From The Mind Of A Rainmaker
May 21st, 2013
How are you gaining access to meet with a top level decision maker? Here are 7 helpful steps to gain access and move the sales process forward.
1. What outside referrals do you have to get an initial meeting or phone conversation with the decision maker? It could be a connection on Linked in, someone from another department or a contact in the same industry that can lead you to the decision maker.
2. When speaking with a gatekeeper or mid-level contact, ask some questions that they can answer and some that only the decision maker would be able to answer. Follow up with questions such as “who would have this information?” and “would you help me contact this person?”
3. Use indirect influence – let one of your internal contacts whose become your advocate begin the sales process for you by gathering the right decision makers for you and starting the presentation process on your behalf. It’s very important that you follow up to get in with all of the decision makers while this process has begun.
4. A next step is to offer a training, informational workshop or a lunch and learn on a topic that would attract the other decision makers.
5. Join a relevant industry association, especially one that is likely to include higher level managers. Network with them.
6. When you make a future appointment, schedule a joint sales call and bring in a specialist from your company or one of your higher-level manager. Make sure that the potential client will have a matching level person at the same meeting.
7. Persist. The average salesperson gives up after two or fewer attempts.
Successful sales professionals make a minimum of 7 or 8 attempts and often more to gain access to new and important clients.
Whether you’re calling in person or over the phone, the best way to get an assistant to move you toward the decision maker and get on their calendar is to be straight with them, respect them and give them a valid reason.
May 20th, 2013
How do you best manage your sales team? You learn the skills to coach them each individually. This is not a cookie cutter process; it’s a learned skill. What questions are you asking your sales team? How are you holding them accountable? The best way to do this is schedule regular one to one conversations with each team member to tap into their personal goals. When you do this on a regular basis (recommended weekly), make sure you’re listening to their responses and asking more questions as you uncover what they most want.
When you really think about it, it’s just like participating in a successful, interactive sales call. You allow your prospective client to tell you their needs, you recognize the opportunities and then you collaborate to come up with a solution.
Here are five questions you can implement in your coaching session with your sales team:
1. Over the next 2 years, what are the three most important things you want to accomplish in your life and career here?
2. What areas do you want to improve in, strengthen and develop and how can I support you?
3. Let’s create an action plan to achieve those goals. What would this look like? When does it start?
4. How can I best manage you? Think about a previous manager that was hugely supportive and how it helped you grow.
5. I want to support you in moving forward and when you don’t follow through on the commitments you’ve made, how do you want me to handle it?
Implementing questions in your coaching sessions supports your sales team with uncovering what internally motivates them based on their beliefs and values, so they can access their own energy to achieve it.
When you empower your team by tapping into their internal drive, it doesn’t drain your time and energy and they own it. Try incorporating the above five questions into your next coaching session and let me know what transpires.
May 13th, 2013
Seth Godin has some very wise words regarding vs.hustling harder and upping your own game vs. being picked. This can apply to sales in so many ways. Read on…
Getting picked (need to vs. want to)
Sure, it’s fun to be picked, anointed, given social approval for what you do—the newspaper writes you up, you get invited to speak at graduation, your product gets featured on the front page of a website or blog…
The thing is, it’s really difficult to get picked, and those doing the picking don’t have nearly the power they used to. (Pause for a second to consider that double math problem: there are way more offerings, creators and choices, and, at the same time, an order of magnitude more media outlets, each with far less power than Oprah or Johnny ever had).
More than twenty years ago, at what he then believed was the high point of his career, Marc Maron auditioned for Saturday Night Live. Lorne wasn’t impressed, nor was he kind, and Marc didn’t get picked to become a cast member.
Today, of course, Marc’s podcast is popular, lucrative and fun. Marc didn’t get there because someone picked him, he picked himself (in fact, now he’s the one getting pitched).
In the SNL instance, Marc had a career path where he needed to get picked. Unless a casting agent or booker picked him, he had nothing.
With his podcast, though, Marc might still want to get picked, but he’s going to do just fine if he’s not. By growing from the grassroots, Marc finds his own power. Not because he’s still doing the same thing. No, because he’s doing a different thing, in a different way, for a different audience, monetizing it differently.
The artist who struggles in obscurity, unfairly ignored because he hasn’t been picked–that’s a poignant sight. But at some point, the artist has the obligation to seek a different path, one that isn’t dependent on a system that doesn’t deserve him.
It’s easier than ever to imagine a successful project or career or organization that isn’t dependent on being picked by those with power.
If you’re frustrated that you’re not getting picked, one plan is to up your game, to hustle harder, to figure out how to hone a pitch and push, push, push. But in the era of picking yourself, it seems to me that you’re better off finding a path that doesn’t require you get picked in order to succeed.
April 3rd, 2013
Do you have a critical sales call pending that you’re reluctant about making? Need help? Read on for a solution…
Do you have a big sales presentation coming up? Perhaps you have a meeting with a potential client that you’ve been preparing for months, you really want to move them forward but are feeling a lot of pressure to close the deal?
I coach and support VP’s of Sales and their sales teams with a 30 minute session to get ready for that next important sales call or critical meeting. My clients walk away with succinct next steps. Would you like to set up a call to get you ready for your next meeting? No charge. Would that be helpful to you? I want to help you get what you want and succeed with what’s right in front of you.
The first 3 people who respond to this message and who have an upcoming meeting or sales call that they want support with, I will offer you a 30 minute session to help you rehearse for it. You need to take action to set up the meeting with me. Private message me at Carolyn@RainmakerMindset.com within the next 48 hours. I will respond back and schedule the session within the next week.
Let’s see who’s ready to step up, take action and walk away with the confidence, momentum and tools to help move their clients forward.
April 2nd, 2013
Yesterday was the first day of Q2 for 2013. Where are your salespeople in relation to the goals they set for themselves? Here’s a list of 5 questions along with ideas to help develop your team to rise to the challenge in 2013.
1. What are your reps doing to get out of their comfort zone and move into the stretch zone?
Here’s an idea. Have them search out a mentor or a top producer in their industry and interview them on how they’ve become successful. Have your reps take three of their top producing ideas and implement them immediately. Track their progress with each idea over the next 3 months and share their success with them and the rest of your team.
2. Do you reward top performance?
Top Producers expect results, not excuses. If you have a team of results oriented people, create competitive rewards commensurate with the goals they achieve. Ask your team what specific rewards will individually motivate them to achieve their goals and put them in place.
3. Is your sales team passionate and motivated to win each day? Do they have a winning attitude?
Salespeople need to feel good about their company and product or services in order to perform at a high level. Are you checking in with them regularly to measure their attitude and coach and support them with their daily challenges? Managers can forget the isolation sales reps feel when they’re having a frustrating day of non-returned calls, no’s to their offers and cancelled appointments. If they’re not in front of prospects and talking to potential clients, they’re talking to themselves. The majority of internal conversations are negative. Help them manage a positive attitude and incorporate it into their daily lives. Send them a motivational sales book, a daily positive quote or a new tool to implement.
4. How do you Build Trust with Your Salespeople and Your Clients?
When your clients show trust you will see repeat business. How does your sales team create more trust? Once your salespeople create a customer, have them continue to make the customer feel like a priority and act as a consistent resource. Have your reps ask them how they can best serve them so the competition doesn’t swoop in to sweeten the deal.
When your salespeople trust your company, they stick around and produce. How do you invest in your sales team? Provide key training on new products and services and measure their implementation by adding coaching calls and consistent ride-along days. Give your reps immediate feedback so they can make positive changes. Hold them accountable to making the behavioral changes and they will be more apt to achieve the company’s desired results.
5. Is Your Sales Team Prepared?
To continue the momentum from Q1, have them write up a plan for improvement in Q2. What does their pipeline look like? How many leads in their list are on the hot or A list. Don’t only ask them who and how many do they expect to close. Ask them how they plan to close each deal. What is their next step with each prospect? What do their outgoing emails look like? What are they saying on their voice mails and in their presentations? Are they prepared with a list of powerful questions to help move the sales process forward? Are they remembering to keep the sales presentation a dialogue versus a monologue?
Let’s hear it for implementing and a prosperous 2013! What’s your plan for continuing to develop a winning edge in 2013?
March 28th, 2013
Have a Conversation with a Time Traveler
I’m often reading several sales books at once to keep up with my industry and impart knowledge with my clients. Right now I’m reading a wonderful sales book by Daniel H. Pink called “To Sell Is Human. “If you want to know more about how we can move more people into action and buy from us, run out and buy this book.
I especially enjoyed one chapter where Pink talks about attunement. The definition is: being or bringing into harmony; a feeling of being “at one” with another being. He says to think of the first principle of attunement as persuasion jujitsu: using the apparent weakness as an actual strength. Pink suggests starting your encounters with the assumption that you’re in the position of lower power and that this will help you see the other side’s perspective more accurately, which in turn, will help you move them.
He discusses the best way to start a conversation – especially with someone you don’t know well. How quickly can you put that person at ease, invite an interaction, and build rapport? He then shares a unique exercise from Cathy Salit, who runs a company called Performance of a Lifetime which teaches businesspeople improvisational theater.
The exercise builds the improvisational muscles of her actors that can work to hone anyone’s powers of attunement. She calls it “Conversation with a Time Traveler.” It doesn’t require any props or equipment, just a little imagination and a lot of work.
Here’s how it goes:
Gather a few people and ask them to think of items that somebody from three hundred years ago would not recognize. A traffic light, maybe. A carry-out pizza. An airport screening machine. Then divide into groups of two. Each pair selects an item. One person plays the role of someone from the early 1700’s. The other has to explain the item.
This is more difficult than it sounds. That person from three hundred years ago has a perspective wildly different from our own. For instance, to explain, say, a Big Mac bought from a drive-through window requires understanding a variety of underlying concepts: owning an automobile, consuming what three hundred years ago was a preposterous amount of meat, trusting someone you’ve likely never met and will never see again, and so on.
“This exercise immediately challenges your assumptions about the understandability of your message,” Salit says. “You are forced to care about the worldview of the other person.” That’s something we all should be doing a lot more of in the present.
Feel free to share additional exercises to build rapport and attunement with your clients.
March 13th, 2013
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” ~ Dorothy Parker Do you possess these 5 Curiosity Traits of Top Salespeople
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” ~ Dorothy Parker
I love surrounding myself with curious people. I believe that very curious people make outstanding salespeople because they truly care about their prospective client’s needs and naturally probe with the right questions to serve the potential client better vs. worrying about getting the sale.
Imagine being in a constant state of heightened curiosity when you are with your potential client. What would this look like?
If you think you possess the sales professional skill of curiosity, then let’s take a look at your relationships with prospects and clients. Do you have the natural instinct to ask questions to gain greater knowledge about your prospective client’s challenges? Are you genuinely curious about their business and ask more questions because of that curiosity? Curiosity-driven selling works better because the questions are grounded in the prospective client’s world, not the sales person’s needs.
The following are five traits of top selling salespeople who bring curiosity into selling. Do you possess these qualities?
1. You really want to know more and you know that by asking questions you’ll find out what that more is?
2. You are naturally inquisitive and because you ask the powerful questions you uncover your potential client’s needs through curiosity, not because your training manual dictated the questions.
3. You never accept the status quo. You’re always questioning and probing to find the fit and act as a resource for your potential clients. You look at things differently and consider new methods. Many would refer to this as out of the box thinking and questioning.
4. Potential clients invite you back for a second meeting to move the sales process forward because you show an authentic level of interest – and clients like that.
5. You are a life-long learner and thrive on adapting and changing. No matter how long you’ve been a sales professional, you never believe you have learned it all. You’re curious how others have gained success in your company or industry. You push yourself to try new things, experiment and improve. Because you invest in yourself, your knowledge to constantly improve benefits your potential client and they respect this.
What other curiosity traits do you bring to the table and how have they benefited you in your sales career?
March 12th, 2013
Shhh! 6 Rainmaker Tips on Focused Listening For Your Next Sales Call
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
~ Stephen R. Covey
How many times has this happened to you? You’re in a conversation and are asked a question only to be cut off by the other person’s enthusiasm to share their experience over yours. They have to one up you. Imagine being the potential client on the other end of this in a sales scenario. You, the salesperson ask your potential client a question and before they can share their answer you’re ready with a reply or a quick fix. How can you possibly know what they want when you haven’t given them the opportunity to tell you?
I observe this over and over again when I have the opportunity to accompany sales reps on their selling days in the field or on the phone. Reps get so excited to jump in and share their knowledge and barrage their potential clients with features and benefits. They think they have the perfect solution for their potential client well before the potential client has told them what they need. When you let your potential client talk and you practice focused listening, they’ll tell you exactly what they want and they sell themselves on you and your services or products.
What if … you actually waited to hear their whole story – to really listen to their problem, challenge or vision? A sales coach and colleague of mine shared a recent sales call he had with a VP of Sales. By asking the right questions, the coach could tell the VP had a story to share and a ton of challenges with her new sales team. The coach was well prepared and had read all about the company beforehand. He was eager to hear more about the VP’s sales manager and sales team and had15 questions prepared before their meeting.
The VP jumped right in and after 45 minutes of deep listening on the coach’s end and probing with more questions, the VP started coming up with her own solutions and ideas of how the sales coach could benefit her team. She surmised that her team had no real sales process in place, no accountability to their sales manager and because if this were not closing the deals they should be. Because the coach allowed her to get all of her ideas out on the table and didn’t jump in with immediate solutions, she felt like she was really heard. When the sales coach asked for a commitment for the next step, she immediately answered that she wanted him to meet with the other VP’s to move this process forward. The VP emailed him immediately after their meeting with an appointment for their next call.
I’m including seven key questions that the sales coach used in his sales call with the VP to move the sales process forward.
1. Tell me about your sales team – what’s working and what’s not working?
2. What does your company need to accomplish in order to get where you need to be?
3. How much is this costing you?
4. What would substantially increase your success?
5. What outcomes do you seek?
6. What’s the best resolution to this that you can imagine?
7. What’s your time frame and who else is involved in the decision making process?
Here are 6 focused listening tips to incorporate on your next sales call, whether it’s in person or over the phone.
1. Relax. When you’re relaxed and calm it puts your potential client at ease and allows them to open up. The more calm you are, the more information you will gather from the person you are listening to.
2. Be present and remain focused. Instead of thinking of what you’re going to say next, put the spotlight on the potential client. Have follow up questions prepared and incorporate them naturally into the conversation.
3. Don’t talk over your potential client. Wait your turn. If you do interject, catch yourself, apologize and allow them to keep talking.
4. Focus on really understanding your potential client’s problem or challenge. Rather than make judgments right away and wanting to give your input, practice focused listening where you are learning, listening and understanding. Ask open ended questions vs. yes or no questions.
5. Summarize the key points. Repeat back to your potential client what you are hearing to ensure you are capturing what has been relayed to you. Take copious notes that you can refer to during the call and in future meetings.
6. Use Your Intuition. Listen with your ears and your intuition. Notice the cadence of your potential client’s voice – are they excited, what’s the tone of their voice, their pace, their overall energy? You’re in information gathering mode – there’s a lot to pay attention to. The more you pay attention to your intuition, the more effective you’re listening will be.
I’d love to hear how you implement these focused listening tips on your next sales call.
March 11th, 2013
Warren Buffett has often been interviewed about the importance of investing in yourself. The Sales Managers and Sales Team that I coach all know the benefits of investing in themselves. What I challenge them to do is take it a step further and implement or apply what we coach around each week. They make huge strides when they not only put a plan in place, but are accountable to the plan. In this excerpt from one of his interviews he talks about four of the best ways to invest in yourself. Step 2 is the key ingredient: TAKE ACTION.
“The most important investment you can make is in yourself. Very few people get anything like their potential horsepower translated into the actual horsepower of their output in life. Potential exceeds realization for many people…The best asset is your own self. You can become to an enormous degree the person you want to be.” ~ Warren Buffett
So, what are some of the best ways you can invest in yourself?
1. Create your own personal development plan. A good one helps you define your preferred future (your dream life), clarifies your life’s purpose, evaluates your current reality in the basic areas of life (financial, family, career, health, spiritual, etc.), reveals your personal values for each life area (the beliefs that are important to you), sets well-defined goals, and creates a specific plan of action.
2. Be a lifelong learner. Read good books and resources. Take classes (formal or informal). Attend webinars and listen to podcasts. But don’t stop there – you’ve got to apply what you read and hear, and take action!
3. Surround yourself with people who will help you achieve your goals and dreams. If you have friends or family who are downers all the time, or who don’t believe in you or your goals, get new ones. I don’t mean that you replace your friends or family, but find some new ones to add to the mix. We all need to have positive people in our lives. And maybe you need a mentor or coach who can help you take action on your goals.
4. Improve your communication skills. Buffett mentioned this in one of the interviews. Communication skills are extremely important today. And not just in how to be a great speaker, but also a great listener.
What do you think about Buffett’s assertion that the best investment you can make is in yourself? What do you think are some of the best ways to do that?
March 5th, 2013
We doubled our numbers! How does this track team story relate to doubling your numbers in sales?
In addition to sales coaching, I’m a head coach for a local youth track league here in Southern California. We recently held a “welcome to the team” party for our club. One of the veteran coaches came up to a group of us coaches and asked, “So what made the difference in the growth of our team this year?” Our answer was “quite a few specific and well executed things.”
For the past decade our track team has been known as a “boutique” club with a smaller field of athletes. Last year we held a coaches meeting to discuss the season and talk about growth opportunities. We had about 130 athletes and most of the surrounding clubs had 270 plus. Our goal was to be in contention with the other clubs.
Tons of ideas were thrown around about how to increase our numbers and it reminded me of a brainstorming session in a sales meeting. You have to purge everything – lots of bad ideas are discussed and then you prioritize. Eventually you get to the good ideas. Like in any team building exercise, some have great ideas but no intention of following through. In this group there were a handful (the 80/20 Prado rule) of us who were serious and committed to taking action.
Just like in sales, we put together a plan and divided up the opportunities. We not only enjoyed the process but saw the fruits of our labor sooner than later because we followed through. Anyone who knows me knows how much I value the follow up and follow through process. This is how we went from 130 athletes to 270 in one season. See if you can apply some of these ideas to doubling your sales this year.
1. Advertise: The President of the club committed to purchasing track signs to place at schools and around town to capture interest. He also bought an ad in the local paper.
2. Use Referral Sources/Affiliates: We talked to other sports clubs – flag football and tackle football and got the approval to send emails to their lists.
3. Tell Everyone You Meet: At all sports games we talked to parents about track and it sparked a lot of interest in getting their kids to join.
4. Get Out And Speak: Two of us scheduled time with local schools to present at their morning assemblies. The kids loved this because we involved kids already on the team and they brought their medals and ribbons to show the other kids. At the assemblies we focused on the fun of the sport and talked about how running and learning proper form helps athletes in all sports. One of the principals chimed in with how running makes you smarter. She’s been a big fan of our club for several years so she’s a great testimonial. This brought in 9 athletes from my son’s class alone.
5. Tap In to Your Niche: In one elementary school we tapped into a running program two parents started before school. They rewarded the kids with prizes as they ran laps around the field to music. It not only inspired the kids to run, the parents were joining in too. We met with the principal and the morning running club and they gave us time to present to the entire school. We followed up with emails and fliers to remind the parents to sign up their kids.
6. Remind Returning Athletes: We all committed to contacting our past team rosters and reminded them sign up early and to bring their friends. Word of mouth worked exceptionally well and played a huge part in doubling our numbers.
7. Plan and Execute Early: We usually have 2 live sign up dates where kids can enroll in person. This year we added an additional one earlier in the season. We had more athletes sign up earlier and this built momentum for growth.
So, just as in sales, it wasn’t one thing that worked but a myriad of great ideas that were implemented. With these seven simple action items, we doubled our numbers and had kids on our wait list for the first time in the history of our track club. We have over 270 athletes enrolled and are off to a tremendous season.
How can you adapt these 7 ideas to your business and double your sales this year?