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5 Reasons Blog

The Heart of Motivation

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Selling is a funny job. It seems to require an unusual amount of motivation for one to perform consistently at a high level.

I’m not sure why this is. Does accounting require a high level of motivation to do it well? How about Human Resources? I don’t know – I’ve not done either of those jobs. I do know I can name many motivational sales speakers, but no accounting motivational speakers come to mind [if you know of any, please let me know!].

Maybe it’s the self-starting nature sales. Many of us work from home offices or are on the road flying solo, tasked with bringing home the bacon. One needs to be organized and active, efficient and effective and at the end of the month reach your sales quota.

With little [or more often no] supervision, sales people must find opportunities, sift out the bad ones and then close the good ones.

In most job roles the work is brought to you. In sales you have to go find it. Anyone who has opened a new territory or struck out on their own know this challenge well.

At any rate, I get asked so often how to motivate sales people I thought I’d address it here. Over 14 years and across 22 different industries here is what I have learned...

First, hire motivated sales people [duh, right!?]. It sounds obvious but many fail to do this. In doing some digging I’ve found that questions like “what motivates you to work hard to beat your sales quota” and “what jazzes you up about selling day in and day out” are not in the top 10 questions hiring managers ask. I’d take a highly motivated unproven salesperson over a non-motivated seasoned vet any day of the week. Start asking these questions early in the hiring process if you haven’t done so already.

Once hired, train your salespeople weekly – yes, weekly! Think coaching, sales skill practice, sales book of the month club discussions and the like. Motivated people eat training for breakfast, they love it! They want to consistently improve because that’s just the way they are wired. Plus, it helps them to earn bigger commissions. Ignore training at your peril, it is a primary motivator.

Finally, de-hire non-motivated salespeople now! Move them to a different role in your organization where they can soar with their strengths, or exit them from the company. If they are non-motivated keeping them in their current role is unfair for all parties. I will share with you that this is the one piece of advice my clients are slowest to take, but after they do their response is universally consistent, “why did I not do this sooner?”

Once you have your team of champions in place, here are some ways you can inject some additional motivational mojo over the course of the sales year...

Sales contests

You know the drill on this one. The new spin? Have the team select the prize they want. Some want cash, some want gift cards, others want time off. Create a menu of prize options and let each team member decide what they want to run hard for. Winning a big screen tv might pump up one rep, but leave others totally flat.

Trophies

I had a client with an all-female sales team, selling into the spa industry. They jokingly had a sales tiara that sat on the desk of the previous month’s top seller. The competition for the tiara was friendly, but surprisingly fierce. Another client had a sales gong in the office that those who closed a deal could drop the hammer on as soon as they hung up the phone. Interestingly, I find the more quirky the trophy, the more people like it. What would your team’s equivalent to the sales tiara be?

Added Responsibilities

What?? Don’t people want less work, not more? I’m not saying pile more work on your successful sellers, I’m saying add some cool new wrinkles into their role that stoke their internal motivators for personal and professional growth / role enrichment. Give them Key Account selling responsibilities. Entrust them with mentoring your newest and brightest. Bring them to the table for new product development meetings. Include them in marketing meetings and solicit their input on next year’s campaign.

Underneath it all, the true heart of motivating your people is getting to know them outside of their job role. It is proven that one of the top motivators around job role performance is an employee’s relationship with their direct superior. What have you done lately to fan those motivating flames?

Measure These Things Now

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

With the ubiquity of CRM sales has become like baseball — you can measure your stats six ways to Sunday. The trouble is, some people do! Don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. There are but a few things you need to measure to predict your sales future.

Sales is an efficiency and effectiveness game. How much of something do you need to do, and how well do you need to do it to reach your sales quota? Let’s start with the efficiency, or ‘how much’ part.

Measure the number of sales interactions [conversations, the primary focus of which is to move a deal forward. Customer service calls don’t count] executed by your team daily and weekly. Sales interactions are the number one thing for most businesses that cause sales to happen. They are a leading indicator to future revenue generation results.

A quick word about salespeople who don't want their activities measured. Any resistance you get to weekly sales activity reporting that smells like “that’s a waste of my time” is grounds for a serious conversation. Would your production department balk at measuring their inputs? Of course not, that would be ludicrous. Sales people are in production, they produce sales. You need to know the typical inputs required in your market and industry and geographic location to generate a sale. This is the only way you can embark down the sales process/results improvement road.

Okay, so back to measuring… In only a few weeks you’ll quickly see trends around who is having how many meetings, and can then connect that to the revenue those efforts produce. Use the data to discover what the magic activity levels need to be on a per rep basis and set these as your benchmark. Manage to these benchmarks.

Shifting now to the sales funnel… When it comes to sales funnel measures, most managers and reps work from the end of the sales funnel backwards. They measure the number of closes this week, how many proposals went out the door, etc. The most successful teams I’ve worked with do the opposite. They measure from the very front end of the sales funnel forward. Interesting.

Early stage sales funnel work [finding leads, contacting them, trying like crazy to secure meetings] is the grunt work of selling that most sales people do willingly only when pressed. Sure, they will lilly dip along the way but they’ll only apply nose to sales grindstone when their sales funnel is dry. These folks experience sales peaks [Hurray!!] and dreaded sales valleys [Booo!!] for this reason. Those in the know track their early stage selling activity daily-weekly. They never, ever lose sight of the fact that sales seeds they plant today can take awhile to take root so they sow every day.

Start with measuring Net New Sales Lead Acquisition. How many raw names have been added to the master list this week of sales leads to reach out to? The optimal number is of course based on your product, industry and sales cycle. Generally, the shorter the sales cycle and simpler the sale the more raw leads you need weekly.

Next, measure the number of Sales Leads Researched per week. This is the number of raw sales leads for whom their website, Linkedin and other social media have been scraped to determine if they might be a fit for your products and services. Note – I consider new leads acquired and then researched as being above the sales funnel. They are so raw you simply can’t assign any probability around the amount of revenue they might generate.

Following the research stage is Sales Leads Activated per week. Now we are into the sales funnel. Activation means you have reached out directly [voice or email] in an attempt to book a meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to conduct a diagnosis to determine if your products and services can be of help to them. Bear in mind that it might take several attempts to reach a potential customer. So, each week you’ll need to activate new opportunities as well as reach out to those from last week [and the weeks before] that have not responded.

To stay on top of this, track the Number Of Connection Attempts Per Activated Sales Lead. Now you are going to start measuring sales effectiveness. These days everyone gets either their email, voice mail, or both, regularly. If they are not responding there’s usually a good reason for it. The rule of thumb is if after 3 connection attempts there has been no response you should either try a new tactic or jettison that lead and move on.

Successful lead activations lead to Diagnosis Meetings. These are golden. Measure them actively. Then measure how many convert into viable sales Prospects. The higher the conversion rate, the better. A low conversion rate might mean you are selecting the wrong leads to call on in the first place.

Look at all of the above measures and assess the following: 

a) are the results good or bad?

b) if good, why are they good and what can you replicate to get better?

c) if bad, why are they bad and what’s the fix?

d) decide how you’ll implement fixes and optimizations and stick to it going forward.

Getting to great at early funnel stage work is the road to having more revenue pop out the other end reliably and predictably. Measure, optimize, do, repeat. That’s the magic.

Like what you’ve read here? Totally disagree? I’d love to hear from you either way at rob@robmalec.com

Social Selling Using LinkedIn Part II

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In my last blog post I showed how investing 10 minutes in Social Selling per day can improve your prospecting effectiveness and eliminate cold calling. [If you haven't read it, click here]. In this posting I'll share two effective ways to build the targeted list of buyers you want to be introduced to so you can begin filling the top of your sales funnel.

The path to eliminating cold calling begins with increasing the number of first-degree LinkedIn connections you have in your network. The more first-degree connections you have, the more second-degree connections [and opportunities for connection requests] you will likely have to the buyers you want to speak to about using your products and services.

To make the jump from cold calling to Social Selling you need to tap your first-degree connections and ask them to introduce you to the buyers you'd like to meet. To start down this path you first need to make a list of the buyers you want to be introduced to so you can then ask to be introduced to them. There are a couple of ways to build this list.

The first is for you - or your Virtual Assistant - to do a Google search and create a list of potential companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile. You can also choose to buy such a list. Buying is faster, but more expensive. There are pros and cons to each approach to list acquisition.

Next, go to LinkedIn and enter the name of each company on your list in the search window. Click on the company name, and LinkedIn will tell you how many first, second and third-degree connections you have within it. Look for the person within that company that, by title, is the right one for you to speak to about using your products and services.

Are they a first-degree connection of yours already? If yes, go ahead and request a telephone meeting with them to talk about using your products and services. You are off to the races!

If they are not a first-degree connection, open their profile. Which second-degree connections do you share with them? Of those second-degree connections, which is the best one to ask for an introduction to your prospective buyer? Generally the "best person" is the one with the optimum combination of a strong/close relationship with you and a strong/close relationship with your prospective buyer.

The second way to create your prospective buyer list is to find someone in your first-degree network that you consider to be well connected within your industry/territory, with whom you have a close relationship, and who would be happy to make introductions for you. LinkedIn gives you access to their first-degree network. Scan it and create a list of people that fit your Ideal Customer Profile who you would like to be introduced to.

The first and most critical step when using this method is to speak to this person directly and confirm that they would be OK to refer you on a regular basis [you don't ever want to stress your network by "over asking" for referrals]. You might pose the opportunity to them using the "give to get" method.

Say something to them like, "I'm in the process of looking for new business. You are very well connected in my space. Would you mind if I looked through your network for connection opportunities? I'll then let you know who I am hoping to be introduced to. In return, I would like you to do the same within my network. I want to help you as much as I possibly can." If they agree, go ahead and begin building your list.

With your list built, it's now time to proceed with asking for those valuable introductions. Details and scripting around how to do that will be the topic of my next blog post.

Social Selling Using LinkedIn

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Social selling has become an integral part of the sales and business development landscape. It presents an opportunity for you to eliminate cold calling – the most soul sucking activity in sales – from your business development function. How are you at social selling?

To my mind, LinkedIn is the strongest social selling tool currently out there for business-to-business sales people. This is because business people join LinkedIn for the purpose of being connected to other ethical and like-minded business people like you.

The big challenge with cold calling is that a huge trust gap exists. People you cold call don't know you, and therefore don't trust that investing time with you is worthwhile. Thus, they don't take your call.

With LinkedIn, rather than cold calling a prospect you can ask to be connected to them by someone you mutually know and trust. If that person in the middle says you are worth connecting with, then the trust gap is bridged and the prospect has a higher likelihood of saying yes to your request to connect.

In order for prospecting via LinkedIn to be effective you need to have as many first-degree connections as possible. This in turn increases the number of second-degree connections you have - which increases the likelihood that someone you are connected to currently knows someone who you would like to connect with for business development purposes. [In my experience, third-degree connections are very weak and are hard to convert into introductions/first-degree connections.]

Increasing your connection base is not hard. It is astounding how many people you interact with over the years. A few years ago I followed a system to increase the amount of quality first-degree connections [people I know on a first name basis]. I have tripled the number of those connections over the span of a few months.

The positive business result of doing this is that I found I now have over 500 second-degree connections to business owners and CEOs at companies of the type that fit my ideal customer profile. This is a great pool of prospects for me.

Here is the process to follow to beef up the number of quality connections you have on LinkedIn…

Start by scheduling an appointment with yourself to spend 10 minutes each day to focus on building your LinkedIn network. During this 10 minute block of time…

  1. Look back at the previous work day. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone with whom you interacted? If not, send them a connection request. 
  2. Look at your current customer base. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone within that account that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  3. Look at your current suppliers. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  4. Look at your current friends and family. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  5. Look back at your previous job roles and other companies you have worked for. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with regularly? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  6. Look back at your post-secondary education. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  7. Look back at your high school days. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request.

I suggest 10 minutes a day on this activity so you can tackle it in small chunks. If you simply want to spend one hour a week – you can do that too.

If you have not previously taken the approach outlined above, my guess is that you can increase your number of quality first-degree connections [people you know on a first name basis] by 30% easily.

Start building your LinkedIn network immediately. Track your progress week to week to see if you're getting traction.

In a follow-up blog post I'll talk about how to ask your first-degree connections to introduce you to prospects you would like to get connected with.


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