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Frederic_Lucas

These conversations allow you to get an accurate understanding of the current state of your sales force while mentoring and coaching your sales managers. To get the answers you need, you have to ask the right questions at the right time. Here is our time-saving list of questions that every leader should ask of their sales managers at the specified intervals; by week, month, and quarter.

Seven Weekly Questions

As a business leader, you must have, at a minimum, one conversation per week with each of your sales managers. This weekly meeting should allow you to feel in control of your sales force and let you know whether more frequent monitoring is required. For example, if there is a newly-appointed sales manager, it is best to increase the frequency initially, so that you are touching base with them daily. Seven questions to ask your sales managers at least once a week:

  1. What has changed since our conversation last week?
  2. What is the status of our sales pipeline?
  3. What might prevent us from achieving our goals?
  4. In the team, which salesperson works best, and why? What might we reproduce with others?
  5. In the team, which salesperson works less well, and why? What is the action plan designed to help improve their performance?
  6. What are you coaching on this week and in what aspect?
  7. Who will you accompany on calls this week?

 

With these questions, sales managers will understand what actions they need to take each week to be able to provide satisfactory answers to you during your meeting the following week.

The wording of these questions intentionally leaves the door open to many types of answers. Sales managers who are well-prepared for the meeting should be able to respond accurately to broader issues. Indeed, a vague answer is often an indication of a problem.

For example, to the question about the status of the sales pipeline, a vague answer can mean the deliberate omission of problematic elements, or it may reveal a lack of competence. A sales manager who can interpret the pipeline will meet it with precision, following with a plan of concrete actions, not with excuses.

Six monthly questions:

Once a month, the conversation between the CEO and the sales managers must focus on emerging trends. These questions should include:

  1. Are we still confident of achieving our sales goals?
  2. Has there been enough activity during the month for us to reach our goals?
  3. Are the goals realistic? If not, they were set too high or too low?
  4. Are there still enough good salespeople on the team to do the work?
  5. Can you tell me some of the best selling lessons that your salespeople have given you over the past few weeks?
  6. Are there things that we have not seen in past months, that we see this month?

To identify other trends to be addressed, it is sufficient to analyze the responses to questions posed in the previous weeks. For example, if the weekly conversations during the past months have all focused on the same salesperson who is having difficulty, you should ask your sales manager about it. Ask her questions like:

  • Where are you with the recruitment of a new representative?
  • How do you expect to perform if the salesperson is not replaced in the coming weeks?

Four quarterly questions

Each quarter, the CEO must have a conversation centered on the medium-term planning with sales managers.

These questions include:

  1. What is your action plan for the next three months?
  2. What topics will you be communicating about with the sales team?
  3. What aspects of the sales process will you be coaching on, and why?
  4. How will you coach your team on these particular elements?

The questions will vary depending on the quarter. For example, the first months of the year are less busy, and representatives often fail to get appointments with potential new customers. Early in this quarter, the conversation will, therefore, focus on actions to get meetings with new clients. At the end of Q2, we will discuss the importance of building a larger pipeline, in anticipation of the slowdown caused by the approach of the summer holidays. And so on.

The One Essential Question for Every Meeting

Finally, in each of the three types of conversations described, every business leader should always ask the following question of their sales managers:

How is it that I can help you in accomplishing your work?

As CEO, it is important that you demonstrate your support to your sales managers for the difficulties they raise during the meeting, as well as your willingness to help them.

Try these out and let us know how it goes!

 

About the Author

Frédéric Lucas, Prima Ressource

Frederic_LucasEntrepreneur, business owner, speaker, trainer, coach, adviser, blogger and expert about sales force performance and business growth… I’m all of it and none of it at the same time. Want to know why? I take an integrated approach to know where your company needs help to get from where it is right now to where you wanted to be. My clients know me for telling them what they need to hear, instead of what they want to hear. They value the depth of my expertise, the science behind my framework and the predictability of my insights. While most try to fix salespeople by working on factors that influence sales, I concentrate first on the scientific causes of underachievement and overachievement of sales organizations. I build profitable sales culture by working on the essential components that increase an organizations probability of generating profitable sales.

 

 

 

Re- Blogged From:- Integrity Solutions

Source:- https://www.membrain.com/blog/18-critical-questions-ceos-need-to-ask-their-sales-managers
18 CRITICAL QUESTIONS CEOS NEED TO ASK THEIR SALES MANAGERS

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Our research shows that the salespeople who consistently outperform the rest are those who release and expand their inner achievement drive. So the big question for sales training and management professionals is: How can you help every salesperson do that?

As Mike Fisher noted in a previous blog post, start by making sure they have a clear goal that’s personally motivating. But there’s another, even more powerful factor to take into account: “self-talk.”

This refers to the conversations salespeople are continually having with themselves about themselves. A salesperson may know intellectually what they need to do (“I think” statements), but their behavior is also driven by emotional “I feel” statements. In a contest between the two, their conscious willpower is no match for their powerful emotions. The “I feel” statements always win. That’s how they end up in a dynamic that goes something like this:

I know I need to call my prospect list to build up new business, but I’m going to check in again with my favorite clients.

There’s a third dimension of self-talk at play here, too: “I am” statements. Every salesperson unconsciously answers these questions:

What does it take to be successful?

Do I have what it takes to be successful?

In other words, do I believe I can do it?

A salesperson’s “I think” statements can set goals, but if their “I am” silently screams, “You’re not capable of doing that,” doubt and anxiety will creep in and eventually sabotage their ability to sell.

These “I am” statements are like the internal programming that regulates a person’s sales, income or rewards. You can’t release more achievement drive and improve performance until you break through these limiting self-beliefs.

A 5-Step Process for Expanding Sales Success Boundaries

The important thing to realize is that salespeople can break through their current levels of self-beliefs. What follows is a five-step process to get them started. As this process demonstrates, sales training and coaching that help people uncover and develop strategies for integrating new self-beliefs is a critical piece of the puzzle.

  1. Become aware of your current behaviors. Pay attention to the conscious choices you make or actions you take, or results you expect.
  2. Notice the attitudes or feelings that seem to influence those behaviors. Ask yourself, “What’s driving me to do this action or behavior? Is it driven by confidence or fear? By the need to avoid stress, or the desire to succeed?”
  3. Attempt to connect these feelings and behaviors with the unconscious beliefs that might be driving them. It’s likely that little will “pop out” to your consciousness at first. Just keep examining and looking for answers. Soon your “I am” will send answers to your “I think.”
  4. Select new beliefs that you’d like to have embedded in your “I am.” Through self-suggestion, you can begin to send those messages down inside yourself.
  5. Have the courage to go through the change, conflict and ambiguity that come as you grow and develop new beliefs. You’ll always go through these seemingly disruptive times until new beliefs have the time to establish themselves deep within you.

Each salesperson’s current level of self-belief “programming” has been developed largely by the self-suggestions they’ve programmed into it. That’s good news, because it means that they can change it the same way. It takes consistent attention and intention on the part of the salesperson, and it requires sales coaches who understand these dynamics and can support the transformation at every step.

Re- Blogged From – Integrity Solutions

Sales training

Originally contributed as a guest blog on SellingPower.com

By Mike Esterday

If you’re like most sales leaders, you’re constantly hunting for the “secret sauce” of sales success. You’re convinced that, once found, that secret sauce will put your organization over the top – and into the rarefied group of consistently top-performing companies.

Look no further. Chances are good that you already have all the ingredients you need. You’ve just added them to the sauce in the wrong proportions.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association to find out what top-performing companies focus on that’s different from the others. The answers were revealing and, in some cases, surprising.

We surveyed leaders at more than 200 sales organizations. We asked them to rate how a salesperson’s achievement drive – that is, their attitudes, beliefs, and passions – affects their performance. Likewise, we asked the same of them about how a salesperson’s product knowledge and selling skills affect performance.

Here’s what may surprise you: More than 80 percent of the respondents rated achievement drive as being of equal or greater value than product knowledge and selling skills in terms of positively impacting sales performance. However, only a quarter of the respondents said they were very effective in delivering sales training that focuses around achievement drive.

That is a tremendous gap between importance and effectiveness on what is potentially the most important driver of sales success.

Here’s the kicker: Those who said they were effective at focusing sales training on achievement drive reported 20 percent stronger results than everyone else.

What about you? Does your sales training emphasize achievement drive and ignite motivation?

What’s Causing the Gap?

If so many executives recognize the value of achievement drive, then why don’t more companies address it in training?

Well, ostensibly, it’s just plain easier to provide salespeople with product information and techniques on what to say and when – and then manage numbers and activities.

But relative ease is only part of the story. In fact, there are plenty of ways leaders rationalize focusing on skill and product training – even when they agree that attitudes and achievement drive play a bigger role in performance.

Based on our study, here are the top four reasons sales leaders ignore attitude and achievement drive in sales training:

  1. Skills and product training are just easier to deliver and measure.
  2. We expect people to have this already when they’re hired.
  3. The subject matter is too personal for corporate training or coaching.
  4. We’ve never done this type of development in our organization.

This isn’t to say that training on product knowledge and selling skills isn’t important. But it will only take your team (and your organization) so far.

When training goes beyond product knowledge and techniques – when it gets to the motivating attitudes that increase achievement drive – that’s where your competitive edge lies.

Top Performers Focus on These Three Critical Conversations

So, what advice can we take away from the lessons of the top-performing companies in our study?

We learned there are three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals:

  1. The conversation I have with my customers – How will I interact in ways that are seen as valuable by customers? This is where training around selling skills/methodology, account strategy, and product knowledge falls.
  2. The conversation I have with myself – Those moments of reflection, inner belief, and personal values are sometimes seen as “intangibles,” but the impact on performance is quite real. This is where training focused around achievement drive comes into play.
  3. The conversation I have with my coach – One of the key determining factors for growth is coaching. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation – a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that salespeople are having all the time – with themselves.

This holistic approach to development requires ongoing commitment from the top and alignment throughout the organization. But, as our research shows, it can be the turbocharger for your success.

When you think about it, it’s not all that surprising. After all, who among us hasn’t felt the undeniable power of self-belief and self-drive? And who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is committed to developing people in a way that unleashes their inner drive and potential? And, just as important, who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that values each salesperson as a whole person – not just a selling machine?

Take a closer look at your sales training approach. Are you missing any of the key conversations that could be the “secret sauce” of your sales success?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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By Bruce Wedderburn

As a sales leader, you’re there to make a difference—a difference in team performance. You’ve looked at the range of experience on your team and seen multiple opportunities for growth, so you immediately implemented the latest sales and marketing thinking to pave the way for double-digit gains over the next 12 to 24 months. It’s the kind of vision and take-charge leadership that has impressed organizational leadership.

The only problem is, the expected sales gains from your initiatives have been slow to materialize. As the months have progressed, others in the organization have begun expressing doubts about your strategy. Worse still, you’re beginning to have your own doubts.

This isn’t unusual. As organizations look for organic growth in increasingly competitive markets, leaders are searching for the latest technology, the next app, that one competitive strategy that will elevate them above their peers. But despite all of the new advances and approaches, the reality remains: Your salespeople still have to have conversations with customers.

Another sobering reality? More than any other factor, the quantity and quality of those conversations will determine whether or not your organization reaches its sales goals this year.

We recently conducted a research study in partnership with the Sales Management Association, and the findings were illuminating. We learned that there’s not one but three critical conversations every salesperson must focus on for the organization to consistently realize its growth goals. Improving any one of these will increase your team’s productivity. Improve all three and you’re on your way to a breakout year.

Here’s what those conversations are:

  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their customers. Customers have more access to more information than ever before, and that’s driving increased commoditization in your industry. As a result, your customers’ perception of “value” has shifted from what you’re selling to how you’re selling. In other words, your salespeople’s interactions are where the real value is today—the value that will differentiate you from the competition. It’s in these critical conversations that salespeople can move the discussion away from price and begin building the elusive “Trusted Advisor” status in the customer’s mind. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about your salespeople’s skillset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with themselves. These are the conversations that all of us have dozens, if not hundreds, of times each day. We each have a set of inner beliefs about who we are and the level of success we deserve to enjoy. Countless external influences over the course of our lives—parents, friends, relatives, teachers, co-workers, clients, spouses, good experiences, negative ones, highs, lows—have contributed to these beliefs and shaped who we are, our level of confidence and what we say to ourselves about ourselves. For salespeople, this inner talk affects what level of buyer they will call on, how many customer meetings they will have, how they feel about prospecting, how they respond to being coached, their vision for their career, how they handle rejection, how they handle success, whether or not they will improve, and the hundreds of experiences that make up a sales or management career. This all affects a person’s attitude and confidence. Succeeding with this conversation is mostly about the salesperson’s mindset.
  1. The conversation that salespeople have with their coach. Coaching is a key determining factor for growth and one of the great buzzwords of our times. However, when and if sales coaching actually happens, it’s nearly always focused on how to improve the first conversation—a salesperson’s ability to interact effectively with the customer. It rarely addresses the other critical conversation, the one that both salespeople and managers are having all the time—with themselves.

What the Pros Know About Success

Professional athletes know that the three S’s— stamina, strength and stretching—are essential for success, and so they constantly work at training and developing all three. Most recreational athletes, on the other hand, work at improving only one or occasionally two of these critical fitness qualities.

In the same way, all three success conversations can and should be constantly developed. Your salespeople’s skillset and mindset can both be improved through training and coaching. And when their skillset and mindset are working together, supported by effective coaching of both, your sales organization will be on the way to new levels of success and satisfaction.

Too many organizations look to external factors such as new technologies and the latest fads for the answers to growth. That’s like a professional tennis player who looks to the latest advances in racquet string technology, cloud-based ball tracking systems and energy-rebounding shoe design while overlooking the importance of improving foot-speed, confidence and fitness.

Without mastering what’s most important, the rest doesn’t matter.

What conversations are your salespeople having?

 

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions

 

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There isn’t a sales person alive today who doesn’t know that they shouldn’t be selling product, but instead should be selling to help meet the needs of their customers.  The problem is that, despite this, customers are still reporting a very low level of value from time spent with sales people. Why the disconnect?

As customers, we’ve all been on the receiving end of one or more of the common selling strategies. Here are a few you’ve probably seen:

  • A product focus is when salespeople spend most of their time showing and talking about their product or service, its features, advantages and benefits. Objective: Help people understand their product or service so that they’ll want to buy it.
  • A transaction focus is used by salespeople whose main goal is to “get people to the yes”-in other words, to agree to buy whatever they’re selling. Objective: Make the sale, whatever it takes.
  • A customer-needs focus is when salespeople go through a discovery process to determine if customers have needs, wants, problems or objectives they want filled, satisfied or solved. Objective: Establish a need before initiating any selling activity.

Thinking back to your experiences as a customer, how did you feel in these different scenarios? Were you bored? On the defensive? Did you learn something about your needs or discover a pressing challenge that you hadn’t even realized existed before? Or did you just want to get off the phone or run for the nearest exit as fast as you could?

With both product- and transaction-focused selling approaches, the salesperson is essentially trying to convince you that this product or this “deal” is so great that you simply must have it. Their success comes down to how effective they are at persuading you to believe their position.

In fact, many salespeople will say they take a customer-needs-focused approach, but their actions say otherwise. You can tell because they’re still falling back on this idea that they need to sway you or influence you to do something (the implication being that it’s something you don’t really want to do). No wonder customers often feel like they need to push back in these situations. It’s basically a battle of wills, one that’s being fought on a simmering ground of doubt and distrust.

With a true customer-needs approach, on the other hand, the salesperson is focused on helping you get a clearer picture of your own situation so that, together, you can identify what the requirements are and how they can best be satisfied. Their success comes down to how effective they are at bringing your true needs to the surface and the overall value they deliver in filling those needs.

Instead of trying to convince you to buy something, these salespeople spend most of their time finding out if you have needs that they can address. No solutions are even offered until your wants or needs have been admitted.

Here’s the kicker: Our research shows that when people sell this way, they can experience a 15 to 30 percent increase in their sales.

To understand why, we have to look at what we know about the art of persuasion: The more we attempt to persuade people, the more they tend to resist us. But the more we attempt to understand them and create value for them, the more they tend to persuade themselves.

What is your focus?

If you’re in sales, one easy way to identify your own central sales focus is to think about how you spend your time when talking to customers.

Do you spend most of your time in the first half of your contact talking about your product or service? Or do you spend most of your time asking questions that focus on the customer’s needs?

In the interview stage of an effective customer-needs-focused selling process, you should be spending at least 80% of the time listening. And when you do talk, it should be mostly in the form of questions and paraphrasing back to customers what they tell you to make sure you understand them. You explore, ask questions and get feedback, and you make no attempt to sell anything until the customer:

  1. admits needs, wants, problems or objectives they want filled, satisfied or solved.
  2. agrees that not only do they have needs but that they are open to solutions.
  3. agrees to talk to you about a solution.
  4. confirms that they can make purchase decisions.

Generally, if they don’t agree to all four of these steps, you probably don’t have a good prospect. Or they aren’t the real decision makers. Or they don’t have a compelling reason to take action. Or they aren’t favorably disposed to buying from you.

Take a closer look at your own approach to make sure you’re truly focused on creating value for your customers rather than wearing them down to buy from you. One of the most important questions you can start with is this:

In your typical selling situations, who does most of the talking?

If it’s you, chances are, your focus is more product-oriented or transactional, and it’s likely keeping you from reaching your full sales potential.

Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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You’ve finally found the perfect app. It’s become one of your most valuable business tools. So when you get a notification that there’s an update available, you immediately download it…only to discover that in the process of updating the app, the company has completely messed up one of its best features.

As a long-time, loyal customer, you decide to submit a ticket to get the issue fixed. (You would have called, but there’s no phone number to be found anywhere). A couple of weeks go by. No response. No visible action. And then one day, you get an email: The problem has been solved, and we’ve closed your ticket.

There’s no reference to the issue—in fact, no way to tell that they’re even referring to your specific issue. But assuming that they are, there’s no information about when the new update will be released, how it will solve the problem or what you should do in the meantime. All you know is that the ticket’s been closed, and only time will tell if the problem was truly resolved.

Well, there’s one other thing you know: As soon as a competitor comes out with another option, you’re going to be first in line to check them out.

While this scenario involves a seemingly automated email exchange, these kinds of problems happen just as frequently when there’s an identifiable human on the other end of the line. But is the service breakdown really the rep’s fault? Or did their company fail them by not equipping them to effectively meet customer needs?

It Takes More Than Words to Build a Customer Service Culture

We value you as a customer. Your business is important to us. Our customers come first.

These are lovely statements, but all too often, those values don’t show up in the everyday behavior of all employees. That doesn’t necessarily mean some people have bad intentions or don’t care about the customers. In many cases, it simply means they haven’t been given a clear process and framework to turn those words into action on a day-to-day and moment-to-moment basis.

While it’s clear that many organizations aren’t spending enough time and money on customer service training, even those that do focus on development for their reps often fail to get the desired impact in the daily work environment. It takes more than product knowledge and a script to help someone be customer-focused. Training, values and culture need to be aligned. A common language and process for how we treat people (whether internal or external customers) is the glue that brings them together.

Customer Service Training and the Value of Process

For customer service training to make a lasting impact both inside and outside the organization, it needs to be grounded in process. Here’s how an effective customer service process will serve the needs of your learners, your culture and your customers:

1- Allows people to bring out their best, day in and day out: The best problem-solving process both enhances what people already do best and enables them to do it more consistently and effectively, because they have that anchor to go back to when they start to veer off course. By helping people align their attitudes and beliefs with the cultural expectations, it also provides a clear path to follow, one that makes the values tangible and actionable.
2- Changes mindsets about problem-solving: A script or product FAQ only skims the surface of a problem. To fully solve the problem and build stronger customer loyalty, you have to go deeper. An effective problem-solving process helps people engage with the customer so they can discover not just the problem but also the true cause of the problem—as well as all the viable options for solving it. And it reminds them to follow up to make sure the solution really worked.
3- Establishes a neutral baseline for accountability: When you have a common framework and approach for how customer service values translate into daily behaviors, you can hire, coach, evaluate and train to it. It’s impossible to coach to everyone’s personality. A process gives you an objective standard and reference point.
4- Makes customer service a cultural requirement rather than a job requirement. At Gulf Power, customer service training isn’t relegated to a specific job title or department. Instead, the company launches with as many divisions and roles as possible—together—to build empathy and create consistent expectations across the board. They know that without buy-in and role-modeling from the top, the culture won’t stick. The common process makes it that much easier for everyone to get on board and on the same page.
5- Creates opportunities to strengthen customer loyalty. While poor customer service can drive customers away, a good process can turn them into your biggest fans. After all, when you’ve solved a customer’s problem effectively and demonstrated through your behaviors and follow-up that you really care, there’s a good chance that customer will be more loyal than one who never had a problem to begin with.
We’re all individuals. We all have different motivations and personalities. And of course, we’re all human—we each have good days and bad days. A process is what keeps you anchored, consistent and aligned with the values the organization advertises to the world. Talking about a customer service culture is important, but a process is what helps create that culture.

Re- Blogged From:- 

Integrity Solutions

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