Posts Tagged ‘Self Improvement’

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.

 

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.

I Love Sales Training…But Not Another 12 Step Program!!!

September 20, 2009

Living my life in the world of sales, I have been exposed to my share of sales training, so when I started Randolph Sterling, Inc. I wanted to make sure we always had a way where we could help salespeople become better leaders in their field and, overall, hopefully leave the profession stronger than when we entered it. As we began as only a sales management company (before expanding into inside and outside sales and sales peer advisory) many companies asked about our sales training and how many steps our program had.

How many steps? I don’t know, how large is your office from one side to the other? How much walking does the average rep do in their territory?

I was completely confused by this question because I never looked at sales training as a 12 step program. I have heard of 12 step programs, but my understanding (with all due respect to those who have worked so hard to enter and stay on their personal programs) was that they are more for trying to stop doing something rather than learning how to be more effective at doing something.

Sales training, in my humble opinion, is not something that is completed in a set number of steps, but an ongoing process of individual improvement within a team concept. (Note: for those of you new to my blog, this is the time where I remind you how often I compare sales to baseball, so here is the next comparison.)

I look at what we do less as training and more like coaching. Think of a baseball coach. How long do you think the hitting coach would be employed if he said, “OK, day one of spring training all of you are only going to hit the ball to the second baseman. I will spend “X” amount of time with all of you in a group and tell you exactly how to hit to the second baseman so by the end of that time, you should all be able to do it. Tomorrow, we will be trained in hitting home runs. I don’t care if you are 6’5”, 240 lbs or 5’6” and 140 lbs, I will teach you the technique so you can all break Barry Bonds’ home run record.”

Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It is easy to picture a baseball team and realize that you would not train each individual player exactly the same because you can tell just by looking at them that they have different strengths and weaknesses. However, in reviewing many of the sales training programs out on the market, there is an abundance of “one size fits all” programs. Why? Simply put, they are easier to sell. The person who signs off on this training wants to know exactly what they are getting.

When they look at:

  • Week 1—cold calling
  • Week 2—planning for the appointment
  • Week 3—overcoming objections
  • Week 4 and beyond…special topics,

they see that each week, their reps will be learning something. It doesn’t matter if some are already pretty proficient in that particular area or if others need more time on a particular concept, each week they are learning something. By comparison, our inside sales service (which includes a component of training and coaching) takes a different approach to the concept of sales training which was adapted from many different influences but mostly from reading about how the single most successful team in professional sports, the New York Yankees, “train” their players.

When a new player joins the Yankees via trade, free agency, or is drafted into their minor leagues, that person is given about 200 at bats, or roughly 1/3 of a season, to do things “their way.” It is only after this time that the coaches will make any significant changes to the approach that the player takes. The reason for this is so that the player, who conceivably has some decent skills or they wouldn’t be in the organization in the first place, can find their own comfort level and show what they do well and what they may need help on over a decent evaluation period. This also gives the coaches time to better understand the player, his strengths and weaknesses, so they can tailor the coaching they give to get the most out of this person. Yes, there are certain absolutes that come into play once you become a Yankee, much like the certain absolutes that will be in the employee manual of any growing company, but to get the best out of a player, they have found it is best to teach them what they need to be taught rather than what they want to teach them.

Our sales approach is quite similar. We first evaluate the company and hope that they are evaluating us. Are we a good fit for them? Are they the type of company that we will best work with? Then we will do exactly what the Yankees do…watch and learn so we can find the personalities, strengths and weaknesses of the individual reps within their sales system. Once we have understood that, we will tailor our approach to fit the individual and work with them so their time is spent on the areas they need to work on, not in a class going over information that they do not find valuable or buy into.

I hope that this doesn’t sound like I am anti-training. I am not. There are some great training programs out there that fit certain industries and teams. I recommend quite a few of them. But, overall I feel an individual approach is quite more valuable.