The worst mistake you can make when onboarding a "sales wolf" is expose them to a "sales wolf poser" - especially if the "poser" is in any type of leadership (you or their sales manager) or a sales trainer role.
If you are new to my blog, allow me to share a couple of definitions...
- A "sales wolf" is that salesperson who has the ability to perform in the top 20 percentile on a consistent basis. They are wired to sell. Period. By the way... If you want to know if you are a true sales wolf or one of your salespeople are - take our sales personality test to find out.
Sales wolves are rare. Smart companies do not compromise when they hire sales wolves. Smart companies hire sales wolves and allow their competitors to have everyone else.
Sales wolves are magnetic. Many salespeople wish they had the abiliites of a true sales wolf. A sales wolf is confident, aggressive, persuasive, resiliant, and charismatic. They bring deals. They drive the nice cars, have the nicer homes, enjoy cooler vacations, often wear the nicer clothing, usually have the latest gadgets, and they have the interesting war stories.
A sales wolf can smell a poser a mile away and they will avoid them like the plague. A sales wolf loves winning and hates losing. A sales wolf hates it when their time is wasted. Sales wolves do not make excuses. Instead of making excuses when they lose - they learn from their mistakes and get better for next time.
Sales wolves are hungry and they expect you and others they hunt with to be hungry as well. They have an insatiable appetite for winning, learning, improving, and earning - and they expect you and everyone else to have that very same appetite. Sales wolves expect to work with people smarter than them and if they do not - they will be very disappointed.
A sales wolf will do everything possible to get away from posers because they do not respect the mediocrity posers so willingly accept. Posers make excuses, drain energy, and suck time.
Allow me to be blunt... If you are strategic - you have invested in your sales search and selection program. You do not guess when it comes to hiring sales wolves because that would be just plain stupid. You know what a true sales wolf looks like because you use a valid sales personality test like the TriMetrix® HD to know with certainty. No one gets on your "bus" without passing through the sales assessment test. No one.
The most critical time for you and your sales wolf is during the onboarding process - particularly sales training. This is the time period where the sales wolf is (hopefully) attaching themselves emotionally to you, your business, your team, and your Customers. They expect you to be just like them - uncompromising in what you will accept - committed to winning.
Punchline... If you put a poser sales manager or a poser sales trainer in any type of extended contact with your sales wolves, you are taking an extreme risk. Your sales manager / sales trainer must be a sales wolf themselves. They must be able to say, "I have been there done that," and not be lying. If they are lying, you are shooting yourself in the foot because your sales wolves will not tolerate this mediocrity.
And if you are not a sales wolf yourself, bring a sales wolf in to manage your team. You will be far better off financially.
Repeat after me...
I will hire only sales wolves using a valid sales personality test.
I will never, ever, ever, ever expose my sales wolves to posers during the onboarding process because I respect myself and I respect my sales wolves.
A Client recently shared what happens when they notice a salesperson is not performing as well as they should be or is failing to live up to the Culture Standards of their sales team. It sounded so familiar.
The Sales VP said, "I initially notice something not quite right... Then I take observe and take notes... Then I observe some more and take more notes... Then I put them on a performance improvement plan... Which most fail to improve... I noticed that it all really starts when I begin taking notes... When I start taking notes, it is pretty much over for them."
The salesperson from hell... I am not referring to the obvious low performing salesperson. If you are smart - you will help your low performers quickly move on.
The "salesperson from hell" is that person who does not quite perform up to par and / or they violate the Culture Standards of your sales team and they are stuck at this performance level.
The fact is - by doing nothing - YOU make this person the "salesperson from hell".
The salesperson from hell is on the edge of hope and hopelessness. The salesperson from hell is in that "middle space" between not performing well enough and performing well enough to give you false hope that they may actually make it.
That "middle space" is what I call the "Performance Edge".
How many times have you kept a salesperson on the "performance edge" longer than you should have?
Your failure to take action to move them out - means you sentence yourself, them, and your team to a time period of emotional rollercoastering, anguish, anger, fear, and eventually loathing. Everyone loses.
While you are definitely not alone, the bad news is these salespeople destroy potential in a significant way if you do not address them (move them up or out).
How many times have you said, "Alright... One more time and will I let them go."? Then they go do something smart or perhaps brilliant - or they demonstrate loyalty and you have second thoughts? Or worse yet - they have a life / family issue making you feel like you have to keep them.
I have been-there-done-that. Oh yes I have. Makes me sick reflecting.
Today, I know better.
Yes, I have held onto salespeople longer than I should have and when I finally pulled the trigger... I walked away saying, "I will never do that again. It cost me too much time, energy, money, and sanity." Plus my wife is tired of hearing about it!
Like you, I have several PhDs from the "School of Hard Knocks". I have learned many of the same valuable lessons / insights that you have. It is time for both of us to heed them.
Following are eight powerful signals that indidcate it is time for salesperson on the "performance edge" to go on to "greener pastures".
- You think about their inadequate performance and / or their lack of respect, culture fit, or their attitude, for more than 15 minutes a day over the course of a week.
- You are talking with your coach about how to handle this salesperson - repeatedly.
- You are talking with your significant other about how to handle this salesperson - repeatedly. And / or this salesperson is on your mind when you are not at work.
- You have tried coaching this salesperson several times and it does not seem to be getting anywhere.
- You are confident this salesperson dislikes you and it is getting personal.
- This salesperson enrolls others to take their side. In other words, they are gossiping about how bad you are behind your back.
- Your high performers are noticing that you are not dealing with this issue.
- This salesperson fails the "Fred Test" which is when you ask, "Would I hire "Fred" again?" and the answer is "No."
The biggest signal to me is the "Fred Test". If over the course of a week I ask the question, "Would I hire Fred again?" every day and most days the answer is, "No.", then I know I must take action immediately.
Hey... It is time to stop banging your head against the wall in futility. For whatever reason, that salesperson on the "performance edge" is not working out. It is probably mostly your fault and a little theirs. It is time to get on with your life and them to get on with theirs.
That feeling in your gut... It feels strangely familiar to the other times you have been at this point with past salespeople on the "performance edge". You know from experience, prolonging the agony for you and for them is not the right answer.
It is time to take action - to remove salespeople who are permanently on the "Performance Edge".
It is time to help those on the "performance edge" find something to do somewhere else. The sooner the better because the longer you allow them to stay - the more they will damage your culture, your team, your bottom line, and your reputation.
If you are like me, you are asking yourself, "How do I keep this from happening in the first place?"
Glad you asked... The answer is likely far easier than you may believe.
Reflect on the hiring process that helped you hire this salesperson on the "performance edge". I would be asking myself, "Where did I go wrong?" Chances are you hired this salesperson based on a "good interview", gut intuition, good references, a nice resume...
And that is where you went horribly wrong, my friend... You did not use a valid multi-science sales personality test with validity backed by brain research.
This all could have been prevented.
A True Story of Millions Lost
Several years ago, I worked with a privately-held business that was quite successful with twenty outside salespeople. John (not his real name) was there from the very beginning. He was salesperson number two - right behind one of the founders.
You know where this is headed...
For almost twenty years, John never actually sold anything. He was like the company dog that would not die. High performers joked about him behind his back and I think he knew it.
John was good at taking the occasional order, managing his fantasy sports teams, coming in late / leaving early, taking long lunches, and constantly checking in with his friends and family on company time. John made about $150k and he did not deserve 70 percent of it.
And EVERYONE knew it.
Then the company was sold and guess what happened to John...
You guessed it. John was shown the door. The acquiring company quickly figured out that John could not close a book in a library.
Imagine the damage the CEO and sales VP caused by allowing John to stay.
Interestingly... The people that paid the most for John were the founders - the two primary shareholders. They literally lost millions because of John.
Today, this company practices "rank and yank".
The Definition of "Rank and Yank"
"Rank and yank" is the practice of ranking employees according to their individual performance - A, B, and C players are identified (20/70/10) with C players or under-performers removed or "yanked".
Rank and yank, also known as forced ranking, forced distribution, and stack ranking has been demonized by the "employee engagement" movement. Many blog posts have been written by armchair quarterbacks (many who have actually never been in charge of a bottom line) demonizing "rank and yank" as bad for morale and being immoral.
I have been fascinated by the "employee engagement" and "everyone-is-super-special" movement. There is a widespread mindset that companies owe it to their employees to give them a voice - a seat at the table.
I agree and disagree. I agree employees should have a voice - in fact I strongly believe companies who do not engage the hearts and minds of their employees are making a grave mistake. However, I fervently believe that employees who do not fit their jobs should have no voice - they should not be employed in the business.
"Employee engagement" does not make employees who do not fit their job - fit their job.
In a WSJ opinion piece - 'Rank-and-Yank'? That's Not How It's Done, Jack Welch shared his sentiments regarding "rank and yank" - I recommend checking it out. Following is a particularly impactful quote.
"Unlike "rank-and-yank"—I hate even using that term—differentiation isn't about corporate plots, secrecy or purges. It's about building great teams and great companies through consistency, transparency and candor. It's about aligning performance with the organization's mission and values. It's about making sure that all employees know where they stand. Differentiation is nuanced, humane, and occasionally complex, and it has been used successfully by companies for decades."
Jack Welch is absolutely spot on. This man shaped one of America's greatest success stories and the futures of dozens of companies.
Companies are in business to profitably serve Customers.
Profit-maximizing companies, should never act as a charity through employment of subpar talent - particularly salespeople who cannot sell.
Yet the argument continues...
"Is Rank and yank inhumane and immoral?"
No, it is not.
I have seen again and again first hand where sales management either did not have the intestinal fortitude to remove a low-performing salesperson or the CEO would not let them. There must be a system of forced ranking that requires a company to recalibrate their talent periodically - to force transparency regarding performance - to hold accountable for what is or is not being produced.
Cultivate and protect thy sales culture.
Top-performing salespeople model personal accountability and they expect the same of others.
If you want to destroy the morale and sales culture of your sales team - particularly your top performers, then do not practice forced ranking. Do not hold salespeople accountable for their poor performance - instead, keep paying them - "protect" them - in fact, raise their base pay so they do not have to actually sell.
Yet keep in mind... You are not fooling anyone. Go into any sales team and ask team members who the top and bottom salespeople are and you will get a consistent, honest answer. "Sales wolves" - top performers know precisely who the bottom performers are and they not only want nothing to do with them, they do not respect you for allowing them to stay.
Robbing Peter to pay Paul is immoral.
When you retain low performers - chances are they are not even holding their own weight - they are not paying for themselves. Their compensation must come from somewhere.
Low performers are being subsidized through the sales performance of high performers and that is morally wrong.
There is nothing humane about keeping a low performer who cannot sell
Chances are you have looked into the eyes of a low-performing salesperson like I have. It is difficult to do - especially when it has been allowed to continue for decades. When you do look... And you must... You know that the low performer knows that you know that they do not have what it takes to even be average. Where is their dignity? There is no dignity. It is immoral to allow a low performer to get to the point where they lost not only the respect of others - but also respect for themselves.
Your future is in your hands...
If you do not have a transparent way of engaging your high, average, and bottom performers, it is time to develop a means to do so. You owe it to your Customers, your shareholders, your salespeople, and your legacy to do so.
If you seek to avoid having to let low performers go, then consider using a valid sales personality test like the Trimetrix® HD to identify top sales talent from the very beginning.
Do the right thing with your low performers on an annual basis - move them on to "greener pastures". Call on us. We are here to help guide you.
Are you hunting for "sales wolves" or are "sales vampires" hunting you?
If you are fortunate enough to have one or more true sales wolves on your team, you already know that they consistently outsell 80-90 percent of the rest of your sales team. Naturally, you wish you could clone them because sales would go up - SIGNIFICANTLY.
Sales vampires are the opposite of the sales wolves. They suck the lifeblood out of your bottom line and they destroy accountability in your sales culture. Unfortunately, most sales teams have plenty of sales vampires...
How many sales vampires do you have?
The good news is you can consistenly hire only sales wolves and avoid the sales vampires if you use a valid, multi-science sales personality test with a Job Benchmark.
Recently, a new Client began using our sales personality test and algorithm (think Moneyball) to hire a couple of sales wolves. After a half dozen candidates, I could tell they were becoming frustrated. They were frustrated because the only candidates they were attracting were sales vampires.
How were they attracting sales vampires? Because they were following the standard practice that many companies use to attract and identify sales candidates. Most companies put a notice up on their website, place an ad in the local newspaper, perhaps use a local free ad website, and perhaps use a job board.
Some companies are more aggressive and more strategic. They advertise on Linkedin and / their Facebook page. And some have a full blown recruitment program that still attracts primarily sales vampires.
While the above-described strategy can work at times, it is based more on luck. The outcome is you get "has beens" and "never will be" salespeople this way.
In most cases the salespeople that are looking for jobs either are fresh out of college or they have burned through their draw against commission. The people applying to work in your company who burned through their draw are usually "sales vampires" and they are hunting you.
Sales wolves do not have to actively seek employment opportunities - jobs come to them...
If you truly seek sales wolves then you must "hunt" for them where they live. Few sales wolves are looking for a job and the primary reason is simple - sales wolves do not have to actively seek employment opportunities - jobs come to them.
Jobs come to sales wolves because others notice their sales performance and keep them in mind until they have a hiring need.
If you are committed to maximizing profits, you must be a full-time sales wolf hunter.
How to hunt for sales wolves...
Always use a multi-science sales personality test with a Job Benchmark - Even sales wolf sales managers have difficulty identifying sales wolves accurately on a consistent basis. Trust but verify.
Be a "sales wolf only company" - Every industry has the company everyone wants to work for - particularly sales wolves. And those companies often have such a selective hiring process that sales vampires select themselves out of the hiring process by not even applying. Be that company.
Look to your competitor from hell - Do you notice that a particular salesperson from a competitor is taking business away on a consistent basis? I would assess them to identify if they are a true sales wolf. When you interview them, ask them the names of salespeople they hate to compete against.
Engage the salesperson selling your car, furniture, or cell phone who impresses you - When you encounter a sales professional who does a particularly good job - assess them to identify if they are a true sales wolf. Ask family members and friends to share their recent positive sales experiences and then hunt those salespeople down.
Implement an "Always Be Hiring Program" - Strategic companies are always on the hunt for strong sales talent regardless of whether or not they are actually hiring officially. You cannot go broke selling at a profit. The same applies when hiring a sales wolf - you can always afford one.
Step one is to decide to hire only sales wolves and let your competitors hire the sales vampires. Right now would be a good time to develop a sales wolf recruitment strategy.
"Show me a good loser and I will show you a loser."
Vince Lombardi was right.
The following questions are a wake-up call for you to consider...
- Is your sales team interested or committed to winning consistently? Why or why not?
- What are you doing about it?
- How much are you influencing your sales team to win or lose?
Over the last 14 years, I have seen way too many CEOs, sales managers, and sales teams who are way too accepting of losing the sale. In fact, I believe the "you win some you lose some" mindset is a serious disease that infects the mindset of the sales team, the company, and destroys shareholder value.
If you are in the noble profession of sales, there is one reason to play. Play to win.
To say "I hate to lose" is an understatement. I am not a sore loser. I just take losing as a sign that somewhere somehow I failed and I refuse to keep failing. When I lose or my team loses, there is no second place prize. My commitment to winning consistently requires me to identify precisely where I failed, learn from it, and improve.
There are three reasons why has it become acceptable for sales teams to lose...
There Is A Culture War Against Winning / Being Competitive
Blame soccer Moms (and Dads) who have been telling children all that matters is that "you try". Scoreboards across the country are shut down if the score spread is too high so that young boys and girls can avoid learning about losing.
The result... After 15-20 years of "happy talk" across society, we have a culture of greatly-reduced personal accountability. It is ok to lose as long as you try and it is destroying our competitive potential.
Today, I see salespeople getting annual awards they did not earn - they got lucky and everyone on their team knows it - or they were the favorite of management. This nonsense destroys morale, shareholder value, and causes "sales wolves" to flee to companies where winning is expected and losing is a true lesson.
In sales, there are winners and losers. Period. Second place gets nothing.
Poor Salesperson Job Fit
From my experience, the larger the company and the more competition in the industry, the more likely it is that the average salesperson job fit is higher relative to smaller companies and less competitive industries. Why? Competition. In a more competitive industry, companies are forced to hire and retain only the very best salespeople.
In small and large companies with little competitive pressure, it is more likely there are "salespeople" who cannot sell.
Committed CEOs and sales managers use a valid, multi-science sales personality test to identify and hire only the best salespeople. They also use this invaluable tool to onboard and coach.
Thought leaders who spread "fancy talk" about employee engagement
The popular press, well-meaning bloggers, book publishers, and airport bookstores are conspiring to change the world through sound bites and warm fuzzies about leadership and employee engagement. These "thought leaders" are the "soccer Moms" of the corporate world and they are polluting the mindset of many sales leaders and managers.
These pundits (many who have never actually lead a real team) are proclaiming that management must provide freedom and a nurturing environment to create employee engagement. Listen. All the freedom and nurturing will not fix a salesperson who cannot sell. It only prolongs the hemorraging of lost sales.
And the damage these pundits are doing is often severe. I have seen far too many "get it" sales managers who have only done their jobs by holding salespeople accountable for lack of sales performance who are forced to bow down by well-meaning CEOs who read a book on an airplane or attended a conference where a pundit spoke about how to create employee engagement.
When you hire and retain only "sales wolves" and hold them accountable, you create employee engagement.
The good news is you can make a change today.
Steps To Stop Being A Good Loser And Win More...
Decide. Every important decision begins with the decision to commit to a course of action leading to the desired outcome.
Hire only "sales wolves" - The best-of-the-best companies use a valid, multi-science sales personality test.
Autopsy what worked and what did not - Learn what went wrong by identifying what went wrong.
Establish and enhance selling systems. - Improve your selling systems incrementally to win more frequently.
The choice is yours to make. Your legacy depends on the right answer.
Nothing drives the bottom line forward like a strong salesperson.
A top sales performer - a "sales wolf" - will consistently produce 10-20 times that of a bottom performer - a "sales vampire" who will suck the lifeblood out of your bottom line.
Despite the evidence, few CEOs and sales managers of small to medium-sized companies commit to hiring only sales wolves. Given this fact, the commitment and execution of a "sales wolf only hiring strategy" can become a powerful competitive advantage.
There are three primary reasons why CEOs and sales managers do not hire more sales wolves.
- Relationships - People are loyal to others - and often blind to the performance challenges even when they are obvious to everyone else.
- They do not know what they do not know - Perfect information does not exist. CEOs and sales managers are unaware of the advances / best practices in hiring sales talent.
- The fear of making the big change / initial heavy effort - Making the decision to hire only sales wolves takes time, energy, and commitment that intuitively CEOs and sales managers know they must do to become successful but are unwilling to climb the first hills and mountains to get there.
It takes commitment to only hire sales wolves.
Following are seven powerful strategies necessary to execute a "Sales Wolf Only Hiring Program".
- Decide. The most important decision in any decision is to decide. Why is there a failure of execution? Most times it is because managment did not decide to implement despite the challenges. Remember... Interested people do what is convenient - they make excuses about why something cannot be done - they give up. Committed people do WHATEVER IT TAKES. Commit to only hire sales wolves and then never, ever go back.
- Be a "sales wolf magnet". If you carefully cultivate a reputation of being a high performance sales team, then sales wolves will come to you and sales vampires will stay away. Like an actual wolf, sales wolves want to and expect to work with sales wolves. It is an unwritten law.
- Look to your competitors from hell. Who do youu hate to run up against in the marketplace? Hire sales wolves away from your competitors.
- Confirm that a particular sales candidate is in fact a sales wolf. There are many posers who sell great products and services who look like a sales wolf but as soon as they move into another company, they perform like a "sales vampire". The only way you can confirm that you in fact have a sales candidate who is truly a "sales wolf" is to use a multi-science sales personality test.
- Look to your current sales wolves. Birds of a feather flock together. Sales wolves do not accept mediocrity in who they associate with. Ask your current sales wolves who they know.
- Always be hiring. "Get it" CEOs and sales managers ALWAYS have room for a game-changer sales wolf. When you run into a sales wolf, hire them immediately. You cannot go broke hiring only sales wolves.
- Do not rush the hiring process to fill an open position. Average CEOs and sales managers rush the sales hiring process because they have the mindest that the position must be filled as soon as possible. Take your time. Never sacrifice the future to fill an open position now.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. The legacy is yours to maximize and protect. Ask yourself, "What would Steve Jobs, John Wooden, and Peter Drucker do when it comes to hiring great sales talent?
Is your sales team beautifully designed?
There is no question that Steve Jobs will go down in history amongst the greats - Alexander Graham Bell, Einstein, Thomas Edison, Frank Lloyd Wright, and others who served mankind by what they created and what they influenced.
When it came to design, Steve Jobs did not negotiate.
Your legacy requires that you not negotiate.
To maximize sales tomorrow, you must be committed to getting the design of your sales team right. Committed CEOs and sales managers carefully design their sales teams through...
- How salespeople are hired and onboarded.
- Implementing and using the best sales processes.
- Carefully shaping and zealously reinforcing the desired sales culture.
What does the current design of your sales team say about you?
Does it say, "artisan quality"?
Recently I watched a Charlie Rose interview of Jony Ive Senior Vice President of Design at Apple and industrial designer Marc Newson. If you are passionate about getting design right, you have to watch this video clip. I have several times. Following is an excerpt of a particularly powerful segment...
16:56 into the interview - Jony Ive shares... "I think one of the things you get a sense of is the degree of care. How much did this group of people care to make this and make it right. And they didn't do it for themselves - it's in service to the people that are gonna use or buy their product. I think there is something - the humanity of that I think is extraordinary...
...How something's finished on the inside. You can argue that you will never see that... But I think we believe and it is very difficult to explain why. But I think part of the human condition is that we sense care. And sometimes it is easier to realize you sense carelessness. We are surrounded by a manufactured environment - so much of it testifies to a complete lack of care. Which isn't whether you know - that's not about your attitude towards an object - it's about your attitude toward each other.
That sort of commitment or passion become fanaticism of really caring to get it right whether you see it or not."
Be unrelenting in getting the design of your sales team right.
Many CEOs and sales managers sacrifice their future for the what they can have right now. We live in a high pressure disposable world of "I want it now! I want it now! I want it now!" (I have actually said that.) It is easy to go cheap - to go disposable. It is easy to put a band-aid on a problem to temporarily fix it. And way too many people do. Artisans take the long-term approach.
The three greatest challenges I see in sales include:
- The wrong salespeople get hired - I see CEOs and sales managers hire salespeople too quickly knowing that 30 percent will be gone within 12 months and that 20 percent will be there longer than five years when they should never been hired in the first place. Most companies do not use a validated sales personality test as part of their hiring process. Most companies would rather lose sales than hire right in the first place.
- Salespeople decide if they want to use sales processes - I see CEOs and sales managers allowing salespeople to independently decide if they will use the company sales CRM.
- Sales cultures are poorly defined and not defended - I see CEOs and sales managers allowing low performers to infect the sales culture with mediocrity.
This happens because you, Mr. or Miss CEO, VP of Sales, or sales manager allow it to happen.
If Steve Jobs designed your sales team...
He would blaze a trail that others would use as an example. Then he would iteratively improve it. Tomorrow would be incrementally better than today. He would set the standard for the industry. Your competitors would poach your talent to figure out your "secret sauce".
If your sales team were truly a masterpiece of design, your salespeople would sense the care that goes into it. Your sales team could actually become a talent magnet of the best sales talent.
Now is the perfect time to clear your mind and capture your thoughts. Then draw a line in the sand and stop negotiating.
My challenge to you in 2014 and beyond... Design carefully. Design your sales team, sales processes, and sales culture like Steve Jobs would.
2014 can be your turning point. You just need to decide.
It is that time of year again. The time where many people reflect upon the 350 plus days prior and they consider what they will "try" to do differently in the next.
This is the time of year when a Client asks, "Chris... What strategy should I/we undertake in the New Year."
My response is always the same... "The same strategy you must be using every day if you are committed to succeeding."
For those who are committed to increasing sales on a consistent basis - they do all four of the following - every day - year round.
- Hire the best salespeople possible.
- Make Personal Accountability a cornerstone of their values and culture.
- Implement a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) such as Salesforce.
- Stop charitable donations at work.
Sounds so simple, doesn't it? The problem is most people are interested in improving sales but not committed. Interested people do what is convenient. Committed people do whatever it takes.
Which are you? Interested or committed?
Hire the best salespeople possible.
If you want to know how serious a manager or CEO of a company is, ask them them what their average Job Fit is of their salespeople. Our Clients call it the "Rainmaker Score".
Most companies have zero understanding of how well their salespeople fit the job nor how to coach them effectively. Smart companies that want to own their future and own the competition are serious about understanding sales talent and hiring the best-of-the-best salespeople possible.
It is a talent war, folks. If you are not using a multi-science sales personality test you are not hiring the best salespeople possible. That would make you a dinosaur.
Do not be a dinosaur.
Besides... How do you know how to effectively coach a salesperson if you do not know their Behaviors and Values? You can't.
Your talent must be your competitive edge in 2014.
Make Personal Accountability a cornerstone of their values and Culture.
There is a serious lack of personal accountability in the workplace today. Oh so much blame going on... Employees are blaming management... Management is blaming employees...
Hey management. It is YOUR FAULT!
Hey employees... It is YOUR FAULT!
OWN IT. Both of you. Power comes from owning the problem and owning the solution. The best sales teams and companies have EVERYONE owning the problem - regardless of where it came from. Get Personal Accountability today.
Personal Accountability must be your competitive edge in 2014.
Implement a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) like your life depended upon it.
Look. You need a strong CRM like Salesforce - and no, I do not own the stock. I wish that I did. We have been using Salesforce for almost 13 years. Salesforce is a game changer.
Napkins, notebooks, sheets of paper, spreadsheets, and Outlook are not a CRM. You cannot do a search of your notebook from a keypad. It does not work. Sales managers cannot coach effectively if they do not know what their salespeople are working on.
A CRM creates intelligence. A CRM creates accountability.
And while I am mentioning CRM implementation - please allow me to address CRM use. EVERYONE must use the CRM - salespeople and sales management. There can be no golden children here - regardless of past heroics.
Stop charitable giving at work.
Is your business a charity disguised as a business?
As a business owner, I get calls at work. "Chris, will you donate to The Human Fund?"
My response is always, "I am sorry, George, but we do not make charitable donations through the business."
All donations are made personally - never through the company.
Why is that? Simply because my Clients and employee team members count on me to be "for profit" when I am at work. My businesses are in the business of making a profit.
However, my wife and I are not-for-profit at home. We do donate.
Unless you and/or your employees want to be confused about your profit status, you must follow the same practice.
How do you know if you are a nonprofit? If you are a 501c3, you are nonprofit. If you are an S-Corp, C Corp, LLC, or LLP, you must be "for profit".
Right now you are saying, "Of course I am "for profit..."
And my response is if you are thinking at all like a nonprofit, then your employees and Customers will "smell" it and behave accordingly. And that scares the hell out of your employees.
If you allow low performers to keep getting paid and have access to the best accounts who got lucky a few years back and sold a big deal but today sell nothing, you are a nonprofit. You are telling all of your employees that you will keep people who suck on the bus.
If you hire salespeople without knowing their job fit and you "take a chance" on people - you are nonprofit. You need to hire salespeople that PUSH you and your sales team to greater heights.
Never, ever mingle a "for profit" business and nonprofit mindset. Oil and water. Doing so confuses you, your employees, and your Customers.
There you have it. The "secret sauce" to rockin' it in 2014. Make it your best year ever.
Now get to work.
Sales wolves are truly a special breed. Sales wolves are the best-of-the best salespeople. They possess the Behaviors, Motivators, and Acumen (sales personality) to consistently produce in the top 10 to 20th percentile of all salespeople and it is no accident.
Not only are top sales wolves "wired" to sell - sales wolves create "mindset habits" that help them perform at the highest possible level.
Sales wolves know that their own worst enemy in achieving their goals is their own thinking.
Sales wolves have "mindset habits" that maximize their productivity and results. Furthermore... Sales wolves carefully guard their thinking.
The mindset habits sales wolves include being...
- Committed To Win. Sales wolves do not negotiate to lose. They play to win every time. Interested people do what is convenient. Sales wolves are committed and do whatever it takes to be successful.
- Goal-Oriented. Sales wolves set goals to push themselves to higher performance.
- Candid. Sales wolves do not waste precious time hiding from the truth.
- Careful With Their Word. Sales wolves are pragmatic and hard on themselves but they never use their word against themselves. Read "The Fifth Agreement" by don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz.
- Accountable - Sales wolves know the "buck stops with me". Sales wolves model personal accountability because they know that they increase their power and ability to succeed by overcoming challenges without blame, victim thinking, nor procrastination. Read "The Traveler's Gift" by Andy Andrews and "QBQ - The Question Behind the Question" by John Miller.
- Action-Oriented - Sales wolves take action. John Miller, author of "QBQ" says it best, "Action defeats victim thinking." Amen.
- Positive-Focused - Sales wolves know that negativity is a drain on their energy and time. Sales wolves focus on what can be done rather than what cannot be done.
- Future-focused - Sales wolves focus on shaping their future and spend zero time ruminating in the past.
- Aware of the Law of Rejection - Sales wolves know that rejection is statistically part of the job and that a "no" is one step closer to a "yes".
- Value-focused - Sales wolves know the value of what they sell and they sell that value. Sales wolves do not sell on price.
- Person of Integrity - Sales wolves do the right thing.
For best results...
While you can and should help all of your salespeople develop these mindset habits, it is best to hire true sales wolves. The only way to know if you have a true sales wolf is to assess them using our sales personality test.
Then... Carefully devleop these eleven mindset habits through what you talk about and model.
Sales Wolf Homework Assignment...
If you and your sales team members were to score yourselves... Which of the eleven are strengths?
Which are "growth opportunities"?
Take 15 minutes to get clear about the mindset habits you and your team need to create in order to maximize success. 2014 is around the corner. Now is the perfect time to start.
"Fred" (not his real name of course) was one of the first hires 20 years ago when the company started. He is a childhood friend of the founder.
Fred is the "golden child". He is untouchable.
Twenty years ago, Fred was a "hero" and today he is destroying more value than he is creating.
There was a time when Fred added value... In the early days, the founder did all of the selling and Fred took care of the accounts. It was a magical combination. Today, Fred makes $250k annually and works 20 hours a week. If Fred comes into the office, it is usually from 10 am until 3 pm and he spends a lot of his time tracking his favorite sports teams. That's IF Fred comes in...
Fred has not made a true sale in over a decade. He has not needed to actually sell until recently. Fred takes orders and collects cash. The only "value" he adds to "his" Customers is by keeping the price lower than everyone else and by giving away service. He protects "his" Customers from price increases. One by one the people he "sold" to are retiring. The replacements are seeking something more than a price discount.
Fred is in serious trouble. He and everyone knows it.
Fred's sales are decreasing because the old days of "relationship selling" as the primary reason to do business are going away. His Customers are increasingly expecting value - not price and Fred cannot deliver.
Fred knows he needs to make changes but his personality, lifestyle, and habits will not allow for it. Fred knows he needs to add value to "his" Customers or they will leave him but he cannot make the shift.
Everyone knows what Fred really is... Fred is a "golden child" - a model of no accountability. The CFO, the other 22 salespeople know, and the service department knows... Everyone knows that Fred is a farmer making the big cash - even the CEO knows. A newly-hired account manager (what Fred really is) makes $50-60k.
The sales manager would like to do something about Fred but cannot because he would like to keep his job as sales manager.
Who is to blame?
- The sales manager? Perhaps.
- Fred? No.
- The CEO is to blame because they allowed this to continue to this point.
Today, the company is in trouble. They must grow their sales and profits.
The CEO brought us in to turn the sales team around. Our recommendations were obvious...
- Know the cost of the problem. Until a dollar figure is attached to what Fred costs the company, it is too easy to allow it to continue.
- Hold Fred Accountable. Fred cannot be allowed to continue at this level and while it is unfortunate for Fred, his compensation must match his contributions and his actions. In most cases, the "golden child" needs to leave the company.
- Reshape The Culture To Reinforce Accountability. No one can be allowed to avoid adhering to the sales systems - regardless of contribution or past heroics.
What do you think happened after we provided our recommendations? If you said, "nothing" - that pretty much sums it up. I would like to say this Client listened to us but unfortunately their commitment to Fred was greater than their commitment to profitability, their Customers, their shareholders, and their employees. With the value Fred was destroying, the company would have been better off doubling Fred's pay and having him stay home.
When you allow a "golden child" to remain on your bus... You are not fooling anyone. You are destroying Customer and shareholder value. You are also teaching every salesperson and every other employee a valuable lesson... It's not what you know - it is who you know.
The best and brightest sales talent want a "level playing field" where they have a real shot of real rewards for adding value, working hard, and modeling the values of the company.
When you create a level playing field... When you show existing and new sale talent that by playing by the rules of adding value, doing the right thing, working hard, and following the company code - you open the door to new potential.
Do you have a Fred or two on your sales team? I would like to tell you this is an extreme situation but it is not. Unfortunately, this story is very, very typical. Most sales teams have a "golden child" or two who are untouchable.
From my experience, when the cost of the status quo are fully-understood, it is much easier to make the required changes. Ultimately, you must remove the "golden child" from your team or the consequences will be severe.
No salesperson should ever be untouchable. Every single salesperson must be accountable to an appropriate activity level and outcomes as well as to how they are living the "code".
If this sounds like your sales team, the most important step is to decide to make a change for the right reasons.
Remember... Interested people do what is convenient. Committed people do whatever it takes.
If you are committed... If you are ready to dramatically grow sales and to create a culture of accountability, give us a call and we will help guide you.