networking-event

In Selling, “Your Network Is Your Net Worth”

networking-event

If you come back from an event with little more than a bunch of business cards that end up in the trash, it’s time to rethink your sales approach. In selling, “your network is your net worth.” Sure, it is nice to meet different people, perhaps even make a friend. However, the objective of a networking event is to lay the groundwork for future success, for you and your company. Connecting with the right people helps to expand your business, but meeting the right people requires focus and discipline on your part.

One business card from a genuine prospect is worth more than an entire card index full of cards from people who cannot help you meet your goals.

The Importance of Networking

It matters little what you are selling. It could be products, services, or perhaps yourself. What does matter in sales is ensuring the person returns to you to fulfill their needs.

The primary objective of networking is to build business relationships. Once the foundation has been laid, sales follow. Even in this age of social networking, nothing is better in selling than personal relationships. It is only human nature to want to see the individual you are about to give an order to, if for no other reason than to know there is someone there who can help when necessary.

How Networking Helps You to Increase Sales

As helpful as the internet age has been, it has resulted in business becoming impersonal. For you to expect your prospects and customers to remember you, and that which you are selling, you must maintain the “personal touch.” When you have made contact with a networking prospect, always follow up. The old saying, “Strike while the iron is hot” has never been truer than when it is used in the context of sales and selling. After you have met with someone who has a need, desire, financial capacity and authority to buy your product/service, you should follow up on a regular basis.

If your goal is to increase sales, it takes a determined and dedicated effort. As you build your network, stick to your plans. When you add names to your list and stick to your “game plan,” you will be making the best use of your limited time. Never lose sight of the fact that in selling, “Your network is your net worth.”

Related Article: 5 Steps to Mastering The Art & Science Selling

blackboard-leadership-lessons

Sales Leadership Lessons: Sell More and Sell Better

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To become a better salesperson and sales leader, you need to own the customer experience and every aspect of the sale cycle. That means being there in some way at every customer touch point. You can’t just pass someone off that you don’t want to deal with, and you can’t neglect or ignore them when it doesn’t fit into your schedule. Learning important sales leadership lessons can help you and your company to thrive, which is your ultimate goal.

 

Most sales reps seem to be either leaders or salespeople, but not both. However, the most successful sales reps are also often great leaders. There’s more to selling than closing the deal; you need to be organized, you need to know when and how to follow through, and you need to know when to be politely forceful and/or quiet.

 

The Customer Comes First

It’s a simple concept that most people forget it, salespeople in particular. They’re so focused on closing the deal that they don’t think about the customer at all. This often means you are not practicing active listening and you are missing some key points the customer is trying to communicate to you. Your goal isn’t to sell 100 vacuum cleaners in a month; your goal is to help the customer enhance or better their lives by buying a vacuum cleaner that allows them to work faster and with more efficiency.

 

Most meetings are focused on the product and/or service, rather than asking what the customer wants. A good rule of thumb is to not sell your product/service but to focus on solving the customer’s problem. Practice asking open-ended questions to get more information about your customer’s problem. This shows that you are engaged, and it also allows you the opportunity to actively listen to your customer while taking detailed notes. When you are done with your meeting, these notes will be the key to putting together a practical solution to your customer’s problem. Think of yourself as a problem solver, not a sales rep.

computer-technology

Technology Is King

Many sales teams are heading for extinction because they can’t get the hang of new technology. Technology is ever-changing, and companies are adapting to this technology quickly, so you need to focus on ways to use this technology to reach your customers during unique points in their buying cycle. Selling on social media is a powerful opportunity if you take the time to lean in and really learn how to utilize it effectively. Many people are still focused on the dreaded cold-call instead of learning how to use the Internet to their advantage.

Social media is just one avenue you can use to reach your customers in a new place. You can also use emails, text messages, video conferencing, and screen sharing applications to reach your customers in new places and in new ways. Try sending your customer an email with a video of yourself that includes a short audio message with an attached customized PowerPoint. This personalizes the email and shows your client/prospect that you are putting in a great effort in order to help them solve their problem.

By focusing on the customer and reaching them via new technology channels you are going to stand out from your competitors. Remember that you must serve your prospect as if they were your number one customer. This will set you apart and pay dividends in the form of closed deals and new opportunities. When your customer notices this type of dedicated effort going into building your relationship and solving their problems, they will want to do more business with you and better yet, they will tell their friends about you. Learn to love the customer and the customer will love you.

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Abraham “Lincoln Leadership”: Tips from History and Science to Help You Become a Better Sales Manager & Sales Coach

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Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest leaders of all time. What made him so extraordinary? Does research back up those claims? Honest Abe lived a long and difficult life, but he never gave up and his persistence is what allowed him to make such a positive impact on the world.

If you’d like to be more like Abe, you may want to learn leadership from Lincoln’s leadership style. There is a lot a sales manager and/or a sales coach can learn from his leadership style.

 

Circulate Amongst the Troops

Research has shown that Lincoln tended to be outside the White House more often than inside during his presidency. Most historians believe that Abe met every Union soldier that enlisted in the Civil War. That’s saying something!

 

The lesson you receive is that you need to be an accessible leader if you’re going to get people to do what you want. Lincoln knew (and now you do, too!) that people are the best source of information. Accessibility is the first step towards building trusting relationships that allow communication to flow freely. If your team members know that they can talk to you about anything, they’re going to start doing it. Over time, that trust and rapport can get you the information you need to determine weaknesses, strengths, and other helpful data that will allow your team to prosper and help get your team through tough times successfully.

 

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Keep the Door Open

Research has shown that Lincoln offered an open-door policy and was one of the most accessible executives the US ever knew. Personal secretaries at the time claimed that Abe spent almost three-quarters of his time meeting people. Regardless of how busy he was, he always found time to meet with those who called.

 

Modern business theories also back that up. It’s called ‘managing while wandering around’. Most modern CEOs (at least the successful ones) also spend most of their time gathering information in order to help them make the best decisions based on information they have collected themselves. They do that by making time for everyone, including lower-level employee’s that make things happen on a day to day basis.

 

As a sales coach and manager, you are responsible for your team’s success. You are the navigator of tough times and circumstances. It is your responsibility to navigate your team through tough waters and

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Learn How to Be a Sales Coach, Not a Micromanager

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If you’re a sales manager, it’s time for a quick self-evaluation to see if you may be a micromanager. Micromanagers tend to check in with sales reps constantly and they are swamped in minutiae. They often scrutinize and criticize the small details of an employee’s work. Learn how to be a sales coach, not a micromanager and watch your sales reps’ attitude and work output improve drastically.

 

It’s probably not surprising that these traits aren’t very effective leadership strategies. It may be more surprising to realize that you’re guilty of some or all of them.

 

What does a micromanager look like from an employee’s perspective? Imagine a coach running onto a football field in the middle of a play and instructing a receiver where to go. That’s micromanaging. It’s an extreme example, but it’s also instructive.

 

This coach is stepping outside the norms of the game. During the normal course of a game, there’s limited communication between a coach and the team. A basketball coach can shout at players during a game, and the players might hear them, but it’s not possible for the coach to diagram plays when they are already set in motion.

 

Similarly, when an employee is on a sales call, it would be inappropriate for the boss to barge in on the conversation. This would be disruptive to the sales effort and ineffective to the end goal of closing the sale or moving to the next step. It’s worth mentioning that it is also incredibly rude to the salesperson and may cause them to feel undervalued.

 

Again, this is an extreme example, but it’s instructive. The interesting questions come not in such obvious black and white cases but in the gray cases. When is it appropriate or not for a boss to intervene? Unfortunately, that depends on the specific area of business, but there is a question you can ask yourself as a good rule of thumb. This question requires a different answer for each and every specific case. Spending the time to answer this question for each specific case will build your sales coaching skills and ensure you are not micromanaging your employee’s. This in itself can improve the confidence of your sales reps and improve your bottom line.

 

Continuing with the example of the coach, consider a distinction between game time and time out. Game time is when the employees are doing something, they’re most capable of doing by themselves. Time out is when the manager steps in and gives direction, advice, or feedback.

To decide whether a given sales activity belongs in game time or in time out, ask: “can my employee do this by themselves?” If the answer is always “no,” that’s a serious issue, and this must be addressed at the proper time (most likely during employee weekly, monthly, or quarterly reviews). If the answer is “yes,” then you, the sales manager and sales coach, should not be interacting or micromanaging your sales rep.

 

Of course, the more likely answer is “sometimes.” It comes down to a judgment call. Can the employee do this effectively alone? Or would it be more effective for you to step in? Ultimately that decision is up to you, but remember that you have a choice and the best thing is to address the issue at a different time or to entirely leave the issue alone. Address the issue when you notice it impacting the results and performance metrics of your sales rep.

 

Of course, that’s not to say you give up all involvement. You’re still the leader, you’re still in charge, and you’re still ultimately responsible for driving new business and growing your organization. But you must learn to be strategic about when to give input.

 

Take advantage of your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings with your sales reps to say everything that you need to say. Also, use this opportunity to establish when would be the most appropriate time for you to check in and offer feedback. Your sales reps won’t feel like they’re constantly being watched if you establish boundaries around when you check in and stick to those boundaries.

 

If you’re a micromanager, you’re probably doing it for the right reasons, but it’s time to stop. Your employees will appreciate it and respond by improving their performance. It’s time to think like a sales coach and lead your sales team to their next win.

Sales People and Manager Metting

Graduation is Coming: Tips for Recruiting High Performing Sales Reps

Sales People and Manager Metting
Graduated Students

We are edging closer to college graduation. For many companies, this means a fresh pool of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed applicants. If your team is among those getting ready to recruit new sales reps, it’s important to know what to look for. After all, recruiting and hiring the right team of people can mean the difference between success and failure of your company. To ensure you’re hiring the high-performing sales reps you want, here are a few of the top tips and tricks for your recruiting team.

Check this out for some insights in hiring talented candidates! 3 Tips to Help You Find the Right Sales Candidate

Why good sales recruitment matters

Currently, the average annual turnover rate for sales teams is around 25%. The acquisition of a rep costs an average of $29,000 and training costs around $36,000. For most organizations, this turn-over rate and associated expenses are not sustainable. Therefore, in order to maintain good sales performance and healthy revenues, you must optimize your recruiting process. Setting smart goals for what you hope to achieve in your recruitment process, as well as your company environment, can position you for sustainable sales success.

Decide who you’re looking for

Recent grads don’t have the employment histories of their veteran counterparts. So, recruiting sales talent fresh out of college requires assessing skills beyond the traditional employment history. Eager and malleable, these candidates are perfect for training to best suit your companies needs. Although different sales jobs require different skill sets, it’s important to first identify what sort of personality characteristics best fit your specific sales roles. Looking into extracurricular activities can provide useful insights.

Student athletes

Athletes are conditioned to work toward improving themselves and reaching short- and long-term goals. Former athletes can be highly self-motivated with strong work ethic and team mentality. These skills are invaluable in a sales career.

Alumnus of Baylor University and student athlete turned CEO Mark Hurd, extols the benefits of playing college sports in relation to the professional world. Stating that, playing collegiate sports provides experience in high-pressure situations and offers opportunities to develop leadership and teamwork skills, which can pay off when students enter the professional world.

Science/Engineering majors

If you’re in a highly technical field or your team is frequently calling on system engineers and laboratory scientist, you need your reps to be able to understand what they’re selling and the lingo of industry professionals. Graduates with a degree in science or engineering can make great additions to your team. You can craft their sales knowledge to fit your company while their industry background fills knowledge gaps that other reps might possess.

Class officers

Sales requires critical thinking and being comfortable working in team settings. Former class officers and student government members possess these skills, as well as a range of others that can add value to your team, including:

  • Time management
  • Effective communication and listening skills
  • Networking experience

A handful of schools are renowned for their exceptional student government programs, consistently producing graduates who go on to become changemakers in their fields.

College newspaper editors

A skilled writer can serve as the secret weapon your team needs to develop compelling and grammatically sound sales proposals and presentations. Former school newspaper editors and reporters are comfortable with writing and possess a strong vocabulary that can be useful in contacting and meeting with prospective leads.

Show off what you’ve got

Candidates looking for their first job out of college, particularly millennials and Generation Z’ers, have a unique set of priorities in regards to what they want out of a company. If you’re interested hiring young talent, it’s in your best interest to create a workplace that attracts them.

Up-to-date technology

Millennials and Gen Z’ers are tech-savvy generations and prefer to use the latest technology to increase their productivity—in turn helping your profit margins. Make sure you sales enablement and office tools are all up-to-date.

Talent management

Recent grads want to maintain a healthy work-life balance; therefore, they prefer companies that will allow them to do so. Social impact, collaboration, continuous learning, flexibility, and company culture are all of high value and should be considered when presenting your company benefits package.

Performance incentives

Millennials and Gen Z’ers are motivated by awards, recognition, and additional responsibilities when working to achieve goals. Adapting your career growth plan to provide specific guidelines and milestones can give new hires something to work toward. Implementing non-monetary incentives such as flexible work hours or catered lunches can be just the draw you need to get the recruits you want.

Ask the right questions

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Once you’ve made contact with your ideal applicants and it’s time to start the interview process, you want to be sure you’re using that time wisely. To gather the most relevant and conclusive information, Hubspot’s Mark Roberge suggests five key questions to ask of your candidates:

  • Are they coachable? It’s important that new sales reps are able to absorb and apply feedback.
  • Are they curious? The best sales reps have a passion for the process and should be asking inquisitive questions.
  • Are they intelligent? Candidates must be able to master tasks and think critically when out on their own.
  • Are they hard-working? Strong work ethic is essential for success.
  • Have they ever been successful? Past examples of success in some area of their life should be demonstrated.

Preparing your hiring team for graduation can set you up for success in recruiting the best of the best. We hope this guide helps your team achieve its hiring and, ultimately, sales goals!

Maddie

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Executive Sales Recruiting Experts