I came across an interesting definition of business: getting and retaining new customers. If companies are not acquiring new customers, retaining current customers, and growing accounts, they are dead or dying. The same applies to salespeople; if you are not acquiring new customers, retaining current costumers, and growing each account, you will be replaced.
The way I see it, the sales department is an engine that keeps a business running; so it is no surprise that sales managers, business leaders, and salespeople stay up nights trying to figure out how to increase their sales effectiveness. Sales training companies—seeing an opportunity—are staying up nights trying to figure out how to sell their services to you. A few moments ago, I did a Google search on “sales training” and had 9,500,000 results returned a split second later. Sales training is big business, but does it get the job done?
According to Selling Power Magazine, American companies spend over $7 billion a year on sales training to improve their sales performance. According to ES Research, the premiere sales training effectiveness research company, sales training fails over 80% of the time within 80 days. Clearly something more than sales training is needed. This “5 Proven Ideas” eBook adds the missing ingredient that makes your sales team much more effective.
I’m Umar Hameed, CEO of No Limits Selling. In a “previous life,” I ran a consulting firm called Gecko Sales and Marketing. We became the Virtual VP of Sales and Marketing for companies in Asia, Europe, and the US. Our goal was to open new sales channels to take IT products to market (B to B and B to C). We opened large accounts ranging from IBM to Wal-Mart and built strong resellers channels throughout North America. After we had established a sales channel, we would help our clients hire the right sales talent to work directly for them to grow their company.
We would find salespeople that had the right expertise, drive, and passion. These people had amazing potential when they came aboard and they ended up doing a good job. However, most of them failed to reach their potential. No matter how hard they tried, they never seemed to move from good to great. Our biggest frustration was being unable to figure out what blocked their success. All of our clients throughout the world reported the same frustration: salespeople are not reaching their potential. This was neither a skills issue nor a motivation issue; it turned out to be limitations within the salesperson’s mind.
I became obsessed with figuring out exactly what stopped salespeople from reaching their potential. I looked at the hundreds of sales training companies and discovered they could teach people how to sell, but seldom did they actually get salespeople to break through their limitations and realize their true potential. There had to be a better way. I saw a possible solution when I started researching the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience. I started looking at hypnosis and technologies like Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to find the “toolkit” that would allow salespeople to break through their barriers and perform at a higher level… perhaps, even reach their potential.
Many companies have a good product or service and a good business model. Where they fall short is in acquiring new customers, retaining customers, and growing existing accounts. To get better results from their sales team, companies use sales coaching, sales training, and incentives. When that does not work, they begin replacing salespeople in hopes of finding a sales superstar.
This eBook outlines a paradigm shift in thinking that delivers extraordinary results. When you master the “5 Proven Ideas” outlined in this eBook, your sales will sky-rocket.
The 1st Proven Idea: Master the Human Element
When sales managers look at salespeople, they pay close attention to two areas: The person’s selling skills and their drive and motivation to go out and get the job done. That makes perfect sense until you consider the following scenario.
John is a salesperson with a high level of drive and really good selling skills. The sales manager is happy to have John on the team because he gets good results. The sales manager is certain that if John “applied” himself he could do much better. Another one of his salespeople, Janet, is less driven and has no formal sales training. Somehow, she gets phenomenal results and the sales manager considers Janet to be his best salesperson.
So how is this possible?
If Janet consistently delivers better results than John, something other than drive and sales skills is at play. Our research reveals the hidden factor is the “human element.” This human element is the “goings on” inside the heart and mind of a salesperson. Not surprisingly, the human element has a huge impact on the results we achieve. The human element can amplify or reduce the impact of a salesperson’s performance. In this example, if John could change his mindset and overcome his limiting thoughts and beliefs, he would deliver truly spectacular results. The human element is a primary driver in life, sports, and business.
When I deliver keynote speeches, I may have fifty to five hundred salespeople in a room.
During the presentation, I ask the audience to finish the sentence:
Salespeople are __________.
This question is designed to uncover the beliefs the audience members have about salespeople.
Initially, the audience calls out positive attributes like:
•Salespeople are driven
•They make it happen
•They are highly effective
•They grow the company
After about eight positive attributes, things turn darker. The audience starts calling out negative attributes like:
•Salespeople are out to get you
•They will sell you anything
•Salespeople are sleazy
•They will sell their grandmother to make a deal
•They will sell you things you don’t want
The list of negative attributes is always much longer than the positive ones. After about 12 negative attributes, a salesperson in the audience says, “Wait a minute, we are talking about ourselves; we aren’t like that.”
What we are talking about here are our beliefs about salespeople. We get most of our beliefs by the time we are seven years old. A negative belief about salespeople could have ended up in our heads when we were just six years old. One Saturday morning, we accompany our parents to check out the new Oldsmobiles at the local car dealership. Before we get out of the car, Dad turns to Mother and says, “Don’t tell the salespersons too much; otherwise, he will force us to buy something we don’t want.” The memory of that one moment in time is forgotten within minutes; but the statement, “Salespeople will force you to buy something you don’t want,” creates a belief that “salespeople will take advantage of me.” That belief stays locked in our unconscious mind, influencing our actions and behaviors for a lifetime.
Here’s a baseball metaphor to illustrate my point. If a ball player hesitates while hitting a pitch because of a belief such as “I cave under pressure,” the player will miss the ball or pop it up for an “easy out.” Even if the player hits the ball, the belief short-circuits the action by insuring the player has a weak follow-through, for instance. Now, a home run becomes just a single. Yeah, it’s a hit, but it could have been so much more.
The same thing happens in sales: A salesperson with drive, passion, and the desire to make a lot of money falls short of his or her goals because that person holds a belief like “salespeople take advantage”. A salesperson holding this kind of belief will never deliver exceptional results until he or she breaks through that limiting belief.
The second question I ask an audience to finish is:
Money is ___________.
This question is designed to uncover the beliefs held by the audience members about money.
Initially, the audience calls out positive attributes like:
• Money is useful
• It “makes the world go ‘round”
• It makes life easier
After about eight positive attributes about money, things once again turn darker. The audience starts calling out negative attributes like:
• Money is the root of all evil
• Money creates problems
• Money causes family fights
• Money is bad
• People will do anything for money
The list of negative attributes about money is always much longer than the positive ones.
Swimming around in the heads of salespeople are negative beliefs about money; it’s no wonder so many salespeople “cave in” on price—it’s because their negative beliefs about money have a direct impact on the results they achieve.
Traditionally, if we wanted to improve a salesperson’s performance, we would give them sales training to improve their skills or offer incentives such as “win a trip!” in hopes they will improve. The reality is that unless we handle what is going on in the hearts and minds of the salesperson, we will not see any dramatic improvements. Mastering the human element is paramount.
The 2nd Proven Idea: Our Beliefs Determine Our Behavior
Our beliefs determine our behavior which, in turn, determines our results. As salespeople, we know exactly what our results are. At the end of the month, we get a sales report outlining how much we sold. So, if we want to do better, we need to change our behaviors. Now the question becomes how do we change our behavior?
Here’s an example. I was working with Denise. She knows what she has to offer her company is truly valuable and worth every penny she charges. Denise works for a very small company which goes up against giants like Motorola and Intel. Although the company has had past success going up against giants such as these, in her heart of hearts Denise wasn’t quite sure her company could deliver the goods. In her unconscious mind was a belief that “we cannot deliver on our promise.”
This unconscious belief ensured Denise would deliver average results. Denise did great presentations which piqued her client’s interest…that is, until the subject of price came up. At first Denise would defend the price, but very quickly would cave in. The old belief was sabotaging her performance. Using techniques derived from the latest discoveries in neuroscience, we changed that belief Denise had long held from “we cannot deliver what we promise” to “we deliver high value.” Once we changed that belief, Denise’s behavior changed immediately. When people started pushing back on price, she pushed back on value, and that allowed her to increase her deal size by 150%. Our beliefs determine our behavior.
The 3rd Proven Idea: Inner conflict stops us from taking action.
I was doing a presentation about how to build highly effective sales organizations. Amy approached me afterward and said, “You know what? I go to networking events and meet a lot of people. When I call them to get an appointment, I always know exactly what to say after I’ve hung up the phone. I’m just not getting appointments.” She continued excitedly, “And the same thing happens when I am go door-to-door cold-calling. I meet business owners, but things don’t work out well. Afterward, when I’m back in the car, I say to myself, ‘I should have said this’ or
‘I could have done that.’ I never know what to say when I’m actually in the situation! Being like this is killing me financially.”
In a one-on-one session with Amy, we used the latest insights and techniques from neuroscience to help her with the issue. We discovered she had an inner conflict: One part of her knows that she could be a great salesperson and has everything she needs to be highly successful; but she also had another part of her that said, “Hey, who are you to be doing this? You weren’t really trained properly in sales, you don’t have the right education, and you certainly have no mastery over the topic.” Amy had two conflicting parts in her mind: One said, “You can be a great salesperson;” the other one said, “You don’t have what it takes.” This inner conflict was literally sabotaging her results.
The traditional method for helping her would have been a sales training. And yet sales trainings would have never realized the source of Amy’s behavior—her inner conflict. What sales trainings typically offer is something like this:
“So, you’re not getting the results you want when you go into situation x, y or z; okay, this is what you say and this is how you say it.”
However, sales trainings are not designed to determine or resolve an inner conflict. But by using powerful neuroscience methodologies, Amy was able to resolve her inner-conflict and make a lot of sales.
A few weeks later, I received a phone call from Amy where she reported, “Wow, Umar, you won’t believe what’s happening. I started calling prospects Monday morning; I don’t know what happened really—but the right words just fell out of my mouth! I got one appointment and then I got another and another. That week I got 17 appointments. I’ve never had this kind of success before.”
Once Amy resolved her inner conflict her results improved immediately. I didn’t teach her a thing about what to say in these situations. Neuroscience helps us focus on the driving issue that is causing the inner-conflict and how to resolve it. Resolving Amy’s inner conflict allowed her to deliver phenomenal results. Therefore, the third proven idea relies on the understanding that inner conflict stops us from taking action. Once we resolve an inner-conflict we see an immediate improvement in results.
The 4th Proven Idea: We are “hot-wired” to succeed and to fail.
Simply stated, we have a myriad of unconscious processes that go on outside our awareness. For example, at a networking event when someone offers a hand shake we automatically (and without thinking) shake their hand. The way a person shakes your hand today will be identical to the way they shake your hand five years from now. Why is that? Because the entire process of shaking hands with someone happens at an unconscious level. So much more is going on than what seems apparent. Just look at the number of unconscious, yet critical steps involved in accepting a handshake.
1. The first thing we do is figure out if it is safe to let a stranger grab your hand. At the deepest level of who we are as human beings is ALWAYS to ensure we are safe.
2. We need to decide where the offered hand is and if it’s moving.
3. We must bring our hand up to perfectly match the offer hand shake.
The hand shake is so much more than a hand shake. It conveys a message. We must shake hands with the appropriate firmness and for the appropriate length of time. And here’s where it gets tricky: Let’s say the person shakes your hand a little too briefly; you might say to yourself, “Hey, wait a minute, you don’t like me; Now I see how it really is.” But if the person holds on to your hand a little too long you might take this as a sign of sexual interest; “Hey baby, you want to be friends?”
The point here is that there are so many decisions made outside of our awareness. These decisions (processes) are hot-wired in our subconscious.
Similarly, we have hot-wired processes in sales situations. For example, Brian is a salesperson in the financial services arena. His inability to make cold calls was killing his career. He told me, “My biggest difficulty is that I don’t make enough cold calls. Without enough cold calls, I am not getting enough appointments, and without the appointments, I don’t have the opportunity to make sales.” When Brian came in for a session, we use a light form of hypnosis and a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) technique used to “slow down time” around his cold calling situations. This allowed Brian to discover what was really going on. What were the hot-wired processes in his unconscious mind that sabotaged his cold calling effectiveness?
The first thing we discovered was the trigger that launched this ineffective hot-wired process. Just looking at a phone started an inner dialog, “You suck at cold calling”. That inner dialogue immediately brought up mental images in his mind’s eye of important people doing important things. The images revealed that when Brian’s phone call came in, the important people looked angry because he interrupted them. Seeing that angry image evoked a strong negative emotional response in his body. This led to more toxic inner dialogue that led to uglier picture of Brian failing, which in turn made him feel worse. After about 8 seconds of looking at the phone and feeling bad, the last thing on the planet Brian wanted to do was pick up that phone and make those calls.
At times, he used his considerable will-power and his training (i.e., Step #1: Look in the mirror and smile; see yourself smiling when you talk…). Sometimes he could force himself to make those calls. Yet in forcing those calls, Brian’s outward delivery was just plain bad because what was going on inside him ensured he was ineffective. All those negative emotions were making sure he would not attempt cold calling any time soon.
Brian realized his “hot-wiring” about making calls needed to be re-wired. Using the latest insights from neuroscience, we replaced the old wiring with new wiring: That is, we changed the neurological pathways that previously lead to limiting thoughts and unbearable negative emotions into a pathway which lead to better results.
The new hot-wiring used the same trigger (seeing the phone) but instantly made Brain feel a deep sense of curiosity. The next step in the new process was total decisiveness followed by a burning desire to take action. The results were immediate and compelling.
Brian called back a week later to say, “Hey, Umar! You won’t believe this: I am making all of my daily cold calls comfortably and easily.” Brain was happy with the results and started getting appointments and making more sales.
Two years later, I jumped on LinkedIn and, finding Brian there, extended an invitation. When we connected, the first thing he said was, “By the way, the year I worked with you I was starving to death. When I overcame my call reluctance my sales sky-rocked; I made the cold calls which meant more appointments and a lot more sales. In fact, I joined a million dollar round table that year.” (Video: see what Brian said about her breakthrough)
The fourth Proven Idea is that we are “hot-wired” to succeed and to fail. Like Brian, salespeople know the process:
1. Select the right target
2. Cold call prospective clients
3. Make the presentation
4. Handle the objections
5. Go for the close
7. Get referrals
If even one of these steps is hot-wired for failure, it can literally reduce our potential sales by 30% to 50%. Fixing negative hot-wiring is crucial to being a great salesperson and reaching our potential.
The 5th Proven Idea: Interdepartmental Interaction Sets the Stage for Success or Failure.
A VP of Worldwide Sales for a Silicon Valley company said to me, “My salespeople don’t really believe they can be successful. Can you come in and work with us?” When I began interviewing the sales department to determine the source of their limiting belief, I realized something deeper was going on. So, I reached out to the marketing department and interviewed their folks. This took me to the engineering department and the executive team. I determined that there was distrust among the departments that was causing the limiting belief.
Here’s what happened: The marketing department—other than creating marketing materials and brochures—must divine what their customers will want in the future (1 year, 3 years, and beyond). They informed the engineering department that in two years, their customers were going to need a certain type of micro-processing chip. The engineering department—about 100 strong—put a lot of resources into this new chip design, spending millions of dollars. Two years later, when the chip was ready for market, customers did not want to buy it. Yes, it did sell, but not at the phenomenal rate the marketing department had predicted. The engineering department lost trust in the marketing department.
Meanwhile, over the years the sales department had been told numerous times by the engineering department that product X would be ready January 1. They had made delivery promises to their customers based on this date, only to have the product release change to August 1. The sales department lost credibility with their customers and so sales lost faith in the engineering department. Add to the mix other instances of loss of trust between the finance department and the sales department, the support department and the sales department, the finance department and the management team. On and on it went.
This distrust created interdepartmental friction, turf battles and departmental silos. Even within departments there will be cliques, finger-pointing, “it’s not my/our fault,” and “if only they did x
I would have made my deadline.” Distrust creates:
• CYA, people covering their own behinds
• Hidden agendas
All this behavior slows down a company and ensures that the salespeople don’t trust the organization to fulfill its promises. Salespeople caved in on price because they had lost confidence in the organization to back them up.
The organization needed a shift in the overall culture of the company: A shift from individual survival mode to a cooperative mode where people went beyond the call of duty to live up to their promises. When this kind of shift occurs, people realize they are on the same page, they’re all going in the same direction, and all embrace the same strategic vision.
Once everyone embraces the same vision in their hearts and minds, they know they can count on one another. Team members feel safe call it as it really is” (i.e., the truth). And it’s okay for other team members to hear what’s really going on because they have the courage to hear it without becoming defensive. Colleagues can have a five minute conversation and solve a problem that would have taken months or years to solve in the former, toxic culture.
Once we transformed the culture of this company there was a higher level of commitment, cooperation, passion, and a sense of urgency to fulfill the organization’s vision. The fifth Proven
Idea allows salespeople to know they have the entire organization backing them up so they can focus on “beating the daylights” out of the competition.
To increase your sales or your sales team’s performance, remember these 5 Proven Ideas:
- Mastering the human element is crucial to sales success.
- The beliefs we hold determine our results. If we want salespeople to perform better we can change their limiting behaviors by changing the beliefs that drive them so salespeople go from average to spectacular!
- Inner conflict stops us from taking action. When someone isn’t getting the results they want, sometimes there is an inner conflict they need to resolve. A resolved conflict allows salespeople to have more strength to take the necessary actions to deliver phenomenal results.
- We are “hot-wired” to succeed and to fail. In areas where hot-wiring makes us fail, we can use the latest insights from neuroscience to change it so we break through our where we are “stuck” and deliver spectacular results.
- Interdepartmental Interaction Sets the Stage for Success or Failure. Once we change the culture in the organization, we rid of interdepartmental friction. This sets the stage for a highly successful organization.
This article just scratches the surface. To get a better understanding of how to improve sales performance, setup a free phone consultation with me.