Archive for the ‘Motivation’ Category

When a Smile Is Your Umbrella, You Get a Lot More Than a Mouthful of Rain

December 27, 2010

I was reading a post on LinkedIn that discussed the value of a smile to closing more deals. I found it interesting.

It is surprising how a smile can change someone’s day for the positive– and certainly help in closing a deal. Of course, we are talking about a genuine smile, one that shows compassion, caring, and a genuine love for what you are doing. Sad to say it, but I’m sure we have all encountered those people who smile and look like the “The Joker” because they really are not showing enjoyment for what they do.

Heck, you only live once so enjoy it. In reality, what do we do during the day that is so awful anyway? OK, so I’m not going to be grinning ear to ear when I am paying my taxes, but so many people get so grumpy when it is time for them to talk to people about what they do or try to sell their product or service. Smile when talking to clients and prospects…and not just in person but on the phone too. Enjoy it!

Yes, I run a sales management company so I may like sales more than the average person, but what can be more fun than getting to talk to people about a problem they have and how you can help to solve it? I get so excited when I see how something I was able to do made my client’s business better or at least alleviate some stress they were having. Who wouldn’t feel great about that?

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Death of the Salesman: Are Traditional Salespeople a Thing of the Past?

December 7, 2010

I recently spoke with a woman who worked for a company that “invested heavily in e-marketing and reduced [their] sales force.” She went on to say “It’s been working quite well for the past six months or so. I think that the traditional salesperson is a thing of the past. We still send people to networking events to develop personal relationships, but lead generation is happening for the most part online.”

Now, we at Randolph Sterling have seen a lot of e-marketing with our clients too. However, I don’t think I would agree that the traditional salesperson is a thing of the past.

We have a client that generates 200+ new leads a day for products ranging in price from $5,000-$50,000 through SEO, e-newsletters, etc. They had so many that their salespeople became not much more than order takers, and because there were so many leads, their follow up got bad. The attitude was, “Why call a guy back when I will have 10 more just like him tomorrow?”

But then we came in and added the personal touch by following up on all of the leads that either got skipped over or to which the reps just sent a quote and waited for the prospect to call back. In the first 20 hours of the first week, we had already sold over $300,000 of new business that the company would not have otherwise gotten.

There were two common elements to those sales:

  1. The lead generation system generated a quote to the prospect and showed it was opened. However, when we called, the prospect could not find the quote (often they accidentally deleted it) so we went over the information with them. If we hadn’t, they were going to sign off on another quote they had gotten somewhere else.
  2. The initial quote was usually for a smaller ticket item, often not exactly what the prospect wanted. But, by following up on these “little deals,” we often found that the prospect either needed several of the small pieces over the course of the year, or needed a different piece entirely.

Without the personal attention of a professional salesperson, these deals and many others would have been lost.

Technology is wonderful and certainly has helped the sales industry to change for the better, but based on my experience, my feeling is that the best formula is a strong sales team working with good technology to help attract the right prospects.

First Impressions, You Only Get One!

December 4, 2010

A friend of ours, Gini Dietrich of Arment Dietrich, recently posted on her blog, Spin Sucks, a few tips for making a good first impression when interviewing for a job, going over several of the things she expects out of those who apply for a job at her company.

Given that we at Randolph Sterling are looking for a few new employees ourselves, I thought that perhaps I would give our potential applicants an early Christmas gift (or a belated one, depending on when they read this).

When I interview someone, I expect them to have some understanding of what we do, but I also want them to ask questions so they can better understand what we do. If you’ve done your research and act like you know everything there is to know about us, you will definitely turn me off. Heck, I started the company and like to think I have my hand in most of what we do and I don’t even know everything there is to know!

I look for people who are interviewing me as much as I interview them. My biggest problem is being in sales, my job is to develop relationships for a living. It is tough sometimes to sit back and let someone develop a relationship with me, but I want to see how they build rapport. I also want them asking me questions and really listening to the answers. Too many people ask questions to sound prepared, but then get into the job and really don’t have a feel if it is actually a good fit for them.

Finally, I hate being late and hate when other people are late. If you are 10 minutes late for an interview, you will wait 15 for me to come out to talk to you. Of course, things happen beyond our control. I interviewed a candidate for a sales position in our Raleigh office a few weeks ago. He had a sales meeting that ran a little long so he called me to say his GPS showed that he would be arriving about 5 minutes late so he wanted to apologize for making me wait for him. I told him to take his time and that I appreciated his respect in letting me know he was going to be a bit late. What I didn’t tell him was that by doing that, he started out head and shoulders above the other candidates before we had even met.

 

The Importance of 10 Second Mission Statements and Showering Before You Go to the Gym

September 26, 2010

Earlier this year I requested that all of Randolph Sterling’s team members commit our mission statement to memory:

Randolph Sterling, Inc. is a sales solutions company whose main goal is to assist growth oriented clients improve their overall sales and sales process through management services, process development/improvement, inside sales, and sales peer advisory groups.

Ultimately, we would like to change the perception of salespeople by the public by always promoting solution based conversations and continued learning.

Here is why:

I went to Virginia Beach over one weekend during the Spring. On Sunday morning I rolled out of bed, hair all messed up, unshaven and unshowered, and decided to get a quick workout in before getting ready for the day. Usually, when I travel and work out in hotel gyms the place is empty, so I didn’t think anything about it.

This time, of course, was different.  As I walked in, a woman was walking out to get some wipes to clean off a treadmill and just wanted me to know that she was coming right back (I think she didn’t want me to take her Sunday paper). She mentioned that she travels a lot for work so I asked what she does…turned out she is a director of sales for an accounts receivables management firm in the transportation industry. She asked what I do and I gave her a variation of our mission statement. When I told her, she replied that she was so buried in client meetings that she never has time to develop new prospect relationships and that she definitely needed our services. I ran back up to my room to get a card after she requested one.

Twenty minutes later we were having a business meeting while I was on the StairMaster and she was on a treadmill. When she finished up, I asked when I could get a proposal out to her for us to assist her. She gave me not just her card, but also the card of a colleague of hers who is redoing her company’s website. She mentioned that I should reach out to him as there might be some opportunities for the two of us to work together as well.

This is a testimonial to why having a quick 10 second rundown of who you are and what you do can lead to profitable results…also, it shows why you should always shower before working out! 🙂

Using Your Time to Your Advantage

September 20, 2010

This past March I ran into my friend Jim down in Virginia Beach where he and his fiancé Sue were running a half marathon. This was the second time that I met up with Jim at a race (the first being the day he actually met Sue), however, I have always been content with grabbing a beer with him after a run. Sure, I play softball, basketball, and bike ride, but I never considered myself much of a runner.

Jim inspired me to start running, so since about the end of March, I have been running every other day, usually 3-4 miles or so. When the weather got hot, I figured it best to do this run at 6:00 AM when it was still cool, rather than 6:00 PM when it was still very hot. This became somewhat of my morning commute (I also walk for about a half hour on the “non-running” days.) It has become a great time for me to collect my thoughts, plan my day, and think about clients and how we can help them before getting into the regular daily grind of the workday.

Let’s face it, once the day starts, it is run, run, run, and not many of us have the time to really look at the bigger picture. As much as we want to take the time to find the inspiration to do that next great thing, the phone starts ringing, or you check your email to find 100 messages waiting for you. Next thing you know you are in your first meeting of the day and the day becomes more of a list of transactional activities rather than a study of ideas to make the world better. At some point you grab some lunch and say “Darn, it is only Monday,” “TGIF!” or something in between as you flash for a second to a time when you thought you’d be doing something more inspirational at work.

Many sales teams we see are exactly like this. The “what have you done for me lately” attitude leaves them going from transaction to transaction instead of building long term relationships. When was the last time you sat back and thought about something you could do for a client…maybe refer them to someone, research an article you think they would find interesting, or come up with an idea that will make their life easier even if it doesn’t put a dime in your pocket. We all want to do these things. We all see the value of doing them and growing a stronger relationship, but many times we just don’t have the time to think about them.

I urge you all this month to take that “in between’ time, the time in between your front door and your office door, the time in between your desk to the restaurant for lunch, or the time in between the end of the day and coming home to your family to allow yourself to think of the bigger picture both for your clients and for yourself…to find your inspiration.

Does Being an Athlete Help You in Business?

September 12, 2010

I recently read a forum question on LinkedIn asking this, so I wanted to share my answer with all of our readers. Being an athlete growing up has definitely helped me not just as a professional, but as a grown adult. I played baseball growing up and still play softball and basketball today. As a sales professional, baseball taught me that by playing a sport where “greatness” still means that you will fail 7 out of 10 times, you still have to always go up to the plate (whether that plate is the start of your day, a meeting with your boss, a presentation, etc.) understanding that failure is a possibility, but not something to dwell on. It also taught me to always be ready to learn from success as well as failure. Have I always been successful in baseball? Well, since I’m sure none of you have a baseball card with my name and statistics on it, let’s just say that the things I learned playing baseball have served me for much longer in the boardroom than on the field.

While baseball has some great team elements, a lot of it is one on one, you against the pitcher. Basketball, however, has helped me become even more of a team player and I have added that to my business life. Basketball is not just about scoring, but about playing defense, passing, and doing the little things that make your team win. That same attitude helps our team at work be successful as we each help each other out and help each other to grow.

I never was a great basketball player growing up, so I never played on an organized team. I was always tall, but I think the uneven surface on the basketball court in the park behind my house growing up caused some difficulty picking up good ball handling skills and that hurt my confidence in playing. I never really played until I was in my mid 20’s when I used to go with my brother in law, Bob, and his best friend, Frank, to the Rutgers University gym to play in some pick up games. It was there that I learned that I could be an effective teammate by setting picks, playing good defense, and rebounding. It helped that Frank always had a good jump shot so he would pick up the scoring slack. I soon noticed that the teams I played on won more often than not and usually the guy I guarded (not used to someone playing defense and taking pride in it) didn’t score too much. I had become a good teammate, even if I wasn’t the top scorer.

All of those skills help me today as President of Randolph Sterling, Inc. and I think that team attitude and the desire to constantly learn and grow has permeated the culture at work as well as to our clients. We will always try to do better, to do more and learn more for our clients. Will we be perfect? Probably not. But, we will always work to do our best and to learn as much from those ground balls to second base as we do from the great successes we have for our clients.

Success Or Excellence: Which Do You Strive For?

June 7, 2010

I was recently asked an interesting question: which would I prefer, success or excellence?

My opinion is that if you strive for just one or the other, either way you will be left high and dry in the end.

Our company’s tagline is “Your Success is Our Business” however part of our mission is to change the perception of how salespeople are viewed by making them “excellent.”

You can certainly have success without excellence. Look at Microsoft for example. If I put out a product, then realized that it had flaws, I’d generally be expected to fix those flaws for my clients so they could use what I sold them. Not Microsoft. They can put out an inferior product, fix it, then attempt to sell you the fixed version to replace the one you have. If you don’t buy it soon enough, they will stop supporting the older version, in effect forcing you to buy the “fixed” version. A successful strategy? Yes, it has made them tons of money…but excellent? I think not.

On the other hand, have you ever gone out to a festival, or just walked down a street and heard a street performer and said to yourself…”They are amazing. How is it that they are playing at a festival for free when they are so much better than the crap I hear on the radio?”

Many of those musicians have achieved excellence, but not the success, at least financially, to allow them to continue to do what they are great at.

When we work with sales teams, whether it is providing sales management, working with them in our peer advisory groups, or becoming their inside sales team, we strive to help them be both successful and excellent. If I play basketball, I want to try to beat Michael Jordan.

Spring, Baseball, and Sales

May 23, 2010

It looks as though spring may have finally sprung in Chicago after a long wait. Of course, I was playing softball last Monday night and we were still factoring in a wind chill. At least it should be warmer in Raleigh, where daytime highs are already hitting 90. Thinking about our softball team (which hopefully any day now will start playing to its potential) always reminds me of how glad I am that I started playing baseball as a kid, as it has been a great help for a career in sales. Other than weatherman, professional ball player, and salesperson, what professions are there where you can you fail 70% of the time and be considered the best in the business? I certainly don’t want a brain surgeon who has those success rates…heck, I don’t want a chef with those success rates!  Every call you make, just like every at bat in a game, the law of averages shows will not be successful. In both the baseball and the sales profession, if you go in thinking this time will probably be one of the 70% that does not work out, I am pretty sure you will be correct.

So what is it that both of these professions have in common cause people to keep doing them, other than the potential to make a lot of money? First and foremost, it is a positive attitude, the belief that you will succeed. I was watching Bull Durham for probably the 100th time over the weekend. In one of the last scenes, young phenom “Nuke” LaLoosh has just gotten called up to the majors and he is in the locker room preparing to leave as his mentor “Crash” Davis walks in. (Now that I think about it, maybe that is what the sales industry needs, more nicknames!) Davis tells him that while he might not be successful when he first gets to “The Show,” the key to his success is “fear and arrogance.” What he means is that he has to know in his heart that he is good—better than his competition no matter if he just struck the last guy out or he hit a home run. It is the same thing in sales. The last guy may not have needed your product or service, heck, he may have even hung up on you, but the next call is a new opportunity to show what you have to the right person. Go get ‘em!

Are You The Best In The World At What You Do?

April 15, 2010

Since I was a kid, I could always sell. Quite frankly, I thought it was pretty easy…talk to the right people, find out what they want, give it to them and they will pay you. This process, as simple as I have made it out to be, is not always that easy, usually for one very important reason—the salespeople get in their own way.

Who is the best in the world at what you do? If you don’t think that you are, neither will anyone else.

Salespeople often stop their own sale because they have talked themselves out of it. They start thinking that maybe they don’t understand their product or service as well as they should, or that a competitor may do it better. There are a million ways to talk yourself out of closing the deal…no one that doesn’t improve by knowing that you are the absolute best at what you do.

I know our company—even if I am learning something new every day about it—and I know we are the absolute best in the world at what we do. Our sales management and process work–it is the best out there because we work with our clients to achieve their objectives. We don’t come in with a premeditated plan of attack or a multiple point plan, but rather we work with our clients in their environment to achieve their goals as they continue to grow.

Our outsourced sales team is made up of professional salespeople who have worked in the business and know how to develop a relationship. They don’t just try to get an appointment for our clients; they find the right person in the right company and develop a rapport to see if they are the best fit for our client. When the conversation between the two gets to a point where they need to bring in the expert, we get our client involved to close the deal. That’s something you only get from the best of the best.

Our SAM Peer Advisory Groups. If you want networking, there are plenty of places to go, but how many places offer an advisory board to the people in your company who are directly involved, right at the front line, in the growth of the company? CEOs have been involved in advisory boards for years, but salespeople have been left to fend for themselves many times. We bring these dynamic personalities together, in one room, and help them achieve or continue their greatness.

Do I think we are the best in the world at what we do? Absolutely I do. Mediocrity is for someone else.

Would you really want to work with someone who didn’t know they were the best at helping you grow?

Where Have You Gone, Customer Service? Our Nation Turns Its Lonely Eyes to You.

September 30, 2009

Paraphrasing a famous Simon and Garfunkel tune aside, I really would like to know where good customer service has gone?

We spend so much time trying to find new and innovative ways to find new customers, from coupons to rewards programs to tweeting on Twitter (which still makes me feel like a fell into a cartoon and somehow am going to have a puddy tat chasing me!) to updating websites to yes, even blogs like this one here, but it seems that we are losing the basic fundamentals that show us it is easier to keep a loyal customer than to find a new one. I had a few occurrences of this a recent week’s trip to our Raleigh, NC office.

I am a frequent flier on American Airlines. Not because they have the best customer service in the world (they are OK; personally what I think is wrong with the airline industry is a story among itself) but because they fly to most of the places I do so I can at least rack up enough frequent flier miles to be able to insure my bag makes it on the same plane I do and I have a shot at an exit row seat. On this particular occasion, my travel agent waited too long to book my trip, so they put me on a United flight instead because they could no longer get me the agreed upon price on American. That was strike one.

Strike two came when I started to deal with the wonderful customer service at United. First, it was the cattle call they call boarding the plane. I was in group 3 so I am somewhat patiently waiting as they start to board the flight. They call for first class passengers first followed by group 1. Half of the people at the gate get up and start storming the doorway to get in. Person after person walking past me with big 4’s and 5’s stamped on their tickets, however the gate agent is just checking in one after the other. What happened to following the rules? Wouldn’t a gate agent following the rules have made this a more efficient boarding process?

Next, I actually get on the flight. Because of the tardiness in which my travel agent booked the flight, I have the very enviable middle seat. No really, if you want a really good workout, sit in the middle seat between two people who think it is their right to own the arm rests. It is especially fun when you use this time to write blog articles, I can assure you. I did notice, however, that while we are all packed like sardines back here, there are several seats open in the exit rows and forward. I’m thinking—great, if they are open, I will just move up there and give these rejects from the old Stallone movie “Over The Top” all the room they need. A gentleman sitting behind me who was in the same situation thought the same thing, so he asked the flight attendant if it was OK to move. Her response? “No sir, you may not move there. Those are economy plus seats and are reserved for our customers who are willing to pay more for comfort.”

Are you kidding me? First of all, way to insult us by implying that we are too cheap to fork over an additional $35 to not have the guy in front of us sitting in our lap, but why wouldn’t you want to move someone into that seat? The door was closed so he wouldn’t have been taking anyone else’s seat and maybe he would have enjoyed the additional legroom and would have asked for economy plus in the future. What would it have hurt?

Sadly, however, that was not the most ridiculous part of my trip. That came as I attempted to rent a car. I am a corporate customer and a Blue Chip member with Thrifty Car Rental, however the last three times I have tried to rent from Thrifty they did not have any cars. A rental car company that has no cars? At the airport no less? That is like going to a beach, walking into a seafood restaurant and them telling you that they don’t have any seafood left. Each time this happened I tried to talk to someone in customer service and each time I was simply told there was nothing they could do to help me. Too bad buddy, you are out of luck, we just don’t have cars. I guess you had better walk.

My Raleigh office is not too far from the airport, nor is the Chicago office too far from O’Hare, but not exactly walking distance. Maybe I should take up running. If I get really good, I can run from Chicago to Raleigh and won’t have to deal with the airlines or the car rental guys again.

Please feel free to share your own travel  nightmares below or take our poll on the worst parts of traveling.