprise CIOs have most in common?
  3. How does the CIO archetype differ from the other C-level titles we profile in our database?

So what did we learn?

What Are CIOs Really Like: Five Insights

Insight #1: Our CIO group – in aggregate – looks quite different from other C-level executives.

They’re more cerebral in that they have more intellectually-focused interests and hobbies. They enjoy reading, writing, and speaking on topics such as technology and leadership. They’re more multilingual and globally focused. And they’re also more altruistic in that they show a strong interest in volunteering and mentoring.

Insight #2: Our analysis – which, again, looked at nearly 1,000 CIOs in the Fortune 500 and beyond – found that only 16 percent are women.

While this is a disappointingly small percentage, consider that, in 2017, only 6.4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs were women, which is itself a new record high.

Insight #3: Unlike when we look at other C-level titles, golf is not the favorite pastime.

For enterprise CIOs, travel tops the list of favorite hobbies, followed by running. Golf tied for third with cycling. After that came mentoring, reading, and skiing.

Insight #4: CIOs are a very international group.

They’ve lived and worked all over the world. After the U.S., our sample of nearly 1,000 enterprise CIOs come from Canada, India, South Africa, and the UK. Nearly six percent are multilingual, speaking 25 different languages in total. After English, top languages are French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Hindi.

Insight #5: The CIOs we looked at have been groomed in their early careers by a handful of large organizations – what we have come to call “leadership factories.”

These companies include IBM, Accenture, PwC, JPMorgan Chase, and GE Company. Many also cut their teeth in the military and other public sector organizations such as the Secret Service and the FBI.

Here are just a few examples of CIOs included in our study, which represent our findings well:

  • Tony Young is the global CIO at Sophos Ltd. He is a frequent traveler who has said he dreams of a “transporter” – the fictional teleportation device in Star Trek, of course. He also speaks Chinese.

  • Maya Leibman, EVP and CIO at American Airlines, has visited about 80 countries. Based in Dallas, she volunteers with several local organizations, including the “So SMAART” program, where she works with minority girls, ages 9 to 12, to teach them about technology and life.

  • Stephen Fraser, SVP and CIO at Realogy Corporation, has taken regular trips to India, has spent a lot of time in the UK and Italy, and is hard pressed to pick one favorite place. “It’s hard to pick Rome over Barcelona over London or Paris,” he has said. Fraser is also a mentor and coach at the Society for Information Management and a volunteer mentor at Everwise. He began his career as a client leader and consulting manager at Accenture.

  • Naveen Zutshi, CIO at Palo Alto Networks, enjoys traveling, reading, sports, and astrophysics. Born in Srinagar, India, his favorite books include Saturday, Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead, A Brief History of Time, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Blue Ocean Strategy.

  • Luc Hennekens, Airbus Group’s CIO, speaks Dutch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. He loves mountain biking, triathlons, photography, adventure travel, scuba diving, skiing, golf, and sky-diving. He’s travelled to more than 45 countries and worked in 12.

  • Diane Enberg Jurgens, CTO at BHP Billiton Plc, is a Seattle native but lives and works in Singapore for an Australian company. She speaks Mandarin Chinese and enjoys traveling. Interested in attracting more American women to engineering careers, she mentors engineers.

  • Javier Polit, Procter & Gamble’s CIO, was born in Ecuador but raised in the U.S. He started his career at PwC after earning a Master of International Business Administration from Tiburg University in the Netherlands and a Master of International Management from the Budapest University of Economics and Science. Polit has since conducted business in more than 40 countries on five continents, and speaks French, Portuguese, and Spanish. In his free time, he enjoys cycling, reading, playing the guitar, racing cars, flying Cessna airplanes, riding his horses, and playing chess.

Certainly, these are accomplished people, but why should you care about all of this – what countries they’ve been to, the fact that they enjoy reading or running? Simple: The more you know – even beyond the essentials of the companies they work for – the better chance you have of making a connection.

It could be a connection with you; it could be a connection with an executive sponsor at your own company. If you are meeting at an event, it’s an opportunity to invite that person to go for a run or literally speak a common language. If, like your CIO, your target CIO got her start at Accenture or GE, they have very specific experiences in common – and your CIO may have a better understanding of her approach to business given their common career-forming foundation.

In sales, it always helps to know as much as possible about the executives with whom you need to connect in order to drive business forward. Deep insight into executive decision makers can be a powerful tool.

Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, the only business intelligence tool designed exclusively for C-suite sales, marketing, and recruiters who need to reach, engage, and build relationships with C-level executives. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.

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How to Set Prospect Expectations During the Sales Process

By Sam Holzman

Picture this: A sales rep and a prospect begin the last of several meetings in the hopes of making a deal. Everything has gone smoothly so far, and both the sales rep and prospect expect to leave the meeting satisfied. However, when the sales rep gives the final details of the purchase, the prospect has objections. Eventually, they both leave the meeting frustrated and, ultimately, the sale falls through.

So, what went wrong? This scenario is all too common in the sales world – and it boils down to one thing: The sales rep failed to manage the prospect’s expectations throughout the sale process.

Today, we teach you how to avoid this situation with four easy tactics to manage your prospects’ expectations. Keep reading.

Four Tactics to Manage Prospect Expectations

Tactic #1: Establish goals.

Clear goals are the foundation of any sale. They ensure that both the sales rep and the prospect are working toward the same thing. If you fail to establish goals early on, you risk losing the prospect in the later stages of the sales cycle.

Here’s where many sales reps go wrong: They set goals during the first meeting, but fail to check in on them throughout the process. To start, discuss small goals to provide structure to your meetings. How long do you want the process to take? What do you hope to accomplish in each meeting? What are the next steps?

Then move on to bigger goals, like what the prospect hopes to accomplish with your product and what their ideal price point is.

Tactic #2: Be clear about anticipated outcomes.

Case studies and customer testimonials can be effective sales tools. They give prospects specific examples of what your product has done for past buyers. However, these materials showcase the best possible outcome and can often lead to unrealistic expectations during the sales qualification process – leaving your prospect disappointed and confused.

When you walk the prospect through the anticipated outcome, be hopeful but realistic. Don’t promise the best-case scenario just to sign a deal. If you promise results and then fail to deliver, you will lose any potential business with the prospect in the future.

Tactic #3: Work to extract specific answers.

A vague answer like “maybe” might seem harmless during an early conversation. But, down the line, these non-committal responses from prospects may result in deal-breaking problems. Therefore, it’s important that you push for specific answers from your prospects during your discovery calls. This might seem uncomfortable, but it will prevent either side from making incorrect assumptions about the other’s priorities.

For example, let’s say you want to establish a timeline with your prospect. You ask if they will be ready to make a decision on the deal by the end of the month, to which they say “maybe.” You don’t press for more details – and then, at the end of the month, the prospect reveals they still aren’t sure if they’re interested, and the deal drags out indefinitely. Avoid these last-minute roadblocks by getting concrete answers from the prospect early on.

Tactic #4: Get everything on the table.

Sales reps often hesitate to be upfront about important issues for fear of losing important deals. But building trust in sales is important. So be upfront and address potential roadblocks or issues as soon as you recognize them.

Yes, this means you might have to deliver bad news at times. But deal-breaking issues don’t just disappear if you ignore them. When you wait to address them until later in the process, you may have wasted the prospect’s time and your own.

Worst-case scenario: You disclose that your product may not be the best fit – or that it’s more expensive than the prospect’s allocated budget. You lose the deal and shift your attention to more qualified prospects. Best-case scenario? The prospect appreciates your honesty and works with you to overcome any barriers. Either way, you come out on top.

Final Thought: Not Every Prospect Is a Good Fit for You

Sales reps and buyers are rarely on the same page. Here’s a quick example: According to research from Hubspot, 83 percent of sales reps don’t think they’re pushy, yet more than 50 percent of buyers disagree. Using these four tactics, however, sales reps can better manage prospect expectations – leading to a better experience for all parties involved.

And remember: Not every prospect will be a good fit for your products or services. Setting prospect expectations early on can weed out the bad from the good and make your sales conversations more productive. With more productive and honest sales conversations, you’ll generate more deals and more lifelong customers.

Sam Holzman is the content marketing specialist at ZoomInfo, where he writes for their B2B sales and marketing blog. ZoomInfo is a leading B2B contact database that helps organizations accelerate growth and profitability. Visit zoominfo.com for more information. 

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How to Overcome the Top 5 Obstacles to Goal Achievement

By Christine Harrington

Are you scratching your head right now because you’ve already blown your goals for the new year? Is this a repeat from last year, and the year before, and…I’ll stop right there. For most of us, the answer is probably a resounding YES!

Why do we allow this to happen? Why do we commit to goals every year – yet can’t seem to get halfway through January without caving?

You’ve heard the saying: The bigger the why, the bigger the try. And I can hear you say: “I believe my ‘why’ is big, Christine” So, what happened to the try? Why did you cave? Again?

Here’s a list of the most common obstacles to goal achievement, plus tips to get yourself out of these unhealthy patterns.

Obstacle #1: Procrastination

Do you give yourself a back door as a way out? See if this sounds familiar: “I blew it this month, but I’ll make up for it next month!” (How many times has that happened? Be honest!)

Did you ever make it up the following month? I doubt it. Stop telling yourself that story.

Stop doing what you want to do and start doing what you have committed todo. Winston Churchill said it best: “It’s no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

Obstacle #2: No urgency to your timeline

To complete goals, we need a sense of urgency. If you give yourself too much time, there’s a chance you might feel comfortable coasting or not working as hard.

How do you combat this? Shorten the timeline. Give yourself 10 months to complete your yearly goals – especially if you are in the sales profession. This shortened timeline will begin to create a sense of urgency within your very being. Just stop and ponder what that means. Can you feel yourself get slightly anxious about shaving two months off your timeline?

If you have monthly goals, then set your timeline at three weeks to accomplish your goals instead of four weeks. It puts a different spin on the meaning of now, doesn’t it?

Obstacle #3: Your internal blocks

Many times, when analyzing obstacles, people usually look at external obstacles, such as not getting past the gatekeeper or not discovering all the buyer’s issues. Rarely do salespeople consider the internal obstacles, like self-defeating thoughts (which can lead to procrastination or a limiting belief that too much follow-up means you’re a pesky salesperson).

When setting goals, think about obstacles that stand in your way, both externally and internally.

  1. Make a list of both external and internal obstacles.
  2. Describe the obstacle in detail.
  3. Come up with a plan to eliminate the obstacles.

Obstacle #4: Lack of self-improvement habits

What steps do you need to take in self-improvement to succeed? Be completely honest with yourself:

 

  • How good are you at follow-up with prospects and customers?
  • Do you really know the ins and outs of writing a killer email that people want to read and respond to?
  • When was the last time you studied sales from different perspectives and from different thought leaders?
  • What was the last book you read about selling?
  • Do you read (at minimum) one book a month?

 

Make a list of the areas where you need improvement, both professionally and personally. Usually, what you improve upon personally will have an unintended consequence of helping you professionally – and vice versa. Sales is a journey, not a quick trip around the block (that’s my tagline). The journey of self-improvement is never over.

(At workshops, I ask the question: “Name the last sales book you read and when.” The norm is that one out of 10 people sitting in the workshop have cracked open a book in the past…wait for it…five years! I’m not kidding. Take your self-improvement very seriously.)

After you make the list, commit to a strategy of self-improvement for every item on the list.

Keep a journal in 2018 and reflect upon your journey. At the end of 2018, review the journal and see just how far you’ve come! The evidence will be in your goal achievements and the successes you’ve recorded in your journal. Yes! Always record your successes!

Obstacle #5: No accountability partners  

Who can you be accountable to?

My business as a sales coach is booming, because I keep my clients accountable. When they succeed, I succeed, too. Frankly, if they were able to keep themselves accountable, there would be no need for me or the coaching profession.

You may be surprised to know I have an accountability partner as well. Research shows when people share their progress with others, it reinforces their commitment to their goals. It’s a psychological lift we all need. It’s the reason Mastermind groups are so popular.

Caution: Don’t pick a “yes” person. Pick someone who can tell you what you need to hear – not what you want to hear.

If you need an accountability partner or help with areas of self improvement for 2018, I invite you to schedule a free 20-minute session with me. Make 2018 your year!

Christine Harrington is The Savvy Sales Lady. She is a facilitator for Peak Performance Mindset workshops and a personal sales coach who helps sales professionals develop and improve their sales performance.

Posted in: Mindset | Comments Off on How to Overcome the Top 5 Obstacles to Goal Achievement

How to Make Success a Habit

By Jamie Crosbie

When you hear the term “a peak performance mindset,” you may naturally think about NFL football players, steely-eyed fighter pilots, nationally-known sales gurus, or the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

Maybe it works for “them”…but they are gifted or talented stars, powerful, rich, or fill-in-the-blank – and you feel you have nothing in common with them.

While it is true that many successful athletes and top sales performers use mental techniques to boost their performance, like most skills, it can be learned. Here’s how.

Use Your Mind to Change Your Mind   

It is true that some people may be more initially gifted in one area or another. It is equally true, though, that they have simply practiced more. A person may be gifted in sports, for instance, but they are unlikely to move into professional status unless they couple that desire with practice. It is not just talent, but drive and relentless practice that move us forward.

Daytime television is famous for its love of makeover shows. Some fashion-challenged person is carefully made over, giving them a new look. They may have gone in wearing oversized tee shirts and baggy sweats, but they come out looking more like runway models. Think of developing a peak performance mindset as a mental makeover that changes your life – from the inside out.

Mental Pathways

Scientists exploring the depths of this changeability call it “neuroplasticity.” It means the structure of the mind is like plastic – more malleable than rigid, welded-in-place iron girders that cannot be changed. Many studies have consistently shown that reframing the way you think about circumstances and challenges activates new neural connections. As it turns out, neurons form cerebral shortcuts, building stronger and stronger connection the more often they are used, until they become the default setting.

In a way, they are like rabbit trails; the more times you mentally walk through a given scenario, the more tramped down the path becomes – and the more likely you are to use that path again. It does take effort at first, but, as you learn the skills, it becomes easier and easier to change the way you process information and respond.

The Power of Not Yet versus a Final Grade of F

In one study, described in The New York Times, many students in the Harlem school districts consistently saw poor grades in many areas. At first, some children in the program were so unfocused they were unable to even hold a pencil correctly. After mindset training, however, they were able to see challenges not as dead ends or failures but as a progression to something more.

This is more than a glass-half-empty or glass-half-full mindset; it is a realization that the glass is, and always will be, refillable.

They were taught that setbacks and failure were more like speed bumps than actual failure. When, for instance, seniors who were required to pass certain tests and classes were given a “not yet” grade rather than an “F,” they were able to repair bad grades with tests; they progressed faster. The results? The very same students who could not hold a pencil, much less read, started breaking academic records as they grew – scoring higher and higher in national and state tests, moving past the 95th percentile.

As a sales professional, you know you sometimes have to grind through a tsunami of contacts, searching over and over until you hit the sweet spot and clinch the sale. Afterwards, the same treadmill starts up again, and you move through the entire process again. Successful salespeople accept this as part of the process.

They know it really is a numbers game and that you may have to knock on 1,000 doors before winning the prize. Or, fate may seem to take a liking to you, and you need to knock only on 100 before hitting a career-making hot-streak. Either way, seeing challenges as a launch point rather than an endpoint can help you push through the down times. You have to be willing to reframe things so failure is merely a “not yet” rather than a permanent failing grade. When you can do that, you develop success as a habit.

Jamie Crosbie is CEO and founder of ProActivate, LLC, and has 20 years of experience in sales leadership and the talent acquisition industry. A certified Peak Performance Mindset trainer, Jamie helps companies of all sizes increase their sales productivity by training them to think – and therefore act – differently. Contact her today to learn more – jcrosbie@proactivate.net or 214/720-9922.  

Posted in: Mindset | Comments Off on How to Make Success a Habit