Managing Millennials

Sales management has always been a balancing act between supporting people to achieve more, and pushing them to go beyond what they think they are capable of. In today’s environment of motivating, encouraging and driving performance from the “so-called” millennial generation, there is even more to balance.

Today’s millennials are an interesting blend of being super smart, intuitive, and demanding. Many feel they deserve more than they have perhaps earned yet – more money, a promotion, or even part ownership of the company after 6 months. You know, just like many of us did!

The bottom line is that in many ways millennials are not all that different than the way any other generations were, they are just more vocal about it. And good for them. I’m all for promoting, encouraging, and having people on my staff who feel they can do more.

When it comes to managing this part of the work force, some interesting challenges emerge. Some managers try to fit in with the millennial group (or are even millennials themselves), and they try to lead by getting others to like them. Managers who do this frequently lose their ability to direct their teams because they are afraid of exercising authority for fear of alienating their team members.

The problem is that most managers and other figures of authority — Directors, V.P.’s, and even Business Owners — have never been taught how to properly exercise authority and command respect as leaders.

If you find yourself in this position, follow this proven, 5-step method for exercising authority. It will not only get results, but it will establish, or re-establish, your role as leader of your sales team or department – regardless of their generation.

#1) Make sure your instructions are clear. Having ambiguous goals, or methods of achieving them, automatically undermines your authority and dooms many projects from the beginning. Rule #1 — be clear on the goal and the instructions on how to accomplish it. After you have delivered them, ask your team if they have any questions about what is required, so problems can be cleared up from the beginning.

#2) Encourage people to approach you if they run into problems. Establishing open communication and feedback early on is crucial to avoid big disappointments later. Helping team members resolve problems as they arise ensures quick resolution, continued progress, and good morale.

#3) Take action quickly when you learn of any real problems. Failing to act quickly once you learn of a problem, or putting it off for days or weeks, not only undermines your authority, but also kills morale and confidence. Problems tend to get bigger the longer they go unresolved, and your job as a leader is to solve problems not avoid them.

#4) Insist your team report all the news — good and bad. So many companies treat bad news like the plague. Sales teams are taught to “always be positive,” but an attitude of “always be accurate and let’s find a way to succeed,” is more productive (and realistic). In meetings and one-on-ones, your goal should be to motivate as well as problem solve. Always encourage your team to report all the news.

#5) Use crises as an opportunity to develop people. You are a leader for a reason! Rather than shy away from a crisis (a big deal lost, unexpected bad news, major delay in delivery, etc.), teach your team members how to find opportunity in crises and how to grow as professionals and as people. Focus on the skills or attitudes that are needed to overcome the situation, and work with them to develop and strengthen them.

This 5-step method to exercising authority is powerful and will establish you as a leader and as the “Go To” person in your company. And isn’t that why you are in a position of authority to begin with? Redefine your position of leadership by using and expanding on the 5 secrets above, and involve and build your team while you lead them to greater heights.

How to Handle: I looked it over and not interested

Don’t you hate it when you get back to your prospect, you’re ready to give a great pitch, you need the sale, and…and….they tell you they looked it over and they’re not interested!

Wait a minute! You want to scream. Just give me a chance….

Believe it or not, there is a way to deal with this. And it’s the same way to deal with every other recurring sales situations you get: Be prepared with a solid script – or two or three.

The secret to getting past this objection/resistance statement is to not only be prepared for it, but more importantly, to be prepared to overcome it two or three times. Sometimes it takes that kind of perseverance to get into your pitch and get the sale.

So here are three proven scripts you can use the next time your prospect tells you “I looked it over and I’m not interested…

Response #1:

“I understand, and that’s perfectly OK. At first a lot of people I speak with don’t fully understand all the ins and outs of this and that’s why I’m here. Before you make a decision though, let’s do this. I’ll take just a few minutes to explain how this might help you, and if, after you understand it, you still think it’s not for you, we’ll part friends. Do you have that information handy?”

Response #2:

“I didn’t expect you to be interested; heck, our marketing department hasn’t yet figured out a way to get our prospects to call us back – and that’s why they hired me!

But seriously, this (product/service/investment) has some great features that aren’t readily available in the (demo/material/information) I sent you, and it’ll only take a couple of minutes to find out if they would be a fit or benefit for you.

Tell you what, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes with me to find out how and if this would be right for you. Grab the information/quote/brochure and let me cover a few things – do you have it handy?

Response #3:

“I understand, and believe me, I get that a lot. In fact some of my best clients said that at the beginning as well. But I’m sure you’d agree that any decision you make, whether it’s a yes or a no – and I can take either one – is best made once you understand all the facts, isn’t that right?

Well ________ I’m here to help you learn those, so do yourself a favor and grab that information, and let’s briefly go over it. If at the end it’s not for you we’ll part friends. Do you have it handy?”

Now, take some time and reword them slightly to fit your personality, your product or service. Then get in the habit of using them over and over again. What you’ll find is that more and more prospects will actually let you pitch them, and some of those will buy!

If you found this article helpful, then you’ll love my Completely Updated and Revised eBook, “The Complete Book of Phone Scripts.” Now over 200 powerful and effective scripts to help you easily get past the gatekeeper, set appointments, overcome objections and close more money!

Visit: http://mrinsidesales.com/completescripts.htm and find out why Jeffrey Gitomer, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins and many others recommend Mike’s ebook of Phone Scripts!

 

Why the ‘will to win’ isn’t enough…

“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.”  –Paul “Bear” Bryant, football coach

It took a long time for me, as a struggling sales rep, to understand the difference in attitude and action this quote speaks to. But once I did, my sales results (and my life) changed.

I used to be an inside sales rep, a financial broker selling LLC partnerships, in a company with 25 other reps. The company had the top 20% reps doing 80% of the sales. I wasn’t in that group, rather, I was bringing up the rear. Sales were hard to get, and as a result, my life as a sales rep was hard as well.

I wanted to do better; I had the will to win, but what I lacked was the will to prepare to win. I was one of the reps who came in right before my shift began, and I went for the coffee and donuts first. I hung around there talking about the latest sports scores with the other bottom producers. I couldn’t wait for lunch time, and by Friday, I didn’t work too hard.

After a series of events, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I made a commitment to give my profession as a broker all I could. I decided to do what was necessary for me to move into the top 20% of the producers at the company. And that’s when I learned what the ‘will to prepare to win’ meant.

To start with, I started showing up an hour before work began, and I headed straight to my desk to begin making calls. This began to pay off as some days I’d have a deal on the board before other reps headed for their coffee and donuts.

I spent my lunch hours listening to my calls and critiquing them. Yes, I was horrible in the beginning, but I was committed to finding ways to make them better. And I did.

At night before I went home, I took an extra half hour to lay out all my leads and call backs for the next day so I could hit the ground running when I got in. And then I’d listen to my calls in the car on the way home and make adjustments to the scripts during the evening.

Before I went to sleep, I focused my subconscious on closing the leads I had laid out, and I dreamt of ways to close them. I visualized how I would feel once I became a top closer, what I’d do with my first bonus check and how good that would feel as well.

After 90 days of doing this, I became the top producer in the company. Suddenly I knew the difference between the will to win and the will to prepare to win. I also found that I wasn’t alone. There with me in the mornings and in the evenings were the other top producers.

Today, I find that I can do just about anything if I’m willing to put in the time to prepare to win. You can too – if you’re willing to put in the time.

The question is, are you?

The Five Second Rule

Thoughts are things. As true as the law of gravity, this is one of the fundamental laws in the universe. Whatever you believe with feeling, you bring into your life.

And like gravity, you don’t have to believe in it for it to always be working in your life. Take gravity for example. If you were to step off a ten-story building, the law of gravity would take over and you would fall ten stories to the ground. Again, whether you believed in gravity or not.

And it is the same with the law of thought. Take your sales career, for example. Isn’t it true that what you think about your company, about the leads, about the market, and especially about your income is exactly how you find it to be in your life? Now you may say that you think about everything the way it is because, well, that’s the way it is at your job.

But what if it was that way because that’s the way you think about it?

My experience has been (and thousands of others I have worked with over the years), that when I decided to make more money, and was committed to putting in the time and effort required for me to achieve that goal, then I started thinking about things (and seeing them) entirely differently.

And as soon as I started thinking and believing differently, my results automatically changed to reflect my new way of thinking.

Suddenly the leads weren’t as bad as I thought they were; instead, I just worked them smarter and qualified better. Suddenly the market wasn’t the problem (there were still top producers outperforming all others in our company, after all), it actually was the way I had been closing. And once I visualized myself earning a higher income, I achieved it.

The key to my success and to using my thoughts to bring something new into my life, was to stay focused on the feeling of having already achieved it. The more I could consistently do this, the faster I manifested it in my life.

And that’s when I learned about the five second rule. I found that it was natural for me to fall back on my old thought patterns. But when I did, I gave myself five seconds to refocus on my new income goal. I kept returning, time and again, to my new goal and my new thoughts and feelings of having already achieved my goal.

By doing this, I was (and still am) able to bring new results into my life. And it’s because thoughts are things. Whatever you believe with feeling, you bring into your life.

If you want to change any result or circumstance in your life, then first decide how you want it to be different (get a specific goal), and then surround yourself with all the thoughts and feelings of what it will be like to achieve it. The moment you find yourself thinking of something negative or not in alignment with your goal, get back to that image within five seconds.

It will take some practice, but the more consistently you can change your thoughts, the sooner you will turn those thoughts into the things in your life.

We Can Do It!

Once you realize that you CAN do nearly anything anyone else is doing, and that you can succeed at a very high level doing it if you choose to make it a priority and decide to invest the time and effort to do so, your world of possibility opens up for you.

When I committed to becoming the number one sales producer in my company of 25 other sales reps, I achieved it in 90 days. Within 9 months, I was the number one producer out of five branch offices. And you CAN do it, too, if you choose to…

The exciting thing, though, is that a “can do” attitude is contagious. When you infect a whole team, a whole company, a whole family with a “can do” attitude, a lot of exciting things begin to happen. I always think of the impact one runner had on the world’s performance once he changed everyone’s attitude with his own accomplishment.

Many of you may have heard of Roger Bannister. He was the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. This may not seem so remarkable now, but before May 6th, 1954, it was an acknowledged and accepted fact that the human body was physically incapable of running a mile in under four minutes. Everyone knew it was impossible to even try. But Roger didn’t believe it.

He knew he could do it, and he was determined to keep trying until he did. He failed at the 1952 Olympics (he came in fourth), but he didn’t give up trying. A few years later, on an unlikely day and track (poor weather conditions, cold day and a wet track), Roger shattered the world record, and the world belief, as he flew down the last straight and finished the course with the incredible time of 3:59.4.

He had done the impossible and broke through the 4 minute mile.

As amazing as this was, what was even more amazing for the world of running was that just 46 days later, a runner named John Landy beat his time. And over the next few years, even more people broke through the four-minute mark. Suddenly, people realized that it could be done and they believed they, they did it as well.

The world is filled with stories like this, and in business, it is also true. I remember when our team of inside sales reps were given new customized scripts and offered a huge monthly bonus for the rep who used them to capture the most new clients. The previous record was seven in a month. Marty, an average rep before the new scripts and contest, rigorously adhered to them, worked hard, and by the end of the month, he hit 21 new clients! We were all floored.

But once that new record was set, we began believing that perhaps we could do it, too. And some of us did.

If you are a leader of a sales team, athletic team or head of a family or cause, start believing that you can. Then transfer that belief to your team. If you do, then soon you will amazed by what your team can and will accomplish.

You Can Do It

Can you become a top sales producer?

We all know who the top sales producers are. Every company has them. If you look at all the producers in your company, I’m sure they are ranked in production from top to bottom. If your company is like most, there are probably even monthly or quarterly bonuses for the top revenue earners. Sales reps often ask me if I think they have what it takes to become a top sales producer, and I always answer that question with another question.

I’ll ask you that same question right now: Can you run a marathon? You know, a 26 mile marathon race? Just listen to what your mental answer was: yes or no. Some of you may be very athletic and some of you may even be runners, so that answer may be clear. But what about you? Can you run a marathon?

When I ask that question at a sales conference, the majority say no, they can’t. They think about the effort and endurance it takes; they think about the last time they tried to run; they consider their current physical shape and often their lack of an exercise routine. Once they consider all these things, it is easy for them to admit they just can’t do it.

After I ask this question, I then surprise everyone by telling them that they absolutely CAN run a marathon if they choose to. I tell them that they all have the ability to run a marathon and that the word “can” refers to the ability to do something. And you who are reading this right now can run a marathon, in other words, you have the ability to run one if you choose to.

The reason I know you can is because of the amazing people who are competing and finishing marathons right now. There is Fauja Singh who, at 100 years old, completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon. It took him more than eight hours, but he did it. Then there is Patrick Finney’s accomplishment. In 1998, this Texas software engineer woke up with numbness in his legs. Doctors diagnosed him with multiple sclerosis. In 2004, he couldn’t walk any longer.

But Patrick didn’t give up. He committed to getting better, and with the help of medications and physical therapy, he learned to balance again, and after two years he entered and completed a marathon. He went on to finish 50 marathons in 50 different states – the first person with multiple sclerosis to do so. These are just two of thousands of other inspiring stories.

Now let me ask you a different way: If I told you that I would give you 1 million dollars to complete my favorite marathon – the December Honolulu, HI Marathon – and I’m talking 1 million dollars cash, after taxes, do you think you could do it? I’ll bet you’d start practicing tonight, wouldn’t you!

You see, the important thing is that can is an ability. You have the ability to run a marathon, even though you may choose not to right now. But you CAN. And you can do a lot of other things as well – like become a top sales producer at your company and in your industry. But you first have to believe that you can first.

Many people limit themselves, in every area of their lives, with a “can’t do” attitude. It doesn’t matter if you’re interested or not, what is important is that you can. Once your potential and ability is properly reframed in this way, your life becomes a choice. It is okay if you choose not to do something – I am not into playing cards, but I know I “can” play championship bridge; I just haven’t learned how yet because I’m not interested in cards. But I can!

Once you recognize and acknowledge your ability – and we all have a lot more ability and potential than we are using – that’s when your life becomes an awesome opportunity. You can achieve superstar performance in sales – others have, and you have the ability to as well.

You just have to decide if you’re willing to put in the time and effort it takes.

But you can do it.

Tom Brady and Lessons for Sales

Whether you’re a fan of Tom Brady or not, you’ve got to agree he’s a winner. In fact, if he and the Patriots win this week’s Super Bowl, he will break the tie with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana of winning four Super Bowls. Tom Brady will have five, and he will be the best of the best.

There are lots of articles written about both Tom and coach Belichick, and the Patriots, and I read one last week that, yet again, provides a big lesson for all of us in sales.

The article talks about how, after a good practice, coach Belichick came down hard on Tom and admonished him to stop throwing so many times to his best receiver. Tom didn’t agree and pointed out that he was simply polishing his timing, but Belichick was adamant.

“Throw the ball to somebody else!” he said, in not so polite terms.

Just when Tom was about to object and let his ego take over, he stopped and took it in. “I’m the player and he is the coach,” was his attitude. And this is what makes Tom so great: He is willing to keep learning and keep growing.

The article said it best: “The Patriots’ best player likes to be coached the hardest.”

The reason this is such a good lesson for sales is that I coach and work with “players” – sales reps – all the time. And what I find is that the ones who make the most growth (and the most money) are the ones who are open to being coaching.

This contrasts sharply with those who insist on doing it their own way; those who remain stubborn and think they have it all figured out. While many of these sales reps are talented, smart, intuitive, and even motivated, what they lack is a willingness to take a step back and consider possibly better way.

Unfortunately, many professional football teams and elite athletes are resistant to coaching as well. In the article, coach Eric Mangini points this out by saying: “There is almost this stigma to being coached.” And:

“The head coach of another AFC club tried a similar tactic with his team this season, showing the entire team clips of mistakes by a handful of his best players. One recently paid veteran responded by standing up in front of the room and screaming at the coach.”

I used to be resistant to coaching as well. Years ago, I thought I knew it all and was resentful when my manager – who wasn’t on the phones and didn’t have to make the calls – tried to teach me a better way. It wasn’t until I became committed to performing better that I became willing to be coached.

But when I did, my sales and my career took off.

The lesson I hope you all take from this is that you can and will benefit from advice, suggestions, and coaching from other people who have been there and done that. It’s when you think you know it all that you stop growing.

Just like when Tony Robbins was starting out, he read and listened to and absorbed everyone else’s ideas in his field. He said that if he got just one good idea from them (and he got a lot more), that would help make his motivational training and career better.

And it worked out for Tony. And for Tom. And for me and countless other top professionals.

So my suggestion for you is: Who can you learn from today? What piece of advice or which technique, or which suggestion can you try to make yourself better? How open are you to being coached?

The moment you become willing, that is the moment you will begin improving.

(See the full article here.)

Sales Advice from Pablo Picasso

I read a great quote from Picasso (yes, the famous painter) the other day, and it really resonated with my sales philosophy. Here it is:

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

You’re probably wondering what that has to do with sales, and it’s simple: Most sales rep’s instincts are to adlib when they get an objection or when they get into a sales situation that isn’t going their way.

The problem with this is they haven’t first learned the rules of proper objection handling – like questioning an objection first, or isolating an objection, etc. – so instead they just wing it. And if you are doing this now, then you know how that turns out.

For years, I’ve been preaching, teaching, and training sales teams to put in the time and effort to learn the proper sales techniques first, and then after they understand and have mastered the fundamentals, then they can “adapt” them to each particular prospect or situation.

Here is a quick example:

A common objection in sales is the, “I have to show this to my (boss, manager, partner, etc.).” How does your sales team handle this?

The “rule” a pro follows is to isolate this objection to make sure it isn’t a smokescreen hiding other objections like, “It’s too much money,” or “I can get a better deal elsewhere,” etc.

Because pros know the rule above, they can then “break it like an artist,” by adapting their rebuttal to each prospect. This can include:

“I understand, just out of curiosity, what is your take on this now?”

OR

“I’m with you, let me ask you this, though: If your partner says ‘do whatever you think is best’, what would you tend to do?”

OR

“If your partner could go either way, which way are you leaning now?”

OR

“That’s fine and we talked about this earlier. But given what we’ve just gone over, what is your opinion on this?”

OR

“And if your partner asked you what you thought he should do, what would your answer be?”

This is the “art” of handling objections. Unfortunately, most sales reps and sales teams have never been taught the rules or fundamentals of proper selling, so they adlib, lose sales, and get discouraged. And your company misses its revenue numbers.

It’s also the reason my business grows each year.

The solution to this is to invest the time, money, and effort to learn and master core inside sales techniques.

One easy and fast way to do this is to check out a brand new video training course called, “Essential Cold Calling Skills for Confidence and Success,” I created for Viddler Online Sales Acadamy.

You can see it here.

This course is made up of five video modules (about 5 minutes each), and each module teaches an essential prospecting skill which builds on the one before it.

Each module also comes with specific, scripted sales materials you can download to help you, and your inside sales team, master the essential cold calling skills they need for success.

So if you are ready to master the rules so you can work like an artist and attain top sales performance, then start here.

Remember, each and every investment you make in your sales team, pays for itself each and every month.

The One Important Buy-In Question (You better be asking)

Back in the office after two weeks on the road training in CA (shout out to my clients there!), and during both weeks – in L.A. and Oakland – it rained! My wife tells me I can no longer say it doesn’t rain in CA. It does, and I was there!

While preparing their training programs, there was one important similarity that I think applies to any sale. And that is identifying and asking the most important (value statement) question to get buy-in from your prospect up front. Let me explain.

Regardless of what you are selling, there is usually one buy in question that determines how interested and engaged your prospect is going to be.

For my sales training and consulting services, it’s simply: “How important do you think sales training is to your overall sales development and the performance of your sales team?”

If my prospect thinks it’s very important, then I have a strong basis for closing the sale, and I can leverage that buy in throughout my presentation. And it’s the same for you as well.

If you are selling, for example, pre-need funeral arrangements, then the obvious question is: “How important is it to you to have all your arrangements completed ahead of time so it’s that much easier on your family should something happen to you?”

If you are selling franchises, the question is: “How valuable do you think owning a franchise is to you or to your business?”

These “core buy-in” questions form the basis for your sale. They establish the core interest level of your prospect, and if the answer is positive, then you can refer back to this buy in throughout your presentation.

What’s interesting is that many sales reps, and companies, haven’t taken the time to identify this question, and even fewer ask it and leverage the buy in throughout their presentation.

So the natural question is: “What is your unique buy-in question?” In other words, what one question can you ask that establish the core suitability and the core interest of your prospect?

Once you identify what it is, start asking it during the prospecting call and at the beginning of your presentation. If you get buy-in, then refer back to it to leverage and reinforce their buying motive.

If they aren’t sold on your basic value proposition, then you have more digging (qualifying) to do to establish common ground (and buying motive).