What’s In and Out for Sales Professionals

As the economy continues to morph, sales professionals need to evolve as well. Understanding the cultural and behavioral shifts in the sales environment is a key step in the evolution process.

Mike Stankus, CEO / Founder at STM360 created a  “What’s In / What’s Out” list that he hopes will provide you with a competitive advantage.

Sales Secret: Everybody is Somebody

 

This week’s blog is by David Tyner, whose KinetiCast sponsored sales and marketing blog Sales Salve discusses all topics related to sales techniques and best practices.

 

So what is it you love about sales? What is it that gets you to work and pushed to be the best you can be every day?  To be fair, the reasons for loving this noble, wonderful profession are as unique as amazing people who lug laptops and rate sheets from place to place.

In my career I have been fortunate enough to close some high impact sales.  The earnings I received were great, the knowledge I gleaned was priceless and the recognition I received was satisfying.  However, the thought of these potential rewards from future sales is not what I love most, or what motivate me to give my best day after day.  Please allow me to illustrate why I love sales.

It is a feeling I get when I walk into a business to a hero’s welcome.  The amazing culmination of a journey that began at annoying, non-descript same as every sales person to the status of valued business partner or even pseudo co-worker.  Have you ever felt this feeling?  If you have I know you will empathize with this feeling right away, if you have not, then please allow me to share a secret sauce for making this happen.

One of the most powerful, game changing, rain making sales techniques is not a technique at all.  It is a genuine approach to the way a sales professional views people, not just decision makers and C and, VP levels but all people. Please think about it, the most prolific sales producers are more than just disciplined, well-oiled machines.  They are people who genuinely love people.  This love for people is manifest in the action of taking the time to make each person they encounter feel like the only person on earth for a while.

The next thing I am going to say is NOT that you should be nice to everyone at a company because you never know who that person might be .  That you should be nice to the guy sweeping floors because, it could be the CEO just getting some exercise.  This is the absolute opposite of my point.  I am talking about a genuine interest in the life of all of the people with whom you interact.  I call this attitude the “everybody is somebody” approach.  Please allow me to offer some help getting started, or perhaps a refresher.

So many of us are taught to get to the right level at an organization and try to get them talking using sales techniques, these techniques are all good and have a place.  Yet inevitably while interacting as we hear something that triggers the next thing we want to say.  While we craft our response in our minds, often we miss the real value of the communication.  Sales people often look for underlying meaning in the words of another conversant.  Or worse, we try to play detective to figure out the hidden meanings.  Here is a tip, before asking what do they mean? First ask and answer this, what are they saying?

Another way to show that everybody is somebody is to think about how your product or service will affect the daily lives of everyone at your prospective organization.  If you are not able to think of how, then simply ask them.  You may be surprised at what you will learn, how your message will be refined and how groans and complains will magically start to fade away. All this because people feel heard and considered. The fastest way to become somebody, is to treat everybody like they are somebody.

As a side note; when your workday is over, do not turn off your listening skills. The time to refine this philosophy is when you are interacting with your loved ones.  Please listen to them like your life depended on it.  If you listen to your customers how much more then should you listen those most precious to you.

Please tell me what you think.

 

IDENTIFY AND ELIMINATE UNQUALIFIED PROSPECTS EARLY

The Brooks Group

You can help members of your sales team use their time intelligently by showing them how to quickly identify and eliminate unqualified prospects. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that it’s better to work with qualified prospects than unqualified suspects. But, salespeople are sometimes guilty of just finding someone willing to listen to them.

 

Too often, salespeople end up with bloated pipelines filled with disinterested suspects they mistake for real prospects.

 The most successful salespeople know exactly how to differentiate suspects from actual prospects. Sure, a suspect might become a prospect. And that’s why your salespeople should stay in touch with suspects, but doesn’t it make a lot more sense for them to focus the majority of their time with more qualified prospects?

Undercover Boss Proves Vital Point–It May Relate to Your Business!

The reality TV series Undercover Boss may be an unexpected smash hit, but the reason it is enjoyed by millions of viewers each week should come as no surprise.

The premise of each episode is simple: The CEO of a large corporation leaves their ivory tower to go “undercover” to find out what everyday life is like for entry-level workers and front-line managers inside their organization. This means rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to do the dirty jobs as well as facing no-holds-barred feedback on what the company’s doing right and what it needs to do much better.

 

By the end of the show, the leader is humbled, often contrite, and certainly better educated and more appreciative. Little wonder the series is popular — who hasn’t fantasized about their boss walking a mile in their shoes or steel-toed boots? Although it is only a television series, each episode of Undercover Boss offers several takeaway lessons for all leaders to consider.

 

 

The first is the danger of becoming isolated from the reality your people face each day. This is a common pitfall for leaders and tends to be more of an issue the higher they are on the corporate ladder. You can be the kindest, most competent boss in the world, but unless you are regularly in touch with your employees, they will likely see you as clueless and uncaring.

Secondly, the series demonstrates how important it is to make an effort to engage your workforce instead of simply issuing top-down directives. Yes, it may be easier to distribute a company-wide memo, but it never replaces the value of talking to people face to face about what’s happening in the company, answering questions, gathering feedback and getting them involved in the decision-making process.

 

The third lesson is the need to personally stay in touch with employees. This can be a challenge in very large organizations, but for most managers, it is a doable task. Once the leaders profiled on Undercover Boss stepped away from the corner office to meet workers and hear their individual stories, it gave the boss a new sense of purpose and direction. It’s never too late to get to know the people who work for you and show interest in their lives.

Lastly, the show conveys the need for empathy, or the ability to appreciate another person’s situation and communicating your understanding to them. Empathy is the key to tolerance and relating to people of all different perspectives, yet it is often missing in the workplace.

 

When managers show empathy to employees, they demonstrate that they are willing to make an effort to understand what drives their people and that they care about what they are thinking and feeling. In return, employees feel valued, feel safe and feel that they matter — leading to a happier, more productive workforce.

Leaders do not need to disguise themselves or work undercover in their operations to become more empathetic to the plight of their people. They only need to remember that:

 

Empathy requires paying attention. Too often we are focused on our agenda and what’s happening in our own little worlds instead of paying attention to what others think and feel. It is essential to be more aware of others’ needs and be willing to listen and care about what they have to say.

Empathy takes time. It’s not an effortless prospect by any means; empathy requires that you stop and pay full attention to caring for others. However, this can be accomplished in many ways, such as stepping away from your desk to walk around to touch base with employees about their lives and work.

 

Empathy means dropping the extra baggage. The longer you know someone, the more history you have and the more you may think you know them. This can be a barrier to making a genuine connection. To create empathy, leave the baggage behind and try looking at the person through new eyes and be willing to uncover new stories about them.

Empathy is a daily choice. We each have to make the decision to want to care and to put in the time and the effort to bridge communication gaps. It shouldn’t take TV cameras trailing their every move for bosses to get out and show their employees that they are human, nor give employees a chance to be seen the very same way.

 http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/winnipeg-free-press/mi_8029/is_20100306/undercover-boss-proves-vital-point/ai_n52369748/?tag=content;col1

 

Pipeline or Pipe Dream?

Many salespeople confuse the establishment of a pipeline with establishing a pipe dream. Gil Cargill doesn’t mean to be harsh with this statement, he feels we are all naturally optimistic and, sometimes, this optimism gets us into sales trouble – specifically, when we confuse a prospect who is willing to talk to us with a prospect who has a set of needs that can be satisfied by you and your company. These needs must be expressed in terms of some level of discomfort that the prospect is currently experiencing.When you have the ability to help your customer achieve a permanent improvement in one or more circumstances within their business, then your pipeline is indeed a list of potential new deals. Follow this link to some questions that Gil suggests you examine for each opportunity in your current pipeline. If you can’t answer these questions, then you don’t have a pipeline but, rather, you have a pipe dream.

 

Where Does Your Resume Really Go When You Apply Online?

By Barbara Safani 

We’d all like to believe that when we send our resume via a job board or a company Web site that there is someone eagerly waiting on the other side ready to read every word of it. But these days, job applicants are lucky if an actual person is reading any of it, at least on the initial screening.

 As companies continue to be inundated with resumes, more and more employers are turning to applicant tracking systems (ATS) to manage the sheer volume and weed through all the applicants. What does that mean for job seekers? I spoke to HR professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers to find out. 

  • Why do companies use applicant tracking systems?

In today’s market, there can be thousands of applicants for one position. According to recruiter Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, “ATS allows me as a recruiter to manage far greater amounts of information and track every communication I have with a job applicant so nothing is ‘forgotten.’ ” Unisys HR Consultant Sharon Sizgorich notes that ATS offers a “consolidated view of all applicants against a job and the ability to build and track pipelines of talent. In addition, applicant tracking systems can help recruiters better manage the various stages of the interview process and comply with legal requirements for tracking applicants.” 

  • How do applicant tracking systems work?

“When searching my database for candidates to fit a particular job posting, I’ll select an important keyword or phrase directly from the job description, and enter it into the ATS,” says recruiter Roxanne Williams. “The ATS will then search the database and return the resulting resumes to me, and this process can be repeated numerous times with different keywords or phrases.” 

  • What document formats can applicant tracking systems scan?

According to our experts, most systems can scan text and Word formats; some cannot scan Word 2007, PowerPoints, or PDFs. 

  • What should job seekers do in order to get their resumes noticed by the ATS?

Customize the resume for each position. Megan Pittsley, a career counselor and recruiter, advises job seekers to “extensively tweak their resume for every job and make sure you weave common keywords throughout the resume as often as possible.”

 

Keep job titles fairly generic. Kathleen Steffey, founder and CEO of Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, a sales and marketing based recruitment firm, suggests avoiding using job titles that are too specific. “If you are a sales professional who is conducting new business and prospecting 99 percent of the time, just keep your title to ‘Sales Professional’ or ‘Business Development Representative.’ Stay away from titles that are too specific like National Accounts or Client Relations.

 

Keep resume formatting to a minimum. Dan Kilgore, principal of Riviera Advisors Inc., notes that “certain design features such as italics, bolding, and underlining can substantially increase the error rate as the system converts the data.” Radical resume designs similarly are also off-limits because anything the ATS wasn’t programmed to look for will not be recognized. One suggestion might be to electronically submit your resume in Word and in a standard format, and save the “pretty” one you formatted for the live interview, since most of these characteristics were made to make the human reading experience more pleasant and exciting.

 

Avoid functional resumes. Ashley Gouge, VP of Client Development and Implementation for Pinstripe Healthcare states that “functional resumes are very difficult for parsing technology to read” and recommends using the more traditional chronological format for optimal results.

 Include full keywords and their abbreviated formats. Recruiter and BestJobHuntGuide.com owner Roxanne Williams adds, “some of the words or phrases listed on the job description can also be abbreviated; for example, Sarbanes Oxley can be abbreviated as SOX and accounts payable is often referred to as AP. Play it safe and include both versions in your resume.”  While those using applicant tracking systems can point to many benefits of using these systems, some also acknowledge the drawbacks. Amber Jolley, a staffing consultant with Whitaker Technical Services, notes: “The main drawback is that often your resume isn’t seen by a ‘live’ person if it doesn’t make it past the ATS screening process. While there are many advantages, the real downfall with ATS is that they are not able to quantify the ‘intangibles’ that candidates bring to the table or skills that may be equivalent or transferable enough to make their resume worth reviewing.”