If you’re ever in the scenic Green Mountain region of Vermont, tour the Ben & Jerry’s factory for a tasty and entertaining experience. You’ll get a real sense of the company’s history and their decidedly anti-establishment grass-roots slant that remained their guiding light since startup. Stop by the gift shop at the end and you’ll find Co-Founder Jerry Greenfields’s whimsical slogan “IF IT’S NOT FUN, WHY DO IT?” emblazoned on various articles and keepsakes for sale.
Recently I was listening to Kelly Hrudey, former LA King goalie, and now a Hockey Night In Canada commentator. He was taking calls when a father of a young and budding goalie asked what is the one piece of advice Hrudey would give to the young and perhaps future star. Now you would think that if it came down to one thing, the one thing that would really make a difference, perhaps change the young man’s approach, it would have to be profound and special, something perhaps not obvious to hockey neophytes, and certainly not something that the average Joe public could deliver. Can you guess what he said?
I am pulling my hair out. Banging my head against the wall. Writing… erasing… writing again. I just can’t seem to get it right. What’s causing me such distress? Words. My value proposition. How I entice people to do business with me. I’m in the process of changing my website to emphasize my speaking. When my targeted prospects pop onto those pages, I want them to say, “Wow. She totally gets the challenges we’re facing. That’s exactly what we want our salespeople to do. We need to bring her in to our next meeting.”
An honest self-review of your last 12 months’ sales history will likely include a few reflections on where your efforts did not produce the outcome you had wanted. Even if you’re performing in the upper percentile and faring better than others in your firm – or in your industry as a whole – you’ll still likely admit there were some opportunities that you just didn’t win. In other words, you could have (and should have) achieved more.
Where a sales person invests their time is directed by the compensation plan put in place. While many look at sales compensation as a one-dimensional issue, there are actually three core components to consider when developing the plan.
When I ask sales people what their biggest challenge is in getting to speak directly with decision makers they are targeting, and voice mail or gatekeepers are at the top of the list, (while call reluctance should be right there with the other two, they don’t usually volunteer that fact). We have dealt with voice mailin the past, so today we’ll look at “gatekeepers”.
Hiring sales people from the competition always seems like a no-brainer, but there are many pitfalls with this hiring strategy.
Life would be grand if we could sprinkle a few seeds in the ground, fertilize, add water…and a great sales person would sprout. This is truly a pipedream, but one often pursued by small business owners and sales management executives in their quest to find great sales talent. Rather than grow their own, they attempt to steal the crops from their competitors. Why not, their competitor is much better at growing a sales organization than they are. They will grab some magic from their competitor’s land and they too can enjoy great success.
There is no doubt that experience is a plus in any vocation, including sales, just look at any job posting for sales, and with the exception of entry level positions, they will demand experience both in terms of tenure and industry related. As with other things in life, there are no absolutes, it is usually a case of upside and downside. The upsides are clear and straight forward, so let’s look at the downside and risk of experience, both as it impacts individual sales people, and sales organizations.
Sales is all about the execution, and execution, or at least good execution, is a result of proper planning, ignore or short cut any part of that, and you will have to work harder, or miss winnable opportunities. While there are many factors contributing to the outcome of any sale, there are two that are always present, and have to be dealt with.
Want to win more sales? Then you need to do everything you can to give yourself an unfair advantage over your competitors.
Research shows that one of the best ways to do this is by being an early bird: