Category Archives: Sales/ Management/ Leadership

The home of the Un-Salesmanager and the Sales Management 2.0 Podcast. This is where I let my inner social scientist and sales geek loose in an effort to make the world a better place free of bad sales experiences!

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013!

happy new yearWell 2013 is officially here. To be honest, I’m pretty excited. I learned a lot about myself (both good and bad) in 2012 and I am 100% committed to bettering myself this year. So… what do I have in mind? I lost 30 pounds in 2012, but I think I can do better I’m shooting for 50 more pounds gone by year-end! I’m also really focused on finishing my Ed Doctorate… It NEEDS to get done. As for my career, I am committing to being a more focused coach and trainer. I have been active but not to the degree I feel I could be. If I want to move my career forward I need to not only finish school I need to take production to the next level. I’m also placing a big priority on my family this year. Not that it wasn’t a priority in the first place, but I want to make sure I spend the quality time with them that they deserve. So here is my bullet pointed list of priorities for 2013 in no particular order:

  • Eat Palio 90% of the time
  • Drop another 50 pounds
  • Complete the 100 push-up, 100 sit-up and 150 squat challenge.
  • Start racing again
  • Complete and defend my dissertation
  • Spend more quality time with my wife, children, and friends.
  • More games less TV
  • Read for 1 hour every day
  • Write for 1 hour every day
  • When I’m at work be 100% focused on work and when I’m home be 100% focused on home life.
  • Learn to relax!

So that’s it in a nut shell I have a loose plan to be healthier and more successful with both my career and family. The theme of this year is gong to be about balance and that’s tough for me because I tend to be a person who goes to extremes and I’m sure we will be talking about that in the next few weeks.

Whats YOUR plan for 2013 and why?

Do you have a selling system?

sales systemSales managers… What are you doing for your staff? I know you hold training session, set goals, monitor performance, and keep people accountable. We all do that, but what separates great sales managers form the average is the ability to help sales people build good habits, learn discipline and follow a system.

I know we want every sale to be form fit to the customer based on a relationship we have developed and leveraged over time to help us develop an ideal solution for each client. And I also know that most sales people will use this desire for appointment customization and relationship building to fight you on the development of any sort of system, but I am here to tell you this could not be further from the truth. systematization is central to effective selling. It keeps us on track, it prevents us from forgetting key steps in the process, and it ensures we are efficient with our time.

So ask yourself: Have I helped my staff to develop a solid selling system that works? 

This does not have to be complicated, but it helps to have a strategy. Imagine a football team trying to play a game with no pre-set plays? Are they inflexible and unable to customize when playing from the playbook? No, but they do have a set of pre-set strategies they can implement. My goal for my staff is to provide them a strategy in the form of a framework to follow and then give them a series of plays to run based on what they find that way they feel free to do what they need to but they are never far from the known path.

For an appointment setting call for my staff the framework looks like this:

Rapport

Motivation

Qualification

Payment

Start Date 

Referral

I have them write this on a piece of paper and make sure they have covered every point before asking for an appointment… The “Plays” are how we move from point to point depending on how things are going…

So let me ask you this: Does every member of your team have a well thought out strategy or are you letting them shoot from the hip?

Pursue REAL happiness!

It's important to achieve balance in lifeHave you ever realized that what you want is right in front of you and what you think you want is a load of crap? I have been pretty reflective lately and it’s led to some great conversations between my wife and I about where we are in life, careers, and whatnot and we have come to some realizations about some things we were chasing.  Maybe some of those things weren’t so important and that we wanted to focus energy on some new things going forward. I love my girls and I love my wife… but I have given a lot to my career and I sometimes wonder to what end? I make good money, we have a stable life, cool stuff, and I am upwardly mobile; but are we happier than we were 10 years ago? Have our problems and stresses been reduced? Not really. I make literally 3x what I made 10 years ago and none of those things are measurably better so whats it all for? Krisy and I have really been talking about this and it’s kind of awesome… I’m excited because we are trying to get the ball rolling on some BIG life changes that we feel would simplify things, reduce stress and bring us closer together as a family. I’m not ready to spill the beans yet, but it’s HUGE and exciting.

So what got me thinking about this? It’s another edition of Songs That Get Stuck In My Head! This is one I found on YouTube Thanksgiving day while playing with the girls… They loved the song and I have to admit it’s a catchy tune, but the story spoke to me as well… Give it a listen and let me know if it talks to you.

The Duck Song! 

PS: When we DO make those changes you will know because it’s HUGE! :)

If you are considering rethinking things in your life I highly recommend: ONO, Options Not Obligations: Enrich Your Personal Life by Rethinking Your Financial Life by Mark Warnke. This book has helped me reshape how I think about things and is a book for people who like the idea of family first entrepreneurship.

Selling is Caring… Really!

Helping Others Gives Success True MeaningPeople are going to think I’m crazy for saying this but it’s true. Great selling is 100% about caring…Think about the best buying experiences you have ever had. Did it feel manipulative? Could you see the crazy awesome closing techniques they used? or did it feel very natural and “good”? We think we are helping people by sharing all the awesome features and benefits we know and showing off our expertise and product knowledge  but I feel like Theodore Roosevelt nailed it when he said: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”

For me the absolute best buying experiences have been with salespeople who really got to know me. They were not technique laden ”hunters”, “killers”, or “closers” (believe me I’ve done this long enough that I can spot them!). They were genuine people who took an interest in me, my problems and goals and set out to present me with well thought out solutions.  All of them had good habits and techniques, but they were not relying on those skills they were building relationship.

A great example of this is the real estate agent who sold me my house. When we met for the first time he sat down and talked to my wife and I, but also took the time to talk to my kids and really try to understand what all of us were looking for. He then laid out his plan. First time out 5 houses absolutely no offers. Next time out 3 houses no offers, but we will really like these houses. Then on the third time out 2-3 houses and a solid offer on the house we would buy. To be honest at this point I was like NO freaking way! How does he know this?

So the first time out we looked at 5 houses and he did not sell one bit. He was in the background watching everything. He watched my kids, listened to my wife an I talk about what we liked and when we left he would ask questions. What really blew me away was when I’d say things like: “I really loved that deck!” and he would say yes it was very nice but did you see Sophia trying to get up and down those steps? Me… Ya I guess I did. They were really steep and there was no rail. We looked a a lot of nice houses all very different and we had things we liked about all of them though it felt like a productive day.

The next time out 3 houses and we loved them all… same story. Lots of questions and interaction paired with great feedback. Third trip out 2 houses and an offer.

Now he did a lot of things right and there was good technique, but he built trust and we sent referrals later. He did a good job not just because of his skill but because he was a good guy, a professional, and was sincerely interested in helping us get a home we would love.

I do not care what you sell… your customers have goals, dreams, and desires and if you focus your sales strategy on these things you will close more sales. If you are looking for a good read on how to master building relationships and hone your technique I highly recommend Joe Girard’s How To Sell Anything to Anybody. This book has had a very powerful influence on my selling style and helped me mature from a skillful sales person to a true professional.

I’d love to hear about your GREAT sales experiences or tragic failures and how you think caring played a role in that experience… As always I promise to replay back and keep the conversation going!

-Brad

Do you make real connections?

Are you real? In this social media enriched world we are more connected than ever before, but are we REALLY connected? Are your Facebook “Friends” really your friends? If they are, do you ever show them the REAL you? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In a private Facebook group I share with other bloggers / web entrepreneurs I shared a rant today about the word gratitude… I’ll spare you the details, but my point was that the word was getting thrown around like a buzzword when no real gratitude was being shown, and I was irritated because I had done nothing to deserve thanks or gratitude. Anyways… I’m rambling, but my point is we all go through the grocery checkout line and ask the checker “How’s your day going?” And they always say “Good and you?” and you always say “Good”… but is it REALLY good?  I’m thinking about Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher… How many people ask him this question and what was his answer? I don’t know where I am going here, but I feel like we need to make more of a connection with the people we interact with daily. So many people are out there surrounded by “friends”, but feeling so alone. we need to make an effort to be real with each other. To share our thoughts and feelings. To say what’s on our mind. If you do this you may irritate some people, but I also feel like people will get you… They will know you care, and if you are willing to ask sincere questions and give real answers when you need your friends your REAL friends wil be there. You may also luck out and get a chance to help a friend in need. This may sound like personal advice, but its also good leadership advice too. Think about your staff… what do you know about them? Do they trust you? Are you real with them? or are you putting up a front?

What can you do to help build REAL solid connections with others that you are not doing now?

Why Gamification Fails!

Why Gamification Fails

Why Gamification fails… Just a few quick thought on this topic before I go to bed tonight. I think about this a lot because as a sales manager I see “games” put out by senior management all the time that are not well thought out and poorly implemented. They push these to the field and then no one engages with the “game” because it’s neither interesting or fun, then one of two things happens. Scenario 1: Mid management pretends it was successful inspiring additional time wasted on something no one cares about. Scenario 2: There is tremendous bellyaching from the field and the idea is chalked up as a loss and never done again.

So the question is: Why does gamification fail and what can we do about it? I think I can sum up the problem in one word. Engagement! The number one problem I see with “games” put out by management is there is a LOT of thought as to how to manage and measure the metrics the game is designed to improve. There is also a lot of thought and effort put into the collection of data and additional work placed on lower level managers to track and report results, but very little thought is given to why anyone would want to play the game in the first place. Herein lies the problem… games like this may inspire a few people but most employees will ignore them.

Why? Because we failed to engage them. When designing these games there are two key things that need to be thought about. First, what key metrics am I trying to improve (The more there are the harder this is to do), and second how can I ensure that the maximum number of people are actively engaged? Our problem is we talk a lot about the first issue and very little about the second.

I’ll talk about how to do this tomorrow, but for now I’d like to hear about your experience with games managers have made and what your experience is with them as a developer or player. Were you engaged? Why or why not?

-Brad

PS: If you are looking for a GREAT book on gamification and how to make it work I recommend Reality is Broken. It is truly fantastic and will change the way you think about gamification and what it can do for you and your business.

Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog? Why do I blog? Why does anyone blog?  Well they are both good questions, but I can only share with you the answer to the first question… The real answer to the next one is hard to nail down because everyone has their own reasons. What I can do is give you some insight into mine.

When I started blogging back in 2006 on my first WordPress.com blog it was because I wanted to share my thoughts on sales and management with the goal of networking with some like minded people, sorting out my thoughts, helping other people and maybe picking up the occasional consulting gig.  To be honest, it worked fabulously! I met some great people, secured several consulting jobs, and even launched a social network and podcast called Sales Management 2.0!

My next blog was a health and fitness blog called Running For 365 Days. On this blog I shared my experiences as a runner. When I started this blog I was just starting my doctoral program, so it fell apart after a few months because I was simply too busy to write as much as I wanted to (daily). At the same time I was also trying to launch an education blog to share my experience in my doctoral program, but again it was all just too much.

That brings us to this blog: Just My Life in Words or The Uber Geek! This is the place where I am pulling it all into one place. It lets me blog about all the things I care about, but if it takes a few weeks to come up with something on one topic it’s no biggie because I have probably written something on at least one of the 15 topics I am covering.

Now that tells you what I have blogged, but not really why… Well it sounds silly, but in part to change the world. I think about a lot of stuff and I am a pretty smart guy so I like the idea of using the internet to leverage my voice and spread ideas. I also do it to help and inspire others. I hope that people will read about my thoughts on leadership, sales, and sales management and learn that the industry is about helping people and not making a quick buck off someone. I also hope they will learn that you don’t have to be a pushy jerk to be successful as a sales manager. I hope people will see how I lost over 30 pounds so far eating paleo and running and give it a go! I’m a geek and I like to share cool things and share games I think are fun! I’m also in the dissertation phase of my doctorate of education where I am studying gamification so this lets me flush out thoughts and network with others interested in my topic. Finally I have 2 beautiful girls who I love very much and I hope long after I am gone they will be able to read my thoughts and take a little something from it that will help them out some day, or maybe gain some insight into who I am as a man and not just as their father.

As you can see I am just one person and I have a LOT of reasons why I blog and I can promise you this is not an exhaustive list. So the real question is why do YOU blog? If you don’t why SHOULD you blog? Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to talk to you about it!

-Brad

PS: If your looking for a GREAT book on how to get started blogging I highly suggest you check out Pro Blogger by Darren Rowse! It’s truly fantastic and will help you with all aspects of blogging whether its as a career or hobby!

I Thought You Were a Customer???

I’d like to share a classic story of how to NOT close a sale. I was shopping at Costco with my friend Terry the other day for a few things we needed for the office, and like most people I love Costco because I generally find several things I never knew I needed until I serendipitously stumble upon them. Such was the case on this day. While walking the isles looking for external hard drives, and a few other relatively inexpensive items I stumbled across a special events vendor selling a Murphy Bed that was built into the coolest book-case/ cabinet I have ever seen. This thing was beautifully designed and engineered and I REALLY liked it. I spent probably 10 minutes looking over the three display models, commenting on the features I saw particular value in and complementing the salesman (who I later found out owned the company) on the quality of the product. I was even talking about where I would like to have this product in my house. I was basically sold on this product, but now I will probably never buy one!

Why you might ask?

I ask the man for some sales literature and a business card and as I walked away he said “That’s too bad… I thought you were a customer!” My first thought was What the hell! Are you serious? Do you REALLY expect me to drop 5K on a product I just stumbled upon in Costco without talking to my wife or making some kind of plans for how to pay for this? The words that came out of my mouth as I looked over my shoulder were briefer though…  ”I was…”

Not “I am” or “I will be” just a simple “I was”.

I understand what he was trying to do, he was trying to close a sale, but a close like this almost never works. In fact its poor sales skills like this that got this blog started nearly 5 years ago. What he should have done was temperature checked me before I left with a simple question like how would you like to have one of these in your home, and then saw where I was in the buying process, collected my information and followed up in a day or so. This simple change could dramatically improve his close rate and the reputation surrounding himself, his company, and sales force. People don’t generally spend 5K on something they saw for the first time in a Costco. They may on your sales floor, but that’s a different scenario… I came for that product, I am interested in it, and I wouldn’t be there if I did not on some level want to buy it. It is important as sales people to understand the purpose of each event you are in. Are you generating leads or closing sales? when you are asking yourselves these questions keep in mind your customer, your product and your venue. you could have a very different sales cycle on your showroom floor, in a home show in a high-end neighborhood, and in a suburban Costco. That doesn’t mean there are not buyers in all of those locations. What it means is that you may have to approach buyers differently in each location understanding the individual wants and needs of that market.

I am sure this guy was just frustrated… He had probably shown that product to 500 people who were all very interested and didn’t buy. What I experienced was the result of that frustration. However, what he should have done was stepped back and analyzed what was happening and come up with a new strategy. My suggestion would be lead generation, I would still close for sales, but if I couldn’t get it I would go back and add 40

 

0+ names to my database and follow-up with great customer service. It’s not a fast buck, but I am SURE my way would have sold a few more beds and at 5K each I think it’s worth the effort.

 

What would YOU do?

Have you had an experience with a salesperson for a quality product that went terribly wrong? Share your experience in the comments. I’d LOVE to hear about it!

Self Reflect, Recharge, and Redirect for Success in 2008!

Wow what a year! I don’t usually share personal information in a coaching post, but in this case it is appropriate so here we go!

I have not blogged since October, and it has really weighed on my conscience, because I feel a commitment to my readers to continue to put out good information, and inspiring posts on a regular basis. On the other hand, I am a sales manager with commitments up, down, and across my organization to meet as well. Up to my boss, his boss, and the rest of the way up all the way to our shareholders. Down to my team, where I have to make sure 14 families get fed (have you ever thought about your responsibility that way?). Finally, I have obligations to my peers to generate the revenue that keeps our location running and growing. Needless to say if you examine this too deeply you can easily get overwhelmed!  This is probably not how most sales managers think about their job… Most of us only think about ourselves and our commitments up and limitedly across the organization.

I am on vacation right now, and with rest comes reflection… I have had a great year this year. I won two “Recruitment Team of the Quarter” awards, and capped off the year with a “Northwest District Director of Recruitment of the Year” award. In addition to that, my team set two quarterly sales records for our site, and also set an annual sales record! All great stuff, but if your company is like mine; and it probably is, you know in the next year I have to exceed all of those goals by at least 10% with limited additional resources! The short lesson is while missing the mark is not good for your long term longevity, neither is exceeding them by too much!

Now to the point of this message! I was reading the Simple Truths Newsletter today, and ran across this video clip. It is a great video about teamwork based on the United States Navy’s Blue Angels. This video gave me the starting point to several pivotal questions I plan to reflect on going into the New Year. Questions like:

  • At what level does my team operate?
  • Is it time to (or how can I) raise the bar?
  • What is the center point of MY team? (What is it we rally around?)
  • What values do we share?
  • Do those values align with our purpose, mission, and actions at every level?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice individual gain for the good of my team? Are my team members?
  • Do I lead by positive example?
  • Do I always and consistently behave in the way I expect my team members to?
  • Am I tapping into the strengths every member of my team brings to the table?
  • Am I communicating effectively and efficiently up, down, and across my organization, and is that communication open and honest?
  • Am I providing the most effective training possible?
  • Does my team prepare to win? Do I? How could I do that better?
  • What am I doing to improve my own attitude, and the attitude of everyone I come in contact with?
  • Do I strive for perfection by focusing on incremental improvement?

In order to operate at 100% efficiency we need to take the time to regularly self reflect, recharge, and redirect our efforts.  The impossible is only impossible until someone does it… In this article I have shared just a few of the questions I will be answering myself over the rest of my vacation. More importantly I’ll be sharing those answers with my team at our first Friday training of the year and seeking their input as well.

My team had a great 2007. Better in fact, than most people thought possible. 2008 brings bigger and better things for us. We will have to beat all of our previous records to bring home another victory.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results. Clearly to set new records we must change the way we operate. We must go from being a good team to being a GREAT team. This exercise is the first and most important step.

I started out this article talking about commitments, and after some additional self examination, my writing here is also an important step in my own personal and profesional growth. It is where I think things through, and share with my peers what is working for me and why. So now it is time to end with my commitment to all of you! I am committing to writing two substantive posts per month, and several (I don’t want to limit my self by putting a number on it) shorter posts to fill in the gaps. if you catch me slipping e-mail me!

I hope this exercise was helpful. I would love to see some of the questions you thought of in the comments section. Good luck to everyone! I hope you all have an outstanding 2008!

-Brad

  

The 10% Principle.

I want to start this post off by thanking my friend Sean for sending me this link. I have fallen out of the habit of writing like I should during our busiest quarter of the year at work, and this was just the thing I needed to get me going again. The funny thing is I have had this same talk with several of my sales people in the last week as we were planning out the new “plan year” for them.

 The subject of that talk was what I call the 10% principle. In my experience the difference between the top and bottom performer on a team is usually less than a 10% difference in conversion percentages. However that small difference in performance can equal 200% or more difference in salary. On my team my top producer converts leads at about 7% and my bottom at about 4% and the difference in what I pay them is… well lets just say its a lot since several of my staff read this blog.

 So that brings up the question how do you get that 10% improvement? The same way you eat an elephant. One bite at a time. To see how I teach my staff to break down their conversions take a look at my article Start With the End in Mind. This article will give you the basics on how to dissect and analyze your conversion data. Once you have done that find the places you could do better in and try to get 1% better in one area this week, then next week pick a different area and try to improve that area by 1%. Over time these little 1% differences in your conversion funnel will pay huge dividends over time.  

This is one of the pivotal principles I teach my staff. With out this level of understanding of your conversion data I do not think you can maintain  longterm success or make significant improvement.

If you did not watch the 212 Degree video it is worth 2 minutes of your time… Click here!

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