Sales and Sales Management Blog

September 28, 2010

Are Your Sales Managers Sabotaging Your Sales Training?

Yesterday the CEO of a mid-size financial services company complained that no matter how carefully they designed their sales process and the accompanying training, they have been unsuccessful in establishing a consistent, long-term implementation of the process throughout the company.

Yesterday certainly wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this lament—and it certainly won’t be the last.

There are a number of possible reasons for sales training failure from treating sales training as an event instead of an ongoing behavior change process, to salespeople who view attending sales training sessions as torture, to the company’s failure to provide follow-up coaching for the sales team.  All of these are real issues that can negate any potential success you might experience from your investment in sales training.

But there is another cause of training failure that isn’t addressed as often but can be more destructive to your company’s training efforts than any other single factor—your sales managers.

Are your sales managers reassuring their charges that, “yes, you have to go to the training, but don’t worry; just go and when you get back, sell the way you’ve always sold?”  Maybe they don’t believe in the training you’re giving and are intentionally training their team in different processes and tactics? 

If you fail to get full buy-in from your sales management team to the specific training you are presenting, you will not have comprehensive and universal implementation of the training. 

Your frontline sales managers who work with their team members have more influence on how your salespeople sell than anyone else—more than senior executives, more than middle sales management, more than the training department, more than HR, more than the expensive sales trainers you hire.

If they don’t believe, the salespeople won’t believe.  If they don’t reinforce the messages, the strategies, and the tactics, those occasional training sessions will be nothing more than expensive exercises in futility.

How do you get all of your sales managers on the same page?

Before you ever put a salesperson in a training workshop or seminar, each and every manager must have gone through the management version of the training.  Each manager must understand what the company’s comprehensive, unified sales process is and how the particular training that is scheduled fits in the big picture; what short and long-term results are to be expected; what their job is in reinforcing and coaching the training; and what criteria will be used to determine the success or failure of the training.

Most of all, each manager must believe in the process and strategy.  .

Whether the training is presented by an in-house trainer or by a professional trainer brought in from outside, each segment of training should consist of a management segment designed to gain manager buy-in and to give them the tools and knowledge they will need to coach sellers once they are back at the office and a segment for salespeople that is attended by their managers.

And although the initial cost of training in terms of both time and money will increase, the long-term result will be reduced waste of training dollars and increased sales.  That wished for unified sales process will begin to become a reality because the biggest determent to success has been turned into the biggest promoter of success.

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September 22, 2010

Need Sales NOW? Get Sales NOW!

Are you or your sales team finding it difficult to bring in business?  If so, I suggest you take a look at my newest book, Bust Your Slump: A Dozen Slump Busting Strategies to Fill Your Pipeline in 30 Days, which has just been released.

Bust Your Slump isn’t another book that promises easy eternal success and delivers nothing but a bunch of fluff and hype with no substance. 

My only purpose in Bust Your Slump is to lay out in detail 12 proven, effective, real strategies that will generate business for you fast.  Each chapter not only gives you the concept, it gives you a step by step process for implementing it, and then demonstrates what it can do by relating how one of his clients used.

Whether you sell B2B or B2C, are involved in a one-time close process or a long sales cycle, sell a commodity or a sophisticated product or service, you’ll find strategies that will work for you. 

If you buy the book at Amazon during the next couple of days, you’ll get several hundred dollars of great bonus gifts from some of the top minds in sales such as Jill Konrath, Keith Rosen, Jonathan Farrington, Dave Kurlan, Wendy Weiss, Dave Brock and many others.  Head over to see all of the great bonuses you get for simply buying a book that will fill your pipeline.

There’s also a special bonus for 5 sales managers or executives offered by Dave Brock.  On Friday Dave will draw the names of 5 sales managers or executives who have bought the book and registered to win a sales process health check, a $1,500 product.  We’ve all seen the crappy fake $1,000 or 1,500 bonuses on book launches.  This isn’t a fake bonus value.  If you want you can head over to Dave’s company’s website and pay your $1,500 for the checkup right now.  Or you can buy the book and register to win one.  Dave can’t give away an unlimited number of them—but he will give away $7,500 of product on Friday.  Make sure you’re in the running for one.

Bust Your Slump is top notch.  The strategies are real and they work.  You’ll have to invest the time and effort to implement them.  These aren’t magic bullets.  But they are the real deal.

I encourage you to head over to Amazon  and pick up your copy then head over and grab your bonuses.  Would you rather have the Kindle version?  Get it here.   Maybe you’d like an autographed copy?  Go here.

Are you a sales leader who’d like multiple copies for your team?  Shoot me an email at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com and I can fill you in on the special multiple copy rates that can save you a ton of money when buying 25 or more copies.

September 21, 2010

Prospecting Lessons from Some of the Biggest, Best Known Sales Training Companies in the World: They Won’t Like What We Can Learn From Them

“My name is Paul McCord and I’m a recovering sales trainer.”

OK, I’m not to that point yet, but if the prospecting calls and emails I’m getting from some of the biggest and “best” sales training companies in the world is an indication of the effectiveness of our industry, I may be repeating that line soon.

What is one of the most basic prospecting rules that every sales trainer, sales manager, and sales book preaches (even my dogs know this one by heart)?  Never make a prospecting call without having at least minimal knowledge of the suspect you’re calling–and preferably having done thorough research on them. 

I get prospecting calls and emails all the time.  Of course I know a great percentage of salespeople and business owners aren’t adhering to this rule.

But who else isn’t adhering to it?

Well, in the last month and a half I have received one prospecting phone call and two prospecting emails from salespeople for three of the biggest, baddest, most well known sales training companies in the world.  In all three instances the salespeople were trying to sell me—yep, sales training.

The salesperson that made the phone call started the call by giving me their name, the name of their company and then asking me if I’d heard of their company.  I gave a positive response.  Next I was asked if I or anyone else in my company made sales calls.  My response was again positive.  The salesperson then asked me if we were finding the economy tough.  My response was once more positive.  So, the salesperson asked me three questions that they knew I was probably going to give a positive response to, getting me on a “yes” roll.

The next question was a problem.  After a short explanation about what the salesperson’s company does, I was asked if I and any salespeople in my company had ever had formal sales training.  At this point I informed the salesperson that McCord Training was also in the sales training industry and that I probably wasn’t a great prospect for her and her company.

Her response?  She laughed, apologized for calling, and hung up.

The two emails were similar to the phone call.  The sellers gave me background on their company, gave me an idea of how their training could increase my company’s sales, and asked me to respond with a time for the salesperson to call me.  Conveniently I was given the choice of a couple of days and times or I could suggest a better time if I wanted.

These were not untrained salespeople.  These were not sellers who were hired by some rinky-dink fly-by-night company.

Not at all.

These were salespeople from three of the biggest sales training companies in the world.  All three are sales household names.  All three are among the 10 biggest sales training companies in the world.  Two are in the top five, maybe the top three.

These are supposed to be the best of the best, at least that’s what they tell prospects.

Embarrassing for them and their companies to say the least.  Embarrassing for all of us in the sales training industry as these sellers reflect on all of us when they make these stupid mistakes.

So what lessons can we learn from these top tier sales training companies?

  1. Don’t assume your salespeople are well trained.  If the salespeople of the “top” sales training companies aren’t well enough trained to not make the most basic prospecting mistakes, can you assume your salespeople are better trained and not making these mistakes?
  2. Don’t assume your salespeople are living their training.  Even if your salespeople have been thoroughly trained, don’t assume they are living it.
  3. How your salespeople sell reflects directly on your company.  These salespeople didn’t just embarrass themselves, they embarrassed their company—and not just because of the industry the company is in.  When your salespeople demonstrate ignorance, laziness, or any other negative trait, prospects draw the same conclusions about the company they represent.
  4. Once is not enough.  Your salespeople need consistent training reinforcement and follow-up.  A single training session isn’t going to change the behavior of your sales team.  Training must be on going.  It must be consistently reinforced and coached. 

Yes, all of this means you have to invest real time and real dollars in training your sales team—but you just got a free lesson from three of the world’s top sales training companies.

Guest Article: “The Superpower of Sales Hunters,” by Josiane Feigon

Filed under: sales,selling,Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 9:37 am
Tags: ,

The Superpower of Sales Hunters
by Josiane Feigon

There are lions and tigers out there- especially when it comes to inside sales hunting talent. I’ve listened to a few calls lately and just when I was starting to think that hunting was a lost art, I’m convinced otherwise. Sales skills can be taught but spirits must come from within. Once a hunter, always a hunter.

Think of a the characteristics of a  lion when describing a good sales hunter, they have similar qualities:

 1. Moves at lightening speed– they think quick and act strategically, they are confident, bold, impatient and definitely not shy.

2. Small and swift– a good hunter never takes up too much room, they fit into tiny calendars and never ask for lots of time.

3. Raw curiosity– they know what they want, know how to find it and continue to ask why.

4. Astute listener– when they tune in, it’s not just at a surface level but they know how to dive into deeper levels of listening to the unspoken 

5. Incognito– They know how to maneuver and remain under the radar; camouflaged when stalking the prey

6. Healthy tenacity– their survival depends on their ability to be tenacious, so they don’t give up. They are the first to consume the prey at the site it is taken.

7. Resourceful – they never go hungry, they are resourceful and always have insurance to take care of their families.

8. Defend against intruders– they are quick to defend but slow to share- remember their gain is your loss.

Josiane Feigon is a pioneer, maverick, and visionary in the inside sales community. A 20-year industry veteran, Josiane is the founder of TeleSmart Communications. Since 1994, this San Francisco-based solutions provider has been a leader in developing global Inside Sales teams and managers.  Josiane is one of the world’s leading experts on developing successful inside sales teams and management talent.   Visit her website 

September 20, 2010

Guest Article: “Four Steps to Organize Your Network for Powerful Pinging,” by Keith Ferrazzi

Filed under: Communication,sales,selling,time management — Paul McCord @ 2:23 pm
Tags: , ,

Four Steps to Organize Your Network for Powerful Pinging
By Keith Ferrazzi

Failing to plan, as they say, is planning to fail. So it goes with outreach. Most people’s efforts are scattershot. But if you want to make the most of your network – and give the most to your network – you need to get organized.

Here’s the method I use to make maintaining my network of contacts, colleagues, and friends easier. It’s a strategy that can be adapted for use with any number of applications out there today for tracking contacts. The basic steps are: Categorize, Prioritize, Track, and Schedule Weekly Outreach.

1.    Divide your network into categories. There’s no standard method here. Create a segmentation that works for you and your objectives. Personally, I use five categories: Personal, Customers, Prospects, Important Business Associates (which includes both people I’m in business with, and people I plan to be), and Aspirational Contacts. The “personal” category I don’t include on call lists, because these are people who I’m in contact with organically; the relationship is established, and when we talk, it’s as if we’d been in touch every day.

2.    Prioritize the list to decide how often to contact each person. I’ll go down my master list (which includes all the categories) and add the numbers 1, 2, or 3 next to each name. A “1” gets contacted at least each month; a “2” gets a quarterly call or email; a “3” I try to reach once a year, probably through a group communication like a holiday card.

3.     Schedule weekly outreach. I do this by segmenting my network into call lists. In time, your master list will become too unwieldy to work from directly.Your call lists will save you time and keep your efforts focused. They can be organized by your number ratings, by geography, by industry, and so on. It’s totally flexible. I make a habit of reviewing my master list at the end of the week and crosschecking it with the activities and travel plans I have for the following week. In this way, I stay up-to-date and have my trusty lists at my side all week long.

4.    Track your outreach. Each time I reach out to a person, I like to include a very short note next to their name telling me the last time I contacted them and how. If last month I sent an e-mail saying hello to a potential customer rated “1,” this month I’ll give a call.

With a plan in place, I guarantee you’ll keep in touch with people you otherwise would have forgotten – until the moment you needed them. In other words, TOO LATE!

Keith Ferrazzi is one of the rare individuals who discovered the essential formula for making his way to the top — a powerful and balanced combination of marketing acumen and networking savvy. Both Forbes and Inc. magazines have designated him one of the world’s most “connected” individuals.  Keith is the author of the best-selling book, Never Eat Alone.  Visit his website

September 16, 2010

Guest Article: “Five Ideas To Elevate Your Reputation,” by Jeb Brooks

Filed under: business,career development,success — Paul McCord @ 8:15 am
Tags: , ,

FIVE IDEAS TO ELEVATE YOUR REPUTATION
by Jeb Brooks

Recently, I posed a question on Twitter: “What comes to mind when I say, ‘salesperson.’”  What came back probably won’t surprise you…here’s a sampling…

  • Likely to be incompetent
  • Smarmy
  • Working an angle not in my best interest
  • Slimy

It’s fruitless to make excuses for other people’s misbehavior. Instead, it’s better to focus on improving your own reputation (and the reputation of the people you manage). Here are a few ideas.

  1. Never make a claim that can’t be backed up with facts.
    This is also known by its more technical name, “lying.” And liars get caught. Making a claim that you can prove (or better yet, a third party can verify) builds trust. Anything you say can be checked at the speed of Google. 
  2. Only ask for referrals after earning the right.
    It’s awfully appealing to ask every warm body you come across for the names of other people who might want what you’re selling. But you’re much better off waiting until you’ve proven your value. People are a lot more willing to share your story after they’ve experienced it.
  3. Remain in alignment with your prospect: People buy for their reasons not yours.
    I’m definitely not the first person to say, “Listen your way into a sale.” But that’s because it’s always been true! Pay attention to what your prospect says and you’ll be able to identify what – and how – they want to buy. That means you should only offer a recommendation if it will really help your prospect. Don’t be in the business of jamming your most profitable offering down a prospect’s throat unless it will be of genuine use.
  4. When a salesperson and a prospect get locked in a war of wills, the salesperson will lose.
    Your success is determined by the person who decides whether to buy from you. They’re in the “driver’s seat.” Be truthful and respectful. If you sense that a prospect is beginning to become defensive, it might be time to back down and gain an understanding of their perspective before becoming angry.
  5. Manipulative tactics do nothing but harm reputations (including mine).
    Thankfully the millions of manipulative closes are on the wane. But there are still salespeople who try to manipulate their way into a sale. Most of today’s buyers are smart enough to see them coming. When you try them, it’s easy to put a knick in the reputation of all salespeople.

The bottom line?  We’ve all got to work hard to continue the momentum in our effort to elevate the reputation of the sales profession.  Hope you’ll join me…

Jeb Brooks is Executive Vice President of the The Brooks Group, one of the world’s Top Ten Sales Training Firms as ranked by Selling Power Magazine. He is a sought-after commentator on sales and sales management issues, having appeared in numerous publications including the Wall Street Journal. Jeb authored the second edition of the book “Perfect Phrases for the Sales Call” and writes for The Brooks Group’s popular Sales Blog . He can be reached at + 1 (336) 282-6303

September 15, 2010

4 Steps to Busting Your Sales Slump

It amazes me the number of salespeople, business owners and even sales leaders that I talk to who complain that their or their sales team’s sales are hurting and when asked what they are going to do about it respond with “I (we) have to increase my (our) prospecting and marketing activity.”

Ah, it sounds like they have a grasp on the situation—at least until the next question is asked:  what activity?

Inevitably the answer is some version of “what I’m (we’re) doing now.”

Let’s see, here . . . They are currently doing certain prospecting and marketing activities that aren’t bringing in the business they need, so their solution is to increase the time and energy they are investing in doing the things that aren’t working in order to get them to work.

It sounds to me like they need to invest in a really good psychiatrist.

We Can’t Bust Our Sales Slump Because We’re Insane
We’re all familiar with the old saying that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.  We laughed when we first heard it—and we agreed.  We thought it such a silly idea that anyone would see that something isn’t working and then believe that the solution was to do more of it.

Ha, ha.  What idiot would be that dumb?

Us idiots, of course.

No, we’re not idiots and we’re not dumb.  But just as others have gotten so wrapped up in something that they failed to see the illogic in increasing the amount of time and energy they were investing in activities that weren’t producing the results they wanted, we also get wrapped up in trying to break out of our sales tailspins that we don’t see the folly of investing more time and energy in just doing more of what isn’t working.

We tend to think that a sales slump is simply the result of a lack of activity and consequently, simply increasing our activity will correct it.

That’s not the case.

The Anatomy of a Sales Slump
Sales slumps are generally caused by a combination of factors, any one of which could have been the original tailspin creating catalyst:

  1. Negative Expectations:  In sales attitude is second only to activity.  We tend to get what we expect if for no other reason than our prospects can read our expectations through our voice and body language and if we expect to fail, why should our prospect believe in us?

    Once negative expectations begin to weasel their way into our thinking, it’s hard to keep them from destroying our self-confidence.  Once our self-confidence is shot, for all intents and purposes we’re shot—our activity level falls off dramatically, we expect our prospecting strategies to fail, we “know” that it’s fruitless to try, so even when we do force ourselves to prospect we do so in a half assed manner.

  2. Insufficient Activity:  Although activity isn’t everything in sales, it is the single most important factor in success.  Intense activity can make up for a multitude of other sales sins.  Yet when activity seems pointless it becomes almost impossible to act.  Once the downward spiral begins we tend to get lost in our self-pity and we focus our attention on feeling sorry for ourselves instead of investing that energy in forcing ourselves to act.
  3. Wrong Strategies:  The prospecting and marketing strategies we have been using are no longer effective—either because we no longer believe in them or because they are wrong for our market. 

Busting Your Slump
So, if these are the three factors in a sales slump, the solution should be easy right?  Just change the negative expectations to positive ones, increase activity, and change up the prospecting strategies, and voila, presto-chango, you’re out of the slump.

If only it were that easy.

Busting out of a slump—or beginning to generate business if you are a new salesperson—is difficult.  It takes a great deal of resolve.  It takes dedication.  It takes learning long-term strategies to put your sales career on solid footing.

Here are four steps to getting yourself back on track (or on track if you’re new to sales):

  1. Begin Creating Your Winning Sales Attitude:  Changing your attitude from negative to positive isn’t an overnight process.  It takes time.  It takes effort.  And although you can’t wait to begin to bust your slump until your attitude has changed, you must be actively working to change your attitude while you’re digging yourself out of your slump.  A great place to start is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Get Rich.
  2. ACT:  This is the most difficult to do, but you must force yourself to act.  Fortunately if you’re working on your attitude and changing your prospecting strategies at the same time, forcing yourself to act will be a bit easier.  Action by itself will help clear your head and will begin to slowly bring in the business you so desperately need.  Yes, at first it will literally be forcing yourself to act.  There is no easy way. 
  3. Change Your Prospecting Strategies:  Whether your strategies are failing because you no longer believe in them or because they are wrong for your market is immaterial.  Finding and implementing new proven strategies will help your confidence, will take some of the feeling of hopelessness off, and will give you a new focus.  Just as a change of scenery can revitalize you, a change in prospecting strategy can also.  

    The problem is what strategies can you use that will actually produce the results you want?  Fortunately there are a number of possible strategies that can generate business quickly.  Let me mention a couple here:

    Orphans.  If you work in an established office you probably have dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of orphan files at your fingertips.  When was the last time anyone in your office worked those files?  If you work in the typical office the answer is “it’s been so long ago that no one even knows.”  But you know what?  There’s a fortune in those files just waiting for some industrious seller to mine it.  Now you can’t just start taking files at random.  There’s typically a great deal of information in old files that can help guide you to business.  Look for files that have been orphaned long enough that they might need to place another order or files that indicate they could be prospects for additional products or services.  Since you’re in the file, look for positive financial information—concentrate on those who may need and can afford you.

    Eat Your Way to Success.  You probably take a coffee break and/or go to lunch every workday.  Most of us do.  Most of us waste that time by spending it alone or with officemates.  Instead of wasting that time, turn it into business development time.  Take a client who is a great candidate for add on sales or a prospect—or a great referral partner prospect–to lunch or meet one for coffee every workday.  If you take a potential sale or referral to lunch every day, it won’t be long before your pipeline will be full.

    ‘For more detail on these two strategies as well as ten more proven, effective slump busting strategies pick up a copy of my newest book, Bust Your Slump: A Dozen Slump Busting Strategies to Fill Your Pipeline in 30 Days, available at Amazon as both a paperback and as a Kindle book.

  4. Learn Long-term Success Strategies and Skills.  Most of the strategies in Bust Your Slump won’t work for you long-term.  They are strategies that will increase your business quickly but they have a limited shelf life—how many orphan or dead files can you find?  While these short-term strategies increase your sales and your income, you must take advantage of that reprieve to learn and implement the long-term skills and strategies that will keep you from suffering another slump—or to get your new sales career on solid ground so you never suffer a slump.

You can overcome a career slump.  You don’t have to suffer with crappy sales.  You must, however, take the steps necessary to truly bust out of your slump or to put your new sales career on a solid foundation.  Just getting a spurt of new business isn’t good enough.  You have to attack the attitude and activity issues that are there and then go beyond that to creating or recreating your sales foundation.  If you’re not willing to do that you may as well go ahead and get out of sales right now since there’s really no use in prolonging the agony.

September 14, 2010

Making the Sales World a Little Smaller and a Lot More Valuable

Sales 2.0 … Networking online … Standing out …  Crystal clear messaging … global business.  So many ways to reach out to prospects and clients and so many pitfalls.  So little time to assimilate the very best practices.

What’s a busy sales professional to do?

Glad you asked. Just this week a dynamic, exciting new (and free) international sales community launched. I’m participating in Top Sales World because it provides the very best support from people like me who are out to help busy people like you achieve greater selling results while deriving greater reward and satisfaction from your own efforts.

We all want to get better what we do. Top Sales World brings together top gurus in the United States and other countries who provide unparalleled information in the form of how-to-guides, one-on-one advice, webinars, articles and much more. Get help on a specific problem. Learn to focus on your goals on a daily basis. See the latest trends. Read about the latest Sales AllStar or Featured Contributor.

Top Sales World evolved from Top Sales Experts and incorporates regular webinars  on everything from “Sales 2.0 and Selling to Big Companies” to “How the Most Successful Companies Develop Their Sales Teams” to “Turn Your Connections into Cash” and “Elevator Speeches that Sing” and “The Dynamic Value Proposition.”

Each event gives you top information and tips you can put to use immediately. Download each presentation  from Top Sales World when it suits your timeframe.

Better yet, new, live webinars are taking place all the time.  On Sept. 16, join Wendy Weiss, the Queen of Cold Calling, for “Cold Calling 2010: What’s Working Today?” Dr. Tony Alessandra presents on “What Exactly is Collaborative Selling” on Sept. 21.  A panel of experts shares “How to Stride into the Final Quarter and Finish the Year Strongly” on Sept. 28.

What’s not to like? I strongly recommend you visit Top Sales World and see for yourself.

September 10, 2010

Book Review: Business Intelligence Success Factors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 1:11 pm

What is Business Intelligence (BI)? 

 According to CIO.com BI is “an umbrella term that refers to a variety of software applications used to analyze an organization’s raw data. BI as a discipline is made up of several related activities, including data mining, online analytical processing, querying and reporting.”

DataManagement.com says it is “a broad category of applications and technologies for gathering, storing, analyzing, and providing access to data to help enterprise users make better business decisions. BI applications include the activities of decision support systems, query and reporting, online analytical processing (OLAP), statistical analysis, forecasting, and data mining.”

Cal State Monterey Bay says it “Normally describes the result of in-depth analysis of detailed business data. Includes database and application technologies, as well as analysis practices. Sometimes used synonymously with “decision support,” though business intelligence is technically much broader, potentially encompassing knowledge management, enterprise resource planning, and data mining, among other practices.”

Based on the above, one would expect Business Intelligence Success Factors: Tools For Aligning Your Business In The Global Economy by Olivia Parr Rud (Wiley Publishing: 2010) to be a “how-to” book, a guide to help companies and business leaders mine and make sense of the overwhelming volume of data and information that must somehow be factored into the decision making process.

One would be very wrong to expect that. 

Not about Business Intelligence

In fact, Business Intelligence Success Factors really isn’t about BI at all.  At least not in any direct sense.  Instead Rud’s real purpose to set out a new vision of business organization, one, she argues, that will itself bring about a deeper understanding of and more effective use of the data and information needed to succeed in today’s constantly changing and evolving business environment.

Holacracy

Ultimately Rud’s goal is to introduce and argue for the adoption of an organization system called Holacracy, a system that is “an entirely new tier of organization and shared meaning, one which (rewrites) the most basic rules of human engagement” developed by Brian Robertson. 

However, before she can introduce Holacracy, Rud must set the stage by advancing a series of arguments for the need to reinvent the business organization.  The first two thirds of the book are devoted to that end.  Rud tries vainly to tie quantum physics, the Hive Mind, Chaos Theory, current research into the evolution of the human brain, and Systems Theory into how the business organization should work. 

It’s all very interesting stuff.

But unfortunately Rud doesn’t tie the science to the organization theory; rather she makes application leaps with little or no supporting evidence or simply quotes some other authority who makes a broad statement without any evidence.

Holacracy isn’t a “model, idea, or theory.  Holacracy is a practice. . . .  Holacracy is an organizational practice expressed through the individual members for the benefit of the organization.”  Whereas Business Intelligence as traditionally understood is associated with IT and the processing of data—a concrete activity, Holacracy is virtually the opposite—very touchy-feely with lots of overarching non-specific language and with little that is concrete. 

Holacracy is very PC, very much up to date—which may not necessarily be good.  In fact, one of the central themes of the book flows well with the goals of the Obama administration—the loss of self to the whole; the individual becomes but a cog in the Hive Mind, a small collaborator in the movement to the whole. 

Business Intelligence Success Factors certainly makes for a very interesting read—I’m less convinced that it makes for a great business book.

September 8, 2010

Guest Article: “Do You Need a Sales–Consultant, -Coach, or -Trainer?” by Christian Maurer

This is the first time I’ve had the chance to feature an article by my friend Christian Maurer.  Be advised that English is not Christian’s first language–so if a sentence comes across as a little awkward, live with it.  His oral and written English is better than most of us native speakers.

——————————————————————————————–

Do You Need a Sales-Consultant, -Coach or -Trainer?
by Christian Marurer

Is this differentiation necessary when you are looking for help with your initiative to increase sales productivity?

The fact that all three terms are listed on many LinkedIn profiles (mine included) can mean two things. Either, it suggests that the terms are taken as interchangeable and listing them all gives a higher chance to be found depending of the preferred term used by those seeking help. Or, these are three different roles.

I believe these are different roles needed for different phases in your initiative. I have listed them on my profile to indicate that I can assume all three roles.

Consultants
have a deep knowledge of their field. They have tools to diagnose the root causes of sales productivity problems. Based on the diagnosis, they can then design a therapy plan how to eliminate the detected inhibitors for higher sales productivity. They have a methodology how to do this. The therapy plans are based on modules that can be mixed and matched, extended or contracted depending on the diagnosis. Only few sales consultants stop their service offering at this level. Most of them will then also help with the execution of the therapy plan. They will then take on the roles of trainers and coaches.

Consultants are best engaged early in the initiative or when derailed initiatives need to be brought back on course.

Consultants can even help you deciding whether an initiative is needed or not. In this case, both parties must understand that the diagnosis is a free standing separately billable item and that the engagement might end after the diagnosis phase.

It might also be advisable to consider the development of the therapy plan as a separately payable free standing engagement. The customer then has a higher guarantee that the consultant is not just trying to peddle his/her teaching and coaching services and will recommend third parties if this improves the execution of the plan.

The term consultant is also used for people giving you advise how to implement a prepackaged methodology , process or piece of software to improve sales productivity. Their diagnostics are geared to confirm the fit between their solution and a problem. Getting help from this type of consultants in early phases of an initiative bears the risk, that they might see every problem as a “nail”, because the only tool they have is a “hammer” (their particular offering).

Trainers
have internalized a body of knowledge (best practices) how to improve sales efficiency and/or effectiveness. They transfer their knowledge to their trainees through lecturing, case studies, tests and practical exercises. They do this in classrooms, interactive web based sessions or a blended combination which might also include self paced learning modules. They have their own intellectual property (body of knowledge) or are certified to use the material proprietary to a third party.

Organizations not wanting to use consultants to carry out a diagnosis to help shape their initiative and engaging trainers only and maybe consultants advising on the use of a particular solution, rely on a self diagnosis of the problems. They must accept that the cause for potential failure of the initiative is not always the training. It is as likely that the failure is caused by a superfluously carried out diagnosis or by jumping prematurely to conclusions.

Coaches
have an intimate knowledge what best practice behavior, leading to higher efficiency and/or effectiveness looks like. They observe those to be coached in real life situations or role plays or they review outputs (e.g. plans) and identify gaps between what they observe and best practice. They then advise the person to be coached what behavior changes are needed to get closer to best practice. Coaching is usually an iterative process. The coach will observe how well the advise is internalized and has improved behavior and will recommend further changes if gaps are still significant. This loop will be repeated until gaps have disappeared or have at least reached a tolerable level.

For a coach to be effective, there must be an agreement between the customer and the coach, what best practices had previously been taught and need reinforcement.

Using trainers who taught best practices as coaches,assures knowledge about the best practices to be reinforced. Knowing how to train best practices does though not mean automatically also knowing how to coach best practices. There is a difference in approach. Trainers used as coaches might also earlier come to the conclusion that gaps are so huge that refresher training or re-training is needed before coaching can be effective.

Conclusion
Distinguishing the three roles and understanding which role is needed when in a sales productivity improvement initiative and what the prerequisites are, gives a higher certainty for a successful outcome.

Within each role, there are though also variants to be considered. Ignoring these variants, might also cause the initiative not delivering the expected results.

When you seek help to improve sales productivity, do you make the distinction of roles?

How would you describe these roles?

Do you have experience on this topic you would like to share?

Christian Maurer is a consultant, coach and trainer, who helps B2B sales leaders, who admit performance problems of their organizations, to define and implement solutions based on new thinking. Christian works with Fortune 500 companies as well as with local and regional champions. He conducts business in German, English and French. He is  a frequent speaker in events organized by the Institute for Marketing and Retail of the University of St. Gallen , Switzerland and a member of the visiting faculty of ZfU International Business School in Thalwil, Switzerland.  Visit his blog.

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