Each year tens of thousands of organizations fail. One of the contributing factors often cited is poor communication. Your sales team is the tip of the spear for your organization. Its success or failure determines whether or not your organization is going to be around next year. As a sales manager, you have to deliver clear and crisp messages that are believed by your sales team. Your clarity and confidence as a sales leader is the catalyst that ignites the passion and drive within your sales force. Do this poorly and you will douse any inspiration until complacency contaminates your team.
1. Plan it Out
People that are at the top of any profession make it look so easy. The reality is they spent countless hours rehearsing and practicing to get good. They take the time to plan every event they undertake. After each event they compare the results they got against the plan. They make the needed adjustments so they continually improve. This is how they become great!
As a sales manager, you have to plan every interaction with your team members. You have to ask yourself, What is the end result I’m looking for? How will I know my salesperson truly got the message? How do I need to deliver the message so each salesperson knows what’s expected of them? Taking 5 to 10 minutes to plan your interaction can save you countless hours if the communication you want to deliver doesn’t get through.
2. Get To The Point
There simply isn’t enough time to get everything done. Additionally, there are 10,000 distractions that get in the way of you doing your job. This means that we do not have the luxury to take a lot of time to hold lengthy meetings. We need to clearly concise to powerfully get our point across.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “you buried the lead”? In plain English what this means is that the most important element of your message is not front and center. It would be like someone telling you what’s on the menu for dinner tonight before they tell you the Titanic has hit the iceberg and if you don’t get on a lifeboat soon you’re going to die. Tell your salespeople the most important information right out of the gate. This will accomplish two things; it will immediately get their attention and ensure they truly understand the most critical element of your communication.
3. Listen Up
One of the biggest complaints that salespeople have is that their sales managers don’t really listen to them. A critical element of leadership is the trust between the leader and follower. Not listening to people is an excellent way for them to lose faith in you. The lower the trust the poor the performance your team will deliver.
Your brain has the power to process a huge amount of information. The reason listening is such a common problem is a matter of neurology. It turns out that the average person speaks at about 120 words a minute which does not give your brain enough to do. To keep from being bored your brain starts thinking about what you’re going to say next or what movie you want to see this weekend. One way to stay focused on what the other person is saying is to repeat what they are say inside your mind.
For example, if the salesperson says, “they will need their samples in two weeks” you repeat that phrase inside your head a moment later. There is an old joke that speaks to this. Why did God create fleas? To give dogs something to do. Repeating gives your brain something to do so you really listen. When you use this strategy your salespeople will feel that you are totally focused on them.
Another critical element of leadership is confidence. Even if what you’re saying is compelling if you’re not confident in delivering it, your sales team won’t believe much less commit to it. Conversely, if your plan of attack may be wishful thinking as long as you deliver it in a confident way your team will storm any castle for you.
This is why the first tip in this article was to plan your communication. The plan becomes your road map for the entire conversation. It shows you what to do if the conversation goes wrong and how to get it back on track. You know what you want to say and you know how you want to say it. To amp-up your confidence use a strong voice and slow down your presentation by 20%. This combination of voice and slower delivery conveys power and confidence to your sales team. If you believe, they will too. Check out this article (link to the article will be added here)
5. Body Language
I’m sure you have come across this chart before. When you communicate with another the words you use are only 7% of the message. The other 93% are a combination of your body language and the tonality of your voice. When you communicate with your salespeople, pay attention to their body language and facial expressions. These indicators reveal if the message is getting across and how well your people are receiving it.
As you get to know each member of your sales team, pay attention to the mannerisms and how their voice sounds under normal circumstances. This is the baseline you can use for comparison. In your future meetings when you share new expectations or demands notice how they mannerisms and voice patterns differ from the baseline. Their body language and tonality will let you know if your salespeople have doubts or are fully committed to making your plans a reality.
6. Only You
I never met the man but people say that President Bill Clinton could make you feel like you were the only person in the entire world. Even people that didn’t like him wanted to do his bidding after an interaction like that. People want to be seen as special but know deep down that they probably are not. When you can create this level of connection with your salespeople they will walk over broken glass to accomplish the goals you set out before them.
The President’s secret weapon is rapport, a skill that most people learn but hardly ever use. As a sales manager, you must strive to build up a strong rapport with all of your salespeople. The easiest way to build rapport is to match the speed and volume of your salesperson’s voice. Pay attention to their word choice and use similar words in your interactions with them. Pay attention to their mannerisms and incorporate those when you communicate with them. These techniques connect you with your salespeople at a unconscious level that makes them feel like they are the most important person in the world.
7. The Power Of Story
In ancient times before there was the written word stories were used to communicate important ideas. People forget data almost immediately but can recall an interesting story decades after hearing it just once. This is how our species survived. Critical knowledge about survival was relayed through story, generation after generation. In schools, we still teach our kids Greek mythology because those ancient stories still apply. It seems that stories are hardwired into our very DNA as a way of remembering important information.
As a sales manager, you need to collect stories about success and failure within your organization. The stories become the folklore of your organization. For example, if you tell a new sales rep that they need to go above and beyond the call of duty it is almost meaningless. On the other hand, if you make the same point but tell them a story about another sales rep within your organization who drove all night to get a client the exact part they needed so the production line wouldn’t shut down. Now that’s a concept that the new sales rep fully understands and will never forget it.
In sales there are so many uncertainties that can get in the way of your team success; missed deadlines from your manufacturing department, shipping issues, revoking of credit terms by your finance department or deep discounts offered by your competitors. All of these types of issues are out of your control.
How you communicate with your sales team is solely determined by you. The stronger and clearer your communications are the better your team will function. When you consistently communicate in a highly effective manner the trust your team has for you gets stronger. Trust is great in good times but is critical in challenging times.
Make no mistakes sales is a battle and the team you put together determines if you are going to win or lose. In this article, you will learn how to get your team to ignite so they close more accounts and do it will higher margins.
Since the dawn of recorded history generals have known that passion, drive, and motivation was the number one determining factor that predicted weather they won or lost. The same is true for your sales team. You can have the best strategy, a ton of resources and a weak team will ensure both are squandered. In military colleges, they still tell stories of smaller armies that had a Never-Quit attitude that allowed them to defeat a larger, better-equipped adversary.
The cornerstone of any relationship is trust. It doesn’t matter how much you motivate your sales team if there is low trust the motivation will not help.
When your team trusts you they will do whatever needs doing to get the job done. There are three things to keep in mind when you build a foundation of trust:
2. The Platinum Rule
The Platinum Rule says do not treat people like you want to be treated. Figure out what works best for them and interact with them in that fashion. As a sales leader, you need to know each team member as an individual. You need to know what inspires them and what causes them dread. Here are three things to keep in mind when deploying the Platinum Rule with your team:
Human beings need to feel like they are in control. As a sales leader, you can share your strategies and concerns with your team. This way salespeople know where they fit in. They know when they are succeeding and when course correction is needed. Here are three things to keep in mind when you amp up your transparency:
4. Personal And Professional Goals
Way too many sales leaders are only concerned about a salesperson’s professional goals. The reality is we are three-dimensional beings with full lives. Highly effective sales leaders know the personal and professional goals for each team member. Here are three strategies to uncover your team’s goals:
5. Are you an away from or are towards person
People fall into two categories. People who want to avoid the negative consequences are away from people. People who want to accomplish a goal are towards people. As a sales leader, you need to know where each individual member of your team falls. Here are three ways to uncover how your salespeople are wired:
6. The Power Of Incentives
There is a ton of data out there that shows that cash incentives lose their appeal very quickly. The same holds true for negative incentives, “hit the goal or you’re fired.” Nevertheless, incentives are an important part of sales. Here are three ways to use incentives in a more effective manner that boosts team performance:
7. One For All And All For One
Teams that have synergy outperform their counterparts. Not only do you have to get your sales team on the same page. You have to get the entire organization to embrace the sales team and their efforts. Here are three strategies to make that happen:
Your success as a leader depends on how your sales team performs. The way I see it, A sales manager’s job is to get his or her team to let go of any fears or limitation that prevent them from boldly executing their duties. To do this, sales managers have to become masters of trust and influence.
Learn the skill outlined in this article and you will build a stronger sales team that will walk over broken glass to accomplish the goals you set out for them.
All along you thought it was the economy, your competitors, your education or your boss getting in the way.
Then one day you discover it’s you. This doesn’t make 1 ounce of sense.
We spent countless hours working, in dreaming of how we want our life to be. We spend a ton of effort trying to get what we want, in the way that we want so we can live happier and more productive lives.
Why do so many people struggle to build a life that they want?
I’m not sure why that’s happening for you. But I can share what was getting in the way for Marcy (not her real name) one of my clients.
Marcy knew with certainty that she is gonna build a great company. Every ounce of her being was focused on doing just that. She built a good company but nowhere close to being a great company. One day she realized the problem wasn’t external, something within her was blocking her progress.
This is what we discovered…
Marcy knew there was a better more confident version of herself waiting to come out. Marcy 2.0 had an amazing staff around her. People that were committed, people that had passion, people that did whatever it took to get the job done. Her customers loved her and consistently sent her referrals. Her family life was richer and more fulfilling.
Her current reality
Somewhere deep in Marcy’s unconscious mind, she had a belief that was getting in the way. “Who are my I?”, this one thought kept getting in the way of her being bolder. This one thought, caused her to doubt herself in challenging situations. This one thought, made her procrastinate in critical areas. This one thought was standing between her and the amazing Marcy 2.0.
Well underneath that thought, “Who am I?” was a belief that “I am a fraud.” If only Marcy had a better education, she would deserve to build a life that she wanted. If only Marcy had better connections, she would be able to get ahead faster. If only Marcy was better looking, people would help her move ahead faster.
Using Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) I was able to help Marcy transform that old limiting belief into a new empowering one. I deserve success, became the new belief that allowed her to set aside the negative dialogue that had been sabotaging her efforts. I deserve success, allowed her to be bolder in her business dealings. I deserve success, allowed her to be more confident with her staff. I deserve success, allowed her to wholeheartedly go after her dream.
I’m not sure where you are in your life right now. But I do know if you are not getting the results you want, you need to figure it out. If you don’t know where you are they have a phrase for that, it’s called being lost. People never have a problem with the destination. They know what the dream is and know they are supposed to get out of it once they arrive. They know how amazing its gonna feel when they do get there.
But if you don’t know where you are you have no idea what direction to go in.
Take my self-assessment quiz and figure out where you are in life right now. From this foundation, you will be able to get the bearings you need to set out on the journey to build the life that you want.
I had them trapped!
Well, not really, I was leading a breakout session at the Chesapeake Human Resource Association’s Spring Conference (@ChesapeakeHRA). There were about 120 HR professionals attending my session. At one point in my presentation, I asked them to describe a highly effective team. What are the attributes and attitudes that these team members possess that allow them to deliver exceptional results?
This is what they came up with:
A Great Team
Then I asked them what are the attitudes and attributes that best describe an average team.
An Average Team
Keeping the Status Quo
Just Doing the Basics
Not Having Fun
No Real Leadership
I shared my hypothesis with the attendees. When a great team takes on a project they deliver exceptional results. An average team will deliver average results on the same project due to team dysfunction. My point here is that team dysfunction (office politic) causes lower productivity.
I asked the attendees to take a quick two question survey.
Question one, what percentage of productivity is lost due to team dysfunction?
Question two, how much does this impact corporate culture (a little, medium, or a lot)?
48 of the attendees took the survey.
Eleven of the attendees thought that team dysfunction cost the organization 70% in lost productivity. Overall the group guesstimated the impact of team dysfunction was 57%.
73% of the group thought team dysfunction had a large negative impact on the organization’s culture. With only 27% thinking there would be a medium impact. No one thought that team dysfunction had a low impact on the culture.
These findings are not scientific but are instructive. This data came from HR professionals that are on the front lines every day. When we allow team dysfunction to go unaddressed we pay dearly in lost productivity, lost revenue and higher costs. Additionally, it undermines the corporate culture that leads to our best people leaving.
All of this creates a downward spiral that becomes harder to turn-around the longer we allow it to exist.
I never thought so. I mean why would it?
Should I really share my private thoughts with another?
What possible good would it do to reveal my vulnerability?
Here are three data points to consider:
I was reading Jonny Cash’s biography (it’s worth the read by the way). In it, he talks about his days in the Air Force during WWII. He was stationed in Germany as an intercept operator.
It was common place for girls back home to break up with their enlisted boyfriends. Can you imagine the impact of getting a Dear John letter? There are many ways to handle this type of rejection. Share the heartache with a friend or carry the burden oneself.
The Air Force troops used an imaginative third option.
GI’s who received a Dear John letter would stand up on a chair in the mess hall and read it out loud so everyone knew about the kiss-off.
It turns out if everyone knows, there was no shame because many of them had gone through the same ordeal themselves. The sharing garnered a lot of support, whiskey, and encouragement to find another love opportunity.
Sharing the news (truth) allowed the GI’s to let go of the past faster and move on.
This morning I was listening to On Being a fabulous podcast hosted by Krista Tippett (@KristaTippett).
She asked 2 questions that were of interest to me:
What is something in the other group’s thinking that you like?
What is something in your group’s thinking that makes you feel uncomfortable?
In letting the other group know what you like about their agenda you reveal something about yourself. You make it clear that you are listening to them. And you create the possibility of building a bridge between you and them.
By letting the other side know something that you are uncomfortable with in your own group’s agenda you show your openness to finding a better solution. Once again this creates an opportunity to build a bridge with the other group.
There is a scene I vaguely remember from Crocodile Dundee (1986 movie). Dundee is telling Sue (his love interest) why they don’t need Psychiatrists back in his small town.
If anyone has a problem they tell Walter (his sidekick).
Sue asks, “Is he a therapist?” Dundee answers, “No, he’s a gossip. He tells everyone else in the village about your problem. When everyone knows, you have nothing to hide. Problem solved!”
The Power Of Truth
We spend so much time, effort and psychic energy keeping our secrets. Most of the time the only person that really care is us. And the FBI, my advice it’s best to keep them out of it.
To me, these three examples highlight the value of sharing what you are really thinking or what you are going through. Rather than weakening your position, it has the power to strengthen it.
Please share your thoughts in the comment section
Sandra is a highly successful entrepreneur that is doing a good job. The frustration for Sandra is that she knows that she could be exceptional, but something has her stuck.
No matter how much she wants it or how hard she works she remains at the same level of performance.
When she came in to see me, I asked her what she wants to achieve in her business and in her life. She told me, “I want to accomplish more and be less anxious all the time.” As Sandra was telling me this she talked with passion and made powerful gestures with her left hand to make her points. When I asked her what seems to get in the way she switched hands and told me how she feels stuck no matter what she does.
I noticed was that when she talks about achieving her potential she uses has a strong voice and uses strong gestures with her left hand. Conversely, when she told me about not achieving greatness her voice becomes weaker and she used weaker gestures with her right hand.
As soon as I saw this duality in voice and gesture behavior I knew she that two parts of her psyche were in conflict. One part is driving her towards success and the other is putting on the brakes. There is a powerful tool from the world of Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) that resolves this type of inner conflict effectively.
In about 60 minutes, I was able to resolve this internal conflict that had her stymied. Later that day, I got a phone call from Sandra. She said, “The biggest change that I have noticed is that my level of stress in way down. And the tension I usually hold in my shoulders has been gone all day.”
That is what I love about NLP. It helps people get the change they want extremely quickly!
You want to do better in life. You have hopes, dreams, and desires. You can see your future and have a plan to get there. When you’re truly confident you turn to your support network and find the dream killers. Many of these people have your best interest at heart. And they feel compelled to stop you before you make an insurmountable mistake.
To them it’s better you live a mediocre life than suffer the pain and humiliation of failure.
Motivational gurus, success coaches, and online charlatans will tell you to stay away from the naysayers, “Their negativity is poison to your dreams.”
Before you turn your back on the naysayers and go it alone, ask yourself is there a lesson here.
The way I see it, these ministers of doom and gloom are fantastic at what they do. I mean, they are rocks stars in negativity.
They have the following attributes:
Conviction – they truly believe their predictions of doom and gloom are real. And nothing in the world is gonna change their mindset.
Tenacity – they are true believers and adhere to the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up!”
Flexibility – no matter how many new ways you have of explaining why your idea is worthwhile. They will come up with as many, if not more reasons why your idea will fail and result in misery and a lonely painful death.
Just imagine, if you could master these three elements and use them for good. You would have the conviction that nothing in the world is going to stop you from achieving your goal. You would have the tenacity to keep going until you achieve success. You have the flexibility to overcome any obstacle that’s thrown your way.
Think of it this way, you are studying the Sith Lord’s skill set to become a master Jedi.