Accelerate Podcast with Andy Paul
September 19, 2017

#569 Should you become a Certified Sales Professional? With Willis Turner.

Willis Turner, President and CEO of SMEI, Sales and Marketing Executives International, Inc., joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:54] Willis says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is taking time out to sharpen the saw and keep up-to-date on the newest technologies and education.

[4:51] Organizations want sales reps to educate themselves. There is a trend toward self-directed learning, investing their own time and money. A sales professional is in charge of their own career.

[6:29] Work is becoming more flexible and outcome-oriented. Individuals need to keep up with industry education. Sales may be going in a direction of independence, as manufacturers’ reps often are today.

[8:31] SMEI was founded as a nonprofit in 1935. They follow their founding principles of career advancement support by certification for people in the sales and marketing profession and provide career readiness support for college graduates.

[10:25] SMEI offers four certifications by testing: CSE for sales managers, SCPS for salespeople, CME for marketing managers and SCPM for people working in the marketing department. Certification is a validation of individual producers.

[13:28] Certifications test for knowledge, not competence. There are pre-requisites which imply competence. To be certified you need experience in the field. A certification starts with a detailed job analysis and a bank of tests.

[17:22] Andy would like to see basic sales skills covered in sales courses at the university level, to prepare graduates for professional selling and sales management. Willis adds his list of theories and topics that should be taught academically.

[20:00] SMEI continues to update the certifications, based on their detailed job analyses, which are refreshed every four to five years. The core competencies include principles which are not trendy, as well as technologies, which are developing.

[21:50] Customers who are certified themselves in some discipline are the first to notice the value of a sales certification. This drives demand.

[25:34] Hiring managers could add certifications to job postings to help mitigate the risks of hiring salespeople. SMEI issues digital badges as part of the certification. The badges plug into LinkedIn profiles and at career centers.

[31:07] Willis explains the cost for individual certifications, including an online exam prep course, and annual renewals.

[32:19] Willis has not seen any movements toward government regulation of sales. He would like to see self-regulation by peers. People taking the certification recognize why they lost certain deals in the past.

September 15, 2017

#567. Overcoming Resistance to Being Coached. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:54] This is episode 97 of Front Line Fridays. Watch for Episode 100! The topic of this episode is coaching and helping people who have been promoted.

[3:40] Bridget asks about coaching reps who are resistant to coaching. One rep is aware of his distaste for it and admits it, which actually makes him quite coachable. Others resist it altogether. The feedback from your manager is important.

[5:32] Coaching is meant to be collaborative, not directive. It is encouraging. Ask questions, so people see for themselves what the problem is and have a framework to let them develop a solution for it, without feeling defensive.

[8:47] You cannot force someone to be coached. It is a joint activity. Wait until they are in a teachable condition. Let them stumble, and ask for help. If they don’t learn and don’t ask, they should be managed to another career. Don’t do their job.

[11:27] Another approach is to learn more about the account that the rep knows, and discuss the account with the rep. This was used on Andy in such a way that he knew he had some more work to do on that account.

[13:37] Andy comes up with another avenue: Find one thing on which to coach someone. Keep it small. If there is still resistance, that leads to a question: Is this rep in the right job? Bridget suggests hiring for coachability.

[15:54] Mark Roberge of Hubspot would have a candidate give a presentation, provide the candidate with feedback, ask them to leave the room, and then have them come back and repeat the presentation. Mark watched if they used the feedback.

[17:51] A person who doesn’t use the feedback is not aware of their situation. Observation and awareness is a very important aspect of sales. Listen intently and integrate what you observe.

[20:49] A person who visualizes the outcome of the coaching they receive, and then desires to go try it, is most coachable. They are curious. A person with poor performance is fearful to move out of their comfort zone, even to improve themselves.

[24:11] The lesser performers are those who complain about management and make excuses. The higher performers are always seeking new insight to improve themselves. You can only coach people who want to be coached.

[25:52] Where do you go for training at a company that has no experience in the job you’ve just gotten? Take a class, find a mentor that can teach you. Go and visit customers. Talk to product end users. Immerse yourself with customers.

[29:40] Being promoted from an SMB rep to an enterprise rep is opening many layers of complexity in one motion. You want a lot of support to complete the transition easily. Andy talks about doing it with no support. Build client trust. Be a pioneer.

August 31, 2017

#557. How to Create Accurate and Realistic Sales Forecasts. With David Griffin.

David Griffin, CEO of Vortini, a sales forecasting system, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:33] David says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is that the level of competition increases quarterly, making it difficult to achieve predictable income. The buyer is also more informed, both on you and on your competition.

[4:32] Vortini came to be when David was doing sales data analytics. David wanted to specialize, as it is a crowded market. He looked for core business processes that were not well-supported with software solutions, and found forecasting.

[5:08] David sees heavy investments in CRM, and pipelines of opportunities. However, pipelines don’t tell the whole story for a solid forecast. Managers create spreadsheets, send them to opportunity owners, and get their forecasts a week later.

[7:20] Forecasts matter because revenue expectations must be met. SaaS has issues around staffing, and manufacturing has problems around inventory, if forecasts are inaccurate.

[9:34] Vortini takes data from the CRM, compares it to history, and considers collaboration for pipeline deliverability. Then it creates a scenario around the pipeline and resources.

[14:44] Andy cites Philip Tetlock, saying that we should train people to become better forecasters. It is a skill that can be learned. Vortini focuses on history and information available, to step through the assumptions that create a forecast.

[16:34] Reps are nervous about committing. Under-forecasting is as great an issue as over-forecasting. It can mean canceled orders if the goods or services are not available on time. Corporate forecasts are built from many smaller forecasts.

[18:22] Forecasting tip: first, ensure opportunities are realistic and achievable. The last day of the quarter is not a credible close date. Are targets set too high by management? Setting targets 15% higher this year than last is a hope, not a target.

[21:58] It is essential to manage biases. Don’t put the forecast in a spreadsheet. Keep it in the CRM, so forecasts and the quarterly results can be compared within the CRM. People can see their bias by looking at the evidence.

[24:24] Make sure you are staying connected to the overall plan. Are your quarterly forecasts supporting the annual forecast? David compares day 70 in history with day 70 of the quarter and day 70 of the forecast. Watch for going off track.

[27:17] It might be better to work on fewer opportunities, and do a better job on them. Carefully convert as many as possible. Don’t burn your way through them. They represent the base of future wealth to the company.

[30:09] The forecast that works uses machine learning to look at history and make defensible assertions about times to close. Forecasting does not say a quick close is impossible, but that it does not match past observed behaviors. Talk about it.

August 27, 2017

#553 Push Your Limits to Achieve the Impossible. With Dan Waldschmidt.

Dan Waldschmidt, is a keynote speaker, business strategist, ultra runner, business owner and author of Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Can Achieve Outrageous Success.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:53] Dan speaks to clients on ways to grow and dynamically scale ideas into massive money-makers. He also writes about concerns he faces and addresses in his own businesses.

[1:54] Dan pushes against what is “impossible,” by pushing limits — personally, with running; professionally, by strategizing to make “millions and billions” of dollars; and with clients, helping them to see the world differently, and to excel.

[2:30] Dan’s ultra-running goal for 2017 is to run another few thousand miles, in 100- and 50-mile races, and maybe a 200-mile race. Running gives him clarity for next steps. Transcendental Meditation and running keep him grounded.

[5:31] How did Dan cope when he wanted to quit, 20 miles into his last 100-mile race in the mountains of Alabama?

[8:14] Days after a race, Dan can reflect, “Dude, you didn’t even know that was possible, and you did it! What else don’t you know is possible, that is next on your list of things to do?”

[9:41] Instead of asking for salesmen to close better, ask why your business isn’t creating a brand or a customer experience so outrageously positive, that deals just automatically close?

[10:15] Dan couldn’t finish one race, because he had depleted his salt. Little things can have a fatal effect when you are trying to perform at a high level. The details matter when you answer the phone and how you brand.

[12:15] What are you prepared to sacrifice? Some people don’t progress because they have too many TV shows lined up to watch. Prioritize time. Your choices control your achievements. Be desperate to meet your goals.

[15:48] To perform at a high level, “burn the ships.” Make a list of five to ten things in your life that you need to burn right now, until you cross your continent and build new ships.

[17:54] To be amazing, you have to talk yourself down from your fears. You can learn not only to survive stressful situations, but to thrive, in spite of what happens around you.

[19:40] Successful people refuse to: excuse their mistakes; copy others (instead of building on their own strengths); or look down on others who are struggling (Dan tells of Jeff Bezos’s many years before Amazon turned a profit).

[27:09] Successful people refuse to: waste time doing things that don’t matter; or let the current chaos distract them from future success.

August 13, 2017

What Should You Be Doing, But Aren’t? Overcoming The Sales Fears That Are Holding You Back With Townsend Wardlaw.

Townsend Wardlaw is a sales transformation architect. In this episode, he talks in depth about the fears that paralyze many sales reps and provides effective strategies they can use to overcome them to transform their sales results. Townsend describes the common rationalizations that sales reps use to justify inaction in the face of their fears; whether it is fear of prospecting, fear of presenting or fear of asking for the order. He talks about the lessons he learned overcoming his own paralyzing anxieties of public speaking, and how you can use them in your own selling. Everyone in sales has fears about some aspect of selling. But they don’t have to hold you back! You definitely want to listen to this episode.

August 11, 2017

#537. Empathy: In Shorter Supply as Demand Increases. With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[3:24] Andy recently interviewed Geoff Colvin about his latest book, Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will, a deep dive into the impact of industry and tech on employment, so far, and to come.

[4:57] Colvin covers the job changes through industrialization, electrification, technology, and the fourth phase, where the largest profession, drivers, are about to be replaced, and legal discovery will be done by machines, better than attorneys.

[8:01] Colvin claims the skills that will be more valuable are the human skills: relationship building, collaboration, and co-creation, where machines are ineffective. These skills are in the province of sales. Salespeople are not going away.

[9:17] Andy notes that sales management discussion groups online are filled with threads on technology and process, but free of questions on the customer. The interaction between two humans is what will continue to drive sales.

[11:04] Geoff Colvin quotes an Oracle exec: “Empathy is the critical 21st Century skill.” — Meg Bear, Group VP, Social Cloud, Oracle. However, yearly college research shows the amount of empathy is declining in students, since 1980.

[12:11] The population of people coming into the workforce has less of the highly valued skill of empathy. That may give an edge to women, and may help attract women into sales leadership roles.

[14:51] Oxford Economics research lists near-term needed skills: empathy, relationship building, teamwork, co-creation, collaboration, and cultural sensitivity. Women may be strong in these skills. Bridget sees one female to 19 male applicants.

[16:29] Does your job description call for empathizing, collaborating, co-creating, and building relationships? Andy has never seen a sales posting for those needed skills. Bridget recalls a former ad that moved her, based around empathy.

[19:44] Bridget first had a female boss at Engineyard, in 2012. More often she was one of a few females on a team. Females are underrepresented in sales — especially in sales leadership.

[20:52] As technology moves more into human jobs, it is still limited in the space of human interaction, and will be limited for some time. Human characteristics differentiate yourself in how you sell through engagement.

[22:33] Machines are getting better, but we are not. Moore’s law is still on track, or accelerating. So the way to be better is to be more human. Will SDR roles become automated? That may come sooner, as the role is more automatic.

[26:08] Co-collaboration will not become easily replicated through machine intelligence. If your role is one that does not add value to customers, they might as well be talking to a machine. Add customer value to your role.

August 9, 2017

#535. Why Best Practices are Stupid. With Stephen Shapiro.

Stephen Shapiro, Hall of Fame speaker, and author of a few books, including Best Practices are Stupid: 40 Ways to Out-Innovate the Competition, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate! 

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:23] Stephen says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps is the same challenge facing companies: differentiation. What do you do to help yourself to stand out? Stephen suggests recognizing what makes you special?

[6:21] Why best practices are stupid: replication is not innovation; what works for one, may not work for another; and best practices undersample failure. You hear about the successes, but not the failures from the exact same process.

[8:14] Stephen teaches best practices, with skepticism. Use the lens of, does this really make sense for me? Do I really believe this was what caused them to be successful? If you are going to be unique, why would you copy?

[11:53] Stephen labels best practices as business plagiarism. Don’t copy what everyone else is doing. Differentiate yourself. Fit practices to yourself, not yourself to practices.

[12:51] Asking for ideas is a bad idea. Everyone has ideas, and most of them stink. Stephen suggests shifting to an innovation program that is challenge-centric. Identify a well-framed challenge. Quantify evaluation criteria. Ask specific questions.

[15:52] Don’t think outside the box. Find a better box. Don’t think in abstracts. Focus on the right place to look for solutions. Stephen tells about getting baggage and passengers to arrive at the baggage carrousel at the same time.

[18:24] Goldilocks and the three questions: Some questions are too soft, or abstract. Some questions are too hard, or specific. Some are just right, and invite creative thinking.

[20:50] Become masterful at asking better questions, from a place of understanding where someone is, they will come to the conclusion themselves. They will have ownership, and you will have a solution tailored to their needs.

[22:03] Lesson from Indiana Jones: Don’t just survey your customers. Observe them in action. There is no substitute for seeing your customer. Stephen reveals a problem with big data, and a bigger problem with surveys.

[27:08] Confirmation bias is less taxing on the brain. Fight it consciously. Political divisiveness is a result of confirmation bias. Data-driven reporting can reinforce confirmation bias.

[29:23] Simplification is the best innovation. More features and functions confuse the buyer. In order to buy, a buyer needs to: be dissatisfied with the status quo, envision a better future, and believe the effort is worth it. Simplify the implementation.

[32:02] If your selling evinces core principles then you are making things simple for the buyer. Stephen contrasts jazz jamming with a symphony. Jazz is simplicity. When you have principles instead of procedures, you have adaptability.

July 21, 2017

#516. Do Sales Quotas Lose Meaning if Too Few Meet Them? With Bridget Gleason.

Bridget Gleason is VP of Sales for Logz.io and my regular partner on Front Line Fridays.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[:57] Bridget is now Captain Fantastic!

[3:10] The topic is quota. Comparatively few individual sales contributors make quota. 40% – 80% do not. Quota may not be relevant. Raising quota 30% arbitrarily is not scientific. Bridget believes goals are important, and quotas are goals.

[8:16] The disconnect between the percentage not making quota, and the quotas themselves, needs to be addressed. Salespeople need to be in positions to experience success. The experience motivates them to further successes.

[9:26] The current effect is that sales managers are disenfranchising large portions of their teams. If the middle 60% have a good experience, they will want to improve. Bridget’s boss said all reps need to make quota this quarter.

[11:36] If the company needs to grow 30%, that doesn’t mean quota needs to go up 30%. If quota goes up 10%, more will contribute to the success, and you may reach the 30% growth. Quotas are often set to be difficult by pressure from the CEO.

[15:50] Andy coached one company with a great sales team. The CEO always put together goals mid-year, based on how the team was doing. The quotas were manageable, and there was trust. Another company set expectations, but not quotas.

[18:30] The company that set clear expectations grew rapidly. Trust was a key aspect of that growth. Some environments, like Silicon Valley, are very conducive to sales. Compensation should be in alignment with the effort to get the deal done.

[20:26] Startup companies, at certain stages of development, might not pay a commission, but may compensate all the team working on the deal. That is most of the staff pulling together, not one salesperson. There is so much learning at a startup.

[21:45] In SDR teams there is a lot of job-hopping, but sticking with it can be rewarding. It is disservice to self to avoid all the tough times. Take a lesson from the struggle.

[23:01] Managers should look beyond the quota, or be more pragmatic about how to establish quota, and what it means. Are they doing all they can to get more people to meet quota?

[24:27] Are there ways to set goals without setting quotas? Andy invites feedback on this question. Please send it to Acceleratefm@gmail.com. Or send your drawing for a female superhero figure of Captain Fantastic to the same address!

July 3, 2017

How to Sell More in Less Time. With Jill Konrath. (Repeat)

Joining me on this episode of Accelerate! is my friend Jill Konrath. Jill is a speaker, sales expert, and author of multiple bestselling books, including Selling to Big Companies, Snap Selling, Agile Selling, and her latest book, More Sales, Less Time. Among the many topics that Jill and I discuss are how she came to focus on selling more in less time, what she learned from her research about concentration, focus and how to eliminate distraction that waste selling time, how to make the most of the limited hours available each, and how you can take the More Sales, Less Time Challenge.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[2:19] After Jill wrote SNAP Selling, about selling to frazzled customers, readers asked her how to simplify their own lives. She had no idea how to help them, so she researched it.

[6:37] Research shows multitasking is an illusion. Learn what happens when you try to jump between two tasks and refocus your attention.

[8:20] How often the average sales person checks their cell phone each day. And how each interruption reduces productivity.

[8:40] To write More Sales, Less Time, Jill used herself as a test subject for the before and after metrics for each new strategy she tried. 

[10:44] Jill shares how using your willpower impacts your ability to make decisions. 

[14:20] Jill’s Time Master Manifesto sets rules to manage time, starting with getting seven-and-a-half hours of sleep nightly. 

[17:28] How you should start each business day before turning on your computer and checking your email.

[20:12] Two books to assist salespeople in learning how to prioritize are Essentialism, and The One Thing.

[24:03] Challenge the status quo at all times, looking for a better way to achieve the end result.

[25:00] Jill shares the value of scheduling your activities into blocks of time. You are most productive while focusing on one activity.

June 28, 2017

#496. You Don’t Close Buyers. They Persuade Themselves. With Harry Mills.

Harry Mills, author of a new book called Zero Resistance: The Science and Secrets of Supercharging Your Sales by Eliminating Buyer Skepticism and Mistrust, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS
[1:10] Harry is in Queenstown, NZ, “one of the most beautiful areas in the world.” Harry discusses the natural features, tourist activity, and wine production.
[3:44] Harry sees resistance as the single business challenge that sales professionals face. He noticed in 2010 that shoppers had gone in one year from five web searches to 10 web searches for one purchase. This gave new power to the buyer.
[6:58] Sellers in all environments are finding it much harder to get early engagement. The average B2B seller is getting in 62% or later into the buying process. Harry says direct persuasion needs to be replaced by insight-led selling.
[10:03] Exaggerations by salespeople have created skeptical buyers, resistant to direct persuasion. Direct persuasion is using your reasons to influence the buyer. Self-persuasion is helping the buyer find their own reasons to buy.
[12:33] Harry explains why self-persuasion has not been implemented in sales processes. He set out to establish a methodology with tools for building an empathy bridge, giving customers a choice. This is how he wrote Zero Resistance.
[14:34] Harry compares old ways to build rapport with his way to generate trust. The empathy bridge was inspired by Nelson Mandela. First, eliminate friction to lower resistance.
[19:56] Harry discusses applying his model to selling SaaS. Research the client to understand their deepest fears and concerns, and find deep connections and commonalities with the buyer. This leads to an empathy bridge.
[21:37] After building the empathy bridge (after research), establishing fused identity, use stories to build connections.
[23:25] The inside sales model uses one meeting to establish rapport. Consider whether the buyer sees you as a friend or a foe. Does the buyer see you have their long-term interest in mind, or your own? Do they see you can deliver?
[28:43] The customer needs to help in crafting their solution, working with the salesperson on a sketchpad or whiteboard. Explore possibilities that would help the buyer; ask them to imagine the solution that will work for their needs.
[33:15] Insight is about what the customer wants; the vision of what they want to be. Harry asks the buyer about their imagined future. He cites Steve Jobs, Andy Groves, and
Jeff Bezos on looking forward and reasoning backward.
[37:18] A complex sale involves all the solutions tied into the strategic vision. Harry uses illustrations to capture one or two key points and leaves the rest to the imagination. Know more about the customer than the customer does.