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Posts Tagged ‘skill’

DISC Holiday Gifts – Books That Help People Help Themselves

Monday, November 28th, 2011

It’s that gift-giving time of year again, and a great time to use the insights provided by DISC to help you choose the perfect books as gifts for the people on your list. Show your appreciation and support with a book that can help a co-worker or employee to improve in key areas to communicate better and raise their team’s productivity. Give your spouse the knowledge and tools to improve their performance and reduce their stress by giving a book that directly addresses specific areas targeted for improvement.

We at Data Dome have organized a selection of practical, targeted books and grouped them according to the specific skills and behaviors they were written to address. We have a section for development-oriented books as well as an entire selection just for addressing sales skills and behaviors.

To find just the right book for your friend, spouse, co-worker, employee, or even yourself, just visit the Data Dome Bookstore. We’ve organized an extensive list of recommended readings based on the many varieties of report results that are provided by our best assessment tools. You will find books on Coaching and Development – both for Personal Development and Team Development, as well as a book list for Sales Skills and Knowledge. Simply go to either page and look for the link to the section that fits the diagnosis or area of improvement that is the best match for the area the recipient wants to improve. For example, in the Sales section we have recommendations for First Meetings/First Impressions, Overcoming Objections, Prospecting/ Pre-Qualifying, Closing and much more. Or venture into the Development section where you’ll find links to recommendations for topics as diverse as Low Assertiveness, High Self-Control, Dislike for Structure, or Sparking Creativity – in fact, our book recommendations cover the spectrum of Working, Relating, Thinking and Decision-Making.

All transactions are made through our associate account with Amazon so your buying experience and delivery options are safe, secure and reliable.

These books and our assessment tools are a valuable resource for coaching and mentoring, as well as for personal development. We at Data Dome wish you and yours a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season and a New Year filled with growth and improved productivity and communication.

Salvaging The Sales Team

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

It is a question that has becoming more and more prevalent for business owners and sales managers, “Why isn’t my sales team performing like it used to?” Fingers get pointed here and there, people mutter about competition and the economy, but you start to suspect that the real truth is that some of the players on your team aren’t the performers that you thought they were. When the economy is strong or when a business has found a new and productive niche, it is easy for a sales team to hide its weaknesses. The opportunities are so plentiful that there is more order-taking going on than actual selling, and it is very difficult to distinguish who on your team is effectively applying and cultivating true selling skills and who is coasting on “low hanging fruit” that virtually anyone could close. Or consider the salesperson fortunate to have a plum territory that always yields enough results to meet quota., but might be an even richer vein to mine in the hands of a more capable individual – but who would know? And let’s face it, during the good times we don’t usual care to scrutinize these things so closely – we need bodies in suits out there closing the deals and if the numbers are there who cares how you get them?

And then, along comes a recession. In the last few years more businesses are seeing their sales teams underperform against expectations – realizing that their ranks are cluttered with order-takers who can’t find or close the deal in a tough economy. It starts to become clearer who is still able to bring in the bacon, but it can still be hard to tell who among the underperformers is truly a dud, and who can be salvaged.

When the economy sours a lot of the easy deals go away: the call-ins, the referral business, etc. Businesses see the fall-off in closure rates and some react by investing in expensive training and hiring motivational speakers to whip up the team’s enthusiasm, or take the “Glengarry Glenn Ross” approach to brow beat the sales team into better performance. However, these efforts can be wasted if invested in the wrong people: Anyone, practically, can take an order that has been called-in, but when those easy orders stop coming a real salesperson must have the skills and attitude to go out and prospect for new opportunities, listen to customers needs, develop the relationships, establish trust, qualify the opportunities and understand & execute the closing process. Knowing how to read the buyer and having the nimbleness to adjust accordingly become imperative.

So, if your sales are down is it just because the market is down or is it also due to the fact that your sales team isn’t as good as you thought it was? According to Herb Greenberg, Harold Weinstein and Patrick Sweeney of Caliper, “55% of the people earning their living in sales should be doing something else.” This startling conclusion was reached while researching for their book How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer: The Five Qualities That Make Salespeople Great. The team reached this alarming statistic by comparing actual sales performance data with the results of hundreds of thousands of assessments.

How does your staff compare? Any behavioral style can be successful at selling if they have the right knowledge and attitude: they need the knowledge to know how to demonstrate, prospect, qualify, listen, read the buyers, etc., and the need the attitude to adjust their communication style to the needs of the situation. Without the right attitude the knowledge is wasted, without the knowledge the salesperson is underequipped to do the job. This is where advanced objective assessment tools can be so helpful. Sales-specific tools quantify the salesperson’s knowledge in key selling skills and give objective insights into the individual’s attitudes. These tools are capable of not only identifying areas for improvement, but can also direct you to resources that are applicable to the specific problem areas found. This makes it easy for the manager to supply the salesperson with the means of improvement. If they want to get better at their job they now have the tools to do so.

Salavageability of the underperforming salesperson is ultimately determined by the attitude of the salesperson – willingness to learn and focused effort to apply new skills can turn around performance issues and strengthen weaknesses, but as they say “you can lead a horse to water…” If you supply prescribed information to target knowledge improvement and training that is customized to the individual and that underperforming individual refuses to take advantage of those resources then, well, the decision becomes very easy: dump ‘em. Sinking resources into an individual without the attitude for improvement is wasted money and keeping a low, unsalvageable performer in a spot that could be occupied by a strong performer has a high opportunity cost. On the other hand, if the salesperson in question takes to the study and starts applying the new knowledge, the decision is again easy, in fact it may simply be self-correcting as the poor performer with the right attitude continues to attend to the identified weaknesses with the targeted resources for study and improvement. As skills and confidence grow, so will performance.

From a team development perspective the sales-potential assessment allows coaching and training expenditures to shift from broad-based generalized approaches to hyper-targeted surgical strikes on an individual’s problem areas – the one’s an individual is most likely to be motivated to work on since the training is highly applicable and the improvements are likely to come far quicker, than in a generalized “ground up” approach.

In tough economic times it is more important than ever before to separate the wheat from the chaff on your sales team. Objective assessment of skills and attitudes can help you prune the weakest links and salvage those with the attitude, if not yet all the skills, for sales success.

Only 37% of Sales Professionals are Consistently Effective

Monday, September 19th, 2011

In a slide show recently published by the Harvard Business Review, researchers Lynette Ryals and Iain Davies present some fascinating and eye-opening findings regarding sales effectiveness. Their study based on observation of 800 sales professionals in actual live sales meetings led them to conclude that only 37% of sales professionals were consistently effective in achieving results.

Their findings categorized the study group into eight classifications of behavior patterns: Socializers, Aggressors, Narrators, Focusers, Storytellers, Consultants, Closers, Experts. According to the study only the last three, Experts, Closers and Consultants, were able to deliver consistent results. Together these three groups comprised just 37% of the sample.

Also of interest were some data points that debunked some “common knowledge” assumptions about what makes a good salesperson. Conventional wisdom and sales folklore point to the socializing sales professional and the hard-driving aggressor as the desirable sales personalities, yet in this study these two groups were the bottom performers. The aggressors could occasionally have a big win, but their performance on average was poor, while the socializers would get caught up in the small talk and not keep the sales pitch in focus.

The authors noted that “a disproportionate amount of training is allocated to presentation and rapport skills, as well as the actual sales pitch” and therefore these skills had become commodified across the field.

We, at Data Dome agree that much of the focus of sales training tends to overlook behavioral issues and instead focus on closing skills and process methodologies. However, as this Harvard study indicates, behaviors are more indicative of sales performance. Hiring salespeople is often an error prone process filled with subjective decisions that can bring disappointing results – just ask the sales managers who hired the Aggressors and Socializers in the study. This is one of the reasons why we encourage the use of behavioral and motivator focused tools to identify candidates with high sales potential. Objective assessments eliminate much of the guesswork whether they’re used as a selection aid during the hiring process or as a development aid to diagnose specific behavior and motivator weaknesses that may lower an individual’s sales success potential. These tools can also be valuable in recommending targeted training for awareness and improvement in these areas.

DISC and Motivators: Keys to Competence

Friday, September 24th, 2010

In a recent post by John G. Agno for Coaching Tip: The Leadership Blog some interesting, survey results are brought to light indicating that an alarming 33% of employees consider their managers to be incompetent. The article goes on to suggest that communication problems and recession-induced organizational changes may have much to do with the very high incompetence rating.

Agno seems to be on the right track. Communication is an essential managerial skill, but what is often overlooked are the DISC behavioral underpinnings that can make all the difference between a distrustful and unhealthy communication culture and one where information flows freely, encouraging trust and a sense of inclusion around the office.

Relationship dynamics within the workplace can be impacted by conflicting motivations and communication that isn’t adapted to the diversity of DISC behavioral styles amongst the staff. When a worker doesn’t understand a manager’s motivation or is expected to digest information that runs counter to the worker’s DISC style then the worker may come to a conclusion that the manager is in fact incompetent.

For example, let’s say the manager is a high C who is operating with strong Utilitarian/Economic motivators and the employee is a high D with strong Individualistic/Political motivators. The manager may announce a cutback based on a cut and dry procedural determination – profits are down, so cut costs – while the high D employee is focused on the goals set forth for the department and has a hard time seeing how they can be achieved with less staff. Without adapting communication that reconciles these points of view and behavioral biases it’s easy to see how a conflict could arise. The high C boss could take the high D employees natural resistance to the cutback as a disregard and disrespect of procedural authority and even a naivety in the face to the dollar and cents facts of the situation. The employee in turn could see the manager’s action as callous in difficult times and sabotaging of the ability to reach important objectives.

So how might this go differently? If the manager above were a more skillful communicator and was armed with the kind of knowledge that assessments can provide about employees she could have adapted her style to better communicate with her employee – putting the platinum rule in action. Tools like DISC assessments would have uncovered the manager and worker’s DISC styles and a tool like Motivation Insights could have revealed how each rated the six value categories in the spectrum of Workplace Motivators. The manager could have made the employee more involved in the decision and discussed how the best way to help most of the employees was by pursuing the overall goal of keeping the business alive – a goal which necessitated the cutback. The two could then move to a more productive conversation of how to adjust strategy and tactics under the changed circumstances. The improved communication changes the employee’s perception of the manager as an incompetent, uncaring, dictator who ignores business objectives into a new appraisal as a competent leader willing to make tough decisions for the overall good of the many.

We’ve discussed here how the same decision communicated differently could change the perception of competence. Adapting communication based on an understanding of workplace motivators, values, and DISC behavioral styles can go a long way toward improving office morale and trust within the company culture.

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