Kind of a contentious title don’t you think? I apologize mildly but when you get to the end of this simple set of guidelines you may not require one from me. Why? Because, as I’ve stated repeatedly over the years – fundamentals are never obsolete and it is NEVER time wasted to review and self-examine, especially if done earnestly and not defensively. It ultimately always leads to improved performance.
Allow me to establish “a tad” of credibility first so that you won’t view this writing as an editorial but an article of fact and substance. This is not one of those times when I will mince words or exercise a great deal of diplomacy… pardon the mini-resume yet – in my early thirties, after a healthy stint on the road as an entertainer, I willingly entered the sales profession, read insatiably and learned from a talented mentor. A couple years later, after outperforming my sales manager (who I caught stealing leads from me) I became the youngest computer based direct mail district sales manager for Cox Communications in the national network. I had four sales associates working under me, the larger markets had anywhere from eight to twelve. My sales team then proceeded to outperform all the major markets including Atlanta where the home office was and where the boring district sales meetings were held. This, Atlanta, was where I had to act like jokes from more tenured sales management individuals were funny when they weren’t. I also had to attend cocktail parties where grown people lost all their class and acted like asses. People who can’t handle their liquor should quit drinking… whoops an opinion crept in, sorry.
The point of the snapshot resume? Two-fold: Firstly, to let you know that the advice provided is experienced and educated, based on solid sales fundamentals and not simply a set of opinions or a waste of time. Secondly, and most of you know me, to prove that a method committed, normal* person, who cares about people can outperform more intelligent and better looking sales people. It speaks to the strength of the activity not the individual because if I, Jack, can do it… well, you know the rest of the cliche’. The things about sales culture structure provided herein are “tried and true”, I repeat – this is not an editorial article.
Following are some solid framework elements which need to be in place to run an efficient sales organization. The majority of all the activity recommendations are related in some form or fashion and tie back naturally to accountability. A culture of accountability is the only efficient way to build the proper environment for maximum sales performance of individuals therefore collectively as a staff. The greatest production problem most dealers encounter are as a result of their approach and attitude relative to accountability. With the few highly efficient principals and sales managers exempted, I offer this observation… in the spirit of constructive criticism naturally – most piano sales organizations either have a lack of structure or are totally inconsistent where it is concerned. Therein lies the purpose of this writing, to offer some suggestions with which to tighten up the ship and therefore elevate sales.
On the subject of the essential building block which is Accountability – The two crucial items needed to install and maintain it are regular, well structured sales meetings (not just the elementary “ so what you got working?” while passing by type) and a CRM which provides a birds eye view of all the activity that is being documented.
Here are some tips you can use to conduct a productive and good-natured sales meeting:
- Perform scheduled group AND in addition to group individual activity reviews with your staff. If everyone knows they will sit in front of their supervisor once a week and discuss details of their prospecting activities “documentation” and “effort” will immediately improve.
- Create a culture of idea sharing because sales is a creative act
- Encourage your staff to share stories, victories and losses, so that everyone can learn from them.
- Craft a “company way” or “method of selling” that people can revise and add their personalities too, but one with enough structure that you know the customer experience of each prospect. Be mindful that it is based upon “question based” not “the more you tell the more you sell” exchanges. Provide scripts and encourage your sales people to write them. Scripts force them to exert the focus needed to hone their mental sales abilities. The secret of using a script properly ? Never let it sound rehearsed.
- Be sure the millennials are learning people skills for the boomers and the boomers are learning tech skills from the millennials and that the gen X’ers are helping both build that bridge. Offering professionally crafted virtual communications to the prospects are critical to the culture. They require both good technical and people presentation.
- Enforce the importance of approaching each lead with a process and a chronological order of communications which is arrived at from past successes.
Here are some tips on how to use the power of PianoLeads CRM 2.0 to its fullest extent:
- Watch your staff’s activity and be sure they are logging in daily.
- Be sure they are changing colors, therefore qualifying and disqualifying.
- Be sure (through manager status monitoring of the notes) that they are using different methods to find what each prospect is most likely to respond to.
- Monitor activity to assure yourself that leads are not ignored either when they first come in or later, so that they won’t grow old without attention.
- Weigh in with a note of advice on individual prospects which is a diplomatic way to coach and let them know you are keeping your finger on the pulse without being oppressive.
- Know what your staff’s individual automations are and be sure they end in questions
All of the above should be installed and administered in a caring and supportive way. Accountability rarely works if you get out the interrogation lights and act like the Gestapo**. Building the most efficient sales culture takes dedication and some education. Unless you can quote some scripture and verse from the guys on the Mount Rushmore of sales fundamentals (inarguably Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie will accompany those you chose also to to award this status too), unless you cite real life past experiences of your own or your mentors and unless you can create a culture where your people take and share ideas and constructive criticism you have not built the most profitable sales culture and are leaving a awful lot of meat on the bones.
The purpose of structure is to have a track for your company’s attitude to run on. It is not to dictate every word or thought your sales staff has with others or themselves. Since sales is a creative act, the “give and take” between sales professionals is necessary for the team as a whole to hit on all cylinders. True leadership is not oppressive but highly influential. The DNA of your team members should know that they are expected to interact, challenge one another and grow themselves therefore the company who provides the opportunity for them to excel.
Culture is key. The tools to organize and view all the activity are there to reinforce the culture but they are subservient to the culture in terms of value. Product-knowledge, determination, and technical skills are all an integral part of a well oiled machine but culture is king. There can be no better environment than a sales staff “charged up” to place music in people’s lives. This view makes money secondary and that is important because money is a by-product, it should never be the singleness of purpose” or only goal. If your company’s culture is one of “serving” it will generate much more revenue than one who puts the old proverbial “cart before the horse” and focuses on dollars first and people second. Believe me it doesn’t make cents.
I’ll leave you with two supporting quotes from one of my favorite business minds Peter Drucker: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” and “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
*probably a poor choice of a word where I am concerned
*The Geheime Staatspolizei (Secret State Police), abbreviated Gestapo (German: [ɡəˈʃtaːpo]; /ɡəˈstɑːpoʊ/),
was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe – Wikipedia