Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are tech-savvy: they can use CRM systems, social media, and other tools effectively."

Month: June 2020

Don’t Send Your Prospect Your Sales Presentation

Don’t Send Your Prospect Your Sales Presentation

Almost daily, you are presenting to your prospects from one of your favorite presentation decks. The ubiquitous question at the end of the presentation is, “Can you send me your deck?”

Don’t do it.

While you should say that you will be sending the deck, you shouldn’t do it. Few things are so poorly understood as a well-created deck presentation without a narrative.

An excellent presentation has a minimum of words and explanations on each slide. It contains a few bullet points with maybe an appropriate image or graphic. The content of the presentation is all with the speaker, and the slides are merely there to give examples or prompt the discussion.

If your slides are appropriately made, how in the world would a prospect understand the message without you there to narrate? Worse is if those slides are forwarded to someone that wasn’t in the original audience for the live presentation.

A much more convincing document is a Word (or similar) document that has the slide images embedded into the material, but the “script” is also included. The script can be well-edited with appropriate marketing language and messaging. The end result is a superior document to the original presentation.

Here is a thumbnail of a document that uses this technique. It guides the user through the slides and uses the slides as images to give credence to the written explanation. This is a far superior way to share your slides with your prospect.

Marketing can help but shouldn’t be an excuse

Unfortunately, as with all great things that salespeople have to do, it is quite likely that your marketing department won’t create this document for you. It is one of those things that you will likely have to create to set yourself up for success.

If your marketing department will not create this document for you, it is not an excuse. Salespeople need to understand that they are the last line of defense. It is up to all salespeople to do whatever is ethically required to win the deal. Don’t make excuses. Don’t take the easy way out. Just get it done.

Salespeople should not be afraid to create this document. While it would be helpful for your marketing department to build the foundations of the delivered document, the salesperson should be free to customize the end result.

The reasons for customizations are simple, and marketing departments cannot expect to be able to react. The reasons include:

  1. A specific question or side conversation that happened during the presentation should be further expanded in the written overview document.
  2. Many sales presentations are combinations of other slide decks or a subset of a library of slides. There is no way to know what a finished slide deck will be for any given prospect or any given sales team.

While the challenges are real, marketing departments can mitigate this issue with a bit of thought and effort.

For the first issue above, the sales team wants to react to a specific situation that occurred in the meeting. The marketing department could create a standard “handout” document, but allow individual sales teams to customize it as needed.

In the other situation of a library of slides, the marketing department can easily create a similar library of descriptions. Then the sales team can quickly combine the standard pieces of text to create a handout document customized to the particular prospect.

If you are inspired to bring the handout document to your meeting, resist this urge. Most information handed out in a meeting gets thrown away almost immediately. While your followup handout document may also be thrown away, at least it will happen several hours or several days later, allowing your name to be on the prospect’s mind again. This is far superior to having your marketing message thrown in the restroom trash for the bio-break that happened immediately after your meeting. 

Header Photo by ttreis (Pixabay)
Do You Send Your Recruits YOUR Resume?

Do You Send Your Recruits YOUR Resume?

Recruiting great salespeople is an essential part of the job for any sales leader. New members of the company affect the overall culture and harmony of the company. Every added person expands and evolves the company in proportion to the numerical count of the employees, but also in proportion to the size of a given department of the company. The 5th member of the company or the department has a more considerable cultural influence than the 500th member.

Salespeople are different. They affect not only the sales team’s culture but also the outward culture of the company’s persona to the customer base. According to Mindflash, after a bad sales hire, 36% of their respondents reported a negative impact on employee morale along with a 22% negative impact on client solutions.

It gets worse. I would argue that salespeople are in a demographic of positions that are highly paid and have strict criteria. The Center for American Progress puts the turnover cost of that type of job at over 200% of the salary costs.

I would like you to view recruitment from a different perspective. Since this is a sales-oriented blog, you should look at it as selling and buying. If you are reading this article, you likely have changed jobs a couple of times, and perhaps you have hired or at least helped interview sales candidates in the past. So you may be an expert at hiring and getting hired. My philosophy is that hiring people is selling and buying at the same time.

Interviewing is selling and buying at the same time

While interviewing, both parties are trying to sell and buy at the same time. The interviewee is trying to show that s/he is qualified for the position and would fit into the company culture (this is selling). At the same time, the interviewee tries to figure out if this position fills personal goals and needs better than a current job or other companies being considered (this is buying). Both activities simultaneously occur – selling of skills as well as purchasing the culture and opportunity.

The company and interviewer are also buying and selling at the same time. The company is trying to deduce if the prospect has the skills and temperament to fulfill the needs of the company (this is buying). At the same time, the company is presenting itself as a great place to work with a financial package that is competitive in the marketplace (this is selling).

Sell your recruits by selling yourself

Do you sell yourself to your recruits? When you are in a startup, one of the biggest reasons that a recruit would want to join is YOU. They want to learn from you. They believe in your vision of what the company will accomplish. They want to draft off of your success to propel their success.

A great way to enhance your reputation when talking to potential new hires is to send them your resume. Yes, they will have surely checked you out on LinkedIn, but there is information in your resume that is not on LinkedIn. You probably have statistics like the number of times you have made quota on your resume. You may have the types of companies that you have sold to on your resume. All of these facts were placed on your resume to impress others – why not use them to influence the great salesperson that you want to join your team?

In my book, Eliminate Your Competition, I repeatedly tell my readers that they are selling three things:

  • The product
  • The company
  • You

These three things are also evident in the recruiting process. The candidate wants to know about the product. For instance, they will want to understand if it works or is it still slideware. Do customers like the product and find it worthwhile? 

They will want to know about the company. Does the company have decent benefits? Does the company have a good reputation with its employees and its customers? Does the company, as a startup, have a vision for the future?

The candidate also wants to know about you as the sales leader. Have you been personally successful? What kind of things are you going to teach a new salesperson? How are you going to help that new salesperson be successful? Your personal resume is a great selling tool during the recruiting process. Use it to convince the person that you want to join you and make your company a success.

Header Photo by Tumisu (Pixabay)

10 Things Sales Managers Should Know About Performance

10 Things Sales Managers Should Know About Performance

The following are key statistics every smart sales manager should know. The source of the following data is TAS Group which is now Altify, part of Upland Software.

  1. 2/3 of all salespeople miss quota
  2. 1/2 of all salespeople close at less than 40% of their quota
  3. The best reps are 250% better at qualifying leads
  4. 40% of salespeople can’t understand customer pain
  5. Only 46% of reps feel their pipeline is accurate
  6. Almost 1/2 of all sales teams don’t have a playbook
  7. Only 52% of salespeople can access key players at their prospects and customers
  8. When Sales/Marketing works well together, it adds 25% quota achievement and 15% win rate
  9. As I talk about in my book Eliminate Your Competiton if you make your response to your competitors part of your strategy, you are 39% more likely to be a high performing salesperson.
  10. Sales contribution to company strategy means a 15% revenue increase
Header Photo by PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay)

Are You A Salesperson For The Money?

Are You A Salesperson For The Money?

Why are you a salesperson?

Many people that have just begun their careers in Sales do it because they couldn’t find another job. Due to the high failure rate in Sales vs. other professions, entry-level jobs always seem to be plentiful even in the worst economic times.

However, after a few years of staying in this profession, why are you staying? Are you staying because you like free lunches when you take clients to lunch? Are you staying because you can occasionally play golf with clients? Are you staying because you like to be measured every day on your quota attainment?

Hopefully, you are in sales because you have the drive to provide for yourself and your family with the wealth that few other careers offer. Successful salespeople are among the highest-paid people in the community. While doctors and lawyers may get all the accolades and envious discussions, a successful salesperson can often generate more personal wealth than nearly every other profession.

While salespeople can be highly paid, it is not unusual that salespeople have very uneven paychecks. Even with the skills that I teach in my book, Eliminate Your Competition and on this site, you will not close massive deals every two weeks. In fact, if we define a large deal as being at least 10% of your annual quota, you will probably only close five to ten large deals per year. This requires a bit of wealth planning for a successful salesperson.

Immediately invest 10% and immediately donate 10%.

My first suggestion before you do anything with the commission (after paying any applicable taxes) is to donate a portion of the commission. Do it immediately, before you get other priorities. Taking care of your fellow man is one of the most important charters of well-to-do professionals. Many people do not have the blessings and capabilities that you enjoy, and it is your responsibility as a caring human to make their life easier.

While everyone has different targets for sharing their wealth with others, I strongly suggest that you set 10% as your goal. Giving 10% of your income to charity has been a template for caring for others since words were written on bark, animal skins, and parchment. It is a time-honored tradition and has proven to be completely within the capability of anyone who has been given great gifts in life.

The next thing that you should do with your big commission check is to pay yourself. Regardless of your effort, you will hit a dry patch of revenue. Maybe the industry or locality that you are in will suffer a recession. Maybe your company will fall behind the competition, forcing you to find new employment. As with everyone, eventually, you may want to not sell every day and may want to sit on a beach, visit family, climb mountains, or tend a vineyard. No matter how much you love your job, someday you will want to do something more enjoyable.

To save for that rainy day or even that day when you don’t want to work, you need a plan. That plan is well described in my book The Confident Investor, but it starts with paying yourself first. It starts with taking 10% of that commission check and putting it into an account where that money will work for you and grow. My book The Confident Investor and its accompanying site can help you make that money grow more quickly than most methods, but the first step is to set the money aside.

So right now, before you get that check for the big deal you are working on, prepare for the commission. Find two or three charities that you can support. Find out how to efficiently donate to them. You don’t need to set up a trust or anything fancy – just find out where to send the check. If you don’t have a specific charity, consider a donation to your neighborhood church or The United Way.

After the charity has been found, open up an investment account. There are multiple brokerage companies that you can consider and my book The Confident Investor will help you find them. If you don’t want to buy my book, consider opening an account with Fidelity, TD Waterhouse, or Schwab.

Header Photo by geralt (Pixabay)

Give Yourself A Trophy For Big Wins

Give Yourself A Trophy For Big Wins

I was recently interviewed by Colin Stewart on his podcast “Predictable Revenue.” It was an enjoyable experience for me as Colin is a great interviewer with a lot of experience in B2B Sales.

In that podcast, Colin asked me about intermediate rewards during the course of the business year. I gave some examples of how I used to reward myself when I was a direct salesperson. In this post, I would like to expand on that topic more than I did with Colin.

Winning the deal is important. You will receive more financial security in the form of loyalty from your employer as well as increased commissions. However, you need to put an internal incentive into your mind to help you through the tough times of the next sale.

We all know that there are times in the selling process that are just plain frustrating for the sales team. The prospect may be asking questions that are very basic. Or the prospect may be making it difficult to create a positive relationship. Whatever the frustration, it is helpful to have a little extra incentive to motivate you through the tough times.

Think of a sprinter in a track and field event. The sprinter wants to win so that her team will get more points and win the event, but that is not the sprinter’s only motivation. The sprinter is also motivated to beat her personal best time. The sprinter is also motivated to beat her arch-rival in the lane beside her. The sprinter is motivated to hear the cheers of the crowd and the accolades of her teammates, friends, and family. 

This personal motivation is used by the sprinter to fight through challenging practices. She visualizes winning the race when she is trying to do that last painful lift in the weight room. She visualizes the first place award when she practices her first three steps over and over for hours. She doesn’t visualize the team winning; she visualizes her personal win. It is the personal win that inspires the extra effort and sacrifice.

The sprinter’s job is to score more points for the team. That is why she is on the team. While she wants the team to do well, she also wants to do well and needs her own motivation. You are like the sprinter, and it is your job to sell your product. Selling the product keeps your company afloat and helps to employ all of the people in the company. Just selling the product and having your company do well may not be enough to fight through those challenging sales calls.

You should develop your personal win award. You may think that your manager should do this for you, but you cannot depend on others for your success. You need to create a personal win that will motivate you to push through those tough sales calls.

I suggest that the personal win is something that you greatly enjoy, but you can live without it on a daily basis. Set aside one activity that you will only do when you have won a deal of 5% or 10% of your annual quota. Once you have identified that win, never do it without closing a deal. It is your trophy activity.

Celebrate Any Win Over 5% Of Your Annual Quota

It is not possible for me to select your trophy activity. I can give you suggestions based on what others have selected. None of the following list may be personally motivating for you, but hopefully, it will give you some ideas.

  • Massage (or if you get massages frequently, a stone massage)
  • Dinner at a specific restaurant that you only go to when you win a big deal
  • A trip to the casino
  • Tickets to the local sporting event (or maybe better tickets than normal if you regularly attend)
  • A specific bottle of wine (or other favorite beverage – in the podcast, I discussed tequila)
  • A round of golf at a specific course (make sure it is not your regular course – you want this to be a special treat)
  • A new handbag or pair of shoes
  • Tickets to a show

It is worth repeating the one rule regarding deal trophies. Whatever activity you select as your trophy, make it an activity or purchase that you never do unless you win a deal. So if you chose to purchase a pair of shoes, a handbag, or attend a show, perhaps it is a certain style of shoes or handbag, or it is shows that are only at a specific venue.

After a couple of wins and the resulting reward, you will be able to visualize yourself doing this activity again when the sales process is challenging. You will be able to fight through the tough times because you know that there is a trophy at the end.

Photo by mohamed_hassan (Pixabay)