Build a community around what you’re doing. Know your customer’s priorities, understand the unique value you can bring, and invest in relationships.
Stay in touch with the customers you help. The relationship does not end when a sale happens – in fact, you never know where your contacts will go and how the relationship will develop – even if you cannot do business together today.
Investing in customer relationships is like a stock portfolio – diversify across companies and business units with different ways you can show up meaningfully. These relationships pay dividends over time – guaranteed.
Keep learning, or you won’t progress.
Journal your experiences – wins, losses, key learnings. They write your appraisals for you and help you articulate your impact and outcomes driven when you need to convey them to others and to leadership.
Mareo has crafted a brilliant “gateway book for sellers” called “Really Care for Them: How Everyone Can Use the Power of Caring to Earn Trust, Grow Sales, and Increase Income. No Matter What You Sell or Who You Sell It.” Do yourself a favor, and check it out today:
What if you could obtain whatever you want – a better relationship, more fulfilling career, or life’s dream? How can you parlay your passions into something that will unlock valuable, authentic relationships?
If you are providing hope or help, and you gravitate toward where there is a need, your unique superpowers can have immense impact.
Alex talks about the experience of saying yes to an opportunity with Jamal Reimer and the reward it beget. Richard Branson once said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
Furthermore, the experiences you glean and learnings/best practices from others will lead you to incredible success. Seek excellence, be a student and say yes to opportunities that can result in growth.
Command and mastery of your role and what’s in front of you is excellent, but how can you replicate and share your process with others? That is when you change the game.
Check out Jeb Blount and Carson Heady discussing how you optimize the 4th quarter:
The fourth quarter. Whether sports or sales is your arena of choice, the mere mention implies that final push for the win. Pressure, heightened sense of awareness and clutch play are commonplace during this crucial time. But what many of us lose sight of during this time is that we’ve been building for this all year long.
When the final quarter of the year hits, our organization and our leadership may deliver a completely different tone. We may look at our year and we fall in one of three buckets: we’re having an awesome year and we’ve got to put an exclamation point on it, we’re having a so-so year and need to get over the top or we’re having a subpar season and it’s time to close some serious business!
All year long, we are setting the foundation for future business. We are planting the seeds for success every day. So, in reality, the fourth quarter should absolutely not take a different tone and its arrival should absolutely not result in us drastically changing our approach. Building a pipeline means developing the relationships that will sustain you in famine and culminate in feast – and hopefully, with diligence and consistency, that feast will not end.
During this time of year, we’ll hear some, “Yeah, my budget is tapped out and we’re just budgeting for next year.” Great – make it a point to ensure you’re on their outlook for next year. However, you’ll also come across your customers who have money left to spend before the year wraps – know your customers well enough to know their cycles. Find ways to stay top of mind – post industry articles on your social media so your contacts see them, send newsletters, make regular calibration calls. Furthermore, many customers you work with operate on different fiscal cycles so don’t naturally assume it’s their fourth quarter too.
Prioritize your leads! Regularly calibrate with your top spenders. Ensure their needs are being met, ensure they are pleased with results and that you are revisiting the relationship regularly. It’s kind of like your top reps, if you are a sales manager – reward and recognize and let your prized stallions lead you in the race.
That said, don’t make the mistake many salespeople make and solely chase whales! Diversification of your portfolio is of the utmost importance; those who only chase whales get swallowed whole. The temptation is real; sure, these customers can make your whole year or two. But I have seen far too many people live and die by chasing their Moby Dick. Your story could have the same unhappy ending.
When you diversify, prioritization of your leads means ranking them when you are scheduling your time. Certainly sell and sell more to your top accounts; make sure they are in the know on what they need to know to make informed decisions and get the most for their money. When you have new offerings, go to them first. From there, focus on additional leads as follows:
Previous customers: Realization of who no longer does business with you and why, even if you cannot immediately solve why they left, goes a long way. Specifically, when you are trying to rekindle the flame and re-earn their business – you can’t just do it with chocolates and flowers, you’ve got to SHOW them why things will be different this time. But, at one point they believed, so if you are able to overcome the hurdles that cost you their relationship before, you may earn them back. If they come back, often they are here to stay.
If you have company generated leads that perhaps are not yet spending money but are qualified in some way, absolutely perform outreach and get them into your pipeline. Figure out what their timelines could look like and size up potential needs. Get into a rhythm with following up and engaging them.
Finally, the cold outreach. This could be door to door, it could be utilizing social media (like LinkedIn) to meet decision makers and set appointments to qualify opportunities. As long as it is strategic and targeted based on your target audience and who needs what you’ve got to offer, it’s got value.
There is no silver bullet from which your top leads will originate from. If you effectively follow this process each day, week, month, quarter and year, frankly, the fourth quarter will be like any other. If you obsess over process and people, the numbers will always be there, and you will never have to worry about where your next sale comes from. Where we get off track is when we allow any outside factor, whether internal or external to our company or work group, to take us away from our process and the focus on our customers.
Have a strategy for your pipeline management, around new products and services, educating and communicating around changes in your industry, social media and each individual type of lead (from spending to pending), and simply execute on it daily. Customers will buy from you because of communication, transparency and response.
Don’t solely focus on what is going to close this quarter! We must continue to plant seeds for next quarter and year so we never find ourselves in the predicament of desperately flailing to hit numbers. That’s when we make mistakes. Frankly, the goal is to get to the point you really don’t have to think about what quarter it is; you need only think about which customer is next to engage, why, and what your message is. Don’t react, just rely on your resources and regimen.
Consistency around your process, whether you’re a sales professional or leader, will ensure your fourth quarter and every quarter are as profitable as you want them to be.
Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be. If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G
Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving. You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”
My longtime affinity for James Bond, coupled with the slogan written of him – “the man every woman wants and every man wants to be” – also presents two immediate stark contrasts: I’m not that guy and salespeople aren’t spies. That said, the way this character has been presented to us in book and film the past nearly seven decades certainly proffers a character we can relate to: someone with a job to do who’s got to do it well, and sometimes give the other fella hell.
We have seen a variety of forms of this character, but there is a common theme: a field agent paid to do a job where only he can go – often autonomously, entrusted to make decisions, with briefings from leadership and infrequent communications back to base – because the job that needs to be done requires someone in the field to meet the connection, to make the decision and to execute what needs to be done.
I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work in sales and leadership across inside sales, field sales, leading remote teams and even leading door-to-door efforts B2C and B2B, in consulting from sales rep to senior management and this much is certainly true: you can achieve a whole heck of a lot (especially in today’s day and age) digitally and virtually, but some deals just don’t get done unless you sit across the table, shake hands, and partner in person.
The whole first meeting between Bond and Q (in, of course, the Daniel Craig iteration of the character) is rife with references to what I mean, and it sums it up quite nicely:
The whole mood of Skyfall is that Bond is a dinosaur; past his prime. The need for the field operative is null and void because of everything that can be done with data and drones.
Q: “I’ll hazard I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pajamas before my first cup of Earl Grey, than you can do in a year in the field.”
007: “Oh, so why do you need me?”
Q: “Every now and then a trigger has to be pulled.”
007: “Or not pulled. It’s hard to know which in your pajamas.”
In person, you can gauge the room, get a feel for body language and the true nature of the relationship, there is no mute button where the audience can proverbially mutter under their breaths – it’s all in the open.
Bond describes card-playing to Vesper in Casino Royale as playing the person across from you; it’s not about the cards (as we all have to determine when we show ours during course of deal-making and negotiation) but about the play between the players. You can read the players when you sit across a table from them; far less is lost in translation of the phone call or virtual discussion. Looking someone in the eyes can gain a trust like nothing else can.
Be present. Just like top sellers don’t need to constantly be critiqued (their love language may just be words of affirmation), customers just want to be able to see you from time to time and not only when you’re trying to sell them something. Being there, knowing the gatekeepers by name and being friendly and conversational with them, being able to comment on your past visits to their office, and being there consistently so you are top of mind is an incredibly important investment of your time.
The field seller requires all (DOUBLE-O) SEVEN of these critical attributes James Bond possesses:
(1) Charm/ Personality/ Charisma. The greatest Bond, Sir Sean Connery, embodied cool. He would rarely sweat (only when a deadly tarantula inched closer to poisoning him), certainly remained poised in the face of very hostile adversity and always had a quip to subside the danger in the air. Sellers endure a mound of work, setbacks and disappointments but have to continue projecting the air of success and positivity no matter what dilemma befalls them. Sir Roger Moore, definitely the jokiest Bond, was always good at the light-hearted one-liners in tense moments, too. While charm and charisma can be conveyed through the phone, the energy it injects into the physical atmosphere is contagious.
(2) Performance under pressure: James Bond always faces the most dire of consequences, with his critical actions needed with just seconds left before nuclear weapons explode, world powers are crippled, or his martini contains the wrong balance of vodka and vermouth or is stirred instead of shaken. Sellers face deadlines, emergent situations (constantly), micromanagement, pressure over pipeline (moving deals and lack thereof) – you name it. The field seller also has to have that perfect mix of in-person meetings, drive time, and an optimal calendar to manage through scale. An ability to take it all in stride, focus on maximizing the moment and the meeting and perform well even when you’re working on the final stages of your make-or-break deal is paramount.
(3) Perseverance – the ability to rise from each fall and bring the best version of yourself to each day, despite the many ups and downs. Our selling game has changed dramatically over the last few decades (just as the Bond franchise has) and what was valued in the age of Mad Men and Wall Street looks very different. “Never let them see you bleed,” Q tells Bond (in Desmond Llewelyn’s final appearance in The World is Not Enough) – and this means don’t react negatively when the interaction with customer or manager or colleague doesn’t go your way, don’t fret openly when the deal goes awry (sometimes over and over again), hang in there when unfair circumstances shake your world, and be consistent in the face of ebbs and flows in your business.
(4) Patience – Bond has an ability to wait out a bad guy or situation so the villain makes a mistake. Sales cycles can be anywhere from same day to multi-year, and much of the life of a seller is hitting milestones and moving deals through pipeline. Things will rarely go as you foresee or desire, and it demands a steady hand on the wheel on an often long and winding road. Bond stakes out the villain’s hideout as long as it takes, makes calculated moves as he advances on henchmen and yet seizes the opportunity when it’s in front of him. We must be the same way.
(5) Thrill of the chase & competitive nature. Bond seems most alive when he’s chasing the bad guy, pushing his incredible vehicle to the limit or competing with Goldfinger on the golf course, Graves in fencing or even an arcade game in a ridiculous scene in Never Say Never Again. He is also a notorious card player – the best in the service. He also typically wins. Either way, he never backs down from a challenge and certainly gives every opponent a run for their literal money. Sellers have to have a love of the game, lest there is no reason left to play. The adrenaline rush of the close, the excitement of creating and chasing a deal, the climbing of the stack ranking – these are all things top of mind for the seller.
(6) Intuition. It’s important to be one step ahead; 007 is chartered with anticipating what a villain will do, what diabolical plot is afoot and how he can intercept and foil effectively – all while saving the world. We have to anticipate our customers’ needs and objections in all shapes and sizes; this often comes through experience(s). Keeping at the pulse of what’s going on in the industry, in your territory and at your customer’s organization helps you respond quickly, predict problems, gain trust and respect and figure out how to chart out the partnership into the future.
(7) Always bring the right weaponry! As sellers, we have so many tools and resources in our arsenal, from collateral and stories to incredible people and connections who can make relationships and partnerships better. Bond brings his Walther PPK (or Beretta or ASP, depending on what you’re reading or watching) and his souped up Bentley or Aston Martin to every arena he enters. He’s also got his gifts from Q-Branch. We have devices, apps, team members, experts, and demos – use them wisely! These are often expertly executed in the field – the ability to showcase your solution to a live audience, interact with them and surmise their interest and actively engage through gestures, eye contact, body language and handshakes afterward.
The literary and cinematic James Bond has countless similarities to today’s seller, and the focus spent on his changing role in the digital age has been quite fascinating. Reinventing a franchise over 60+ years certainly has its challenges as this character has to transform for a new age. The obvious questions of obsolescence and effectiveness have to be tackled, especially when data and remote surveillance and digital approaches can achieve so much.
I’ve been very fortunate to spend lots of time training others on social selling and cannot undermine the value of digital sales and its importance. Social selling is crucial today, but it is best used as a way to create face to face relationships that do not already exist, getting intel you would not have otherwise, staying top of mind with your growing network of customers and partners, and building your brand.
Inside sales and field sales go hand in hand; the very reason an effective SDR can be so valuable to a seller. But it’s also so critically important that both realize the true value of the other – leveraging each others’ relationships and strengths.
No matter what happens with automation and AI, it only strengthens the arsenal of the field seller. Time invested in face to face relationships is a down payment on a true partnership.
James Bond, Agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service is loyal, resilient, dedicated, and he gets the job done every single time by going into the field and building relationships and finding the problems. Timothy Dalton’s Bond proclaimed, “I’m a problem eliminator.”
Sellers exist to solve and eliminate problems, deliver solutions and better partnerships. And no matter what changes in sales the field seller is an indespensable agent.
How effectively we manage our time is critically aligned to our #productivity and impact. How do we optimize the controllable components of productivity?
The incredible CEO of Chet Holmes International, Amanda Holmes joins Microsoft #sales #leader Carson V. Heady to discuss.
It all starts with the realization of why this focus is important: Gallup reports 75% of staff is disengaged in their work. We are often deterred by distractions, minutiae, our reactive nature and incessant desire to address notifications immediately.
The 6 steps to great time management: (1) Touch it once. Don’t read and re-read e-mails or check them upon receipt. Take action and move on. (2) Make Lists. What are your daily non-negotiables that you must achieve? (3) Plan How Much Time Is Needed for your non-negotiables – block off time to be proactive vs. reactive. (4) Plan Your Day – This includes time needed for proactive and reactive work. (5) Prioritize: Make sure most of the day is focused on proactive work. (6) Ask Yourself: How much will it hurt to throw this away? What do we TRULY need to hold on to?
Prioritize your non-negotiables and be vigilant in your scheduling. Ensure you are most focused on high impact work.
Do you ever face these questions? “My deal is stuck and the customer went silent.” “I can’t get past procurement.” “I have my new accounts – where do I begin?” If so – this is a must-listen!
The most incredible blessing of being a student of #sales is #relationships – getting to connect with other great minds of the #selling game. I recently had the immense pleasure of being on “The Q and A Sales Podcast” with the brilliant Paul Reilly.
We will all experience #success and defeat, wins and losses, joy and grief – both in personal and professional facets.
The best we can do is control the controllables. If something is completely out of your control, shift your focus to managing the things you can; these give you the best probability for a successful outcome.
Things changed for our world in 2020, but we are all living and working through a pandemic. The successful have been the ones who understand the new playing field, new way of building relationships, new way of leading and working and seek excellence amidst the changed landscape.
It’s not easy. Change can sting. Our impulse may be to place blame or make excuses.
But if you choose success, understand the new variables and take control of what you can.
What does it take to be the BEST? A special treat – my friend and author Patrick Tinney joins me for a #sales jam.
Companies want to hire people that do extraordinary things.
The best #salespeople and #leaders are those who are a student of the game. They are customer obsessed and invest meaningfully in relationships. They understand the process, resources and playing field extensively.
The BEST are resilient. They are chameleons. They respond and pivot and adapt. They constantly seek #growth and #learning.
They look for ways to make their superpowers really shine. They understand how they can help everyone they touch – customers, colleagues and leadership – WIN.
The BEST do what other people are unwilling to do.