Latest Posts

Retention Is Not Engagement

Last month, I was the opening keynote for a financial services organization. The event was their Awards Ceremony honoring those employees who have excelled in the areas of business development, customer service, teamwork and length of employment. Now the first three awards I understood, but the last one (length of employment) had me a little […]

[Click to read more]

Retention Is Not Engagement

Last month, I was the opening keynote for a financial services organization. The event was their Awards Ceremony honoring those employees who have excelled in the areas of business development, customer service, teamwork and length of employment. Now the first three awards I understood, but the last one (length of employment) had me a little baffled.

You have been to these meetings, right? You know the ones – where they are honoring people who have stayed on the job or been with their company for ten, twenty, even thirty years? What is our obsession with giving awards to employees just for staying put? Okay now, before you jump all over me… I get it. There is something to be said for loyalty. However, is length of service really something you reward or want to place value on?

When they announced the winner of the 20 years of service award, Tim Grant (name and length of service changed to protect the innocent), everyone at my table started to make jokes under their breath. Jokes about how Tim may have shown up for the most hours, but to say he was worked is a stretch. How Tim is still employed, but it feels like he retired ten years ago. It reminded me of being in grade school. Remember when they gave awards out for perfect attendance? And those kids who won perfect attendance were always the same kids who came to school with runny noses and signs of the flu. The ones that got everyone else in class sick. Giving an award for exceptional academic achievement I get, giving an award for just showing up? Well for me, the jury is still out?

I don’t know about you, but I am far more interested in how passionate, excited and motivated my employees are than how many years they work for me. According to the experts, there is a war on talent. And to win this war as leaders, we need to attract, retain and fully develop our employees. Do everything we can to attract the best and the brightest and then get them to stay long-term.

Well the attract and develop part I will go for, I get it. But retain? Really, why is that part of the goal?  And is it realistic?  I think setting employee retention and working hard to keep employees long-term as a goal is a recipe for frustration. Look, as leaders, we must accept that employees have changed and so has the workplace. This is a new marketplace, a new generation and that all creates a new set of rules for how employees and employers work together.

First, really great talent, that kind that comes in with fresh ideas, new perspectives and really pushes your team to another level, they are not going to stay. No matter what you do, no matter what type of benefit package you offer. Long term employment is not only not their goal, and it is not their highest and best use.

And second, we all got ‘em. Those employees that are technically retained, meaning they are still showing up to work, but they quit a long time ago. Oh yeah, technically they qualify as “retained” employees, but by staying with your company they are doing more harm than good.

Your goal with employees should be to attract, develop and then fully engage each team member for as long as they are there. Retention is a result of great engagement, it is not the goal. If we as leaders do this right, then we will fully engage our entire team, getting the best our employees have to offer for as long as they are willing to stay.

4 Strategies For Leading The Next Generation

  1. Embrace

Fully embrace that retention is not the goal. The workplace today is at best unstable, with no guarantee of long-term employment for anyone at any level. Given that we cannot guarantee that our companies will not merge, sell or downsize, we have to accept that employees will not guarantee they will “stay’ long-term on our team. A shifting economy means things will change, and so to retain people long term is unrealistic, but to fully engage them for the time they are there is wicked smart!

  1. Purpose

Begin with purpose. Today’s workforce is looking for something and someone to believe in. They want more than a job. They want a cause, and they want to make a difference. Don’t hire people to be a customer service rep. Hire them to help your customers achieve their dreams. When people believe in something, they are committed to it, and commitment breeds passion and full engagement.

  1. Voice

Everyone wants skin in the game, whether they know it or not. One of the most powerful engagement tools is just to listen. Ask people what they think, what their ideas are, and how goals need to be accomplished. Employees engage when they feel connected and that they are a part of something. Remember people support what they help create.

  1. Investment

If we want our employees to invest in us, we need to begin by investing in them. Zig Ziglar told us that the fastest way to get what we want is to help others get what they want. Investing in employees makes them feel important, that they matter and are valued. When we invest in others, we get back far more than we invested.

Yes, there is a war on talent, and to win you need to shift your focus from retaining employees to engaging employees. If you give them something to believe in (Purpose) skin in the game (Voice) and invest in their futures, I cannot promise you they will stay forever. But I can promise you that while they are there, they will fully engage.

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

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

Why Great Producers Produce

So what does it take to become a Top Producer? That is one of my favorite questions. Don’t we all want the secret formula, the magic pill to becoming a Top Producer? Sure, we all want to know what makes Top Producers well produce! What is it, that thing? It ensures that time after time […]

[Click to read more]

Why Great Producers Produce

So what does it take to become a Top Producer? That is one of my favorite questions. Don’t we all want the secret formula, the magic pill to becoming a Top Producer? Sure, we all want to know what makes Top Producers well produce! What is it, that thing? It ensures that time after time no matter the odds, the economy or the competition, Top Producers just continue to blow past their goals and achieve at exceptionally high levels.

Every company has top producers and every leader wants more of them. That is why I am obsessed with studying sales people. Looking for their patterns and their habits. Looking for those things that seem to work when it comes to opening doors, closing sales and exceeding sales goals. Over the years of interviewing top sales professionals, I have discovered that they all seem to have their own ideas on what it takes to achieve at this level.  However, while their stories are different, there is a common thread.  A set of steps, sort of rituals, that ensure these Top Producers keep their pipeline full, their customers happy, and their sales goal just a number they continually blow by.

5 Must Have Sales Strategies

  1. Network Incognito

Top Producers go to networking events like they are on an undercover mission. They have a clear goal and purpose, but one that is not visible or felt by those with whom they are networking. Top Producers network differently than other sales professionals. Most sales professionals wear their profession, their need for clients and their sales pitch on their sleeve. Pushing too hard and losing potential prospects in the process.

Top Producers understand that networking is the build up to the sales process, and they network strategically. They know who their ideal client is, and they attend events and socialize in places where they can connect, and build relationships. They understand that networking is a vetting process, one where if they focus on learning about the other person then they can “vet” who will make the cut to become their client.

  1. Stay Visible

They are masters at the art of follow-up. The “art of follow-up” without being annoying that is. Rather than pestering, calling back and just bugging customers to do business with them Top Producers have a system and a process that ensures they say visible in a way that “invites” customers to want to do business with them. Understanding that prospects get busy, distracted and they have more pressing issues happening than buying products or services.

Top Producers are masters at the art of follow-up. They know that the goal is to remain visible in a way that builds the relationship, so when the prospect is ready the Top Producer is already there.

  1. Bounce Back

Rejection for Top Producers is like water off a duck’s back – no big deal. Top Producers know that no does not mean no, it just means no right now. In other words, they bounce right back. The best relationships take longer and more investment to get, and Top Producers understand that. Rejection is just the push they need to head back to the drawing board, and come up with a new strategy and try again.

  1. Control The Sales Process

Top Producers take charge of the sales process, keeping the next steps and the next contact squarely within their control. They never wait for customers or prospects to contact them, or to set the appointment. Instead, they control the sales process by being proactive, and anticipating their customers’ needs. Their week is packed with a schedule that has them calling customers and prospects about solutions, opportunities and new ideas they can offer to them. Top Producers understand that blowing past sales goals only happens when you commit to never wait for the sales to come to you!

  1. Sell From A Place Of Power

In other words, Top Producers never “need” the sale. They know the hardest time to close a sale is when you “need” the sale to close. Top Producers know, the moment you need the close to hit your sales goals, make your numbers or break even, the sale will never happen.

Murphy’s Law tells us that when we are desperate for the sale, it will almost never close. Top Producers sell from a place of power, by over-filling their sales funnel and controlling the sales process. This kind of power exudes confidence and strength to their potential buyers. When you sell from a place of power vs need, you get more deals, close more sales and yes, become a Top Producer.

So there you have it! This is not rocket science, these are steps that any of us can take. The only real difference between a sales professional and a Top Producer is their willingness to follow these five must-have sales strategies.

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith in Business Growth, Networking, Sales Tips and tagged , , ,

Can’t Turn A Prospect Into A Customer

Getting to the decision maker has to be one of the most difficult parts of the sales process. More often than not, as sales professional we can network, we can get in the door; we can identify the problems; and we can make amazing presentations that offer killer solutions – but we still can’t seal […]

[Click to read more]

Can’t Turn A Prospect Into A Customer

Getting to the decision maker has to be one of the most difficult parts of the sales process. More often than not, as sales professional we can network, we can get in the door; we can identify the problems; and we can make amazing presentations that offer killer solutions – but we still can’t seal the deal.

No matter how good a sales professional you are, you can’t close the deal until you get to the decision maker. No matter how much of a perfect fit your product or service is, you have to get to the person who holds the purse strings and has all the authority.

But it’s more than that. You not only need to get to the decision maker, you need to get them to want to do business with you. And in today’s economy, that is tougher than ever. Everyone is pushing and shoving their way to the decision maker. So how do you get above the white noise? How do you stand out from the competition and get the decision maker to love you?

You have to understand what it takes to get through the door, actually connect with the decision maker and build a relationship. One that makes them want to do business with you over your competition. Before we jump into the three MUST-HAVE strategies you need to make decision makers love you, before we talk about what success looks like, let’s take a look at what it doesn’t.

Last weekend, I was skiing with good friends in Utah. One of my friends, Christina, happens to be the CEO of a large financial services corporation. Over dinner, we were talking about a party I had thrown a few months before. It’s an event I throw twice a year to say thank you to clients and friends.  Christina shared that she had been introduced to another friend of mine at the party, and within moments my friend was soliciting Christina for a meeting to talk business.  It really ticked Christina off. And, she shared with me she did not care what “that woman” (as she called her) was selling, she was not buying.

At first, I was pretty angry that someone I invited to a party used that opportunity to “prospect,” but then I realized she probably did not know any better. She probably thought that was how you were supposed to prospect. So, when the opportunity to meet a solid prospect face-to-face presented itself, she jumped at the chance. The problem is, she jumped using the wrong strategy and the wrong skills. And, she lost the chance to ever meet with that decision maker or turn that prospect into a customer.

If you want to turn more prospects into customers, you have to get to more decision makers. To get to more decision makers, you need a new approach.  To get more decision makers to choose you over your competition, you need these 3 Innovative Strategies To Get Decision Makers Love You!

  1. Network Effectively

First and foremost, you need to network effectively. If you want to get to more decision makers, you first need to meet and connect with more decision makers. Networking is the most powerful of cold calls, and one of the best ways to get in front of decision makers. All too often, we wait until we are “officially” calling on companies to ask to meet with decision makers.

If you invest the time on the front end to meet decision makers where they go to socialize, gain knowledge or meet other decision makers, you will have a great opportunity to network and do it effectively. The more you work to meet decision makers before you need to sell to them, the more opportunity you will have to turn your prospects into customers.

  1. Slow Down

This takes time. So, take a breath and slow down. Getting decision makers to love you is not about pushing your products or services on them. It is about building relationships. Once you find yourself (through effective networking) in positions to meet more decision makers, you need to take a step back and slow the process down.

Rather than jumping straight from introduction to business (like my friend did with Christina), you need to shift your paradigm and focus on learning about them. When we slow down and listen to people, we send a strong message that we are different from other sales people.

Listening is one of the most powerful of sales skills. When we listen, we not only find out exactly what is important to the decision maker, but also send a strong message that this relationship will always be more about them than about us. And, decision makers love sales people who are more focused on their (the decision maker’s) success than their own.

  1. Invest First

Last but not least, you need to invest first. Invest in helping your decision makers achieve their goals before you ask them to help you achieve yours. If you want to get decision makers to love you, first listen to what they need or want and then second, help them achieve it.

All too often when we meet people, we are so focused on achieving our goals and how they can help us, that we forget Stephen Covey’s golden rule of relationship building – The fastest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want. Take the time to focus first on helping your prospects achieve their goal, and then watch as more of your prospects turn into customers.

Those are my strategies for getting decision makers to love you, so you turn more prospects into customers. I’d love to learn yours!  Leave a comment here or email me at mere@valuespeaker.com

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith in Business Growth and tagged , , , ,

Resilience: 4 Strategies To Build The Most Important Sales Skill

I believe that sales success comes down to one thing, just one thing. It is not education, lucky breaks or pedigree, luck comes down to your ability to be resilient. Your ability to get back up, and try again no matter the circumstance or the reasons for losing on the first go round. In the […]

[Click to read more]

Resilience: 4 Strategies To Build The Most Important Sales Skill

I believe that sales success comes down to one thing, just one thing. It is not education, lucky breaks or pedigree, luck comes down to your ability to be resilient. Your ability to get back up, and try again no matter the circumstance or the reasons for losing on the first go round.

In the years I have been studying successful sales people, I have found that while their stories may be different, they all have one thing in common. They are resilient. They all have the skill, the stamina and drive to stay in the game no matter the odds or the number of times they fail.

So what is resilience? There are two definitions that I really like: The first is the ability to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions; the second is the ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching or being compressed.

Those two pretty much some it up. Sales is not for sissies!  Because if you are going to stay in the game and push to the finish line then you need to be able to withstand being bent and stretched. And the key to your success is directly related to the speed to which you can recover from losing a deal or missing your goals.

The great thing, and perhaps surprising thing, about resilience is it is a skill that can be built. Once you understand resilience and the importance of it, there are steps and strategies you can take to strengthen your resilience muscle.

4 Strategies To Build The Most Important Sales Skill 

  1. Expect it – failure that is. The first and most important step in the process to build resilience is to expect defeat, failure and disappointment. Understand they are a vital part of the process and something that goes with the territory. Too often, we have an expectation of instant gratification or instant success, and expecting to always win takes the vital energy you need to get back up and try again.
  1. Trust The Journey – my friend Beth Brownlee first shared this phrase with me, and now it has become my mantra. “Trust The Journey” means that you believe that every challenge, obstacle or defeat you have is part of the process and “journey” to your success. When you “Trust The Journey” you take a new perspective to viewing losses or failures. By embracing loss rather than resisting it, you open your mind to new ideas and new opportunities.
  1. Build Community – if you want to strengthen your resilience muscle than you need to strengthen your community. The more you surround yourself with people who push forward, who are driven to succeed and don’t sweat the small stuff, the more of that person you will become. Find people who understand the importance of resilience, and are working hard to strengthen their resilience muscle. The stronger your community the stronger your resilience.
  1. Self-Motivation – spend time reading, learning and educating yourself on people who are resilient. The list is endless believe me. You will be hard pressed to find someone you admire who has not pushed through some pretty tough obstacles. Stories like how Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team, or how Lucille Ball who had several box office flops before going on to become the “Queen of Entertainment”. Motivating yourself by reading, watching videos and learning about the journeys of other successful people, will help you build your resilience muscle. You gain strength from learning failure; defeat and losing are an important and critical part of the process. Plus, you will learn some new and innovative strategies on how these successful people picked themselves back up and put themselves back on the road to success.

Success in today’s constantly shifting and changing marketplace requires resilience. The more you can learn about this important skill, the more you invest in strengthening it, the more successful you are going to be. While I think that resilience is important for every aspect of our lives, when it comes to sales there is no way you can succeed without it.

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith in Business Growth, Sales Tips and tagged , , , , , , ,

Why Your Team Can’t Sell

In business, sales is the most important strategy. Without sales there is nothing else. Think about it, we are in business to produce revenue i.e. make a living. To produce revenue, you have to actually convince someone to buy the product or service you produce. The only way to get someone to buy is for […]

[Click to read more]

Why Your Team Can’t Sell

In business, sales is the most important strategy. Without sales there is nothing else. Think about it, we are in business to produce revenue i.e. make a living. To produce revenue, you have to actually convince someone to buy the product or service you produce. The only way to get someone to buy is for you and your team to sell.

So, if sales is such a vital business function, if it produces something as great as revenue, why do we do we struggle to do it? Interesting question. There is just something about the word “sales” that makes people cringe. Something about sales that has them conjuring up images of sales people who are sleazy, aggressive and pushy.

And that is a shame, because as Zig Ziglar used to say, everyone is in sales. As a business owner or leader, you know that to be successful you need every member to be as passionate and committed as you are. You not only need them to want to sell, you need them to be good at it.

Sales in some form or another remains in the top 10 concerns of CEOs and business owners. Things like meeting consumer demands, standing out among the competition, and increasing bottom line results. This makes getting your full-team motivated and onboard with sales one of the major challenges CEOs face today.  And while you can’t actually motivate anyone to sell, you can create a culture that embraces sales and inspires every member of your team to take action.

So why can’t your team sell? Well, it may not be the reasons that you think.

4 Sales Strategies To Inspire Your Team To Take Action

  1. Lack of Financial Acumen

Getting your team to sell without understanding the why is like telling you to quit eating french fries without understanding the health benefits. Face it, we would all live on fried food, sugar and alcohol if we did not understand the fatal risks of doing so. So, if you want to inspire your team to take action, then they need to understand the why.

You need to increase their financial acumen. They need to understand how you make money, which products or service lines you want to grow, and how their actions impact the revenue stream of the business. The better your team understands how you make money, the better sales decision they will make. This includes decisions on selling on price, choosing the right prospects and negotiating deals.

  1. Don’t Know How

Believe it or not, no one is born a salesman.  Sales is a skill that needs to be taught and consistently learned. Too often, as leaders we just expect that people know how to do it. We think it’s not rocket science. They just need to get past the gatekeeper, ask the right questions and close the deal.

We may not think it is rocket science, but to most people it is. Not understanding what steps to take when selling is one of the major reasons people are resistant to sell. If you want your team to be inspired to sell, then you need to invest in showing them how to do it.

  1. No Sales Process

In other words, no strategy or “set” way of doing it for your company. To be successful at sales, you need more than skill – you need a process. A sales process is systematic series of steps that lays out exactly what needs to be done to turn a prospect into a customer and a customer into a champion. The process gives employees the map of how to sell and what behaviors to focus on to be successful. It breaks down the cycle, making it less complicated and more achievable.

  1. Lack of Leadership

Yep, you knew that was coming. If your team can’t sell, you do not have a sales issue – you have a leadership issue. It all starts and stops with you. To sell and sell successfully, people need to be led. They need someone willing to share the vision with them, invest in their training, layout the process and hold them accountable. More often than not, when a team cannot sell or won’t sell, the biggest issue is lack of leadership.

There you have it – the 4 Big Sales Strategies You Need To Inspire Your Team To Take Action. Put these strategies into place, and let me know your impact. Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on inspiring your team to take action. Sales is the life blood of any company. The more you do as a leader to inspire sales, the better positioned you will be to succeed no matter what this economy does.

 

Click Here For Meridith’s Free 3-Part Video Training Series Now!

Own It Book Cover with linesMotivational Keynote Speaker & Business Growth Expert, Meridith Elliott Powell works with clients to help them instill ownership at every level to ensure profits at every turn. Meridith is the author of several books, including her latest, “Own It: Redefining Responsibility: Stories of Power, Freedom & Purpose”. When not keynoting and leading workshops, she looks for inspiration cycling, golfing or hiking her favorite trail.  http://www.meridithelliottpowell.com

Continue Reading

[Click to hide]

Leave A Comment

Posted by Meridith in Business Growth and tagged , , , ,

© 2017 Meridith Elliott Powell. All Rights Reserved. Legal Information Sitemap