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Posts Tagged ‘teams’

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.

Springtime with Spranger

Friday, March 19th, 2010

Here at Data Dome we talk a lot about behavioral styles and how DISC can be used to measure both natural and adapted behaviors, but it is important to remember that behaviors alone are only part of the story. Examining values and motivators are essential for understanding an employee and for creating harmonious and productive work environments. One of the original thinkers in the area of values and motivators was the German philosopher and psychologist, Eduard Spranger.

In his book, Types of Men (1914), Spranger put forth his major contribution to personality theory; what he called value attitudes:

  • The Theoretical whose dominant interest is the discovery of truth
  • The Economic who is interested in what is useful
  • The Aesthetic whose highest value is form and harmony
  • The Social whose highest value is love of people
  • The Political whose interest is primarily in power
  • The Religious whose highest value is unity

Later, TTI founder, Bill Bonnstetter, changed the names of three of Spranger’s six attitudes:

  • Economic became Utilitarian
  • Political became Individualistic
  • Religious became Traditional

These updated names are now a familiar part of the tools we use today.

Art Schoeck to return to Scarlett Leadership Institute

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Later this month, Behavioral Style Strategist and President of Data Dome, Inc. Art Schoeck, will once again be bringing his expertise to the Scarlett Leadership Institute’s Signature Executive retreat. Participants will receive advanced training in leadership applications and strategies using the insights of DISC behavioral style analysis. Attendees include executives from HCA, LP Bldg Products, Tristar Energy, Brisgestone Americas, HealthSpring and Ingram Barge amongst others.

About the Signature Executive Program
The Scarlett Leadership Institute, located at Belmont University in Nashville Tennessee, hosts the Signature Executive Program, which offers a unique and engaging means of transferring leadership experience to the next generation of business leaders. Open only to high potential individuals nominated by senior leadership in their organizations, the Institute brings together world-class business minds from Fortune 500 companies and successful leading-edge organizations to interact with a selected class of participants. This “for-leaders by-leaders” executive education program was designed by leading business minds to develop the people and talent they most need to support the continued success of their organizations. It offers a unique opportunity because it asks for a unique commitment: a written pledge from both the participating individual and a senior on-the-job mentor in the sponsoring organization.

Last year’s participants were asked to complete an evaluation – many indicated that Art Schoeck’s seminar was their favorite piece in this exclusive and sought-after week-long leadership program.

Entrepreneurs: learn when to change pace and let go… to grow!

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

One of the most pivotal times in the development of a business is that moment when the entrepreneur chooses to go to the next level: to build an organization. It is a time to remember that many of the habits that were so beneficial initially – pioneering, big-picture thinking, risk-taking, forging ahead no matter the obstacles, doing anything and everything it takes to make it go – may now need to be balanced by other skills and energies to create an effective and successful team.

Stepping back and adjusting focus on making the right hires, however, could be an uncomfortable change of pace from the forging ahead full steam pattern you’ve been living. Your pioneering ways may have gotten you off the ground, but it is a strong team that will take you further, and to build one you must recognize that interviewing, training, and developing relationships will take time and effort.

The key to growth is defining who you really need and then finding them, hiring, them and keeping them. But there are pitfalls everywhere. Too often, when first expanding, entrepreneurs will set out to find copies of themselves: persons as energetic, dynamic, willing and risk-taking as they are. They might be duplicating their strengths, but they are then not compensating for their weaknesses.

It is easy to understand the tendency to hire people like yourself: you communicate easier, you tend to motivate similarly, but it can be a trap. Your business needs are not satisfied by duplicating yourself, but rather by complementing your skills and behaviors – a pattern that has worked well for “Yin and Yang” pairs like Bernard Marcus & Arthur Blank, William Hewlett & Dave Packard, Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak – different styles bringing different strengths together to grow their companies from humble beginnings.

Take the time needed to define each position on your new team. No skimping. Strategic planning is useless if you don’t find the right people to execute your gameplan. Finding people with the technical skills is relatively easy: resume, references, etc. The soft skills are a different matter, and are actually more important.

There are great tools available today to match the soft skills of the person with the soft skills appropriate for the job. You can go a step further and motivate each new member of your team by identifying their passions in life; their values, and making sure that between their work and time away from work, they can fulfill those passions.

It takes time to find the right people, more time to train them, and even more time to listen to, adjust and motivate them; but, the rewards are unparalleled. So often the new entrepreneur takes too long to realize that simple replication is not a growth plan, control tactics work only in the short term, and turnover just plain hurts. Performance and productivity are greatly enhanced only when the entrepreneur lets go of one-style “do as I do” thinking and changes to a focus on building teams of complementary behaviors.

Remember: people are the number one resource of a company.

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