“There’s Still More There”

“There’s still more there.” Several years ago, in my first management gig, we had a senior leader who used to say this line ALL THE TIME. He’s say it slow, and he’d end every single meeting and conference call with it and we had to repeat it with him. We kind of snickered about it. He was an age that I’m a lot closer to now than I am to the age I was then and I was young and thought I knew it all. Ironically, I can still hear that line sometimes – it left a long-lasting imprint. What it means is this: No matter how well you’re doing, what you’ve done or accomplished, how much you have learned or how well the relationship is going THERE’S STILL MORE THERE. Get to know that colleague or client or friend even better. Invest time in expanding relationships and the value you add. Utilize your talents to master other facets of your portfolio instead of just dominating what you’re good at. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge your unknown. Where’s the growth if you are always doing what you know? Go beyond scratching the surface. Learn everything you can. Make your weak areas strong. Add value everywhere you can. This approach will take you in numerous rewarding and unimaginable directions.

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Give Your Salespeople A Break!

A friend told me to start watching “Billions” so I watched the pilot this morning on the treadmill. There’s a line where a character says, “It’s like Warren Buffet says: Put a cop on anyone’s tail for 500 miles and they’ll get a ticket.” It reminded me that sometimes we need to give our salespeople a break! Another lifetime ago, I worked in an environment where managers proactively tried to target folks because results were slipping. Listen to anyone long enough on sales calls, and they will make a misstep from the process. I was pressured to write up, discipline or fire folks while running the top team in the business. When you’re up, ride the wave; tweak, run some maintenance, look for ways to improve the hustle stats and metrics where you’re weak. When you’re down, manage to process. Don’t lead with fear. As a leader, you will get the best results imaginable just by earning the trust of the people who work for you. It can take years to build but reacting to a slump by targeting your team can destroy it. Counsel them and don’t lose sight of your mission: understand your team’s motivations, sell them on why the process works better than their “comfortable way of failing/mediocrity” and give them the space they need to evolve their own craft to perfection.

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How to Close More Sales on the Appointment

To close more sales during the appointment, be personable, do less talking than they do, and aim your focus solely on finding ways to add value – even if you do not see the immediate benefit. Customers become clients and relationships when there is rapport, trust and mutual respect; ask thoughtful questions and be genuine with respectful responses and suggestions. If you come across as sincerely trying to support and service, the temperature will be a lot more ripe for a customer to decide they want to change their way of doing things. Ultimately, you don’t sell them anything; they choose to change their behavior because of recommendations from a trusted source. You can become that trusted source by understanding their process, finding any weaknesses or gaps in it, and showing them that the risk to change is less than the risk of remaining status quo.

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The 4 Steps to Managing Uncontrollables in Customer Relationships

At times, things completely outside our control are negatively impacting our customer relationships – we cannot control many factors beyond sales process, like the execution of the solution. What can we do to prevent losing these customers forever?

Many times, we on the front lines of the selling relationship can control only so much: we can sell the earth, moon and stars, we can promise and commit and spout the corporate talking points. Beyond that, we very often rely on others for administrative responsibilities, for the delivery of the solution or product or service, and we can only inspect the progress on the assembly line so far. However, because we are on the front lines – we are the face of the company to our customers! – they will most certainly reach out to you when things go wrong, promises are broken and commitments you made go unkept on the “back end.”

1. Level-set expectations. If you know that processes are ambiguous or still being ironed out, if you are in a transformational or incubation environment, or you are aware of a current issue facing potential customer satisfaction at the end result, be sure to inform your customer up front of the issue. You are often a liaison between your company and its processes and the end user: your customer. Being open about potential issues that will be faced during the process can temper the pain points down the road. It also can cost you the business, but this does accomplish a few things: you can provide this feedback to your organization as a pain point that must be overcome, you further gain your potential customer’s respect because you were honest, and once you are able to iron out these deficiencies it is more likely you can earn their repeat business down the road.

2. Be incredible at what you can control. No matter how many links there are in the chain to the solution, it’s always possible hitches can present themselves. What you can control are the quantity of customers you target, the effectiveness of your pitch and message, the tenacity with which you provide efficient and consistent communication, how and how often you follow up, and the support you provide throughout all layers of the sales relationship. You won’t win every relationship, and sometimes things outside of your control will hamper your success, but no one but you can control how you react and respond to that. You choose to play the numbers’ game – if 1 out of 10 customers won’t do business with you solely because of process hang-up’s, you can control providing this feedback to your organization and you can control calling the necessary additional decision-makers to reach your goals.

3. Own it. There are many sales professionals who will distance themselves from the process, but your customers see only your company. Take ownership of the totality of the relationship – acknowledge that there are issues at certain stages of the game, that you take your customers’ needs and feedback very seriously, that you are getting the information into the right hands, and that you are doing everything you can to expedite the situation. The sales food chain is very similar across all links; just like a sales team does not expect a manager to literally fix everything that ails them, they just want to see that their voice is heard, they want to see the manager communicating their issues elsewhere and they want to see the concerns addressed. We win some, we lose some, and customers can accept that. But give them a forum for process improvement! If you have the chance to get them in touch with others who impact the business and the links in the chain that are currently faltering, do just that! Your customers will be part of the solution, which gets them more involved in your operation and relationship and it strengthens that bond and enhances your chances of doing future business. They’re invested. You invested in their solution and they’ll be invested in the potential for a positive outcome.

4. Exercise patience and revisit the big picture. We will sometimes lose customers for one of a variety of factors. Sometimes, our organization will roll something out before it’s ready because it’s imperative to have something in the marketplace so they don’t fall too far behind. The more plugged in you are to the overall big picture reasons why things are the way they are, the more you are taking it upon yourself to get the necessary problems with potential solutions to powers that be, the more you are positively impacting your business and the potential customer relationships to come. You’ve no doubt heard that to make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs. Customer relationships can be fragile, and many times they are looking at you amongst a rather large field when making a decision. It’s possible you will not lead in every single facet when it comes to price, efficiency, productivity and capabilities, but where you can lead is in communication, honesty, building and gaining respect, and doing everything you can to provide value.

No sales product or solution is completely perfect in every way; if it was, there would be no room or need for competition! You provide a product or solution that is unique, and you are a unique additive to the solution. Be honest, be receptive to feedback, relay the feedback and needs of your customers to those who are paid to make the process enhancements and changes necessary and be effective in your outreach and support. Always remember to control what you can; don’t sell yourself short on what you think you can’t control, don’t just accept what you view now as a failure – own the customer’s experience, get them involved as you can in solutions and keep working toward an optimum experience for all. For that is the plight of all sales professionals and organizations after all.

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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.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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The 3 Keys to Survival In Sales Jobs Where Few Hit Goal

Every company wants to achieve a lift in results. They can take their budgets and their expenses and growing headcount costs and equipment costs associated with their internal growth and those costs will be assigned to salespeople to achieve so they can “make their number.” High above us all, many equations and figures factor in to what numbers we have to hit – if a division wants to achieve 25% growth this year, guess what? Your goal is going to be 125% of what it was the year prior – across the board, no matter what’s possible or feasible or changing in the environment. We can be rockstars crushing goal one year and do more the following year, miss goal, and be the goat.

Once upon a time, I worked in an environment with 121 peers. We went from over half of us hitting goal to only 2 of us at one point (yes, I was one). The reason for these drastic swings fully illustrates the guesswork that often goes into goal-setting. No one wants to severely under-cut setting goal, because they pay out far more than they desire in bonuses. I also believe that no one wants to drastically misfire the opposite way either, because it is excruciatingly depressing to top performers to suddenly be told they are failing, to take pay cuts and be scolded despite selling more than they did when they were “great.”

Realize that like the House always winning, your bonuses and goals will often be offset – feast with famine. Equilibrium can be difficult to attain, specifically in newer sales channels, because no one truly knows the potential, a few huge wins can really change the curve and the dynamic dramatically, and you may break the bank one month, quarter or year only to have your goal jacked up so high that no matter how you perform you’ll never get paid like that again. Or, after a period of famine, if you can survive the drought, you may get to the point where your goals are reasonably adjusted again.

It can often be an inexact science, causing the result – our performance, our recognition, our payout – to be difficult to foresee. Frustrating and perplexing, to say the least, but it’s important to handle such issues similarly to other obstacles in your workplace.

1. Communicate with leadership! As always, develop a good rapport with the supervisor who is paid to protect and serve you and your peers. It’s vital you are tactfully and respectfully explaining the situation. The job of everyone above you on the sales food chain is to stay at the pulse of your team, so it is important you are explaining the drastic swing from everyone crushing goal to everyone missing goal is having its effect.

2. Stay the course. Be patient. As I alluded to, and let’s face facts, there are times when goals are severely under-set! If this happens, you are making a ton of money during these times. Be smart, don’t spend all of your bonus because a famine may follow the feast! If you spent all of the bonus money you made, this can make it increasingly difficult to keep a cool head when these swings hit. Make a living on your earnings and put extra earnings away if possible so you can find a consistent flow to managing the money.

3. See the bigger picture. Trust me – from a person who has had to set goals for brand new divisions, it is very difficult to do. Malice is not necessarily intended when goals are played with. Sure, there are companies who will make more and more profit and will find more and more ways to pay employees less – that’s a completely different story and those companies certainly warrant their terrible Glassdoor reviews and low morale. But I do believe that for the most part, you have a leadership team who is making their best prognosis on what salespeople need to achieve to make the business profitable. If they under-cut those goals, they will attempt to right the ship. Be cognizant that sometimes that’s going to result in drastic highs and lows on our bonus structures. As for how you are managed based on performance next to sometimes arbitrary goals, that’s a whole other issue – that all comes down to the quality of your management.

You’re not alone in dealing with sometimes drastically moving targets on goals and bonus structures. That said, if you have a consistent way of dealing with the inconsistency, it can certainly make it easier to bear.

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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.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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How to Be the Ultimate Sales Manager

The sales manager: occasionally (and hopefully) a more highly evolved salesperson who exists to lead, guide, assist, remove obstacles and eliminate excuses for, set the example, coach, train, serve and protect the salespeople reporting to him or her.

Sales managers are all around us; those in the selling game have likely encountered multiple. Like salespeople themselves, they have a wide range of qualifications, personality traits and work ethics, but the role of this figurehead is one that ties them all together.

This crucial leader is in place because of the people he or she leads, and this is a fact that can never be forgotten. Often, these coaches were once players of the game – likely above average or exceptional at that – but this is a new role, with new responsibilities and unique challenges. Whereas the salesperson is responsible for and accountable for one set of numbers, results and efficiencies (their own), the team leader must manage processes to achieve optimum results for their entire team.

Yes, that’s right – the sales manager’s primary role is management of process and people in perfect harmony.

In the realm of managing people, the boss needs to learn and understand them – their needs, strengths, areas of opportunity that need improvement, their potential and their pitfalls. It is important to stress to the team they manage that they exist to support them, answer questions or know where to find the answers (and know when to give them and when to require the work fall upon the seller), and that they take responsibility for doing their part in the salesperson’s career path. For, in any selling environment, sales manager and salesperson have a contract: upon issuance and acceptance of job offer, both parties agree to give their all, fulfill obligations in training, effort and results. Neither party can forget these promises.

The manager’s role in managing process – like any other facet of management – can have many different styles and approaches, but it boils down to one thing: the mechanics of successful leadership. Time management, ensuring that the training and coaching needs of his/her employees are being met, spending the right amount of time on each project and investing the right time and energy in the proper places – these are all incumbent upon the sales manager.

We will never see everything the sales manager grapples with, which is why an unclear picture of their worth sometimes exists. But an effective leader is so pivotal to any organization; their motivation, their wisdom and their ability to create and foster an environment that is conducive for results can and will make or break teams, offices, departments and companies.

Sales managers are an extremely valuable resource. They, too, must be trained, coached and shepherded along the path to exceptional leadership.

Just as a quality investment of time in a sales representative can positively impact every futuristic call they make, quality training and molding of a sales manager will trickle down to the hundreds of actions they undertake in a day, the hundreds of situations they face and the hundreds of employees who prosper under their tutelage.

The role of the sales manager – like any other rung on the ladder of the salesperson hierarchy – is imperative to make the sales wheel go around, be it for any part of the holy sales trilogy: the customer, the company and employees.

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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.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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5 Keys to Harmony Amongst Sales Reps and their Managers

Relationships – whether business or personal – have their obstacles to overcome. And, as much as we want to blame others for our problems or for their stubborn behavior, there are things both parties can and should do in order to foster the healthiest working environment possible.

Beginning as an entry level worker, beware: there is literally no telling what to expect. Sadly, in the corporate world, many people who have been appointed to management positions are not very good ones. On the same token, while often that is their fault, often it is not. Poorly run shops are not poorly run because of first-level managers; the finger-pointing should be on the person who should be coaching them and holding them accountable.

That said, when you enter a company from the first rung of the corporate ladder, you will see all sorts of things. Your virtue and integrity will very possibly be tested, you will likely be treated unfairly more than once and you will definitely not agree with a lot of things. On the flip side, however, you will most definitely have no idea everything your managers are grappling with – the pressures, strains and struggles to prioritize everything on their plates can be overwhelming. And, if their managers are inept as well, it is the blind leading the blind.

Much of the ownership of your job falls upon you. It should, and it does. The training – however adequate – is there, and you have to always be on a quest for knowledge. It is your manager’s job to remove obstacles, foster a healthy environment and coach you, but there are no guarantees this will happen.

As an employee, the best thing to remember is that you work for your leadership team and your job is to be the person you pledged to be on interview day. Even if they are not an ideal boss, that is likely not going to change anytime soon. Remember the basics of the holy sales trinity – the customer, the company and you – with every choice you make, and even if you have to smile and nod a lot, search for a compliment or grit your teeth/bite your tongue, hear them out, make them feel like the smartest person in the room and do your best to meet them halfway. Let them do their talking. Say your peace; you will need to test the waters as to how open they are to your ideas and occasional disagreements. If they yell at you or demean you daily, there’s a problem, and you will often have to softly convey any disagreements like you are breaking up with a longtime lover or just keep quiet. If they are open to your ideas, lucky you. You might have a good relationship with that person.

As a manager, you will face 10-to-30 times the personalities. There’s the prima donna superstars, the overachievers, the under-achievers, those who aren’t cut out for the gig but try their behinds off, and those who stink up the joint.

The trick with removing potential or real obstacles is – similar to above – letting them air their grievances. Listening. Make the relationship about them; because that’s why you’re there: to serve and protect.

Sales reps respect managers who respect them, who roll up their sleeves and do the job, but also who hold them accountable to set parameters of rules. Obstacles arise if you are too nice, but obstacles are minimal if you show mutual respect, invest your time in them and treat everyone fairly. They need the perception of justice, they need to know you are there if they need you for anything and they need you to be a human being. Do not put yourself on a pedestal. Be part of the team.

Wherever the weak link lies – be it the rep, the manager, or anyone above or below on the sales food chain – the keys to a relationship are communication, understanding and sometimes knowing when to keep your mouth shut. We all have to work together, so it’s better to learn how to make it work between each other rather than to allow rifts to form and grow.

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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.”

Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at cvheady007@yahoo.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/

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