Posts Tagged ‘Motivation’

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?

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.

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?

Baseball: The Best Sales Training I Ever Had

August 27, 2009

Working in the sales and outsourced sales management world, I am often asked about sales training. I have been working with sales teams for 17 years, and have been through and have run a variety of sales training programs. So, it is usually pretty quick in the process when I get asked about the value of sales training and what I think is best. There are a great variety of sales training methods out there, starting with the Dale Carnegie courses (what salesperson at some point in their career hasn’t been asked to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People?) and going through the 12 point sales process “invented” by the latest great sales trainer.

My favorite sales training?

That’s easy: my years playing competitive baseball.

So how can baseball be a training ground for sales success you ask? What the heck does hitting a round ball with a round bat have to do with my company selling widgets? One might ask what the latest and greatest 12 point, pre-planned sales training will do to help your sales team, which sells differently than any other in the world (but why people keep buying training that is already laid out and does not take into account the unique nature of your sales team is topic for another discussion at another time).

It has been said by almost everybody that hitting a baseball is the single most difficult thing to do in sports. If you are lucky enough to fail only 70% of the time at it, chances are that one day you will be giving a speech in Cooperstown as you are enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Heck, you may find yourself on a Wheaties box one day too!

How can someone spend 20 years of their life traveling around the country, knowing that the odds are against their success every time they get up to do their job? What can possibly motivate this person to continue to say, “This time, I’m gonna do it!” knowing that most likely they won’t? Baseball players do this every day…salespeople do this every day too.

Think about it, in a typical day, a salesperson may reach out to 100 people. Of those 100, a good 85 will most likely completely ignore you, not even answering your phone call but allowing you to leave a voice mail for them so that one day they may call you back. Of the 15 you actually reach, 10 will probably say they don’t need you—now or ever—and a few may even hang up on you. The last 5 are the ones that really matter. Some days, all five may schedule appointments with you, place an order, or maybe even give you business right on the spot. It is the five, not the 95 that you are in sales for.

Good salespeople and good baseball players have one specific trait in common that helps them be successful—the ability to have long memories about what they do well and short memories about the negative. Sometimes this can be difficult, so I take a trick I learned from watching New York Yankees great Don Mattingly during my baseball playing days and apply it to my sales life. Mattingly said his best way to avoid long slumps was to take the entire 600+ at bat season and break it down into 10 at bat increments. His goal? To get 3 hits in those 10 at bats. When he got his 3 hits or had 10 at bats, he would start over, reviewing what went right (he may have gotten 3 hits in 3 at bats or 0 hits in 10 at bats) learning what went wrong and then moving on to the next set of 10. This allowed him to not get too high on the good or too low on the bad; knowing that it was a long season that by nature will have peaks and valleys.

I have applied this same attitude to sales teams, having them look at 10 contact increments. We set a goal to speak to three people out of every 10 calls we made, and one meeting scheduled from the 3 we talked to. Now this may not seem like much, but it is a very aggressive goal. Getting three people to talk to you out of every 10 calls doesn’t seem too bad, but getting one of three to meet with you? Now that is a bit tough.

Much like baseball, there are certain things you can’t control. You try to hit the ball hard every time but sometimes, major league fielders will catch the ball no matter how hard you hit it. With salespeople, it is the dreaded voice mail. No matter how good you are feeling or how great you may sound, you will get a bunch of voice mails. You can increase the chances of getting an appointment from those 10 calls, however, by leaving a strong message—I call this developing a relationship with the client’s voice mail.

So 10 calls at a time, which should usually take about an hour. Look at what’s working and what you feel you should adjust. Learn from them and then forget them as it is on to the next 10.

Who knows, this may just get you to Yankee Stadium…or business with your ideal prospects!

Randolph Sterling Introduces the SAM Peer Advisory Concept to the Raleigh/Durham Market

August 21, 2009

Thursday, August, 13, 2009 marked Randolph Sterling’s launch of the SAM (Sales and Marketing) Peer Advisory concept in the Raleigh/Durham market with a seminar to introduce it, sponsored by Business Clubs of America.

We have been running SAM groups in the Chicagoland area for 3 years, but with the launch of our new office in Cary, NC, we felt it was a great time to introduce our SAM concept to the area. Peer Advisory Groups are not new to The Triangle nor to most places, however most peer advice has been limited to CEO’s and key executives in groups like Vistage, and do not really cater to sales and marketing professionals.

I have been a member of Vistage for five years and have seen how working with my peers to uncover business problems has helped my company grow, and therefore have become a strong supporter of peer learning. As a salesperson, I noticed that most account executives really do not have a strong internal support system, not because they or management are doing something wrong, but because they have an intense pressure to perform and do not want management to know if they are having problems. We figured that we could change this with a peer advisory group strictly for sales and marketing professionals. We have been successful in our Chicago office doing this for three years, so we thought, “Why not get this program started in North Carolina?”

Our seminar began with an introduction to Randolph Sterling and why we decided to start our SAM Groups. Next we asked our participants one simple question: What is the largest obstacle for growth that you see in the next 6-12 months?

The responses varied as we went around the room, giving each attendee a chance to introduce themselves, their business, and their answer to the question. Many of the responses were along these lines:

  • How do I get my prospect to “pull the trigger” on this project? I know I am saving them money and time.
  • With a limited budget anticipated in 2009/2010, how do I decide how much to spend on sales, marketing, social media etc? I can afford to do these things, but I can’t afford for them not to work.
  • How do I get people to understand that I am a necessity when I am often viewed as a luxury?
  • One part of my business is going strong, but another part is just not converting into sales. What should I do?

Others simply said their biggest obstacle was themselves.

We then asked for a volunteer to present their issue.

One of the great values of a SAM Group membership is the fact that everything said in meetings is confidential. I can’t get into too many specifics about the issue we discussed, but I can tell you about the process. 

First, the volunteer takes about 5 minutes to explain their problem—they always think they need about 30 seconds, but come on, these are sales people, the only thing they can do in 30 seconds is cash a commission check.  Part of the explanation process is for the presenter to discuss the issue in detail, its overall importance, what they have done so far with regard to this issue, and most importantly what they are looking for from the group. Some look for guidance, some are completely lost, still others are just looking for assurance that they are on the right track.

Next, the rest of the group asks questions of the presenter to further clarify the issue. Most times the “simple” issue is not the issue at all and through this process we uncover the real thing that the person needs help with. This is also the hardest part of the meeting as salespeople are always ready with “solutions” and attempt to skip right over the clarification process. This can sometimes lead to a great solution to what is not the real problem.

Finally, once the group has a better understanding of the issue, they will offer suggestions. The presenter’s job at this point is to simply listen to the solutions being presented. Some of these solutions are presented by people who have been in the same position while others give advice based less on experience and more on theory. Both are welcome as it is the presenter’s responsibility to sift through the suggestions and decide what to do next.

“I really enjoyed seeing the process,” stated Creative Gifting’s Debra Simonette. “It was nice to see that people who always seem to have the answers have issues to figure out as well. I liked being able to be a resource to them.”

Robert Morris of Axia stated, “I think it is a great concept. I don’t have a local sales manager so it is nice to be able to talk to people in my market who are talking to the same people I am selling to and get advice from them.”

“I definitely see SAM Groups as a great addition to the business landscape of the Triangle,” stated Business Clubs of America’s Cathy Sanita.

Personally, I am very much looking forward to working with more companies both in Chicago and in the Raleigh/Durham area. 

But, after that, what’s our next step?

Taking SAM Groups global through the internet.

We invite you to try the process outlined above in our comments section.

Kicks in the Teeth, Mistakes to Learn From

August 3, 2009

“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” These words were once spoken by Walt Disney, and, as many of us have found, they hold quite a bit of truth.      

Not too long ago, a friend of mine, Glenn Gang, sent me a story about one of his “kicks in the teeth” in the hope that I would share it with others, and help them learn from his mistake.

It was the first thing in the morning. The president of his New York based agency heard that representatives of a Connecticut based crane association were reviewing their agency’s programs. The president of the agency told Glenn to call and ask for an appointment that same day — before they finalized any decisions. So, Glenn called and practically begged for a meeting, and then drove the two hours up I-95 completely confident he had a great shot at landing their business.

His agency handled loads of construction companies. He brought custom flyers and tons of testimonials with impressive pictures of earth-moving equipment. As he sat in traffic, he smiled, passing through Westchester County into Connecticut, passing six or eight construction sites that were using large cranes all along the highway. If you believed in omens, you’d feel pretty good about this sales call too.

When he arrived, Glenn pulled up at the front door to discover the association’s logo was a crane, the bird with the long neck – he thought it was a pretty cool idea. As he stepped into the reception area, he noticed it was quiet and beautifully decorated. The walls were covered with cranes. It was decorated with hundreds and hundreds of them. Everywhere he looked, he saw images of the aquatic birds. Apparently some nonprofit organizations really market themselves well –as this was the association for the preservation of cranes, the birds that is.

Glenn met with the decision maker and presented his company’s offerings, but he was really rattled by the mistake, with his mind focused on the anger he felt towards his company’s president. While the executive director of the crane association sat through the most uninspired sales conversation she’d ever encountered, Glenn just felt stupid being there.

My friend left the association empty-handed and earned the special pleasure of being the butt of office jokes for several months.

Now, even if he’s in a hurry, Glenn is sure to do some homework on all his prospects, because never again does he want to leave a meeting with his tail feathers between his legs.

Glenn learned from his “Kick in the teeth,” as we have all learned from ours.

If you have your “Kick in the teeth” you would like to share, please post it below in the comments section so we all can learn from it.

Setting Goals in Business, Baseball, and Life

July 31, 2009

Every successful person I’ve ever met has been a goal setter. Setting goals gives an individual a sense of purpose and a sense of direction at the same time. A baseball player, for example, must know how to distinguish between appropriate goals and inappropriate goals. Furthermore, he should know that what others expect of him has no place on his list of goals. Without that understanding, his purpose is likely to be counter-productive, and he’s just as likely to head in the wrong direction.

Result goals are not within the hitter’s control, therefore they are inappropriate. It’s all well and good to have the desire to achieve a certain number of hits, home runs, RBI’s and so on, but a hitter can’t dictate what happens to the ball after he hits it. He cannot control the ability of the players trying to get him out or how another team defenses him, but is able to control his thoughts and actions before and during his swing. That’s where his concern and focus should be.

Being well prepared and well conditioned, being relaxed, keeping your eye on the ball, knowing when and how to make adjustments, being able to focus on the immediate task at hand — these are simply stated but formidable goals. They are all behavior goals — and those are the ones a hitter can work on daily. He cannot work on his batting average, which is an end. His behaviors are the means to that end, but even impeccable behavior doesn’t guarantee the result of getting hits.

What goals are appropriate for you? As a sales manager who works with several different companies and a slew of different sales personalities, I ask those that I work with not just to define a goal, but to also identify the steps it takes to achieve that goal. These steps not only help to determine how appropriate the goal is, but get the goal setter to think about what type of person he/she needs to become in order to achieve those goals.

One client set a goal of gaining 2 new clients which would result in an additional $10,000 of new business each month. When identifying what he needed to do to get there, he came to the realization that he needed to better organize his day; which started with getting into the office on time and calling 5 potential clients between 8:30 and 9:30 AM—the time he usually reserved for watching SportsCenter after dropping the kids off at school. Those 5 calls a day lead to 3 additional meetings a week, which lead to 2 new clients a month and an additional $10,000 of new business. While the result was what was hoped for, the real achievement was that the client now had learned how to organize his day and was better able to truly help his clients–which had as much or more to do with the new clients as the additional phone calls did. He took those skills and made them a regular part of his life; now having the ability to spend more time with his family and to enjoy the fruits of his hard work.

By becoming that better person, you, too, will find success, no matter how many home runs you hit.

Are You A Goal Setter?(polls)