The 3 Secrets of a High Performing Sales Hunter

The ability to prospect is first and foremost the most important sales skill for gaining market share and sales volume. Without the hunting skill nothing else will happen.

1-The Strong Hunter will prospect and prospect consistently making the same number of attempts to get in front of the decision maker per day, per week and per month. When the hunter makes the same number of attempts per day, over time they can then calculate how many attempts they need to get to the decision maker, to get the sale, measure the amount of sales volume gained, and then be able to adjust their attempts. The successful hunter is committed to working on developing other sales skills to close the gap between attempts made and closed business.

2- The Strong Hunter knows how to get past the gate keeper and is very resourceful in making attempts to reach the decision maker. They have the skill to deal with the gate keeper and not get trapped. The hunter knows that any attempt to have the gate keeper pass on messages or send information in advance of speaking with the decision maker is a recipe for failure.

3-The Strong Hunter has the ability to get to the decision maker. They know getting in front of the decision maker will shorten the sales cycle, which will support doing a better job of qualifying or disqualifying a business opportunity and finding out about money availability. While also discovering the real issues facing the prospect and the compelling reasons the prospect has to make a decision to buy.The strong hunter knows that calling on anyone else in the organization will lead them down a path of having to deal with gate keepers. They will be speaking with people who can only say no and not yes, or having to deal with committees and then present a questionable quote.

 

Management By Wandering About (MBWA)

Picture a boss in a lavish office with sumptuous leather furniture and wood-paneled walls. He’s sitting behind a huge desk full of important work that needs his attention. He’s far too busy to be concerned with anything outside his office walls: there’s enough happening within!

This type of boss can be intimidating and unapproachable. Yet, this is a common scenario in many organizations.

What type of boss would you like to be? Do you want to be remote and bask in your own importance? Or do you want to know what’s happening out there “in the trenches”?

As a boss, you can be admired for your wisdom, knowledge and expertise without being distant and disconnected.

If you build a wall around yourself, your team may not gain from your experience, and this can undermine problem solving and decision making. Being connected can be a major factor for success: The more connected you are, the better you can understand what motivates members of your team, analyze what’s really going on, and find solutions that meet the needs of your people and your company.

Introducing MBWA…

To get connected and stay connected, you need to walk around and talk to your team, work alongside them, ask questions, and be there to help when needed. This practice has been called Management By Wandering Around (or Management By Walking About) – MBWA for short.

William Hewlett and David Packard, founders of Hewlett Packard (HP), famously used this approach in their company. Tom Peters, in his wildly successful 1982 book “In Search of Excellence,” included lessons learned from HP and other companies that used a similar style – and the term MBWA immediately became popular.

What MBWA Can Achieve

Since then, Management By Wandering Around has never really gone out of fashion. If you use MBWA, you can increase the following:

Approachability – When your staff sees you as a person and not just a boss, they’ll be more likely to tell you what’s going on. You’ll get the chance to learn about issues before they become problems.

Trust – As your team gets to know you better, they’ll trust you more. You’ll be naturally inclined to share more information, and that will break down barriers to communication.

Business knowledge – Getting out and learning what’s happening on a daily basis can give you a better understanding of the functions and processes around you.

Accountability – When you interact daily with your team, agreements you make with each other are much more likely to be completed. Everyone is more motivated to follow through, because you’re seeing each other on a regular basis.

Morale – People often feel better about their jobs and their organization when they have opportunities to be heard. MBWA makes those opportunities available.

Productivity – Many creative ideas come from casual exchanges. MBWA promotes casual discussions, so people will more likely feel free to come to you with their ideas.

Despite its obvious benefits, use of MBWA has been hit-and-miss. To be successful, it takes more than simply strolling through your office, warehouse, or production facility. MBWA isn’t a “walk in the park”: It’s a determined and genuine effort to understand your staff, what they do, and what you can do to make their work more effective.

Don’t just do MBWA because you feel it’s an obligation – this probably won’t work very well. You have to truly want to get to know your staff and operations, and you have to commit to following up concerns and seeking continuous improvement.

How to Implement MBWA

These “wandering around” tips can help you get started:

Relax – People will sense your genuineness and casualness, and they’ll respond accordingly. Stiff, formal conversation will probably lead to equally rigid responses.

Listen and observe more than you talk – Use active listening with your staff. When people feel you’re hearing them, you’ll probably seem more sincere. Read some pointers on active listening.

Ask for feedback and ideas – Let everyone know that you want ideas to make things better. As the boss, people may think that your opinions and ideas are “right.” So hold back from saying what you think – the goal is to see what others have to say.

Wander around equally – Don’t spend more time in one department or section than another. And don’t always talk to the same people, or to people with certain ranks. You want to be approachable to everyone, regardless of job title or position.

Use the time for spontaneous recognition – If you see something good, compliment the person. This is a perfect way to show your gratitude.

Hold meetings “out and about” – Instead of having all your meetings in the boardroom or your office, meet with people in their work areas and “on their turf.” This can put them more at ease. Communicate your expectations and needs so that everyone knows what you value.

Don’t use this time to judge or critique – This can make people nervous when you’re around. If you see something that concerns you, talk to the person later, in private.

Answer questions openly and honestly – If you don’t know an answer, find out and then follow up. If you can’t share something, say so. Telling half-truths can break down trust.

Communicate – Share company goals, philosophy, values, and vision. Your “walk-arounds” are opportunities to mutually share information that helps everyone understand and do their jobs better.

Chat – Effective organizations aren’t all about work, work, work. Build relationships. Learn the names of your staff’s kids. Find out what they love to do or where they’re going on vacation. Joke, laugh, and have fun. You may be surprised at how great it feels to relate on a personal level with the people in your office.

Don’t overdo it – Don’t leave people feeling that you’re always looking over their shoulders! Wander around often enough to get a good feel for what’s going on, but not so often that your presence feels like a mundane distraction.

Note: To implement MBWA throughout your company, consider making it one element of your managers’ performance evaluations. What gets measured gets done! If supervisors work far away from the staff they manage, consider moving them, or giving them a second office that’s closer to where the work is done. If managers work near their staff, they may be more approachable.

Key Points

Management By Wandering Around can be an effective and practical way to keep up with what’s happening within your team and your organization.

Make the effort to get out and build relationships with your staff. This can pay off significantly with the information you’ll gather and the trust you’ll build. A team spirit can naturally develop when you show a genuine interest in your people and their work. It’s also a great way to keep the company’s vision alive at all levels. It’s easy, economical. and a whole lot of fun!

Apply This to Your Life

How can you use Management By Wandering Around to help you achieve your leadership goals? Ask yourself the following:

When was the last time you walked around your office or department? Why did you walk around? Were you looking for things that people were doing poorly or doing well? Were you using it as an opportunity to criticize or learn?

Where do you usually hold your meetings? If you use your office or your boardroom, do you think your staff finds that intimidating?

Do you know the first and last names of all your team members? This is a must. Better yet, you should learn the names of their spouses and kids.

Do you know more about a small group of your staff vs. all staff, or more about one department vs. others? Why have you been focusing your attention on just those people? Do you think the rest of the staff sees this as favoritism?

Do colleagues come to you with ideas? Think about the creativity and innovation you could tap into if they did.

Using Affirmations

“I’m never going to be able to do this job; I’m just not smart enough.”

“Why does my boss want me to present at the trade show? I’m a terrible public speaker, and I’ll just embarrass the company.”

“I wish I could stick up for myself at work; in every meeting, I let the others walk over my ideas. I’m never going to get ahead.”

Many of us have negative thoughts like these, sometimes on a regular basis. When we have these thoughts, our confidence, mood and outlook become negative too.

The problem with these negative thoughts is that they can be self-fulfilling. Inside our heads, we talk ourselves into believing that we’re not good enough. And, because of this, these thoughts drag down our personal lives, our relationships, and our careers.

This is why consciously doing the opposite – using positive affirmations – can be helpful. In this article, we’ll explore how you can use affirmations to drive positive change, both in your career, and in your life in general.

Why Use Affirmations?

Affirmations are positive, specific statements that help you to overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts. They help you visualize, and believe in, what you’re affirming to yourself, helping you to make positive changes to your life and career.

While there’s limited research into the effectiveness of using affirmations in a general setting, there is evidence that the use of positive affirmations can successfully treat people with low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health conditions.

For instance, in a study by researchers at Northwestern State University, Natchitoches, people who used positive affirmations for two weeks experienced higher self esteem than at the beginning of the study.

Also, in a study published in the Journal of American College Health, researchers found that women treated with cognitive behavioral techniques, which included use of positive affirmations, experienced a decrease in depressive symptoms and negative thinking. A study by researchers at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, had similar results, and came to a similar conclusion.

Of course, it’s important to realize that although some people have successfully used affirmations to overcome depression and negative thinking, the technique may not work for everyone. Some people may view affirmations as “wishful thinking,” or simply looking at the world with an unrealistic perspective. Quite a lot can depend on your mindset.

So try looking at positive affirmations this way – many of us do repetitive exercises to improve our body’s physical health and condition. Affirmations are like exercises for our mind and outlook; these positive mental repetitions can reprogram our thinking patterns so that, over time, we begin to think, and act, in a new way.

Note:

There has also been research that says that the higher your self-esteem, the more effective affirmations can be. This research also found that affirmations can actually have a negative effect if you have very low self-esteem. If this applies to you, work on boosting your self-esteem before you use them.

When to Use Positive Affirmations

You can use affirmations in any situation where you’d like to see a positive change take place. These might include times when you want to:

Raise your confidence before presentations or important meetings.

Control negative feelings such as frustration, anger, or impatience.

Improve your self-esteem.

Finish projects you’ve started.

Improve your productivity.

Affirmations are often more effective when they’re paired with other positive thinking and goal-setting techniques.

For instance, affirmations work particularly well alongside visualization – instead of just picturing the change we’d like to see with visualization, we’re also saying it aloud using a positive affirmation.

Affirmations are also useful when setting personal goals. Once you’ve identified the goals you’d like to achieve in the short and long term, you can use positive affirmations to help keep yourself motivated in order to achieve them.

How to Use Affirmations

Remember – affirmations are positive statements that help you challenge and overcome negative thinking and self-sabotaging behaviors. They’re usually short, positive statements that target a specific area, behavior, or belief that you’re struggling with.

Start by thinking of the areas of your life you’d like to change. For instance, do you wish you had more patience? Or a deeper relationships with your friends or colleagues? Or do you want a more productive workday?

Write down several areas or behaviors you’d like to work on. Then, for each of these, come up with a positive, present-tense statement you can repeat to yourself several times a day.

It’s also important that your affirmation is credible, believable, and based on a realistic assessment of fact. For instance, imagine you feel bad about the level of pay you’re currently receiving. So you begin to use affirmations to raise your confidence about asking for an increase. However, it probably wouldn’t be wise to affirm to yourself that you’re going to double your salary: for most people, and most organizations, doubling what you’re earning in one go just isn’t feasible. Keep it realistic!

After all, if you can’t believe the affirmations you’re repeating to yourself, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll have any impact on your life.

Tip:

Affirmations should be formed in the present tense, as if they’re already happening. This helps you believe that the statement is true right now. For instance, “I am well-prepared and well-rehearsed, and I can give a great presentation” would be a great affirmation to use if you often feel nervous speaking in front of a group.

Tip 2:

The power of affirmations also lies in their repetition. It’s useful to recite your affirmations several times a day (have them pop up in your computer diary). You also need to repeat your affirmation as soon as you start to engage in a negative thought or behavior.

Tip 3:

Affirmations are more effective when they’re thought or said with feeling. Every affirmation you choose to repeat should be a phrase that’s meaningful to you. You need to want this change to happen.

Here are some examples of positive affirmations:

I have plenty of creativity for this project.

My work will be recognized in a positive way by my boss and colleagues.

I can do this!

My opinion is respected and valued by my team.

I am successful.

I am honest in my life, and my work.

I like completing tasks and projects on time.

I’m grateful for the job I have.

I enjoy working with my team.

I’m bringing a positive attitude to work every day.

I am excellent at what I do.

I am generous.

I am happy.

I will be a leader in my organization.

Tip:

The use of affirmations is just one way to make positive changes to your life. You can also use techniques such as Thought Awareness, Rational Thinking, and Positive Thinking, and Cognitive Restructuring. You may also want to take our quiz, Are You a Positive or Negative Thinker?

Key Points

Affirmations are positive statements that can help you overcome self-sabotaging, negative thoughts.

To use affirmations, first analyze the thoughts or behaviors you’d like to change in your own life and career.

Next, come up with positive, credible, present tense statements that are the opposite of these thoughts. Repeat your affirmations several times a day, especially when you find yourself slipping into a negative thinking pattern, or engaging in a negative behavior.

Remember that affirmations are most effective when used alongside other strategies, such as visualization and goal setting.

Customers for life

 

The most successful companies place great value on developing lifetime relationships with their customers. In today’s competitive marketplace, they’re aware that their customers are aggressively prospected and their loyalty cannot be taken for granted. Customer-focused companies recognise that relationship building and follow-on service are critical components for promoting both customer retention and revenue growth.

Today we have access to innovative tools, such as the Internet, cellphones, faxes and voicemail, all designed to enhance our ability to communicate. Nevertheless, even with all of these technological tools at our disposal, the alarming number of dissatisfied customers, lost sales and failed relationships all reflect the fact that none of us are as effective at communicating as we would like to believe.

Temperament understanding helps to foster effective communication. Research in the field of human psychology indicates people are born into one of four primary behavioral styles; aggressive, expressive, passive or analytical. Each of these four temperament styles requires a unique approach and communication strategy.

For example, if you are working with the impatient, aggressive style, they want a quick fix and a bottom-line solution. Under pressure they can be ill-tempered and quick to anger. Give them options so you don’t threaten their need for control. Don’t waste their time with chitchat; stick to business.

Meanwhile, at the other extreme, the stress-prone analytical style requires more information and is interested in every detail. Their cautious and analytical nature makes them susceptible to buyer’s remorse. Be sensitive to their need for reassurance and guarantees. Once you learn how to identify each of the four primary behavioral styles, you will be able to work more effectively with all of your customers.

Communicate effectively

Recognise the importance of nonverbal communication and learn to “listen with your eyes.” It might surprise you to know that research indicates over 70% of our communication is perceived nonverbally. In fact, studies show that body language has a much greater impact and reliability than the spoken word.

Create a favorable first impression and build rapport quickly by using open body language. In addition to smiling and making good eye contact, you should show the palms of your hands, keep your arms unfolded and your legs uncrossed. You can develop harmony by “matching and mirroring” your customer’s body language gestures. Matching and mirroring is unconscious mimicry. It’s a way of subconsciously telling another that you like them and agree with them.

Improve your active listening skills. To develop and encourage conversation, use open-ended questions to probe the meaning behind your prospect’s statements. Occasionally repeat your prospect’s words verbatim. By restating his or her key words or phrases you not only clarify communication, but also build rapport. Keep your attention focused on what your customer is saying and avoid the temptation to interrupt, argue or dominate the conversation.

Little things make a big difference

Rendering quality customer service is both a responsibility and an opportunity. Often salespeople view customer service as an administrative burden that takes them away from making a sale. The truth is that customer service provides opportunities for cross-selling, up-selling and generating quality referrals.

Customers describe quality customer service in terms of attention to detail and responsiveness. Customer satisfaction surveys consistently point to the fact that the little things make a big difference. Not surprisingly, the top two customer complaints with regards to customer service are unreturned phone calls and a failure to keep promises and commitments. Make an effort to see yourself through your customer’s eyes. True customer service is meeting and surpassing your customer’s expectations.

Successful salespeople “go the extra mile” when providing service and turn the customers they serve into advocates to help them promote their business. Your referrals and follow on business are in direct proportion to the quality and quantity of service you render on a daily basis. Want more referrals? Improve your service!

Here are five powerful customer service tips.

Under-promise and over-deliver. Develop a reputation for reliability; never make a promise that you can’t keep. Your word is your bond.

Pay attention to the small things. Get in the habit of returning phone calls, emails and other correspondence quickly. Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Stay in contact and keep good records. Take the time to jot down notes from meetings and phone calls making certain to record all relevant information. Maintain a written record of service. This is especially helpful when clients are reassigned to a new sales rep. Setup a suspense system to track important contact dates such as client review calls and birthdays. Consider sending a personal note or an article of interest every six months.

Give your customers a promotional gift. Consider sending them a letter opener, coffee mug or a calendar with your picture and contact information.

Establish a feedback system to monitor how your customers perceive the quality and quantity of the service you provide. Service is not defined by what you think it is, but rather how your customers perceive its value. When it comes to customer service, perception is reality.

Progressive companies emphasise commitment to customer service from the top down by establishing training standards and continuously monitoring customer satisfaction. Companies that fail to implement an effective customer service programme actually do a disservice to their customers and unknowingly, leave the backdoor open to their competitors. If you do it right – sales and service will blend seamlessly.

Top 5 Mistakes Companies Make Managing Remote Sales Teams

Top 5 Mistakes Companies Make Managing Remote Sales Teams

Remote sales offices are established typically with the single purpose of growing new markets and revenue sources for the company.  Anything that hinders that mission is by definition hindering company growth and impeding efforts to grow revenues.With that in mind I have put together a list of common mistakes I have seen repeated many times so you can at least recognize and correct them or at best avoid them.

Mistake 1:  Not enough support resources.  This mistake is almost always preceded in a sales meeting by the phrase “You sell it and we will figure out how to deliver it/get you the resources to get it done.”As an employee in this situation a giant flashing light and klaxon should go off in your head warning you of the impending danger.  Negotiate for specific technical resources with timeline commitments before you accept the position or ask and understand how your sales efforts will be supported.  If it does not pass the smell test in explanation, you should never expect it to pass the smell test in execution.As a company, you risk damaging your reputation, losing customers, destroying your remote sales teams integrity in the market, and doing irreparable damage to the remote teams morale by failing to execute all post sales responsibilities.If a company cannot truly support a remote sales team that is going to need company resources to deliver the products and services they are selling, the company is better off not opening/closing that field location and terminating/relocating that sales resource to a market the company can support with certainty.You cannot fight a war to win revenues without establishing clear lines of support.

Mistake 2:  Treating every office the way you treat the home office sales team.  Remote offices are almost always setup to expand the corporate empire based on the success of the home office.  It is a massive mistake to manage a new office in a new remote city the same way you manage your home office sales team.In your home city it is likely that your company has established a certain momentum aiding ongoing sales efforts.  This momentum is often a compilation of several factors including having an established local brand, a number of years in business, culture, established customer base, local references, local advertising and publicity, tradition, and typically, local ownership ties.It is a fundamental mistake to set across the board sales targets and objectives for the sales teams facing radically different established momentum.  This is not a matter of simply waiting for a new market sales resource to ramp up, it requires a fundamental change in how you attack that market.  S

Mistake 3:  Not understanding the unique requirements of new markets or of markets in different stages of development and managing them all the same.

In establishing a remote office, a company is typically:

Expanding into a new market where their services have not been offered before.

Opening a remote office around a key client.

Opening a remote office to manage some existing accounts with hopes for growth.

Making a tactical decision to rapidly expand, block a competitor, arrive in a market ahead of a competitor or grab a key location.

The strategy for every office needs to be unique to its individual market situation.  Even McDonalds, with world wide name recognition and a reputation for producing a consistent product makes adjustments to their menu and process based on the unique qualities of the market they are entering.

In a new territory where there is no name recognition, I focus on territory planning, earning core anchor accounts that can be used as references, and deploying heavy support resources to make sure the first few engagements are successful ones to make sure the first few steps in a new market are solid ones as we begin to build our name.  That is radically different than my market approach with the home office.

Match management focus to individual market needs to establish remote offices in new territories.

 

Mistake 4:  Expecting remote office staff to be able to generate the same volume of reports/ admin/paperwork as the home office.

Where there are sales professionals there is paperwork.  Expense reports, pipeline reports, call reports, travel logs, presentations, proposals, RFPs, etc.

While there may be a standard procedure for preparing and completing necessary paperwork don’t automatically assume that what works for the home office is even necessary or will work for smaller remote offices.  In many cases there are additional official or unofficial support resources that assist in keeping the sales machine running in the home office.  Burdening a remote office with excessive admin requirements can destroy morale and limit their time/ability to do what the office was established to do, sell.

Mistake 5:  Micro manage remote resources.

In retrospect, I probably should have put this one first because this has been the death of so many remote sales organizations and the HQ based managers that are tasked with managing them.  Micro management has no place in managing remote sales teams.

Yes, the remote sales team is going to be out of the daily purview of management but that does not mean there needs to be any extra controls put in place to make sure they are doing their job.

In fact, there should be far fewer controls on them than there are on the sales team at HQ.  If you want the specifics of why, send me an email and I will break it down for you.  Pick four or five metrics preferably built into existing sales reporting tools to use to manage your sales team.

It makes no sense to try and manage where the remote sales team is and what they are doing every minute of the day.  If your sales team is making their numbers legally and ethically, who cares where they are.

If some team members are not making their numbers, use activity metrics and their call ratios as a comparison to determine where/why they are struggling.

I have managed remote offices, opened remote offices and carved up new territories and can tell you from personal experience that there seems to be a tendency to treat remote sales offices as somehow of lesser importance than HQ.  Perhaps that is because of the revenue disparity between the established home office and the developing remote office or the lack of daily interaction, I am not sure.

Remote offices are your growth strategy.  Remote teams should get at least the same amount of attention as the home office sales staff, but in truth I think that a remote office team needs more ongoing attention to run at its peak.

We nurture babies more than adults.  We tend to the needs of puppies more than the adult dogs they become.  We pay more attention to young plants than we do old established trees they grow to be.  That same methodology should be applied to growing and managing remote offices.

Sales Managers: You Are Responsible for Your Organization’s Culture

Your company’s culture is far more important than you realize and don’t think for a moment it’s somebody else’s job.

Everyday your employees come to work, but do they come to engage their minds?

The output of an organization is influenced dramatically by how each person in the organization feels.

Culture is far more important to an organization than most managers believe.  It’s important for several reasons, including the fact it serves as a foundation with regard to integrity and personal performance.

Your employees are taking their cues from you.

They watch you to see how you handle yourself in good times and bad times, and what they see from you becomes what they wind up believing as acceptable behavior.   Culture starts at the top. It does in a family with the parents, it does in a school with the administrators and it does in the workplace with the managers.

Watch a company when they bring in a new CEO from outside the company. Notice how thing change.  Same thing goes for departments within a company when an outside manager takes over.

The impact you as a manager/leader has on your team is far greater than you realize.  Bigger yet is the impact you have in ways you never thought about.

Your people take their behavioral cues from you. To put it another way, as you are now is how your employees will be someday.   Is that scary or is that inspiring?

What are the things you do or don’t do that are impacting how they behave?

Many people are say culture can’t be measured, so it’s not something to worry about.  I’ll challenge that and say a company’s culture can be measured.  It shows up in both the top-line sales numbers and the bottom-line profit results

Making a Great First Impression

It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.

With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first impression can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making those first encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the relationships that follows.

So, whether they are in your career or social life, it’s important to know how to create a good first impression. This article provides some useful tips to help you do this.

Be on Time

Someone you are meeting for the first time is not interested in your “good excuse” for running late. Plan to arrive a few minutes early. And allow flexibility for possible delays in traffic or taking a wrong turn. Arriving early is much better that arriving late, hands down, and is the first step in creating a great first impression.

Be Yourself, Be at Ease

If you are feeling uncomfortable and on edge, this can make the other person ill at ease and that’s a sure way to create the wrong impression. If you are calm and confident, so the other person will feel more at ease, and so have a solid foundation for making that first impression a good one. See our section on relaxation techniques to find out how to calm that adrenaline!

Present Yourself Appropriately

Of course physical appearance matters. The person you are meeting for the first time does not know you and your appearance is usually the first clue he or she has to go on.

But it certainly does not mean you need to look like a model to create a strong and positive first impression. (Unless you are interviewing with your local model agency, of course!)

No. The key to a good impression is to present yourself appropriately.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and so the “picture” you first present says much about you to the person you are meeting. Is your appearance saying the right things to help create the right first impression?

Start with the way you dress. What is the appropriate dress for the meeting or occasion? In a business setting, what is the appropriate business attire? Suit, blazer, casual? And ask yourself what the person you’ll be meeting is likely to wear – if your contact is in advertising or the music industry, a pinstripe business suit may not strike the right note!

For business and social meetings, appropriate dress also varies between countries and cultures, so it’s something that you should pay particular attention to when in an unfamiliar setting or country. Make sure you know the traditions and norms.

And what about your grooming? Clean and tidy appearance is appropriate for most business and social occasions. A good haircut or shave. Clean and tidy clothes. Neat and tidy make up. Make sure your grooming is appropriate and helps make you feel “the part”.

Appropriate dressing and grooming help make a good first impression and also help you feel “the part,” and so feel more calm and confident. Add all of this up and you are well on your way to creating a good first impression.

A Word About Individuality

The good news is you can usually create a good impression without total conformity or losing your individuality. Yes, to make a good first impression you do need to “fit in” to some degree. But it all goes back to being appropriate for the situation. If in a business setting, wear appropriate business attire. If at a formal evening social event, wear appropriate evening attire. And express your individuality appropriately within that context.

A Winning Smile!

As the saying goes, “Smile and the world smiles too.” So there’s nothing like a smile to create a good first impression. A warm and confident smile will put both you and the other person at ease. So smiling is a winner when it comes to great first impressions. But don’t go overboard with this – people who take this too far can seem insincere and smarmy, or can be seen to be “lightweights”.

Be Open and Confident

When it comes to making the first impression, body language as well as appearance speaks much louder than words.

Use your body language to project appropriate confidence and self-assurance. Stand tall, smile (of course), make eye contact, greet with a firm handshake. All of this will help you project confidence and encourage both you and the other person to feel better at ease.

Almost everyone gets a little nervous when meeting someone for the first time, which can lead to nervous habits or sweaty palms. By being aware of your nervous habits, you can try to keep them in check. And controlling a nervous jitter or a nervous laugh will give you confidence and help the other person feel at ease. Again, see our section on relaxation techniques for help with this.

Small Talk Goes a Long Way

Conversations are based on verbal give and take. It may help you to prepare questions you have for the person you are meeting for the first time beforehand. Or, take a few minutes to learn something about the person you meet for the first time before you get together. For instance, does he play golf? Does she work with a local charitable foundation?

Is there anything that you know of that you have in common with the person you are meeting? If so, this can be a great way to open the conversation and to keep it flowing.

Be Positive

Your attitude shows through in everything you do. Project a positive attitude, even in the face of criticism or in the case of nervousness. Strive to learn from your meeting and to contribute appropriately, maintaining an upbeat manner and a smile.

Be Courteous and Attentive

It goes without saying that good manners and polite, attentive and courteous behavior help make a good first impression. In fact, anything less can ruin the one chance you have at making that first impression. So be on your best behavior!

One modern manner worth mentioning is “turn off your mobile phone.” What first impression will you create if you are already speaking to someone other than the person you are meeting for the first time? Your new acquaintance deserves 100 percent of your attention. Anything less and you’ll create a less than good first impression.

Key Points

You have just a few seconds to make a good first impression and it’s almost impossible ever to change it. So it’s worth giving each new encounter your best shot.

Much of what you need to do to make a good impression is common sense. But with a little extra thought and preparation, you can hone your intuitive style and make every first impression not just good but great.

On Being Young and In Sales

On Being Young and In Sales

Tom writes: “I am 25 years old and sometimes feel as though I am not perceived as a peer to the business owners to whom I sell. Do you have any tips to combat this?”

Yes.

I started working in sales when I was 19 years old. I never thought of myself as being in sales at that time, but I was making cold calls, making sales calls, and making deals.

I wasn’t officially in sales until I was 24 years old and a mentor forced by to become an Account Executive by threatening to fire me if I didn’t leave an operational role and go outside full time. I was young. I looked young, and I wore my long hair in a ponytail. I also wore a nice suit every day. Of course, that was Los Angeles, so I didn’t look out of place at all there.

I did, however, when I came back to Columbus. Then I was 25, still looked young, and was now selling major, multi-million dollar deals.

Here’s my advice.

Be Respectful and Learn

The reason the business owners you call on don’t look at you as a peer is because you aren’t yet their peer. That’s okay, too.

The business owners you are calling on are likely entrepreneurs. They’ve taken risks. They’ve built businesses. They have a profit and loss statement and balance sheet for which they alone are responsible. They have a depth of knowledge and experience you likely haven’t acquired.

What I found worked when I was young was my insatiable curiosity to learn from people that knew more than me. Since they had experiences I hadn’t had, I asked endless questions to better understand their business and to learn from them. The more I asked for an education, the more I received one.

After some time, I knew something about a lot of different business, and I gained an understanding of how businesses generally work. Later, when I called on business similar to the ones who were tutoring me, I knew how their business worked and the questions to ask to open opportunities.

So start by being respectful of what they know, and be genuinely curious. You’ll be surprised how much people enjoy teaching you everything they know about their business.

Become a Subject Matter Expert

The other thing that I did that helped me combat my youthful appearance (and the ignorance that accompanied it) was to become a subject matter expert.

My clients knew their business, but they didn’t know mine. I sold temporary staffing, so I started to study employment. I started to read all the labor market releases. I researched legislative changes that would impact my client’s businesses. I started to develop ideas as to how I could add value by helping them see around corners, identifying areas of concern and making plans long before they were necessary.

I discovered that by having subject matter expertise, my clients and dream clients began to think of me as a business partner, as a member of their management team, as something more than just another vendor.

You don’t have to be perceived as a peer by your clients. You don’t have to be their equal right now. They’re older, and they have more experience. But you can—and should—be more than their equal when it comes to your subject matter expertise. Instead of trying to be a peer, try instead to be the member of their management team. Be someone they trust to own the outcomes that you can produce for them.

And as a final note, don’t worry about the whole “being young” thing. I promise that will pass much faster than you can imagine.

Questions

Why is being young sometimes a disadvantage in sales?

Do you have to be considered a peer or equal to sell effectively?

What should you do to be something more than equal in your subject matter?

How do you make yourself more valuable when you lack experience and situational knowledge?

 

Sales Managers: Why Are They Different?

Sales Managers: Why Are They Different?

We recently completed fascinating research on corporate training and development programs for sales managers. In a recent webcast (Research Update: Developing Sales Managers), research underwriter Business Efficacy’s Kurt Theriault joined me for a preliminary review of the study findings.

The research show that firms spend less, per-person, on sales manager training and development than they do on similar salesperson investments. Unsurprisingly, companies rate their sales manager bench strength – the ready pool of promotable manager candidates – as very poor. Both findings are concerning, given the critical impact on firm performance of the first-line sales manager – and even more surprising given respondents’ expected sales manager headcount increases.

How good is the training sales managers do receive? Not good, according to our study: among those skills ratings ranked lowest were those most fundamental to the sales management role: leadership skills, delivering effective coaching, and assessing salesperson performance. Yikes.

To net this out: sales managers – despite their outsized impact on performance – are disadvantaged by low levels of training investment, waste time in training that doesn’t deliver on the sales managers’ most basic developmental requirements, and are unprepared for the role when they start. Oh yes, and we plan on adding more – 14% more sales managers, on average, over the next 18 months. As this unhappy convergence of challenges indicates, training and developing sales managers is something companies find very difficult.

Are these issues unique to sales managers? Compared to say, other managers in the firm? Most likely not; my hunch is that manager development and training is generally lousy in many, many firms. I would submit, however, that training sales managers is harder than training other managers; and that it matters more.

Kurt and I pulled up from the research findings to speculate on this question: Why is training sales managers harder? Our thoughts are available below in the webcast excerpt (Sales Management Association members can view the full webcast archive here). In a nutshell:

Salespeople are harder to manage. They are often paid to be independent actors, an autonomy they value and even seek out. They may therefore be less warm to group think, management initiatives du  jour, or close supervision.

Sales teams are distributed. Direct salespeople are often not within arm’s reach of management. This forces managers to improve communication quality and leverage non-direct media (e.g., phone, web meetings), and consistent management processes.

Salespeople are highly focused on achievement, and are held accountable as such. The lights are brighter, the stakes higher, and the rewards are greater than in other firm functions. On top of that,    they’re competitive.

The sales function is a change-intensive environment. Disruptive sales organization change now seems pervasive. Managers must therefore be adaptable and nimble.

Sales managers are harder-pressed to develop their direct reports. The need to improve salesperson performance is a critical skill for managers, who must manage up low-performers up fast, and    maintain constant team improvement to meet productivity goals.

Our list is likely not half-complete. What would you add? Be sure to check out the full research report and webcast archive (for Sales Management Association members) for more detail on our research on Developing Sales Managers.

 

AIDA: Attention-Interest-Desire-Action

“Free gift inside!”

“Dear Jim, You have been specially selected.”

“Calling all Parents.”

Every day we’re bombarded with headlines like these that are designed to grab our attention. In a world full of advertising and information – delivered in all sorts of media from print to websites, billboards to radio, and TV to text messages – every message has to work extremely hard to get noticed.

And it’s not just advertising messages that have to work hard; every report you write, presentation you deliver, or email you send is competing for your audience’s attention.

As the world of advertising becomes more and more competitive, advertising becomes more and more sophisticated. Yet the basic principles behind advertising copy remain – that it must attract attention and persuade someone to take action. And this idea remains true simply because human nature doesn’t really change. Sure, we become increasingly discerning, but to persuade people to do something, you still need to grab their attention, interest them in how your product or service can help them, and then persuade them to take the action you want them to take, such as buying your product or visiting your website.

The acronym AIDA is a handy tool for ensuring that your copy, or other writing, grabs attention. The acronym stands for:

Attention (or Attract)

Interest

Desire

Action.

These are the four steps you need to take your audience through if you want them to buy your product or visit your website, or indeed to take on board the messages in your report.

A slightly more sophisticated version of this is AIDCA/AIDEA, which includes an additional step of Conviction/Evidence between Desire and Action. People are so cynical about advertising messages that coherent evidence may be needed if anyone is going to act!

How to Use the Tool:

Use the AIDA approach when you write a piece of text that has the ultimate objective of getting others to take action. The elements of the acronym are as follows:

1. Attention/Attract

In our media-filled world, you need to be quick and direct to grab people’s attention. Use powerful words, or a picture that will catch the reader’s eye and make them stop and read what you have to say next.

With most office workers suffering from e-mail overload, action-seeking e-mails need subject lines that will encourage recipients to open them and read the contents. For example, to encourage people to attend a company training session on giving feedback, the email headline, “How effective is YOUR feedback?” is more likely to grab attention than the purely factual one of, “This week’s seminar on feedback”.

2. Interest

This is one of the most challenging stages: You’ve got the attention of a chunk of your target audience, but can you engage with them enough so that they’ll want to spend their precious time understanding your message in more detail?

Gaining the reader’s interest is a deeper process than grabbing their attention. They will give you a little more time to do it, but you must stay focused on their needs. This means helping them to pick out the messages that are relevant to them quickly. So use bullets and subheadings, and break up the text to make your points stand out.

For more information on understanding your target audience’s interests and expectations, and the context of your message, read our article on the Rhetorical Triangle.

3. Desire

The Interest and Desire parts of AIDA go hand-in-hand: As you’re building the reader’s interest, you also need to help them understand how what you’re offering can help them in a real way. The main way of doing this is by appealing to their personal needs and wants.

So, rather than simply saying “Our lunchtime seminar will teach you feedback skills”, explain to the audience what’s in it for them: “Get what you need from other people, and save time and frustration, by learning how to give them good feedback.”

Feature and Benefits (FAB)

A good way of building the reader’s desire for your offering is to link features and benefits. Hopefully, the significant features of your offering have been designed to give a specific benefit to members of your target market.

When it comes to the marketing copy, it’s important that you don’t forget those benefits at this stage. When you describe your offering, don’t just give the facts and features, and expect the audience to work out the benefits for themselves: Tell them the benefits clearly to create that interest and desire.

Example: “This laptop case is made of aluminum,” describes a feature, and leaves the audience thinking “So what?” Persuade the audience by adding the benefits”.giving a stylish look, that’s kinder to your back and shoulders”.

You may want to take this further by appealing to people’s deeper drives”… giving effortless portability and a sleek appearance and that will be the envy of your friends and co-workers.”

4. Conviction

As hardened consumers, we tend to be skeptical about marketing claims. It’s no longer enough simply to say that a book is a bestseller, for example, but readers will take notice if you state (accurately, of course!), that the book has been in the New York Times Bestseller List for 10 weeks, for example. So try to use hard data where it’s available. When you haven’t got the hard data, yet the product offering is sufficiently important, consider generating some data, for example, by commissioning a survey.

5. Action

Finally, be very clear about what action you want your readers to take; for example, “Visit www.mindtools.com now for more information” rather than just leaving people to work out what to do for themselves.

Key Points:

AIDA is a copywriting acronym that stands for:

Attract or Attention

Interest

Desire

Action.

Using it will help you ensure that any kind of writing, whose purpose is to get the reader to do something, is as effective as possible. First it must grab the target audience’s attention, and engage their interest. Then it must build a desire for the product offering, before setting out how to take the action that the writer wants the audience to take.