Sales Integrity, Oxymoron?

If you do not have integrity…your sales career won’t last very long.  I have witnessed what I think is one of the Top 10 Disciplines catapult or blunder a sales career.  It amazes me how some people are so short-sighted that they take, take, take as much from the customer as fast as they can only to have them wise up and revolt against their rep.

I’ve seen reps give gift cards and tickets to the game to get business.  I’ve seen reps sell their trusting customer inferior products because they could make a higher commission.  However, the reps that stay around the longest and make a career out of it are the ones that have integrity and follow the rules below.

For more information on integrity and sales click the link below.  Baylor University presents an interesting case about integrity in the workplace.

http://www.baylor.edu/business/research/index.php?id=48210

Here are my Top Rules of Integrity:

  • Think of your customers best interests
  • Your product must add value to their organization
  • You must be open and honest about your products capabilities.
  • Deliver on your promises.  You should never over promise.
  • Only speak the truth.
  • Never do anything you wouldn’t be proud of on the 6 o clock news.
  • Give credit inside and outside the organization where it is due. Don’t take credit that you don’t deserve.
  • Say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Never talk negatively about competition just point out your differences and let the customer decide.
  • If others had full disclosure would they buy from you?
  • Is it legal?  Not Joking

So what nonsense have you been witness to?  Is integrity a trait  that top performers on your sales team emulate?  Please share by posting your comments below.

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Is It Time to Change Course?

It’s hard to believe that we are 1/4 through 2012.  Are your sales where you need them or is it time to change course?

Now is the time to analyze your sales and marketing reports to see if your efforts are producing fruit or putting your pay at risk.  Three months of work should show signs of what type of year you are having, whether you are an entrepreneur or work on a team if you don’t like the results you are seeing now’s the time for tweaking your strategy.

Top Things To Ask Yourself:

  • Are you spending your time wisely and with the right people?
  • Are you converting the low hanging fruit of unhappy customers from competitors?
  • Are you networking to make new contacts, and starting the conversation on how you can help them?
  • Are you utilizing everyone on your team to obtain your common goals?
  • Are you staying away from unproductive distractions during the “Golden Hours” of selling?
  • Have you sat down with your supervisor to see what their recommendations are?
  • Did you give up on your original plan too soon?  No plan works if your try it for only a few weeks, once you start something see it through.
  • Are you closing and asking for the business?  The timing must be right, but if you have taken a customer through the entire sales cycle of Prospecting, Consulting-Info Gathering, Demonstration, and Value Delivery, your next logical step is to close them for a trial, a commitment, or a delivery date.  Who knows they might surprise you and accept, but you will never know where your customer stands unless you ask them.

Are you sticking to your original business plan or do you need to change course?  Please share with me what you are doing to hit your sales goals in 2012.

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Plan B: The Recession Still Exists

The great recession that started in 2008 started a chain reaction that most Americans couldn’t imagine.  After living through some of our most affluent times in history we now live in neighborhoods where for-sale signs are hard to miss and having conversations with friends being laid off is far too common.

I’ve always worked for large corporations and up to this point I have been fortunate to leave on my own terms.  However, working for large corporations has taught me this, my network of co-workers care about me as I do them, but the larger organization has to be financially responsible.  What this means is that if things go bad, and as we’ve seen they do, good even great people get laid off.  The numbers have to make sense.  Do you know how much you are costing your company in salary and benefits?  If you work in an industry that has lagging sales because of poor product innovation or the recession you better know your worth.

I always figured that if I was selling $1,000,000, a year in product for my company then I was worth my expense as an employee.  Well 75% of us got laid off later that year so I was wrong.  The company felt $3,000,000 per territory was a better number.  No hard feelings here, I just didn’t calculate correctly and it was a tough time for a lot of my friends.  However, my numbers might have been wrong but I did see this big change coming.

I didn’t like the feeling of a being lame duck and wanted to have a Plan B. 
This was a great motivator to go out in the community and find out my worth.  You know what they say, ” It’s always best to look for a job when you currently have one”.  Recruiters have a nose for candidates who reek of being laid off and often there is a stigma to overcome, fair or not.  So, if you are getting that feeling that your current job is in jeopardy talk to your peer group and customers to see which companies are doing well and start building your network.

Top 10 Recommendations For Staying Employed

  1. Start looking while you have a job
  2. Great business people have a network in place, build yours today
  3. Build your brand – Get a professional photo of yourself for the online world to see
  4. Utilize Social Media to network
  5. Create a blog on what you are passionate about
  6. Twitter – Tweet content about your industry to your peers.  Industry news not what you had for breakfast
  7. LinkedIn – Have your resume posted here
  8. Google+ – Way to network and post content
  9. Facebook – Keep it professional.  Employers are looking at your profile
  10. Google yourself and see what the search finds.  If you don’t like it you may need to contact a professional service like Identity Guard.

Let me know what you’ve done during the recession to stay in the job market.

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Who Is Your Modern Day Goliath?

Part 1:  How To Beat Your Goliath

Ford has Chevrolet, Coke has Pepsi, Apple had IBM and David had Goliath.  My point being successful companies (or biblical stories) have their very own adversaries that threaten their profits and existence.  Capitalism creates the marketplace that rewards innovation. Whoever makes their product or service better, faster, or cheaper than their competition wins.  Every morning these companies go to battle to grow their profits, execute their strategic plan, and  stay ahead of one another.

In actuality these companies are doing each other a service.  Competition is the hallmark sign of capitalism, the free and open markets are ruthless.  This forces companies to be “fit” by always looking forward, analyzing the changing business environment, customer needs, and your competition.

I drew the analogy of “who is your modern-day Goliath” because it is a healthy part of your sales career to have an adversary.  Nothing gets me up in the morning and makes me hungrier than knowing my competition is doing the same thing.  My goal is to outlast, outsell, out-learn, out-relationship build, out-work, out-demonstrate my product, and out-create value for their business than my competitor.

Another important point of You vs. your Goliath is have faith.  Create your business plan and stick to it.  As hard as it may seem in the battlefield of sales, things change quickly.  Your #1 competitor often gets promoted, moves out-of-town, or changes industries.  You never know what’s going on inside their personal or professional life that might create change.  I have been my customers #2 choice many times and that’s o.k. They are loyal to their current sales rep, but as I stated the rep won’t be around forever.

Part 2: How To Beat A Goliath Account

  1. Outlast:  See your plan though and outlast your competition
  2. Sow: Big accounts take time, hard work, and patience
  3. Build: Business relevent relationships
  4. Understand:   The customers needs
  5. Bread and Butter:  Hit your quota with prospects that are ready to buy or grow existing accounts.  This will allow you to be patient for the Goliath account.

Please share below an account or competitor that was a tough adversary in your sales career and what you did to beat the competition.

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Happy Wife Happy Life

I hop on a plane most weeks to visit my customers in Las Vegas.  By now TSA, Hertz, Marriott, and Southwest Air know my name, face, and my travel preferences.  Some weeks I feel like George Clooney in “Up in the Air” without all the one night stands and nights at the bar.  On good days my flight is on time, my name is on the board at Hertz, my room is ready and I make it through the airport without TSA doing a full body search.

Thank god I’m still happily married and my two young kids sort of understand that daddy has to go away again on business.  I am only able to do this because I have a wonderful stay at home wife and full-time mom that takes care of the rest.  All I have to do is make sure I’m performing at my job and school (pursuing an MBA) and my wife takes care of the rest.

Traveling can be tough on marriage and children because you miss some of life’s little moments from tucking a kid in bed to showing your son encouragement when he shot the ball and it didn’t hit the rim.  Below are some suggestions to keep things good at home so you’re not burning yourself out.  Plus, being married has its advantages.  Compared with married people, people who are widowed are 40 percent more likely to die, people who are divorced or separated are 27 percent more likely to die, and people who have never married were 58 percent more likely to die.  A lot of good reasons  if you are married to take my advice below.

  • Be Present:  When you are home you need to be there mentally.  Try and finish up your work before you get home or after the kids go to bed.
  • Communicate:  Let your spouse and kids know what your demands and schedule are so you can plan things around them.
  • Routine:  They will adapt better if you stick to the same schedule and know when and how long you will be gone.
  • Technology:  Phone calls are great but many nights my kids text me (i-touch, they don’t have cell phones yet) or Skype me before they go to bed.
  • Workout:  Instead of eating a big heavy meal and going to the bar, hit the gym.  Even after a long day this rejuvenates me and helps me sleep better.  I like to accomplish as much paperwork as possible on my trips so when I get home its family time.
  • X the Bar:  Don’t hang out at the bar all night.  You’re wife will be happier to see you when you’re home, you won’t be hung over and perform your job badly, and you will look and feel younger that most people your age.

Well I hope you enjoyed my post on how being a “square” can keep things personally and professionally on track.  Let me know your thoughts below or what you do when you travel for business.

Hertz Credit

Married Stats

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Top 10 Ways To Be Valuable To Your Organization

I have worked for several organizations and managers over last 13 years.  I cannot think of one that put me on a performance plan or had to have a serious sit-down about my performance.  Powerful stuff right?  I didn’t realize I was doing anything different until I was witness to several colleagues being managed out or fired from their jobs.  So why am I different and how can I help you?

I’d like to first thank my parents for teaching me great work ethic, my athletic coaches for instilling discipline, and now my wife and kids for giving me a sense of purpose, responsibility, and goal of being a great example.  People are who they are!  Yes we grow, change, and adapt but our “Core Self” is a constant by the time we enter the workforce.  So if you’ve had success in life, how can you best emulate this in your organization?  Below are the tips I would like to share.

  1. Do Right:  Strong character is the only way to be consistently good at your job.  If you look at the top performers in a orginization (not counting one year wonders) they always lookout for their customers, their company, coworkers, and themselves Long-Term.
  2. Red Face Test: Do not do anything that you would not be proud of in front of a camera for the rest of the world to see.  Sometimes people make choices because it will get them more profit or the sale today only to lose their reputation in the long-run.
  3. Network:  People that are respected and trusted are able to accomplish more than any individual.  If no-one knows your name and isn’t willing to put their name behind yours you are limiting your potential.
  4. Share:  No one likes a selfish person in business or personal life.  If you can help others accomplish their goals while achieving your own goals you will create an eco system of performance in all areas that you touch.
  5. Be the “Go To”:  Customers and colleagues love someone they can count on to when a new opportunity arises.
  6. Professional:  act and look like a professional at all times.  You are continually building and protecting your self brand always put your best self out there.
  7. Keep Your Word:  If you say you are going to do something do it.
  8. Mentor:  Be the person that people trust to groom and lay the foundation of the company culture.
  9. Fearless:  Do not say no to things that make you uncomfortable.  ie, I speak very confidently in small groups but I am not as impactful in front of large audiences.  Being fearless for me would be to volunteer to present in these situations.
  10. Brag Book:  In sales you need to be in charge of your career and make sure your on the career path that you desire.  I keep a file of all my reviews, awards, and successes until the opportunity comes up either internal or external to show my accomplishments.

Share your thoughts below on how you’ve been valuable to your organization or customers.

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What Industry Do You Sell In?

I currently work in the medical industry.  This is a very conservative field that requires a clean shave and a pressed suit.  My typical day involves loading my company car with product material and samples to distribute throughout the day in the state of Nevada.  One of my daily goals is to help educate doctors and staff about my products so they are used safely and effectively in treating the patient’s disease.

The samples I carry and distribute are one of the most important tools I have to get access to my customers.  The samples I leave with providers are for patients to try the product before they purchase it to make sure it is safe and effective.  The samples, if needed get me direct access to the provider.  I usually wait in a hallway and see the provider between patients where I am able to have a quick clinical discussion and have the provider sign for the samples.

This is a stark contrast my previous career in copier sales.  My biggest hurdle there was getting in front of my customer.  I would live and die by the number of appointments and product demonstrations that I could get my customers to agree to.

Now, my biggest hurdle is making an impact each day when my customers are short on time, seeing as many as 30 patients and possibly six reps a day.  To be successful I need to be better than my competition in regards to:  building trust, relationships, product knowledge, being impactful, and salesmanship.

My favorite way to differentiate myself vs. the other representatives is through my product and disease state knowledge.  Every company has training when you are hired and additional training periodically throughout your career.  However, like any sales job it is up to the individual to keep the “saw sharp”.

No matter what industry you sell in being a product expert takes time.  Many sales leaders recommend an hour of reading per night in your industry to stay ahead of your competition.  I read industry journals, read a few headlines on industry leading companies, and look at my competitors website to keep me abreast of the huge flow of information that is out there.  Not only will you gain the respect of your peers but you will also impact and influence what your customers buy.

Please share with me what you do in your territory to be a product expert?

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Flexible Work Schedule

I was leaving my home office the other day on my way to see one a client and I started thinking about how long it has been since I worked in a corporate office.  Almost 10 years…While I do miss the interaction and camaraderie that you build with your team on a daily basis, I am a lot more productive working out of my home.  This got me thinking on America’s office environment and whether it is the most productive way for a sales rep to perform their job.  In the end my job is to keep existing clients happy, get new clients, and hit my sales number.  So, why do we commute to the office, fetch our voicemail, say hi to our coworkers only to leave by mid morning to go out and see our customers?  What if we did all of this from home and got in front of our customers an hour earlier.  I believe this would have a dramatic impact on our sales results.  A lot of what we do at the office doesn’t move the sale forward but instead it takes us away from our customers.

Typical time wasters?  (Hey Boss, not mine these are survey results)

  • Socialize with co-workers
  • Water cooler or coffee breaks
  • Shop online
  • Online games
  • Pay bills online
  • Personal calls or emails
  • Are present to show face (I’m  here so I must be working)

I challenge everyone reading this post to track what they do in the office over the next week and see how much time is wasted.  Its one thing to act busy but another to be busy, and being busy will increase your take home pay.

I challenge you to convince your boss that being able to go straight to the customer will save you time and earn everyone more income.  I think the biggest obstacle is trust, if you can build a trusting relationship with your manager and the results follow they will allow more flexibility into your schedule.   Of course there are times you will need to be in the office for meetings etc, but try to minimize this habit to when it is necessary.

What GREAT sales reps spend time on:

  • Belly to Belly with their customer
  • Doing product demonstrations with clients
  • Reading blogs, journals, and articles on your industry
  • Putting together proposals or bids
  • Practicing your sales presentations
  • Prospecting for new clients
  • Following up with clients to move the sales forward
  • Taking care and listening to your existing customers to make sure they know more about you than just your name and that they can call you with anything.  If you can’t help them, be the rep that knows someone who can, they will continue to call you for problems you wouldn’t think of.

Let me know your thoughts below on adapting to a more flexible (home based) work schedule.

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Considering a Career in Sales?

Does your current career lack autonomy?  Are you required to be at the office from 8 to 5?  Imagine a job that doesn’t have time cards to punch, a boss that walks up and down the office at 8:00 am to see who is tardy, and it pays you more than teachers, police officers, and most other professional jobs.   A job that if you feel like taking a coffee break with a friend or colleague during work hours is o.k or even encouraged.

We are talking about a sales job.  While you still have office responsibilities and the need to show face.   A big part of your day is carved out for face to face appointments with your customers.  So if you’re personality isn’t meshing with the whole cubicle thing you might want to consider sales.

Top 10 things a  sales rep is accountable for:

  1. Accountable for growing sales.  This can be stressful for some, but as long as you are continually filling the funnel with qualified prospects and moving your customers along the sales cycle, sales tend to fall in place.  It’s a numbers game.
  2. Accountable for paperwork: processing orders, expense reports, planning and forecasting.
  3. Accountable for customers:  You need to know and understand their needs and be there for them before your competitor is.
  4. Accountable for product knowledge:  You have to be a credible expert here.
  5. Accountable for competitor knowledge:  You will lose sales if you cannot differentiate your product from the competition.
  6. Accountable for Delivery and Install of new orders.  You need to make sure this is a positive experience, this can be a make or break time for your reputation and relationship.
  7. Accountable for product presentations:  Speaking in front of small groups to show how your product or service can fit into their business.
  8. Accountable for collaboration:  Working with all relevant internal stakeholders to be more successful.
  9. Accountable to lead:  Great reps are great examples for their peers.
  10. Accountable to 1st line manager and organization:  Your #1 customer is your manager, this person has direct access to upper management to catapult your career.

I hope you enjoyed my post on Considering a Career in Sales?  Please comment or post a question below if you are looking into a sales career.  I would be more than happy to give you some guidance.

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Rep + Manager = Success: Part 2

My last article talked about how managing your budget effectively can increase your sales.  Today, we take a deeper look into the resources a manager has at their disposal to make you more successful in your territory.  At the end of this post you should see the value of helping your manager achieve their goals, because in the end their goals are your goals!!

Sales Management Goals:  Increase market-share, increase units or volume, managing budgets, talent management, and leadership.  Furthermore, these functions are performance indicators on how sales management is performing.

Sales Representatives Goals:  Anything a sales representative can do to improve himself, his territory, and career is a fundamental norm that a good rep addresses everyday.  However, the “Best Reps” not only help their territories succeed but, are able to LEAD and help others on their team succeed.  Managers understand that in order to be successful they need “Buy In” from all their representatives.  If you are able to lead by example and model what a manager is asking for, you have created “Behavioral Gold” for the management team.

Top Ways To Lead and Help The Entire Sales Organization:

  1. Lead Conference Calls on what you are doing to achieve success.
  2. Role Play at meetings what “Good” looks like.  Whether it is how you analyze data, pitch your product, interact with your customers, or collaborate with your team members these tips will not only help your sales skills out but it will give you needed exposure within your organization.
  3. Involve key support staff to meetings where appropriate.  This will help you build relationships with key people outside of the sales arena.  You might need technical, financial, or human resources to help you with the many challenges that can come up during a sales cycle.
  4. Volunteer and say “Yes” when leadership needs help for special projects.  If you want to ooze organizational committment then be supportive in as many ways outside your normal job function as possible.
  5. Mentor someone who is new to the organization.  This will show you have coaching capabilities and that you are interested in leading your own team one day.

I hope this post showed you a few new ways of partnering with your manager to be more successful in your organization.  If you’ve had a similar experience or have an opinion about working with your manager please post a comment below.

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