“Questions from the Field” asks top sales performance leaders – practitioners and consultants, authors and solution providers – to share their expertise on building smarter, more confident sales teams.
What piece of advice would you give to a newly promoted sales manager in his/her first role leading a team?
Look outside your own world. Research what is happening in the wider sales world right now. Don't assume that what worked for you in the last few years will work for your sales people now. Get professional help on how to coach, because if you're not coaching your staff, then you aren't adding any value.
Thinking back over your career, what would you rank as the most important innovation in sales or sales training?
Well the internet, of course. You can now know what your customer's problems are or at least are likely to be without asking them. You can also find problems they didn't even know they had by doing the right research. And that can make you valuable to them - more valuable than a sales person just offering solutions to problems they already know about and are probably already addressing.
What’s the biggest/most common sales challenge your company/colleagues are facing this year, and how are you helping them address it?
Our biggest challenge is growing our company to meet the demand whilst maintaining the quality we have been delivering. Organisations are facing more competition than ever before, more distracted prospects than ever before and prospects that are better informed than ever before.
We face the same challenges, but use our own science based messaging and sales conversation approach to do three things: get attention, deliver value immediately and make it easy for our prospects to choose us.
What’s the one thing you wish all your colleagues were doing (that they aren’t today) and why?
That's a great question. I wish they were all able to find someone just like them so we can hire them.
What three words would you use to describe your last sales training event, and why?
Fun, inspiring, valuable. Why? Because it was very hands on and very current. It was about how to use stories to get your message to stick. Which is what we specialise in, but it was immensely valuable to get other people's perspective on our favourite subject matter.
How important is coaching in your sales culture, and how do you make time for it (even in small amounts) in your day-to-day schedule?
Essential. Our team has different skills so we all coach each other. Because we are a small company, I am personally involved in all the deals we do. That means I am constantly talking with other sales people, talking scenarios through, sharing ideas and coaching other sales people.
Have you had a professional mentor who was especially influential in your career? If yes, what lessons or advice have proven to be most impactful for you?
Although I don't have a mentor just now, there are people who inspire me. Many are online and are accessible to us all. One such person is Gary Vaynerchuk. He is current, smart, but most of all he's so unbelievably enthusiastic that it's hard not to be infected by that.
I've had a mentor in the past. He not only mentored me, he led by example. I remember there was one deal our whole team was working on; an £18 million deal to work with a telephone operator in Ireland. At the end of the customer's buying process, they announced that we had not won and the contract would be awarded to our competitor. Our whole team was devastated. Months of work for nothing. My manager (mentor) never gave up - he got on a plane and went to see our customer and kept talking with them. A month later, the decision was reversed, huge upset was caused in the industry and appeals were launched. In the end we won the deal - at the same price. He taught me never, ever give up. Grit your teeth and find a way forward. He got me going on the path I'm on now.
What social media platforms do you use regularly, and, of these, which one do you find to be the most useful in your professional life?
LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram. The most useful right now is LinkedIn.
If your sales philosophy were a movie, what would the title be?
The Matrix. Because just when I became used to one reality that I believed in, (like people buying benefits for example) it disappeared - all because I was curious and I peeked under the covers to look inside buyer's heads. Unlike The Matrix through, the world I discovered is much more fun that the old world.
What’s the best sales or business book you read this year?