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What To Do When Your Sales Manager Sucks

I was 27 years old when I got my first job in sales. I was thrilled to finally be given an opportunity to make some “real money.”  After years in customer service, I had talked my supervisor into giving me a chance to make sales calls and earn what, in my mind, was some hefty […]

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What To Do When Your Sales Manager Sucks

I was 27 years old when I got my first job in sales. I was thrilled to finally be given an opportunity to make some “real money.”  After years in customer service, I had talked my supervisor into giving me a chance to make sales calls and earn what, in my mind, was some hefty commission.

My only challenge was that I had no sales experience. While I had done a great job of taking care of our existing customers, I was not sure how to go about actually making a sales call. And, as luck would (not) have it, my sales manager had no clue about how to actually go about training a sales person.

From my first day, my Sales Manager (I use the term loosely) made it very clear what sales goal I had to hit. Beyond that, he provided no coaching, no support and no training. He would certainly call me every day to see how much business I had closed, but never called to offer advice or keep me motivated.

For the first three months, my life in this new role was rough. Again, I had no clue what I was doing. To say that I was struggling was a major understatement. When I finally worked up the courage to ask for help, my sales manager looked at me like I had lost my mind. He responded instead by increasing my daily accountability. Rather than choosing to coach me or help me, he just increased the number of times he asked how many sales I had closed.

I think most of us in sales have been there. We have all had those Sales Managers that lack in coaching skills, and those that, well, actually just suck. Sorry to be so crude. But honestly, that is the perfect description. They provide us no support, no coaching, but plenty of (over-the-top) accountability. In fact, they tend to micromanage. Unfortunately, in the world of sales, I often find that there are more bad than good sales managers.

So, what are you supposed to do if you have sales goals to hit; deals to close; and clients to serve; but you are cursed with a less than stellar Sales Manager? Luckily, sales is one of those skills you can learn. And, if you take a little initiative, it is one you can learn on your own.

What To Do When Your Sales Manager Sucks

4 Strategies To Succeed No Matter What

  1. Embrace it

First, and probably most importantly, you need to embrace it. You need to just accept the fact that your sales manager is not a going to give you the support and help you need. Understand that complaining, whining or blaming your sales manager is a complete waste of time and very precious energy. Time and energy that you are going to need to get the training and support you need to learn to sell.

  1. Be Bold

Take charge and be bold. You need to find the courage to ask what it is expected of you. And, what your sales manager needs from you in order to be successful. You may not get the support and help you need, but you still need to find out what they expect of you.

One of the biggest challenges and reasons salespeople fail is because the expectations are unclear. You may already know your sales goals, but you need more than that to be successful. Sales Managers vary, and they want different things when it comes to reporting, making sales calls and tracking systems. You need to know, you need to be clear, and you need to deliver on expectations.

  1. Find A Role Model

Now that you have accepted that your sales manager is not going to be your best coach, you need to find someone who can. You need to find a role model, someone who is not only good at sales, but someone who is good at the system of sales.

Take the initiative to look beyond your sales manager, maybe others on your team or even in other fields. Find a good sales professional and ask them for help. It can be as simple as an interviewing them to find out how they got so good, to asking for advice, or suggesting they give you feedback on occasion. Most really good sales people will not only say yes, they will love to help. Why? Because most likely somewhere along the way, someone helped them. And, they have been looking for the opportunity to return the favor.

  1. Become The Master

You have what you need. Now the only step left is to master this process we call sales. Dig in, invest the time in learning how to sell. Yes, to be good at sales you need to learn how to sell, and without a good sales manager you need to teach yourself. You can read books and articles and watch videos about the skills it takes to up your sales game. So, commit to becoming “The Master.” Invest time weekly to learn new skills, ask better questions, and how to follow-up and follow-thru.

It took me two more sales jobs to figure out that a good Sales Manager is hard to find. And while I spent longer than I should have struggling in sales, I finally found a good role model. Well actually, he found me. A top producer on our team, who witnessed my frustration and reached out to ask me to lunch. Over soup and a sandwich, he changed my view about sales, Sales Managers, and who is responsible for my sales success. He shared these four strategies, and helped me take control of my sales career.

Yes, in a perfect world we would all get the ideal Sales Manager. The Sales Manager who is truly invested in ensuring we get what we need to excel at this sport we call sales. However, as we all know, the world is not perfect, and sometimes your Sales Manager sucks. If you find yourself in this position, and believe me at some point you will, deal with the problem directly. Use these 4 strategies to succeed at sales no matter what.

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Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Employee Engagement, Sales Tips and tagged , ,

5 Strategies to Work Less & Produce More

The smartest way for you to grow your business in this economy, is for you as the leader to actually work less. Sounds crazy, right? Well, let’s first all agree this is a crazy economy and crazy times call for crazy measures. Let me show you what I mean. I have some hefty goals for […]

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5 Strategies to Work Less & Produce More

The smartest way for you to grow your business in this economy, is for you as the leader to actually work less. Sounds crazy, right? Well, let’s first all agree this is a crazy economy and crazy times call for crazy measures.

Let me show you what I mean. I have some hefty goals for my business, some big things I want to accomplish in the next two years. Just putting those down on paper caused me a little fear and anxiety. Just how I was possibly going to get it all done?  And, for the first three months of this year, I immersed myself full throttle into accomplishing these goals.

In my opinion, I was doing everything right. I had a clearly articulated vision, measurable goals and a solid plan of action on how to get it all done. I jumped in on January first, and I worked non-stop through the end of March. To my dismay, I discovered that while I had made progress, I was far from being on track to accomplish even half of what I wanted and needed.

No problem, right? I just needed to work more. However, I was at capacity. Between working on my goals, serving my clients and mentoring my team, there was no time left. (Not to mention my family, friends and a little time for me – all of which got pushed to the back burner). Even if I wanted to work more (which I did not), there was no more time. And believe me, I had no more energy.

Giving up was not an option, so I started to examine how I was working. I started asking myself questions: Could I work smarter? Or differently? It was in those questions, that I not only found the solution, but I found the answer to a problem I did not even know I had. Yes, you actually can work less and produce more – If you understand and use the following five strategies.

In this economy, the path to growth and profitability is tied to your ability and talent to fully engage your team. The more you understand what you need, and the better you are at communicating that to them, the more they will engage. The more your team engages, the less you work and the more you produce.

Sounds good, right? So how do you fully engage your team so you can work less? Follow these five strategies:

  1. Understand How You Make Money

Now I am not talking about the budget, I am talking about really understanding how your company makes money. What is the sales cycle from start to finish? How many days do you have to work a month just to pay the bills? How many more days do you have to work just to turn a profit? You need to get very clear about how your company makes money. First, so that you understand it; and second, so that your team does.

If you want your employees to fully engage, then they need transparency and clarity on just what it takes to run your business and keep the doors open, let alone make a profit. Once I shared with my team what it costs just to pay the light bill and their salaries on a monthly basis, their motivation to land a new client or service and existing one expanded. They became more diligent than I was about keeping expenses down and finding new sources of revenue.

  1. Know Your Value

Yours and everyone else’s. In other words, what is the highest and best use of everyone’s time and how do you make sure they are working in that space the majority of the time. For example, you must understand that you lose money when the sales people are doing paperwork. You lose when as the CEO are micromanaging rather than working on big picture vision or big business development.

In my company, we know that every moment I spend answering emails or entering information into the database, is time and money down the drain. Everyone on your team has value and ways they contribute to the bottom line. The more you keep them working in their highest and best use, the less you will work and the more you will produce.

  1. Choose Your Words Carefully

Being in leadership is tough. Everyone hangs on every word you say. So, you need to choose your words carefully. If you talk too much about policy and procedure, your team will forget customer service and teamwork. Instead, they will follow your policies to the letter of the law, rather than using logic and reason.

If you want to work less and produce more, you need to constantly focus your team on the bigger picture and the end goal. You need to choose your words carefully. Sure, you need to, at times, focus on policies and procedures. But no matter what, always bring them back to and remind them of what this is all about. When, as leaders we stay focused on the vision and goal, we teach our team members to think, rather than just act. When you build a team that thinks first, you will work less and produce more.

  1. Reward What You Want

And, while what you say is important, it is not nearly as important as what you do. Actions always speak louder than words. So, if you want a team of employees that works together, puts the customer first, and takes ownership of their job and their role in the company’s success, make sure you reward that.

When I started rewarding my team on their alignment and action around our company values, my business went to a whole new level. When you are clear on what it takes to make your company successful, and then you align your actions to support that, your team will produce more of those actions. And you guessed, as the leader you will work less and produce more.

  1. Ask For What You Want

Last but not least is my favorite: Ask for what you want. In other words, as the leader, stop solving all the problems. Stop being the one coming up with all the answers. Instead, learn to lead through the power of the question. Use open ended questions and ask the team for their ideas, their opinions and what they think needs to be changed to get the job done.

When you as the leader, ask for what you want, you engage your team at a higher level, encourage them to think and give them skin in the game. The result? You work less and produce more.

Yes, these are at best, challenging economic times. They call for smart leadership and a new approach to how to fully engage your team. With a little innovative thinking, and a willingness to push out of your comfort zone, you really can work less and produce more.

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Posted by Meridith Elliott Powell in Business Growth, Employee Engagement and tagged , , ,

Master The Art Of Discipline

Master The Art Of Discipline 5 Strategies to turn procrastination into productivity If you asked my friends, clients or professional peers to describe me, the one word they would all use is disciplined. More likely ridiculously, obnoxiously and obsessively disciplined. And I have to admit – it is true. If I want something, I have […]

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Master The Art Of Discipline

Master The Art Of Discipline
5 Strategies to turn procrastination into productivity

If you asked my friends, clients or professional peers to describe me, the one word they would all use is disciplined. More likely ridiculously, obnoxiously and obsessively disciplined.

And I have to admit – it is true. If I want something, I have no problem committing to do what it takes to make it happen. I have solid routines around things like making time to exercise, drinking enough water, making sales calls, following up on clients and even eating right. See the photo with this blog? That small cup is vanilla ice cream. Even when it comes to things like indulging in a rare sweet, I am disciplined. Okay, my friends are right ridiculously, obnoxiously and obsessively disciplined.

Now I may be extreme, but most of us would have to admit that if there were one thing we wish we were, it would be more disciplined. So, for those of you who would like to be more disciplined but just cannot seem to get there, there is good news. Discipline is a skill that can easily be learned and implemented. I am living proof.

You see I was not always like this. In fact, I was quite the opposite. I was the employee who could not get out of bed and was always late for work. I was the girl who joined gyms but never went. I was that person; yes, that person, who had no self-control when French fries, ice cream or anything chocolate hit the table. When I tell people that, they cannot believe it. But it is true.

I could easily sleep until 11 a.m. or noon, eat a pizza by myself and spend a full day in bed watching movies. That seems so foreign to me now, but I was the very definition of undisciplined; the poster child in fact.

So what changed? Well I did of course. One day, about nineteen years ago I got pushed into a corner and had to make a change. First, I got promoted to a new job, a big title and a huge responsibility. I was also now at corporate headquarters sharing the same floor with the Vice-Chairman, President, CIO and CMO of our company. Not only could I not be late, I needed to be early.

Second, I signed up to go on a dream vacation to Italy. Hiking in the Dolomites of Northern Italy with my sister and best friend. The brochure looked stunning, but also threatened that you needed to be in tip-top shape. And finally, my boss and his boss, the two people I spent the most time interacting with in this new role, had just become vegans. All of a sudden, there was no chocolate, no ice cream and not a French fry within sight.

So, while I’ll admit I was somewhat forced to become disciplined, little by little I started to make changes. With each change I made, I gained confidence, got stronger and found I wanted more. Step-by-step and year-by-year I got more and more disciplined. Here are my five strategies to master discipline and turn procrastination into productivity.

5 Strategies To Master Discipline:

1. Mindset – first and foremost you have to get your head right. You have to want to be disciplined and you have to believe you can be. I am not sure I would have ever gotten here if I had not been forced to “decide” to change. Having the pressure of working day-in-and-day out alongside our executive team and just the fear of being late had me jumping out of bed early every day.

2. Baby Steps – take this one-step at a time. Don’t try to go from never going to the gym to going seven days a week. Take your time. When my boss and his boss decided to become vegans, it influenced me to clean up my diet. However, even as they swore off meat, fish and dairy, I still indulged in a little chocolate now and then. But slowly the French fries didn’t look so tempting, and not eating ice cream everyday started to feel good.

3. Change the view – If you want to be disciplined, you need to spend more time around people who are and less time around people who are not. I was lucky. Starting a new job, in a new city, with a new apartment, ensured everything about my life was changing. Suddenly I found myself around people who went to the office by seven, spent their lunch hours doing yoga, and thought a healthy diet was the perfect way to live. There norm become my norm.

4. Take a breath – before you hit the snooze button, eat that donut or skip the gym, simply take a breath. Take a moment and think what are the consequences of either doing something or not taking action. This probably helped me more than anything else did. Before I turned on the television and skipped the gym, I would take a moment and think about what I was doing. Sometimes I did not do the disciplined thing, but slowly and more often, I started to. Taking the time to think about what you are doing, just a moment, so often ensures you make decisions that are positive for your life.

5. Reward – it’s so important to take the time to reward yourself for the changes you have made and what you have achieved. For me that reward was of course my trip to Italy. A trip where I got up early every day, hiked like a super star and still ate gelato just in much smaller portions.

So, there you have it! That is my journey to mastering the art of discipline, a journey I am still working on. I would love to hear yours. Share what has worked for you and what challenges you are still facing.

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Networking Return On Investment

Last week, I was at Influence 2017, the National Speakers Association’s Annual Conference. One of our keynote speakers was a man by the name of Vinh Giang, a professional speaker and magician originally from Vietnam. He was amazing, and his presentation on mindset and belief was, well, mind-blowing. But even more powerful than his content, […]

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Networking Return On Investment

Last week, I was at Influence 2017, the National Speakers Association’s Annual Conference. One of our keynote speakers was a man by the name of Vinh Giang, a professional speaker and magician originally from Vietnam.

He was amazing, and his presentation on mindset and belief was, well, mind-blowing. But even more powerful than his content, even more impactful than his delivery, was his opening story. Vinh had us captivated from the start with a story he shared about being a professional speaker and the importance of belief.

The story was that just one short year ago, Vinh was at his first Influence conference. New to the National Speakers Association, he came to the event and sat in the back not knowing anyone. But despite his lack of connections and his “newness” to the National Speakers Association (NSA), Vinh had a dream, a belief that he wanted to speak on the Main Stage.

Now for those of you who are not speakers, you need to know that for those of us that are, the Main Stage at NSA is the holy grail. It is the ultimate sign that you have arrived. So imagine, just one short year later, Vinh goes from knowing no one at National Speakers Association to landing on the main stage delivering a general session keynote. Something that speakers who have been in NSA more than twenty years have never been able to do. WOW!

How did he do it? Through the power of networking. The power of building relationships and using the strategies and secrets that guarantee you can open any door.

Vinh went on to share that after Influence 2016, his first NSA conference, he reached out to connect with one of the main stage speakers. Vinh had been so moved by a man named Scott Stratten, so blown away by his presentation, that he made the decision to connect with him.

Now that may not sound like a big deal, but you need to understand that with more than 1500 people in that audience, Vinh was one of thousands who wanted to make that connection. So how did he do that? How did Vinh go from just another face in the crowd to a speaker with powerful connections that could catapult him to the main stage of NSA?

He used the Four Secrets to Networking and Opening Any Door:

  1. Take A Risk

First and foremost, you have to take a risk, a chance. Vinh knew that everyone and their brother was going to try to get to Scott Stratten. He knew that making that connection would not be easy. He also knew that reaching out to Scott did not guarantee Scott would respond or even be civil. Vinh had to take a risk, and be more vested in taking a chance than he was in getting the desired result.

  1. Invest First

Once you get past your own fear and get your head right, you need to focus on investing first. Most of the relationships we really want, we want because we know those people have something that could help us. That is why everyone is trying to get piece. So, you need to approach this networking with a servants’ heart. Vinh understood that if he was going to build a relationship with Scott Stratten, he would need to find a way to differentiate himself from everyone else. He did that by taking the time to invest, learn and find out what mattered to Scott Stratten. He found out what was important to Scott, and of course, what Scott needed.

  1. Add Value First

Once you understand, once you have invested in others, you can easily identify ways to add value. To help them before you ever ask them to help you. Vinh talked about this from the stage. He shared the ways he identified where he could add value to Scott Stratten, how he could help Scott. That led to trust, trust led to the relationship and that led to a mutually beneficial connection.

  1. Stay In The Game

With the relationship built, the connection made and the value added, it is key to stay in the game. In other words, make it your responsibility to keep the relationship growing, building and expanding. Vinh did not talk about this, or go into detail, however you could tell by the way he spoke about Scott Stratten that the value he added to Scott has been returned ten-fold. You could also tell that theirs has become a true friendship.

The key to networking is to find ways to help others. To have no expectation of return. If you lead with that mindset you can open any door, and build any relationship. So yes, I followed Vinh’s advice. The first person I reached out to after the NSA Influence Conference was Vinh. Looking forward to adding value to Vinh and watching that relationship build.

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Want Your Employees To Care?

4 Strategies That Get Results Last week I was having breakfast with my nephew who is 23 and just entering the job market. After graduating college, doing the obligatory “goof off” year, he buckled down to find a “real” job. As most graduates experience it is not that easy to find the job of your […]

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Want Your Employees To Care?

4 Strategies That Get Results

Last week I was having breakfast with my nephew who is 23 and just entering the job market. After graduating college, doing the obligatory “goof off” year, he buckled down to find a “real” job.

As most graduates experience it is not that easy to find the job of your dreams, so my nephew settled for taking what he could get rather than having to live at home. I know, how lucky are his parents! And just two short weeks ago he was rewarded with an amazing opportunity.

He landed a position at the coveted New Belgium Brewery in Asheville North Carolina. Now I say this is an amazing opportunity because what 23 year old does not want to work in a brewery? However, beyond that, the jobs at New Belgium are not easy to get, and he is lucky to be part of such an amazing culture.

The company boasts a 93-percent employee retention rate. These days that is pretty much unheard of in the workplace and a challenge with millennials. Add to that, his position comes with full-time work and great benefits. Not easy to come by these days.

I am proud of him, so we went out to celebrate over a good fattening southern breakfast!  While I knew he was working full-time, I asked if he was going to keep one of his previous jobs. I asked because I knew he loved the work being director of outdoor education at one of the camps in our region. (Out of respect I will not reveal the name.) Also, I knew they would be open to keeping him one or two days a week, just the amount of time he has off from New Belgium.

The response my nephew gave me to that question really gave me insight as to why some companies can attract and retain employees, why some can’t, and why nothing is wrong with this younger generation.

Cab went on to share that while he loved that job in outdoor education, his experience at New Belgium had really opened his eyes to what a work culture should be. Because of that he was not going to continue his relationship with his former company.

See at New Belgium, Cab noticed that despite the heavily competitive industry, they still invested in their employees. They offered full-time work and benefits. Everyone in the company from the CEO throughout every level, knows the companies story, history and values. More importantly, Cab shared that what leadership does and the actions they take are completely aligned.

I asked him to explain, and his quote said it all. “When I walk into New Belgium and I see a cigarette on the ground I pick it up, I do it without thinking. New Belgium cares about me, so I care about New Belgium. “

He has a supervisor who trains him, meets with him and invests in his growth and development. And the company provides plenty of opportunity for team members to build community and connect with each other and New Belgium. Lastly, and most importantly he sees a future for himself as the company, and he wants to work hard to ensure he is ready.

So where did his last company go wrong? He loved the job, enjoyed the work, why did he not stay? Cab said in that job there were no full-time opportunities available. It was Cab’s opinion, that they wanted everyone to work under thirty hours so they did not have to pay benefits. Save a small orientation, he was never trained or provided development in his role. Lastly, and most importantly he just did not see a future for himself. And it was not just him, he said most employees felt the same way that he did. Moral was low and turnover was high.

See getting employees to care starts with leadership caring about our employees.

4 Strategies That Get Results

  1. Embrace the Idea – understand that your only competitive advantage you have left is the engagement level of your employees. Customer experience, business growth, bottom line results, it is all connected to employee engagement. The more they care, the less they turn over, the more successful you are going to be.
  2. Create the Culture – define what you want your culture to be, what you want it to say about you as a company, and what you want your employees to experience. Creating the culture creates the roadmap that defines who you are. It defines the promise of what employees can expect.
  3. Align Actions to Words – ensure that every leader on your team understands the culture, embraces the culture and aligns their actions to the culture. Get this right at every level of your organization and you build trust.
  4. Celebrate the Wins – getting your culture right is not easy, and it takes time. So every step you take in the right direction, every leader you see making the right moves slow down and take the time to celebrate the wins.

Trust me, there is nothing wrong with this younger generation. As leaders, we just need to understand that the messages we send create the actions they take. Put your energy into caring about your employees, and see how much they start to care about your company and your customers.

 

 

 

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