Sales and Sales Management Blog

May 31, 2010

In Honor

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 7:49 am

         In Honor of All Who Have Served
         In Memory of All Who Have Died
         That We Might Have and Maintain Our Freedom

         Today would be a good day to read the US Constitution
         which you can find here


May 24, 2010

Guest Article: “Success Starts With You Being Different,” by Dan Waldschmidt

Success Starts With You Being Different
by Dan Waldschmidt

You can’t stand out when you look like everyone else.

You can’t inspire and challenge others when you are just as fearful as them to stand out and be noticed.  To put yourself in a position where people disagree with you.  To be criticized, abused, and disbelieved.

To make a difference, you first must be different…

Last Friday I spent the day being inspired at TEDx Greenville.  If you have never had the chance to go to a TED event, then you are truly missing out on an amazing opportunity to be wowed.

In the space of eights hours, there was Vaguen talking about the “Power of Ignorance”, a trumpet choir, a banjo performance, a concert pianist, Marshall Chapman singing rock ‘n roll, and Loretta Holloway singing cabaret. There was a rocket scientist talking about social media and 21 year old student telling the story of traveling across country performing random acts of kindness.   Ellen McGirt, from Fast Company, talked about “Showing Up” and Paul Anderegg demonstrated old-time clogging called “flatfooting”.  Five dudes with Ph.D.’s talked about everything from hydrogen to climate change to the morality of capitalism.  It was diverse and powerful.

And then there was Tradd Cotter, the wonderkind mushroom mountain scientist, and Tim March, the blue-haired performer whose act on broken glass was only bested by his inspiring words about us feeling like we “needed permission” to go do amazing things.  To me, these two were the most inspiring of all the amazing presenters.

Curiously, they were also the most different, which got my thinking…

It’s being different that we look to as a success.  Why?

Most of us have a hard time being different…

Standing tall on the trophy stage is pretty easy.  But standing up in the rest of the world requires a lot of effort.  You really have to be a mental ninja.

That probably explains why we all aren’t more successful.

And here’s an observation for you: It’s not entirely our fault for having this fear.  Everything we were ever taught since the beginning of baby-dom was about “fitting in”.

  • As we entered school, we we told to “get along with everyone” — even when we saw that bad people were taking advantage of those around us.  As long as they didn’t mess with us, we were “cool”.
  • When we went into public, we were told that is was embarrassing to “make a scene” — even though for us is seemed like we were standing up for something.  We were expressing ourselves.
  • At our first job interview, the HR team kept asking us if we were a “team player” — and then went on to explain our compensation that was based on individual achievement.

All these “fitting in” qualities produce high-quality mediocrity.  A “Grade A”, absolutely-guaranteed batch of status quo.

But they don’t produce success — the deeply inspiring breakthroughs that we dream about.

Success is the opposite of being like everyone else.

The reality is that most of us don’t like ourselves in our current state.  We wish we were less fearful, selfish, and more kind.  We know it about ourselves and hope you don’t find out soon enough.  So why would we like you who is trying so hard to be like me.  We were hoping that you would be different — and inspire us.

It may be hard to dye your hair blue and jump around on glass.  It may be hard to get laughed at all through school as you grow bucket after bucket of mushrooms in your parent’s garage.

But didn’t we know that success was hard in the first place?

Whether it’s changing your title on your business card from Receptionist to “Diva of First Impressions” or preparing a proposal to your client that is the exact opposite of what all your competitors have put together — you’ll find yourself conquering more when you put in the emotional investment to be different…

And several things to think about in your Success Quest:

  1. Being different won’t kill you…
  2. Being different will get you noticed…
  3. Being different won’t have people outwardly lauding you… (at first)
  4. Being different secretly makes people respect you…
  5. Being different probably won’t get you the incremental job promotions…
  6. Being different positions you best to be able to change the world…

It’s our obsessive compulsions that yield greatness, not our penchant for compromise.

It’s Thomas Edison trying one more time after the 983rd failed attempt to build a working light bulb. It’s Harland Sanders trying the 1,009th time to convince a restaurant to buy his famous chicken recipe.  It’s Oprah Winfrey sharing hope for the sexually abused in spite of her own scars.

It’s about you deciding that being your same self or like anyone you know is no longer acceptable.

It’s about being different.

And us starting that today.

Dan Waldschmidt is partner in a private equity technology accelerator and a former technology CEO. He got the usual entry-level job right of college, but then he changed the sales process, earned millions of dollars for the company, and became CEO by the time he was 25.  Dan is partner in a private equity technology accelerator and a former technology CEO.  He is an early-early-early adopter of game-changing technology.   He blogs regularly on his motivational selling blog Edge of Explosion.

May 21, 2010

Guest Article: “danger in the comfort zone,” by Tom Reilly

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 10:39 am
Tags: , ,

danger in the comfort zone 
by Tom Reilly

A comfort zone happens when we let routines become rut-tines. We stop doing all of those things that make life fun, interesting and challenging. We’re not growing at the rate we once grew; we may not be growing at all—stagnating. It’s estimated that one in four salespeople at any given time is in a comfort zone. I believe that number is low.

There is a difference between reaching, with an occasional rest stop, and being permanently at rest in a parking zone. It’s the same difference between striving versus surviving, pursuing versus responding, growing versus maintaining, and pro-acting versus reacting. When we are in the pursuit mode for an extended length of time, we tire and need a rest. And that’s okay; you just don’t want to become Rip Van Winkle. If you’re tired and need a break to relax and energize, that’s a good thing. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to coast, remember there is only one way to coast—downhill.

One of life’s stark realities is that regardless of what we do, life goes on. We cannot stop the world; we can only try to slow down our worlds. If you coast, the world will continue to spin on its axis, your competition will continue to chip away at your business, and you will fall progressively farther behind on a daily basis.

Think back to a time when life was exciting and your work rewarding. You were learning, generating new ideas, trying to carve out a place for yourself in the world—chasing your dreams. Your dreams in those days were big enough to make your bones itch. You got up in the morning without the assistance of your alarm clock. You may have had trouble sleeping the night before because you were so excited about the next day. Chasing your dream was more fun than fun. What happened?

Instead of settling in, you just settled for less. You stopped reading, studying, and growing. You let the fun slip away. You fought the natural human drive to evolve. Within each of us is the desire to grow, to develop, to evolve and to become more of that raw material that we brought into the world with us. Life itself is the expression of optimism: All living creatures naturally strive to become more of what they were born with. Among all living things, only humans make a conscious decision to stop growing.

None of us sets out to be mediocre; we just accept it along our journey. Can you stand to be mediocre or would you like to shine your light on the world? No one has a monopoly on potential; each of us carries our own around with us. Some very smart people believe that the roots of disappointment and guilt lie in our failure to pursue our potential. We begin to chase our potential when we use the most powerful part of our bodies—our minds. When we begin again to dream of possibilities and new ways to solve old problems and when we fuel ourselves with knowledge that comes only from professional study, then we begin to feel the blood racing through our veins, letting us know that we are once again actively engaged in life. We have blasted out of our comfort zones and are reaching for new heights.

Tom Reilly is a professional speaker and author of Value-Added Selling. Visit Tom’s website for information on his seminars, tapes, and books:

May 18, 2010

Guest Article: “Comp Plans Drive Behaviour,” by Bill Sayers

Comp Plans Drive Behaviour
by Bill Sayers

Comp plans drive behaviour. Yet, how many companies and sales reps don’t understand this simple fact. Company’s change comp plans and can’t understand why sales people leave and/or why they are getting the results they are from the plan. Sales reps struggle with their comp plan or don’t understand the plan and therefore are unable to use the plan to their advantage.

What behaviour are you driving?

In my 20+ years of being a rep I never had a comp plan that increased my commissions and lowered my quota. And each year I received a new and different comp plan and each year a new behaviour was created for the sales team. It was interesting to watch. As a sales executive we were always trying to maximize the ability of the sales team to make money and keep the plan within the cost of sales percentages we had to work within. And there were times when we didn’t get it right.

I am amazed at business owners and corporate sales managers that don’t understand what happens with their comp plans. As an owner if you feel your sales team is not worth the commissions you pay and that they don’t work hard enough and so you cut the comp plan – be prepared for less work and performance. I had a company who decided that after the first quarter the plan was too rich and they dropped the commission levels and made it retroactive to the beginning of the year! I also worked for Linotype who had created the best comp plan I ever worked under. It was the year I made the most money.

What behaviour do you want to create?

What is it that you want your team to sell? Do you need revenue? Do you need margin? Do you need new products sold? Do you need a blend of products sold? So why not just tell the sales team what to do? Sales people are simple beings. They will follow the path of least resistance. However, if you tell them what you want, you create a comp plan that drives that behaviour and then you hold them accountable – then you will get the results you desire.

In 2000 the company I was working for decided to cap the sales reps income. It was felt the cap was more than fair and today I might say that it was. However the resulting behaviour was predictable. The end of January at the sales kick off meeting a rep got off the plane and had a purchase order in his briefcase that with that one order capped his income. Once he signed off his comp plan and told management that he would see them in 2001. He managed that account and more or less took the year off. Many of the top reps left the organization. In the last quarter reps began holding onto orders to roll into 2001, as their income was capped. That kind of behaviour plays havoc with plans for administration and production staff, inventory planning and business planning.

The Linotype plan was a low base salary, a generous commission and a bonus for driving a mix of products and services. I was able to take advantage of all of those factors and was able to take full advantage of the payouts.

Remember – Comp plans drive behaviour.

What works for you?

If you put a sales rep on straight commission do not expect those reps to participate in anything that takes them away from making money. (Meetings, teamwork, administration or anything else that wastes their time). If you put your sales team on straight salary they will show each Monday and ask you what you want them to do this week.

That means that you need to craft a comp plan that drives the behaviour that gets you the business results you need and drives the appropriate level of revenue, margin and product or service mix. And yes – it takes work and thought to make that happen. Driving revenue only can cause reps to discount every deal. Driving margin only will make you more profitable, however it will still cause discounting. Now cut commissions for discounting or add a bonus for maintaining margin and now you will get profitable revenue.

What is your comp plan? Do you understand your comp plan? What behaviour does your comp plan create? What needs to change in your comp plan? Does your comp plan behaviour get you to your business goals for this year?

Bill Sayers speaks, coaches, leads education sessions and provides management consulting services to a variety of companies.  For the past five years Bill has run his own sales consulting practice. He has recently completed the writing of his new book – “Funnels and Forecasts – The Great Game of Sales”. He has been a professor at George Brown College teaching Personal Selling Skills to the Sports and Event Marketing Graduate Program, and is on the faculty of Canadian Professional Sales Association and Canadian Management Centre.  Visit his website

May 14, 2010

Guest Article: “Build a Sales Team Your Customers Love to Buy From,” by Colleen Francis

Build a Sales Team Your Customers Love to Buy From
by Colleen Francis

When customers enjoy working with you, you improve your chances of making a sale. Here are seven skills CEOs and business owners should insist on developing in their sales teams to create a more positive customer experience:

1. Show empathy and compassion

You have to care about your customer (no matter how good an actor you are, faking it won’t work). Ask questions, take notes and lean in to show that you’re engaged.

2. Make eye contact

Eye contact lets people know you’re interested in their well being. Make eye contact when you walk into a room full of strangers, and especially after you get to know people – it helps cement existing relationships. So few salespeople ever look their prospects directly in the eye. By simply smiling and making eye contact, you can set yourself apart.

3. Give first

Don’t expect prospects to give you their business without you giving them something first. This doesn’t mean that you should give away free product in the hopes they will buy more. Rather, look to give away things that increase your value. Perhaps they need a referral to a partner; perhaps you can solve their business problem by sharing an idea you heard from someone else.

4. Express your true intent

Tell customers upfront: “I don’t know if there’s a fit between what you need and what I have right now, but I’m hoping we can explore that in more detail during this meeting. Then we can mutually decide if there is a reason to move forward.” This advice runs counter to 90% of the approaches used in the field today, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.

5. Don’t rush the client

All too often, salespeople jump way ahead of their prospect’s buying curve. When the sales person is trying to close while the prospect is still evaluating options or determining risk, trust is broken, the prospect feels pushed and the sale can disappear. Get approval from the customer to move ahead in increasing increments. The first approval might be just to agree to speak openly with each other, as outlined above. The second could be an agreement on a follow-up call or meeting date. The third might be gaining agreement on the decision-making criteria, then a commitment to have the “big boss” present at the demo, followed by an agreement to a purchase decision date.

6. Be colloquial

When you use simple language, people respond better and trust you more. Never try to impress prospects with your extensive vocabulary – you may end up just sounding fake.

7. Use people’s names – in good measure

There are just two rules to follow. First, be aware of whether your client is most comfortable with first name only or title plus last name. Second, never overuse their name – this only sounds corny and false. Although Dale Carnegie said, “nothing is so beautiful to a person as the sound of their own name,” you have to use your discretion.

Selling is about results! As the President and founder of Engage Selling Solutions, Colleen Francis has succeed in building Engage from an idea to company that delivers focused, customized programs to 100’s of sales teams internationally. Companies such as Semiconductor Insights, General Dynamics, Future Electronics and the Government of Canada have improved their sales processes by implementing Engage’s Selling System.

May 12, 2010

Where Is Your Sense of Urgency?

My wife and I are In the middle of purchasing a new home.  Since we had to arrange for insurance coverage on the house, I thought this would be a good time to re-evaluate our auto policy.  About three weeks ago I called four local agents, including our current agent, for quotes and completed an on-line questionnaire to see if quotes from agents who compete for business generated by an internet site would be more competitive.

I completed the on-line questionnaire on a Thursday and almost as soon as I submitted it I received calls from two agents—one local, the other out of Austin.  I didn’t receive any other calls from the on-line form until Tuesday of the following week when I received one.  I was contacted by another insurance agent on Wednesday and then two more on Thursday—fully a week after submitting the questionnaire.  They were way too late as I had decided by Tuesday to stay with my current insurance company.

But the calls from agents haven’t stopped.

I received calls from nine agents the following week and by seven more agents the third week.

To date, I’ve received calls from 22 agents–which should have given me every opportunity to acquire the best policy/rate combination possible.  Except only two agents responded to my inquiry in a timely manner.   Twenty agents or marketing departments had no sense of urgency in following up with my inquiry and consequently had no chance of acquiring my business.

Only two out of twenty-two agents had a strong enough desire to make a sale that they found a way to contact me quickly.  That’s pathetic.

But that’s hardly the only case of lethargy I’ve encountered lately.

We’re getting the carpets cleaned in our current residence when we move.  As with insurance, I called multiple carpet cleaning companies to get quotes.  I called six companies on a Tuesday and immediately spoke to one and had my voice mail returned the same day by another.  Another company called me Wednesday.  I heard from the fourth on Friday and the fifth the following Tuesday. I have yet to hear from the sixth company.   I had made my mind up by Wednesday afternoon on which company to hire.  Fully 50% of the companies I called never had a chance to get the business because they did not respond quickly enough to be in the running.

Should I give a third or even fourth example?  I experienced the same issues hiring a home inspector and trying to arrange for a paint contractor.  In both cases over 50% of the companies I contacted either have not responded or responded after I had hired one of their competitors.

In all four cases I believe I’ve acted as most consumers would—I made the inquiry and made my decision within two to five days.  Those who reacted promptly competed for my business; those who either because of a lack of a sense of urgency or because their marketing department or sales manager didn’t get them the lead in a timely manner lost the opportunity to make a sale and squandered their marketing dollars.

A quality lead has a very short shelf-life—whether we’re talking about the retail situations above or a long sales cycle, sophisticated product or service.  Someone–you or your company–has paid good money to get the phone to ring, to get a lead card mailed back, or get a form filled out on the internet.  Every minute you wait to contact a prospect is a minute you’re giving the competition to close the deal before you even get there.

If leads come to you directly, discipline yourself to respond to them immediately.  If they come through your sales manager or marketing department and you know that they are slow to distribute them, light a fire under their butts. 

There is simply no excuse to lose sales because a lead wasn’t contacted in a timely manner; nevertheless, there are a large number of sellers and companies who have no sense of urgency, giving those who are quick to respond a significant—and likely decisive–advantage.

What about you?  Where is your sense of urgency?

May 10, 2010

Now Is Not the Time to Let Down Your Guard

Filed under: business,Economy,management,sales,selling,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 4:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

The stock market is climbing back to eleven thousand, jobs were created last month, President Obama says the worst is over; many are beginning to heave a sigh of relief.  I encourage you not be one who does.

I’m not an economist but I have eyes.  I can read.  I’m old enough to have lived through a recovery or two.  I’m not buying the worst is over pitch. 

It’s not that I think Obama is lying.  It isn’t that I think some giant scheme is behind the increase in the stock market.  And it isn’t that I don’t think almost 300,000 jobs were created last month.  I think Obama believes what he says about the economy—I just think he’s wrong.  I believe investors are buying stocks—I think they might rethink those purchases shortly.  I believe jobs were created, even if some 60,000 were short-term government jobs.

But I also see a significant lack of confidence in the economy by some pretty important groups—energy companies for one.  Living in the energy patch (no longer is West Texas just the oil patch– it is a major source of natural gas as well as wind and solar energy) and being friends with many oilmen, I’m exposed to a number of concerns oil producers have such as what impact the healthcare bill will have on them and if a carbon tax is imposed what impact it will have.  Until they have answers many are reluctant to invest huge sums and commit to a large hiring program right now.  The executives and owners of many small and mid-size companies I speak with have the same concerns and the same hesitancy to hire and expand.

With the concerns producers have, combined with the loss of production in the Gulf of Mexico, four dollar or even five dollar gas is not out of the question—in fact, the surprise will be if gas doesn’t balloon out of control.  We saw a couple of years ago what four dollar gas does to the economy and if it comes, it will have the same impact this time around.

Our housing issues are far from over.  Fannie lost thirteen billion last quarter and Freddie lost eight billion.  Many economists and real estate analysts think we’ve not really seen the worst of the commercial real estate meltdown.  If we haven’t, we’ve got another round of bank issues to go through. 

The mess in Greece is, according to many economists, only the beginning of Europe’s financial meltdown, with numerous countries facing the very real potential of bankruptcy and the subsequent potential depression.  The EU put together a trillion dollar fund (with no telling how many billions of our taxpayer dollars thrown in) to bailout countries as they come close to defaulting on their debt.  Certainly, the international markets are so closely intertwined that if there were a collapse in Europe, it would pull North America down along with it; just as if one started here we would take Europe with us.

Our debt crisis won’t begin for several years, but some are predicting it could start as early as 2013—and there is no reason to believe that Congress is anywhere close to stopping the outlandish spending spree they’re on.  Apparently Vice President Biden is not the only one in Washington who believes “we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt.”   Don’t blame Joe; logic and reason have never been the strong suit of either party in Washington.

We live in economically dangerous times.  We are far from solid economic ground.

What does this mean for business owners and sellers?  Do we crawl in a hole and hope the big bad economic wolf goes away?


But we can’t let our guard down either.  We can’t think that we are entering anything remotely resembling a normal economy.  Restraint and well thought out investment in our business must be our focus.  We cannot afford the luxury of thinking that we can spend dollars willy-nilly and that by doing so we’ll book some business. 

Although we all hope for the best, we must prepare for a potential reality that none of us want.  If the worst doesn’t come, halleluiah, we’ll rejoice.  If it does and we’ve prepared well, we will be among the few who are prepared to thrive even in the worst of times.

What actions should you be taking?

  1.  Solidify your client relationships.  You should have done this prior to the current recession, but if you haven’t, do so now.  In a weak economy, your existing clients will likely be your primary source of new business, either through new sales or through word of mouth and referrals.
  2. Evaluate Every Expenditure.  Don’t waste money.  But don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.  In tight economic environments it is common to see companies cut those things that can help them increase their financial stability while not cutting expenses that contribute little to the bottom-line. 

    Examples are plenty such as cutting training for the sales department while not re-evaluating the dollars spent on shipping and communication.  One company I visited with recently had eliminated their entire training budget for the year ($775,000) but had never even evaluated their shipping expense ($6,300,000) or phone, fax, and other communication expenses (about $11,000,000).  They quickly quashed what they felt was an unnecessary luxury—training the people who bring in revenue, but didn’t question the expenses that produced nothing in and of themselves.  Of the 17 million in shipping and communication expenses how much could they save?  I don’t know.  5%?  That would pay for their training expense.  10%?  More?

    Don’t shortcut your business by depriving your critical functions, and certainly don’t throw money out the door because you haven’t thought to evaluate the expense.

  3. Prospect Aggressively.  Don’t let business slide by.  Out hustle your competition.  Get out and build relationships now—you may very well need them in the future.  Every minute you sit in the office is a minute you could be in front of a prospect.  If your primary prospecting method is through the phone, have the phone stuck to your ear.  If it is face to face, get out of the office.  The relationships you begin to build now will be your new business in the future.
  4. Sell Value, Not Price.  In a tight economy the temptation is to slash prices.  Selling price is a deadly game.  Unless you are one of the three or four biggest players in your industry and market, trying to sell on price is a losing game because you cannot continually be the lowest priced.  If you commoditize your product or service, price becomes the only criteria in determining who gets the sale.

    As Tom Reilly points out in Crush Price Objections, price is not the primary concern of the majority of buyers.  Sell value, knowledge, service–not price.

  5. Focus on Your Primary Markets.  Concentrate your time and money on your primary, most profitable markets.  Certainly if you see opportunities elsewhere, take a serious look at them, but don’t become distracted from your primary markets.  When you’re fighting for your life is not the time to take a flier on a ‘maybe.’ 

What if you do the above and the economy continues to show signs of recovery?  You still win.  The above suggestions will produce just as well in a strong economy as in poor one.  You’ll have lost nothing but have gained much.

Times are dangerous and no one knows what will happen two weeks from now, much less two years.  Use your time and money wisely; prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.  Take the necessary precautions to thrive when your competitors are dying and you’ll be prepared no matter what’s ahead of us.

May 7, 2010

Guest Article: “Nine Barriers to Coaching a Sales Team,” by Keith Rosen

Nine Barriers to Coaching a Sales Team
by Keith Rosen

For any executive sales coaching initiative to be effective and long-lasting, there are important obstacles that a manager or internal sales coach needs to address.

Barrier One: No Coach the Coach Program

One of my clients recently called me with questions about building an internal coaching program. It seems the person who was spearheading the initiative was having a difficult time putting the processes and procedures together as well as getting the managers to embrace the new philosophy and approach. Since the company felt they could build the internal coaching program on their own, they didn’t hire an outside expert or consultant. The person in charge of the initiative wasn’t even a coach but someone in HR. Without a coach training program to develop coaching skills and competencies, you can change your managers’ titles, but not their essence, their thinking, or their skills.

Barrier Two: Coaching Is a Choice—Not an Obligation

The coaching relationship is a choice, not an obligation. The relationship between the coach and the people who are coached is a designed alliance, a collaborative partnership, and more. As such, remedial or sanctioned coaching is often met with resistance rather than with open arms. How is coaching being offered to your team or to your employees? As a perk, an incentive, an option, an obligation, or a remedial response to under performance? Are you offering it to your entire team, to a select few, or to just one person?

Barrier Three: Surrender Your Agenda When Coaching

What if your boss walked up to you today and said, “Your career, your bonus, your position in this company, and your salary will depend on how well your team performs. That said, I want you to start coaching all the people on your team, one on one. Hold them accountable and be unconditionally supportive, while surrendering your agenda and maintaining objectivity.” Could you do it?

My clients consist of a myriad of companies and professions, all shapes and sizes, selling products and services in practically every industry and profession. Yet, the one truth I share with them is this: “When you work with me as your coach, this will be the only relationship you have where it will always be 100 percent about you.”

If you’re an internal coach, this may be a stretch to fully surrender any agenda or attachment to your sales team’s performance, especially since their performance directly reflects on you. In such cases, there’s an inherent challenge for you, as the business owner or manager, to separate your agenda from theirs and have no personal expectation from the relationship other than your unconditional commitment to their continued growth and success. It’s going to take some adjustment on your part to develop an unconditional and authentic relationship with your salespeople.

Barrier Four: You’re Coaching People, not Changing People

There’s a big difference between coaching people and changing people. However, for executives or front line managers who are commissioned to hit some aggressive sales numbers, coaching is the last thing they want to talk about. The real distinction is that coaching is a process of discovery. A coach cannot push for results or attempt to change people overnight. The traditional scenario to facilitate change is typically a stressed-out manager who lays the same stress on his salespeople that his boss dumped on him. “Work harder; get focused; our jobs can be on the line; just bring in some more business.” This hollow approach seldom drives change.

Barrier Five: Connection—It Has to Be the Real Thing

In coaching it’s critical for unrestricted, honest communication in the coaching relationship. It’s extremely challenging to connect with your salespeople at a deeper level, the type of connection necessary between the coach and the person being coached. Many employees are afraid that if they disclose too much, it will be held against them in the future. So they limit their vulnerability level to what is absolutely needed to perform their job function. This restricts safe and open communication, limiting the chance to connect with your people in a way that allows coaches to get to the real issues and barriers;—barriers that are preventing improved performance.

Barrier Six: Confidentiality and No Judgment? Sure, Boss!

Lets get right to what you’re thinking. Your role as supervisor or boss presents some inherent problems with coaching that need to be addressed head on.

Given the parameters, guidelines, and principles necessary to be a masterful coach, trust is critical to make the connection. After all, if your employees can’t trust you as their manager, forget even trying to coach them. Coaching requires an elevated level of trust that transcends the superficial trust between employees and management.

And what if some of your salespeople already have a problem with you as their boss and now you’re going to try and coach them? How does that get handled? Do you think any of your employees are going to just come out and say that? Think again.

As a result, this relationship could quickly turn into more of a mentoring rather than a coaching relationship. This is a major reason why companies bring in an expert coach from the outside who doesn’t have any direct ties to the company as a manager would.

Barrier Seven: Anyone Can Manage, Not Everyone Can Coach

“I’m really not cut out to be a coach.” The hard fact is there are managers who want to be coaches, managers who need to be coaches, and managers who shouldn’t be coaches, and probably shouldn’t be managers, either.

Companies that force all managers into a coaching role make a costly assumption that all of their managers would actually make great coaches, just like every college athlete should automatically make the pros. The rules work the same. Desire, attitude, ability, and skill will always be the formula for becoming a successful coach, or athlete. Then there is the mistake of pushing managers to do something they don’t want to do. Managers can easily sabotage their own coaching efforts, and in the end, corporate may learn the wrong lesson: “I guess our internal coaching program didn’t work.”

Barrier Eight: Full Accountability

If you want to become powerful, hire a powerful coach. It’s a simple, yet highly effective strategy. If you want your salespeople to be powerful, you need to be a good role model for them. As you evolve, so does your team. Consider this truth: Your team is a reflection of you. If you’re not prepared to be 100 percent accountable for the success and failure of your team, if you skirt accountability in any way, if you lack professionalism or proficiencies in certain areas, your team will reflect these weaknesses. If you choose to evolve, so will your salespeople. If you want a world-class sales team, you have to become a world-class executive sales coach.

Barrier Nine: Competitive Managers

The most effective leaders develop other leaders. They encourage their people to perform as well as they do—even better. That is the sign of a true master and the real testament of a great manager. But what if the manager perceives his coworkers and subordinates as a threat? What if the manager is driven strictly by ego, the need to prove himself and his worth? What if this manager thinks he has survived only by keeping a competitive distance from his peers and salespeople? I’ve known managers who don’t share their tools and best practices with their salespeople for fear their salespeople will outdo them. These are likely to be inferior managers who will seek to selfishly leverage the coaching relationship in a way to better themselves and their position rather than for the betterment of their sales team.

Now that we’ve listed the barriers that can get in the way of implementing an effective internal coaching program, do not be disheartened. With greater awareness comes choice. The good news is, you possess the power to make a difference.

Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top managers, sales professionals and executives in many of the world’s leading companies call first. As a prominent, engaging speaker, Master Coach and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on assisting people in achieving positive, measurable change in their attitude, in their behavior and in their results.  Visit his website

May 5, 2010

Book Review: Crush Price Objections by Tom Reilly

Price.  We salespeople are always thinking price because we think our prospects and clients are always thinking price. But we’re not really thinking about price, we’re fearing price.  We’re always looking for ways to take price out of the equation, which for most of us means trying to figure a way to come in with the lowest price.

Tom Reilly argues in Crush Price Objections: Sales Tactics for Holding Your Ground and Protecting Your Profit
(McGraw Hill: 2010) that not only do we need not fear price, but that for the most part price is an issue only because WE make it an issue.

Reilly opens the book with his “ten realities that shape the landscape of selling a price-sensitive environment.”  Here is a taste of Reilly’s realties:

#1  You Will Hear Price Objections

#2  You Will Lose Business Because of Price

#5  Some Price Objections are Fake

#8  Salespeople Create Their Own Misery

#10  Attitude Drives Behavior

Although I’ve only given half of the 10 realities, you should have an idea of where Reilly is going based on these 5 alone.  Despite the fact that you’ll lose business due to price, you alone are the key to overcoming and successfully selling your products and services without blowing your profit margin. 

Chapter after chapter hits on why we sellers are more often than not the creators of the price objections we hear, or as Reilly puts it, “price objections are self-inflicted wounds.”  To bolster his argument, Reilly gives the results of business-to-business buyer priority studies which have consistently indicated that cost is not only not the top buyer priority, it has never been one of the top 5 issues for buyers in any study his company has done.

OK, so price may not be the killer we sometimes think it is—if we know how to deal with it.  So, how do we deal with it?

Fully 70% of the book is dedicated to giving you the tools, techniques, and strategies necessary to defeat price objections.

Reilly really does take a comprehensive approach to dealing with price objections from helping you to mentally prepare to handle them, to understanding your buyer’s motivation, to questioning techniques to probe for potential price issues, to helping your buyer look beyond the immediate price to the long-term value of your solution.

Reilly argues that to successfully deal with price objections, one must have an operating philosophy from which to work and to create a price philosophy, you have to work from a set of principles that will guide you in dealing with pricing issues. He then lays out a set of 15 price principles.  A smattering:

#1  Someone Else’s Opinion Does Not Make Your Price High

#3  No One But You Cuts Your Price

#7  Preparation Is the Key to Your Success

#9  Never Assume Your Price Is Too High: Maybe the Competition Is Desperate

#12  First, Buyers Test Your Price, Then They Test Your Resolve

#14  Salespeople Cut Price Because They Can

These principles, along with the other 9, are the framework within which you determine how to address price.

Although having an overarching philosophy founded on a set of principles for handling price objections sounds great, there is still the very practical issue of HOW to deal with an objection. 

Reilly doesn’t leave you hanging. He sets out a four step method of dealing with objections as they arise:

1) clarify the objection
2) classify the objection
3) decide how you will respond
4) respond to the money objection.

According to Reilly, price objections can be classified as price-based money objections, cost-based money objections, value-based money objections, game-based money objections, and procedural-based money objections.  Understanding what type of objection you’re dealing with is key to understanding how to deal with it.  A third of the book is devoted to laying out strategies to deal with each of the above five money objections.

If you’re dealing in the business-to-business realm and finding price to be a thorn in your side, get Crush Price Objections—it really will help you hold the line more often, even if you deal in a product or service that is becoming commoditized. 

If you sell to consumers don’t think this isn’t going to help you also because it will.  Many of the same strategies used in business-to-business sales are just as applicable to consumer sales.

Don’t continue to let price objections destroy your pipeline and/or your profitability. 

Crush Price Objections: Sales Tactics for Holding Your Ground and Protecting Your Profit

May 4, 2010

Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets

I am honored to be chosen to contribute to Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets.  This new book is packed with real-life examples and rock solid advice from 50 leading sales experts. You get 80 quick read lessons that show you precisely how to grow your sales…even in a downturn.

Major corporations happily pay tens of thousands of dollars for this expert advice, but you can get it all for just $24.95! The publisher will even pay your shipping and handling.  For less than half a tank of gas you’ll put your sales on the fast track. 

You’ll quickly learn how to:

  •      Stay motivated in tough times. Pages 80-83.
  •      Earn top dollar with these “must dos.” Pages 127-129.
  •      Tap into your true (and virtually unlimited) personal potential. Page 258.
  •      Create your own opportunities in a down market. Pages 7-9.
  •      Shorten your sales cycle in 3 quick steps. Pages 14-16.
  •      Neutralize the “recession objection” with a simple formula. Pages 5-6.
  •      Make more sales with “outrageously simple” sales concepts that are raking in millions. Page 36.
  •      Close in a down economy using these 7 key steps. Pages 184-186.
  •      Cash in with new referrals and attract new clients. Pages 154-156.
  •      and a lot more!Just one idea applied can put thousands of dollars in your pocket! See it here.If you’re serious about beating the downturn and advancing your sales career act now. Top Dog Recession-Busting Sales Secrets is the best 25 dollar investment you will ever make. Guaranteed!

    You have absolutely zero risk. I have a long relationship with the publisher who guarantees your “extreme satisfaction.”  Take the first step to making more money right now. You’ll be glad you did. Learn more.

    You’ll also receive bonus gifts from my fellow authors and colleagues, Jeffrey Gitomer, Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar, Bob Bly, and Wendy Weiss, plus I’ve included a bonus of my own. All this plus free shipping!  You can see it all here.

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