PBTO S2E2: Jill Konrath – More Sales in Less Time

Who is on the show:

In this episode, we host Jill Konrath. As a business-to-business sales expert, Jill’s ideas and insights are ubiquitous in multiple forums, both on and offline.

Jill’s newsletters are read by 125,000+ sellers worldwide. Her popular blog has been syndicated on numerous business and sales websites.

Why is she on the show:

She was recently named one of the most influential people on sales by LinkedIn, among many other recognitions.

What did i learn in this episode:

As sales professionals, we are constantly busy and we are to find time on ever more busier executives so we can position ourselves as someone who can add value to them and their business.

We do a lot of our work online (from checking our emails to researching our clients and their social profiles to reading more about the financial results of our customers. And some of the most brilliant minds in our era are working tirelessly to keep us hooked on their products by using findings from neuroscience research.

When we add both of the above, it is extremely difficult to not get lost in the rabbit hole that is the internet.

Some things that Jill recommends:

No notification policy: Notifications are one of the most important way that we get distracted and sucked into rabitholes. So, the first thing to do to gain our time & focus back is to remove all notifications. I only have notification for when either my wife or my boss reaches out to me.

Batch our work: She recommends that it is easier to focus and we become a lot more productive when we batch our work. Fixed time for emails. Fixed time for online research and so forth.

Shut down the distractions: As sales professionals, we need to be able to think deeper and find insights. The ability to shutdown our gadgets and thinking deeply is  important to refresh our brains. We need to give our brains some rest.

Focus: Think about and decide what is the one thing that we can do today/this week that will have the biggest impact and focus on accomplish that.

Learn how to work in a digital world: As a species, we have not evolved to deal with the digital world. And this is not going to go down but only going to get worse. So, we need to consciously learn how to live and work in a digital world.

Take a break: The higher level thinking which is required in order to connect with different thoughts, identify patterns and gain insights require that we take breaks so that we can replenish & rejuvenate our brains. Work on 50 – 10 mins bursts – 50 mins work followed by 10 mins of active break (walk, drink water, stretch, etc).

Work on what matters: With the time saved by becoming more productive, we as sales professional can continue to do more high value activities and self development.

Unclogging our pipeline: So much of deals or opportunities are in our pipeline because we hope that they will happen. Just like it is important to be more intentional and focused on our time, we need to be as focused and intentional about keeping our pipeline unclogged. By unclogging our pipeline, we can find common themes among the opportunities, thereby helping us address these concerns. Another high value activity.

Best Prospects are the one’s undergoing change: The best prospects who will be open to change are the one’s that are already going through some kind of flux. This change makes them more open to challenging the status quo.

Overcoming Overwhelm: By becoming more focused and productive, we can use the time we save to not only do high value activities but also help our customers by giving them information that can help them overcome their overwhelm.

Best part of her job: Solving challenging, complex,  sales problems.

Biggest challenge of her job: Difficulty to decide which ideas to go after.

Whats on her bucket list: Iceland.

Recommendation: Hidden Figures, the movie

What superhero would she be:  Jill, the time master

What is so obvious to her which people miss all the time: Overwhelm is the biggest problem at the root of almost every challenge.

2 action recommendation: Minimise distractions. Find out your own ways to avoid and minimise distractions. There no hacks, only lasting change.

Where can you connect with her:

You can find all her great work on her website – www.jillkonrath.com and on LinkedIn. You can buy her latest book here.

Sales Kick-offs

It is the start of another new year. If you are in the profession of selling, you will be invited to yet another Sales kick-off that your company has organised.

The leadership team will get on stage and share the results from the past year. If it was a good year, it will call for some celebration. If it was a tough year, it will still call for some celebrations (not many companies publicly admit that it was a tough year and so instead of introspection about what went wrong, they will still find something to celebrate). There is nothing wrong with that as long as they also do some amount of introspection regarding their challenges and failures as well.
Then there will be a barrage of presentations from the sales leadership explaining why this year is going to be bigger and better.
If you are lucky
  • You will have someone in the leadership who will get on stage and lay out the overall company strategy, which hopefully will be translated into the your goals (I’ve seen too many companies where the strategy shared by the CEO and the top leadership and the compensation plan that sales executives get are from two different worlds).
  • There will be some useful sessions that you would be mandated to attend. You might actually get to learn something new about the product that you are supposed to be selling, or positioning against a competitor who is giving tough competition or some new sales process or tools. You might even get sometime to network with people whom you might have to work in the year to be successful at what you are expected to sell.
  • You might already know what your target territory or accounts are before you head into the sales kick-off, so that you are able to put in context everything that you hear at the kick off. You can use the time to network with important and relevant people, try to learn about the account or territory (if it is a new assignment) from someone who managed this account or territory before you.
  • Your manager might have identified some topics for you to focus on (learn new skill, meet new folks, meet senior executives, etc) and do while you are at the kick-off.
If not,
  • You can enjoy the booze, music and the party
  • You can go visit a museum or an art gallery or a nice picturesque spot to get some calm.
  • And create your very own sales plan, learning plan and investment plan (time, money and attention to improving yourself to become a better sales professional)
And believe that ,

via GIPHY

PBTO55: Unleashing Human Performance with Jason Forrest (@jforrestspeaker)

Credits: Opening music credit goes to Riju Mukhopadhyay & Pavan Cherukumilli

Who is on the show:

In this power packed episode, we host Jason Forrest, the CEO and the Chief Culture officer at the FPG group. As a sales professional, author, speaker, and coach, Jason’s job is to empower professionals and executives to unleash their human performance and master their leadership skills in sales, management, culture and service; for the purpose of increasing profit through people.

Why is he on the show:

He is a salesperson first, a behavior change expert, a national speaker and a coach who pushes organisations to become highly profitable while creating a “best place to work” culture. Every year, Jason delivers approximately 92 keynotes/seminars and conducts 850 group coaching calls with sales teams, managers, and executives.

What do we talk about:

In this power-packed and a free-wheeling conversation, we talk about the following:

  • What holds back people from success?
  • How can we hire people for their belief system and cultural fitment?
  • Once we hire good people, what could be done to make them succeed and get them to peak performance as quickly as possible?
  • The importance of coaching and how to transform your managers to become coaches?
  • The difference in the approach of a manager vs a coach
  • How does FPG build and maintain a high performance culture?
  • His formula for growing their top-line of any sales organisation’s performance
  • Books that had a profound impact on his thinking
  • His approach to self development
  • What he thinks is so obvious but people always miss

How can you connect with him:

You can find more information about his award winning team and coaching program at FPG. You can also connect with him on twitter @jforrestspeaker

 

 

Guest Post: Three Mindsets of a Great Sales Coach

3 mindsets of a great sales coach by Mukesh Gupta

Intro:

This is a guest post by Kevin F Davis. Kevin is the founder and president of TopLine Leadership, Inc. which provides customized sales management development programs and services.

He is the author of “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top”. I had the opportunity to read his book and was impressed with the thought process and the approach to sales management that he shares in the book. I was so impressed that I thought it would be best if I ask him to write a guest post on the topic of sales coaching for my blog. What follows is the post that he has shared. If you are a sales manager or lead a sales organisation, this book should be a must read for you.

Guest Post:

During a recent webinar I delivered for sales managers, nearly half (46%) of the 150+ participants said that they struggle with focusing too much on results. Sounds odd, doesn’t it, for sales managers to think they are over-focused on results?

Not really.

One person who knew a lot about winning was famed college basketball coach John Wooden. Coach Wooden and his historic UCLA dynasty won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including 88 straight games!

Wooden once said, “Competitiveness must be focused exclusively on the process of what you are doing rather than the result of that effort.” When coaching, Wooden was focused on the total effort of his players – he constantly urged them to strive for the self-satisfaction that always comes from knowing that you did the best you could do to become the best you are capable of.

Here are three great sales coaching mindsets inspired by John Wooden’s teachings. If you commit to these mindsets, your sales team will get better:

Mindset 1: Winning is the result of excellence, not the other way around.

Too often we recognize and reward only outcomes – deals won – and thus miss out on the opportunity right under our noses to help our salespeople become truly excellent by improving their processes.

You cannot help your team improve if all you know is the final score. You don’t know what decisions they made along the way, what actions they took or didn’t take that led to poor outcomes, what skills they did well and what skills need work.

There’s a famous saying that you can’t manage time, you can only manage yourself. Something similar applies here: You can’t directly manage results. You can only manage the processes and skills that reps use to produce those results.

Ye many sales managers seem to believe that monitoring weekly, monthly, or quarterly numbers is enough to help lead their team to excellence. It’s understandable, given the daily time pressures they are under. But the flaw in that thinking is that paying too much attention to end results actually makes it harder for a manager to improve results. How you do that is the subject of Mindset #2:

Mindset 2: When it comes to coaching, the strongest link to high revenue growth occurred in organisations where sales managers spent a lot of time “identifying skill deficiencies”

That’s a quote from research done by the Sales Management Association. The report found that in companies with the highest revenue growth, sales managers made time for understanding what a rep did well and what needed to be improved (“identifying skill deficiencies”)… and presumably working with the rep to improve in those areas.

These managers didn’t just look at the numbers that reflected behaviours long past. They didn’t just focus on closing the deals that were already in the pipeline. They focused on diagnosing sales performance problems through observation, and then developing skills that would help reps over the long-term.

When you work on developing rep skills, you’re improving the input side of the results equation. The team’s attitude – and their commitment to both you and your company – get better too.

Mindset 3: The daily goal should be to develop the mastery of your sales team. 

Coach Wooden believed that the “final score” is not the final score. Instead, he believed that his final score as a coach was how effectively he prepared the team to execute near their own individual capability of performance. To Wooden, it was about maximizing the performance of each person on the team. That was his final score. What will yours be?

Conclusion:

One of the most important “Q2” activity that a sales manager needs to work on is to improve the effectiveness of his sales team. He can only do that by enabling his team to get better at the sales process. The only sustainable way to do that is by identifying where each one of his sales team needs coaching, understand if they are open to coaching and if yes, providing the right kind of feedback and coaching. This is as much an art as a science. Kevin in his book does a great job of covering all of this.

Sales managers are like sports coaches. They don't play but determine the results of their teams Click To Tweet

 

Read This if You are A Sales Executive or a Sales Leader: Best Among What I Read – Sales Edition

Best Among What I Read by Mukesh Gupta

If you know me at all, you would already know that I read a lot of stuff – right from business topics like (Sales, Innovation, Leadership, Marketing) to personal topics like philosophy, religion, psychology, habit formation, economics and the lot.

I used to share a collection of articles that I really thought were well written or were thought provoking for me, almost everyday till a few months back. Some of my readers have indicated that they miss those collections in place, that it saves them time and requested that I start posting these collection of content again.

So, here we go. Below is a list of posts that I think were really the best among a lot of content on sales that i read in the recent past. So, here we go:

Things I Admire In a Sales Force

In this blog post, Anthony Iannarino shares a list of attributes that he admires in a sales force. I really think that if there were a sales team that wanted to create a team manifesto for them to live by, this list would be a great starting point. I particularly like the attribute about helping their team mates succeed.

This is something that is not very common in sales teams at all, but can play a significant role in the overall success of the sales team. I did write about it earlier myself. You can read my post here.

If you are a sales leader and want to inspire your team and get them to rally around together, this is a set of attributes that you should aspire your team to achieve.

Dealing with Your Irrational Competitor

Another blog post by Anthony (I seem to really like his posts, of late). In this one, he shares his insights on how to deal with your irrational competitor. Every sales team faces some irrational competitor who wants to take away market share at any cost, who is willing to go to any lengths, give irrational discounts, make promises that they already know that can’t be fulfilled and take your customers away.

So, how do you deal with such competitors? Not the usual way. For Anthony’s insights on this, read the post here.

Is ignorance the problem?

In his inimitable style Seth Godin brings forth a very important question that all of us as sales executives or sales leaders need to address. Whenever there is a customer who stalls or questions the value that our solutions bring to them, we default to providing them more information – more use cases, more business case, sharing more examples of how and where your solutions have succeeded.

We are assuming that the customer is stalling due to lack of information. What if that is not true? In my experience, most of the times it is not true. The reason the customer is stalling could be because they are not sure, they are afraid of making the commitment required on their part, they are afraid that you might not deliver what you promise to deliver. The issue could be trust or something else.

Mostly, ignorance is not the problem. You can read his really short blog (maybe even shorter than my preamble here) here.

Why You Need An If-Then Storytelling Strategy

Once you have identified that ignorance is not the problem and shoving more information will not help, what do you do? This is where, I really liked a blog post written by Bernadette Jiwa. In this post she talks about having a if-then (storytelling) strategy.

This strategy can be helpful in any environment, retail or otherwise. Can we identify certain situations or triggers in our sales process and have a ready story to tell in those situations. These emotional triggers need emotional responses and stories do it really well. Great sales executives do this intuitively, but this is really a skill that can be learnt and taught.

Do you have a if-then story for emotional triggers in your sales process.? If not, try and develop one. It’s your job as the sales leader to do this.

Stop Complaining That You Have Clients

Once we win customers, then it is time to deliver our commitments and promises. As a sales executive, it might not be you who delivers what was promised. But you are indeed the person who committed the deliverables to your customers.

They trusted you and now it is your job to ensure that your commitments are honoured. When they are not being honoured, either in spirit or in letter, customers will hold you responsible and accountable.

They will write to you about the issues they have with the service standards, about challenges that they have working with someone on your team or about any other random thing that irks them. I have seen sales executives continue to complain about all these emails that they keep getting from their customers, the expectations that the customer is having off them, even though they realise that its not part of their job.

In this insightful and critical post, Anthony (again) shares a perspective that all sales executives who complain forget – which is complacency, neglect and Entitlement kills a sales executives future. Read the post and honestly think about your behaviour towards your customers.

Are you complaining that they are your customers? If so, think again? And more importantly, CHANGE.

Conclusion: 

I do hope that you liked this collection of blog posts that I really liked on the topic of sales and selling. I will see you soon in another edition of the Best Among What I Read on a different topic sometime soon.

PS: Here is how you can follow the people I have quoted in this post.

  • You can follow Anthony and his phenomenal content here.
  • You can follow Bernadette Jiwa and her insightful thoughts on branding and brand storytelling here.
  • You can follow Seth Godin and his insightful commentary on his random observations here.