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Sales Villains! – Changing the Face of Sales

Sales Villains! – Changing the Face of Sales

If your entire knowledge of the sales industry is gained from watching TV programmes, it is hardly surprising that you may have a rather negative opinion of both sales and sales people!

Sales and selling, as we mentioned in the previous article, has been around since the dawn of humanity. In fact, it could be said to be the second oldest profession (we’ll leave it up to you to work out the oldest one…but suffice to say that includes ‘selling’ too!). 

The how and why sales is portrayed so negatively is probably something worthy of a PhD thesis, but for now, let’s just have a quick trawl through the stereotypes we are (still) being shown on TV and films that may influence the way sales people are perceived.

Arthur Daley

Mr Daley (played by the late George Cole) was the lead character in ‘Minder’, a series that started in 1979 and ran for some 107 episodes before finally ending in 1994.

Charitably described as a lovable rogue, he was in fact the epitome of a dodgy salesperson…’a Cockney wheeler dealer’ in fact. Ostensibly a used car salesman, he also had a garage full of tat which he attempted to sell onto the unwary.

This quote from the show demonstrates perfectly the type of approach to sales that we are keen to see the back of:  “You make contact with your customer. Understand their needs. And then flog them something they could well do without.”

‘Del Boy’ Trotter

Another ‘cheeky chappy’ Derek Edward Trotter – aka Del Boy – played by David Jason, was the lead character in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ which ran from 1981 to 1993. It was resurrected in 2001 running for a couple more years and had a one of special in 2014 for Sports Relief.

Del Boy was a self styled businessman, a market trader running ‘Trotters Independent Traders’ from a suitcase or the back of his Robin Reliant car. 

He believed he could sell anything to anyone and had absolutely no qualms about how a sale was made (or even what he was selling).

Famed for his scams, which included selling bottled tap water and calling it ‘Peckham Spring Water’, Del Boy was the eternal optimist…’This time next year Rodney we’ll be millionaires’.

He never saw himself as dishonest.

Albert Arkwright

Staying this side of the Atlantic, Albert E. Arkwright may not be a name you recognise immediately – say ‘Open All Hours’ though and you’ll know who we mean.

Arkwright, played by the late Ronnie Barker, was a miserly Northern shop keeper with a penchant for ensuring no one left his shop without buying something, anything…even if they didn’t want whatever it was they ended up purchasing. He was assisted by his hapless nephew played by David Jason.

Crafty – dishonest even – he may not be the archetypal slick salesman, but he ably demonstrates the ‘Arthur Daley’ school of selling…’flog em something they could well do without’!

‘Open All Hours’ was resurrected with David Jason having taken over Arkwright’s shop following the death of his Uncle. He continued the tradition of ensuring customers never left the shop without buying something…the ultimate trickster salesman, very much in the tradition of the ‘Snake Oil Seller’ we talked about in the previous article!

Stateside Sales ‘Villains’

‘Wolf of Wall Street’ is a 1987 movie that delved into the murky world of stocks and shares. Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) has the immortal line ‘greed is good’ and the whole premise of the film is that anything goes in order to close a sale…

Taking the stockbroking theme even further ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ was a 2013 film chronicling the true story of Jordan Belfort, his career as a stockbroker and how his firm, Stratton Oakmont, engaged in rampant corruption and fraud. 

Belfort practiced ‘hard selling’ techniques which duped investors into parting with cash to buy stocks, thus inflating the value of said stocks. His company would then sell the stocks they had previously purchased at low rates – earning $millions in the process…

‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ is a 1992 movie about the ruthlessness of hard sales. Four salesmen pitted against each other and vying to close sales, whilst motivated mainly by the fact that their jobs are on the line. Nothing is ruled out in the desire to make a sale – morals are chucked out of the window in the quest to close.

What about ‘Reality TV’?

One current TV show which really, really does no favours to the sales profession and those who work within it, is ‘The Apprentice’.

The contestants are seemingly encouraged to put ethics and personal morality behind them in order to ‘win the prize’. A philosophy which harks back to the worst sales techniques of the 1980s.

Common Themes 

There’s countless more TV shows and movies which portray sales in a poor light, including a relatively new production called ‘White Gold’, a UK production about double glazing sales in the 1980s.

From the mundanity of a grocer’s shop in the north of England to the glamour of Wall Street in the 1980’s, there are key similarities in the portrayal of sales people:

They are predominately male

They are liars (or at best deceptive)

They are unscrupulous

They are slick

They don’t care about their customers

They are in it only for themselves

 

 

Let’s quickly go over these points:

They are predominately male

Not so very long ago, this may well have been the case as sales wasn’t perceived to be a career that women would want to enter, let alone succeed in. Actually, until relatively recently, sales wasn’t really recognised as a career at all. 

The hard sell, do anything to make a sale methods employed in the 80s and 90s were very much suited to a masculine way of doing business. Competition over collaboration is a very male trait and could partially explain the relative lack of females in the industry.

Times have changed however, and there are some VERY successful female sales people and entrepreneurs out there, doing things their way.

They are liars

Now this ‘myth’ doubtless has its origins in Snake Oil selling! 

Whilst lying about the benefits of a product may have worked in the days when you could high tail it to the next town before your customers found out they had bought a pile of rubbish; these days, the internet and high speed comms means that a sales person who makes up stories about the efficacies of the product WILL be found out.

Do sales people who lie still exist – probably, but they will be uncovered.

They are unscrupulous

Yes, there are perhaps some people who (in the words of some of the contestants on The Apprentice) ‘would sell their grandmothers to be successful’ but, as per the above – there are fewer ways to hide this kind of behaviour thanks to the way the world is connected today.

They are slick

This seems to hark back to the car salesman persona, or perhaps the insurance sales people of the late 80s and 90s…the suited and booted individuals who put appearance over product knowledge and customer empathy.

They don’t care about their customers

In the commission only environment of certain sales sectors, it’s not hard to see how this perception would arise. Look at the movie mentioned above, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’, did any of the individuals selling stock in order to raise the price and make a killing for themselves, really care about the small time investors they conned? Probably not – they were all more interested in competing against each other to make more money!

They are in it only for themselves

There’s no doubt people existed (still exist) who only work in a specific role for what it can give them personally…and there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that – we all work to earn after all.

However if money, flash cars and power and its associated prestige are someone’s main drivers then they may indeed come across as ‘only being in it for themselves’.

Shattering these Myths 

We’ve said it before, but Steve Knapp Sales is on a mission to change the face of sales. 

Sales is chocked full of myths and stories about the way sales should be conducted…

As we enter into the second decade of the 21st century, it’s way past time that the sales industry moved away from the practices of the 20th century and caught up with the values and ethics of this era.

Times have changed, and in fact as millennials rise into positions of power within business, they will change even further. 

No longer will it suffice to rely simply on a never ending churnover of sales staff with limited knowledge, training or ability.

Your sales teams need to reflect:

  • Authenticity
  • Trust
  • Knowledge
  • Your company culture

They need have empathy and understand your customer’s buying journey.

Whilst some individuals have always been said to have a natural gift for sales, perhaps it’s time to recognise that actually their gift may simply be that they tune in to the prospective customers. They are able to get on their wavelength, understand the pain points and really LISTEN to what is being said.

Instead of pushing a product or service, they enter into a two way conversation. They HEAR what is being said and they aren’t formulating a response whilst ostensibly listening to the other party. 

If sales is to permanently move away from the poor (and often deserved) reputation of the past we all need to see there are better ways to sell – ways that work in the best interest of ALL parties.

If you want your business to grow in a sustainable fashion it is imperative that you take a long hard look at your own sales processes and teams…you can be sure your competitors will be doing the same thing. Failure to keep up with the changing face in sales could mean the ultimate failure of your business.

To find out how Steve Knapp Sales could help you update your sales practices get in touch…you have nothing to lose – well except for the bad reputation sales still seems to have!

 

To read more of Steve Knapp’s teachings and thoughts on Sales pick up your copy of Funnel Vision Selling Made Easy today on Amazon.

To read more articles follow the links to enjoy these most recent ones;

Sales Training: What is it Good For?

Why Your Sales Processes Should Evolve and Grow

Why Every Business Needs a Sales Strategy

Why Successful Leadership Matters

Put Sales at the Heart of Your Business Processes

Facing Down the Stigma of Sales and Selling

Del Boy stereotype

Facing Down the Stigma of Sales and Selling

Why is it that so many business owners, and in particular owners of small businesses, shy away from using the words sales and selling?

All businesses need to sell to survive but why do so many people positively recoil at the very idea of being a ‘salesperson’?

Could it be because there is a certain reputation ascribed to sales people, a certain stigma, that makes so many want to run a mile at the thought of actually being perceived as a salesperson?

Actually, YES and it’s such a shame. What’s more, it needn’t, and shouldn’t, be this way.

This month we’re going to examine the reasons sales, and by association salespeople, have such a bad reputation and how to avoid you and your teams falling into the stereotypical image of ‘the pushy salesperson’.

Back to the Beginning.

At the most basic level, selling involves one person exchanging goods or services for either money OR other goods/services. Strictly speaking the second scenario is ‘bartering’, however there is still the element of arriving at a suitable ‘exchange rate’ which sounds like selling to us.

This means that for as long as humanity has existed, which may be as long as 300,000 years, there has been some sort of selling going on. Yes, initially it would have been bartering as currency didn’t exist until around 5,000 or so years ago, but for as long as people have needed things that others could supply, selling has existed…

How’s that for a mind-blowing thought? There have always been salespeople

Here’s another nugget which may surprise you: in approx. 1750 BC in what was then known as Mesopotamia, a King by the name of Hammurabi, had a code of law written which included a section designed to protect sellers: Law #104: “If a merchant give an agent grain, wool, oil, or any other goods to transport, the agent shall give a receipt for the amount, and compensate the merchant therefore, he shall obtain a receipt from the merchant for the money that he gives the merchant.”

Given that selling, in some form or another, has been around for most of human history, why then does there seem to be such a stigma about selling and sales people these days?

Step up ‘the Snake Oil’ seller… 

Back in the 1800’s the US was busy building the First Continental Rail Road and a lot of Chinese labourers were employed. These labourers brought a product with them from home which they used to reduce inflammation – it was made of oil from the Chinese Water snake. Allegedly they shared the oil with their American co-workers who were suitably impressed and wished to replicate it. Unfortunately Chinese Water snakes are not common in the US and so ‘alternatives’ were used!

…and thus began the story of ‘the Snake Oil’ seller.

Travelling salespeople moving town to town selling their wares to a gullible market by claiming miraculous benefits and cures. Of course, by the time the oil was found to be of absolutely no use, the sales people were long gone. 

Who ‘Invented’ Modern Selling?

This honour falls to a John Henry Patterson who was born 1844 in Ohio and founded the National Cash Register Company (NCR) in 1884.

Mr Patterson was the first (insofar as in known) to create a sales training manual, practice direct mail and advertising and provide his sales teams with a script which they were expected to follow to the letter. This manual was known as the ‘NCR Primer’ and any sales person who failed to demonstrate they had memorised the 450 word document was fired. A little later the ‘Book of Arguments’ was compiled – a compendium of how to overcome client objections.

Patterson was often quoted as saying that half of all lost sales could be attributed to the salesperson’s failure to communicate. Definitely a man ahead of his time!

He also created the system of targets and bonuses which, in one form or another continues to this day. Salespeople were encouraged to sell more because that meant they earned more.

Greedy and unscrupulous individuals thus continued in the tradition of the ‘Snake Oil’ seller – selling things which people maybe didn’t need, couldn’t afford, or weren’t appropriate for them.

Car Salesman

Hands up…how many of you have an image of a sharp suited used car salesperson pop into your head when you hear the word ‘salesman’.

Quite a few of you probably.

And how many of you have had a bad experience in a car salesroom?

Feeling pressured into buying, signing up for finance, added warranties etc.

Replace ‘used cars’ with any number of other products and it’s odds on you can think of occasions when an overly pushy sale person has provided a horrible sales experience.

Those negative stereotypes stick in the brain and lead to the inevitable (if incorrect) thought process that ‘all salespeople are bad’.

Unfortunately human nature being as it is, we do tend to dwell on the negative and thus the idea that all salespeople are pushy, untrustworthy, ‘out to con you’ etc, etc is firmly engrained in the collective psyche!

Facing the Truth

If you are in sales yourself, running a company, or heading up the sales process within a company, you need to face up to the unpalatable truth – many people see sales and sales people as having a bad reputation. 

Much of this bad reputation may be based on past selling techniques but there are still plenty of examples of poor sales approaches and there are still pushy and frankly unscrupulous sales people out there.

Poor behaviour in the overall sales industry reflects badly on all of us.

Here at Steve Knapp Sales we are trying to change this negative reputation, by working with sales teams to demonstrate that ethics and integrity DO have a valid role to play within sales.

Changing the Face of Sales

Consumers today, whether we’re talking about individuals or businesses, are much savvier than in times past.

The internet has made experts out of everyone and it’s much easier to ‘shop around’ for both products and services.

According to research by media agency UK, a staggering 76% of UK buyers do online research before making a purchase; that may be referring to the individual consumer, but it would be a fair assumption that B2B purchasers also research intensively online.

The take away from this message is that you need to ensure a) you have an online presence and b) that it is kept up to date and is designed in such a way as to draw your customer base to you. Look back at one of our previous blogs ‘Why Every Business Needs a Sales Strategy’ where we talk about the importance of your sales and marketing teams working together.

Get the information correct, send out the right messages – in other words COMMUNICATE with your potential market place using language they understand – and you are already easing the way to a sale.

Your sales team (however large or small that may be) need to be representatives and ambassadors of your company – they must be conversant with the product(s) that’s a given BUT they must also be fully ‘bought in’ to the company’s ethos and brand values. Have another read of Put Sales at the Heart of your Business Processes where we cover this in detail.

Your company can adopt hiring plans which ensure that the right people are recruited to your sales positions, ones who won’t turn into ‘Snake Oil’ sellers! Rewards packages which don’t encourage making sales simply to achieve bonus levels can be designed and you can run continuous learning and development programs for your teams.

Customer service is not just a buzzword – treat your customer base well and not only will they keep coming back to you, they will refer others. This applies equally in the B2B sector as B2C. Provide your customers with what they need, when they want it and at a price they like and your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is going to be great.

Sales Behaviours

If sales, as a profession is going to move permanently away from the used car or snake oil salesman image, what needs to change?

The ‘in your face, pushy, over confident approach’ needs to go and be replaced with more measured behaviours. Remember that the customer has probably already researched your product and could be simply looking for validation that they are making the right choice. A pushy salesperson could actually lose the sale, not close it.

Sales people should learn to listen as much, if not more, than talk. They should ask strategic questions and draw out information to work out exactly what the customer wants…not what the sales person thinks they want.

The phrase ‘he (or she!) could sell snow to an Eskimo’ is often used in a derogatory way towards a salesperson. Let’s turn this on its head…how can this ability be recognised as actually being a very valuable trait in a salesperson, instead of being seen as an underlining of a negative stereotype? How about highlighting the communication skills, empathy and customer service aspects necessary to be such an innate salesperson? Take the emphasis away from the end result, closing the sale, to the process itself…the customer journey. 

If your salespeople are perceived as offering a great customer service all the way through the buying journey; if your customers feel listened to, understood and appreciated and they TRUST you, they will keep coming back. 

Customer experience is the key to successful sales, in fact according to this report by Walker, by 2020 (i.e. next year!) ‘customers will dictate the buying experience’.

Ethics and Integrity in Selling

The so-called millennial generation have a different way of thinking about business, who they work for and who they buy from. They are far more focussed on values and ethics – both their own and the businesses they work for and deal with. They will resonate with those organisations that align with their own beliefs.

This generation (generally thought of as being born between 1980 and 1996) are now moving into positions of power – they are increasingly influencing company behaviours and they are looking for ethical and integrity based sales approaches. If you don’t tick those boxes, if you can’t earn their trust, then ultimately you will not make your sale.

Aflac, a large American insurance provider, commissioned a 2018 survey of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)and a staggering 92% of the millennials questioned stated that they are more likely to purchase from an ethical company! Can your company afford to miss out on this potential marketplace?

Summary

  • Selling is not new – humans have always sold to each other in one way or another
  • Recognise the negative reputation of sales 
  • Ensure your team understands (and uses) the softer, customer centric sales approaches
  • Build your CSR
  • Create an excellent customer experience
  • Ensure your entire business is structured towards customer experience.

It’s time to start treating sales as a profession that people working in can be proud of. Everyone can sell if they are given the right tools and information to do so.

(and finally, back to Snake Oil, in case you were wondering what was actually in the oil…in 1917 federal investors seized a shipment of ‘Stanley’s Snake Oil’ and upon investigation discovered  it contained mineral oil, a fatty oil believed to be beef fat, red pepper and turpentine…not a trace of anything snake related!)

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy read some of my other articles:

Sales Training: What is it Good For?

Why Your Sales Processes Should Evolve and Grow

Why Every Business Needs a Sales Strategy

Why Successful Leadership Matters

Put Sales at the Heart of Your Business Processes

Sa;es Training What is it GOOF fOR?

Sales Training: What is it Good For?

Sales training…what is it good for? Well, unless you have all the other basics in place as covered in our earlier blogs, the answer is…

Absolutely nothing!

You can put your teams through any number of sales training courses, and there are thousands of them (just run a Google search and see for yourself) but it’s a bit like learning online how to snow ski whilst living in Equatorial New Guinea…the knowledge may be there but it can’t be put into action or practice as the conditions are wrong!

OK, that’s maybe a bit of a tortured analogy, but hopefully you get the point!

Now we aren’t saying that sales training can’t be useful, of course it can, but you need to examine

  • Why your team need training
  • What you hope to get out of it (ROI)
  • How you will measure the success (outcomes)
  • How any training sits within your overall sales strategy

Let’s have a look in more detail at these bullet points.

WHY Does Your Team Need Training?

Is it because your sales figures have dropped/are dropping?

Do you have a new product?

Are you targeting a new market sector?

Do you have a lot of new starters?

Many businesses will offer training to their staff ‘because it’s the right thing to do’. And indeed in terms of staff development and retention, training IS often the right thing to offer within part of an overall Personal Development Plan (PDP).

The problem is that a 2 day ‘improve your selling technique’ course is not going to be much good if the course content takes no account of the specific needs of your people OR your company. Think back to the skiing analogy above!

Similarly, sending people off on expensive courses without ensuring they will be able to put what they have learned into practice once they get back, is counterproductive. It is also demoralising, for them and for the business as a whole.

If you put training in place for your people, there also needs to be some kind of tracking and follow up process in order to ensure that learning is retained. There are studies which indicate that people will lose 80%-90% of whatever was learned during training within one month!

What a waste of their time and your money! You needn’t necessarily set tests for people, but you should have a framework in place to allow learnings to be validated…it could simply be a case of asking your sales people to reference an aspect of training they found useful/helped them close a sale. 

What do you hope to get out of it?

Before investing £thousands on sending your staff on courses (or on bringing the courses on site) stop and work out just what the business goal is.

What outcomes are you looking to achieve and what sort of ROI (return on investment) do you expect – ROI need not necessarily be financial by the way.

Do you expect sales figures to increase as a result? If so by how much and in what timescale? 

Remember, ‘On average, only 29% of sales reps hit performance milestones in their first year. – Aberdeen, 2013’.  If you are sending your new sales employees on training, will it actually improve on that figure? If it turns it doesn’t, is it the right training?

Conversely, if you are looking for a ‘softer’ approach to ROI, will training add to your company culture, staff retention and staff satisfactions levels?

Offering training for trainings sake…in other words a tick box exercise, won’t benefit the company’s bottom line, or your staff’s wellbeing and success rates.

How are you going to measure the outcomes of training?

Remember the quote, above, that says people will forget 80 to 90% of everything they learn on a course if you don’t follow up with them? How are you going to do that? 

It’s pretty pointless sending people for training if you don’t then ensure they retain and use the knowledge.

So, will you arrange for tests to check on them and what level will you accept as ‘good’ or a ‘pass’?

Will you check sales figures before and after training to see if there is a difference and what will you accept as being a sufficient increase to justify the training?

If taking the softer PDP approach to ROI, when will you check in with your teams? Just after training? One week later? Six months later?

How does training fit within your overall sales strategy?

If you need a refresh on sales strategy why not revisit one of our other blogs Why Every Business Needs a Sales Strategy

Training isn’t cheap and if you are going to invest in upskilling your team you need to ensure that the courses they take are fit for YOUR purpose. As we said earlier there are hundreds, if not thousands, of courses out there and they will vary in content, length and cost.

In a previous article we have told you how you need to ensure that your sales and overall company culture (see Put Sales at the Heart of Your Business Processes) are fit for purpose. It follows therefore that any training must not only be relevant and something your teams need, it must also sit within your business culture.

If you have the capability it may be advisable to spend your training budget on developing in-house training provision in order that the training is’ specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely’ for your unique requirements.

See what we did there? We referenced SMART (goals) as a way of checking that the training you provide your teams is actually what they, and your business need.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t purchase ‘off the shelf packages’, simply that bespoke training content will be far more effective and, with an in-house set up, it should be easier to provide the ‘follow up’ we mentioned earlier.

How can training be implemented in your business?

If you’ve reached this point in the article you may be thinking that we are anti- training here at Steve Knapp sales! Actually, nothing could be further from the truth – we’re on a mission, it says so on the first page of our website…

“Steve Knapp Sales is about elevating the status of the Sales Profession, so that Sales Professionals can say proudly that they are in sales. If you elevate the culture around sales and elevate the standards of sales, you elevate the respect people have for Sales Professionals. Elevate Everywhere, that is my mission.”

We know there is a lot of good and valuable training out there but what we want to ensure is that businesses source training that is right for them, rather than opting for a one size fits all solution.

We want you to stop and think how training can be made a part of your business culture rather than be seen as a nice ‘bolt’ on for new starters.

Continuous professional development (CDP) is as vital for a sales person as for any other professional and it should be treated with the respect it deserves. Sending staff off on training days every now and again with no system for ‘post training reinforcement’ and no idea if the courses themselves are fit for purpose, is a waste of resources.

How are sales training course delivered?

As you would expect, just as there are lots of different courses, there are different ways of delivering them. 

These include:

  • Online sessions via YouTube (other platforms are available!)
  • Online one to one or group delivery via Zoom/Skpe etc
  • Workshops – face to face OR online
  • Home study via email/video/workbooks
  • Traditional class room
  • Facebook groups

Ultimately though, however the training is delivered if you don’t take into account the advice in this article, you could be literally spending money for nothing.

Summary

  • Sales training is worth very little if it doesn’t fit into your overall sales strategy and business culture
  • If training is not specific to business needs and requirements it will be of little use
  • Training needs to be followed up with post training reinforcement 
  • Make training a part of CPD and PDP 
  • Ensure you track the ROI
  • Innovate, look for new ways to train

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy read some of my other articles:

Focus on 3 cultures to win the prize hidden in an aligned organisation.

3 Behaviours that win business

Make more sales by aligning Sales & Marketing Activities

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Funnel Vision – The Sales Pipeline Management Board Game

If a traditional approach to learning does not work then why are looking for sales training that follows a traditional approach?

I mean, you know what I’m talking about don’t you…the slides, the classroom, the workbook and the role plays!

The dread from your sales team that they are going to be put through the sheep dip and come out the other side expected to use a new lingo a new process and a display a new invigorated attitude to smashing sales targets.

The Learning Pyramid

Added to that what we know about learning styles and information retention why do you do it?

The Learning Pyramid

Take a look at The Learning Pyramid and question why you’re even considering a class room style approach when learning from others, game play and group work has such an amazing result!

You must be open to a fresh and different approach to sales training and this is why we are sharing this article.

Bringing together game design expertise from Katie Bain from Game Explorers and marketing expertise from Rob Taylor of 0114 Marketing to complement my sales process SPANCOP we are able to share with you Funnel Vision – The Board Game.

Funnel Vision is a sales training game that helps sellers see just what sales pipeline management is and show them through game play the impact and consequences of their choices and activities.

It shows the value in customer management, prospecting and prioritising the right sales opportunities. It’s a dynamic, immersive and engaging way to SHOW and INVOLVE sellers the sales process.

Using a Sales Process

Using SPANCOP as the sales process, sellers will spend money on marketing activities and manage their time to create Suspects for their business or territory. The purpose of the game is to constantly manage the shape of your Sales Funnel ensuring you have a continued supply of Prospects that turn into customers.

Through game play you are coached at the end of specific rounds on the shape of your Sales Funnel. The reasons it looks like it does and the corrective action you can take in the next round to return to the classic shape Sales Funnel.

Funnel Shapes

Many Sales Funnels take on the shape of The Blockage of display the attributes of Feast Or Famine. Understand what you need to do and the actions you need to take is what you learn when you play Funnel Vision

Game play testingFunnel Vision – The Board Game has been through a game play testing and is ready to take to businesses that have sales forces who need help in understanding and appreciating the sales process.

 

Fancy a Game?

This has already proven valuable and insightful for smaller business owners and interesting to sales teams that are not necessarily in a hugely competitive environment where it’s harder to connect to importance of the sales process.

If you have a sales team or lead a sales team that you know would benefit from this new, fresh and innovative approach to sales training then message me and we can take the conversation further.

Having Fun and Making Money

This blogs topic is fun. As in, actually about fun. It’s one of my core values, to make sure there’s an element of fun in everything I do.

I’m not talking about the David Brent style of constantly making jokes, which was taken from the real world experiences of that cringeworthy boss everyone seems to know who just wants to me popular. I’m talking about having a culture within your company where people are comfortable enough to be themselves and make contributions.

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“I’ve created an atmosphere where I’m a friend first, boss second…probably entertainer third.” David Brent, The Office.

I think a key point to note is that making things fun is only one part of a cultural overhaul which will happen sooner or later, either by your proactive choosing or by regulation, or reaction to your competitors overtaking you.

Engagement

The reason it is part of a bigger picture is because it fits in with the value-adding sell. The one where you’ll actually only sell to people if they need or want your product. The type of sell where you would recommend people don’t buy it if you don’t think they need it.

Does that sound unfamiliar to you? Are you still in an environment where sales are made to whoever will buy, because that’s how commissions are earned? It’s a short-sighted approach, because the buyers are so unlikely to buy again from a company where they’ve been sold something they didn’t need. They’re also likely to negatively review that company. “I got told I’d need x, but I still haven’t used it in a year.”

You’re rewarding shark-like behaviours, preying upon consumers for commission. And it’s the reason salespeople have a bad reputation.

Collectively, in sales, things need to change, and it needs to come from the leaders who set the cultures. If you change how you’re selling, to needs-based selling, it no longer feels like selling. It starts to feel like helping people. People start to feel good about doing it. They might even…have fun.

There are lots of things you can do to embrace and enhance the positive vibe around work.

Start fitness clubs, organise socials, team-building exercises. The sort of things that in the traditional sales environment, either don’t exist or are begrudgingly attended. Why? Because if people are out of their comfort zone, and let’s face it, hard selling on cold calls is rarely anyone’s comfort zone, the last thing they want to do is spend more time around a culture that revolves around that.

But the second you switch the disc and move towards a positive sales environment which is needs-led and value orientated, people will actively be energised by their work. You can then introduce those fun elements to your work environment to enhance the overall experience which will make your staff happy, not cringe. Now you have a healthy, happy, energised sales team who are providing value to customers, who in turn will appreciate the difference between your company and one which is just trying to make a quick buck out of them. Positive experiences, positive reviews, repeat custom and trusted client bases.

All sounds rather good, doesn’t it?

If you want to discuss more how I can help you to make that a reality in your business, I’m always happy to speak to people who want to improve.

If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts

Focus on 3 cultures to win the prize hidden in an aligned organisation.

3 Behaviours that win business

Make more sales by aligning Sales & Marketing Activities

Do you need “Senior” Sales Professionals

Would you cheat to win in Sales?

Sales Coaching qualities to win

Sales Coach – The Qualities to be a Great

Sport analogies are always a good for highlighting Sales behaviours and I’m using this tried and tested approach to emphasise the qualities of a successful Sales Coach.

Trying to categorise the top qualities of a coach is no easy task.

Top coaches come from different backgrounds and have different styles. they also know how to connect with players, inspire quality performance and get results.

Take a look at this Bleacher list of the Top 50 Sports Coaches

Here is a selection of a few of the key qualities that in my opinion distinguish a great coach.

Leadership

The goal of great coaching is to guide, inspire and empower an athlete or team to achieve their full potential.

A great coach should also be an exceptional leader with the ability to unify a group of players and make them committed to a single purpose.

Knowledge

A great coach should have in-depth knowledge of the sport they are coaching.

This does not necessarily have to come from personal experience, but a coach needs to have an understanding of the fundamental skills to advanced tactics and strategies involved in a game.

Motivation

Coaches need to be able to convey passion to their players, to inspire them to get the most out of their performance.

A successful coach will possess a positive attitude and enthusiasm for the game and the players that in turn inspires athletes to excel.

Motivation might also involve keeping the practice session engaging and challenging.

Knows the Athlete

A key to successful coaching is being aware of the individual differences in your athletes.

There are some coaching tactics that work better on different personality types so it is important to tailor communication and motivation based on specific players’ personalities.

To achieve this, a coach needs to pay attention to the player’s emotions, strengths and weaknesses. Knowing the athlete also involves having empathy for the athlete.

Coaches need to care deeply about their athletes and a coach needs to be willing to be a mentor and counsellor, as well as a coach.

Consistency

If a coach wants to change a player’s attitude, alter a game plan or improve an athlete’s skills, a coach needs to be consistent in the message they are trying to deliver.

Athletes will learn by hearing the same message constantly and consistently.

Effective communication skills

Needless to say, a great coach will possess exceptional communication skills.

An effective coach is able to set defined goals, express these goals and ideas clearly to players, give direct feedback, reinforce key messages and acknowledge success.

Listening is also a part of effective communication, so a coach should be a compassionate listener who welcomes player comment, questions and feedback.

Sales Excellence Principle 3 Sales Leadership looks at measures you can take to make your sales team succeed.

If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Read some of my other blogs by following these links:

How to Create a Winning Sales Culture

The 8 Wonders of Sales Management

Become A Great Sales Coach

The Annual Sales Targets Setting Dance

Sales Targets – set them now for next year!

The annual sales targets setting dance should have begun.

5 sales targets setting checks for more sales

What, it’s not yet in your company, why not, get on with it!  Honestly, sales targets setting is not something that can wait until January.

I’ve seen too many companies waste the first quarter of the year faffing around with an activity that should be almost put to bed now.

Act quickly because you still have the time to think it through and organise it well, communicate it effectively and set up the process on how you will report progress each month.

But don’t dictate.

Your Sales Professionals shouldn’t have their targets dictated to them; they should work with you to agree what are the most realistic and achievable they can make within the twelve month timeframe. 

Target them on what they can control and make sure you have a reporting structure in place so that you all know how you are progressing towards your goals as the year goes on.

Always involve your staff in setting sales targets.

Whilst that might seem like a massive task, if you suddenly cascade these targets without any discussion, you might well not get the reaction you were hoping for. 

I mean you know that dictating your ideas to your team never brings the best rewards, so why would it be a different outcome when your talking about sales targets.

A natural reaction from your sellers would be an immediate correlation to their bonus, their motivation and their effort. 

Whilst being honest and transparent.

If you need to be open about the financial implications of any targets you set; if you are in a position where you need to increase your profits in order for the business to survive, let your staff know that. 

You’ll be surprised how much harder people will work when they want to help you keep the business going, and when they feel like they are a valued part of that business rather than just an employee. 

Get your staff invested in the company and the targets you set, and you’ll find everyone goes much further and probably much faster.

Own your role as it’s important in this process.

If your staff are uncomfortable with this process, it is your job as the leader to educate them as to why there needs to be sales targets. 

If they’re uncomfortable with the level of the target, again it’s your job to explain why it is at that level or to work through to an achievable target. 

Don’t lower your expectations; a collaborative process with good people will always result in realistic outcomes.

If you believe the sales targets are reasonable, be prepared to justify this to your team.

Listen to their concerns and it may well be that they can come up with a valid point which you had not considered – but on the whole, targets should be set to slightly stretch. 

If your goal is not big and scary, is it worth hitting? 

Also, if you set a goal really high and aim for that but fall short, you will still have done pretty well.

If you set it lower, and still fall short, you won’t have done very well and it won’t feel great.

Now keep the sales targets visible and measure progress.

Once sales targets are set, they should be displayed for all staff members to see, and for everyone to track progress.

Sales Professional love being top and are generally motivated if they are not if performance is visible.

Once your goals are set and agreed, it is important to be structured in your monthly reviews (MILO). 

Don’t let anything distract you. In fact, now is the perfect time revisit the effectiveness of the structure you use and to set dates each month for review. 

Setting targets for the year ahead is critically important and something that will help to push your business forward over the next twelve months – but it’s important to do it properly, and to make sure that your staff are with you.

But like I said at the beginning of this blog, you should be all over this by now –  so don’t wait any longer to get started!

Sales Excellence Principle 2 – Growth Management provides you what you need to do to succeed in Target Setting, Incentive Management and Inclusive Organisations.

If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Please also take time to read some of my other blogs:

Set Sales Targets That Get Smashed

5 Sales Target Set Checks For More Sales

5 Attributes That Make Goals Stick

 

You Own Your Personal Development

Own Your Personal Development

A trio of lists focusing on Personal Development.

  • One is all about excuses you may have heard why people don’t invest in their personal development.
  • Two is all about what you can do to own your personal development.
  • Three highlights the benefits to you of taking control of your personal development

5 Excuses From Sales Professionals Not Owning Personal Development

Ever hear yourself using these excuses?

🙉 Excuse 1 – Negative Self Talk

  • This is probably the biggest barrier to personal growth for the majority of people
  • “I’m not as good as her”, or “He is more of a natural at this than me”.

🙉 Excuse 2 – Lack of Support

  • There’s no one around that even understands, let alone supports your desire for personal growth.
  • “I want to do it but they wont give me the time”, or “If I ask I don’t think they will let me”

🙉 Excuse 3 – No Clear Goals

  • Until you know what you want you can’t make a map of how to get there.
  • “I’m just to busy with work to write down my personal goals”

🙉 Excuse 4 – Playing the Blame Game

  • Until you take full and total responsibility your chances for personal growth success will be limited at best.
  • “I would have done it if she hadn’t had done that”, or “Its only because of him that this didn’t happen”

🙉 Excuse 5 – I Know it Anyway

  • This belief that our ego needs to always be right. Be better-than, more successful than
  • “If they had done it my way”, or “If only they had listened to me”

Remember these are 💯% excuses and you 💯% own your personal development!

Ten quick tips that will help you build your self development plan:

💪🏽 Start Now

  • It’s that simple start now and build on what you learn daily

💪🏽 Take Baby Steps

  • Break your goals into smaller steps and keep the end result in mind

💪🏽 Learn From Others

  • Find a mentor, read books and attend events

💪🏽 Love Change

  • You can’t escape it and your plan needs to embrace change

💪🏽 Be Accountable

  • Your responsible, nobody else. If you don’t bother there’s no fairy godmother

💪🏽 Recognise Your Value

  • Don’t discount the value in getter better at what you currently do

💪🏽 Be Deliberate

  • Make sure you really want to do it. Is your goal and intention aligned?

💪🏽 Stretch Yourself

  • Find the middle ground. Goals that are easy or impossible don’t work

💪🏽 You’ve Got To Love It

  • Don’t do things if you don’t like doing them. Your goals must match your values.

💪🏽 Be Resilient

  • You will hit highs and lows so your development plan needs to be achievable and balanced.

Personal Development is About Investing in Yourself. It’s not about waiting for your company or employer to do it for you.

Here a Six core benefits to personal development:

👍🏽 Heightened Self Awareness

  • You get to know who you really are, your values and what you truly believe.

👍🏽 A Clear Sense of Direction

  • Decision making and prioritisation becomes a lot easier.

👍🏽 Improved Focus and Effectiveness

  • Meeting deadlines and ignoring distractions becomes natural.

👍🏽 Exceptional Motivation

  • When you know what your setting out to achieve its much easier to see the benefits of taking action.

👍🏽 Greater Resilience

  • Personal development cant stop bad things happening but it will help you be able to deal with them.

👍🏽 More Fulfilling Relationships

  • You are better able to see what relationships are worth investing in.

A differentiator between average and top performers is that a top performer owns their personal development.

If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

5 Attributes That Make Goals Stick

3 Behaviours that win business

Would you cheat to win in Sales?

The 8 Wonders of Sales Management

The 8 Wonders of Sales Management

The job of managing a sales team is a tough one. It could be argued that it’s the toughest job in Sales

Having practiced Sales Management for many years I have experienced the almost Jekyll & Hyde life you live of being there for your team & being there for the bosses.

They want & need different things from you & pull you in many different directions.

I learnt through my career in Sales Management that if I created the environment for my team to succeed my life became easier & I could focus on the things that really mattered.

In this blog I’ll share with you an approach that has worked for me during my sales career.

Let me talk you through the “8 Wonders”of Sales Management:

  1. Be results oriented 

    Don’t hire Dinosaurs

  2. Build the sales team you need
  3. Set sales expectations
  4. Don’t hire dinosaurs
  5. Set high but realistic goals
  6. Incentivise your team
  7. Training matters
  8. Remove clutter

Be results oriented

Hire people with drive and resilience. Create a team that is focused on the key sales metrics. When you put competitive people together it has a positive impact on the entire organisation.

Build the sales team you need

Establish what mix of sales professional you require in order to succeed. Hunters grow from scratch & Farmers grow once everything is in place. Most people are not good at both.

Set sales expectations

You want to get your team buzzing and support them however you can. By setting clear expectations with regard to performance levels helps everybody know what over-performance & under-performance looks like. Performance conversations become transparent & consistent.

Don’t hire dinosaurs

You have to make sure your sales team are good at taking feedback. Only hire sales professionals who are open to coaching, embrace technology advancements to increase their effectiveness & sales professionals who invest in their professional development. Don’t get hoodwinked by the sales dinosaur who will do none of that.

Set high but realistic goals

All sales professional expect to have stretching individual sales targets. Your job is to set them neither too high or too low as you want them to fully buy in to the “do-ability”. Miss this tightrope on “do-ability” & you risk losing them before you even start.

Incentivise your team

Create a sense of urgency & leverage motivation through incentives. For example why not use League Tables around the office & display individual performance against targets.

Training matters

Make continuous learning part of the culture. Every successful sales organisation should have a program of training that is consistently progressing the core of product knowledge, prospecting, opportunity management, territory planning and professional communications.

Remove Clutter

You want to shield your team from internal politics, make it easy for them to focus on the job at hand and be more successful.

If you enjoyed this article please comment and share it with your network.  Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

How effective you are in mastering these 8 Wonders will help you on your journey to become a great Sales Manager.

If you enjoyed this post please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

Please also take time to read some of my other recent posts.

How to Create a Winning Sales Culture

Weekly Sales Meetings Drive More Sales

5 Attributes That Make Goals Stick

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Become A Great Sales Coach

Being a great Sales Coach is a differentiator when it comes the results of sales teams and the results of individual sales professionals.

The quality of a Sales Coach has a direct impact on sales performance whilst also positively impacting attrition rates when it comes to your star performers.

Effective Sales Coaching is critical in driving sales performance and addressing attrition rates

So we know the problem and challenge we are faced with.

The activities performed by a Sales Coach are not always supported by a company manual, a set of documented processes or the luxury to observe a role model.

Recognising this I wanted to offer some of my experience gained over the last three decades as a Sales Coach.

Here are the three different approaches to Sales Coaching that I use:

Dedicated infield Sales Coaching session:

  • These are not joint customer visits. These are dedicated Sales Coaching sessions.
  • Personal development goals are agreed based on a previous observation(s) or agreed competence gap(s).
  • The sales call has been selected in order that the Sales Coach can observe these specific development goals.
  • The Sales Coach will not play an active part in the sales call and will observe the sales professional.
  • A feedback session is held after the sales call to reflect on progress and any future development opportunities.

    Structured Sales Meetings create clarity win performance and development goals.

Sales Coaching in structured Sales Meetings: 

  • These are diarised Sales Meetings, they are weekly and are in place to support the sales effort.
  • Sales opportunities are identified and prioritised to improve success rates. Considering likelihood & confidence to close the deal.
  • Blockers or resource(s) required to move the opportunity forward are identified and a time bound action plan is agreed.
  • Recognition opportunities are actively sought and performance concerns addressed.
  • These meeting provide a safe place for performance to be discussed and build trust between Sales Coach and Sales Professional.

Adhoc Sales Coaching creating motivation & intimacy:

  • Reach out to a sales professional offering specific coaching support if you know the call that are making will be a challenging one.
  • Check in with a sales professional at the end of the day after they were making a challenging sales call.
  • Ask if they had the opportunity to work on the development goal and ask what they did differently this time around.
  • Share materials that will assist the development goals of your sales professionals: articles, blogs, data etc.
  • Provide the space for your Sales Professionals to make safe mistakes.

Using Sales Excellence Principles #3’s  Sales Leadership Toolkit  your effectiveness as a Sales Coach will increase. 

The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence are:

Business Strategy – Leadership has a genuine commitment to develop Sales Excellence.

Growth Management – Meaningful targets are set and the performance of the business is made visible.

Sales Leadership – Managers spend their time on business performance and people development.

Sales Execution – Sales standards are clear & consistency in Sales Execution is achieved.

Pipeline Management – Sales pipeline and lead management practices are in place and are effective.

Contact me if you want to talk more about The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & about how I can help your company “sell more“.

If you enjoyed this article please click LIKE and click SHARE to share it with your network.

I also invite you to read some of my recent posts.

8 Tips For Managing a Sales Team

Use Recognition To Drives Sales Results

Weekly Sales Meetings Drive More Sales

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