The Brooks Group https://www.brooksgroup.com Sales Training & Sales Management Training Company Tue, 01 Sep 2015 04:45:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sales Leaders: How Much Structure Is Too Much? https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/sales-leaders-how-much-structure-is-too-much/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/sales-leaders-how-much-structure-is-too-much/#comments Mon, 31 Aug 2015 20:40:23 +0000 https://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14694

Do You Know Bad Sales Process When You See It? (…and why should I care?) In the absence of process lives chaos. Imagine how different our experience and outcome might be without good process churning in the background of a hospital operating room or the cockpit of a 747. The same is true with high-functioning selling organizations. A good sales process and corresponding structure fuels superior results. As sales leaders we know from experience, and research confirms, that rigor and discipline around a common language and process dramatically increases the productivity of sales reps. But not all sales process is...


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how much structureDo You Know Bad Sales Process When You See It?
(…and why should I care?)

In the absence of process lives chaos.

Imagine how different our experience and outcome might be without good process churning in the background of a hospital operating room or the cockpit of a 747. The same is true with high-functioning selling organizations. A good sales process and corresponding structure fuels superior results. As sales leaders we know from experience, and research confirms, that rigor and discipline around a common language and process dramatically increases the productivity of sales reps.

But not all sales process is created equally, and execution against subpar process and structure creates risk to our business and even speed to bad results.

Plenty of research exists around the benefits of implementing process and structure, but not much data exists on the impact that bad process has on our business results. How do we pressure-test our own situations to make sure that we are executing against the right structure?

Enable vs. Inspect

Are we enablers of good process or inspectors of bad process? Compliance to bad process will most certainly lead to an uninspiring result. And if process is built without high-sensibility to the customer, then we risk too much administration and not enough good old-fashioned face time.

Indeed it is a good idea to inspect what you expect.

However, too much focus on inspection without regard to the quality of the effort, does not empower the best result. By creating a sales process and systems that enable behaviors predictive of success, we gain a better result by means of superior engagement with the customer. If our sales process and systems stand in the way of better customer engagement, then we need to call it out and fix it.

Check the box

As any pilot will attest, having a checklist prior to takeoff assures that important steps are not forgotten. In sales, we often take shortcuts and sometimes this plays to our own disadvantage. For example, taking the time to define a high-value agenda (and pre-call plan), and communicating this prior to a meeting with the customer, is a best practice that contributes to a better result. But we don’t always do it.  When we do, we get a better result, and this is a box worth checking.

Creative expression and agility can also be differentiating in a sales pursuit.

And if we become too rigid or focused on checking the box, we potentially miss an opportunity to differentiate or align with the customer’s buying flow. Both elements are important to consider when updating the sales process. Think about how to empower great results by creating a process that is both dynamic and rigorous at the same time. One without the other is a miss.

Break down barriers

Discuss 3 questions with your back office leadership:

1) Does our sales process and system enable or burden our sales people and customers?
2) Do our systems and processes prompt our sales people to spend more face time with customers, or less?
3) Was this system engineered inside-out or outside-in, meaning with the customer in central focus?

Your answers to these questions are a good meter relative to whether or not change is warranted. It’s no secret that salespeople dislike administration, but there is also no denying the absolute need for good systems and process. The key is to be intentional about what to keep doing, stop doing, and start doing. In other words, protect the necessary elements of your administrative flow, but also be willing to challenge redundancy, bottlenecks, and over-engineered processes. Complexity after all is the silent killer of profitable growth.

The best sales leaders choose holy wars with great care. Working together with back office leadership to break down barriers faced by the sales team can be a worthy effort for all, including the customer. If your systems and processes are too heavy and complex, then ultimately it is a burden and risk to your achievement of growth targets.

Maximize High Yield Time with Customers and Salespeople

When building and updating your sales process and systems, think about how to optimize high yield interaction between selling teams and customers. The most successful sales systems and processes are those hard wired to light up best practices, quality of action, creativity, and skill in execution. Inspection of the status quo will never achieve great results. Inspect what you expect, while making sure that expectations are rich in behavioral elements that lead to greatness.

Think of it this way – it is a MUST to build a clearly defined sales process that drives excellence and accountability. It is a MISS to be an inspector of bad process, as inevitably bad process sucks the life out of real results.

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Building an Environment of Accountability https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/building-an-environment-of-accountability-in-your-sales-team/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/building-an-environment-of-accountability-in-your-sales-team/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 20:27:10 +0000 https://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14584

You can hope that every member of your team feels a sense of accountability and responsibility for their work, but “Hope is Not a Strategy” and ultimately, humans will always make their own choices. Because accountability is personal and isn’t something that can be forced, building an environment of accountability in your sales team is essentially beyond your control. What great sales leaders can do, however, is create an environment in which individual choices are aligned with corporate mission values. Here are some tactics for doing that: Clearly define your organization’s purpose and articulate it to everyone on the team...


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accountability in your sales team

You can hope that every member of your team feels a sense of accountability and responsibility for their work, but “Hope is Not a Strategy” and ultimately, humans will always make their own choices. Because accountability is personal and isn’t something that can be forced, building an environment of accountability in your sales team is essentially beyond your control.

What great sales leaders can do, however, is create an environment in which individual choices are aligned with corporate mission values. Here are some tactics for doing that:

Clearly define your organization’s purpose and articulate it to everyone on the team

Why does your organization exist? What do you do that leads your clients to choose to write you checks rather than your competitors? Of course, your corporate purpose can (and should) go beyond making money, but in our capitalistic society, validation for a business comes when someone raises a hand, says they find value in what you provide, and chooses to buy from you.

At The Brooks Group, for example, it is our purpose (or mission) to transform sales organizations for CEOs and leaders of the Sales, HR, and Learning functions so that it becomes easier for their customers to buy. When you establish a purpose that is in service of your customer, you can better communicate how each individual’s actions collectively contribute to the larger picture. If well-crafted, this statement gives clear direction to everyone in an organization about who they work for: your customer. In short, it helps drive a sales culture.

TIP: A great tool for creating a purpose statement is to complete the following sentence: We (what do you uniquely do?) for (the unique part of the marketplace that you serve) so that (what unique difference do you make?). Here’s an example for a manufacturer of safety equipment for the construction industry: “We build and distribute equipment that protects lives for contractors so that the people who build our world are always safe.”

Understand your purpose as a leader

As a leader, do your personal motivators drive you to fulfill your organization’s purpose? There’s a difference between knowing which decisions to make and actually making those decisions innately, not just because it’s your job, but also because doing so fulfills you. As is true with your individual team members, if you’re not doing what you’re driven to do, it will eventually lead to burnout.

Knowing what your purpose is, and whether it’s in line with the company’s purpose, is a prerequisite for leading others towards a sense of personal accountability.

TIP: A great way to determine your personal purpose is to consider what you do that causes you to completely lose track of time. What appears on your calendar that you truly look forward to? What’s on your schedule that you wouldn’t ever consider moving or missing? This is a good start to determining your professional purpose.

Seek to understand individual motivation and align it with your company’s purpose

Part of being a great leader is the ability to adapt to those you are leading, and learning what motivates the individuals on your team. It’s important to understand what every individual wants to accomplish, and – if it’s possible – work to align their personal goals and aspirations with the purpose you have articulated.

There certainly are traditional mechanisms to increase accountability (setting expectations, deadlines, incentives, etc.) but these blanket approaches must be tailored to individual team member needs. It’s a sales leader’s responsibility to understand the motivations as well as the limitations of the people on their team, and align those through a job description that includes an individual purpose along with the larger purpose statement. If there is not alignment between the two, you must coach or decide if someone is not the right fit.

When people are performing in roles they are naturally motivated for, a culture of accountability will flourish.

TIP: Host a meeting with your team and ask them, “Beyond earning a commission, why do you work here?”

Make sure individual and team decisions are aligned with established core values

You need to have a clearly defined set of core values to determine if everyone is operating towards the company purpose. These shouldn’t be written down and put on a shelf, nor should they become a giant policy manual. Instead, they ought to be a set of guideposts that clearly and simply indicate what’s appropriate in your organization (or on your team). They tell everyone whether they’re behaving in an acceptable way. In other words, they’re the spoken – or often unspoken – nonnegotiable rules by which successful people in any group operate. Whether values are written or not, when they’re violated, there are serious consequences, which can even be termination.

The healthiest organizations capture them, publish, share, and use them as boundaries that are well communicated.

It’s important that anyone on your team can look at value statements and say I “Always,” “Sometimes,” or “Rarely” do that. Here are a few examples:

  • Communication: “Maintains appropriate information flow up and down organization.”
  • Curiosity: “Acknowledges that, ‘I don’t have all of the answers.'”
  • Excellence: “Offers his/her best on all projects.”

It’s the sales leader’s responsibility to make sure followers understand the values of the company, where boundary lines lie, and how they will be held accountable to them.

TIP: Consider rating members of your team using these value statements, asking them to rate themselves, and using that as a basis of a one-to-one discussion about their personal organizational effectiveness.

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5 Things High Performing Sales Managers Should Be Doing https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/5-things-high-performing-sales-managers-should-be-doing/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/5-things-high-performing-sales-managers-should-be-doing/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 15:07:40 +0000 https://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14546

The sales manager plays a critical role in determining a sales organization’s success or lack thereof, and that pressure and responsibility requires a unique personality and the willingness to wear many hats. Leading a sales team to high performance levels isn’t a “one size fits all” task, as successful leadership in one company’s culture may not produce the same result in another. High performing sales managers are skilled in adapting their leadership style to fit the needs of their unique sales team. While this flexibility is key, there are 5 things that every great sales manager should be putting to...


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high performing sales managers

The sales manager plays a critical role in determining a sales organization’s success or lack thereof, and that pressure and responsibility requires a unique personality and the willingness to wear many hats. Leading a sales team to high performance levels isn’t a “one size fits all” task, as successful leadership in one company’s culture may not produce the same result in another.

High performing sales managers are skilled in adapting their leadership style to fit the needs of their unique sales team. While this flexibility is key, there are 5 things that every great sales manager should be putting to practice, regardless of the sales team they are leading.

5 Things High Performing Sales Managers Should Be Doing (And Doing Well)

1. Continuous Recruiting

The best sales managers never stop recruiting, even when their team is full. This constant vigilance for top talent happens both internally, with the ability to recognize future superstars, and externally with outside recruiting tactics. Without a full bench of potential recruits, sales managers run the risk of holding onto poor performers out of necessity, and are forced to scramble when they desperately need to fill a position.

Sales managers expect their reps to have a pool of well qualified prospects, and they, too, should have a pool of top talent that is continuously replenished. Lunches, coffee, and LinkedIn are great tools for establishing and maintaining connections, while taking notice of the existing talent in junior and inside sales are ways to build your bench from within. Recruiting is more than just an action, it’s the strategy for developing business into the future.

2. Leading with Passion

An all-star sales team is still reliant on direction, and that is why the sales manager must be a strong leader above all else. As the Commander in Chief, the leader of a sales team sets the tone for the culture, and a sales manager that leads with passion will inspire high performance.

Coaching and mentoring is crucial, but each sales team and each rep will be motivated differently. A strong sales manager will understand their people (TriMetrix® Coaching Reports are helpful here) and adapt their coaching style to drive the most effective sales culture for the organization. A sales team will look to their leader in both hard times and periods of success, so it is crucial that a sales manager models the ideal behavior and acts as a lighthouse, always present to guide their team in the right direction.

3. Developing Sales Strategy

The sales manager sits between senior leadership and the sales team, and must establish a high level of communication with both. While they spend most of their time managing down to their people, collaborating and building relationships with top leaders is crucial to setting company strategies and getting goals accomplished.

There must be a focus on internal alignment with all areas of the organization, but marketing especially. This means setting goals that are in line with the marketing strategy, and striking a balance between the short term and long term goals they have set for their team. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day administrative activities, but high performing sales managers are aware of when they need to step back and work on the business as opposed to working in it.

4. Developing Sales Tactics

Not only does the sales manager hold responsibility for the “big picture” sales strategy, they are in charge of the day-to-day, tactical side as well. What is the correct messaging reps should be delivering? What customer segment does the sales team need to be targeting?

Small steps lead to leaps made towards the goal, so top sales managers know they need to focus on the metrics that drive sales, and the activities that must be coached against in order to get there. Attention to tactical details and a strong focus around processes is key to tracking and improving performance.

5. Selling (And Knowing When to Step Back)

While selling may not take up the majority of a sales manager’s time, it is still something they should be contributing to. Whether it’s working with reps in the field or with strategic clients directly, the sales manager should maintain a presence and be visible to customers, standing in as the face of the company and positively representing the organization and its values.

Striking a balance between how involved a manager gets in every account is key, however. By intervening too often, managers run the risk of mis-positioning their reps, and creating a dependency for them to “close the deal.” It is important to get involved when necessary, but always as a coaching strategy and chance to improve a rep’s performance. Top sales managers don’t let themselves get caught up in what made them successful, but are instead rewarded by contributing to the success of others.

High performing sales managers have many roles to fill and a large amount of responsibility resting on their shoulders. Balancing those roles and responsibilities and adapting their leadership style in the most effective way is what separates the average performer from the best.

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How Senior Leadership Can Support the Sales Effort https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/how-senior-leadership-can-support-the-sales-effort/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/how-senior-leadership-can-support-the-sales-effort/#comments Wed, 12 Aug 2015 13:34:12 +0000 http://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14466

Organizations in which senior leadership publicly supports and sponsors the sales team typically have a healthy sales culture, and a healthy sales culture is what drives solid top-line results. Regardless of whether senior executives have a business development, operational or engineering bent, they need to foster a solid sales culture if they want the best sales results. The following ideas are ways any senior leader can get the sales team more engaged and empowered to be successful. 1. Annual sales meeting keynotes There’s no better place to motivate, empower and support the sales team than at an annual sales meeting....


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support the sales effort

Organizations in which senior leadership publicly supports and sponsors the sales team typically have a healthy sales culture, and a healthy sales culture is what drives solid top-line results.

Regardless of whether senior executives have a business development, operational or engineering bent, they need to foster a solid sales culture if they want the best sales results. The following ideas are ways any senior leader can get the sales team more engaged and empowered to be successful.

1. Annual sales meeting keynotes

There’s no better place to motivate, empower and support the sales team than at an annual sales meeting. When a CEO or president gives a keynote to the sales organization and commits to that team that senior leadership understands what sales faces and will provide them with resources to help them succeed, morale among the sales team will improve.

2. Publicly celebrate wins

Celebrating sales success via company-wide newsletters, company-wide emails or some other medium reinforces the value leaders place on the efforts of its salespeople. Further, this practice can create a sense of competitiveness among the sales team around who can get some time in the public spotlight, which is another win.

3. Host forums in which salespeople are asked for input

People want to feel heard, and your salespeople are no exception. By placing value on the marketplace intelligence sales can bring to the organization and actively seeking input from sales relative to new products, trends in the marketplace, competitive intelligence, etc., senior execs are saying “you’re important to us,” which will foster a higher level of engagement.

4. Create a culture of sales coaching

When salespeople see that managers are encouraged by senior leadership to invest in their people to help them get better, they come to believe that the organization genuinely cares about making them successful. Sales organizations in which front-line reps are armed to advance their careers are among the healthiest.

5. Invest in sales enablement in a very real way

Sales training, sales enablement technology and the development of an inbound lead methodology are all great examples of positive ways senior leadership can allocate budget to support sales. By investing in your sales team – and helping them to become more efficient and successful – you’re creating a win-win scenario in which you’ll realize more revenue and build employee loyalty.

While these are all viable ways of generating a healthy sales culture inside of your organization, one of the absolute best ways to improve your revenue generation is through a sales culture shift initiative.

This involves customized sales training, sales management training and the implementation of talent assessments as part of the selection process.

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Developing a Culture of Loyalty in Your Team https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/developing-a-culture-of-loyalty-in-your-team/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/developing-a-culture-of-loyalty-in-your-team/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:50:03 +0000 http://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14351

The culture that exists within an organization is as unique as a thumbprint, and once it has been established, it’s difficult to change. In order to develop a culture of loyalty within your sales team, you must create an environment in which people feel a sense of commitment to help the organization achieve its mission. Ultimately, the sense of commitment is founded in trust in the leadership and trust in the company to deliver on it promises. Loyalty must be extended both ways, and when the company operates in the best interest of its individual contributors, that sense of commitment...


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developing a culture of loyalty

The culture that exists within an organization is as unique as a thumbprint, and once it has been established, it’s difficult to change. In order to develop a culture of loyalty within your sales team, you must create an environment in which people feel a sense of commitment to help the organization achieve its mission. Ultimately, the sense of commitment is founded in trust in the leadership and trust in the company to deliver on it promises.

Loyalty must be extended both ways, and when the company operates in the best interest of its individual contributors, that sense of commitment and dedication will be reciprocated.

Here are 6 ideas to promote a culture of loyalty in your team:

Connect with Individual Sales Team Members

Leaders not only have to be familiar with their team as a unit, but they must also establish an emotional connection with each individual contributor in order to build a culture of loyalty. The larger the organization, the more challenging this is to accomplish, but it’s imperative that reps feel that they are valued on an individual level.

Create an environment that allows you to build personal relationships with each member of your team. When reps feel like they’re more than just a number and they’re confident that leaders have their best interest in mind, they’ll in turn grow loyal to you as a leader, and the organization as a whole.

Create a Rewarding Work Environment

To create an environment of commitment and dedication, start out by hiring people who are the right fit for your company and are aligned with the culture you want to develop. Use a combination of frank conversations and non-cognitive assessments to evaluate the intrinsic motivators and values of a candidate, and with those answers you can figure out whether someone will be truly passionate about what they’re doing. When you know what a member of your team values the most, you’re better equipped to create a work environment that is rewarding, and that in turn will result in a satisfied and loyal employee.

Invest in the personal and professional development of team members, and recognize that each individual defines success differently. Some team members will want to give the company 80 hours a week, while others will want to give you 40 hours of their best effort each week and volunteer 20 hours with a community organization. The key is to enable team members to achieve their own definition of success—as long as it is consistent with the culture you wish to establish and the mission of the organization.

Speaking of numbers, measure what matters. Your team will feel rewarded when leadership invests time in determining the right in-process measurements and end-process measurements.

Emphasize the Importance of the Team Effort

It’s easy to get caught up in individual contributions, but stress the importance of the collective effort to move towards the greater goals of the organization. Rally the team around the corporate mission and vision—whether that’s a sales target or another objective—and foster a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

The communication and behaviors of the leaders need to reinforce the necessity of individual efforts to move the team forward. However, they also need to reinforce that without the work of the entire team, the common goal will never be achieved. It takes more than one strong player to secure a win, and a culture of loyalty is built from a strong team unit, rather than a collection of strong individuals.

Recognize Individual AND Team Achievements

Allowing individual contributors ample opportunity to share in the success of the organization is key to instilling a culture of loyalty. Seize on any chance you get to reward the behaviors and actions that represent the kind of culture you want your team to embody.

Because ego comes into play in any position, leaders must strike a balance between recognizing achievements made by individuals, and the team as a whole. Knowing that their individual efforts will be not only acknowledged but wholeheartedly celebrated encourages team members to share their best strategies with the team, while keeping them motivated to excel personally.

Be Worthy of Loyalty

Leaders must proclaim their commitment to the welfare of the team members. The proclamation can and should take on the full spectrum of communications from the boardroom to town hall meetings and individual coaching sessions. Let’s not forget documents such as values statements, corporate objectives, strategic plans and annual plans.

Lastly, the leadership must model the behaviors expected of the entire team and demonstrate the highest levels of integrity.

Hold Managers Accountable

In large companies there may be several layers of supervision separating the leader from the individual contributor. To instill a culture of loyalty consistently throughout the entire organization, managers at every level must be held accountable to the highest standards of integrity and alignment with the corporate vision and mission. As representatives of the company and the leadership team there must be a top-down system of accountability in place and leaders must exemplify loyalty and integrity in everything they do.

If managers don’t follow through and execute within the framework of the company’s values and ideology, you can’t expect sales reps to adopt a culture of loyalty, either.

Sales Whitepaper IconFinding and Keeping Winners:
The Insider’s Secrets

  • The role of intelligence and personality in sales selection
  • Measuring positive expectancy
  • The key attribute for sales success
  • The correct balance of person and personality
  • 20 of the most essential characteristics of top sales performers
  • And more!
Whitepaper Download

 

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Shifting the Bell Curve: Turning B-Players into A-Players https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/shifting-the-bell-curve-turning-b-players-into-a-players/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/08/shifting-the-bell-curve-turning-b-players-into-a-players/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 15:05:28 +0000 http://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14285

Hyper Focus on Revenue, Good or Bad? I had an interesting conversation recently with a global VP of Sales who warned me that he was about to say something shocking. “I need for my team to stop being so revenue obsessed,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I still care about revenue and results. But our future demands that we think differently.” He went on to explain that in raising a generation of hunters, they have programmed a heavy focus on numbers, reports, and lagging results. Continuous movement within the competitive environment is challenging them to think and behave differently....


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turning b players into a players

Hyper Focus on Revenue, Good or Bad?

I had an interesting conversation recently with a global VP of Sales who warned me that he was about to say something shocking. “I need for my team to stop being so revenue obsessed,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, I still care about revenue and results. But our future demands that we think differently.”

He went on to explain that in raising a generation of hunters, they have programmed a heavy focus on numbers, reports, and lagging results. Continuous movement within the competitive environment is challenging them to think and behave differently. Quality of action is the new priority.

This line of thinking is not radical, but it can be transformational. Focusing on leading behaviors that impact lagging results is the new normal for sales organizations who want to achieve stretch results. Coaching B players to behave like A players until habits erupt creates a bell curve shift to the right.

What Is a Leading Behavior?

Consider it your secret sauce. It is the quality of action over the quantity of action. Being thoughtful and intentional regarding the handful of behaviors that trigger success (pipeline velocity, conversion, deal expansion) goes a long way. Once you create a clear picture of your sales process (in tight alignment with your customer’s buying process), there is an opportunity to identify triggers that differentiate you. For example, one sales team determined that by involving their customer to join in a test run activity during the Convince stage of the funnel, their conversion rate increased. So now they have adopted this best practice as a standard.

How Is a Leading Behavior Different from a Leading Metric?

Metrics are quantifiable. Behaviors can be specific, but also intangible. Both are important. Think about it this way: key actions lead to best practice behaviors that drive results. Identification and tracking of leading metrics provides an element of proof or evidence to gauge the strength of our position on the path to results. It is helpful to share this logic with our sales teams so they can see how their daily actions and behaviors drive the result.

Come up with a selective handful of high-gain actions that will get you lift and then coach relentlessly against those predictive levers. Start with just a few of the most critical triggers to really emphasize their importance, knowing that you can always add to the list in future quarters. Turn your attention to improving a B-player’s skill level in these areas in order to efficiently increase his or her overall performance.

Quality vs. Quantity

Both are important when it comes to actions and behaviors. Being intentional about the actions and behaviors that fill each day/week/month, has great potential to impact our results. Discipline and commitment to action is a good start, but it is the quality of action that gives us a big lift. One common error that sales teams make is to focus on quantity of action without enough regard to the quality of action. 50 calls per day, 10 appointments per week, 20 quotes per month…no doubt a commitment to action can impact the math at the end of each month. But when we as sales leaders coach to skills that reinforce quality behavior, the math explodes.

Transparency into Areas of Strength and Gap

No one is perfect, including our top performers. We all have areas where we excel and struggle, and self-awareness and visibility into these areas is the ticket to capitalizing on strengths and improving on weaknesses. In fact, we run the risk of becoming obsolete in the value we provide to customers if we do not constantly refine, reinvent, and improve. Gap areas present the opportunity to beg, borrow, and steal from the best—that includes those around us with good ideas, and best practices within the industry.

For example, veteran salespeople often assume too much because they “have seen it all”. Coaching questions that require customer validation prompts better action.

Block and Tackle Coaching

To reiterate the importance of turning your attention to leading indicators, specific concepts and skills can be used as bite-sized opportunities for real-world coaching. Focus on a key concept and have your sales rep incorporate it into a meeting with a customer. Then, close the coaching loop by conducting a debrief on what went well and what can be improved upon in the future. Make sure you resist evaluating the meeting as a whole and rather, zero in on the concept of focus.

In order for coaching to be effective, it’s necessary to create a safe space for reps to speak openly about what was successful and what wasn’t. In the spirit of application, get your reps to tell you stories after their meetings—for better or for worse—and make that a cultural habit.

Share Tribal knowledge Across Your Team

What often separates A-players from B-players on your team is the use of a few key strategies and tactics. Some of the best kept secrets play out every day among top performers, and unless you have created a culture of trust, loyalty, and collaboration within your sales organization those strategies will go unshared.

Sales leaders who draw out successful techniques for sharing across teams, gain affection and respect for adding real value and better results. Sales meetings are the ideal platform for sharing tribal knowledge. Meetings that are too structured risk losing the quality of shared conversation and brainstorming. Consider creating an agenda that fosters creative conversation while keeping a rhythm to the meeting. When salespeople feel committed to the team, appreciated, and safe to contribute, collaboration can occur and your B-players can adopt techniques that make you’re A-players so successful.

Sales Whitepaper IconFinding and Keeping Winners:
The Insider’s Secrets

  • The role of intelligence and personality in sales selection
  • Measuring positive expectancy
  • The key attribute for sales success
  • The correct balance of person and personality
  • 20 of the most essential characteristics of top sales performers
  • And more!
Whitepaper Download

 

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Reducing the Anxiety of Aggressive Sales Targets [Infographic] https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/reducing-the-anxiety-of-aggressive-sales-targets/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/reducing-the-anxiety-of-aggressive-sales-targets/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 12:53:19 +0000 http://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14250

You Want Me to Sell How Much? Getting buy-in from your sales team for an aggressive target isn’t about selling an idea to them, but rather leading them through an executable plan for achieving it. If you want your salespeople to face a challenging sales goal with confidence and momentum, you have to change their perspective on it. Here’s how to do that: Step 1: Chunk It – Break Down Intimidating Sales Goals into Manageable ‘Chunks’ Driving to Niagara Falls from North Carolina is a long drive (especially with a dog and two teenagers) and when first seeing the numbers…10...


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You Want Me to Sell How Much?

Getting buy-in from your sales team for an aggressive target isn’t about selling an idea to them, but rather leading them through an executable plan for achieving it. If you want your salespeople to face a challenging sales goal with confidence and momentum, you have to change their perspective on it.

Here’s how to do that:

Step 1: Chunk It – Break Down Intimidating Sales Goals into Manageable ‘Chunks’

Driving to Niagara Falls from North Carolina is a long drive (especially with a dog and two teenagers) and when first seeing the numbers…10 hours – 652 miles, you start to sweat. But, once you chart your milestones, Starbucks in Beckley, Lunch in Clarksburg, ice cream in Pittsburgh, another Starbucks in Erie, etc., it becomes less intimidating. Chunking it makes it easier to digest (along with all the snacks along the way).

When breaking down an aggressive sales target, first chunk it into two parts. Existing accounts and new accounts. Then break it down further – percentage of existing account sales that would likely come with little to no sales attention and the percentage of existing account sales that will require some heavier lifting. Then break down the new accounts into the percentage of new accounts with active opportunities today and the percentage of new accounts with no current opportunities. Chunked even further…what percentage of new accounts with no current opportunities will originate from marketing leads and/or old accounts and/or referral accounts and/or channel partners, etc.

For example, that $5,500,000 sales target broken down could look like this:

$3,500,000 Existing Maintenance Accounts
$500,000 New Product Sales from Existing Accounts
$350,000 New Accounts from Channel Partners
$300,000 New Accounts with Existing Opportunities
$250,000 Brand New Accounts from Marketing Leads
$500,000 New Opportunities from Old Accounts
$100,000 Brand New Accounts from Your Strategic Prospecting Prowess

The once daunting figure becomes less intimidating and reps feel a sense of, “alright, I can do that.”

Step 2: Create the Strategies and High Gain Activities to Meet Chunks (Achievable Objectives)

Once your salespeople see that scary target is actually quite doable, you can apply an average sale value to these numbers and identify the number of new ‘sales’ or ‘deals’ they need to close. Depending on the average length of your sales cycle and your win rates (conversion rates or close rates), you can then determine how many new, qualified opportunities will be required for each ‘chunk’.

This is where most sales leaders STOP.

But not you…from there, it’s time to create your actionable strategies for each of these now achievable objectives. Involve your salespeople in determining specific strategies that are executable through measurable high gain activities.

For example, to achieve $500,000 (this fiscal year) from new opportunities from old accounts, the salesperson will need to generate six qualified opportunities before Q3. One strategy could be to improve your positioning within these accounts by offering educational ‘lunch and learns’ to their engineering teams. A high gain activity: conduct two ‘lunch and learns’ per month for the next 6 months. This is specific, measurable, and actionable.

With high gain activities in place, we can now support and enable their execution. Without them, you have an impressive territory plan and a frustrated salesperson, but that’s it.

Step 3: Find “It’s working” Evidence and Celebrate the Progress

It’s not uncommon for sellers to reach a mental plateau, but you can help rebuild momentum by showing them that the small steps they are taking are resulting in progress. Highlighting these ‘small wins’ as early as possible boosts confidence in the plan and themselves. It will build momentum and keep them focused on those critical activities.

Remember just how impatient sale people can be. If they don’t see early payback for their efforts, they will revert back to older, less effective habits.

A Word on Excuses

It is very common for salespeople to provide endless excuses as to why they can’t achieve these aggressive sales targets. Acknowledge their concerns, but only if they are valid. Remind them that every company has challenges that become obstacles in achieving sales targets. Everyone has service problems, billing issues, and delivery nightmares. Ensure the focus remains on what we can do and not on what we cannot do.

So, while we continually look to remove obstacles and enable our team, it’s important for us to remember that our job as a sales leader is to lead our team to success in spite of all of those challenges.

aggressive sales targets

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Sales Performance Improvement: 3 Ways to Elevate Your Win Rate https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/sales-performance-improvement-3-ways-to-elevate-your-win-rate/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/sales-performance-improvement-3-ways-to-elevate-your-win-rate/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 19:48:24 +0000 http://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14092

Marketplace challenges have many sales teams struggling to meet performance goals, but even those teams that consider themselves healthy can stand to take their sales performance temperature every now and again. The first step in determining specifics around improving your sales team’s performance is to identify the metrics that are the most indicative of your team’s success or failure. Some of those might include revenue growth, profitability, new customer acquisition, market share, etc. Turnover in the sales department may also come into play here. What you decide to measure will vary depending on how your company goes to market and...


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Marketplace challenges have many sales teams struggling to meet performance goals, but even those teams that consider themselves healthy can stand to take their sales performance temperature every now and again.

The first step in determining specifics around improving your sales team’s performance is to identify the metrics that are the most indicative of your team’s success or failure. Some of those might include revenue growth, profitability, new customer acquisition, market share, etc. Turnover in the sales department may also come into play here.

What you decide to measure will vary depending on how your company goes to market and your unique corporate goals, but coming to a consensus at the executive level about key sales performance metrics must take place before you commit to any sort of performance improvement initiative.

3 Tips For Improving Your Sales Team’s Performance:

Get Real About the Quality of Your Current Sales Talent

You can’t expect the health of your sales organization to flourish if you don’t have a team of well-qualified sellers going to bat. Step back and objectively evaluate the talent you currently have and determine which struggling reps have the potential to be trained or coached to become top performers. When you have someone who is clearly unfit for the position, however, no amount of reinforcement will turn them into an A-player. Unfortunately, those are the people who can’t stay on your team.

You can avoid having to make the tough decision to terminate underperforming salespeople by hiring the right sales talent in the first place. Assessments can be used to predict a candidate’s performance capabilities as well as provide insight on the best ways to bring them up to speed and coach them once they’re there. Bottom line is, if you want the best, you have to hire the best.

Develop a Culture of Sales Coaching Excellence

If you have team members who need improvement, a targeted coaching plan can be beneficial in improving sales performance. Front line sales managers often fall into the trap of compensating for a rep’s poor performance (closing sales for them, avoiding tough conversations, etc.), rather than providing them the feedback, coaching and course-correction building a team of top performers requires.

Installing a culture of sales coaching excellence can be one of the most important steps in an overall sales performance improvement plan. Sales managers, just like salespeople, must be taught how to provide coaching to their team members. And, just as importantly as developing those skills is having senior leaders in place who reinforce the fact that coaching is the #1 responsibility of the sales manager.

Get the Customer’s Perspective

Regardless of what your organization sells, you are in the business of providing solutions.

In order to be perceived as a strategic partner in the eyes of your customers, you must ensure that you are in fact offering solutions for the problems they face. Each customer will define satisfaction differently, so make it a point to meet with your best clients to validate their perspective and see exactly what it is they like – and don’t like – about doing business with your salespeople.

The concerns and pain points that your top customers have are likely shared by many of the businesses in your market, so this information will provide insight as to what your prospects are looking for and how you can appeal to them specifically. Work towards sales performance improvement by viewing your salespeople’s performance through the eyes of your customers.

Once you have laid out a plan for improving sales performance, determine how you will execute on that plan in order to achieve the goals you have set for your organization. The action steps you decide to take will vary depending on your unique situation, but it is likely that a training initiative is necessary in order for performance growth to take place inside your organization.

The level of improvement your sales team will see is directly correlated to the amount of time and resources you are willing to invest. Keep in mind that a sales performance initiative requires ongoing executive sponsorship and a transformational shift in culture in order to be truly successful.

Sales Whitepaper IconFinding and Keeping Winners:
The Insider’s Secrets

  • The role of intelligence and personality in sales selection
  • Measuring positive expectancy
  • The key attribute for sales success
  • The correct balance of person and personality
  • 20 of the most essential characteristics of top sales performers
  • And more!
Whitepaper Download

 

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How to Create an Inspired Sales Culture https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/how-to-create-an-inspired-sales-culture/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/how-to-create-an-inspired-sales-culture/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 18:26:14 +0000 http://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14058

As I tell friends and acquaintances, there is nothing boring about my job. Getting to work with sales leaders for some of the biggest and most successful sales teams in the world brings plenty of action and adventure. Along the way, I’ve noticed that the best of the best managers and leaders do something that others do not—they inspire their teams. Creating a sales culture that inspires requires intentional and thoughtful culture building. And sales leaders that build inspiring cultures tend to focus on things that others ignore or miss. Here are a few questions to ask yourself on the path to building...


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inspired sales culture

As I tell friends and acquaintances, there is nothing boring about my job. Getting to work with sales leaders for some of the biggest and most successful sales teams in the world brings plenty of action and adventure. Along the way, I’ve noticed that the best of the best managers and leaders do something that others do not—they inspire their teams.

Creating a sales culture that inspires requires intentional and thoughtful culture building. And sales leaders that build inspiring cultures tend to focus on things that others ignore or miss.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself on the path to building an inspired sales culture:

Is My Sales Culture Inspired or Broken?

As a sales leader, are you the chicken or the egg? More specifically, do you allow sales culture to “happen” or do you create it with intentionality and purpose?

Sales culture is a bi-product of many factors: history, tradition, personalities, executive leadership, habits, performance, and market pressure, to name a few. Often it just happens—for better or for worse—but good sales leaders know that building a strong culture contributes to better results. Culture can be an enabler or a barrier to results that make or break our future.

Great leaders seek to inspire, and they build an infrastructure and culture with intention and purpose to accomplish superior results.

Do I think About Purpose?

According to Lisa Earl McCleod, “Money is actually, and there’s a lot of data on this, a good short-term motivator for some salespeople, but what we discovered when working with salespeople all around the globe … is that at a certain point, that ceases to be a primary motivator.”

When it comes to finding purpose, one size does not fit all. Understanding what drives and motivates the individuals on our teams and our customers provides great insight as to how we behave and why we make the decisions we do. As sales leaders, we want to first understand drivers and then clearly develop a mission and roadmap that connects to purpose.

Are We Accountable to the Right Triggers?

Are we driving our sales team toward activity, or results? Are we “inspecting” or “enabling”? Too many sales managers push for activity that doesn’t actually lead to top performance and sales results. Establishing a clear set of expectations is paramount to creating a high performing sales culture, and those expectations should drive visibility into leading behaviors. After all, it is the leading activity that drives the lagging results.

Too much attention on lagging indicators and tactical activity drives the wrong behaviors, and misses valuable growth opportunity. Think GPS vs. rear view mirror!

Do We Practice High-Yield Communication?

High-yield conversation is intentional.

Let’s face it, as human beings we assume too much and validate too little. An inspired sales culture must be built around clear, concise, honest and safe communication. The quality of the questions we ask (and the intention behind our questions) carries an opportunity for deep understanding of our team and our customers.

Aim to understand the real issues behind the issues. Elevating the quality of the questions you ask will prompt your team to provide answers that bring real insight into the customer, the account, and your people.

Do I Encourage Vulnerability?

We are human, and therefore most of us are not comfortable feeling vulnerable. Especially so in the company of our bosses. However, being vulnerable is the space where we grow, learn, develop and improve. Top performers and bottom performers benefit from being self-aware regarding areas of improvement and opportunity. Inspired sales cultures create a safe environment to expose what we don’t know.

Am I an Evangelist?

An inspired sales culture best takes root when the leader doubles as evangelist. Communication and repetition of a clear vision across a team and organization is not a lost effort. Your team benefits the most by you breaking down barriers that get in the way of selling, while pulling your organization along for the ride.

A great ride it is for those lucky enough to experience an inspired sales culture.

Sales Whitepaper IconHow To Align Sales and
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  • Tips for creating a culture of collaboration
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  • How to get non-salespeople finding more revenue opportunities than sales
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Leading and Managing Millennials https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/leading-and-managing-a-millennial-sales-team/ https://www.brooksgroup.com/free-sales-resources/sales-training-blog/2015/07/leading-and-managing-a-millennial-sales-team/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:20:09 +0000 http://www.brooksgroup.com/?p=14039

Millennials, the nearly 80 million young adults born between 1980 and 2000, will comprise nearly half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Exposure to constantly updated technology, unlimited access to information, instantaneous connection to peers, and hands-on parenting approaches are all chief influences that shape and define the generation as a whole. To effectively manage millennials, you must take into account the factors that set their generation apart from previous ones, while also working to understand the things that motivate and inspire each unique individual. 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Managing Millennials: Focus on Mentoring and Coaching Every...


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Millennials, the nearly 80 million young adults born between 1980 and 2000, will comprise nearly half of the U.S. workforce by 2020. Exposure to constantly updated technology, unlimited access to information, instantaneous connection to peers, and hands-on parenting approaches are all chief influences that shape and define the generation as a whole.

To effectively manage millennials, you must take into account the factors that set their generation apart from previous ones, while also working to understand the things that motivate and inspire each unique individual.

5 Things to Keep in Mind When Managing Millennials:

Focus on Mentoring and Coaching

Every salesperson you have will benefit from regular, well-executed coaching, but Millennials in particular will appreciate a guiding presence in the workplace. Belonging to a generation of hands-on parenting and close connection with peers gives this group the expectation for mentorship, and providing that opportunity will satisfy their need for advisement while developing their skills and job effectiveness.

Approach mentoring and coaching with the individual’s unique motivators and behaviors in mind. Identify their strengths, and work to improve their developmental areas. This time you set aside for guidance can be used as the framework for making an individual connection with them.

Provide Continuous Feedback

No other generation in history has had the immediate and far-reaching access to the opinion of others as Millennials have today. Social media has conditioned the new-era employee to solicit and expect feedback, as well as to value the concept of open communication.

Provide these salespeople with continuous feedback and transparency if you want your interactions to be meaningful. Communicate with them in an open fashion to which they are accustomed in order to make your message that much more influential.

Provide Flexibility Inside of Structure

A flexible work environment is appealing cross-generationally, but for Millennials, the ability to operate in a comfortable, adaptable setting is more necessity than benefit. It is important to offer opportunities for collaboration, as well as being open-minded to input they might have on projects.

Flexibility must occur within the confines of a structured framework in order to be successful, however. While they value freedom, Millennials also crave direction, so providing boundaries and parameters is crucial.

Communicate Purpose Behind the Job

Possibly the most acute difference that exists between Millennials and their preceding generation is the importance they place on meaningful work. They typically place less value on high levels of pay because what this emerging workforce is really after is a career that allows them to engage in work they find genuinely meaningful. In a study by Levit and Licina, when asked how important meaningful work was, 12 percent of managers said it was important versus 30 percent of Millennials.

Since this group looks for work that can be rewarding and enjoyable, it is crucial that you communicate their role in the company and the value that they bring. Acknowledge and encourage individual contributions so that they feel a real purpose behind the job they are doing.

Demonstrate an Appreciation of Diversity

Each year we are experiencing an increasingly diverse workplace that goes beyond racial implications. Diversity itself is becoming more diverse, and it is no longer relevant to identify individuals in terms of race, culture, gender, education, generation, etc.

Connecting with workers on an individual level has become more important now than ever before. A good leader will recognize that no two employees are the same and appreciate the value that comes in the full spectrum of diversity that exists in today’s workplace. It’s about adapting to the individual, harnessing their unique strengths, and bringing together a group of varying personalities into a cohesive, productive team.

Multiple generations always have, and always will have to coexist in the workplace—and there will always be differences between them. Long before people complained about hip-hop, they complained about Elvis, and that hesitancy to embrace change can create a negative tone to the conversation around managing Millennials.

A good leader will recognize the strengths that the new-era employee brings to the table, and harness their talents in the most effective ways possible.

Sales Whitepaper IconThe 10 Most Common Sales Management Mistakes

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  • End-process vs. in-process measurement
  • Where sales managers should spend most of their time
  • And more!
Whitepaper Download

 

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