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Elements…

A LinkedIn connection of mine (the Global Business Unit Leader of a multinational company – meaning he’s higher up the corporate food chain than me) liked a LinkedIn article.  That was influence enough to catch my attention.  (I like hangin’ with the higher ups; read what they read; don’t you?)

The article was posted by a Vistage Chair.  Vistage is another organization that has great influence with me because of their renowned work with business owners.

The content was slightly dated (2017); and admittedly, the title of the article was suspicious, “The Greatest Sales Pitch I’ve Seen All Year”.  I mean, how many times do we read bold claims only to be disappointed when we get past the headline?  Nonetheless, I pressed on…

In the article, Dave Gerhardt laid out 5 Elements of a compelling, strategic story in a specific sequence.  I liked the premise – a “step by step” approach.  Simple, clear, concise – exactly the qualities I believe Buyers prefer, but don’t usually receive.  Sales & marketing people continuously complicate things (in my opinion).  I got to element 3.

Element 1: Acknowledge (and then attack) the status quo most Buyers have, and most Sellers cannot overcome.  This totally aligns with my experience and opinions about why Buyers don’t buy.

Element 2: Suggest “name the enemy”.  I liked that technique too.  Buyers want a simple answer to their question, “Why should I buy?”  Most Sellers struggle to avoid offering an overly complicated answer.

Then came Element 3: Tease the prospect.  Houston, we have a problem… and just when I thought I was about to learn “the greatest sales pitch”…

The article’s premise was Buyers want to simply have a (simple) business conversation on why they should buy.  The author’s proposed solution?  An always-on chat bot connected to real-time email(s) and the ability to schedule a product demo via access to the Seller’s calendar.  So, once you have captured the Buyer’s interest (similar to the way my interest was captured as outlined above); you hit ‘em with artificial intelligence and email automation?  Ouch!

Look, I know it ain’t easy out there.  But I really do believe Buyers want to have simple, effective conversations on how they can improve their business situation, whatever the product or service in question is.  Putting yourself in their position, wouldn’t you want such a straight forward conversation if you were buying from you?

Permit me to propose an alternative “3 Elements”.  In my arena, I believe every Buyer has 3 fundamental questions – sequenced exactly as listed below (there’s that “step-by-step” approach); that the successful Seller must address.

Element 1: “How would I know if I needed a new system?”  Most Buyers don’t.  As a Seller, I’m not in the business of convincing the unwilling.  If they don’t believe they need a new system, say “Thank you” and move on.

Element 2: “If I do, can it wait?”  It usually can.  It’s OK if we follow their time-table.  I’m going to have quota next month and next year.  When Sellers “press”, Buyers usually retreat to “No Decision”; but not until forcing us to play that dreaded game, “the looooong looooose”!

Element 3: “How will I pay for it?” An objective, financial justification will be made.  The only question is whether the Seller has earned a “seat at the table” to participate in the Buyer’s calculations.

It’s not “the greatest sales pitch of the year”; but if you think about it, it might just be closer to how Buyers actually buy.

GAP

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Unstoppable…

Peter Drucker, famous management consultant is credited with positing:

Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA Dallas Mavericks once explained the origin of his competitive fire:

There are two types of owners; those who want to win, and those who can’t stand to lose.

Mark Cuban can’t stand to lose.

If we believe in the importance of company culture that begs the question, “How is it created”?  Charismatic leaders might be credited, but after setting the direction employees must become the engine to power the progress.

In the best cultures I’ve worked in or witnessed, leaders become followers and followers become leaders.  I know the military adheres to a strict code of tops down command, but business is not war.  Servant Leadership was once revered.  I don’t know if it still is.

I enjoyed this article shared by a friend and former VP of mine; Startup Success: Why You Should Hire Unstoppable People.  “Unstoppable”, I like the sound of that.  The author suggests most companies focus on job related skills when hiring people even if they claim a people-first culture.  How are things done at your company?

If you want to be unstoppable, you have to hire people who are unstoppable. 

Steve Rowland

In my personal, professional experience leading companies have hired ordinary people and led them in a way that they achieved extraordinary results.  I’ve written about the honor to be a member of DFoA  Among the vast supply of seemingly ordinary people exist many that are unstoppable.  How do we find them?  How do we lead them?

Steve Rowland offers us his “recipe” starting with what every employee should have and then extending to the extraordinary level; the unstoppable level:

Core Traits

Collaborative: Our best candidates work well with others inside and outside of their function and take into account the perspectives of all of the stakeholders involved in any problem.

Integrity: These candidates also show consistency with our company’s principles, values and behaviors. They have the courage to do what is right for the customer, the company and the team.

Accountable: They should set the bar high for themselves and take full ownership of their commitments, whether or not they’re able to deliver on them.

Unstoppable Traits

Humble: They should be authentic and selfless, and know their own strengths and weaknesses. They should also be able to effectively relay their own perspective while remaining open to the feedback and perspectives of others.

Creative: We want all of our employees to create unique visions, explore possibilities and develop outcomes that others may not see.

Adaptable: Unstoppable candidates can absorb, navigate, adapt and successfully execute in a dynamic and evolving customer, company and market environment.

Curious: These employees should continuously seek to learn about our technology, customers and the broader industry, and demonstrate pragmatic intelligence and an unwavering desire for self-improvement.

Driven: The best candidates also proactively deliver with energy and quality. We expect these candidates to push through adversity with a positive attitude, focusing on what can be done instead of what cannot.

Challenger: Great hires are confident enough to challenge norms. They never take things at face value and ask hard questions which get at the root of the idea in front of them.

Many companies want great culture; getting there is the “trick”.  Steve Rowland reminds us:

It might seem as if this should go without saying, but we are a company of people — not products or technology.

What do you think?  Are you unstoppable?

GAP

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Research or opinion…

Information on an infographic from InsideSales.com caught my attention (InsideSales.com/BeExtraordinary).

We should treat research carefully, true?  On the one hand, I was once told that without data we’re just some guy with an opinion. On the other hand Cicero, Consul of the Roman Republic (and a man whose opinions ultimately led to his death) offered:

It seems to me that no soothsayer should be able to look at another soothsayer without laughing.

So with a disclaimer in mind that I know InsideSales.com has something to sell…  I still believe their research is worthwhile.  Here are a few highlights that are definitely not “OK”:

Only 43% of sales reps reach quota attainment

Only 28.1% of closed deals are predicted accurately 90 days out

Reps only spend 36.6% of their time on revenue-generating activities

82% of B2B decision-makers think sales reps are unprepared

This isn’t the only market research I’ve read that shows less than 50% sales reps are attaining quota and B2B decision makers think sales rep suck. (OK, my interpretation of their opinion.)  Who is accountable for this poor performance and negative opinions?

Let’s examine sales rep performance.  Does your company publish quota standings for all your reps?  And whether you do or don’t, is the idea of publishing sales performance a good idea or a bad idea?  I mean the peer pressure could add to sales rep accountability.  But is this approach to accountability good or bad?

Hmm, the accountability question brings this adage to my mind that I first heard from Russ DeLoach, then Senior Vice President of Sales for ADP’s Major Accounts segment:

Where you stand on an issue has a lot to do with where you sit.

When I sold for ADP’s National Accounts segment; and then led sales teams in Colorado and Utah for ADP’s Major Accounts segment, we received weekly sales performance reports – stack ranked – for every person in a sales role in the nation.  Rep; manager; executive; “no place to hide”; weekly!

Everyone, and I mean everyone, saw who was selling and who was not.  Those with a competitive mindset took the spur (or the sugar cube) to heart and strived to elevate their performance.  Others, well…

What do you think?  Is this approach to sales accountability appropriate for the 21st century?  Does your company follow this opinion?  Or are you thinking it’s too much?

Personally I believe, “winners keep score”.  But that’s just one man’s opinion.  There is research however, by Tanner Corbridge; How Positive Accountability Can Make Employees Happier at Work to suggest employees prefer accountability.

I’m aligned with Tanner’s point #1 about holding ourselves accountable vs. undo attention to others’ accountability.  He put it this way:

It’s extremely rare for an employee – or even a manager – to admit anything along the lines of “I’m a train wreck. Don’t count on me for much.”

I also believe in point #2 that “employee ownership” requires “employee responsibility”.  And point #3 is the force-multiplier; working for a meaningful cause.

I don’t mean a social impact cause that’s so popular these days.  Yes, social responsibility is a key value that I participate in too.  But what good does it do for employees to be socially engaged if their company goes poof because of poor performance.

So count me in on the personal accountability theme.  Stack rank me; push me; I’m accountable for my responsibilities.  This works for me and is best for the success of my company.  At least, that’s my opinion.  What’s yours?

GAP

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Friction…

I enjoy discussing and debating sales management “leading practices”.  Certainly, there are many opinions and many thought leaders that offer their knowledge and experience, too.  I suppose the opinions you align with are based on your context.

My context begins with sales managers and their sales reps epitomizing opposing forces.  I don’t mean we are enemies; but sales people and sales managers are often on opposite sides of things.  Lest your sales managers think they are “one of them” even if they used to be a sales rep, beware:

Coaches that worry too much about what fans think soon find themselves sitting with them in the stands. 

Unknown Sage

Now before going any further, permit me to acknowledge that my context and opinions about how things work may be very different than yours, and others’.  That’s OK:

Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own.  You may both be wrong. 

Dandemis

I remember many interactions where manager-rep “friction” occurred.  My first Presidents Club sales year as a “District Manager” (aka a sales rep) I worked for an “Executive-in-Training” (meaning he was hired from the outside vs. being promoted from within).  That created an opportunity to test our wills.

He ran Tuesday evening sales meetings and the rest of the week the District Managers worked out of sight, “managing” our districts.  We would come into the office periodically to file our paperwork.  (I know – the Dark Ages right?)

My manager fell into a pattern that every time I came into the office he would greet me with, “How’s your week?”  He wasn’t asking how I was doing; how the weather is; and was the family good…  He meant, how much business have I closed this week.  Friction.  I rebelled.

One day I asked him (told him, really) to stop.  I said, “Hello” is the greeting I would appreciate.  His approach made me feel that he thought of me only as my number.  I told him, “I am not my number”.

Years later I was on the sales manager side.  Walking a mile in his shoes was quite eye opening.  My Director and the VP above her were pounding on me for an updated forecast from my team.  “You-know-what” rolls downhill.  A rep of mine rebelled putting it this way, “Gary, no matter how much I sell it’s never enough.  You keep pushing the more button.”

Today, many sales managers have remote reps and as a result they have fewer face-to-face encounters which can cause additional anxiety.  And just when we thought the friction between managers and reps couldn’t get any worse, along came CRM.  Today, sales reps want to spend their time selling; sales managers want everything documented in the Customer Relationship Management system.

There are other examples … reps want “quality”; managers want “quantity”.  Many sales reps are conservative, sometimes to a fault, portraying pessimism about their forecast (aka “sand bagging”).  Sales managers push for optimism, and a higher commit!   Sales reps like building relationships; sales managers want to get in front of the prospect; close the deal; and move on.

I don’t know; maybe these opposing forces actually balance each other out.  Maybe it is the friction that actually drives an organization to sales success:

The highly successful use anxiety and stress to spur them on to achievement. 

Tom Hopkins

But balance is the key – too much friction on one side or the other can burn out the rep; or the manager; or even both, true?

GAP

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High stakes moments…

I attended a BrightTalk webinar titled, “What Sales Can Learn From a Navy Seal” recently.  It featured Stephen Drum, a combat-tested Navy Seal and senior enlisted leader.  He discussed what salespeople, sales managers, and sales leaders can learn from how Navy Seals prepare, practice, and perform in high stake moments.

Navy Seals – what comes to mind when you hear that term; combat; bravery; elite?  Navy Seals are engaged in high stakes moments for sure.  I was intrigued to see how sales, management, and leadership processes were going to be connected to their combat prowess.

To be clear; sales is not combat and the client is never the enemy.  Stephen Drum didn’t imply any different.  Selling is competitive but it is not life or death.

Stephen shared two points that resonated with my view of the sales profession.  Permit me to paraphrase:

There is a significant difference preparation makes between “responding” (you are ready) vs. “reacting” (you are not).

We all know that feeling.  Going into a high stakes moment, in our heart of hearts we know if we are prepared or not.  Interestingly, some sales people still succeed even without proper preparation – evidence for sure that the client is not an enemy.  Sometimes clients buy even when the sales rep sucks.  Sometimes.

When I go into a meeting or presentation unprepared I know it; I feel it; and it brings fear to my mind:

Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is. 

German Proverb

In fact, I just did a presentation that I wasn’t properly prepared for and you guessed it – I sucked!  Thankfully, it really wasn’t a high stakes moment.  But it reminded me of that wolf and what it feels like to be unprepared.

It’s our preparation that enables us to respond in high stakes moments vs. simply react.  The former is more likely to prove successful results; the latter sits on pure luck.  I don’t think managers or leaders want their company’s success to depend solely on luck.  Navy Seals don’t.

Stephen’s second point described a critical preparation process Navy Seals follow:

“ARR” – After Action Review:  How can I use this event and corresponding outcomes to be better, more prepared, the next time.

He described the rigor Navy Seals go through to prepare; practice; review; execute; review; modify; and then repeat the process over and over again.  This is a rare discipline seen in the sales manager and sales leader ranks.  It’s almost impossible for reps to “respond” (they are ready) when their managers feel it’s OK to “react” (they are not ready).  Too busy you say?

If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? 

John Wooden

In the mind of the Hall of Fame UCLA basketball coach as well as a Navy Seal, there are no “do overs”.

The sales profession is a repetitive game and we all face high stakes moments over and over again.  But our clients and our competition are not stationary objects.  Their circumstances are constantly changing so we must too, agreed?  That’s where our commitment to preparation and “after action review” is key.

Imagine if our teams adhered to the principles of practice; preparation; execution; and after action review.  Imagine if our teams developed the reputation of being like Navy Seals; elite; the ultimate go-to resource; winners.  Imagine; but let’s not stop there.  If we all adopted the Navy Seal principles of “respond” vs. “react”, that would truly make our teams great!

GAP

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A matter of degree…

The Vice President of my department likes to say all sales people are all competitive.  I agree with her.  Although, I believe there are degrees of competitiveness among me and my brethren.  Not everyone is an “alpha”:

In studies of social animals, the highest ranking individual is sometimes referred to as the alpha.  Males, females, or both, can be alphas, depending on the species. 

Wikipedia

I was thinking about competitiveness and alphas while watching the recent NBA finals.  It was the night that the Warriors beat the Raptors by one point in Toronto – the night that Kevin Durant returned from being out for a month only to tear his Achilles tendon.

When KD’s injury occurred, others had to rise to the occasion.  If you watched the game, who did you think had the highest degree of competitiveness?  The Warriors’ “Splash Brothers” (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson)?  The Raptors Kawhi Leonard?  Did you think of Steve Kerr as being the alpha?  Did you know that prior to this season Steve Kerr was already an eight time NBA Champion?

Wikipedia’s definition of an alpha states it’s the “highest ranking” individual.  In competitive situations, we sometimes think of an alpha as the most dominant player, true?  The degree of Steve Kerr’s competitiveness certainly does not come across as dominant; anything but.

I enjoy the intellectual discussion of competition; dominance; greatness; and success.  So many individuals and so many great stories come to mind.  I bet you have your favorite example.  I doubt Steve Kerr is on it.  Maybe he learned from an all-time great alpha in Chicago.

No, I’m not speaking about Michael Jordan.  MJ was certainly an all-time, dominant NBA player; one of my favorites.  But he wasn’t the alpha of the Chicago Bulls.  Just like Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were not the alphas on the LA Lakers; although their battle for dominance seemed the dominant storyline.

IMHO, the all-time alpha in the NBA was Phil Jackson.  I believe it takes an alpha to coach (or manage) dominant players.  You know, Phil was not Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or Shaquille O’Neal’s first coach.  But he was the first – and only – coach for all of their NBA championships.

To be sure – Phil has a dominant resume!

2 NBA championships as a player for the New York Knicks

6 championships as the coach of the Chicago Bulls

5 championships as the coach of the LA Lakers

Oh, and 1 Continental Basketball Association championship as the coach of the Albany Patroons

I have a little experience in managing competitive people.  Not as much as Steve Kerr or Phil Jackson mind you.  I was a good sales manager, but learned during my 6 years with two different companies that there are degrees of competitiveness among salespeople.

As a front line sales manager I led teams of dominant personalities.  Don’t get me wrong; their ability and their individual accomplishments were awesome!   In one case their sales performance likely saved one small, family owned company; and in the other they led me to the sales manager of the year recognition for a huge, international company.

It’s very challenging to manage people possessing heightened degrees of competitiveness.  I tried and might have succeeded to be the alpha among them.  But I tired of their continuous battle for dominance; with me; and among their peers.

I admire the abilities, patience, and personas of Steve Kerr and Phil Jackson before him – alphas among dominant performers for sure.

GAP

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How to have a winning day…

Throughout my career, I’ve surrounded myself with smart, successful, professional people.  At the beginning of my career (starting out clueless) I felt the best chance I had for success was to do what they did – sort of “paint-by-numbers”.

I’ve known several great sales professionals… worked alongside many; managed a few; reported to one; learned from them all.  I even created my own, “Sales Hall of Fame”.  Next to the name of each of these Hall of Famers I have written down what makes them great:

Dan Callahan – Execution

Barb Sadtler – Commitment

Gary Given – Persuasiveness

Rob Mikleson – Competitiveness

Lisa Kwiecien – Tenaciousness

Joy Cox – Professionalism

Jim Robertson – Style

Mike D’Onofrio – Preparation

John Kleinhenz – Determination

Steve Allen – Focus

Nick Ryder – Savvy

Rob Denkewalter – Intellect

These great sales people have many things in common.  For instance, they are very smart; keenly skilled; unbelievably smooth; totally articulate; and quite worldly.  Most are a bit quirky, too.  (Thank God I’m normal!)  Some are more personable than others. (Yes, arrogance can creep into successful, self-made sales professionals.)

And I’m still learning – from them and from others – every day.  Sometimes it’s something new; often times it’s a reminder of the basic principles from all of the winners that came before me.  Why not follow the trail already blazed by the best-of-the-best?

One example comes from Gary Givan, a great salesman I used to work with.  It’s the principle of having a good day.  He teaches us:

Focus on having a good day, every day; and the year will take care of itself.

Sage advice, yes?  Over the years I’ve found extensions to this principle – focusing on the “How” when trying to have a winning day:

How to have a Winning Day:

  1. You have to listen more than you talk…
  2. You have to smile more than you frown…
  3. You have to be fascinated more than you’re frustrated…
  1. You have to believe in yourself more than you doubt yourself.
  1. You have to work more than you whine.
  2. You have to do more than you don’t.

Rob Gilbert

Do more than you don’t – I especially like that one!  When you’re having a tough time one great remedy is to just go sell somebody something!  (OK; easier said than done sometimes; but a great remedy nonetheless.)

Work more than you whine – I have recently wandered off this path; testing the patience of my wife and my friends; let life’s circumstances gain the upper hand.  It’s time to retrace my steps and return to the path of a winning day.

The nice thing about focusing one day at a time is that it’s just one day.  Some days we win; some we lose; and some get rained out; but tomorrow is always another day and another opportunity to succeed.  I guess I should add resiliency; mental toughness; and the ability to try and try again to my list of “Hall of Famer” attributes.  William Feather described it this way:

Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.

And while we’re hanging on; one day at a time; we can concentrate our energy around simply trying to make today a good day.  Oh, and one more tip (from our favorite, unknown, pet loving Sage) regarding the “How”:

Wag more than you bark.

Today – I will learn from my dog – she wags her tail – every day!  How about you?

GAP

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Elephants…

One segment of the sales profession that fascinates me is selling “big deals”; “up market”; “enterprise”; “global”; “whales”… “Elephants”.  Many are enamored with the feast of the “kill”.  Few have the constitution for, nor an understanding of, the perils of the “hunt”.

Today, I do my best to support my clients in their “Elephant Hunting”.  I’m merely a guide however; having stopped carrying an elephant gun in 2011 when my elephants got away (see http://thequoteguys.com/2011/02/the-obvious-choice/ ).  My clients like that I know the language of the “hunter”; what to say; what to ask.  They also like that I know how to avoid the language of the “villagers”.

Big deal tracking is usually a quiet endeavor.  Not for want of self-invited guests.  When the boss hears we’ve got an elephant in the pipeline, she becomes our new best friend; along with product management; corporate executives; vendor partners; and a safari of followers.  Exactly the commotion the “hunter” doesn’t want.

I was speaking with a former sales rep of mine who lamented his disgust with his “elephant hunting” experiences over the course of a long and illustrious career.  Here he was, one of the best enterprise sales professionals I have ever known lamenting; lamenting!   It wasn’t about the financial remuneration or company accolades.  In my experience, it’s never been about the money (aka the “kill”) – it’s about the “hunt”.

Pursuing a big deal is as intellectually and confidence-challenging as it is exhilarating.  Exhilarating: as in exciting; terrifying; roller-coaster; nerve-wracking.  The exhilaration is the issue.  You see, “Elephants” are rare and missing the “kill” can be job-ending.  There’s also the negative impact of bringing in an “elephant” – only to have “the villagers drag the carcass off for their feast” expecting the “hunter” to simply go out and track down another.

In my wife’s business, a $500 transaction is considered “big”.  In the software business, many of my partners feel it takes a $500k level before it’s “big”.  I recently caught up with another former sales rep of mine who has been assigned a multi-million dollar quota from 13 accounts – 13.  I suppose if we were in the aerospace field, it would take a $500 Million deal before it gets to “elephant”.

Regardless, I find when a sales rep is working an “elephant”; it can not only be a lonely endeavor, but one that tests your intestinal fortitude.  Facing the prospect’s committee is tough enough.  Add-in lawyers (theirs and ours); purchasing; competition; plus, while tracking – worrying that “No Decision” is lurking in the shadows and will scare our rare “elephant” back into the jungle.

Still, all those pressures are trumped by the “village”.  It goes like this…  From our colleagues, every single time we see them – Hey Gary, how’s that big deal coming?  From our manager, every single time we see her – Hey Gary, did you close that big deal yet?  From corporate executives – Gary, you need to “commit” that big deal for this month.  From Accounting – Gary, you need to change the payment terms of that big deal to Net 30.

Even from the home front – Honey, when will you get the commission check for that big deal?  I wonder if she’s looking at our bank account:

Checkbook Balancer’s Law

In matters of dispute, the bank’s balance is always smaller than yours.

Unknown Sage

Enamored with the idea of selling “elephants”?  Be careful what you ask for.  To keep one’s sanity (and job), life as a “hunter” might mean living apart from the “villagers”.

GAP

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Trust me…

I was reading The Speed of Trust © by Stephen M.R. Covey recently.  A friend of mine shared his copy from a training session his company conducted on trust-building among teams.

Trust is spoken of often in the sales profession.  “Being a trusted advisor” is a common phrase sales people like to say to prospective clients.  But on what basis should the prospect trust us?

In Covey’s book, this customer offered his perspective on trust:

I don’t think you have a full trusting relationship until you are actually at the point that you deliver success repeatedly.  When one of my major suppliers says we want to have a trusting relationship, I think, “What a lot of rubbish that is!”  I turn around and say, “I don’t trust you.  I am not going to trust you until you repeatedly deliver success to me.” 

Peter Lowe

A bit impersonal; arrogant; over the top?  IMHO – just the opposite.

When I first started out in the business my company (ADP) held sales meetings every Tuesday at 5pm (“Roll Call”).  Afterwards, we strolled across the street to a neighborhood “gin mill” (Nancy’s).  Beers, boasts, and war stories of the week were exchanged until closing hour.  That was the setting junior sales reps like me learned the profession from seasoned veterans.

Except one seasoned veteran, Bob Ackerman.  Bob was one of the top sales reps in our office.  Polished; professional; Bob spoke well; dressed well; showed all the evidence of sales success.  And for my first 6 months on the job, he didn’t have a single conversation with me.  If I approached him, he would literally and rudely walk away.  It would have been easy to say he was impersonal; arrogant; over the top.  Turned out – just the opposite.

One Tuesday evening after our sales meeting; 6 months to the week; Bob approached me with two beers (one for me) and said, “Gary, great week – congratulations!”  And from that week forward, Bob trusted me.

I didn’t have the stroke that night to ask Bob, “WTF?”  But after a period of time the opportunity arose, and I asked him why he was so cold when I first started.  Turns out – it was a matter of trust.

You see, Bob was successful during an era when sales rep turnover was even higher than in today’s marketplace.  “Draw vs. commission” was the standard compensation plan back then; no base salary.  Sales results roll called weekly; classic “What have you done lately?” environment.

A modest weekly draw soothed cash flow needs. The draw was deducted from our monthly commission check.  (Trusted – 30 days at a time.)  If we didn’t earn enough commissions to cover our draw, the next month the draw was cut in half.  Two months in a row, and the draw was eliminated.  We never got to month three.  Trust without results didn’t go very far back then – still doesn’t.

Bob had seen plenty of sales reps come and fail.  He told me he used to get to know the new people; he used to coach them a little bit; tried to help them out.  And when they failed it hurt his feelings.  So rather than continuing to feel hurt, he withdrew; he waited.  Bob felt if a rep (like me) could make it 6 months; then he would trust that the rep would make it.

The moral of Peter and Bob’s stories?  To earn the position of “trusted advisor” we must produce.  Trust doesn’t beget results – just the opposite.

GAP

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Philosophy or fact?

When I Googled for the definition of “philosophy” I found:

The study of the theoretical basis of a particular branch of knowledge or experience.

The theoretical basis of knowledge, hmmm.  Sounds… well… philosophical.  But I digress:

Digress: Leave the main subject temporarily in speech or writing.

I’ve been attending a new MeetUp for B2B sales reps and the last session, facilitated by Chad Burmeister, author of Sales Hack © and Director of Sales Development at Ring Central, was stellar (http://www.meetup.com/denversales/events/230718803/ ).  Chad facilitated an examination of cold-calling; starting with the rhetorical question, “Is cold-calling dead?”

Rhetorical: (of a question) asked in order to produce an effect or to make a statement rather than to elicit information.

And continuing on with Chad’s leading practices for cold-calling tools, tactics and techniques.  His presentation and discussion was stellar.

Of course, during the MeetUp many attending sales professionals offered differing opinions about their preferred cold-calling tools, tactics and techniques.  And as anyone even slightly involved in the business development field (e.g. sales, marketing, branding, etc.) would know – much is being said and more is being written on the topics of cold-calling, social media selling, and the like.

Chad’s presentation offered facts and statistics supporting his beliefs.  When others chimed in they too offered facts in support of their beliefs.  I’ve noticed when I am exposed to other authors, presenters and pontificators and their cold-calling beliefs each offers a persuasive set of facts as evidence proving the truth behind their pontification:

Fact:  A thing that is indisputably the case.

But if everyone has their own set of supporting facts, even if their beliefs around the singular topic of cold-calling are different, what is the truth?

Truth:  The quality or state of being true.

Wait – what?  Truth is the state of being true?  What the hell does that mean?  Ah…but I digress…

All-in-all, my pursuit of the “truth” seems to keep me in a constant state of self-reflection:  How do my beliefs (and corresponding facts) compare to the beliefs (and facts) of others?

I believe I am a die-hard, self-reflective sort.  As a life-long-learner, I find myself constantly asking “Why?” when presented with beliefs and facts that have serious impact on my professional success.

I am told in the book, The Absurdity of Human Life © by Tom Nagle – he writes of the collision between what in life we take seriously while simultaneously doubting the “why” behind these serious things.  I am also told (having never taken the pursuit of philosophical investigation seriously) that the 16th century French philosopher Rene Descartes (considered a “modern skeptic” of his time) suggested we should subject everything to doubt and see what is left.

As a self-confessed skeptic, my continuous search for answer to “why”?” seems to fall into Descartes’ philosophy of subjecting everything to doubt.  After doubting some of the beliefs that were debated during this MeetUp, what was left for me was an epiphany!

Epiphany: a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand something that is very important to you.

When it comes to cold-calling, social media selling, and any other form of sales-prospecting there is no “truth” regardless of what facts someone offers in support of their beliefs.  There are simply our beliefs and the corresponding results – nothing else matters.

In the sales profession if our beliefs are generating successful results, we should continue; if they aren’t, we should change.  “Change to what?” you might ask.  Well, simply change to beliefs that work.   Ut oh – does that sound too philosophical?

GAP

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