How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part II)

Are you a small business owner struggling to manage the sales team…?

How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part II)

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

I have been wondering about the challenges small business owners face when they manage a sales team. I set out to interview some business owners to see what they had to say. Between the time I came up with this idea and actually executed it, COVID19 arrived on the scene. That made me curious to find out whether the challenges faced by business owners in managing a sales team has shifted due to the virus. They had so many interesting observations that I had to create two articles! Below is Part II. Click here if you missed Part I.

Mona Friedl
President
MGF Services, LLC
https://www.mgf-services.com/

 Mona’s sales team consists of 3 independent contractors. The corporate office is in Wisconsin; however, the sales representatives are based in Chicago, North Caroline and California. The sales representatives have all been with the company for a long time. Some of them were originally Mona’s customers!

Mona said that before the current crisis, her #1 challenge in managing the sales team was communication, that is, making sure that her team had the data they needed to be successful. She said, “I know that it sounds simple, but it’s one of the biggest bottle necks.”

At the beginning of this year, Mona had a lot of plans for the business. Given the current crisis situation, “You just have to take out your plans, throw them up in the air and say, we’re going to start over. How do we move forward and how do we conduct business differently?” She went on to explain that a large part of that has to do with marketing and sales. For example, there were trade shows that were scheduled that have now been postponed. In addition, she and her team are used to meeting with customers and/or prospects and going on site.  Right now, that’s off the table.

Mona said they are restructuring in order to accommodate remote sales and service. “We have to start re-thinking how to handle service and support if we can’t go to a site. How is our customer going to share their information with us? The problem is, this is new to our customers too. They have their own requirements of operations and policies not to mention changes due to COVID-19 that they have to deal with and now we’re adding more to it.”

One more thing that is new: Having to remind the sales team to take a softer selling approach. She said, “There’s a sensitivity here. Talk to people and ask how they’re doing. It’s not just about the sale. We need to redefine our operations and strategies to be a good team partner with our clients. Together we will build a better future of growth.”

Shelley Armato
CEO
My Smart Plans
https://www.mysmartplans.com/

 Shelley is the CEO, co-founder and the sales team of My Smart Plans. She’s been in business since 2006.

Shelley said that her #1 challenge is telling their story to as many people as possible.  It has been an adventure because she says they are disrupting the construction industry. She said her goal is to tell their story and to find her tribe of people that understand and support her vision of building the ability to  have vetted knowledge whenever decisions are being made on a project.

Shelley’s primary business development tool is cold calling. She also uses LinkedIn to reach out to likely prospects and is involved in some industry associations. She says her biggest roadblock to gaining new clients is the status quo.

What helps Shelley succeed is her belief that she is serving the community and protecting the integrity of the project. She is not selling. These beliefs make cold calling easy for her.

The other challenge for Shelley is using the correct language. Every industry has its own dictionary of  terms, so understanding  and finding that right language is the key to success.

Re: The current crisis Shelley said, “This has been such an amazing journey. I am so sad that so many people have died, however, this crisis has been a blessing for me because it has made me focus back on what’s of value in my life. It has settled me down. I ran helter skelter for all those years. Now I’m able to sit down and articulate our story differently.”

Jonathan Roth
President
Document Imaging Group
http://www.docigroup.com/

 Jon has been in business for 14 years and it has always been a struggle to find and manage good sales people. He has hired and let go many different sales people over the years.

About 10 years ago Jon’s team consisted of  3-4  sales people. Over the course of a year or two they all left or were let go for one reason or another. Jon then went for 4-5 years without a sales team. He was the sole sales person.

Jon had such success in growing his business that he hired in other, non-sales-related, areas. He then realized he needed to hire sales people again in order to keep everyone busy and working.

About 18 months ago Jon hired a sales person, an industry veteran, and then 6-8 months later he hired another industry veteran. Jon told me that, “When you’re a small business owner and also the sales person and you handle the major accounts it becomes extremely difficult to manage the sales team. It became apparent to me that if I am going to hire sales people, I need to manage them more and hold them accountable. That is why I also hired a Director of Operations and made him responsible for managing the team.”

Unfortunately, Jon’s first hire did not work out so now he is down to one sales person.

Jon said, “I’m a very self-motivated individual and I look for people that don’t need a lot of management and that are also self-motivated individuals. What I’m finding is there aren’t a whole lot of people that are self-motivated and will take the initiative to do things on their own without someone managing them. I don’t want to be that type of manager. I now have one sales person other than myself and he is extremely self-motivated. It took me 14 years to find this person.”

***

We help business owners that are sick of micro-managing their sales team turn their team into efficient, effective qualified appointment-setters. If you’re a business owner managing a small, not-producing-at-the-level-you’d-like, sales team, let’s talk. Simply click here to schedule a time for a New Appointment Breakthrough session, give me a little background and we’ll talk.

 

How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part I)

Are you a small business owner struggling to manage the sales team…?

How to Manage a Sales Team With or Without a Crisis (Part I)

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

I have been wondering about the challenges small business owners face when they manage a sales team. I set out to interview some business owners to see what they had to say. Between the time I came up with this idea and actually executed it, COVID19 arrived on the scene. That made me curious to find out whether the challenges faced by business owners in managing a sales team has shifted due to the virus. They had so many interesting observations that I had to create two articles! This is Part I…

Brian Lambert
President and Chief Performance Officer
Growth Matters
https://www.growthmatters.today

Brian’s sales team consists of 2 salespeople. He described them both as hunters. Brian said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is, “Can they deliver the message and are they passionate about it?”

He went on to say, “Our hiring process is rigorous, so they have the skill, but what do they say? The space we’re in is very new to people. It’s also highly intangible. We are selling our know-how, smarts, methods, frameworks, consulting and services that are not necessarily productized. A lot of sales people struggle with that.”

Brian went on to say that his company tries to figure out how to help people work differently and to simplify business processes. That’s hard for sales people to articulate and there’s often a messaging gap, around the business case for working differently and/or the business case for simplifying. His sales people need to be able to connect the dots in the customer’s organization.

When I asked Brian if his #1 challenge had changed post-coronavirus he said, “Now we are getting meetings, but when we have those meetings, we are struggling to get everyone in the prospect company on the same page. So, the #1 challenge now is, once we have the meeting, how do we continue the momentum? There are usually 8-12 people involved in making the decision and it’s difficult to get people to want to fix the problem and agree on the solution. This is worse now with COVID19.

Gadi Binness
CEO
Relocation Insurance Group, LLC
https://relocationinsurance.com/

Gadi’s sales team consists of 2 Sales Admins, 2 producers and a Director of Sales and Business Development who manages the 2 Sales Admins and the 2 producers and who also does business development. Gadi is also involved in sales.

Gadi said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is technology. He said that they are still doing some things manually and that cuts down on their efficiency and productivity. The challenge is to upgrade and update the technology they use in order to be more productive. Interestingly, the company has always worked remotely and so they were not affected, the way many other companies have been, by having to make a major shift in how they work.

I asked Gadi what he sees as his #2 challenge in managing a sales team. His answer, “Bringing more leads and accounts into the pipeline. Bringing in more business.” He said that for his business, “The challenge moving forward, if this crisis continues, will be bringing in business.”

Ron Clevenger
President
Mustard Seed Financial & Insurance
https://www.mseedfinancial.com/

Ron’s sales team consists of 10 insurance producers. They are all 1099, independent, commission-only, contractors whose focus is to go out and find new business.  Once an account is closed, there is a customer service team that manages that account. This allows the producers to continue to sell and find new business.

Ron said that his #1 challenge in managing a sales team is to have visibility into the early stages of the sales funnel, pre-quote and pre-negotiation. His blind spot is having a strong indication, at the highest level, how the early stage sales funnel looks. He does not have an easy way to know if the sales funnel is shrinking or if it is expanding.  It is difficult to have a measure of what the producers are doing in terms of meetings scheduled and/or in-depth conversations with prospects. Ron said that It’s easier to understand what the funnel looks like once producers get into the quoting process because then there is a good paper trail.  Ron says that the current pandemic has not had an impact on this challenge.

In thinking about what has changed since the current crisis began, Ron said, “Momentum and the learning that happens when the team can come together face-to-face.” He went on to say that, “When you have traditionally been a sales organization that operates under a brick and mortar roof and now, you’re operating remotely, your level of engagement is not as great. There’s less discussion of successes and failures, what’s working and what’s not working. It’s not the same as when everyone was sitting around a conference table together.

Ken Dawson
CEO
Mindrover Technology LLC
https://www.mindrovertech.com/

In the past, Ken had a sales team but right now, he is the sales team. Ken says that his biggest challenge has been, “Finding the right person in the company to talk to. It’s a matter of getting your message to the right person.”

Ken also experiences a conflict between outbound marketing and inbound marketing and determining which one is the better approach. Ken is trying to do both at the same time. For outbound he’s working on a mix of cold calling, cold emailing and text messaging. For the inbound piece he is implementing a content marketing strategy in order to be seen as a subject matter expert by the prospects he’d like to meet.

When I asked Ken, what has changed for him since this crisis started, he said, “Now everyone is shut down and the message isn’t getting out. I’m having to rely on inbound marketing; people coming to me looking for technologies or strategies to work remotely. I was lucky, however, because I had just put up a landing page on my web site about strategies and products for working remotely and how my company can help. I did this one week before the quarantine hit.”

***

We help business owners that are sick of micro-managing their sales team turn their team into efficient, effective qualified appointment-setters. If you’re a business owner managing a small, not-producing-at-the-level-you’d-like, sales team, let’s talk. Simply click here to schedule a time for a New Appointment Breakthrough session, give me a little background and we’ll talk.

 

An Idea Whose Time Is Now

Looking for a revolutionary idea to grow sales during this crisis? Read on to discover…

An Idea Whose Time Is Now

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

There is a global pandemic. You and your team are all working remotely. You’re worried about what’s going to happen to your business and you’re worried about what’s going to happen to sales. You’re worried about how to stay in touch with your existing clients and you’re worried about how to find new opportunities.

Here is a revolutionary idea: Make phone calls.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, The Humble Phone Call Has Made a Comeback.”

 In recent years a common refrain has been, “the phone is dead,” because of caller ID, voicemail and millennials who don’t like to talk on the phone at all. With our current crisis, however, something has shifted.

The New York Times reported that:

“Verizon said it was now handling an average of 800 million wireless calls a day during the week, more than double the number made on Mother’s Day, historically one of the busiest call days of the year. Verizon added that the length of voice calls was up 33 percent from an average day before the outbreak. AT&T said that the number of cellular calls had risen 35 percent and that Wi-Fi-based calls had nearly doubled from averages in normal times…. The surge in voice calls is for both business and personal purposes, said Chris Sambar, AT&T’s executive vice president of technology and operations.”

Anecdotally, my experience over the past several weeks has been that clients and prospects are answering their phones more, and when they do answer, they are very chatty. People who are not used to working remotely are happy to have another human being with whom to speak. The two members of my business development team have reported the same experience. I have also heard this from a number of colleagues who are prospecting. Granted, this is a very small sample, however, the New York Times article backs this up. People are talking on the phone more.

 

There’s opportunity here. Now is the time to reach out to existing clients, see how they are and offer your support. Now is also the time to also reach out to new prospects. You may not make an immediate sale; however, you can start to build relationships that will result in future sales. The vehicle to make this happen? The telephone. The time to make this happen? Now.

The Proof is Social

Looking for a tool to help prospects quickly understand how you can help them? How about an instant credibility tool? How about a prospect shorthand for decision-making? It’s all in…

The Proof is Social

Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling™

The great Robert Cialdini wrote about the concept of ‘Social Proof’ in his book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” (If you don’t have a copy run out and get one now.) He said, “…the concept of social proof equips us with a wonderful kind of automatic-pilot device…. With it we can cruise confidently through a myriad of decisions without personally having to investigate the detailed pros and cons of each.” Social proof is a very powerful selling tool.

Here is an email that I recently received from a reader of this newsletter:

“…everybody from Art Sobczak to Brian Tracy to Wendy Weiss recommends using social proof as one of the key components of scripts. In the finance world, this is illegal. I cannot refer to satisfied sources. What is an elegant way to get around this? How can I compensate for not having this tool available?”

This reader brings up an excellent point. In most industries it is perfectly fine to give examples of customers that have been helped by your product or service. There are other industries where confidentiality is an important issue. There is a solution, however, and it’s rather simple.

It is perfectly ok to talk about how your product or service has helped customers, you simply cannot use customer names or identifiers. Instead of saying, “ABC Company found (fill in how the product/service helped the customer)…” and naming the specific customer you say, “One of our customers found (fill in how the product/service helped the customer).” While this is not quite as strong as being able to name a specific customer it is far stronger than not using social proof at all.

Social proof is very powerful. Always try to incorporate social proof into conversations that you have with prospects. You will be astounded to see the response.

Think A Good Salesperson Is The Answer?

Many business owners think that in order to increase revenue they simply have to hire good salespeople. That thought process is actually the reason many businesses hire a salesperson but still don’t grow sales.

You want to grow sales so you assume that if you hire “experienced” salespeople they will know how to find more qualified opportunities and close more sales. Or, you hire someone with the “gift of gab” thinking that they are a born salesperson. And, because they have the desire to learn your industry, you assume that once they learn the industry, they will be able to sell.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a “born salesperson.” People may be born with talent, but talent alone is not enough. Think about how many talented athletes have never made it to the Olympics.

Prospecting, finding opportunities and setting qualified appointments, is a specific skill set.

Selling and closing sales is another specific skill set.

Prospecting and selling are two completely different (although certainly related) skill sets. Think of it as the difference between asking someone for a date… And actually, going on the date. Prospecting is asking for the date. Selling is going on the date.

Many “experienced” salespeople don’t how to prospect.

Just because someone has experience, even if it’s in your industry, that does not mean that they will be able to sell for you.

Some numbers to know:

  • The average sales organization salesperson turnover rate is 34%
  • One in ten companies experience turnover rates above 55%
  • 89% leave due to deficient compensation, meaning they’re not making enough money which also means that you’re not making enough money
  • It costs upwards of $115k to replace a sales representative

You need to have a clear, consistent, replicable, benchmarked process for lead generation, appointment-setting and closing sales. It is only when you have a consistent, benchmarked, system that you know what works. Then, having this benchmarked system enables you to train your sales people, keep them accountable and make them successful.

The problem you need to solve before hiring a salesperson is: What is my consistent, replicable, benchmarked process for lead generation, appointment setting and closing sales?

 

The Relationship that Wasn’t

I have a business credit card from Bank of America. I never use it, but I’ve had it for years. We have no other banking relationship, just the credit card.

Earlier this week I got a call from an associate at Bank of America. I answered the call as I usually do, with my name, “This is Wendy Weiss.”

The associate then said, “May I speak with Wendy Weiss?” The conversation went downhill from there.

Wendy: This is Wendy Weiss. How may I help you?

Associate: This is __________ from Bank of America. Is this a good time to talk?

Wendy: I’m busy. What’s this about?

Associate: This is a relationship call.

Wendy: I wasn’t aware we had a relationship.

Associate: I’m calling from Bank of America.

Wendy: Is this about my credit card? Is there a problem?

Associate: There is no problem with your card. I’m calling to invite you to come into our branch and discuss your finances.

I declined.

I have to say I felt sorry for this associate. He was probably repeating this conversation over and over and over again. Someone at Bank of America had obviously told him that he was not cold calling but rather calling warm leads, “relationship calls.” They probably also told him that “relationship calls” would be easy and welcomed. I doubt they were.

Had this poor associate said anything of interest to me about my business the outcome might have been different. Financing or credit options or lines of credit or cash flow… Any of the myriad of things a bank might offer to help a business… We might have had a conversation and I might have gone into the bank to talk about it. Alas, he did not because he was relying on the label, “relationship call,” to do the work for him.

The lesson here is that there is no such thing as a “relationship call” unless your prospect thinks you have a relationship.

Are You Ready for 2020?

It’s now almost 2020. Almost a brand-new year. Are you ready for it?

You may have spent the last month or so planning and setting your goals for 2020. Or maybe you’re just getting around to it now. Unfortunately, so many people set goals that do not come to fruition.

In January every sales professional or business owner says to herself/himself, “I’m going to make this year my best year ever,” “I’m going to make more prospecting calls,” “I’m going to network more,” “I’m really going to build my pipeline this year,” “This year, I’m going to close more sales,” “This year, I’m going to hit my numbers out of the park…” and so on. And so few do.

Here is The Queen’s recipe for setting goals that you can accomplish. The secret is in setting yourself up to succeed and then following the Law of Action.

  1. Identify the goal and write it down. Be specific. It’s not enough to say, “I’m going to make more prospecting calls.” You need to identify the specific number of calls you’ll make. If your goal is to “network more,” define the word, “more.” Exactly how and how much?
  2. Identify the reasons you’ve picked this particular goal and write down those reasons. If you don’t have really strong motivation for accomplishing the goals you’ve set out, you likely will not accomplish them.
  3. Write down the exact date that you want to have accomplished your goal. This gives you something to work towards. Or set up bench marks for yourself with goals for particular dates that build on the goal before.
  4. Break your goal down into bite-size pieces or the bite-size steps that you’ll take to reach that goal. If the goal is too large it will overwhelm you, so break it down. Write down all of those smaller pieces or steps.
  5. Set yourself up to succeed. Ask yourself the following question: “Is my goal realistic?” Often people set totally unrealistic goals and then it’s no surprise that they are unable to accomplish those goals. Set yourself up to succeed by picking a goal that you can actually accomplish. Make it a bit of a stretch, but something that is a real possibility.
  6. Follow the Law of Action. Nothing happens until you take action. Take action consistently every single day toward your goal and you will be astonished by what you’ll be able to accomplish.

Happy holidays. Happy New Year.

Amazing Sales Lessons I Learned from My Cat

I love my cat. Her name is Ms. Kitty. She was named after Mr. Cat, who died many years ago, and after Amanda Blake of “Gunsmoke” fame (I realize I’m dating myself here).

Those of you who are cat lovers are nodding your heads and smiling. The rest of you probably think I’ve totally lost it. But before you tune out completely, let me share some of the amazing sales lessons that I have learned from Ms. Kitty and from all the cats in my life.

Be clear in knowing your goal.

Ms. Kitty always knows what she wants. Whether it’s more food or to be petted or not to be petted, she knows what she wants and when she wants it. She spends much time pondering her wants. All that time spent sleeping on the coach is not what it appears. She’s really planning her next move.

Ask for what you want.

Once Ms. Kitty has determined her goal, she asks for it. Clearly and concisely. “Meow.” She lets me know in no uncertain terms what she wants. And if I’m not clever enough to understand the first time, she is patient with me until I do.

Ask again.

If at first you don’t succeed… Ms. Kitty asks, and asks and asks. She won’t go away. She won’t stop saying, “Meow.” She wants what she wants when she wants it, and she lets nothing stand in her way.

Ask a lot of people.

Ms. Kitty has learned over time that I don’t always immediately accede to her demands. That’s okay. She just asks someone else. And then someone else. Eventually, some human being says “yes.”

Be persistent.

Ms. Kitty never judges herself. She doesn’t worry about being “too pushy” or “too aggressive.” She doesn’t worry that her prospect might be “too busy” or “already have a cat.” She believes in herself; she knows what she wants, and she keeps asking until she gets it.

Don’t take “no” for an answer.

Ms. Kitty is clever and creative. She keeps asking. She asks many people. She reworks her pitch and starts over. She does not hear “no.” She realizes that sometimes humans are slow and she just has to keep after us till we “get it.” It’s a process.

For you non–cat people, I will be back in my right mind for the next newsletter. I promise.

 

Just Follow The Script

Do you have a system that is proven to work? Do you follow it…?

There are many ways to generate leads for a business, SEO and email marketing and social media and content marketing and Facebook ads and on and on…

One of the things that distinguishes those who are successful at generating leads by any of the above methods and those who are not successful is that the really successful marketers test. They try out an approach on a small segment of their list, measure the results, perhaps tweak the approach and test again. They do this over and over and over again until they are sure that they have the best approach to generate leads. Once they are sure, they repeat the process over and over and over again for just one reason: They know it works.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for sales professionals and telephone prospecting.

I have been working with a coaching client who is the CEO of his company. He is a very busy man. We developed a prospecting process for his business including a list of pre-qualified leads and a complete set of scripts; appointment setting scripts, voicemails and email templates; to enable him to schedule qualified appointments.

My client then tested the system. He didn’t have a lot of time to make calls, but when he did, he consistently converted 40% – 50% of his conversations with decision-makers into qualified appointments. He proved the model and it was clear that the process and all of the scripts worked.

Then my client hired an appointment setter.

The appointment setter’s job was to follow the system that was already set up using all of the scripts that were already written and proven to work and to make appointments for my client, the CEO.

Unfortunately, once the appointment setter started, the number of appointments plummeted. Why? The appointment setter did not use the scripts that had already been proven to work. Instead, he was winging it on almost every call.

This is very puzzling to me. When you have a system that is proven to work, why would you ever do anything else?

And, what is more curious, every once in a while, this new appointment setter would use the script. When he did, he made an appointment.

The data was very clear: Use the script, make an appointment. Don’t use the script, don’t make an appointment.

Sales professionals could learn from successful marketers. Create the approach. Test it. Tweak it if necessary. Test it again. Once you have something that is proven to work… Keep using it.

Sell or Die

September is an interesting time. You may still be in vacation mode and/or believe that all of your customers and prospects are still in vacation mode. September, however, is officially here. And after September comes the fourth quarter sprint when for far too many business owners and sales professionals it’s time to…

As we head into the fourth quarter of 2019 are you on track to make your sales revenue goals for the year?

If you’re like many, the fourth quarter can mean it’s time to panic because the end of the year is fast approaching and the finish line is much too far away. Here are some recommendations to stop the panic and to start selling more to finish out the year exactly where you need and want to be. If you manage a team have your team go through the steps below.

1.) Calculate exactly where you are in terms of your 2019 sales revenue. You also need to go back and look at your initial 2019 revenue goal to see how close you are to achieving it.

2.) Next, take a look at what’s in the pipeline and likely to close in order to get you that much closer.

3.) Go back and take a look at deals from earlier in the year that have not closed. See if you can resurrect any of them.

4.) Make a list of existing customers that might need additional products or services. Make a plan to start reaching out.

5.) Make a list of everyone that you know or would like to know that should be buying from you. Make a plan to start reaching out.

6.) Make a list of everyone that you know or would like to know that might be able to refer business. Make a plan to start reaching out.

7.) Create your Wish List of Ideal Prospects that you believe might have a need of your offering. Make a plan to start reaching out.

When you do all of the above you will not only be much closer to achieving and/or exceeding your 2019 sales goals – you’ll also be setting yourself up for an even better 2020!

If you are a business owner, entrepreneur or sales professional and you are sick of the stress and frustration of not knowing where your next client or sale will come from… If you are ready to make changes that will enable you to finish this year strong and set yourself up for an amazing 2020… Then I invite you to apply for the Master Sales Coaching program where you will coach directly with me to achieve and exceed your goals. There is no fee or commitment when you apply. We will simply have a conversation to see if the program is a fit for you.

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