SalesReformSchool

Today’s Lesson: What Stuck Most

A year ago, I had a full process-messaging-behavior engagement with a client that culminated with a full two-day workshop. They went on to have a terrific year. We are now rolling out an Account Growth process and met this week to introduce the idea in a quick team lunch meeting.   The team of account managers and sales executives is fully engaged – a credit to their management team.

Since I had them all in a room together, I asked during a pause:  Read More

Today’s Lesson: Beatus Aures

Over coffee last Friday a coaching client of mine told me about an RFP he was excited to answer. “It’s in our wheelhouse, but I have to go soon so I can get the answer out. It’s due today and they are making a decision Tuesday.”

I responded that I could see why he was so excited and asked him a few clarifying questions including:

  • Who are your competitors? Um, I don’t know.
  • Do they have a prior relationship with the prospect? Blank stare.
  • How many individuals and what are their roles do you know at the account? Just my one contact.
  • Have you asked to meet with all the decision-makers before agreeing to answer? No, she answered every question I had about the work they need.
  • If there are competitors, how can the prospect possibly make a decision in one business day? Mouth agape.

Read More

Today’s Lesson: Two Existential Questions

For today’s lesson we are going to explore two existential questions:

  1. Why does your company exist?
  2. Why should your ideal client want to talk to you?

Why does your company exist?

The answer to this question should scream at visitors to your web site and all pockets of social media. Every employee, not just salespeople, should be able to recite the answer in some form in every new interaction, whether in a meeting, at a trade show, cocktail party or barbecue.  For us sellers, this question cuts to the very heart of where to place your focus in your initial conversation with your prospects and key players. You’ll return to it as a qualifying tool later and possibly a negotiation tactic at the end of your sales process.

Yes, this is very similar to a mission statement. I worry, though, that the concept of mission statements too often gets lost in translation in actual conversations.

Why does my company SalesReformSchool(tm) exist? Read More

Today’s Lesson: Receiving Feedback

Constant improvement is one of my bedrock principles for starting SalesReformSchool 12+ years ago. Recently, however, I received written feedback from a post accusing me of not modeling Active Listening in my public discourse like I teach my clients. It knocked me back on my heels.   Had I slipped or not really improved?

I immediately became defensive in my head.

“You’re accusing me? How dare you.”

“Who are you to write that?”

“No way, can’t be right!”

“You’re just an internet troll.”

I trashed it. Then, I took a deep breath.

“What if he is right?”

Another deep breath.

“No, wrong question.

Assuming he’s right, what do I do about it?”

Whenever we receive criticism, personally or professionally, our natural inclination is to either get defensive or shut down. It’s the fight or flight instinct. If our goal, however, is constant improvement then take the leap of faith. AGREE with the criticism and consider what you should do to correct the suggested flaw. See, there’s no downside in accepting the criticism, as long as it’s in line with your values.

How might this work in sales?

If your sales manager says you are interrupting your prospects too much, don’t argue the point. Accept it. The next time you are speaking with a prospect, take an extra pause before speaking to check whether you are interrupting.

If your subject matter expert says you are not preparing them enough for a conference call or demo, resist thinking, “Geez, all I do is talk to you about what to say and not say.” Instead, ask them, “How do you think we should prepare together?” Then create a preparation process.

If a colleague hears you on the phone and offers the unsolicited advice, “Man, you talk SO much on your calls,” don’t sneer at them to mind their own business. Be grateful for the feedback and start listening to yourself in conversations with an internal clock. Maybe you ARE too verbose.

Me? I’m going to try hard to make sure I am listening to my own advice whether I need to or not: Acknowledge, Clarify and Recap. And to improve even more I’d like to take Aaron Burr’s advice from the musical Hamilton: Talk Less, Smile More.

SalesReformSchool: Food for Thought

Sticking with the same theme of continuous improvement – I learned how to perform a meeting retrospective from a fabulous facilitation course I took from Leadership Strategies, Inc. At the end of each workshop or day within a workshop, I ask the participants to list out all the things they liked about the day we spent together. They can list anything ranging from that day’s content and processes to the lunch menu.  These are the ‘Plusses” or “+s.” I also ask for any gaps or things they didn’t like, appreciate, or understand or even agree with about the day or the day’s lessons. Everything is fair game.

These are the “Deltas” or “Δs”. Sure, it’s a little “Meet the Fokker’s-ish” to call them deltas rather than minuses, but the theme is improvement, and I can’t improve if I don’t know the gaps or deltas. Then I go around the room listing and listening to what everyone noted under + and Δ columns on a board for all to see. The rules for me: Document and seek clarification, but resist discussing or defending. I complete the process by reviewing the board, especially the Δ column, to see what I need to fix or improve. Please note though, that I am rarely responsible for the lunch menu.

My agile software development tools client tells me this is in line with the “Agile Sprint Retrospective.” I like that. Here’s an example from a workshop this month –

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SalesReformSchool: Extracurricular

“We are not working together as a team!” If you’ve received this criticism and are in the Atlanta metropolitan area, try an escape room at BRAINSTORM ESCAPEGAMES. These games are a fun way to check whether your team is listening to each other and collaborating towards common goals. I’ve secured the promo code SALESREFORMSCHOOL for you to get 20% off.

Good Selling!

Adam signature

P.S.   Did you like this post? Any comments you’d like to share?  Please post a comment below or  email me.  Also, please consider sharing this post!

Through SalesReformSchool, I am available to you for Sales Process Design, Sales Messaging Creation, On-boarding/In-boarding Sales Team Workshops, Keynote Addresses, Facilitation, Group or One-on-One Coaching, Pipeline Reviews and other Sales Management Consulting.

Today’s Lesson: Are You Good at Rapport? Are you Sure?

Many of us salespeople have a dirty secret. We hate building rapport especially with prospects or even just people we don’t really know well. Sure, we are expected to be the life the party and the meeting, the easy-going back-slapper flush with funny stories and anecdotes – the classic extrovert – able to make friends with everyone we meet.

Uh, please, don’t make me.

If this strikes a familiar chord with you it’s probably because you – like me – got into sales because we both enjoy solving problems and making people happy; and we truly believe in our offerings so we want to share them with the world. Selfishly, the thrill of the chase and the financial aspects can be real sweet, too.

But the cocktail party, networking, pre-meeting jibber-jabber – ugh. One client of mine told me he didn’t want to ever be “that guy… you know the guy in the plaid jacket.”

Me, neither.

Often, I dread having to build rapport, I am not great at it and feel it too dangerous when meeting people for the first time. Reflectively, this may be more about me than anything. I know I am an observer and a student at heart. With age, I realize I have a big mouth and not a big filter. A potentially career-limiting lethal combination.

I now have a standard piece of advice for “plaid-jacket-avoiders”, which I’ll reveal later.

My realization that I’m not great at rapport and that it’s too dangerous happened on an initial sales call in Kingsport, TN. I had driven up alone from Atlanta to see a new prospect and talk about his interest in our technology.

My prospect greeted me warmly with an easy-going smile at the reception area of his office building and immediately apologized. His usual conference room was booked, so we were going to have to meet in his office. His apology seemed weird. Why would I care? It was just the two of us getting together. I wanted to understand his business more so we could figure out if there was a fit between his challenges and my offerings. No big deal being in an office instead of a conference room.

I figured it out immediately upon entering his cramped eight foot by maybe 12 foot office. It was stuffed with all things golf. A Masters flag in the corner. Old clubs against the wall. Putters leaning against the desk. A bookshelf full of golf balls through the ages. Golf magazines, posters, signed memorabilia. An impressive array of golf stuff.

I, however, am not a golfer. It’s just not my game. Yet, before we even sat down, while I was clearing scorecards off my chair, I asked,

“So, you like golf?”

All energy drained from his face. His shoulders sagged. He sighed heavily. I’ll never forget his response. It’s why, to this day, I avoid being the one opening up with rapport building with someone I really don’t know. I let them go first.

“My SOB father-in-law died a couple months ago and my wife made me bring all his golf crap to the office.”

Whoops!!! Well, I guess I shouldn’t have gone there!! All energy drained from our conversation. We had our meeting. I wasn’t at my best; he was distracted. I got in my car and drove home. It may have been my worst sales call. A waste of a day.

Yes, his father-in-law’s stuff was the proverbial elephant in the room. But why did I have to be the one to bring it up? I should have let him lead the rapport part of the meeting. He likely would have apologized again, this time for the décor. I would have merely responded, “That’s okay.” And gotten down to business unless he brought something else up like the weather or the drive up or where I am from (usually something like: You don’t sound like you are from Atlanta or the south?).

What should I have done? Here’s my advice about rapport that I should have heeded and that I tell anyone not wanting to be “that guy in the plaid jacket.”

When you think the situation is going to demand rapport-building, especially when talking with someone you don’t know well, imagine yourself one step back over the shoulder of your audience in the conversation. Do not pass them. Do not play “who can top this?” like a 14-year old boy. Let them open.

If they open with comments or questions about the weather, give them the weather, but don’t pass them with comments about sports. Stay behind them. If they mention something about your background, go with it, but don’t then dig into their background unless they offer. Be pleasant, but during rapport, let them lead. It’s okay to be “Ginger” to his or her’s “Fred.”ginger-rogers-and-fred-astaire-dancing-the-e2809ccariocae2809d-in-flying-down-to-rio-1933

But…But…

  1. “But, I’m great at rapport.” Are you sure? Have your managers, mentors, friends and loved ones told you so? Unless you are 100% confident, please consider heeding my advice. You might go somewhere you shouldn’t.
  2. “But, I thought I am supposed to control the sales process.” While that is true, rapport is not a sales process step. I often say that sales process and preparation is about ratcheting up your probability of success. Screw up rapport and you risk decreasing your chances of a good outcome. By controlling yourself, aren’t you controlling the process?

So, consider what I imagine a director once said to Ginger Rogers, “It’s okay, we know you are truly the one in charge, just remember, one step back and over the shoulder.”

SalesReformSchool: Food for Thought

A lot of us procrastinate. We struggle to stay focused on the task at hand. Why do today what I can put off and to tomorrow? I struggle with this. The work for me often conforms to the time it’s needed. Give me a deadline too far away and I struggle with focus. I’d love to be the type of person who can get stuff out of the way now, so I can play later, instead of vice-versa.

To overcome procrastination – or laziness as some might call it – I try hard to break a large project into smaller do-able chunks. I mull over my morning coffee at least one thing I want to accomplish that day, one chunk, unless my schedule is already full. This Quora post on a one-minute life hack goes a few steps further.  Today’s chunk was this post. I have a couple other chunks today as well. How do you fight procrastination?

SalesReformSchool: Extracurricular

Sure, we know about the four food groups. What about the four drink groups? For me, my Mount Rushmore of drinks is coffee, water, wine, and well, if pressed for a fourth, spirits. Water is either flat or “with gas” as they say abroad. And my favorite is LaCroix. For spirits, I’m mostly a gin or vodka guy. So, I am thrilled to explore this list.

Good Selling!

Adam signature

P.S.   Did you like this post? Any comments you’d like to share?  Please post a comment below or  email me.  Also, please consider sharing this post!

Through SalesReformSchool, I am available to you for Sales Process Design, Sales Messaging Creation, On-boarding/In-boarding Sales Team Workshops, Keynote Addresses, Facilitation, Group or One-on-One Coaching, Pipeline Reviews and other Sales Management Consulting.

Today’s Lesson: The Implementation Story

impl-plan-image

Many of you are trying to close deals with your prospects this week and next to finish the year or quarter on a high note. So, I have a question: Have you included an implementation plan discussion as part of your buyer’s evaluation of your company and its offerings?

I learned years ago from Michael Bosworth’s CustomerCentric Selling that sellers lose to No Decision, Inc. or an actual competitor because the buyer doesn’t embrace at least one of the following stories: Usage, Value or Implementation.

Many sellers have now been trained to show buyers how to use their offerings and the value of that usage – think ROI calculations and Cost v. Benefit tables. But, what about the implementation story?

When the buying organization feels unsure in their (and your) ability to deliver or only have a vague notion of how to achieve success, your opportunity is at risk. Often, your buyers will hide this squishiness out of embarrassment or mistrust. In their minds and possibly in their internal meetings, they may be saying,

“I understand what this is, I understand it’s value,

I just don’t understand how WE can get there.”

So, they decide to do nothing or worse, go with a competitor who has gained agreement on the implementation plan, even if only at high non-detailed level.

What can you do NOW if you find yourself wondering whether your buyers understand the implementation story?

Try the following.

Look at your current open opportunities and ask these five questions:

  1. Have I shared a customer implementation success story?
  1. Do my buyers know how THEY are going to get from their current situation – where they are now without you and missing out – to successfully reaping the benefits of my stuff?
  1. Have I worked with the buyer’s implementers to outline and gain agreement on expectations and processes for both sides for their implementation?
  1. Are questions #2 and #3 documented, shared and agreed to?
  1. Do the main influencers and implementers believe all of the above?

If you have five “Yes” answers, good for you! If you don’t, and your buyer hasn’t told you they are ready to buy, perhaps you need to request a conversation to focus on the implementation.

And by the way, you should also consider the implementation discussion a potential disqualifying tool: If you don’t have five “Yes” answers, AND they haven’t given you a solid verbal buying signal, AND they don’t feel a need to have an implementation conversation, it’s time to question whether you will ever close the opportunity.

Agree?

SalesReformSchool Food for Thought

Before ultralight weight laptops and notes apps that seamlessly flowed through all my digital devices, I took notes in internal and sales meetings on yellow legal pads. Spiral notebooks or even fancy paper-based notebooks never worked for me because I’m left-handed.

Then, a few years ago I switched to digital note-taking either on my iphone or laptop for utility – my handwriting is awful and I didn’t like having to type my notes up for emails, CRM or otherwise. I did, however, feel at times that something was lacking or missing in my notes and understanding.   I also recognized that using an electronic device while in person on sales calls was much colder and impersonal than pen and paper. Was I hurting rapport (already a worry for me for other reasons)?

After reading this article and this one, I’ve returned to taking handwritten notes for in person meetings. It’s been a couple months now, and although I can’t measure the difference, I do feel my interactions are richer. Also, by slowing down and having to type up my handwritten notes, I have a better understanding of my conversations. Think about it.

What do you think?  Type or Write?

SalesReformSchool Extracurricular

Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Festivus or just a winter break – whatever your fancy, you are likely going to get together with friends or family soon. What are you going to do? How about a game? I have a friend – you know who you are – who says he can’t be friends with someone who won’t play. A little drastic for me, but I get it. Tons of fun. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you may be embarrassed, but all in good fun.

Happy Holidays and Good Selling!

P.S.  I’ve had some interest lately in providing keynote addresses for year-end or new year kickoff programs based on some of the things I’ve written you about. Email or call me if you want more information.

P.P.S. Did you like this email? Any comments you’d like to share?  Please post a reply or  email me and consider sharing this post!

Through SalesReformSchool, I am available to you for Sales Process Design, Sales Messaging Creation, On-boarding/In-boarding Sales Team Workshops, Keynote Addresses, Facilitation, Group or One-on-One Coaching, Pipeline Reviews and other Sales Management Consulting.

Today’s Lesson: Start bcc’ing

bcc

Most sales managers I know have the best intentions. They don’t want to manage their reps, they want to coach them to achieve greatness – or at least quota. Many of them, though, struggle with where to start. The comfortable beginning is, “do what I did.” Soon, they realize, that doesn’t work. So, I get asked, “What can I do RIGHT NOW to make a difference?”

For these managers, here’s my response. I ask two simple questions regarding email:

  1. Are your reps sending out recap emails of their interactions?
  2. Are you reviewing your reps outbound emails on all forecasted or about to be forecasted opportunities?

If the answer isn’t 100% “Yes” to both questions for at least all reps who are below quota, then I suggest the following –

Set the sales team culture as one of support and coaching. Get buy-in on this. As a manifestation of those cultural values, require that your reps “bcc” you on all meaningful prospect and customer correspondence so you can figure out what is going on with their conversations and opportunities. Only then will you be able to “attaboy” or “attagirl” the good and coach the gaps.

The recap email is the artifact of any meaningful conversation. It should follow a simple format:

  1. What was the goal or purpose of the call?
  2. What is the current situation, with data points?
  3. What capabilities or proof or documentation does the prospect need to move to the next step in the buy-sell process?
  4. What’s the value of the above to them?
  5. How does the above fit into the buying process? Next steps?

If a sales manager is not getting bcc’d – or if correspondence is not automatically going into the CRM system, how does she know what was discussed on the last sales call? How does she know if the rep forgot to ask about a key data point or timing or a key player’s role? How does she know on what process step, messaging tool or script, or behavior to focus her coaching?

One last thing, I like bcc, regardless of whether the emails go into the CRM. I have found the reps prepare better and are more focused during the conversations and pay more attention to detail while writing if they know they are going to be bcc’ing their manager.

Try it, let me know how it goes.

SalesReformSchool Food for Thought

strunkwhiteWhat if you are worried that your sales team while good at selling is awful at writing? You’re not alone. I have two recommendations: 1) Share this essay on why writing skills are so important and 2) Buy this little book for everyone on your team.

 

 

 

SalesReformSchool Extracurricular

Winter is coming. No, really. This is not a fanboy plot to get you to watch Game of Thrones, although I do recommend it. With winter comes colder nights curled up with… Netflix.

Am I wrong?

This list is a fantastic compilation of old and new, artsy and mainstream. Really, something for everyone. How many have you seen?

Me? 41.  Don’t judge.

That’s all for today.

Good Selling (and watching)!

P.S.  I’ve had some interest lately in providing keynote addresses for year-end or new year kickoff programs based on some of the things I’ve written you about. Email or call me if you want more information.

P.P.S. Did you like this email? Any comments you’d like to share?  Please post a reply or  email me and consider sharing this post!

Through SalesReformSchool, I am available to you for Sales Process Design, Sales Messaging Creation, On-boarding/In-boarding Sales Team Workshops, Keynote Addresses, Facilitation, Group or One-on-One Coaching, Pipeline Reviews and other Sales Management Consulting.

 

pause-button

Professionally, many of you are looking at your calendars and realizing that you only have six weeks or so left in the year and you are making your calls to try and close deals, or even create deals now to close by year end. Personally, you may have been involved in some passionate discussions tied to a recent election.

Can we all just take a P A U S E ?

Here’s why. Previously, we’ve described Active Listening as a behavior that honors your conversation partner’s needs. But, there’s another behavior equally important to creating a helpful, respectful environment for your personal and professional conversations: The Pause.

The Pause gives the other person a chance to enter the conversation. It lets them fill in the gaps with information they think is important. It honors their role in the conversation, the dialogue.

All too often in sales conversations we work from a selfish agenda rather than an interest in enlightenment. Here are two examples where you need to P A U S E:

1) While telling stories and positioning you company and offerings.

Your company has done a great job equipping you with conversational success stories. You’ve memorized one in particular and rehearsed so you’re crisp on the phone while talking to that dream key player.   So, after you deliver it, you thought you hit the bulls-eye but are not sure. Why not? Because you didn’t take a moment within the telling of the story to see if they were with you. You didn’t ever pause.

Pregnant Stomach.jpg  Comedians and dramatic actors call it the “pregnant pause,” a couple moments that seem like forever to either build up suspense or to let the audience gather in what just happened.

When should you consciously pause or pause “pregnantly” while telling a story or in conversation? How about at least at every period in your part of the conversation?

But why? Like the performer, you want to let the point of the previous sentence sink in, but also you need to check-in with your prospect – And they will confirm the check-in consciously and unconsciously. It gives them the space to consciously add comments to the story such as “Oh yeah, I hate when that happens?” or “Wow, that sounds like our situation,” giving you follow up items.

And during the pause, you the seller must PAY ATTENTION! Prospects will give you unconscious cues that you are hitting the mark by groaning or sighing out loud during the space the pause creates. Follow up with a question about that groan or sigh. There’s valuable information there.

Selfishly, the pause is also one of the best tools for getting information about your prospect or the opportunity. People hate silence in a conversation and rush to fill it. What do they fill it with? They fill it with either assent or dissent plus additional information. All of which is good for a seller.

So the pause ensures alignment and gives the seller additional information which they otherwise may not have discovered.

2) Another place in the sales process for the P A U S E is while asking diagnostic or clarification questions.

Have you ever heard a seller ask the double or triple question without giving the prospect a chance to answer?

Seller, speed talking, asks: So, why is that? (Without taking a wisp of breath adds) Is it this or is it that?

These sellers feel they know that there are only a few possible answers to their question, they feel they’ve studied their market and heard it all before so they want to make it multiple choice rather than a fill in the blank quiz for the buyer. But it’s not a quiz, and that’s the point. Buyers don’t want to feel interrogated; they want to feel respect, like the seller is truly interested in learning their particular situation and will treat them as unique rather than an item on a sales forecast.not-a-quizAnd there’s always the possibility the prospect has a third answer which you have not furnished, and she is annoyed. Think about this – which conversation would you rather be in? One where the seller seems genuinely interested in learning or one where they seem to have it all figured out and just want you to go through a checklist.

 

In Stephen Covey’s landmark book Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, Habit Five is “Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood.” By asking the double or triple question without pausing to give the buyer a chance to answer you don’t seem interested in understanding, rather you seem interested in fitting the buyer into your agenda. So, let’s add this habit of pausing to your behaviors so you can truly work to understand first and become an even more successful in sales.

Covey’s fifth habit was not only to be implemented in your professional life, but personally too. We get a good chance to practice this week with Thanksgiving upon us. You may have heard that there was a rather contentious election here in the United States recently. It’s possible that there will be conflicting views around your holiday table. When making a point or asking for clarification on someone else’s position, please consider the P A U S E. You may achieve greater understanding and respect in your relationship. Happy Thanksgiving.

SalesReformSchool Food for Thought

Seven Habits of Highly Successful People debuted in 1989.  I was somewhat late to the self help genre and did not read it until nine years later, I think.  I do know that it was life-changing.  I’m a better father, friend, husband, seller and business person because of it.  It’s that good.  Although, I constantly remind myself I have a ways to go.  My suggestion: Keep Improvin’ and Buy this book!

SalesReformSchool Extracurricular

fitbitcharge  I didn’t think I’d ever become an activity wristband wearer.  But after cousins gave me a FitBit Charge for my birthday.  I thought I would try it out.  In short, I like it a lot. I like that just looking at it after a day of inactivity is motivation to get off my butt.  I like that it shows who is calling when my iPhone rings.  And I get a moment of happiness when I see it celebrating my 10,000th step.  What’s not to like about that!

That’s all for today.

Good Selling (and eating)!

P.S. Did you like this email? Any comments you’d like to share?  Please post a reply at SalesReformSchool or  email me and consider sharing this post!

Through SalesReformSchool, I am available to you for Sales Process Design, Sales Messaging Creation, On-boarding/In-boarding Sales Team Workshops, Keynote Addresses, Facilitation, Group or One-on-One Coaching, Pipeline Reviews and other Sales Management Consulting.

 

KiteDesk Goes to School

Sean Burke, CEO of my client KiteDesk, wrote this blog post   – about our work together. If you sell to other businesses and need new customers, get to know Kitedesk and tell them I sent you. KD

What’s your Dirty Dozen?

(reposting on request)

Here’s a frequent conversation I have with friends, colleagues, prospects, clients:

FRIEND: How do you get your clients?

ME: It’s a lot of conversations like this one.

FRIEND quizzical look on his face: What do you mean?

ME: Well, when I talk to people about what I do for a living, it’s my opening to inform them about my Dirty Dozen.

FRIEND: Your what?

ME: In any business, but especially Business to Business sales, the issues a company helps others overcome can be thought of as the more-than-annoying issues that your clients face every day or at least should worry about every day. If they don’t deal with them, they fester and can damage the whole enterprise. These pests remind me of the rag-tag delinquents and convicts Lee Marvin whipped into shape in the movie of the same name.

If everyone I know, knows the issues or concerns that my clients have that I help them address and overcome, then they become my advertising and marketing team. If they experience any of my Dirty Dozen or know of someone else who is, it’s my goal that they remember to think of me. If I just talk about my features or my “stuff” then I am leaving it up to my audience to figure out when they or one of their contacts would need what I have to offer.dirtydozen

FRIEND: So, what’s your “Dirty Dozen”?

ME: well, I’m not about to go into a solilloquy, instead I rattle off a few of the below concerns sales and marketing execs face –

  1. No process for ensuring that sellers are putting out the same message in sales conversations as the executive team is creating on a higher level – that is, marketing and sales are not integrated.
  2. Prospects attempt to treat what they sell as a commodity
  3. Sales cycles inexplicably long and expensive
  4. Salespeople find themselves having to unseat an incumbent’s product or service
  5. Maintaining the ‘status quo” one of their primary competitors
  6. It takes too long for new hires to make their first sale or management wants to insure a quicker time to first sale.
  7. Salespeople too often “Wing-it” and rely on the product too early in the sales cycle, instead of having well thought out conversations with the buyers about goals, objectives, challenges and needs
  8. The decision to purchase has to be approved by ‘multiple executives’ who have diverse business issues and who are typically risk averse
  9. Prospects require your product or service to demonstrate a quick and clear cost-versus-benefit analysis even to be considered
  10. What they sell requires a major change in thinking by your prospect
  11. The team is composed of veterans who each bring to the job their own way of selling with no unified dictionary of terms and processes or less seasoned folks with no process at all; It is hard to provide skill and opportunity coaching with everyone doing their own thing.
  12. Within the sales team, there is not a process for sharing information on opportunities

See, in any company, if you are a marketer, it’s your job to condition the market to think of your company when a particular goal, issue or concern arises. For me, my customer’s goal is usually to improve sales performance, but that is too general and broad. My Dirty Dozen, I hope, addresses everyday issues that trouble CEOs and their leadership teams. When they do, I want folks to think of me. By the way, many smart execs tell me that they want a corporate culture where EVERYONE wants to be at least helping drive sales and revenue. Loading up employees with the Dirty Dozen is a good first step.

FRIEND: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense, but I am in sales; finding new prospects, that’s marketing’s job, you just said so.

ME: If you don’t hit your sales number, does your boss want to hear that marketing is not doing it’s job? Ultimately, your pipeline is your responsibility. Also, don’t your shortest sales cycles come from referrals!? They do for me. Arming your contacts with YOUR company’s DIRTY DOZEN will start the referral engine. Sorry for the mixed metaphor. Ms. Kelly – my High School English teacher would not be pleased.

Soooo, what is YOUR Dirty Dozen?

Personally, I am not one to thrust what I do for a living onto others. That’s just me, I am not comfortable doing that. I try not to force rapport. For me, rapport doesn’t work and can be a negative unless I have gained some amount of trust. And as I have said before, I agree with Covey that trust = sincerity + competence.

When asked, however, “So, what do you do for a living?” or specifically about my business, like above, I want to make sure I am prepared. Consider this: At a trade show, cocktail party, kid’s soccer tournament, if you or ANYONE in your company is asked “what you do for a living or what does your company do?”, can you answer in a way that could eventually generate a referral? Or would the listener have to figure out for themselves, when they would need it, whatever it is?

Your Dirty Dozen can be your best weapon to boost your pipeline!