Monthly Archives: August 2010

How To Make Your Sales Manager Better

I consult with a lot of business owners, and I hear a common complaint: “The sales team isn’t making their revenue numbers and my sales manager doesn’t seem to know what to do to get them to improve.  What should I do?”

After reviewing their sales processes, their training program, sales scripts, etc., I always ask the same question: “How much production is your sales manager generating per month?”  And I almost always get the same answer – “My manager doesn’t sell.”

That’s not good.

The problem with many sales managers is that they aren’t expected to get on the phone and sell.  And the problem with that is how can they teach and coach something they aren’t doing themselves (or worse, that they can’t do)?

Now I know there are differing opinions on this – some say managers need to manage from the sidelines (like coaches), need to be involved in higher level responsibilities, need to attend endless meetings, and need to be able to set revenue goals and get their team to achieve them.

I agree with some of this (except the endless meetings part!), but the most effective and respected sales managers and V. P.’s I work with all lead by example.  They have a personal quota and they keep their skills sharp and refined because they are on the phones closing prospects and clients every day.

Because of this, they have a real understanding of what it takes to get the job done, and so they are in the best position to teach this to others.

Here are the top 5 benefits of having a selling sales manager:

1)      Sales managers who actively sell have an up to date, intimate understanding of what techniques, skills and strategies work in your selling environment.  And having this first-hand knowledge means they can teach it to others.

2)      Because a selling sales manager has this immediate experience of closing sales, they are in a much better position to help their team members close business as well.  They can easily do a TO (take over) when a sales rep needs help.  This not only teaches the rep how to handle selling situations, but it often saves a sale as well.  This is what your sales manager must be able to do, and it is a crucial part of their job.

3)      A selling sales manager commands the immediate respect and confidence of his/her sales team.  A sales manager is a leader of his team, and the best way to lead is by example.  Sales reps respect and follow a leader who can help them close sales and achieve their goals.  They’ll also work harder for them.

4)      A confident sales manager grows a confident and productive team.  Nothing is better for a sales manager than to have him/her demonstrate, to themselves and others that they have what it takes to successfully close sales.  A successful selling manager isn’t afraid of setting production goals because he knows he can achieve them (and he knows what it’s going to take).

5)      As a business owner, you must have the confidence that your manager knows exactly how to accomplish your company’s revenue goals.  The most accurate way to determine this is by having the sure knowledge that he knows how to do it himself.  This experience is invaluable and will ensure that the goals you set are reasonable and reachable.

A common problem I run across when working with companies is an unreachable, unrealistic revenue goal set by the owner that has no real buy in by the sales manager.  It is this disconnect that causes friction, undermines morale, and often leads to unmotivated, underperforming sales teams (and managers).

All this can be avoided when you have an experienced, hands on, selling sales manager who can give you honest and accurate feedback about production goals and the ways to achieve them.

There are other benefits of having a selling sales manager leading your team, but I hope this short list has convinced you.  Believe me, the fastest way to make your sales manager better is to make sure they are on the phones closing business part of their day.

If you would like to know more ways to help your sales manager (and your team) better, visit my Management Training Page here.

If you found this article helpful, then you will love Mike’s bestselling book on what it takes to become a Top 20% producer: “The REAL Secrets of the Top 20% – How To Double Your Income Selling Over the Phone.”  (Recommended by Jeffrey Gitomer!)  Get a Special Offer and read about it by clicking here: http://www.mrinsidesales.com/secrets_and_CD.htm

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, works with business owners and inside sales reps nationwide teaching them the skills, strategies and techniques of top 20% performance.

He offers a FREE audio program designed to help you double your income selling over the phone, as well as an internationally acclaimed FREE Ezine. If you’re looking to catapult your sales, or create a sales team that actually makes their monthly revenues, then learn how by visiting: http://www.MrInsideSales.com

The 4 Secrets of Leadership

Can you name the one or two best sales managers, or business owners you ever worked for?  If so, how did they make you feel?  What qualities or traits did they have in common, or which ones do you most try to emulate in your own company?  

I work with a lot of business owners and managers, and I can tell you that the most successful ones all have at least four core characters in common.  Many of them possess other qualities as well, but these four “Secrets” as I call them are always at the center of their power and charisma.  

As you read through them, ask yourself which ones you currently have, which ones you’d like to strengthen, or which ones you can develop.  Once you master them all, you will be able to lead any team and any company to greatness. 

Here they are: 

#1:  Unbounded Optimism.  Ask any great leader to describe the future, and they will always tell you it’s a wonderful place.  Leaders are extremely goal oriented, have clearly identified what it is they want and what they are willing to sacrifice to get there, and they radiate an optimistic glow because they already live there in their mind’s eye.  

Because people want to feel good about themselves and their futures, they naturally gravitate to winners.  People want to work for and, in fact, work harder for people who are optimistic.  Plus, optimism is contagious.  A great leader can often turn an organization full of negativity around, and the excitement they inspire can result in greater morale and greater results.  

If you’re in a position of authority, ask yourself if you’d want others to catch your attitude.  If not, then focus on ways to become optimistic – you’ll be a much more effective leader when you are. 

#2:  Rock Solid Confidence.  Great leaders are convinced they can do anything they set their minds to.  I love a saying of Napoleon’s: “The improbable we’ll do at once.  The impossible will take a little longer.”  A leader’s attitude is: Whatever the challenge, we’ll find a way to overcome it.  

Confident leaders create confident followers, and a company, family, or team with an “I Can” attitude is unstoppable.  The confidence of a great leader always inspires the best performance of his/her employees, and their team’s success just adds to and confirms the leader’s confidence.  

#3:  Integrity.  In a recent survey about what qualities employees wanted from the managers and business owners they worked for, integrity was the most desired trait people picked.  Integrity, including honesty, fairness and consistency of attitude and action, are traits that build confidence in a leader and that build loyalty in the people who report to them.  

Leaders with integrity genuinely care about the company they are building or the job they are doing, and this helps everybody feel as if their work has meaning and makes a difference in people’s lives.  Most people spend a third of their lives at their jobs, and while we go to work for a pay check it’s the intrinsic satisfaction someone gets from their work that helps them feel fulfilled.  Leaders with a high degree of integrity help foster this feeling by setting the example. 

#4:  Decisiveness:  All great leaders are decisive and committed to the actions they take.  This doesn’t mean they act capriciously, on the contrary, they fully weigh out and think through their options, but the key characteristic is that they aren’t afraid to make a decision and implement a plan of action.  

Most employees tell many tales of bosses who are afraid of making a decision, or who frequently go back on them, and this habit of hesitation undermines their authority and the confidence of everyone in the organization.  Leaders, on the other hand, may not always make the right decision, but they can be counted on to make a well thought out one, and then to take action on it.   If facts change or results warrant it, they are flexible enough to reevaluate and make another decision.  

If you’re in a leadership role, don’t shy away from decisions.  Evaluate the data at the time and the relative need of making a decision and then choose the best course of action and commit.  Making a decision – even if it’s the wrong decision – is better than making no decision at all. 

If you are in a position of authority and wish to become an effective leader, then find ways of developing or strengthening these four characteristics in yourself.  Remember, everyone is counting on you for guidance, and it is your ability to lead that will determine the ultimate result in your team or company.

Three Ways to Connect With Your Prospects

What’s the first thing that goes through your head when you get a call from a sales rep?  If you answered, “I can’t wait to get them off the phone,” then you’re not alone.  In fact, when a telemarketer calls me up at home and says those words that immediately identify them as a sales person, the “How are you today?” line, my first thought is, “I’ll be great as soon as I get rid of you!”

One of the biggest mistakes sales reps make who have to call prospects – either to set an appointment, generate interest, or qualify and then send information – is they don’t acknowledge in any way what is going through the prospect’s mind.  Let’s face it, everyone you call has a reaction to being intruded upon, and each of them is having a similar reaction to the one that you and I have.

If you want to successfully connect with your prospect, and earn the precious few seconds it takes to establish rapport and generate some interest, then you must put yourself into the mind of your prospect and enter the conversation that’s going on in their minds.  If you don’t do this, then you will be pitching and pitching and the prospect will just be waiting for you to take a breath so they can blow you off.

So, what can you do to enter this conversation?  Incorporate the following three techniques the next time you make a cold call, and watch your call times improve, your confidence grow and your sales and income soar.

Technique number one:  If we all know that what’s going on in your prospect’s mind is, “Oh, no, not another sales rep”, then why not acknowledge this?  Try:

“Now _________, you probably get a lot of these kinds of calls, don’t you?  Well if you’re like me you’re probably wishing you hadn’t answered the phone right about now, so let’s make a deal:  I’ll ask you just two quick questions to see if what I have can actually help you (do whatever it is your product or service can do), and if it can and you’re interested, we’ll continue, and if it can’t or you’re not interested, we’ll part friends, is that fair enough?”

Technique number two:  Many times what’s going through a prospect’s mind is that they are too busy to listen at that moment, so they just use the overall brush off of, “I’m not interested,” and this usually gets people off the phone.  Here’s how to enter into that conversation:

“_________ if you’re like me you’re probably busy doing a million things so I’ll make this brief.  Let me just ask you two quick things and if we find that we’re a fit and you’d like to know more than we can talk about it or we can schedule a time when it’s more convenient, is that fair?”

The nice thing about this technique is that it acknowledges that they’re busy but it gives them the option of spending more time with you now if they like what they hear.

Technique number three:  This third technique is something I learned from a good friend of mine, David Frey.  I’ll let him tell it to you straight:

When I first started out in marketing I needed to make some quick money.  At the time, there was a rash of mold infestations here in Texas and mold remediators were having a heyday. I knew they were hungry for good, solid leads.

And about the same time I came across a way to generate leads using telephone autodialing. So I bought an autodialing system, installed it in my home and started generating leads for mold remediators. Yes, I admit it. I was one of those pesky, annoying autodialing demons.

It Worked So Well That I moved into generating leads for the mortgage industry. At the height of my lead generating business, I was autodialing 12,000 people in the city of Houston every day out of my little home office. You should have seen all the telephone lines coming out of my wall.

It was crazy!

From all those calls, I would generate about 5 good, solid leads a day (which actually made me a lot of money).

My Eureka Moment! I wasn’t happy with only 5 leads a day so I started testing new scripts. I thought to myself, what’s the first thing that I do when I hear an autodialed message? I HANG UP! So I added 4 words to the front of my script and KABOOM!

My leads QUINTUPLED….to an average of 20 leads a day with the same amount of dials. Want to know what those 4 words were? They were simple.

“Please don’t hang up”

That’s it. I added, “Please don’t hang up” at the beginning of my script and my leads quintupled!”

For all of you out there who use an autodial, I recommend you trying this technique.  Once again, it’s effective because it gets you into the mind of your prospect.

Think about what you’ve learned today as you go out and make your cold calls.  Always ask yourself: “What is my prospect thinking, and how can I speak to that?” If you do, you’ll make a much better connection and you’ll end up making more sales!

If you found this article helpful, then you will love Mike’s bestselling book on inside sales: “The REAL Secrets of the Top 20% – How To Double Your Income Selling Over the Phone.”  You can read about it by clicking here: http://www.mrinsidesales.com/secrets_and_CD.htm

Mike Brooks, Mr. Inside Sales, works with business owners and inside sales reps nationwide teaching them the skills, strategies and techniques of top 20% performance.

He offers a FREE audio program designed to help you double your income selling over the phone, as well as an internationally acclaimed FREE ezine. If you’re looking to catapult your sales, or create a sales team that actually makes their monthly revenues, then learn how by visiting: http://www.MrInsideSales.com

Going for the No

First, I’d like to thank you all for your Ezine topic requests. I do my best to answer them, and generally I look for multiple requests on the same subject. And there are a lot of them because let’s face it ? we?re all struggling with the same objections though in different forms.

For example, one problem I keep hearing about is how to get a prospect/customer to tell you what’s really going on. Many of you wrote that after multiple calls, messages, etc, when you do get them on the phone all you get are vague answers. If this has ever happened to you, then here’s how to deal with it:

The first thing you need to do is realize that if your prospect isn’t calling you back, or if when you do reach them all you get are vague answers or more put offs, then you probably already have your answer. They aren’t a deal. It?s time to move on!

The problem with 80% of sales reps is that they will chase and chase unqualified leads because it seems easier than cold calling and looking for real buyers. ?At least they took the information or have a need,? they say.

Yeah, but are they buying? Usually not. And all that energy and time you waste chasing them makes you a weaker closer.

The solution? Ask the tough questions! (Refer back to the earlier article on how to do this). In other words, when you do get them on the phone, ask them point-blank where they stand and if you’re still in the running. Try this:

?_________ let me ask you a question and please be honest. We’ve talked about this now for X amount of time (or — You’ve had this information for X amount of time), and I don?t want to keep bothering you if this isn’t a fit for you. But I do need to know if this looks like a solution you actually think you’re going to act on, or do you have something else in mind??

Now shut up and listen. Because you have given them an out, they will usually tell you the truth. Your job now is to listen to it and learn from it. Just because they aren?t buying doesn?t mean you can?t get stronger as a closer.

You see, whatever reason they give you for not buying — budget, not a right fit, staying with their current supplier, their accountant won?t let them do it ? whatever the reason is, you need to take this as a lesson and begin qualifying for it more thoroughly on all of your subsequent prospecting calls.