Executive Vice President, The Brooks Group
The other day, I attended a Vistage speaker presentation delivered by a guy by the name of Michael Allosso. Allosso has a fascinating background in show business – among other things – and the main takeaway from his talk was we always need to be “on” and aware of how we’re coming across to others.
A particular aspect of his presentation about the concept of “micromessaging” caught my attention. Author Stephen Young, in his book by the same title, defines micromessaging as“the nuanced behaviors that we all blindly use and react to in our dealings with others.” In my opinion, another interpretation of that definition could be something like, “micromessaging involves the ways people perceive and judge each other based on things other than direct verbal communication.”
Leaning forward in your chair while listening to someone, having a bored look on your face in a meeting, wearing a well-pressed shirt, the type of watch you wear, walking with a purpose or just kind of aimlessly wandering along…all of these are sending messages about you.
And, like it or not, people are using them to judge you.
Unfortunately, humans evaluate each other on a very surface level. We all claim we don’t because it’s not the “right” thing to say….but the reality is that we do.
As Allosso was talking about micromessaging, it occurred to me how important this concept is in the relationship between a buyer and a salesperson. We have, for years, talked about the role of dress, style and image as a component of a salesperson’s positioning.
But I think micromessaging is about much more than that.
“Micromessage management” (I just made that one up) could be described as everything we do to appear as fully present for, in tune with, prepared for, in touch with, and as well-put-together as we can. At The Brooks Group, we refer to this in the context of pre-call planning and positioning.
Here are some questions I urge you to share with your sales team:
- Does my appearance reflect my desire to be seen as a professional problem-solver and value-bringer?
- During the course of my meetings, do I consciously control my body language and facial expressions to indicate I’m completely present?
- Do I match my prospect’s or customer’s communication style and preference in terms of formality or informality?
- Do I double- and triple-check my written communications for accuracy and clarity, or do I just hit send?
Are you doing everything you can to control your own personal micromessaging to make sure that you’re represented in the best possible light?
Reflecting on it at this moment, I know that I sometimes get so caught up in making the next meeting or executing the next task that I don’t slow down to take into account the cues I give to others about myself.
Perhaps the same could be said for you?
Thanks for reading.
President, The Brooks Group
Several years ago, I met a man who sold insurance. He handed me a Round-Tuit. You may have seen one of these things. It's a wooden coin that says, "Tuit" on it.
Aside from being a clever gimmick for a man selling insurance, it provides an important lesson for the rest of us.
A Round-Tuit is of those things – a project, an email, a phone call, a conversation – that you’ve been putting off.
When asked about it, you say,
"I'll get around to it."
"I'll get a 'Round-Tuit.'
Very often, it's a mistake you're unwilling to correct. The man I met told me that my decision not to buy insurance fell squarely in that category. He said that just because I haven't been able to take care of it, didn't mean I shouldn't address it right then and there.
Putting aside for a moment his old school hard-closing ways, we can all learn a lot from his "Round-Tuit." Based on our conversations with leaders, managers, and salespeople alike, we think the phrase “haven’t yet been able to take care of” could be replaced with “unwilling to confront.”
You see, a lot of people – it’s human nature – don’t like to address something that’s difficult like admitting a mistake. We would rather take care of all of the little things that are easy to handle rather than attempt to deal with difficult or large projects.
True leaders separate themselves from the rest of humanity with their ability to confront the difficult things -- like their mistakes. They understand that it makes no sense to wait to correct a mistake or work on a difficult project. They know it's better to work when things are new than when they're old.
So, here’s the call to action:
- Think of the Round-Tuit that you’ve been putting off.
- Stop thinking of it.
- Go do it.
Of course, the most important question remains: What’s the best way to get started?
President, The Brooks Group
We've earned another spot on Selling Power Magazine's prestigious list of the Top 20 Sales Training Companies.
As you can imagine, we're all honored.
We believe it's a reflection of two things:
1. Our clients' results
1) Depth and breadth of training offered. Our friends in the training industry often look at our company's intellectual property and express shock at the amount of material we have developed through the years. The reason we have so much to share is that we have a true passion for salespeople and their leaders. It's easy to invest in research and development when there's a culture of learning at a company like ours.
2) Innovative offerings (specific training courses or methodology) or delivery methods. Ever since 1977, we've found ourselves somewhere between the bleeding edge and the cutting edge of the learning and development industry. We embraced concepts like gamification and distance learning before they were "cool."
3) International capabilities. The ability to deliver training programs overseas is far more challenging that it would appear at first. Delivering effective training programs across the globe involves carefully learning about a wide range of selling environments (not to mention dealing with a lot of difficult logistics). We always enjoy delivering meaningful programs for our clients. Regardless of where they are.
4) Ability to customize offerings. One of the cornerstones of our approach to any project is a complete and thorough customization and change management process. We believe that every engagement should be customized. We take it a step further by incorporating a whole-person assessment in virtually all of our programs, which makes the experience even more customized - right down to each participant.
5) Strength of client satisfaction. We take great pride in developing true partnerships with our clients. We believe that it's impossible to truly deliver meaningful change without becoming closely aligned with them. We take great pride in working closely with them at every turn and are incredibly thankful for the wonderful things they have said about us. - @JebBrooks
President, The Brooks Group
The vast majority of the programs we put together are in-house sales training programs. After 36 years of creating these programs, we've learned a lot! So, if you're building an in-house sales training program, avoid the mistakes we've made...
Not every program we deliver is at a client's location, though. Every few weeks or so, we get the opportunity to host a group of salespeople or sales managers at our training center in Greensboro, NC. This week was one of them. The excitement around the office increases dramatically because 20 or 30 salespeople generate a lot of energy. We kept the energy positive by watching the little things.
There are a few tricks to make an in-house sales training program effective. As basic as some of this might sound, it truly is the little things that will make your event successful or a flop.
Successful In-House Sales Training Programs
Aside from being delivered by highly skilled facilitators, successful in-house sales training programs require successful execution on some fundamental logistics. You might not think some of these things are that important, but trust us. They are. How do we know? We've learned the hard way!
Preparation: Participants in your in-house sales training program should know where to go, how to get there, and what to expect well in advance of the program. Sure, they may have last minute questions (or forget to look at the directions until the last minute!), but it's much better to prepare them early than to scramble at the last minute.
Comfort: Make sure everyone is comfortable. This includes everything from the chairs to the temperature of the room (depending on the room, 70 degrees is usually perfect).
Food: Having ready-access to food is an important component, too. Keep some snacks in the room. Oh, and lay off the carbs. Bread and pasta put people to sleep -- avoid them.
Breaks: Make them plentiful and tell participants when they're coming. Salespeople need time to make calls, check emails, and touch-base with customers.
Content: If it's an in-house sales training program, it better be highly customized! For more information about that, check out this post.
Exercises: Involving participants is important. But their involvement better not be "cheesy." The exercises you include should be real-world application of the principles you're teaching.
Facilitate: Don't lecture. Rely on the expertise in the room. Work hard to highlight the knowledge, experiences, and abilities that participants have. Incorporate them into the session.
Shipping: If people are flying in, be prepared to ship materials back for your participants. Sure, they might miss the chance to review the materials on the plane, but at least they won't have to cram them into an already overstuffed bag.
How else do you make sure an in-house sales training program is delivered effectively?
President of The Brooks Group
The other day, I was in a meeting where someone was remarking about how difficult it is to find “good salespeople.” She was expressing frustration because she’s hired salespeople who look good during the hiring process, but quickly fail in her environment.
It’s a common question that’s rarely answered directly: Where are the good salespeople? The reason people don’t have a good answer is because it’s difficult to say what makes “good salespeople.”
First, it's tough to find good salespeople because even bad salespeople are skilled at selling themselves. I've written about this before.
But the bigger issue for the woman in my meeting (and maybe you, too) is that there's a tendency to believe that the only good salespeople come from whatever industry you're operating within. That makes hiring good salespeople difficult because capturing a truly great salesperson from a competitor is challenging. Instead, it's easier to find someone's worst performer (or at least an average one). Why? Because your competitors likely do their best to keep their top performers happy.
So stop looking at the same people! Get a fresh perspective by looking outside of your industry.
How do you do that since your business is unique? Start by asking these questions:
- How complex is my selling environment?
- Do I sell through distribution or directly to end-users?
- How long is my sales cycle?
- How easy is it to access decision makers?
- How new is my market?
- How new is our industry?
- Are we selling a high-tech offering or a low-tech one?
- How much technology is used by your salespeople?
- How much technology is used by your clients?
- How competitive is the industry I'm in?
- How differentiated is our offering?
- How customized is our offering?
Once you have a clearer picture of what selling for you looks like, you can begin to look outside your industry.
By the way, a truly skilled salesperson doesn't need a huge contact list. Instead, if he or she has built one in a similar selling situation before, they can do it again!