I just received at least the 10th email this week from a different sales rep trying to sell me prospect leads – and its Tuesday. Now as a sales professional, trainer, and coach, I tend to probably be at the same time more critical and more sympathetic to sales reps trying to do their job. I’m critical in that I dissect their message and approach more than most. But I also feel sorry for many of them because I can tell by their email that they are either new, untrained, or misguided. And when I talk to sales reps about their sales activities, most sheepishly admit that they know what they are doing isn’t working, but just don’t know what else to do. Unfortunately many of the sales activities that we utilize cause more harm than good, labeling us as “salesy” and irritating the prospect.
There have been numerous posts on industry forums from staffing executives and owners about the new Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) salary levels. The new overtime rule takes effect on December 1st of this year (https://www.dol.gov/WHD/overtime/final2016/). Many executives are still planning for this significant change to how exemption from overtime is effected by the new salary levels. Many firms will need to either change employees’ status to non-exempt, which means paying overtime for hours over 40 in workweek; or, increase exempt employees to the $47,476 annually. One post noted that that their firms’ recruiters make ~$40,000 annual in salary and are exempt from overtime pay. The post proposed changing the recruiters to salary, non-exempt with a 60-hour workweek. It asked if any other firm was taking this approach.
What do these people have in common: Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, Brett Favre, and Abraham Lincoln. Yes, they are famous. They are considered to be among the greatest of their respective professions. But the primary link is that they all failed frequently, some historically.
Like an assembly line, sales is a process that builds on itself. Regardless of how many stages are in your pipeline, the sales process boils down to four essential areas;
- Prospecting – The initial stage of identifying your potential clients, reaching out to them, and getting them to agree to meet with you
- Understanding and analyzing prospect needs and wants – We need to know what the prospects challenges, opportunities, and desires are to best align our solution
- Creating demand for our solution – This part of the process includes building credibility and interest, presenting your solution, showing how it addresses their challenges, and ultimately how working with you is the best choice for the prospect
- Closing the sale – Converting the prospect to a customer and generating revenue
I’m a big fan of leveraging technology, and now more than ever there are some great resources for sales reps that are free, or almost free. Here are three that I use regularly to make my activity more efficient and drive sales.
Millennials. So much research has been conducted at this point about this generation that it almost seems ridiculous. They’re lazy... they’re technically savvy... they need instant gratification faster, etc. Some feedback has been good, while the majority has been focused on the negative aspects of this generation. In recruiting, however, it’s a known fact that this generation is handled differently than previous generations. Here are three best practices to appeal to our current day Millennials (from a Millennial perspective) while recruiting them:
Research tells us 60% of who we are we're born with - the other 40% is what we have control of to manifest our destiny. Don't know if you thought these percentages were higher or lower, but it's interesting. To clarify, the stuff we're born with are things such as addictions, physical attributes, pychological idioms, etc. Suffice to say, we can change much and none of this should dimish our chance of living a successful life!
So what then do we do when it comes to hiring or dealing with people in the workplace? In my humble opinion, three things we can do to avoid people mistakes.
Sales is a process. And like any other process, it is only as good as its weakest step. If you are great with one or two steps of the process but weak in others, you will still struggle. But if you focus on improving in each area, you will exponentially improve your sales results. Here are the 5 critical sales steps and how to improve.
“Why do they continue to put up with such high turnover?”
“They keep telling me their current vendor can’t fill their positions, but I just can’t get them to make a change!”
One of the most frustrating aspects of the sales process is when we know the prospect is not happy with their current situation, but they still won’t pull the trigger. Why do they continue to deal with such major issues, when they have even told us that we are a better solution?
Its because we tend to focus on “issues” rather than the consequences associated with these issues. We talk about turnover, time to fill, no shows, the quality and productivity of employees, etc. All of these are issues that the prospect deals with, but in many cases they are not enough to compel them to make a change.
Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Let’s face it – sales people (myself included) aren’t usually the best at time management. First, I’ve been around staffing sales people (myself included) for a couple decades now, and have witnessed firsthand how we struggle in this critical area. Second, I regularly speak on the topic, and always ask for a show of hands who considers themselves good at time management. After unofficially polling hundreds of sales professionals, I would say about 1% actually consider themselves somewhat good at managing their time.