Tag Archive for: business

Cracking the Code for How to Increase Sales

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

I recently came across the most simple and elegant formula I’ve ever encountered that cracks the elusive code of increasing the revenue that you as a business owner can generate from the total of your team’s marketing, sales, and business development efforts.

I encountered this in Timothy Gallwey’s excellent book The Inner Game of Work (the entire Inner Game Series is excellent and well worth your time).

An adaption of his formula for improving work performance applied to sales and revenue generation looks something like this:

Sales Performance = sales potential minus sales inhibitors

Here’s how this applies in the real world from my perspective as a B2B Fractional VP of Sales…

To Increase Sales, You Must First Understand Your Sales Performance

Leadership must clearly define the specifics of sales performance so that the team knows exactly what productivity level (and in which KPIs) needs to be achieved. Given that Revenue Generated is a lagging indicator (it reflects what has already happened), you also need Leading Indicators (projections of what is likely to happen).

The classic trap is to not have Sales Activity and Results leading indicator KPIs in place. When this is the case, leadership can’t confirm on an hourly, daily, or weekly basis what direction the sales ship is going in and at what speed.

Your sales activity leading indicator KPIs should include:

  • # of Sales Leads in your sales funnel at any given time
  • # of Sales Leads that have been contacted by your business development folks
  • # of buyer-facing sales meetings conducted each week
  • # of buyer-facing sales meetings scheduled for the upcoming weeks
  • # of viable sales opportunities and corresponding revenue in the deal funnel

Looking at this list of leading indicator KPIs, it’s easy to see that predicting your incoming revenue reliably and predictably is possible if you’ve enacted them. All of these are the things that cause sales to happen. If by week one or two of the month, these KPIs are trending down, you will likely have a dry spell coming up but will still have time to course correct.

Working with your team to ensure that they keep the pace on hitting these KPIs is a continual coaching and training endeavour that has a direct ROI when followed diligently.

The key lagging indicator, Revenue Generated, needs to be clearly articulated as well. What is the revenue required by a sales professional, in what time period, and at what margin for each product? Clarity here will help ensure that your sales team is focused on generating the type of results that will keep your business healthy and poised for increasing sales and growth.

Consider Your Team’s Sales Potential to Increase Sales

Think of your top sales performer who regularly overachieves on their sales plan. Imagine if you could hire a few more folks who are dialled up just like they are—how great life would be! When building your team, hire wisely (for more information on how to do so click here.)

If you have a legacy team, sales potential can be assessed by looking at past performance and putting that beside the traits and characteristics your salespeople possess. This will allow you to determine if they have what it takes to be successful in selling within your market.

The reason for looking at both sides of this equation is that a person who performed poorly in the past may simply need some help getting unstuck to unlock their sales ability.

Be Aware of Sales Inhibitors That Prevent You From Increasing Sales

Things that get in the way of revenue generation success for a salesperson can be either internal or external.

Internal Sales Inhibitors

Internal inhibitors include things like mindset, an adequate knowledge base (both in product and sales approach), and the skill to apply all of this.

The salesperson whose mindset is to take it personally when a buyer says “no” to them will never succeed. They will drown in their bad feelings.

The salesperson whose mindset is “I can’t sell because of [insert external force acting upon them here],” will also never succeed. It’s rare that the stars align, market conditions are ideal, competitive pressure is low, and your company is operating like a well-oiled machine. The best salespeople adapt and deal with adversity effectively rather than looking for excuses for poor performance.

External Sales Inhibitors

External sales inhibitors are things in your company that are getting in the way of selling that you can change. Things that get in the way of selling include:

  • Unclear sales goals
  • A lack of sales coaching
  • Overly complex sales compensation plans
  • Production plans not matched to sales plans
  • Administrative processes that make setting up new customers and placing of orders onerous

Most often these are the types of things that business owners can control or highly influence to find a solution. At your company, determining what these issues might be is as simple as asking your sales team. It’s my guess they will respond loudly and quickly when asked, “What types of things do we need to fix in order to make closing of sales easier for you?”.

Applying the Formula to Increase Sales

Assess your sales team and grade each seller on their Sales Potential.  The simplest way to do this is to take an inventory of the traits and characteristics of your best salespeople and measure all others against this standard. There are also many paid inventories out there that can help you.

This assessment will tell you whether or not you have the team in place that can achieve the revenue generation success required to take your business to the next level. It may be that you have the raw material for success but require some process optimization and training to bring the best out of your folks.

On the other hand, it might be that you have the wrong people in the sales seats on your bus. If that’s the case, you can then strategize appropriately how to get the right people in. Then, ask a question of your sales team about what roadblocks to selling exist.

Inventory those, set them up and knock them down one by one by addressing and resolving them. This will likely involve multiple stakeholders across multiple departments, and (sadly) not be a fast process. It will, however, definitely be worth the time and effort when it ultimately helps you improve revenue generation.

As with all things, there is nuance to cracking the code of how to increase sales. If you would like to chat about this further, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Chasing the Mega Deal: How to Know When a Huge Sales Opportunity is Worth Pursuing

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Every business owner dreams about the mega sales deal that will make their year for them. It seems that these opportunities appear with some regularity, but they are not an easy fish to catch. The bigger the deal, the more the complexity, and the higher the competitive presence and downward pressure on pricing.

As such, they are less likely to fit nicely into the box that is your suite of products and services. Given their sheer magnitude they are the shiniest of shiny objects (and I’ve explained before about why chasing shiny objects isn’t a great approach to sales). In my work as a B2B Fractional VP of Sales, I counsel my clients to proceed with caution when a mega deal presents itself. Here’s why.

Why Think Twice Before Pursuing a Massive Sales Opportunity?

It’s been my experience that the complexity of mega deals requires a significant amount of upfront data-gathering, analysis, and implementation planning. Not to mention the time required to answer the myriad questions of the potential mega client and prepare formal responses and submissions.

The thing with time is that it’s a finite resource. Once it’s used up, it’s gone. Also, time put into one task means it cannot be put into another. If sales resources are limited and significant time is spent on large, complex deals that might not fit into your box, that time cannot be spent by your sales team looking for other deals that may fit readily into your programs and scale nicely in the future.

The downward pressure on prices and margins is to be strongly considered. The potential, of say, doubling your annual revenue is certainly alluring. However, if it costs you $1.05 to service every $1.00 of the new business then it’s significantly less appealing.

This is not to say that mega deals are not ever worth pursuing. Winning them can be a game-changer. It is to say, however, that careful consideration should be given to whether or not pursuing a huge sales opportunity will be a profitable venture and worth the considerable time and effort required to go after it. Just because you can pursue it, does not necessarily mean that you should.

5 Questions to Determine Whether a Mega Sales Opportunity Is Worth It 

Here are some questions you can ask your sales team to determine whether it makes sense to pursue a mega opportunity in front of you:

  1. What is the effort estimate (in hours) for how long it would take to source, interview, narrow down, and select any special partners/suppliers/required new staff/machinery/resources to deliver on this deal, should you win it?

If large and complex deals don’t fit within your current suite of products and services, you may need to tool up and bring on partners and suppliers to help in doing so. Consider all the moving parts and put together your estimate of how much time would take to do so.

  1. What is the effort estimate (in hours) of how long it would take to work out the logistics of implementing and rolling out the project?

It may be that this mega sales opportunity stretches your resources and requires your team to do new things, or old things in new ways. What level of planning is required to meet the demands?

  1. What is the effort estimate (in hours) of how long it would take to prepare the bid/application and other paperwork?

Often these large projects are part of an RFP-bid process. Yours may be governmentally related. Often there is detailed documentation that must be responded to or submitted to be considered as a supplier. Scope this out to determine how much time it will take your team.

  1. What is the realistic/conservative revenue and profit margin related to this mega deal?

Calculate this monthly, quarterly, and annually. If you need to procure materials and partners and pay for them upfront, don’t forget to include that when you’re crunching your numbers.

  1. What is the realistic (conservative) percent chance you have of winning this deal?

Be brutally honest here. If this sales opportunity is large there are likely many competitors who are well-positioned (maybe more so than your company) to win the bid.

Answering these questions will help you understand the time and resource commitment required up front to put in a serious bid for the work. If you have the team, time, and resources to commit to preparing and submitting the bid, and your chances of winning are reasonable, then proceeding would make sense.

If going after a mega sales opportunity would drown your team and pull them away from servicing existing customers and finding new ones that fit nicely into your suite of products and services, maybe proceeding does not make sense.

As with all things, there’s a great deal of nuance involved in applying the principles noted above. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected].

Top 6 Reasons to Hire a Sales Coach

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Using a sales coach might seem counterintuitive when the sales team reports directly to the business owner or sales manager. Consider a sales coach to be a force multiplier with a clearly identifiable ROI. If you want to increase revenue generation rapidly, then it’s time to engage the services of a sales coach.

Why Use a Sales Coach?

Here are a few specific signs to look out for when trying to answer the question, ‘Do I need to hire a sales coach?’.

  1. The Business Owner is too Busy to Coach

If you are an early-stage business, it is likely you don’t have a sales manager. It’s also likely that you are wearing ten different hats and working eight days a week. Fires crop up, shiny objects appear, and you get pulled in many different directions on a minute-by-minute basis.

Effective sales coaching requires prep time, in-session focus, and post-session follow-up. Despite best intentions, overstretched business owners often just don’t have the bandwidth to apply to this task. It’s important to know when you need a sales manager.

  1. The Sales Manager is too Busy to Coach

You may wonder, isn’t it the sales manager’s job to coach? Technically, yes. Practically, it can be a challenge. Much like the business owner, the sales manager may also be pulled in many directions.

Marketing, production, delivery, and accounting all vie for simultaneous attention – and may have been folded into the sales manager’s job role description. To some degree, knowing how to set your sales manager up for success can help. Even if you do so, rising sales team headcounts make coaching tough to accomplish. Beyond a head count of five salespeople, any sales manager is hard-pressed to meet their minimum weekly coaching goals.

  1. Sales Managers May Lack Proven Methodology and Processes to be Effective Sales Coaches

The newly minted sales manager may be new to their role and still cutting their teeth. Identifying a sticking point with a salesperson or a sales process element is one thing but creating and seamlessly integrating an elegant solution is another.

Even experienced sales managers may not have all systems and processes documented. The absence of this infrastructure makes effective sales coaching difficult. It becomes tips and tactics focused rather than process & methodology focused. This results in the need for sales process and methodology training to be procured, which can be expensive.

  1. Sales Managers and Business Owners May Not Be Good Teachers

We have all had excellent teachers in our lifetime – that person who “reaches us” and helps us break through a plateau. We have all also had teachers who were patently unsuccessful at doing so – and you’ve probably felt the frustration of investing time that you will never get back into a learning experience.

It’s often the case that the high-performing salesperson is promoted to sales manager. The logic is that because they can perform well, they can teach it to others. This logic is flawed. Because someone is a solid performer does not mean they are a good teacher or even enjoy teaching. Learning how to be an excellent sales teacher is necessary to get the coaching results you desire.

  1. The Sales Team May Need More Bandwidth Than Those Parties Have Available to Commit

There are ways to be effective and efficient when implementing sales coaching. However, it is still time intensive. If the sales team is green, they will need a significant amount of coaching time in order to ramp up their productivity.

If the product or solution being sold is complex, the team will need focused attention being given to sales strategy creation learning. If ownership or sales management are busy in the ways outlined above, the time they have available to put into sales coaching simply may not be enough.

  1. You Can’t Be a Prophet in Your Own House

You may have one of your team members come to you with a great new idea they heard from someone outside the organization, which turns out to be the exact same idea you had given them ten times before!

Objectivity and sound thinking packaged in a new way can be exciting and invigorating for a sales team. When sound ideas come from outside the organization, they have a level of street cred that homegrown ideas are not always afforded. This is yet another reason to hire a sales coach.

Is Sales Coaching Expensive?

Engaging the services of a sales coach does not need to be expensive. There are all manner of sales coaches to meet just about every learning need and training budget. Given the ROI on sales coaching services is so easily measured, you will quickly see if your investment is returning dividends.

You may even consider using a sales coach whose compensation is directly tied to the revenue the sales team generates. Such a commission program is natural, provides a clear incentive for all parties, and makes your sales coaching arrangement self-funding.

In my role as a Fractional VP of Sales, I’ve seen how effective sales coaching can transform businesses into predictable revenue-generating machines. If you’d like to discuss how sales coaching might be helpful for your organization, please feel free to contact me.

4 Tips to Level Up Your Business Development

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Chances are that you have been working for years to get your company to its current level of annual revenue generation. Now, you want to double that number in just one year. Where do you start? The short answer is to focus on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of your business development.

As a Fractional VP Sales and Sales Coach, I’ve helped several companies achieve this growth goal. For this to become your reality, your revenue generation engine must be built to fill the sales funnel and move deals through it to closure.

What is the Role of Business Development in a Company?

Setting up the business development function is the key to transforming your business into a revenue-generation machine. Business development in this context means all processes related to filling the top of the sales funnel with quality leads that have a high probability of converting into paying customers. This includes researching new market opportunities, attracting new clients, making sales projections, and more.

How to Improve Your Business Development Efficiency and Effectiveness

Here are 4 simple yet effective ways to level up your business development.

Business Development Tip 1: Invest in SEO Optimization

By now, all business owners have heard about the importance of SEO optimization even if they have not yet harnessed its power. SEO optimization is the first place to start for business development because it takes at least 12 months to get your website found by your target audience.

This is a long-term strategy but will ultimately become the most cost-effective way to ensure that your potential customers find you when they need you. After all, your website works for you 24/7 while you sleep to bring you leads.

Business Development Tip 2: Choose Your CRM Wisely

Once SEO optimization is underway, turn your attention to your CRM. The CRMs on the market today have all manner of plug-ins and outbound marketing tools that will help you reach out to prospects effectively and efficiently.

If you are not currently using a CRM, select one that will help you meet your goals. If you are using a CRM, confirm that it will continue to serve you well in the future. There are countless options, so choose wisely.

Business Development Tip 3: Compile a Lead List and Develop a System for Contacting Them

Purchasing lead lists for outbound lead generation is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Web scraping tools like ZoomInfo allow you to build quality lead lists that are current and accurate. As with CRMs, there are many options, so choose wisely.

With your lead list in hand, work with your sales team to set the cadence and content for reaching out to prospects. Create email templates and use email marketing automation to reach out to them electronically before making any phone calls. This way you are making warm calls rather than cold calls. Use workflow automation within your CRM to set up task reminders and lead scoring so that every lead is given is chance to convert into a viable deal opportunity.

Business Development Tip 4: Use KPIs to Track Weekly Performance

Finally, set and track key metrics for measuring and improving business growth. Do this by assessing weekly targets against appropriate business development KPIs. Managing these numbers as important as it leads to iteration and process improvement, which will ultimately lead to a fuller sales funnel.

Some examples of common business development KPIs include deals won (broken down by repeat clients vs. new clients, geographic locations, market sectors, and more), customer retention rates, and customer acquisition cost, among others. Select the KPIs that make the most sense for you.

There is a great depth of detail to work through when setting up your business development function. If you would like to discuss specifics around how to do this, I would be happy to help. Please feel free to reach out to me directly.

How to Inspire Peak Performance in a High-Performing Sales Team

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Your sales team has been absolutely crushing it for 3 years and running. Does this mean it’s time to sit back and relax knowing they’ve got things under control? On the contrary, you want to focus on encouraging a high-performing sales team to continually improve to achieve peak performance.

How to Motivate Already High-Performing Salespeople to Achieve Peak Performance

As a Fractional VP Sales and Sales Coach, I have been presented with this happy challenge many times. When a sales team has been over-performing for several years in a row, the forward-thinking business owner knows that complacency is always lurking in the weeds.

To do nothing and hope for the best only to have complacency rear its ugly head would be a poor choice. Yet, there is always a fear of upsetting the apple cart and the feeling that it might be better to do nothing and hope the revenue curve keeps going up and to the right.

It has been my direct experience that doing nothing is a bad option. Complacency will ultimately set in even among your best salespeople. Or your top performers will feel they have hit the ceiling of their growth at your company and decide to move on. Here are a few things you can consider if you are in the enviable position to have a well-tenured, high-performing sales team to help them reach peak performance.

Examine Your Compensation Program

Does your compensation arrangement incentivize the right behaviour in your salespeople? Will it serve your company well into the future, or does it reflect behaviours that were correct five years ago?

Consider adjusting your compensation program to financially motivate your salespeople to continue bringing in the type of business that will increase sales and drive revenue growth in the years to come. If compensation is capped, consider uncapping it so that the team can increase their income if they bring in the right amount and type of revenue.

Educate Your Salespeople (Including Thinking Outside of the Box)

Top performers continually want to sharpen their saw. Not sure what kind of training would benefit both them and your business? Ask them what types of skills or knowledge development they would like that they believe will help them to sell more.

Strongly consider offering access to training outside of sales platform skills. Storytelling, improv, and mindfulness training are examples of subject matter that will positively impact your team’s sales abilities, despite not being specifically focused on the sales function. When you’re dealing with top performers, you need to expand your horizons to help them reach peak performance.

Talk About Achieving Peak Performance

Achieving peak performance levels and working towards mastery is an honourable pursuit in and of itself. People who are not challenged get bored. The road to complacency is paved with boredom.

A quick Google of “peak performance” will give you more information and training options than you can digest related to getting on the path to mastery. Choose the one that’s right for your team and start to walk down the path together.

There is a significant amount to consider when determining the best way to energize an already high-performing sales team to increase sales. If you would like some insight into how, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Sales Strategy 101: Selling by Helping

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

Are your salespeople selling to close business, or are they selling to help their prospects? It might seem like these two are one and the same. Yet this subtle shift in mindset and focus when it comes to sales strategy profoundly affects the tenor of your company’s sales and marketing, outbound communications, and interactions.

Why Is a ‘Selling by Helping’ Sales Strategy Important?

When you sell to help, it shifts your team’s focus from “winning” new business to “becoming the partner of choice” for your prospects. It elevates your team in the eyes of your customers and prospects from being mere sales representatives to Trusted Advisors.

Differentiating your products and services from those of your competition can be a zero-sum game.  You have bells and whistles they don’t. Conversely, they have some that you don’t. The key differentiator in 99% of sales is your company and your people.

If your sales team is out there with a focus on selling rather than helping, they are likely pitting your products against those of the competition and trying to “sell” prospects. This focus on winning the business can alienate buyers. No one likes to be sold to. Employing a helping mindset will not go unnoticed by your potential buyers. This is a sales strategy that allows everyone to win and results in greater sales success than trying to close them.

How to Establish a ‘Selling to Help’ Mindset and Sales Strategy

Objectivity on the part of the salesperson is the key to making a helping mindset possible in sales. When a seller is singularly focused on winning, they will attempt to overcome buyer objections and close the sale.

When a salesperson is genuinely focused on helping, if the products and solutions they represent don’t solve the problems a prospect is looking to tackle, they will refer them to ones that will. Does this mean they may well lose the sale at hand? Sure. While this is true, this is often only in the short run.

A prospect who truly feels understood and helped will appreciate it, remember it, and very likely come back to your company when they have needs that you can meet.

4 Key Questions Your Salespeople Should Be Asking Prospects

After all my years as a Fractional VP of Sales in Vancouver, I’m still amazed at the frequency with which I’m confronted by sellers who ask precious few questions and are more excited to hear themselves speak than to hear me speak. Which camp does your team fall into?

A sales process aimed at facilitating a ‘selling by helping’ approach is fundamentally different than one that is aimed at closing business. This sales process involves your team asking four key questions of buyers and intently listening to the answers. The questions are:

  1. Tell me about your current situation…
  2. How are things going with that – what problems or sticking points are you encountering?
  3. If you could get unstuck and resolve those problems, what would you like your improved situation to look like?
  4. Based on all of this, what value or ROI are you looking to get by investing in fixing your problems?

That’s it. The answers to these four straightforward questions will give your sellers all the information they need to best position their solutions and recommendations as an effective way to help the buyer. Done well, this increases the probability that a sale will happen.

Embed the ‘Selling by Helping’ Sales Strategy in Your CRM

Have a conversation with your sales team about why this sales strategy is a wise approach to take, and then make it as easy as possible for them to follow it. You can do this by embedding the four key questions above in your CRM as a notetaking template to ensure they are asked of every buyer.

Make it clear to your team that if they don’t know what problems their buyers are facing, then the likelihood of a sale occurring is extremely low.

Throw Other Sales Strategies Out the Window and Sell More by Selling Less

At the end of the day, selling by helping is all about having a genuine conversation with your prospects and hearing what they say. In my book, Sell More by Selling Less, I outline everything you need to know to master the conversational sales method that will transform your team’s ability to convert buyers into customers.

As with all things, there’s a great deal of nuance around how to shift a team into a ‘sales by helping’ approach. If you would like to discuss this with me further, please feel free to reach out at [email protected].

The Not-so-Secret Way to Make Easy Money

Written by Rob Malec

www.robmalec.com

The other day, I asked a business owner, “How many existing customers are in your database?”

Their answer was 2500.

“Other than your top 25 customers, how often do you touch base with the rest?”

Their answer? “We haven’t touched base with them in years”.

When it comes to easy money from sales, there is no mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is an actual pot of gold and it is sitting inside of your existing customer base in the form of uncovered and unaddressed pain points and needs.

Mining Your Existing Customer Database is the Key to Easy Money

Some business owners get so focused on bringing on new customers (which is expensive and slow) that they forget to mine their current customer database for new revenue (much cheaper and faster).

The Customer Success function of today is the Account Management function of yesteryear. Where the two differ is that the Customer Success function exists not only to maintain current customers and keep them happy but also to serve a purposeful revenue generation function.

Account Management used to involve a few dedicated staff focused on handling inbound customer service requests. Every now and then a customer would call with a burning need and something additional would get sold to them, but otherwise it was a reactive job role.

True Customer Success involves several core proactive process components that, when followed, transform your department from a headcount expense into a profit centre. Here are 5 important strategies to make easy sales…

  1. Get the Right People in the Right Seats on the Bus

The best candidate for a Customer Success Representative is a person who both loves to serve clients and is comfortable with making outbound calls to current customers. The purpose of these calls is to ensure that customers are happy and probe for new sales opportunities.

A person who is only comfortable fielding inbound calls and loses sleep at the thought of having to make outbound calls will not be successful as a Customer Success Representative. Assess the competencies of your team and ensure that your Customer Success Representatives are fit for their roles. If you find gaps, reshuffle your team or bring on staff as necessary to ensure this function is filled.

  1. Make it Clear to the Customer Success Team Where the Bus is Going, and Where it’s Not

The job role of the Customer Success Representative is to a) handle inbound customer requests and resolve any service concerns and, b) systematically reach out to existing customers to determine their satisfaction level and whether they have unmet pain points or needs that the company can address.

When unmet pain points and/or needs are identified, this opportunity is then handed back to the sales team to lead the customer through the sales process and close the business. The role of the Customer Success Representative is only to identify sales opportunities and then hand them off to sales, not to conduct a sales process and close the deal themselves.

  1. Provide Your People With a Roadmap to Get to Where You Need Them to Go

The process flow for your Customer Success function is not complex. The best systems are simple, making them easy to follow and get the results you want. The process flow can be as simple as this:

  • Segment your current customer base by size or strategic importance into the categories of A, B, C, and D. Decide on the frequency with which each category of customer will be contacted.
  • Prepare a list of questions aimed at understanding the customers’ current level of satisfaction with your company and then uncover any unmet pain points and needs they are interested to have addressed by your company.
  • Use your CRM to schedule and track the outcomes of these conversations. Set up a simple process by which any sales opportunities identified can be seamlessly handed over to the sales department.
  1. Track the Journey and Measure Progress

Set up KPIs to track all Customer Success meetings conducted and the outcomes.  The no-brainers to begin with are Net Promoter Scores (NPS), new sales opportunities uncovered, and revenue closed. Depending on your specific goals, you may want to track additional KPIs to see how your team is doing.

  1. Provide Your Team With the Tools They Need for Success

Your Customer Success team will need a CRM to remind them when to reach out to existing customers and capture notes on those interactions. They may need a project management application to help them track any problem-resolution projects that arise out of these calls. You will also need a mechanism to capture NPS scores and a dashboard to share the results among stakeholders.

With these steps in mind, there is some nuance to setting up a productive Customer Success function so you can ensure you don’t miss out on easy money. If you’d like to learn more about how to do this in your business, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Cultivating a Success Mindset for Your Business

Written by Rob Malec

To be a successful business owner, mindset is everything. I have worked with thousands of business professionals over my 21 years as a Fractional VP of Sales, and the common thread amongst those who have achieved peak performance is having a success mindset.

What Is Mindset?

Having a success mindset is not simply about adhering to a series of trite, sunshiny slogans and phrases aimed to pump you up. Nor is it a collection of pithy aphorisms that point out obvious truisms about the merits of remaining diligent and focused.

Rather, mindset is a system of attitudes and beliefs put into purposeful action each and every day. A business mindset, then, is an approach to the way a person conducts their business. It’s how feeling, intuition, knowledge, skill, and wisdom are applied toward an identified challenge.

The Benefits of a Successful Business Mindset

Mindset manifests itself as actions and activities aimed at turning ideas into reality and making the difficult or seemingly impossible, possible. The right business mindset can make a bad day better (or prevent a bad day from happening in the first place). It can take a seemingly calamitous event and turn it into an unforeseen opportunity. It can take a person from a low-energy, unproductive state to one of high energy and productivity.

Mindset can straighten out a circuitous journey and make the path to a destination crystal clear. When you and your team share a business mindset, it can help you all converge on a path toward achieving your company goals. So how then do you develop the right business mindset for success?

Cultivating a Success Mindset

It has been my experience as a Fractional VP Sales that there are very few select individuals out there who possess a success mindset based solely upon biological disposition. They just came into the world with it.

The rest of us mere mortals need to cultivate and nurture a business mindset over time. This is a daily practice requiring purposeful focus. It’s a garden that needs regular watering. Here are a few ways to do so.

Cultivate a Success Mindset by Reading Often

We’ve all seen the statistics that say the most successful business people read X [insert seemingly unreasonable number of books] per year. Regardless of the number of books your Google search tells you successful people read, the message is clear: consistently filling your brain with fresh ideas is the best way to broaden your thinking and sharpen your focus. Note that ‘fresh’ here means new ideas for you. The ideas may have been around for centuries, such as those contained in books that are thousands of years old, but they could very well be new to you.

Remember That Inspiration to Help Cultivate a Success Mindset Can Come From Anywhere

The reading path to developing a successful business mindset can begin just about anywhere. The journey begins when you, the student, realize you have a desire to learn. As the saying goes, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher shall appear’.

It may be that “how to” focused business books are the best place for you to start. For others, reading about mindfulness makes more sense. For still others reading a book on how to improve their tennis game may have obvious applications in the business realm. The key is to start with your interest and go from there. Be sure to examine how what you read applies to your business.

Initiate A Successful Business Mindset Within Your Team

The journey of initiating a success mindset within a team begins with a conversation. It may be one that you’ve never had with your team. Many leaders are so busy focusing on having their team handle the issues of the day that they don’t set aside time to have higher-level conversations. It’s important to peel the onion and get to the heart of how your team shows up to their job roles and what could be done to elevate their performance.

If peeling the onion and starting down this path makes you nervous, you’re not alone. Many CEOs and business owners I’ve worked with have felt the same way. If you would like to discuss how you might tackle this challenge feel free to reach out to me.

How to Be a Great Boss: 6 Tips to Be an Effective Sales Leader

Written by Rob Malec

Any way you slice it, being a business owner is tough. The responsibilities and stress of keeping the ship on course and meeting payroll every week can be daunting. Doing this while maintaining an even keel and being an effective leader is no small feat. When it comes to how to be a great boss, there’s no big secret. But there are a few simple mindset tips to follow to help you stay on track…

6 Tips From a Fractional VP of Sales to Help You Be a More Effective Sales Leader

 

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #1: Keep Your Ego in Check

A healthy ego is required for long-term business success. It takes considerable self-confidence to transform an idea into a business and then nurture it in a way that leads to sustainable growth. However, bad things start to happen when this ego morphs into the realm of an “I am the boss, dammit!” approach.

When your ego is unchecked, staff become deferential and work to serve your ego more than the business or its customers. Team morale drops. At best, people feel uneasy, and at worst, they feel fearful.

I have dealt with business owners like this and have experienced first-hand the profound negative effects on staff when the boss’s ego runs loose. A good long look in the mirror is the simple test for business owners to determine where their ego falls on the continuum between self-confidence and “I am the boss, dammit!” exclamation.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #2: Communication is Key…But the Right Amount at the Right Time

It is understood that there are many aspects of running a business that would not be appropriate to share with all staff (mergers, acquisitions, potential staff layoffs, new product launches, opening of new markets and the like are examples that come to mind).

However, I’ve experienced business owners who take the approach of leaving their people totally in the dark. In these situations, it’s very difficult for them to understand what the guardrails are for exercising their discretion as they execute on their duties and tasks each day.

I have observed business owners who took the opposite approach of telling staff too much, too early.  This left staff feeling very uneasy about the future – to the point of causing some of the top performers to leave the company.

To be an effective leader, you should build a thoughtful communication plan that lets your staff know what they need to know, when they need to know it.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #3: Provide the Right Tools to Your Team

When asking a team to perform, the leader’s job is to provide the tools necessary. A carpenter without a hammer is hard-pressed to be productive. Similarly, a salesperson without a well-configured CRM is equally as hard-pressed to be productive.

Being thoughtful and including your team in conversations about what tools are required will exponentially increase job role efficiency and effectiveness. This does not mean that the tools need to be elaborate or expensive. On the contrary, frequently surveying the landscape of options and choosing sales tools that will meet the needs of the team is more effective than buying the “biggest and best” and presuming it will cure all ills.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #4: Pay Your People What They Deserve

When speaking with business owners who experience high staff turnover, a common thread I have noticed is that they pay their people a salary that is below the market rate. Paying your people well does not mean overpaying.

Survey the market and be on par with or a little bit above the going rate for your various staff positions. If you need a way to fund pay increases, raise your prices. When it comes to employees, you get what you pay for and paying at or a bit above market rate will help you retain good performers. Of course, pay is not the only piece of the puzzle when it comes to retaining your top sales performers. But it is an important one and holding on to your top performers will save you money in the long haul.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #5: Pay Your People on Time

In my work as a Fractional VP of Sales, I’ve seen more than a few companies that fail to pay out employee bonuses and commissions on time. Nothing annoys employees more than being paid late. The most effective business owners I have met have bonus programs that are simple to assess and affordable to implement. They are calculated and paid out on time, every time. Meeting this commitment to your staff is an overt way to say, “I value your contribution”.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #6: Show Your Appreciation

I’ve never met anyone who has said, “I wish my boss would stop telling me what a great job I am doing!”. Showing gratitude and appreciation on a daily basis as you walk down the hall is a simple way for a business owner to spread the love and have employees know that they are valued. Institutionalizing this in reward and recognition programs is a more formal way to ensure that staff know the company sees their contributions and appreciates them.

There is a great deal of nuance to being an effective leader. I have mentored many executives to help them navigate the path to being effective leaders. If you have a leadership challenge you would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Leading Change to Improve Sales Performance

Written by Rob Malec

For a business owner, launching a new sales process is as much an exercise in behavioural change management as it is in sales process optimization. To improve sales performance, having your team clear on what to do in terms of the sales process is only the first step. More important is having them understand how to do it, and then following through to actually do it!

If your sales team is made up of seasoned veterans, then it is certain they have well-developed ways of doing things and firmly entrenched work habits. Even if they are new hires freshly out of school, they’ll come to you with well-developed ways of doing things and work habits – some good and some bad.

How to Manage Behavioural Change to Improve Sales Performance

In my role as a Fractional VP Sales, I’ve worked with many companies to optimize their sales processes and then launch them. I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned along the way about managing behavioural change to improve sales performance…

Communicate to Your Team Why This Change, and Why Now

Even if a sales team has been underperforming and intellectually knows what they have been doing is not working, they still need you to tell them why you’re changing your approach to selling, and why now. Let your team know the business imperative at hand. Tell them what will happen if there is no change made to the sales approach. Your people need to hear from their boss that future growth is imperilled if a new approach to sales is not taken.

Identify Who Is Leading the Change to Improve Sales Performance

When implementing new processes, your team will need to know who is in charge.

  • If they have a CRM issue, who do they go to?
  • If they have an issue related to the sales process, who is the resource to tap?
  • If there are marketing applications, who is at the wheel of that?

As you roll out changes meant to improve sales performance, your team will invariably encounter sticking points. In the absence of identifying who is in charge, the team will likely simply stop the new thing they are doing and fall back on old behaviours. Identifying who the point people to go to are when getting stuck will allow getting unstuck to happen.

Clearly Define the New Approach to Improving Sales Performance at a Granular Level

Your salespeople will want to know exactly what is changing, down to the nitty-gritty details. As changes are being made to their day-to-day duties and tasks, this makes all the sense in the world. Share process flow inventories and flowcharts as required that not only depict the new way of doing things but also compare and contrast them to the old way of doing things. This will help your salespeople see why change is necessary and how it will benefit everyone.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Be prepared for the fact that no matter how much care you put into communicating the new approaches with granularity and clarity, your team will still be unclear in the early stages. There is simply too much coming at them for them to grasp everything in the first go. Set up initial launch meetings and a series of follow-up meetings to communicate and re-communicate what needs doing and how to do it.

Provide the Tools Your Team Needs to Successfully Change and Improve Sales Performance

Prior to launch, think through all tools your team will need to successfully implement the new sales process (think CRM, emailing software, sales scripts, process flows etc.). Have them ready on launch day. It stands to reason that if a team is asked either to do new things or to do old things in new ways if they are not given the tools to help with execution then the new approaches will fail.

Provide Coaching to Improve Sales Performance

If weekly coaching is not something you already do with your sales team, be sure to implement it when launching a new sales approach. For all the reasons listed above, it’s incumbent upon you to stay close to your people and ensure that the change you want to see is taking hold.

There are two types of meetings you should set up. The first is a regular team sales meeting to keep the whole group aligned and allow for project course correction. The other meetings to schedule are one-on-one sales coaching sessions to peel the onion on the challenges individual team members are facing. The temptation to slip back into the old ways is great. Regular coaching allows leadership to identify sticking points early and often so they can be addressed, and behaviour can successfully change.

Celebrate Wins

Celebrate wins generated from using the new sales approach in the same way you would celebrate the first wobbly steps taken by a toddler. Jump up and down, ring the bell, and get excited! Short-term wins, no matter how small, prove that the process has all parties headed in the right direction.  This celebration anchors the new approaches in the culture and sets the stage to celebrate further successes as you improve sales performance.

My thinking on managing behavioural change has been deeply influenced by Leading Change by JP Kotter. It’s a book I highly recommend for all leaders. If you would like to discuss how you might manage leading change in your own company, please feel free to reach out to me.