Respect: Part 7 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional

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If you want to succeed in almost anything and you have to have others involved then having and gaining respect throughout the process should be a high-value focus item for anyone. In life, respect is so critical and as you get into a sales role when you are working directly with your peers and potential clients, it becomes extremely critical.

Respecta feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

Internally:

Looking inside of an organization, I have found that respect has had a profound impact on being able to get things accomplished and arrive at a better place as a collective organization. When you are respected by others you are able to have your thoughts and ideas echoed and cheered for which might have a greater impact on helping them get adopted. Remember, this doesn’t always mean every idea will be great or accepted but it gives you more slack to be able to offer up those ideas and speak through them. I’ve often found that the most respected individuals also had the loudest voice because they spoke their mind, professional of course, and came at whatever situation it was with passion and exuberance. Others see this and get on board with the mission because they trust and respect you are also looking out for their best interest as well. As a sales professional, you are on the front lines with potential clients and hearing the good and bad about the company, industry, landscape of the market, etc and your voice has to be heard. However, if you haven’t earned the respect of your peers then it is going to be challenging to have your spot to share and have your ideas accepted.

How do you gain respect as a new sales team member:

  • Respect others and be graceful and polite in your approach
  • Speak up and share ideas – it still may take time to gain respect but often the new people have a fresh perspective on the issues they see so others are willing to listen. When you have your chance, articulate what you are seeing, be thoughtful in your approach, and try to present a solution along with the problem. Doing this early on will start to plant that seed of respect
  • Offer help – the easiest way to gain respect is to show you care. Help other peers when you see them struggle, listen in on calls and be interested in how others perform their job, ask other departments to shadow them to learn about their roles to make the relationship better, etc. 

These are just a few ideas but it is really simple. Come in with eagerness to learn and share and that starts to rub off on people. If you show you are a team player from day one then you gain instant street cred for being approachable and genuine in your dealings with your peers. If you act as you know it all and come in with all the answers, that won’t go over as well. Be mindful of the situation and the groundwork others have laid and try to build upon it and not tear it down.

Externally

I’ve mentioned other ways that respect starts to be gained in a client relationship. Honesty, Candidness, Punctuality, Humility, and so on. There is no secret answer here. It’s that you just want to be a good human being with good intentions and communicate in a way that helps your potential client get further ahead.

Being polite goes a long way. Simple things like:

  • Do you use their correct name or ask them the name they prefer (Mike vs Michael)
  • Do you interrupt or them off often
  • Do you regularly show up late for meetings
  • Do you avoid answering their questions and change course
  • Do you take forever to follow up on emails

These are a few examples but it’s basic etiquette. I boil it down to how you might act on a first date. You’re going to be your best self (i hope). Do that every time when working with a potential client. The more you do it the more it becomes a habit.

Remember, this should be an easy one to remember but it’s hard sometimes and that’s why I think these characteristics are so important to work on and improve. Respect is earned and by proving that you are an honest, trustworthy individual who is looking out for the potential clients best interest then you have the chance to build respect early on. When you gain respect, it opens up a new set of doors with the relationship.

More information gets shared, Your calls get answered or returned quickly. You are the first to know of any changes in timeline or scope. It makes it easier. 

It doesn’t mean you will earn every partnership, far from it, as there are other factors at play. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know if you didn’t earn the partnership and why very early after the decision versus emailing and calling a bunch to finally get a bland answer.

Focus on building the relationship early and often and the level of respect you receive from your potential clients will be in line with others in your organization even family and friends. That’s when sales get really fun when you can have a mutually beneficial relationship with a potential client and cut out all the noise that sometimes gets in the way.

Thanks for reading,

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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Respect: Part 7 of 8 – The Evolution of the Modern Day Sales Professional2021-03-19T10:43:04-04:00

4 Things People Should Do Before Ever Reading A Sales Book

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Before you go grab the latest and greatest sales book, understand you already have most of what you need to be successful at sales. You’ll learn a ton through experimental trial and error but I think a few suggestions below can get you started on an easier path as well.

In my opinion, I believe there are a lot of things early on that make sales hard for newer folks that don’t have to. 

There is:

  • Too much information – product knowledge, value statements, sales playbooks and frameworks
  • Too much bad direction – poor training, unproven sales templates, bad call scripts
  • Bruised confidence – Overwhelming expectations, high activity metrics, poor personality fit in the role

There are good intentions behind all of these, especially from organizations facilitating these practices, but oftentimes it comes in the form of misguided or misinterpreted information and that can cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for reps, especially new to the game. Now, throw in all of the sales books out there that sales reps are suggested as they start down this path. A lot of this information and the strategies or practices are outdated and what has worked for some that wrote the books may not work for all using its teachings.

I personally believe there are other things you can do first to help you get on your way and be a more well-rounded sales professional.

Learn How To Write

Most sales are done through phone or email so those are the two powerhouses, to begin with. This is not about “sales tactics” or anything like that. This is about proper grammar, word usage, paragraph length, bullet points, and all other things around professional writing. It’s vital because you will write thousands of emails and other documents in your career. Learn how to write in a clearer form and this will help when you start slipping in your sales language. Also, it translates well into your spoken word.

My Suggestion: First, I’d take a few writing courses online for free or jump on YouTube and type in How To Write Better.  It also doesn’t hurt to download the Grammarly plugin for Chrome as this will help instantly as you begin to type. Next, I’d look at the emails you write to people and which ones tend to get the most positive responses. Remember, the tone is very tough to pick up in an email so how you write can be taken in multiple ways if not structured correctly. That’s why I say positive responses. Also, emails tend to grab your attention from people. Are they short, bulleted, bolded, etc? Chances are, if they catch your eye then they probably will to your future clients as well. 

Learn How To Listen

Listening is hard and can be much harder when you are trying to think about the next question to ask without paying attention to someone. Stop that. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and a gentle pause isn’t so bad. Being able to dissect a conversation and pick up the undertones of the language as well as the social awareness piece all at once is a masterful skill to have. 

My Suggestion: There are a lot of ways to do this and it could be as simple as turning on a Podcast to try and observe the conversation or you might call a friend or family member and interview them. Try to catch yourself when you lose focus and attention as well as when you start to think ahead too much and forget to stay present in the discussion.  It can be much easier to lose focus over the phone without someone watching you being visibly distracted so keep an eye on this.

Learn How To Learn

When was the last time you actually learned something new that you knew nothing about the topic beforehand? It’s a No for most people, too. However, the great thing is you can start today. Pick something you are curious about and learn about it. For instance, during my Dozen Months of Discovery, I learned Spanish for a whole month. My sessions with the tutor were really difficult especially the first few days but it got me attentive and feeling like a beginner learner again. You may even sign up to do a demo of a product you are interested in. Whatever gets you into the mindset of knowing nothing and then having to take in information for the first time.

My Suggestion: When you are demoing a product, think of the person on the other end that has no idea what your product does, how it could help them, or is able to visualize use cases to help a problem they might not even know they have. You have to do a great job of communicating properly and simply and your messaging has to help them come along for the ride otherwise you’ll lose them. By going through this prior, you’ll be able to anticipate the challenges the future client might have during the call and it will help you navigate better. (i.e- Slowing down, fewer mouse clicks, reiterating key points, pausing to ask questions and get clarity, etc.

Learn How To Get Uncomfortable

The best sales reps and leaders I’ve been around have taught me how important it is to “own the room” in any conversation. Sales conversations can get uncomfortable really quickly. You need to be confident in yourself and believe that the product can truly help the client to solve a problem they have. This is tough when you are new to sales because you get nervous or timid or fearful or (insert appropriate word here). Heck, even I have these feelings every now and then and I’ve been doing this for a dozen years.  

My suggestion: Figure out how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Put yourself into situations when you get really nervous or anxious and try to navigate yourself through that process. Even if it’s a big struggle, you’ve grown a bit and it will help you on the next try. This could be as simple as asking a person out on a date randomly that you see out somewhere, taking an Improv class, or signing up for a Public Speaking course. Many of these options cost minimal dollars and the experience gained is priceless. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deliberate skill practice and the beauty of all of these is that whether you choose to remain in sales or not, these are very transferable in almost any other career you go into.

So, think a bit differently as you look at a sales role. This can be valuable for anyone doing sales especially entrepreneurs or company founders and, yes, even seasoned sales professionals. You should always be looking to refine your skills and improve your communication and I hope some of this guidance will be a big help in your life.

Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I’m happy to be a resource.

Thanks for reading!

Carpe Diem,

Brian

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4 Things People Should Do Before Ever Reading A Sales Book2021-03-19T10:43:06-04:00

It’s Halftime…How Is Your Sales Year Going To End Up?

It wasn’t too long ago when everyone was at the same starting line. I don’t care what company you are at or how big your quota is. We all started from the big “goose-egg”. Sales, unlike many other careers, has very specific metrics to it. Generally, called a Quota, it’s a number the company gives you that in their estimation is how much revenue you should bring in for the given year. This number can be calculated a variety of ways and it depends on the company and their specific goals and projections for the year as a whole.

Bottom-line, You either hit it or you don’t. And all Sales reps know that going into each year.

If you’re not in Sales, that’s okay as some of the ideas I want to share can still help you think differently as you navigate a long year of work and goals that you want to accomplish.

For sales reps though, it’s pretty simple.

On the one hand, many are way behind there annual quota halfway through the year. We can come up with a number of reasons why but excuses don’t matter. Facts are facts. The numbers speak for themselves.

On the other hand, several are out ahead of the pack and well on their way to achieving and potentially overachieving on their goals.

And if you are wondering, there are a good chunk in the middle of the pack (like me!). On par and in a good position heading into the second half but still work to be done to keep pace.

So, 6 months in, which bucket are you in?

Here is the secret: it actually doesn’t matter which one it is. Because if life and sports has taught us anything it’s that there is still time on the clock. The game isn’t over yet.

Think back to the Super Bowl a few years ago when the Falcons were all but engraved the Lombardi Trophy heading into halftime. The scoreboard read 21-3 and Twitter was ablaze with reactions. That’s a stout lead especially when you are playing that well and the odds of relinquishing it are very small. Ironically, it’s a great metaphor for where we are at in the year and something all of us can learn from. Let’s observe some things that happened in that second half in hopes that it’ll help you attain your goals by years end.

Mindset is everything

Bill Belichick might be the best 2nd half coach we’ve seen in history. He is great at assessing the game and understanding where to make adjustments, if needed. However, the best thing he does (and he does this all season long) is to get his team to buy into the fact that the game isn’t over until it’s over. You must stay positive and level-headed through the good and the bad times. That consistency in mindset and focus on the steps needed to get back into the game is most likely the “X-Factor” that led to them making that historic comeback.

If you’re behind, remember what has gotten you there before. We all get into slumps but it’s the positive attitude and confidence that we can do it again that ultimately pulls us out of it. Stay focused and keep a level head and the good times will just be around the corner. If you panic and get frustrated, it will be hard to overcome future obstacles and maybe make you lose that partnership you had in your grasp because you got desperate or impatient.

Do Your Job

This is Bill Belichick’s classic mantra. Know your role and get your job done. Don’t let the noise and celebrations around you knock you off your perch. Think back to the Falcons and some of their biggest mistakes. They went away from what was working. They were running so well but yet late in the game they decided to call a pass play and had Matt Ryan drop back to throw which lead to a sack. That play-call kept them out of field goal position. However, The Patriots stuck to their game plan and never wavered. They knew there was time on the clock and they knew what made them successful all season long. It was only a matter of time before it clicked and they continued to chop away at the lead (which by the way ballooned to 28-3 late into the 3rd Quarter, if you remember.)

You know what needs to be accomplished to continue building value and guiding your future clients down the right path for them. Additionally, you can’t forget about the early part of the funnel and your prospecting efforts. You’ll win some and lose some but having a healthy and flowing pipeline will ensure that you have opportunities to finish strong. Now, if you’ve started out of the gate strong and are in a rock solid position, you can’t get complacent. You can’t think that you can take your foot off the pedal just because you’ve had a few good months. Things can change quickly if you don’t watch it. Don’t all of a sudden switch things up just because you’ve had certain results up to this point. Yes, some things may have to be adjusted but most of the time it’s small tweaks and not the grandiose ideas we like to think are going to be the difference.

Make Your Own Luck

Hey, we all need a “Julian Edelman type of catch” every now and then. I’ve noticed in my sales career we all get at least one of these a year, maybe more if we are opportunistic.  

However, you have to be in the right position to get those breaks. Are you creating enough pipeline? Are you building great rapport? Are you progressing partnerships forward? Are you bringing in the right people that are making the decisions? All of these questions help you get to a position where you can succeed and sometimes the timing just happens to be right.

That’s life, it happens, and you want to be on the right side of it but the only way you get there is to put yourself in those positions. Take a good hard look at your performance and where there might be one or two small tweaks you can make. If you were being honest with yourself, where have you fallen short? Where have you whiffed on some opportunities? Start there and make some subtle movements in the right direction. Maybe you have done zero call review or role play and need to get back to the fundamentals. It could be the “X’s and O’s” on your sales process need a retooling or slight shift. It could be something else. Like I said above, you don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Have some self-awareness and make some great halftime adjustments to put you back in the game.

Just like with Football, in the end there are two things that generally win out. Talent and Work Ethic. Some only have one, few have both. But either way you need to recognize where you fall short and what you personally need to do to crush your second half, whether you are way ahead or dragging near the bottom of the pack. As cliche as it sounds, the first half of the year “is what it is” and you have to remain hyper-focused on the path ahead and do what you need to do to get to that mountain top. It’ll be different than others around you. Don’t get sidetracked. Focus on yourself and your abilities and have the mindset that when you are ringing in the New Year, you know you’ve given it everything to make this past year the best one yet.

Carpe Diem,

Brian

It’s Halftime…How Is Your Sales Year Going To End Up?2021-03-19T10:43:07-04:00
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