The Challenges of Executing and Delivering

Wish_Group_Summer_ReunionWhether you only have one employee or 50 employees, execution will always be difficult. By execution I mean of course the way that you are completing tasks that will grow your business, and deliver positive results either to your leadership in the company or to yourself.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the Wish Group went away for our bi-annual team building trip a couple of weeks ago. During these trips we like to have an overall theme for the event that will put a focus on the learning we’ll accomplish, with this year’s theme being execution.

The main goal for these trips is of course team building, but taking the time to discuss challenges and triumphs with your team is also an excellent way of doing that. When it comes to executing, we focused on four different areas that were loosely based on the four disciplines of execution, with a spotlight on sales of course:

Make Important Goals – The only way to achieve great success is to make goals that you can focus on. It may sound simple, but without a goal to focus on you simply won’t have the same drive that other sales people or companies have. One of the tasks we asked everyone at our Summer Reunion to complete is to write down their Wildly Important Goals for the year. This first step is really what sets the tone for how you’ll achieve success, since it’s important to actually define what success means to you!

Define Your Lead Measures – Even if you have a goal, what’s the point if you don’t have a practical way of reaching it? I put an emphasis on practical because it’s common to rush towards a goal instead of tackling it strategically. The best way I can explain this is with a common weight loss analogy. Your important goal may be to lose 50 pounds, but you can’t just make this goal and hope for the best. You’ll be keeping track of how much exercise you’re doing daily and even how many calories you’re taking in. The same thing applies to your sales team. Sure, they want to close a certain amount of deals, but victory lies in preparation. They’ll need to keep track of who they’re contacting, what prospects make the most sense to reach out to and what hasn’t been working for them in the past, just as a few examples.

Track Your Progress – It’s hard to admit, but there are only winners and losers when it comes to sales and business. People don’t pay to see two sports teams kick a ball around and not keep track of who wins. We pay to see one team win, which means another team has to lose. Keeping a scorecard of all of your successes will keep you focused on your goals in two ways. On one hand, having a visual record of the times when you didn’t quite reach your goals will motivate you to keep trying harder to turn those failures into triumphs. On the other hand, with the notes you keep from your lead measures combined with your scorecard, it’ll be extremely rewarding to have a solid trail of your success and how hard you’ve worked to get there.

Accountability to Yourself and Your Team – Your plans, your efforts and triumphs don’t mean anything if you don’t hold yourself accountable by actually following through with your action plan. It’s important to understand that this means keeping track of your failures too, because you’ll never be able to improve if you don’t look at both sides of your endeavors.

As you can clearly see, executing is by no means an easy task, and overnight results shouldn’t be expected. Like with most things in life, if you want to achieve greatness, you’ll need to take it one step at a time. And like most things as well, the first step is always the most difficult – but after that I guarantee that you’ll be able to do it!

Pushing Aside Fear When Selling

sales_fearIn my blog post last week, I talked about fear holding you back when you’re an entrepreneur and discussed different methods that I thought would be useful for getting over your fears. Once you’ve understood and overcome your fears, you’ll be able to help others get over theirs. This will come in particularly handy with your sales team.

Your sales team may be holding themselves back from getting new clients simply because of their fears. However, like I discussed last week, these can be overcome with constant work and luckily most sales people have very similar fears, either consciously or unconsciously. Here are the most common fears of sales people that I’ve seen, and what you can do to help them overcome it.

Fear of Closing the Sale – No matter how amazing the product or service you’re selling is, it’s extremely rare that people will blatantly tell you that they want to buy it. Most of the time, you have to ask people to buy your product – which is a surprisingly big fear for most sales people. When I’ve asked people in the past why they’re afraid of closing the sale, they told me that they were afraid of coming across as forceful or stubborn. In reality, you should NEVER be afraid of what other people think of you. At the end of the day, you’re doing your job just like everyone else. You shouldn’t fear how someone will react to you doing something that you love.

Fear of Following Up – Tying in with the above fear of other people’s perception, some sales people never follow up with their prospects because of a fear of being perceived as annoying or obnoxious. You need to put this aside, simply because it’s extremely rare that you or anyone will sell something successfully on your first try. In fact, according to The National Sales Executive Association, only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, while an astounding 80% of sales are made on the twelfth contact or higher. If your sales people never follow up due to fear, they’ll never sell your product or service.

Fear of Rejection – This is the big one, and it doesn’t only happen to sales people. Fear of rejection is one of the biggest and most common fears that people have. There’s no set method to get over a fear of rejection, but the best piece of advice that I can offer you is to not take it personally. While your personality does play a role in whether or not you make a sale, most of the time your prospect won’t buy a product from you for a variety of reasons, not because they dislike you, so there’s no point in blaming yourself for a lost sale. Just learn your lesson from it, and move onto the next prospect.

Does your sales team regularly talk about their fears with you? If so, how do you mentor them to overcome them? I look forward to discussing this topic with you.

How do you become a Successful Sales Manager? (Infographic)

successful-sales-teamIt’s unfortunate, but there are sales managers who think that if their sales team is meeting all of their quotas, then there’s no possible way they can get any better. This, of course, couldn’t be any further from the truth. There are always steps that a sales manager can take to become more successful.

I found a great infographic (which you can find at the bottom of this post) from Level Eleven that looks at the secrets of a successful sales manager. The infographic offers valuable insights, and I was able to take three key lessons from it:

Train Your Sales Team to Manage Their Time Wisely – A large majority of sales people can dramatically increase their results with just a bit of direction on their time management skills.  Making sure that your sales team is focusing on important tasks and contacting prospects at the best times are just a few methods that you can instill within your team.

Take the Time to Mentor your Sales Team – Numerous stats on the internet show that it can take a sales person 9 to 12 months to become fully effective at their job. This means that you can’t give up on a member of your team just because they’re not as efficient as you expected they would be. If you take the time to nurture your sales team and ensure that they’re growing in the right direction, the long term pay off will be worth it.

Implement Incentive Programs – As Level Eleven shows, only 20% of sales people are organically motivated and engaged, meaning the other 80% need some kind of incentive to get them to reach their sales quota. Running an incentive program can bring out your team’s inner competitive spirit while boosting your company’s sales in the process. Keep in mind that the prizes of these programs don’t have to be anything completely over the top. Just like the infographic mentions, cash isn’t always the best option either. Tickets to an event, a special delivery of a fresh breakfast or even something as silly as an outdoor working station during nice weather are just a few ideas you could use.

Take a look at the infographic and let me know what you key lessons you took from it in the comments below.


Don’t Sell – Tell a Story

dont-sell-tell-a-story“I have an amazing product and I want to sell it to you!” If you ever want someone to hang-up on you immediately, just say that phrase and you’ll soon become best friends with the dial tone. Your sales team needs to understand that no one likes being sold to. In fact, it’s estimated that people are exposed to roughly 5,000 different advertisements per day, and thanks to this over-exposure of ads people will regularly tune out anything that begins to sound like a “sell” to them.

Your sales team has probably gotten comfortable telling their prospects that the product they’re selling is amazing, but probably haven’t considered using a story to back up their claims. A story will not only create a better emotional connection with your prospects, it will also leave a lasting impression with them and remind them not only of you, but of your product or service as well. Here are 3 advantages about story telling that I’ve learned over the years.

Stories Simplify Complicated Ideas – During a TED talk about storytelling, Andrew Stanton from Pixar delivered a great quote that really stuck with me: “Don’t give them 4, give them 2 + 2”.  People don’t want to hear the science of how your product will make their business run more efficiently, they simply want to know the results. Don’t get bogged down by the details of your strategy, just tell them a story that delivered concrete results, and explain that you’ll do the same for them.

Stories Leave An Impression –Most business owners and decision makers receive a large number of calls from salespeople every day, so having a memorable story in your arsenal can make a large difference between a meeting and a rejection. A decision maker will always remember an emotional story that meant something to them instead of a well-formulated sales pitch.

Stories Are Sharable – The best thing about a memorable story is that if you deliver it effectively, the listener will share that story with their peers. There’s nothing better than having an advocate of your product or service tell other people about it. Even if they don’t see any value in what you’re selling, they won’t mind sharing a story that stuck out in their mind.

Once your sales team is able to share stories with their prospects, they’ll have a creative way to be in their front of mind. If your team uses the age old “but I don’t have any stories” excuse, sit down with them and talk through some positive experiences they’ve had with past clients, and see if there are stories that they can adapt from that.

Does your team regularly use stories? What has their success been like? I would love to hear your successes and discuss more about this topic in the comments section.

Creatures of Habit

If you make something a habit it doesn’t tax your willpower constantly. Think about the last time you needed to engage your willpower… Ugh, it is draining just thinking about it. The more you create habits in your life the more you have willpower for other tasks. The good news is it only takes 21 days to create a habit, whether a good or a bad one, so choose to make them good!

First decide what task or goal you want to accomplish, maybe start with something small such as: I want to spend more time ___________.

Let’s say you chose “selling”. You get busy everyday with admin work, writing content for your blog, taking service calls, planning out marketing messages, filling in expense reports, whatever. But you still want to spend more time selling, you know you want to do this, it’s just not happening. Every day, from 9:30 – 10:30 you are now selling, no other option. Force it to become habit until it does not tax your willpower every day. It will take great discipline and willpower for the first few weeks but there will be a time where you will move from using willpower to simply, a habit. And a habit requires little to no willpower. Mark it in your calendar, using a calendar as a tool to keep you disciplined and accountable is one of the tricks I learned very early in my career and it works like a charm. You are more likely to actually complete a task or take the time to do what’s important versus urgent if you schedule it in your calendar.

As a salesperson from my experience most of us don’t want to prospect or spend time on the phones trying to schedule appointments with potential clients. To make it easier what we do at The Wish Group is schedule an hour each day where every sales associate clears their desks of everything besides their phone and call script and essentially we make a concentrated effort to schedule meetings and usually average 20 dials, we call these our “Hours of Power”. We like to make declarations to the team ahead of time of what our goals are for the hour, and twice a week we even get on a conference call with associates across all the offices throughout the province to share our results and success stories.  I’ve been trying to exercise and get in better shape for years to no avail, when I look back at why I’ve struggled to maintain consistency I realize that if I apply the good habits that I’ve done in selling to the gym I would have a much better chance at success. This is why I think cross fit is a fitness craze that might actually stick. The principles of having a clear schedule every session, the benefit of having a leader or what is essentially similar to having a personal trainer to keep you motivated, targeting all types of training and using the method of team and accountability are all proven to assist in developing consistency and creating a habit which is ultimately the secret to all success!