Sales and Sales Management Blog

August 6, 2014

Guest Article: “The Strengths of Sales Introverts,” by Alen Mayer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:46 pm
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The Strengths of Sales Introverts
by Alen Mayer

So introverts have game, and quite a bit of it to be exact. The advantages and strengths of sales introverts are multiple, and those who know how to draw upon such strengths have excelled greatly in the sales field as a result, many times catching critics by surprise.

Calm in the Storm

The first major strength of introverts involves composure. Often mistaken for being too reserved or shy, many introverts instead sit back to give themselves a better vantage point. They are able to then avoid getting emotionally entangled in the discussion and see all the players engaged as well as their various interests and directions. The more knowledge a person has obviously, the more he can strategize and manage the sale at an advantage.

Composure also has other side effects that work to the benefit of the introvert salesperson. Being calm and collected has the general effect of putting clients at ease rather than being tense or defensive. Too often, aggressive salespeople are either not trusted or annoying. Potential clients clam up and walk away early when they feel they are being led down a path, often switching to another provider who comes across a bit more honest and less “salesy.” The introvert, however, gets around this problem.

There is no emotional push, no aggression, no hard sell. Instead, he comes in, provides the facts, identifies the problem the consumer or client has, and then offers a viable, practical solution. By getting the discussion away from questioning a salesperson’s honesty and back to focusing on the product or service, a sale and deal is far more likely. By allowing a sales meeting to be comfortable rather than an event of heavy pressure and hard-selling, the introvert is able to land sales where the traditional salesperson would find significant resistance and often fails.

Making the Connection

Introvert salespeople put a high priority on relationship building with customers and clients. They’re not into the deal for a single sale and then off to the next one. Instead, they are far more likely to build long-term streams of revenue by working with the same customers again and again.

Introvert salespeople understand and take advantage of the fact that it was 10 times easier to work with known customers than trying to develop a new relationship with unknown leads. Instead, they leverage known contacts and client interests to keep producing new sales again and again. This is done by focusing on win-win scenarios where both the introvert and the client both realize a significant gain in the deal negotiated.

Lending an Ear

Introverts have a keen, well-trained ability at listening to people. Often, customers want to tell people what they are dealing with, explain the issue, and discuss what really matters to them. Unfortunately, many sales people already have a script they feel they need to follow to make a sale. The two don’t mix. Instead, the customer ends up being turned off because the salesperson won’t do the most simply, easy thing in selling: listening.

Introverts, on the other hand, are quite adept at letting people talk around them. They take in all the details and statements, asking questions for more information, and getting the big picture that matters to the customer versus a script. In fact, many introverts will spend more than two-thirds of the sales meeting discussion asking the questions rather than wasting time on a pitch.

Listening provides access to key information, especially details that are valuable to allowing the introvert salesperson to connect with a client personally versus in generic terms.

In short, the strengths of sales introverts named above (composure, listening, and relationship-building) allow introverts to make in-roads where many of the best traditional salespeople can’t often break through. And they do it with far less effort, time, stress and cost.

————–

Alen Mayer, Chief Sales Introvert, helps sales people who identify themselves as introverts to be successful in sales by writing articles and conducting seminars on how to maximize introvert’s sales potential.  Find more of Alen

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July 28, 2014

Is Your Employer Knowingly Destroying Your Career?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 12:24 pm
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If you work as an outside, commissioned salesperson, think about what your employer does:

Your employer pays for:

  • virtually 100% of your training
  • virtually 100% of your marketing
  • your gas, your cell phone, your prospect and client lunches and coffee meetings

Your employer is investing hundreds of dollars per month in your career.  Yet they:

  • knowingly allow you to waste time
  • knowingly allow you to blow off work
  • knowingly allow you to go home early
  • knowingly allow you to come in late
  • knowingly allow you to stand around and complain and moan with the other salespeople in the office
  • knowingly allow you to pad your call reports
  • knowingly allowing you to perform at a level far below your potential

Why would any employer pay for all of your training and marketing and then allow you to waste that investment?  Do you really want to work for someone who cares so little about the money they are investing in you—and ultimately so little about your future?  Do you really want to work for someone who says they want you to succeed, but then knowingly allows you to do those things that lead to failure?

What kind of employer is that?

That, however, is the employer for which the majority of salespeople work.

And if you work for that employer you have no one to blame except yourself.  For despite what your W2 says, you are your employer.  As a commissioned salesperson, you don’t work for anyone other than yourself.  You are your own mini company with a single client company that you sell for today.  You are leasing yourself, your knowledge, and your skills to your client company.  And if you are establishing strong relationships with your prospects and clients, you’re also leasing them to your client.

When you revoke your lease to the company you currently sell for and take on a new client, you’ll take all of your training, all of your skills, all of your abilities with you.  They don’t stay with your current client.  And if you’ve done a good job of building relationships with your clients, you’ll take them with you also.

One hundred percent of the time, money and energy you invest in your sales business are invested in you for your benefit, not the company for which you are currently selling.  No matter your product or service–autos, real estate, financial services, consulting, telecommunications solutions, or anything else, you are your boss, your employer.  And as such, you must hold yourself accountable for your actions and the dollars you invest in you—your company.

As an employer, what kind of employer are you?  Do you demand the best from your employee?  Or, do you allow yourself to just slide through the motions of selling?  Are you seeking to get the most from the time and money you invest in your company or are you satisfied to just get by?

As an employee, are you happy with your employer?  Do think your employer demands enough from you?  Does your employer demand you work to your full potential?

Just because you receive a paycheck and a W2 doesn’t mean that you aren’t self-employed.  In reality, you sign your own paycheck.  The company you are leasing yourself to simply verifies your company’s earnings and then signs those earnings over to you.

Don’t be fooled into believing that you work for IBM, or UBS, or Century 21, or any other “employer” other than yourself.  You are your own CEO, and like any other CEO, you must demand the best from your employee.  And as an employee, if your company isn’t capable or willing to hold you accountable, maybe you need to fire your employer.

January 31, 2014

5 Strategies to Maintain and Strengthen Your Motivation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 3:45 pm
Tags: , , ,

If you want to be successful you have to be motivated.

What is motivation?

Motivation is a unique combination of desire, commitment, and energy to reach a goal no matter how difficult it may be or how long it may take to reach.

Another way of looking at it is passion.

Passion in and of itself can virtually force you to succeed by demanding you do those things necessary to be successful.

Passion won’t let you rest.

It won’t give you permission to quit.

It won’t allow you to become sated until you’ve reached your goal.

Passion demands your best effort.

It pushes you to go beyond the satisfactory to the extraordinary.

It forces you to reach heights you thought impossible.

Passion is pretty heady stuff.  It keeps you on the edge.  It sharpens your senses, keeping you alert to opportunities.  It awakens the creative juices.

It helps keep the self-doubt and the  fears and worries at bay.  It doesn’t eliminate them, it overcomes them.

Unfortunately, passion isn’t limitless.  It has limitations and weaknesses.  Although strong, it must be reinforced or you risk having it burn itself out.

How do you keep your passion burning?

Here are 5 down and dirty ways to reinforce your passion and keep it burning strong:

  1. Love what you do. There is no substitute for doing something you absolutely love doing.  If you can hardly wait to get out of bed in the morning to get your day started you’re already half way to success.  Certainly we can’t all be engaged in something we absolutely love, but if you can, even if only on a part-time basis, go for it.

  2. Set tangible, realistic short-term goals.  The more often you see tangible progress, the easier to maintain your passion.  Set short-term, realistic goals.  If you consistently see small goals being reached, you’ll soon begin to see large goals being reached.  By the way, reasonable goals don’t mean easy to reach goals.  Goals should consistently stretch you and your abilities.
  3. Visualize outcomes.  Athletes use visualization for a reason—it works.  If you are afraid of making presentations, visualize yourself making great presentations.  If you fear cold calling, visualize yourself being successful at cold calling. Visualization is a form of practice.  In a study a couple of years ago researchers found that students who only visualized practicing a piece of music were as proficient at playing the piece as students who had actually practiced the piece on the piano.
  4. Use positive affirmations.  Repeating positive affirmations strengthens and reaffirms your internal belief system.  We cannot do what we do not believe we can do.  On the other hand, if we sincerely believe we can do something, no matter how ‘impossible,’ our brain can find ways to get it done.  Once we believe, our brain begins to go work to figure out a way to turn our belief into reality.

   Our brain will believe what it hears and what our eyes see.  If it has heard and witnessed failure for years and years, it   believes we will fail.  Fortunately, we can change that. It will take time.  We will have to
consciously   retrain it.  We’ll have to give it positive reinforcement through what it hears—our positive affirmations—and what it experiences—our small successes as we reach our short-term goals.  But just as it
learned we are a failure, it will learn we are successful—but this time we can control what we feed our brain.

  1. Use outside reinforcement.  Motivation—passion—is internal.  It isn’t something that is created externally.  That doesn’t mean that  external stimulus can’t reinforce our internal motivation.  The problem is that external stimulus such as motivation books, tapes, seminars, and such burn out quickly—usually within just a few days, sometimes within just a few hours.

   That quick burn doesn’t mean external stimulus can’t be valuable.  It can be extremely valuable.  A motivational tape can give us a great burst of energy prior to an important presentation; a motivational seminar can
get our creative juices flowing in new directions; motivation quotes can realign our minds at moments of exhaustion or weakness.

   Keep favorite motivational tapes and quotes ready at hand.  Take the opportunity to attend motivational seminars and presentations.  Remember the ‘high’ is fleeting—but you can drink of it anytime you need it.

Companies spend billions of dollars every year trying to find the magic motivational bullet.  They’ll never find it because it isn’t something they can order in from a motivational speaker.  We either have it or we don’t.  But if we don’t, we can take the steps necessary to find it and nurture it.

And it isn’t expensive, difficult, or time consuming.

Find your passion and you’ll find your success.  If you’re a sales leader, help your sales team members find their passion and you’ll find your success.

April 11, 2013

Fear and the Choice to Fail or Succeed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Paul McCord @ 1:05 pm
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This past week I acquired a new coaching client.  Nothing unusual about that–except this client, like many in the securities industry, finds himself in the position of having 120 days to develop a practice capable of sustaining his family—or he is out of the industry.  He just finished his 13 weeks of training, passed his series 7 and 63 exams, and is now on a four-month do or die schedule.

I have the opportunity to speak with thousands of sales people from dozens and dozens of industries.  Depending on their industry, their “life support” (their initial guarantee, draw or salary) to help them get started may have been as long as a couple of years—or as short as, well, none at all.  Almost without exception, each had to work their way through their initial start-up stage with the stress and fear not only of failure but of potential financial disaster if they failed since many had to dip into savings in order to meet their basic obligations, not to mention having funds to help them market themselves.  My newest coaching client is just starting his ramp-up period—and he is fully aware of just how short four months is.

For most of us, the fear of failure is a strong motivator.  No one likes to fail, no matter what they are trying to accomplish.  A salaried employee wants to succeed at their job.  An hourly employee wants to succeed at their job as well.  However, both the salaried and hourly employee knows that they have the security of a future income—even if they simply do the minimum to retain their job.  For us in sales, the minimum required to simply retain our positions is producing at least enough income to live.  Whereas the salaried or hourly employee is given tasks and all of the means to accomplish those tasks and is then rewarded with a set income, we salespeople are given a task, many times without the means to accomplish it, and then must create our own reward—be it large, small, or, God forbid, non-existent.

Not only do we have the fear of failure but our failure will have life altering consequences for numerous people.  Our fear of failure goes well beyond the personal disappointment, embarrassment, and depression of failing at a task. 

 Our failure literally puts our family in jeopardy. 

Our failure means debt collector calls, reposed autos, foreclosed homes, and no food on the table.

In addition, often, like my new client, we have a very short period of time to either succeed or fail.  Time is an ever present enemy.  We hear the clock ticking—even in our sleep.  We wake up to one more day gone, one more day closer to the ultimate consequences of our actions.

Yet, that ticking of the clock can be either our chief motivator—or the cause of our paralyses.  For most salespeople, time is a dominate factor in our actions.  We either find the clock a massive kick in the pants that moves us—forces us— forward and we find the strength, creativity, and determination to succeed; or we become mesmerized by the metronomic ticking, incapable of productive movement as we watch the hands of the clock inexorably move toward our final hour as a salesperson. 

Even after we get over the hump and begin to establish a consistent monthly commission income, the clock ticks away.  A slump, a slowing economy, an unexpected illness, and a hundred other factors can catapult us back to the edge of the precipice of joblessness and financial crisis. 

As a salesperson, we must prove ourselves each month, each week, each day, each hour.  The clock is unforgiving.  That mortgage is due on the first of each month no matter what your previous month’s sales were like.  The bank expects their car payment, utilities must be paid, food must be bought. 

How do you beat this relentless, heartless enemy?  The simple answer, though massively difficult for many, is action.  Selling is a high energy, fast moving sport, more akin to jai-alai than baseball or football; it requires a tremendous amount of concentration, dedication, and mental and physical activity. 

A more accurate and precise answer is that it is through well thought-out, highly targeted action.  Many salespeople mistake simple action for progress.  Action, though crucial, is hardly enough. 

Undisciplined, random action contributes to our failure just as surely as inaction does.

What is targeted, disciplined action?  Targeted, disciplined action is action that directly contributes to putting prospects in our pipeline and clients in our database.  In simple terms–prospecting, making sales presentations, signing contracts, and handling client issues.  Everything else—all of the designing of fliers, organizing of files, making of lists, reading and studying product brochures, and all of the other “stuff” we do, may directly result in our failure.

Not that these other things aren’t important–they are;  but they are simply secondary to our primary mission, and they don’t contribute to our success in a meaningful manner if performed during selling hours.  If engaged in during selling hours, these non-income producing activities hinder, rather than aid, our production.  These non-essential activities should be set aside and performed only when some direct selling activity isn’t possible.

In order to free ourselves for the activity of selling, we must have a plan in place that will allow us to spend our time and energy performing our four primary activities.  This means using our non-selling hours to formulate our future moves.  Instead of shuffling through stacks of leads or searching the internet for our next call as we sit at our desk “prospecting,” these activities should have been preformed the evening before so our prospecting time is really spent prospecting, not doing prospecting research. 

Instead of gathering our data sheets in preparation for making calls, they should have been gathered and put in a logical order during our non-selling time. 

Instead of discussing marketing methods with the new salesperson in the next cubicle, we should have phone in one hand and be dialing with the other.

It’s your money you’re leaving on the table.  If you don’t get it, someone else will.  If you wile away your time and choose to fail, you’re directly contributing to someone else’s success. 

Success is a choice. 

It’s a simple choice that takes great disciple and effort, but still a choice.  A tremendous number of highly talented people fail in sales every year—every month, in fact.  They simply choose to fail by making the wrong time choices.  They allow the clock to win.  On the other hand, many with little talent succeed simply because they were unwilling to fail.

July 16, 2012

The Value of Fear

Filed under: career development,motivation,success — Paul McCord @ 12:08 pm
Tags: ,

“I’m not afraid of anything,” goes the boast so often heard from sellers who are trying to impress their manager. 

The idea that a top seller is so confident, so cool, so well prepared that they’re not afraid of anyone or anything, including failure, seems to be more prevalent now than in the past.  Maybe I’m just more attuned to it now than I had been. 

Whichever it is, I’m hearing it more and more often and most of the time it seems to be coming from young sellers who grew up being told that they not only could do anything they put their minds to but they deserve success because they are the most educated and admirable generation ever.

It seems that the coddling has bleached out all sense of fear and anxiety—and a great deal of hardness and determination—from the up and coming generation of sellers.

And although this isn’t universal, of course, it seems we’ve done them a mighty disservice. 

To pervert one of Gordon Gekko’s quotes, “Fear is good.”  Fear is, in fact, the stuff that success is made of.  Fear of failure.  Fear of losing one’s job or status or position or respect.  Fear of disappointing oneself and others.  Fear of not achieving.  Fear of not living out one’s dream.

Fear is more powerful than the lure of success.  It puts more demands on you than the want of things.  Fear is a motivator like no other.  For most of us it isn’t the carrot as much as the stick that is the base motivating factor.

And we have a generation that has been force fed unwarranted success through the elimination of the potential for failure and, thus, the purging of the sense of fear of failure.

I’ve yet to find a highly successful person who doesn’t respect fear—and if you haven’t had the opportunity to taste it in big chunks you can’t respect it.  It is so simple and terrible, yet so powerful.  Don’t allow yourself or your sales team to live with the illusion that success can be acquired without the help of fear.

If you’re a sales leader who has sellers who voice a lack of fear, encourage them to go out and get a really good taste of failure.

August 19, 2010

On Being an Optimistic Realist

Filed under: attitude,motivation,success — Paul McCord @ 11:02 am
Tags: , ,

Pessimists.  I don’t understand them.  My wife is a pessimist.  At times she drives me crazy.  I get calls and emails from far too many sellers and sales leaders who are pessimists.  I don’t understand why they persist in selling, a vocation that will drive an optimist nuts, much a pessimist. 

I’m an optimist—an unadulterated, unapologetic optimist.  But I’m also a realist.   

That realism part sometimes comes across as pessimism to some.  As I was speaking to a sales leader of a mid-size wholesale company last week, I pointed out that his sales team was failing to take advantage of one of their company’s primary strengths and even though they were on target to chalk up a nice increase in year over year, they were leaving far too much money on the table..

Instead of trying to figure out how his team could take advantage of a significant competitive strength, my sales manager friend became defensive.  He accused me of discounting the achievement he and his team had made. There was no way he said, that he would let my “negative” point of view poison his team members.

I’ve run across many a seller who either accepted personal responsibility for everything that happened to them or refused to accept any responsibility for anything negative that happened in their life.  One group’s attitude is, “I must have complete control of my life.  If I don’t close the sale it must have been my fault; that way I can correct it and guarantee it won’t happen again.” 

The other group’s attitude is, “I’m a winner and if I lose it’s because something out of my control prevented me from winning.  If it weren’t for that, I’d have closed the sale.”

I believe both of these attitudes are attempts to maintain optimism.  I also believe they are unhealthy and detrimental to success.

In fact, I’ve had more than one seller tell me that what I call reality, they call pessimism.  If I point out a potential danger or issue that a client must look out for, to some I’m being pessimistic.  If I include a warning that a particular strategy or tactic might not be appropriate for all or in a given situation, to some I’m being pessimistic.  If I reprimand, to some I’m being pessimistic.  If I point out failure, I may as well have just shot them.

In other words, for some sellers and sales leaders, those of us who don’t wear rose colored glasses or live in la la land are pessimists, bringing them down, stifling their enthusiasm.  There is no room in their life for anything that isn’t upbeat and “positive,” including reality.

Of course, the opposite is also true.  True pessimists have little or no room in their life for reality either.  For them, if it isn’t doom and gloom, they want no part of it.  They simply aren’t happy unless miserable.  If I point out opportunity, they counter with the obstacles to achieving success.  If I give encouragement, they complain about yesterday’s rejection.  If I suggest a new strategy, they point out the failure of their last strategy.

For one group there is no such thing as failure; for the other, nothing but failure.  For one group, hope is the strategy; for the other, there’s never hope.  For both groups, reality is the enemy.

In my world there are positives and negatives.  There is hope and expectation—based on preparation and training.  There is success and failure.

I expect good things to happen, but take proper precautions to deal with the possibility that the results won’t be everything I hope for.

I acknowledge and learn from my failures (yes, there is such a thing as failure). 

I rejoice in and learn from my successes.

I recognize danger—and opportunity.

I control what I can—and acknowledge what I can’t.

I know my limits—and reach beyond them—and willingly and knowingly accept the risk.

Unfortunately, I know of some managers and trainers who wear rose colored glasses; who refuse to acknowledge to themselves or others that reality exits; who are doing a terrible disservice to the sellers they train, coach, and mentor by intentionally or unintentionally teaching them that optimism is a denial of anything negative or not “positive.”

These rose colored glasses optimists tend to be poor to average producers—but always “on the verge” of a big month.  They just need a little more time.  They always have a prospect who is about to make the giant purchase.  Their big deal is always just around the corner.

They aren’t very teachable (after all, there are no problems to be overcome).  They aren’t well prepared (they’re already prepared, everything’s great). Many don’t work very hard (don’t worry, I got everything under control).

Although I’m sure this perverted view of optimism has been with humans since time immemorial, I do wonder if the “there is no such thing as failure, “everyone’s a winner and gets a trophy,” and “I’m OK, you’re OK” attitude of the past three or four decades has infected more than in past generations?

Although you might not be able to eliminate this perversion from your existing sales staff that has it, I’d certainly advise any sales leader to actively seek to avoid hiring salespeople in the future who have a perverted sense of optimism.  It may seem gung-ho during the interview, but it won’t produce the results you want in the end.

July 8, 2010

5 Motivational Aids—Keep the Passion Flowing

Filed under: career development,motivation,success — Paul McCord @ 11:13 am
Tags: , ,

If you want to be successful you have to be motivated. 

What is motivation?

Is it desire?  No.  We all desire things—happiness, success, money, love, whatever; but just because we want it doesn’t mean we’re willing to do what it takes to get it.

Is it vision?  No.  We can all envision ourselves with the things we want without taking the slightest step to acquire it.

Is it energy?  No.  There are millions of salespeople spending endless amounts of energy everyday toward their goals but not reaching them because their energy is misspent.

Is it commitment?  No.  There are millions who are committed to success who fail daily.

Motivation is a unique combination of desire, commitment, and energy—let’s roll these into a single quality called passion–to reach a goal no matter how difficult it may be or how long it may take to reach.

Passion—that unique combination of desire, commitment, and energy—in and of itself can virtually force you to succeed by demanding you do those things necessary to be successful.  Passion won’t let you rest.  It won’t allow you to quit.  It won’t allow you to become sated until you’ve reached your goal.

Passion demands your best effort.  It pushes you to go beyond the satisfactory to the extraordinary.  It forces you to reach heights you thought impossible.

Passion is pretty heady stuff.  It keeps you on the edge.  It sharpens your senses, keeping you alert to opportunities.  It awakens the creative juices.  It helps keep the doubts and worries at bay.

Unfortunately, passion isn’t limitless.  It has limitations and weaknesses.  Although strong, it must be reinforced or you risk having it burn itself out.

How do you keep your passion burning?

Here are 5 down and dirty ways to reinforce your passion and keep it burning strong:

  1. Love what you do.  There is no substitute for doing something you absolutely love doing.  If you can hardly wait to get out of bed in the morning to get your day started you’re already half way to success.  Certainly we can’t all be engaged in something we absolutely love, but if you can, even if only on a part-time basis, go for it.
  2. Set tangible, realistic short-term goals.  The more often you see tangible progress, the easier to maintain your passion.  Set short-term, realistic goals.  If you consistently see small goals being reached, you’ll soon begin to see large goals being reached.  By the way, reasonable goals don’t mean easy to reach goals.  Goals should consistently stretch you and your abilities.
  3. Visualize outcomes.  Athletes use visualization for a reason—it works.  If you are afraid of making presentations, visualize yourself making great presentations.  If you fear cold calling, visualize yourself being successful at cold calling.  Visualization is a form of practice.  In a study a couple of years ago researchers found that students who only visualized practicing a piece of music were as proficient at playing the piece as students who had actually practiced the piece on the piano.
  4. Use positive affirmations.  Repeating positive affirmations strengthens and reaffirms your internal belief system.  We cannot do what we do not believe we can do.  On the other hand, if we sincerely believe we can do something, no matter how ‘impossible,’ our brain can find ways to get it done.  Once we believe, our brain begins to go work to figure out a way to turn our belief into reality. 

    Our brain will believe what it hears and what our eyes see.  If it has heard and witnessed failure for years and years, it believes we will fail.  Fortunately, we can change that.  It will take time.  We will have to consciously retrain it.  We’ll have to give it positive reinforcement through what it hears—our positive affirmations—and what it experiences—our small successes as we reach our short-term goals.  But just as it learned we are a failure, it will learn we are successful—but this time we can control what we feed our brain.

  5. Use outside reinforcement.  Motivation—passion—is internal.  It isn’t something that is created externally.  That doesn’t mean that external stimulus can’t reinforce our internal motivation.  The problem is that external stimulus such as motivation books, tapes, seminars, and such burn out quickly—usually within just a few days, sometimes within just a few hours.

    That quick burn doesn’t mean external stimulus can’t be valuable.  It can be extremely valuable.  A motivational tape can give us a great burst of energy prior to an important presentation; a motivational seminar can get our creative juices flowing in new directions; motivation quotes can realign our minds at moments of exhaustion or weakness. 

    Keep favorite motivational tapes and quotes ready at hand.  Take the opportunity to attend motivational seminars and presentations.  Remember the ‘high’ is fleeting—but you can drink of it anytime you need it.

Companies spend billions of dollars every year trying to find the magic motivational bullet.  They’ll never find it because it isn’t something they can order in from a motivational speaker.  We either have it or we don’t.  But if we don’t, we can take the steps necessary to find it and nurture it.

And it isn’t expensive, difficult, or time consuming.

Find your passion and you’ll find your success.  If you’re a sales leader, help your sales team members find their passion and you’ll find your success.

February 20, 2009

Guest Article: “New Day, New Jet: How to face each day with courage and fly to your highest potential,” by Waldo Waldman

Filed under: attitude,motivation,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 10:28 am
Tags: , ,

NEW DAY, NEW JET: How to face each day with courage and fly to your highest potential
By Waldo Waldman

The air conditioned briefing room felt as cold as ice as I waited for the arrival of my instructor.  I was a bundle of nerves.  One more ‘busted’ check ride would put me one flight away from washing out of Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT).  My dream of becoming a fighter pilot hung by a thread.  I began to doubt myself.

What if I mess up again?  What if I forget to call ‘gear down’ on final approach or fail to apply the proper spin recovery procedures? I repeatedly chair flew the maneuvers over and over and knew what needed to be done but kept re-playing the previous flights I failed in my head. I second guessed myself and my confidence dwindled. The sweat poured down my back.

In walked the instructor who would decide my fate, Major Jerry Free.  A former F-4 fighter pilot who had little tolerance for mediocrity and laziness, he stood 6’3 with buzz cut hair and shiny boots.  I was intimidated to say the least.

Not knowing what to expect, I stood at attention, braced myself, and saluted smartly.

He saluted back, looked me in the eyes, and reached over to shake my hand. “Ok, Waldo – it’s a new day, new jet! Are you ready to pass this flight, or what?”

He smiled.

Suddenly, the energy of the room shifted and I instantly felt more confident.  All the stress and anxiety I had bottled up exploded out of me like a bullet.  My mind became clearer as I thought to myself, “I can do this. Today, I’m going to fly like an eagle.” Major Free believed in me.

New Day, New Jet. Wow! I never heard that expression before. But somehow, those four words and the man who spoke them instantly changed my attitude from Fear to Focus…from anxiety to action. I was ready to fly.

Some of you may be facing similar predicaments in your life that are testing your resolve, skill, and focus.  Perhaps you are experiencing financial challenges or are having concerns at work as your company and clients adapt to our volatile economy. Missed sales quotas, budget cuts, and lost customers plague us.  No mission is ever perfect, and neither are we.

We’re all human and have our limits. But sometimes, when we’re stuck and full of doubt, we underestimate our power to overcome adversity and perform at our best. We focus on our past failures and can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel of success because our vision is darkened by our fear of future failure. We pull back the throttle of performance instead of pushing it up. In essence, we let our past define our future. This is the greatest challenge we face when dealing with adversity.

But I believe there is no reason for us not to live up to our potential each day and perform at our best. Fear and doubt are distractions that can de-motivate us and pull us off course.  Don’t let yesterday’s failure define you.  It’s how you respond that counts.

And while I do believe it’s critical for us to remain positive in tough times, no amount of motivation is going to replace the fundamentals of hard work and preparation. You have a job to do. You have the aircraft and are ultimately in control of your own jet.  The question is: Are you better prepared to fly today then you were yesterday?

Success begins with self trust. 
As you strap into your jet each day and conduct a pre-flight ‘attitude check’, ask yourself:

  • Am I focused on my past failures or my past successes?
  • How have I improved from yesterday to today?
  • What actions will I take today to plant the performance seeds for tomorrow?

You can’t philosophize your way to success.  The world (and your customers) are growing tired of rhetoric and philosophy.  Today, we need performers who can get the job done. 

But sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, it’s impossible to break the performance barrier on your own.  So here’s the next and most important question you should ask when fear and doubt hold you back from flying your jet: Who are the wingmen in my life I can call on to help me fly?

Winners Never Fly Solo.
Wingmen inspire us.  Wingmen give us hope and lend a “helping wing.”  Wingmen reflect our greatness back at us and help us release the brakes holding us back from success as we face each new day with courage. They don’t fly our jet for us but rather give us confidence in our own abilities. They alter our mindset from “I can’t” or “I won’t”, to “I can” and “I will.”

My challenge to you is not to be inhibited from calling out to your wingmen for some encouragement when you’re not quite up to that tough mission.  Ask for help. Be vulnerable.  We’re all taking hits.  Today it might be you.  Tomorrow it might be them.

But don’t forget to be a wingman to others, as well. Keep an eye out for your colleagues who are struggling and who might benefit from a little lift as they prepare for that job interview or big sales presentation. Like Major Free, be a shining light and inspire them to realize their fullest potential.

In business and life, yesterday’s clouds can block us from seeing today’s blue skies.  Let us not forget that each day is a new day and we’re blessed to have a jet to fly.

In the end, I passed my flight with Major Free because he made me realize that I was good enough to fly.

You are good enough. You’ve got wings. And you’ve got wingmen.

It’s a new day, new jet. Now go and fly!

Never Fly Solo!

Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman is a former combat-decorated fighter pilot with corporate sales experience. Known as “The Wingman,” he is an inspirational peak performance speaker and uses fighter pilot strategies to build teamwork, leadership and trust in highly competitive environments. Waldo’s clients include Aflac, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia, Bank of America, John Hancock, and Home Depot.  His book Never Fly Solo will be released in the Fall of 2009.  To download his Top Gun Motivation mission briefing, visit motivational speaker, email info@yourwingman.com  or call 1-866-925-3616.

 

January 20, 2009

A Pep Rally Isn’t Sales Training

Last fall I was invited by a potential client to attend one of their company’s training seminars.  The session was presented by a well-known name in the industry who spent two hours with the company’s top salespeople.  The session’s topic was generating business in a weak economy.

It was expensive for the company-this gentleman didn’t come cheaply.

It was expensive for the salespeople-it took them out of the field for three days.

After the presentation, my host was pumped.  His evaluation of the presentation was that it had gone better than he had hoped.  He had a trainer everyone recognized and admired.  His sales team was excited and ready to hit the streets.  His team members knew what to do and sales were going to pick up-they were going to go through the roof.

Three months later, his analysis is that the session was a massive waste of money.

Why did his program turn out to be such a disappointment?

Focus.  More accurately, focusing on the wrong thing at the wrong time.

My host had confused a motivational presentation with sales training.  He bought a short-term shot in the arm instead of long-term behavior change.  He paid for an emotional high instead of new tools and new techniques. 

The session he paid for was full of fun and laughter.  His sales team was captivated during the entire two and a half hours.  The presenter had wonderful, memorable stories and a boatload of well-turned phrases.  The audience loved it-and they were pumped, ready to hit the streets.

It was great entertainment and motivation.  But it wasn’t training.  Rather than sales training, it was a pep rally with stories of how salespeople successfully-and some unsuccessfully-used a few prospecting strategies.  There was no training on the how, just entertaining examples of the why.  It was sales vaudeville. 

Certainly, there is a place for this type of presentation in sales.  When a company is seeking serious, in-depth training isn’t the time. 

I’m not saying that a training seminar cannot be fun or have humor.  I’m not arguing that a training seminar should be devoid of a motivational aspect. 

However, there is a distinct difference between a training seminar or workshop and a motivational presentation.  And although both have their place, they are not interchangeable. 

I got a call last week from the host of last fall’s seminar. His company is launching a new product in a few weeks.  He’s now looking for a solid, well-defined sales training program to precede the launch.

Again, his timing is way off.

Last fall when he brought in the motivational speaker, he needed a sales trainer.  Now, with the launch of his new product, he really needs a motivational speaker-the pep rally-to get his team excited and pumped up to hit the streets with their new product.  Now’s the time for the short-term burst of energy that speaker would provide.

Timing is just as important with sales training and motivation as with any other aspect of business.  Which you employ depends on your goals.  In this company’s case, the goal is to whip up the troops and get the new product off the ground quickly.  The initial success of the program is the focus, not long-term sales skills.  Last fall, the focus was on creating long-term sales success.  Unfortunately, they misidentified the right product last fall, and almost did the same this time.

Don’t hire your speaker or trainer unless you have a very clear vision of what you want to achieve and what they can provide-it can be a very costly mistake.

October 13, 2008

Attitude, Expectations, and Reality

“I have to work harder than before, but even so, my sales this month will be better than last October’s.”

“My prospects and clients are certainly feeling the pinch of the economy and they’re fearful.  But I also closed the biggest sale of my career last week.”

“Despite the news and the hype of the last two or three weeks, I’ve only seen a slight decrease in our sales.  Our salespeople have to be much more selective in qualifying prospects and they have to spend more time building value into the sale, but our customers are still buying, they’re still getting the financing they need, and their companies are still profitable.  It’s tough, but not nearly as bad as what you’d believe if you just listened to the news.”

“Seems like everybody wants to just sit and wait it out and see what happens.  Everyone is afraid.  No one knows what to do at this point, so our sales have fallen off the chart the past couple of weeks.  I really don’t want our GM to talk to the salespeople because there’s a sound of panic in his voice.”

“I’m finding it more difficult every day to make sales calls.  No one wants to make a decision and even some who would be willing to go forward aren’t sure they can get the funds to do so.”

“I’m working hard.  I’m willing to talk to people I would have passed over just a couple of months ago.  I’m spending a lot of time talking but I’m not getting anywhere.  I’ve even found myself reverting back to doing some pretty hard sell stuff trying to get something going.”

The above are comments about selling during the last two weeks from several of my clients from various parts of the country, each in a different industry.

Like many others, I’ve spoken to many salespeople and managers over the past couple of weeks who blame the economy on poor sales.  Their words indicate they are struggling, their voice indicates defeat. When we talk about strategies to overcome sales resistance and to find and connect with quality prospects, they complain that I’m not being realistic, that I just don’t understand their situation, that in their industry in today’s economy it isn’t rational to expect to maintain their sales volume or their pricing structure.

Yet I have other clients in the same industries as those who claim it unrealistic to expect to maintain their sales volumes, who are still selling at or near their previous levels-one who signed the biggest contract of her career just last week.

Which ‘reality’ is reality? Is it the reality of those whose voice communicates defeat and hopelessness–or is reality really reflected by those who although they say the market is tough are producing at or near their pre-crisis levels?

I believe that both realities are, in fact, reality.  More correctly, I believe that the ‘reality’ of defeat and hopeless is a self-fulfilling prophesy, whereas the ‘reality’ of “it’s tough but the sales are still there” reflects the actual marketplace.

Let me explain why I believe that.

When we begin discussing the specifics of their activity, those who foresee doom and gloom and whose sales have plummeted, have:

  • Spent less time prospecting than they did prior to the economic ‘crisis’
  • They are less selective in whom they speak with, hoping against hope to find someone interested
  • Their conversations are more hard sell than they had been previous to acquiring their current attitude of desperation and depression
  • They expect the prospect to refuse to make a decision at this time

Not surprisingly, they get exactly what they expect.  By making fewer contacts with less qualified prospects and then trying to strong arm a sale, they are seeing their sales fall drastically.  They are getting the exact results they not only expect but have set themselves up to get.

On the other hand, when I speak to those who are doing well in this market I find that they:

  • Have increased their prospecting activity
  • Are more selective in qualifying their prospects
  • Are spending more time working with prospects to understand their needs and issues to build more value into the sale than they had previously
  • Are taking additional time and care to build relationships prior to seeking to sign a contract
  • Understand that although the market is more difficult, there are still more quality prospects in the market than they can take care of-their job is to find them

Yes, these men and women are working longer and harder than they have in quite some time.  But they aren’t seeing the drastic decrease in business many others are.  And, yes, they expect to be successful.  But that expectation is balanced with a serious dose of reality that says they must work both harder and smarter-they must invest more time and effort and be much more selective in how and where they spend their time.

The current paralysis that a great many are seeing in the marketplace is only two or three weeks old.  It is very likely-a foregone conclusion-that the market will get tighter before it begins to get better.  But for a few, the current market driven by fear-for both prospects and clients-isn’t hindering their production.  Not because they’re lucky or because they have some magic formula, but because they haven’t allowed the ‘reality’ of the ‘crisis’ to stop them from selling.

They have to spend more time prospecting.  They have to work harder.  They are having to develop new skills and new strategies.  But they aren’t letting the perceived ‘reality’ of the negative and hopeless create their reality.

You need not accept the defeatist ‘reality’ either. You will have to invest more time and be more selective in finding and connecting with quality prospects-but they are out there.  You will have to invest more time in building solid relationships and building more value into each sale.  You may well have to invest in training and coaching to learn more effective prospecting and sales methods and strategies.  It isn’t easy and it takes commitment, innovation, and perseverance-but it works.  Just ask those who are finding the current market to be just as lucrative as the market was before the ‘crisis.’

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