Tag Archives: sales leadership

Replying to RFPs Is a Waste of Time (Most of the Time)

By Jeff Beals

When I was in high school (circa 1986), I auditioned for a couple of Hollywood movies.  One of the movies was being filmed here in my hometown while the other one held auditions here in addition to several other cities. I tried out just for fun, and knowing the long odds, I never expected to be chosen.  Though I wasn’t offered a part in either film, the experiences were eye opening for a 17-year-old kid.

The first audition was a positive experience. It was a comedy film written for a teenage audience. I tried out for the lead role, which was fittingly enough, a nerdy high school kid who was forced to fight an intimidating bully who had just transferred in from another school. I had an appointed time to show up and spent about 30 minutes with the casting director and his entourage. I read several scenes and then answered interview questions. I felt like I was actually being considered for the part.

The second audition was a “cattle call,” in which several hundred would-be movie stars showed up at a local hotel ballroom. After waiting a couple hours, I was brought into a separate room with a group of six other guys. They lined us up, looked at each of us in comparison to one another and then told half of us to go home. I was one of the guys told to leave.  That was it.  I waited for hours only to be sent packing having never said a word.

Do you want to know why I received so much more attention in the first audition than the second?  I was actually recommended for the first movie by a local talent agency that had been hired by the movie producers.  At the second audition, I was just one of 250 nameless, faceless unknowns.

Why do I tell you this story?

Because it reminds me of the Request-for-Proposal (RFP) process in the world of sales.  As a general rule, I hate RFPs and I only respond to them under rare circumstances.

I hate RFPs, because they are just like that cattle-call movie audition. Think about it this way:

  • A company decides it needs a new vendor, so several employees sit down and think of all the things they do and don’t want and then dream up a bunch of hoops for would-be vendors to jump through.
  • They send the RFP to every potential vendor they can think of.
  • Prospective vendors practically do backflips trying to meet all the RFP requirements and end up rushing to meet the deadline.
  • The company that issued the RFP then examines all the proposals that were submitted and compares them.  Ultimately, they decide that some of the proposals are basically offering the same products/services, so they choose the lowest-priced bid.
  • And it can get even worse.  The finalists are sometimes pitted against each other in a bidding war to see who is willing to discount their price to the lowest number. It’s a race to the bottom.
  • The “winner” ends up doing a lot of work for too little money.

This is not a recipe for high profitability.

Generally speaking, I recommend you respond to RFPs only when your relationship with the client is so strong that you are essentially guaranteed of winning.  Some companies have policies requiring that vendor relationships go out to bid periodically. If this is the case at one of your best client companies, tell them you will help write the RFP.  You can then write the RFP to favor you and the way you do business.

If you don’t write the RFP or at least have heavy influence on the RFP, it very well could be an expensive waste of your time replying to the RFP.  An exception would be when the RFP is a mere formality designed to make shareholders feel better and you are the pre-chosen winner.

Now, I realize that there are some industries where RFPs are a rooted part of the culture. In other words, they’re so common that there’s no getting around them.  That’s not the case in most industries.  When at all possible, avoid RFPs.  Just like the cattle-call audition, you have little chance of winning.  Meanwhile, you spend tons of time and money preparing a proposal and get no revenue in return. If by some miracle, you are chosen, you’re probably going to get skewered on price.

Just say “no” to RFPs!

By the way, that movie for which I was actually considered turned out to be a box-office flop, earning only $1.5 million during its opening weekend. But it did play on cable television for many years.  To this day, I’ve never watched the entire show but have seen bits and pieces of it.  I’ll never forget the first time I stumbled upon it. I was flipping through television channels and landed on something that looked mildly interesting.  As I started watching the show, it felt so familiar. Then I realized that I was watching the very scene I read during that audition.  It was fun to think what could have been…

The Agenda: Part II of “How Can You Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings?”

By Jeff Beals

Why do so many salespeople avoid sales meetings?  Why do some reps consider sales meetings to be just one step above pain, suffering and disease?  Part of the problem might be the structure of your meetings.

Too many sales meetings meander haphazardly from one topic to another without much purpose. Too many sales leaders wing it, showing up without a thoughtful agenda, and even worse, no real justification for holding the meeting.

During such meetings, attendees are generally disengaged until someone brings up a controversial subject. Only then, as the meeting becomes a gripe-fest, do people perk up and pay attention.

Never hold a sales meeting just for the sake of holding a meeting.  If the meeting doesn’t improve skills, encourage communication and foster trust, you’re wasting everybody’s time.

Last week, I wrote about some ways you could entice people to show up for your sales meetings. This week, I’m going to talk about the essential components of a meeting agenda.  You don’t have time for all of these agenda items at each meeting, so pick and choose which ones are best for you at any given time:

Celebrations of Success – In this part of the meeting, highlight the major sales that have been closed in the past week.  Discussing these completed deals boosts morale and also provides an opportunity for other sales reps to learn from the experience.

Pending Deals – Highlight transactions that are in the queue but not yet closed.  This will give everyone an idea of what business/revenue is on its way. Be careful about this section, however, as some sales reps are superstitious and don’t like to count their chickens before they hatch.

Announcements – Every sales meeting should have a “housekeeping” section in which you inform attendees about important details and events in the company.  Communication (or lack thereof) is a major complaint of salespeople and a big cause of their discontent.  While this agenda item is quite important, only spend the minimum amount of time necessary on it during the meeting. I’ve seen way too many sales meetings get sidetracked by unnecessary discussion related to simple announcements.  Read the announcements quickly then move on! Send an announcement summary email immediately following the meeting in which you reiterate the important announcement details.

Rumors in the Marketplace – Open the floor for attendees to share what they’ve heard about competitors, potential clients and about macro issues that could have an impact on your company.  Your sales force is out and about in the field every day, so they are collectively a tremendous source of intel.

Sales Training – No matter how long you’ve been in the sales game, you can always get better.  You probably won’t have time to do this at every meeting, but periodically bring in an expert speaker to help your team improve its prospecting, qualifying and closing skills.

Lessons of the Week – Here is a chance for one or more of your sales reps to share their experiences. Use it as a way to educate the entire group about the pitfalls and barriers sales reps encountered and how they either successfully overcame them or failed because of them.  This type of learning is immeasurably valuable and ultimately develops a set of best practices for your company’s sales department.

Internal Guest Speakers – Invite a key person from one your company’s operating units. Have him or her provide updates on important products or services.  It is obviously important that sales reps are up on all the important aspects of what they sell.

Marketing Demonstrations – Regularly invite representatives from the marketing department to go over new campaigns. Ask the marketing rep to show new ads, videos, mailings, social media posts, websites, etc.  Life is easier when salespeople and marketing employees work hand in glove.

Group Counseling – One way to get sales reps to bond with each other is to have them help each other out.  During this segment of the meeting, ask a rep to bring up a problem he or she is having with a difficult client or prospect. Invite the rest of the group to give input, ideas and advice. This can be immensely beneficial for the person with the client issue and educational for everyone else. Perhaps most importantly, it brings the sales reps together as a team.

Discussion Time – Some sales leaders ask their reps to read an article before the meeting and then have the group discuss it. It could be an industry-related article or a sales-and-marketing article.  If you do this, choose an article that is short, reads easily and has valuable content. An article that provides a new way of looking at a common problem tends to be received the most enthusiastically.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings

By Jeff Beals

Does this describe the sales meetings at your company?

It’s 10:06 a.m. on Tuesday and people are still strolling in for the start of your standing 10:00 sales meeting. Those who are already seated, including the vice president of sales, are chatting about what they did last weekend and in no apparent rush to get things underway. When the meeting finally does begin at 10:08, half the people are on their phones reading emails or playing games.  Several other attendees didn’t bother to show, claiming they had “important client meetings.” 

The meeting bounces from one topic to another with a lot of interruptions and spontaneous, tangential conversations.  When the meeting finally ends – seventeen minutes past the scheduled time – attendees bolt out as fast as they can, grumbling to each other about how much time they just wasted.  One sales rep says to another, “That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back!”

Sadly, the above passage describes way too many sales meetings at way too many companies.  And that’s why attendance at sales meetings is often not so stellar, and those sales reps who do show up are often sitting back in their chairs, rolling their eyes and not engaging in the meeting.

Sales reps generally dislike their sales meetings, but that’s because meeting leaders typically don’t put enough effort into those meetings.  If you’re the sales leader, it’s up to you to make your meetings useful and desirable. That’s especially true if your sales reps are independent contractors and legally can’t be “forced” to attend.

Do you want people to attend your sales meetings?  Do you want sales reps to be more engaged and contribute more during the meetings?  If so, I have some help for you:

See It Through their Eyes – Always try to see your meetings through the attendees’ eyes.  When you view the agenda from the sales reps’ eyes, you can assess the meeting’s strengths and weaknesses. In order to increase the attendance at and participation in your sales meetings, make the meetings valuable to the attendees. As a sales leader, you don’t define what the attendees value; they do.

No B.S. Zone – Be as honest and transparent as possible regarding company policies, changes in the commission structure, and new product launches. Try to establish a “No B.S. Zone.” Sales reps hate hearing a bunch of politically correct corporate double-speak from their sales manager.  Sure, there are some things you are not at liberty to discuss with sales reps, but with everything else, be an open book.  The sales reps will trust you more and become more engaged in all facets of the company.  Too many organizations are unnecessarily tight-lipped about non-essential things.

Skillful Facilitation – The person who leads the sales meeting must have good facilitation skills, which means he or she is fully present and in charge of the meeting. A competent meeting facilitator is inclusive-but-assertive, meaning he or she makes sure all people are involved in the discussion but has the discipline necessary to keep the meeting on schedule.  The facilitator should always be on the lookout for an excuse to publicly praise individual sales reps in front of the whole group. A good sales leader sees the facilitation of sales meetings to be an art, carefully balancing the agenda/business side of the meeting with humor and light heartedness.

Free Stuff – Everyone likes to receive something for nothing.  Periodically give away some company swag, such as t-shirts or coffee cups with the company logo. Free food also helps.  Some companies provide coffee and doughnuts at their sales meetings. Other companies will periodically reserve a room at a nearby restaurant and provide breakfast or lunch for the whole sales team.

Rotating Facilitators – Once in a while, it might make sense to have one of the sales reps lead the weekly meeting.  Periodically offer one of the normal attendees to be guest facilitator. Let him or her design their own agenda.  Having one of the reps act as guest facilitator would be fun and a nice change of pace for everyone.

Outside Speakers – Meeting attendees tend to listen more intently when someone outside the company is presenting.  Just like the rotating facilitator advice above, it’s a change of pace. What’s more, high-quality speakers provide valuable information that will help sales reps be more effective and close deals faster.

Book Club – Find a well-written book about sales techniques or industry content and provide a copy to each rep.  Assign one chapter a week and then take a few minutes to discuss that chapter during the meeting.  Discuss how the book content relates to your company’s work.

Team Building – It might make sense a couple times a year to cancel the weekly sales meeting. In its stead, schedule a bonding activity such as an outing to a go-cart-racing track, golf course or game arcade.  You could also consider hiring a retreat leader and going through a structured team building exercise.  If you choose to do a facilitated team building exercise, it is better to do it off site rather than inside your office.

Welcome the Newbies – Always take time to introduce newcomers to the sales team.  Give rookies a chance to introduce themselves and give an overview of their career backgrounds.  Then go around the room and have all the existing sales reps share their name, work function and length of tenure at the company.

Recruitment Tool – If you have a well-organized sales meeting with engaged attendees, you have a nice recruitment tool.  If someone is thinking about joining your team, let them observe a sales meeting (assuming you are not going over confidential internal information that week).  Most existing sales reps will be even more alert and active in the meeting if they have a prospective colleague present.

Leave Them Wanting More – In the end, the meeting should be a positive, enjoyable experience filled with valuable information that helps attendees be more successful.  But don’t go too long. A great meeting is even better when it ends on time.

Next time, it will be Part II of “How Can You Get People to Show Up for Your Sales Meetings,” in which I will discuss what should actually be on your meeting agenda. Stay tuned!

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Hire the Best Sales Professionals

By Jeff Beals

What’s the number one indicator of future success?

Frequent past behavior.

Do you have responsibility for hiring sales professionals?  If you’re not directly responsible for hiring, do you have influence over which candidates are chosen for sales jobs?

If so, you need to see clearly and think deeply. Don’t be fooled by flash and glamour.  Instead, focus on the basics and carefully examine exactly what candidates have done in their previous work.

The way a person has frequently behaved in the past is probably how they will behave in future.  Study the past carefully.  Ask detailed and probing questions.  Ask uncomfortable questions.  Do your homework and use other sources to find information about a person before hiring them.

Extroverts vs. Introverts? 

I have two kids. My son is an extrovert, while my daughter is an introvert. People are naturally drawn to my son and he makes friends easily both with adults and other kids.  He’s charismatic. People will often say to my son, “You should be in sales like your dad!”

Why do they tell him such things?  Well, because most people assume successful sales professionals are gregarious and outgoing.  Stereotypically, salespeople are loud, confident and comfortable being the center of attention, the life of the party.  Salespeople are supposed to be extroverts, right?

Despite all the outward advantages my son has as a would-be sales professional, my introverted daughter may end up being better at selling than her big-personality brother. Why?  She’s a great listener and she remembers everything.

The single most important thing you can do if you want to be successful in sales is to discover exactly what your client values without making any assumptions.  The single best way to do that is to listen intently and get inside your client’s head.  Keep that in mind when you are looking for sales talent.

Now obviously, prospective salespeople do need some level of charisma, and it does take some confidence to pick up the phone and call a complete stranger.  But don’t discount the quiet, introspective and studious personalities.  They might have to push themselves to make the initial call, but they could very well end up having a higher closing percentage because would-be customers will like their sincerity and authenticity.

Hiring Sales Managers

What About Hiring Sales Managers? What about hiring the people who will lead your company’s sales team on a day-to-day basis?

The most important advice I can give you is don’t be blinded by talent.

Who is most commonly promoted to sales manager?  Someone who has done a great job as a sales producer. At first glance, that might seem like a good idea.

Many executives think great sales reps make great sales managers, but that is frequently not the case.  How can you tell?  Look outside their patently obvious skills and attributes and determine who has the capacity to organize, manage budgets, coach, motivate and discipline people.

Great salespeople, especially the naturals who haven’t had to work terribly hard to be successful, aren’t always good at teaching others how to be successful.  Similarly, star athletes don’t often make successful coaches if the game came easily to them during their playing days; they can have a hard time relating to players who struggle and need time to develop.

If you’re a sales leader, hiring is one of the two or three most important things you will do. You will be judged on the success of your people, so shoot for the moon when you’re hiring.

Don’t be intimidated and don’t let your ego get the best of you – surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented than you are.  If you want to be a winner, surround yourself with winners.  Never hire anyone unless they are completely motivated to succeed and move up in the world.  Only hire salespeople and sales managers who play to win and are competitive.

You want sales professionals who are ambitious, and as long as they maintain their ethics, just a little bit greedy.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How Sales Professionals Can Harness the Power of Persuasion

By Jeff Beals

Some people are blessed with a natural ability to get what they want.

They have an innate ability to influence people, sway opinions and win arguments.  While such “mind powers” are instinctive to some, most of us have to work hard to persuade people to our way of thinking.  Fortunately, persuasion and influence cannot only be learned; they can be mastered.

Have you ever read Robert Cialdini?  He’s the “Godfather of Influence” and the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, one of the most influential business books of the past 30 years.  More recently, he authored Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade.

Much of Cialdini’s work is focused on helping people master “leadership’s greatest challenge – getting things done through others.”  But the skills employed by accomplished leaders are quite similar to those needed in sales.  Let’s look at Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence through a sales lens:

Liking

The principle of liking says that people like those who are like them.  You should “uncover real similarities and offer genuine praise.”

Cialdini uses the example of a Tupperware party to illustrate how liking works. The hostess invites friends and family members. Because the attendees like the hostess, they’re far more willing to buy Tupperware products.  For example, my wife finds herself at a handful of parties each year for multi-level marketing products such as Tuppperware.  Inevitably, she ends up buying something just to please her friend (the hostess).

The two most significant factors affecting liking are similarity and praise. People are more apt to like people who are similar to them.  If you praise other people – even if that praise isn’t terribly merited – they are much more likely to like you.

What does that tell us?

Sales managers should sales representatives who have similar interests and backgrounds as the targeted prospects. Sales reps should take time after meeting new prospects to establish common ground.  Find excuses to compliment your prospects on their companies, products, careers and accomplishments.

Reciprocity

According to the principle of reciprocity, people have a tendency to repay in kind.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – The Golden Rule has been scientifically proven to be true.  Cialdini says any manager can be the beneficiary of good behavior by displaying the same behavior to others first.

The same applies to sales professionals.

Gift giving is a somewhat primitive example of reciprocity, but I have had success reaching prospects by first sending them a little gift.  Simply because I mailed them a copy of my books or a unique gift that relates to their company, I am much more likely to reach them on the phone.

Social Proof

This is my favorite of Cialdini’s principles because it relates directly to sales: “People follow the lead of similar others.”  We should “use peer power whenever it’s available.”

Cialdini cites a study in which researchers went door-to-door collecting donations for a charity.  When people answered the door, the researchers showed them a list of neighborhood residents who had already donated to the charity. The longer the donor list, the more likely prospective donors were to contribute.

Social proof is why references, testimonials and referrals are so important in sales.  Take time to collect testimonials and make them available to prospective clients.  Get a referral from a respected source before making a prospecting call.  Your success rate should rise dramatically.

Consistency

“People align with their clear commitments,” Cialdini says. “Make their commitments active, public and voluntary.”

Cialdini says if you supervise an employee who should submit reports on time, get that understanding in writing (such as a memo or email); make the commitment public (perhaps by sharing it with people in other affected departments); and link the commitment to the employee’s values (such as the impact of timely reports on team spirit).

This is why winning mini commitments is so effective in selling. If your prospective client agrees to something up front, you are more likely to close a sale with them. Perhaps you could summarize the outcome of a meeting in an email and ask the prospect to email you back confirming that everything you said is accurate.

Authority

The principle of authority says that “people defer to experts,” and Cialdini advises you to “expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident.”

While it is critically important for sales people to listen more than they talk when sitting in front of prospective clients, you do need to take at least a little bit of time to demonstrate your credentials and backgrounds.

Scarcity

People naturally want more of what they can have less of, Cialdini says, so highlight unique benefits and exclusive information.”

Cialdini writes about a time when wholesale beef buyers’ orders jumped 600 percent when they alone received information on a possible beef shortage.  Provide exclusive information to persuade.  When you tell people they are getting information before everyone else, they are more interested.  If people know they have access to something that is closed to others, they value it more.

Sales professionals might want to make special offers or upgrades available to the best clients first, or in some cases, only to the best clients.

In the end, sales professionals can gain a clear advantage by employing  Cialdini’s six principles, but keep a few things in mind – Trust is one of the most important components to completing a sale especially a complex, high-ticket-price B2B transaction. If you use these principles with an exploitative and manipulative heart, you will hurt your chances of creating a recurring client.

The other key to selling is value. You must discover exactly what prospective clients value and then deliver products and services which deliver that value exactly. If you fail to do that, the principles of influence will ultimately be ineffective.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Navigate 7 Tricky Sales Conundrums

By Jeff Beals

More than 50% of sales reps do not make their annual quota, and most businesses produce revenue well below their production capacity.

What does this tell us?  We have a leadership void in the sales profession!

Good leadership is critical to success in any line of work.  Just this week, I sat through a speech by Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great.”  Collins argued that leadership is everything – that even in tough times and with scarce resources, great leaders can use dedication and fierce resolve to will their companies to success.

Sales departments are no different.  They need leaders with fierce resolve. Leading a sales team is not rocket science but it is not easy.  Great leaders are fixated on success and always finding ways to help their people be more successful.

Former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower once described leadership as “the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because (he or she) wants to do it.”

The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, “A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done and his aim fulfilled, they will say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”

But leaders also have to get results.  The acclaimed management theorist, Peter Drucker once said, “Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.”

Effective sales leaders drive revenue by empowering those who work with them to make decisions at the lowest level possible, while gathering and basing decisions upon quantitative facts which are interpreted and applied according to the leader’s experience and intuition.

That’s a mouthful, but what does it really mean?  Sales leadership is a dichotomous endeavor.  It requires you to balance seemingly contradictory things.

The 7 Dichotomies of Sales Leadership

  1. Sales leadership is both an art and a science.
  2. You must empower your people while requiring results.
  3. You must provide support while demanding accountability.
  4. You can’t allow staff to take advantage of you, but you should never lead by fear or intimidation.
  5. You must be a provider of data and forecasts as well as a teacher and counselor.
  6. You must be strategic and big-picture oriented but still accountable if your department allows details to fall through the cracks.
  7. You must produce impressive results while maintaining ethical standards.

How do sales leaders wrestle with these dichotomies and ultimately enjoy successful careers?

Strategy vs. Tactics

Effective sales leaders focus on developing strategy and casting vision.  In order to do this, they must create rock-solid systems of organization within the sales department.  It makes sense to automate as much of the process as possible.  For that portion of the sales process that can’t be automated, you need talented, committed sales managers who can supervise daily tasks.

Hire the Right People

Speaking of Jim Collins, he is also known for saying, “Get the right people on the bus.”  When hiring sales professionals, always look at their frequent past behavior. It’s the number-one indicator of future performance.  Go deeper in your due diligence on each prospective employee.

Avoid being blinded by great talent.  Just because someone is smart, extroverted and good-looking doesn’t mean they will do a good job of focusing on client value.

Put People First

Too many sales leaders barricade themselves behind closed office doors and barely glance away from their CRM screens.  While keeping up a firm grasp on sales data is important, don’t be analytical at the expense of your people-oriented responsibilities.

Regarding CRMs, it is important to enforce policies and procedures requiring sales personnel to update client and account information.  Obviously, the reports generated by CRM programs are only as good as the data entered.  That said, sales leadership requires you to strike a balance – make sure your people use the CRM properly, but never make them feel that serving the CRM is more important than serving clients.

Power to the People

Great leaders never micro manage their people.  Sure, they set expectations and demand that people perform, but they leave the “how” to individual sales reps. Want to know one of the most common reasons why leaders micromanage people?  Managers feel intimidated.  Don’t let your ego get the best of you.  If your surround yourself with people who are smarter and more talented than you are, you will eventually succeed.

In the end, if you want to be a high-producing sales leader, find good people, figure out what motivates them, give them the preparation, tools and resources they need, stretch them beyond what they initially believe they can do and support them along the way.

If you do that, you will balance all the ambiguity and dichotomies that come with being a sales leader.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com

Sales Detox: What Do You Need to Stop Doing?

By Jeff Beals

A year ago my wife was on a mission to purge our house of clutter.

She read the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” by Marie Kondo.  She took it to heart and tore into the basement, closets and anywhere else we happened to be storing non-essential stuff.  For the next month, I would regularly come home to find “give-away” piles ready to be loaded into the back of my SUV and hauled off to the donation dock.

Eventually she involved the kids and me in this undertaking.  We asked ourselves whether we really needed to keep things.  If we weren’t using them or didn’t find sentimental value in them, they were either trashed or donated.

Our house has always been tidy and well organized, so I took delight in teasing my wife about her great purge of 2016.  To this day, if I can’t find something, I (good naturedly) accuse her of “decluttering it” or putting it through the “Japanese process.”

But I have to admit her decluttering process made our lives easier.  We’re not bogged down with useless “stuff.”  We have room to breathe.  It makes it easier to focus on more enjoyable or high-value things in our lives.

Just as the decluttering process can make your home life more efficient, it can do wonders for your professional life as well.  But I’m not talking about decluttering your office or organizing your file drawers.  I’m talking about decluttering your work life.

The longer you have been working in sales, the more unnecessary stuff you accumulate in your brain, on your calendar and in your job description.  Sometimes that stuff needs to be purged.

I challenge you to ask this question:  “What do I need to stop doing?”

Sales people are notorious for adding things to their plate without taking things off.  Why?  Salespeople tend to be ambitious and very confident in their abilities.  They want multiple ways to prospect even if one prospecting method hasn’t paid off much in the past.  They tend to be independent personalities, rugged individualists who think they can do it all.  Sales professionals know they need to persevere in an eat-what-you-kill environment, so they don’t give up or accept defeat lightly.

Those are great traits, essential for long-term success in sales, but they are traits that can burn you out if you’re not careful.

So what are some things you might want to STOP doing?

Blowing off leads

Fifty percent of sales leads never receive proper follow-up.  That is probably the greatest waste of resources in the sales world.  If you let leads fall through the cracks because you’re focusing on less important things, by all means, stop doing it.

Poor Qualification

Stop wasting time on people who will never buy.  For whatever reason, many sales reps latch onto prospects who look good on the surface, but deep down, you know they’ll never buy from you.

Networking for the sake of networking  

Some sales people never miss an event.  They are on umpteen boards and committees and are always running from one meeting to the next.  Why do they over commit and run themselves ragged just trying to keep up with all of it?  Prospecting!  They are afraid, they’ll miss out on their next dream client if they are not at every event.  While I’m a big proponent of prospecting through networking, you must be efficient.  If a time-chewing obligation is not regularly producing convertible leads, don’t trick yourself into believing you have to be there.

Cold Calling

Less than 1 percent of sales people enjoy cold calling. And it’s for good reason.  It takes a huge amount of time and it hardly ever works.  Cold calling is just about the most inefficient way you can prospect, yet many salespeople still do it.  I say STOP it.  Instead of cold calling, research prospects first.  Soften them up with marketing activity.  Use a combination of ways to reach them, always focusing on something they may value.

Lack of Focus

Stop wasting time on non-sales functions.  Sales professionals are often drafted by upper management to serve on company-wide projects or task forces.  This is especially true if you are a senior leader in the sales division.  Sales people tend to have first-hand knowledge of customers and buying trends, so they are valuable contributors to these company-wide groups.

But be careful.  I’ve seen sales professionals sucked into so much committee work having nothing to do with sales that they have hardly any time left to sell.  The United Way, for instance, is a fine organization, but do we really want our sales reps on the United Way employee committee instead of working the phones and hitting the streets?  Sales is the lifeblood of the company; we need all sales hands on deck.

Would you like to know the single most important thing to stop?  Counter-productive thinking.  No matter how successful you are, you probably cling to some negative ideas.  Every sales rep is at least occasionally afflicted with self doubt.  Whatever negative things you harbor in the deep recesses of your brain, now is the time to perform a Japanese decluttering miracle on them.

So, consider this permission to declutter your sales career and liberate yourself.  What do you need to STOP?

Let go and enjoy the results.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com