Most Excellent Sales Leader: Claire Edmunds

Most Excellent Sales Leader Selling PowerThis feature provides a snapshot of a successful B2B sales leader and his or her accomplishments. To submit a candidate for consideration, email lisa@sellingpower.com with the subject line “Most Excellent Sales Leader.”
 

Selling Power Most Excellent Sales Leader Clare Edmunds Job title: Company founder and CEO

Company: Clarify Solution Selling Ltd., which is headquartered in the United Kingdom

Selling Power (SP): How long have you been in sales?

Fifteen years, and prior to this, five years in fundraising

SP: How many reps do you lead and/or manage?

Clarify is a sales organization. Our entire business is designed to partner with customers with high-value and complex sales processes, to support their goal to create a best-in-class business development capability. Having run a business-development maturity audit, we deliver a range of services to optimize the impact business development has on their enterprise field sales organizations, as evidenced by our work with Tier 1 technology vendors and services companies. Our team consists of 45 business-development managers and directors.

SP: What was the first job you were ever paid to do?

The first job I was ever paid to do was at the local chicken farm in the village where I grew up. It taught me that I never wanted to work with chickens! It was an interesting psychological exercise, as I started to appreciate how my body language affected the behavior of the birds, especially the cockerels, who clearly saw me as competition and would attack if they saw fear! I quickly learned to keep eye contact and move as fast as I could. Later, as I started to explore body language and nonverbal communication in more depth, I was able to reflect on that experience and how our behavior affects our whole environment,not just the humans in it.

SP: What was one of your biggest selling disappointments, and what did it teach you?

When Clarify was set up in 2003, we sold to small, US-based, independent software vendors who were looking to build market share in Europe. These enterprises were all about top-line growth and acquiring customers, including turn-key customers, which would open new markets for them. Our business-development services were judged on how much sales impact we could deliver; we offered a great fit and had some very successful partnerships. When we went to sell to larger, US-based IT vendors, we could tell by the faces of the marketing VPs we met that our message was not working for them, since they were not targeted on pipeline contribution but on generating leads and contacts to fill a sales funnel. Our offer to reduce the volume of leads and increase pipeline conversion and contribution was met with cries of, “But why would we do that? Surely it is a sales job?”

We realized early on that we couldn’t make progress in this market and that, with a few exceptions, buyer behavior is strongly influenced by what is in the best interests of an individual, even when it makes no sense for the business! Thankfully the market has changed dramatically, and we are now successfully working with many blue-chip clients, marketing and sales organizations, to deliver a managed business-development service that is measured on pipeline contribution and aligned to strategic business objectives centered on increasing multiproduct, high-margin sales.

SP: What professional or personal achievement are you most proud of?

I have four beautiful children, and I hope that they would say I am a very present and involved mother. I have worked very hard to be able to give enough to the family and get the balance right alongside a busy and demanding career. I recognize that this is a challenge faced by every parent, not just mothers, and only time will tell whether I got it right, but I hope that I have inspired my children to believe that we can manage our family, relationships, and careers in a fulfilling way that makes a positive contribution to the world.

SP: Share your best tip for managing people.

Cast people well from the beginning, i.e., set them up for success. Always look for and expect the best in people, give specific and honest feedback, and take it personally by enjoying the process of contributing to their success and learning together from their failures. Modify your management and development approach to get the best out of individuals, and set expectations and standards high but within reach. Watch what your best people do best, and use this to develop best practices. When people let you down, and they will, don’t allow yourself to become jaded or cynical; open yourself up for it to happen all over again.

SP: What motivates you to succeed?

Doing a good job, [having] a purpose, and the excitement of seeing how far something or someone can go.

SP: Name at least one leader you admire and why.

My children’s primary school runs a leadership program that encourages all the children to become leaders. This [program appeals] to the leader in each child and sets out how to demonstrate leadership qualities, such as showing courage, motivation, respect, collaboration, and trust. I am hugely encouraged to see the impact this has had on my own children’s understanding of what it means to become a leader, and I greatly admire the headmaster of the school for encouraging the next generation to understand what leadership really means.

SP: What sales-technology tools are your sales reps using right now, and what are the benefits?

My team uses a huge variety of online tools to access and build intelligence and knowledge about the organizations that they are targeting, from professional networking sites to company search tools to online publications, etc. Today, technology is sold to address the needs and issues of the business; buyers are highly educated and don’t want salespeople to sell to them. They want and need help to understand how they can change their current situation to resolve today’s business issues and deliver the future state their business requires. Through multichannel research, our business-development managers access a huge amount of information to equip enterprise salespeople with the information they need to design specific business and uses that enable them to engage senior stakeholders.

Connect with Claire on LinkedIn.

[Image via FlickrBrad.K]

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

Four Ways Sales Leaders Can Motivate Their Millennials

By Josaine Feigon

So you think you know who your top performers are?

The Bridge Group and VorsightBP studied more than 2,000 sales professionals, including individual contributors, front-line managers, and directors. The study focused on the management qualities of and tactics used by the most motivated and enthusiastic employees. In the area of job satisfaction,

  • forty-five percent of respondents were “detractors,” or the least likely to recommend a role in their organization to a colleague or friend;
  • twenty-eight percent were “passives” who were not enthusiastic about recommending a role to a colleague or friend;
  • twenty-seven percent were “promoters” who were enthusiastic about recommending a role.

The study identified four keys to successfully motivating sales reps, focusing on motivational influencers:

  1. “My manager is hardly available for any coaching.” Reps who reported more than three hours of coaching per month were twice as likely to be promoters. The catch: the reps reported 40 percent fewer hours per month spent on coaching than their managers reported, so reps are not perceiving the same value in the coaching that managers see. Managers should make it a priority to get in sync with their teams on this topic.
  2. “What’s next after I accomplish that?” Identifying skill-development goals will make reps three times more likely to be promoters, according to the study. Reps (and this is especially true of your Millennials) really value a sense of progression and achievement in the workplace. If a rep has a development goal in mind, and he or she is receiving regular coaching to get there, then the rep is going to be much less likely to get antsy and feel like it’s time to move on.
  3. “Can you explain my comp plan to me one more time? I don’t get it.” Three out of every 10 reps in the study reported being unclear about their incentive-compensation plan, a state that correlated to a 300 percent drop in engagement (i.e., they were three times less likely to be promoters). Three out of 10 isn’t overwhelming, but considering how motivation – or the lack thereof – is contagious on the sales floor, it’s definitely enough to be influential.
  4. “I’ve been here for three months and believe I’m ready for the next step.” The study reported a significant gap between reps’ expectations about when they should be promoted to a new role. The less experience the rep had, the less time he or she thought it should take. This is a frequently cited issue when managing new hires who are Millennials. It’s also a major reason why having early conversations about career-path expectations is one major motivation factor cited in this study.
Josiane Feigon
Today’s post is by Josiane Feigon, author of Smart Sales Manager
and 
Smart Selling on the Phone and Online and founder of TeleSmart Communications.
Posted in: Motivation, Sales Management | Comments Off

Four Things CEOs Need to Understand about Sales Management

By Gretchen Gordon

CEOs sales managers

The most productive, world-class organizations have dedicated sales managers, but not every CEO understands how to make the most of this very important role. Here are four things executives need to understand about the role of a dedicated sales manager.

1. Think before you promote your best sales rep to a management role. The role of sales manager requires a significantly different skill set from the role of a salesperson. In salespeople, we are seeking some combination of skills that might include hunting, qualifying, selling consultatively, closing, farming, and account managing. In sales managers, we seek the skills of coaching, motivating, holding salespeople accountable to behaviors, and recruiting. Evaluate sales-manager candidates for specific sales manager skill sets.

2. Hold your sales manager accountable. Both you and your sales manager need to focus on four disciplines: goals, pipeline management, activity, and coaching – but at different levels. For example, when the sales manager asks each salesperson about items in the pipeline, you need to request that the sales manager report back to you about the health and predictability of the pipeline. Make sure he or she supports each opportunity’s position in the pipeline. Ask the sales manager specific questions regarding the activity of the team. (For example, ask if the team had 20 first appointments this week. If not, why not? What is going to be done differently next week?) This reinforces the questions the sales manager should be asking of each salesperson each week.

3. Be smart about the way you compensate your sales manager. It’s rarely productive to ask sales managers to sell in addition to manage a team. If it is more lucrative for the sales manager to close his or her own deals as opposed to growing revenue through the team, then the manager will be conflicted about where to spend his or her time. The manager may even compete with salespeople for deals. As CEO, you must be the sales manager to your sales manager, with scheduled weekly meetings about his or her behavior as a salesperson in addition to the scheduled meetings to discuss sales-management results. If you want the company to grow and the revenue base to increase, you will need to compensate the manager more for driving results through the team than for individual production. Here is a case study about how a sales manager who was also the top seller eclipsed the sales team until we helped realign his effort to drive more business through the team.

4. When necessary, know how to fill the role yourself. In smaller organizations, sometimes the CEO must function as the sales manager (click here for the CEO as Sales Manager Toolkit). To perform successfully in this role, you MUST

  • work with each salesperson to calculate what his or her activities need to be, and get agreement on a specific activity plan;
  • have frequent, scheduled meetings with all sales team members to focus their attention on the important activities for that day or week;
  • meet one-on-one with each salesperson on a weekly basis to hold each of them accountable for agreed-upon activities;
  • “pre-brief “and debrief sales calls to help team members improve;
  • go on sales calls to help coach team members (but refrain from taking over the call);
  • review each salesperson’s pipeline with him or her on a regular basis, and ask probing questions about each opportunity, e.g., “What is the agreed-to next step? What two deals are you going to move next week? This deal has been sitting here a long time; either move it or blow it up.”

If you cannot yet afford to employ a dedicated sales manager, make a specific, strategic plan for getting there. If you want to maximize sales growth, you must have a high-performing, dedicated sales manager.

Gretchen Gordon
Gretchen Gordon is founder and president of Braveheart Sales Performance, which improves the sales effectiveness of midmarket companies by transforming underperforming sales teams. Contact Gretchen at ggordon@braveheartsales.com or 614-396-6544.

[Image via Flickr / inertia NC]

Posted in: Sales Leadership, Sales Management | 3 Comments

Manage Your Time in Four Simple Steps

time management

Image via freedigitalphotos.net/1shots

How much would you pay a consultant to help your managers become more efficient and effective?

In 1904,  Charles M. Schwab (then president of the second-largest steel producer in the country) asked public-relations pioneer Ivy Ledbetter Lee how his managers could manage their time more effectively. Lee sent the following list and told Schwab to send him a check for whatever he thought the adviceIvy Ledbetter Lee  was worth.

1. Make a list of the most important things you have to do tomorrow.
2. Arrange them in order of importance.
3. The next day, work on the most important task until it’s completed.
4. Tackle the other tasks in priority order.

Schwab knew the value of simplicity; he sent Lee a check for $25,000 (the equivalent of about $250,000 today).

How do you manage your time? What tools do you use to help you prioritize and get things done? Share your tips in the comments section. 

Posted in: Sales Management | Tags: , , , | Comments Off

Lessons in Determination: Remembering Muriel Siebert

This week we mark the anniversary of the death of financial-industry pioneer Muriel Siebert with this history of her perseverance in the face of rejection and adversity. — Selling Power Editors

Muriel Siebert Muriel Siebert established her legacy as a trailblazer when she became the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange on December 28, 1967. At the time, her historic application caused an uproar. No woman had ever had a seat on the Exchange before. Facing ridicule and steep opposition, Siebert got rejections from nine men before she finally found someone to sponsor her.

Siebert faced many hurdles on the way to success. In 1954, she had arrived in New York City with just $500 to her name. She set her sights on a job in finance, but when prospective employers saw a female name, they trashed her resume.

After repeated rejections, Siebert sent out new resumes with just her initials. She got an interview and a job offer. The deal fell through, however, when she admitted she didn’t have a college degree (she had dropped out of Case Western Reserve University to care for her terminally ill father).

When, after so many unfair rejections, she got a second job offer, she lied and said she had a degree.

“They didn’t check,” said Siebert in an interview with Senior Women Web. “But when I applied for my seat on the Stock Exchange, I told them. It was a historic application and I didn’t want to lie.”

Her next hurdle was a new rule put forth by the Stock Exchange requiring a letter from a bank promising to lend Siebert $300,000 of the near-record $445,000 seat price. Unfortunately, banks would not lend her money until the Stock Exchange would admit her. With dogged determination, Siebert jumped through every hoop and found the funding she needed. In 1967, she became the first woman to hold a seat on the Exchange.

Siebert became widely known as a force to be reckoned with in the notoriously cutthroat and male-dominated world of finance. Siebert created her own firm, Siebert & Co., and continued to take bold and controversial risks. In 1975 when a new federal law abolished fixed brokerage commissions, she transformed her company into a discount brokerage house. Her longtime clearinghouse dropped her like a hot potato, and she was nearly expelled by the Securities and Exchange Commission. At the eleventh hour, she secured another clearinghouse, and the success of her company helped pave the way for the now-thriving discount brokerage market.

In 1977 Siebert took a leave of absence to serve as the first woman Superintendent of Banking. She had to ensure the safety and soundness of New York State’s 500 banks, which controlled $500 billion in assets and trust accounts. The economy made playing tough a necessity. Interest rates spiked during Siebert’s tenure, and banks all over the country went belly up.

Siebert facilitated mergers, supervised drastic restructurings and even convinced one bank president to cut his own salary by $100,000. Under her direction, not one New York bank failed.

After an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, Siebert returned to her company in 1982. In 1996, her firm merged with a private company. Siebert Financial Corporation currently pulls in more than $25 million in revenues a year.

In 2000, Siebert Financial founded Women’s Financial Network, the first online trading site geared specifically toward women. Siebert was encouraged to see more women taking control of their financial futures. “When you get more confidence,” she told Senior Women Web, “you’re willing to take a higher risk.” Spoken like a true trailblazer.

Posted in: Great Leaders, Motivation, Success | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off

Eleven Ways to Run a Great Team Sales Meeting

By Josiane Feigon 

Salespeople know that every second spent away from sales-related activities impacts their ability to meet their revenue targets. You can’t just stumble into your next team meeting unprepared. At the same time, you should not think that meetings ought to give everyone a “Kumbaya” feeling, when everyone gets together to share success stories and daily challenges.

Good salespeople are good because they are productive and focused on quota attainment. When their daily activity is interrupted by needless, dull, and long meetings, they shut down. (As I explain in this video below, recently one manager told me he tries to keep his sales meetings “under two hours.” Two hours is way too long!)

Here’s the deal: call a team meeting only when you have something really important to say. Otherwise, just email your team and call it a day. Used wisely, team meetings can be a source of enormous influence for managers. Talent 2.0 is all about group dynamics, career advancement, acknowledgment, and breaking news updates. Use your meetings to send a unified message, make a statement, set the tone, and deliver your message loud and clear. Here are a few tips:

1) Start strong, stay strong.

YOU are in control of your sales meeting – and all eyes are on you. Your role is to facilitate healthy dialogue, inform your team, present new ideas, and encourage buy-in from team members. It all starts with you. Be prepared; don’t wing it.

2) Own your meeting space.

Remember, you own that conference room for the duration of your meeting. Don’t let anyone kick you out, and don’t get pushed out if the room is double booked. Just say, “Mine,” and use the room for whatever time you have in it.

3) Watch your body language.

Body language, or nonverbal communication, can speak much louder than words. It can make you look uncomfortable, stressed, distant, stiff, or stale. No matter what you say and what you want your meeting attendees to do, your body language may be screaming, “I’m outta here!”

4) Let your tone set the mood.

The last thing you want to be is boring. If your tone is too serious, you can throw your team members into the panic zone and prevent them from hearing what you’re saying. If your tone is too light, they might not take you seriously.

5) Make it all about the meeting agenda.

The more organized your agenda, the better your chances of creating a healthy discussion and getting your people to talk. Distribute an agenda in advance so that your team comes prepared, and ask team members to vote on a few ideas to help prioritize the flow. The more you can educate and reinforce concepts in your discussions, the more you demonstrate the desired behavior, the more it will all sink in.

6) Create cohesive team dynamics.

The life force of a team is so much stronger than each individual. The more you value your team members’ worth, the more they will outperform your expectations. Lift them up and hold high standards when it comes to creating a cohesive team dynamic.

7) Ask compelling questions.

“Any questions?” Forget asking that. Questioning and qualifying sits at the heart of your team’s sales effort, so you must model master questioning skills. The more compelling the questions you ask, the more you will encourage richer discussion and exchange of ideas. Ask open-ended questions but stay away from broad questions that require reflective contemplation.

8) Listen from the observation deck.

“Let me stop you right there – I know where you’re going on this one.” This manager just turned off the brains and ears of every rep in the room. If you want to build trust and commitment, you need to listen to what they say.

9) Set late penalties that sting.

“If you can’t make the meeting on time, the door will be closed and you can’t come in.”

Don’t you wish you could say that? You probably do, but it’s actually not the best strategy. Instead, try preventing tardiness by setting the ground rule: Be on time. It’s definitely not OK to roll in five or 10 minutes after the meeting starts with an excuse about not being able to end a call. Make sure everyone knows the ground rules beforehand so they have no excuses.

10) Invite compelling speakers.

Guest speakers should empower your team members, not bore them or make them angry, so choose carefully. If they don’t like the speaker, or if the speaker is boring or off track, it will reflect poorly on you. A great speaker shares power with you and helps you glow. Make sure that your invited speakers understand your group’s charter and knows your group’s world. Ask them to keep their remarks short and focused on benefits. You can help ensure this by giving speakers a seven-minute time limit to help them organize their presentation.

11) Close with energy!

“Alrighty, it’s time to end our meeting.” Look down at your laptop, put your papers in order… Wrong move. No matter how good your meeting is, if you don’t close with positive energy, you will inevitably lose some of the enthusiasm you worked hard to generate. Participants should leave the room with more focus, enthusiasm, and understanding than when they came in.

What do you think of these tips? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

Posted in: Sales Management | Comments Off

Determine Your Best Sales Management Style

Today’s post is by Dr. Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, which has sold more than 13 million copies. 

The One Minute Manager Ken BlanchardCertainly, the people being supervised are the key variable in determining a sales management style. No question about it. Without people there would be no leadership or management necessary. However, being realistic and recognizing that we work in a world which doesn’t operate exactly the same as situations in textbooks, there are other variables which impact managerial style.

One important factor which will determine one’s approach to management is the style and expectations of the boss. If your boss is a very directive manager and expects you to be the same, it may be difficult or impossible for you to engage in a coaching or supportive leadership style without getting yourself into hot water.

Your associates are another moderating influence which can potentially change your sales management style. In some organizations, it’s expected that all managers on a given level will operate in pretty much the same manner. If you should get out of step with your peers, they will become upset. You would be a threat to the security of the organization. Hence you will get pressure to return to the group norms.

Corporate personality or organizational culture is yet another variable which may have an impact on your sales management style. Organizations, as with people, have definite characteristics. The management styles available to you in a military organization, or in a bureaucratic office, will be far different than those in a flower shop or the creative director’s department of a large advertising agency. Clearly, your management style isn’t going to be the same as a drill sergeant’s when you’re working with a group of PTA volunteers.

Time also influences management style. If time is available, a good manager will use it to help subordinates develop skills and commitment. However, when things get wild and hairy around the office, a manager may not have the necessary time it takes to employ the “coaching” style of management which demands considerable time for the one-on-one involvement.

To determine the best and most realistic style, a savvy manager will diagnose his or her situation based on several criteria. First consideration must be given to those being managed. After they are sized up, it would be well for a manager to study the boss’ management style as well as to consider the management styles used by others in the organization. Another consideration is the personality of the company. Any management style must be compatible with the organization itself.

When deciding upon a management style, first and foremost, always consider the people you are responsible for managing. Then, think about the environmental factors which might influence your style.

Posted in: Sales Management | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

Three Things Your High-Performing Salespeople Do Differently

By Tony Yeung 

Our clients often ask us to benchmark them against leading sales organizations. Unfortunately, we often find that concrete insight from the data is limited. The data may lack sufficient detail or is hard to collect. Even if we get good information, the chosen sales organizations may not be good models to emulate.

That doesn’t mean, however, there aren’t highly relevant benchmarks that can be collected easily and provide valuable insight. These benchmarks are revealed in the behavior of the high performers within your own organization.

Every sales organization has individuals who consistently deliver superior results. There isn’t any magic behind why these individuals perform; they often just naturally do things differently. Some achieve advances they’re seeking on sales calls more consistently than others. Some salespeople are highly strategic in how they engage their accounts. Still others just do more of the right things that drive results.

So how do you determine these behaviors or benchmarks? We use a diagnostic tool called the Sales Force Activity Snapshot (SFAS) to develop a detailed understanding of salespeople’s behaviors, putting the differences between high-, mid-, and low-performing salespeople in stark contrast. For instance, we recently fielded an SFAS engagement with a sales organization in the hospitality industry, and the insight pointed to tangible growth opportunities for the organization.

Here is knowledge we gained about this organization through SFAS:

Structured coaching activity matters. Salespeople who had regularly scheduled sales-activity and pipeline reviews with their managers outperformed those who didn’t. High- and mid-level performers were about 50 percent more likely to have these one-on-one reviews, and they also had more than 10 percent higher goal attainment than their peers.

Focus is key. High-performing salespeople targeted fewer accounts on average and went more in-depth with those accounts. We found that while high- and mid-level performers did the same number of sales calls every week, the high performers focused those calls on fewer accounts, doing between 1.5 and 2 times as many calls per account. The high performers were also more likely to do systematic account reviews with their customers.

Even the best need to plan. High-performing salespeople were more rigorous in their precall planning. High performers spent about 50 percent more time developing precall plans compared to mid-level performers. We see this time and time again, yet many organizations still don’t put sufficient focus on effective precall planning.

These are just a few examples of the opportunities that SFAS identified. By implementing the right processes, tools, training, and ongoing reinforcement practices, each of these targeted behaviors can be enhanced and spread throughout the sales organization. The key lies in taking a systematic approach to identifying the behaviors of high performers and then focusing on the behaviors we can replicate on a broader basis.

To learn how well your salespeople are using their time, check out the Sales Force Activity Snapshot from ZS Associates.

Tony Yeung
Tony Yeung is principal at ZS Associates.

[Image via Flickr / Kat...]

Posted in: Sales Leadership, Sales Management, Success | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Seven Motivational Questions for Sales Managers

motivateThe universal question all sales managers ask is: How can I motivate my people?

Through hundreds of research reports, one message rings loud and clear: to increase motivation, create an atmosphere where the salespeople motivate themselves. When a salesperson feels personally involved in a plan, he or she works to make it happen. To create a self-motivating atmosphere, as a manager, ask yourself the following seven questions. Notice that each one involves improving communications with your staff.

1. Do your people know your plans?

The best way to motivate people is to let them know your plans so they can participate in them. Also, make known your goals and the goals of the company. Let them see the big picture and get a sense of the importance of their contribution to it.

2. Do you give feedback?

Feedback is essential even to seemingly well-motivated salespeople. Every salesperson wants to be encouraged if he or she is doing well. If they are not doing well, they want to know why. By giving feedback, you keep the communications channels open. If your salespeople know you’re willing to discuss performance with them, they’ll be more likely to bring you their problems and questions to keep you better informed. Create an atmosphere where people are not afraid to tell you when something is wrong and you will have fewer surprises.

3. Do you build on strengths? 

Many managers have been programmed to focus on weaknesses – as though any imperfection would negate or detract from any strength. This is not so. All success comes from strengths. An intelligent and persistent person, who is also physically handicapped, succeeds because of intelligence and persistence, and in spite of any physical handicap.

4. Do you give constructive praise?

Perhaps the most golden rule for sales management is, “Never be too tough on a person when he’s down.” When an individual is upset over failure, harping on the negative can hurt him and squelch any incentive to improve. Even when giving criticism, you can create a positive framework: “I don’t think this is up to your usual standard. How can we improve this situation?”

5. Do you give rewards? 

If your salespeople meet their agreed-upon objectives, it is a good idea not to limit their rewards to kind words. Money, bonuses and incentives are key motivators for salespeople. But another reward you can give a high achiever is your time. Most managers spend the bulk of their time with the poor performers and let the best ones fend for themselves. When someone does a good job, recognize his or her efforts and set aside time to develop ways to motivate that salesperson to do even more.

6. Do you listen and learn? 

No matter what other techniques you employ in a quest to motivate your people, you have to be prepared to ask questions and to listen at least as much as you talk. No one’s ideas should be missed. You needn’t seize on every suggestion, but if you don’t at least get back to the person and say, “That was a terrific idea,” and thank him, he’ll never give you another one. Always give proper recognition for every valid suggestion.

7. Do you set an example?

The best sales manager is a good role model – not once in a while, but every day. Your salespeople pay 90 percent more attention to what you do than what you say. Actions do speak louder than words. A good manager knows how to say no, to be tough but fair. In other words, if you don’t handle the responsibilities of your own leadership position, you can’t expect your salespeople to live up to their job responsibilities either.

Successful sales managers are motivating all the time, not just when performance is down. A manager should always strive for maximum people potential – to get the best from each individual in his or her organization. The objective is always to let the other person determine the means to growth and to take the responsibility for his own development.

[Image via Flickr / Aristocrats-hat]

Posted in: Motivation, Sales Management | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off

How Leaders Inspire Teams to Take Action

To get better results from your sales meetings, study how great speakers inspire others to take action.

Great leaders and great speakers all have carefully planned conclusions to speeches that inspire others to act. Think of President John F. Kennedy’s famous words during his Inaugural Address in 1961.

John Kennedy ask not what your country

If you want people to take action after the meeting, you need to plan and then present a convincing conclusion. Here is a step-by-step method to plan and present a convincing conclusion at your next sales meeting.

1) When you sit down to prepare your meeting, write the ending first. What should salespeople be able to do after the meeting? What will they need to do different in the future? What does your top salesperson do that your other salespeople don’t? When you write the ending first, it will be much easier to plan the introduction and body of your meeting.

2) Be very specific about what you want your salespeople to do. Avoid vague words like “understand” and “appreciate.” List no more than two or three actions, any more will be difficult to remember. Tell them what you want them to do and when. For instance:

  • Schedule five face-to-face appointments with new prospects for next week.
  • Ask each prospect what he likes best and least about his present method.
  • Ask each prospect to speculate on future time, money, and productivity costs if she doesn’t solve their problem now.

3) Make at least one of the actions something simple your salespeople can do immediately. As the saying goes, “well begun is half done.” If your salespeople leave with something simple to do they are more likely to do it. When they take action and achieve results they will be more likely to act on the other things you asked them to do.

4) Outline your conclusion. Summarize key points in two short, but memorable, sentences. Restate the main benefit and appeal to salespeople’s emotion as well as logic. Emotional appeals include financial freedom, health/vitality, safety, romance, piece of mind, and personal fulfillment.Tell your salespeople specifically what you want them to do.

5) Plan to conclude well before your time is up. How often have you run out of time at the end of a meeting and rushed to finish? You aren’t holding your salespeople’s attention if they’re looking at the clock. Anticipate that your meeting will take 30 percent longer than you think. If you normally have one-hour sales meetings, plan your agenda to conclude at the 40 minute mark.

6) Save your best “Ah ha!” points for last. Too many sales meetings flow like a bell curve, up at the beginning and down at the end. This brings your audience down just before the most important part-your conclusion. Pull out a pad of Post-It notes and write just one topic on each note. Arrange your topics to ensure that you build up to a conclusion and not down.

7) Follow up to measure the action taken. Great speakers know that their success is measured by the action that the audience takes as a result. Be specific in your follow-up. For instance, in the example cited earlier you might ask, “How many new face-to-face appointments did you set for last week? What questions did you ask? What were your results?”

What you say last is what your salespeople will remember most. A well planned and presented conclusion can inspire your team to action. When you follow these simple steps your meetings will be more effective. Plus, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment when you see your ideas actually being implemented in the field.

Posted in: Great Leaders, Leadership, Motivation, Sales Management | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off