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.

 

 

 

PBTO31: Insights on B2B Selling and Leading a B2B Sales team with Alok Goyal

Alok GoyalIn this episode, we host Alok Goyal, Partner at Stellaris Venture Partners and until recently, he was the Chief Operating Officer of SAP India Pvt. Ltd., a large global software company’s India subsidiary.

Alok was also a strategy consultant (with McKinsey & Company in India and The McKenna Group in California, USA). Alok did his undergrad in Computer Science from IIT Delhi, a Masters in Computer Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from INSEAD, France.

In this free wheeling conversation, Alok shares a lot of insights on

  • The subtle shift in B2B buyer behaviour
  • How the role of marketing has changed and where marketing plays a lead role and where sales plays a lead role in a selling process.
  • The importance of how Marketing and Sales functions can work better together
  • The use of science, data and intelligence tools that is being used in the sales process.
  • How sales leaders can stay up-to-date and relevant and some of the roles of sales leaders that hasn’t changed over time..
  • The importance of generating a great quality pipeline and using intelligence on the pipe to improve the effectiveness.
  • What can sales leaders do to help their team to be more effective..
  • What are some of the common mistakes that sales leaders do and how to learn from them
  • What goes into creating a culture that helps sales executives flourish
  • How should one look at compensating sales execs..
  • Some trends that he sees in the market as a VC..
  • Leadership in General..

We hope you enjoy this conversation and learn from the insights shared by Alok.

You can connect with Alok on LinkedIn.

3 qualities of a great sales manager

The three things that makes great sales manager are ability to

  • Coach
  • Absorb pressure
  • Build a team

I got this insight when I ran into an old friend late last evening. He currently works for a sales organization and was completely stressed out. When i asked for the reason for his stress, he indicated that the sales pressure being exerted on him by his manager is actually freaking him out.

When I dug deep, he indicated that their organization follows the Jan – Dec sales cycle, which meant that they are in the last fortnight of the year and there is enormous pressure to close deals and achieve their sales quotas and he has not been able to achieve his quota.

He indicated that there were no deals in his pipeline that could be closed in the next fortnight. He indicated the same to his manager, yet, all the manager says is that, it is not acceptable and that he  needs to bring in a few more deals so that he comes closer to achieving his quota and his boss to achieve his stretch target.

Now, this had me thinking. What can the sales manager achieve by doing this. There can be only 3 results from this:

  1. My friend goes out to some of his prospects, provides additional discounts, persuades the prospect to buy. This is not a great thing for his organization. 
  2. He is unable to do any further closures, which will only add to his anxiety and pressure. I am sure that my friend would leave that organization at the first opportunity, which is also not a good outcome for the organization.

So, this made me think what could the sales manager have done differently. I could think of the following which could have made a positive difference to my friend achieving his quota and staying loyal to his manager and the organization:

  • Coach: Any sales manager’s first responsibility to his team is to be their coach. In all probability, he has already been there, done that and has been good at this, which led him to his current position. So, how can he use his experience to coach his team members (depending upon their individual needs). Every sales executive has some are of the sales process, where he could appreciate some coaching. So, a sales manager needs to identify the areas where individuals in his team need coaching and use every conversation, opportunity to coach. As in any team sport, a good coach can inspire any team to achieve success, previously thought impossible.
  • Absorb pressure: In any sales organization, there will always be pressure to achieve quota. Can a sales manager absorb some of the pressure when he knows that his team is giving their 100% and there are genuine reasons for not meeting quota or closing deals. Common practice is to put additional pressure on the team to achieve their quota rather than provide a cushion. A great sales manager needs to be able to gauge the situation and provide cushion or exert additional pressure accordingly. In any case, if the teams knows that their manager can and is willing to absorb pressure, they will go all out to avoid such a situation.
  • Team: A great sales manager builds a team and not some individuals who compete with each other. It has been very rare that a sales manager gives more emphasis to the team doing well together rather than pitting each member of the team against each other. With selling becoming more and more complex (simple sales models are disappearing and moving to the web), it is critical that you work as a team to succeed in this complex selling world, learn from each other and support one another.

These are my thoughts. I would like to know your thoughts on this topic. Do you agree or disagree? Are there any other qualities that make a sales manager great?

Do let me know by commenting on the post below or tweeting your response to me on twitter (@rmukeshgupta).

PS: I thought that the article in HBR , “To build a great sales team, you need a great manager” was very well written and bring forth the importance of having a great sales manager on your team.