This Economy Demands Your BEST!
It's time for some quality control in your sales and service efforts. It's time for a true personal inventory on the strengths and weaknesses in your "game." It's time to get in shape for the fight of your life.
In today's economic environment, none of us havethe luxury ofmediocrity or half hearted efforts from our sales and service teams. We need to be fighting for every inch of ground. We need our people to be their absolute BEST with no excuses.
Why? Most companies are facing fewer opportunities to land new business from both new and existing customers this year. To use a baseball analogy, we are all getting less "at bats" this year. Here is the brutal fact that we all need to face: If you do not improve your skills while "in the batter's box", you will score far less this year. That leads to less commission dollars for salespeople and less sales and profits for the companies that employ them. Now, throw in the desperation that may creep into the entire organization to make sales and you will see that margins start to get compromised as prices are dropped and all sorts of justifications are made to do so. The company culture starts to get challenged due to inevitable cut-backs and staff reductions. What a mess!
Here is one way to begin to right the ship. Make sure that you raise the bar in all that you do! Make it impossible for your prospects, customers, and clients to even think about doing business with anyone else. You need (and expect from all around you) to be the BEST! No excuses and no blame. Just the BEST!
In giving thought to this article, I thought I would offer my thoughts based upon an acronym of that word; BEST! Read on and relate the following ideas to you and your organization.
It is very common for those in your organization to begin to have thoughts that challenge their basic beliefs in the company, the products, the pricing, their colleagues, the leadership, the marketplace, the customers and more during tougher economic times. Yet, itis thesebeliefs that drive your organizations success now more than ever. Belief is the cornerstone of confidence. Your entire team needs to feel that they are in the right place, at the right time, with the right company, the right products/services and the right prices, selling into the right marketplace to the right people. When that confidence isn't BEAMING at every "touch point" in your organization, difficult times are not far behind.
So, eyes open and ears open! Pay attention or pay the price! Negativity and pessimism in your sales and service departments today are exponentially more dangerous than ever. You need 100% buy-in and 100% belief! Raise the bar on your communication and your visibility. Engage your team in twice daily huddles. Spend 15 minutes every morning reinforcing the importance of their efforts for the day ahead of them and 15 minutes every evening validating and recognizing the warriors for the battles they fought that day! Your involvement as a leader will drive out those who are lost and rudderless and drive IN those who are destined to carry you and your organization to greatness!
Attitude is one of the key fundamentals to all success. And belief drives attitude! Remember the old adage "Whether you think you can or your think you can't, you're right!" Everywhere a sales professional looks today, he/she is bombarded with the doomsday predictions of the press, the pundits and (unfortunately) even those closest to him such as colleagues, family, friends and neighbors. In that sea of negativity there needs to be a lighthouse that marks their bearings; a beacon of hope that they are on the right track. Key in on the BELIEF of your people. Before you do, however, check into your own belief level. It might need a tune-up as well!
Several books have been written over the past few years in the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" collection. With all due respect to those words of wisdom, you need to understand that those books were written when the sun was shining and the economy was stronger than today! So, find a spot on the shelf (or in the "round file") tofile those books and understand that everything matters today.
We are doing business in a world today where access to information (and your competition) is as easy as firing up a laptop. Customers are barraged daily with options as to who to do business with. Our competitors are doing desperate things, chasing all that moves, dropping price, and challenging our customers' belief in us! We simply cannot stand by and let that happen. This is war and everything matters!Every penny of our margins needs to be justified today! Every ounce of customer loyalty needs to be earned at every possible level. When it comes down to a choice between US or THEM, we need to have not one or two, but 10-20 examples of differentiation and value! And as small as some of them may seem, all of them add up to more wins and less losses. So, here are a few examples for your sales efforts today:
Voicemail--Outbound-Only the sharpest, most focused voicemails are to be left. Remember the main reason that we leave voicemails is to get a call back. Be clear, be concise, and be prepared to compel them into the action you desire---a return call!
Voicemail-Inbound-Pick up your telephone (cell phone and desk phone) and change that voicemail NOW! I'll bet it has not been changed in ages. You can stand out with freshness in your message. Just think, your prospect, customer, or client is on the phone with an opportunity for you. What do you wish to convey? Mediocrity, same-ol-same-ol and indifference OR energy, passion, creativity and excitement. Your choice!
Email-For those of you who thought email was a fad, bad news! Email has become a communication tool that has, arguably revolutionized the way that companies (salespeople) and customers do business. It has, in my opinion, become one of the biggest communication crutches for salespeople today. While I believe that there is extreme value in e-communication as a tool today, it all too often is overused, misused and abused by marketers and salespeople. Pay close attention to the emails that are being sent out to your customers. Don't rely on an email to express your emotions, your passion and your value. Don't simply "put something out there" via email to judge your customer's reaction. It is simply too easy (on both ends) to hide emotions, misconstrue agendas, and convey false genuineness via email today. Tighten up your email (spelling and grammar) and, whenever possible pick up the phone or get off your butt and CONNECT!!
Process-Are the ways that you go about your sales process today as effective as they need to be for your prospects, customers and clients in today's world? Too often, when I am wearing my coach/consultant hat, I see companies that are approaching the marketplace today, the same way that they have for the past several years. Here is another news flash: Your prospects and customers today are buying differently and looking for more, for different, and (this hurts) they care less and less about you and your company! Everyone is in survival mode. Are you still following the same process as you have for years? Are you still relying on your presentation or your PowerPoint? Are the tactics you employ even relevant today? It's worthy of an overhaul, don't you think? Take your process apart and tighten it up NOW because your customer demands it and your competition might beat you to it. Here is a tip: Figure out what your buyers today need more than anything (not lower prices) and help them see how you deliver it better than anyone. Stop selling and HELP THEM BUY! Remember this; Safe trumps cheap! Make your offer compelling and safe because your focus is on THEM and not you!
Now is the time for everyone in your company to truly understand their role in the acquisition and retention of customers. It is now time to work our butts off and to FIGHT! That leaves no room for halfhearted effort and losers. Sound too tough? Too bad, it's time to rise to the occasion. If not now, when?
I was in the United Red Carpet Club in Chicago on a layoverfor a flight and saw an interview of Nick Saban, Head Coach of the Alabama college football team. Although I was across the room and could not hear the message, it was being close captioned across the screen. He was talking to the media about the expectations of the upcoming season. He was discussing work ethic and what it would take to win a national title this year. During this rant (and, although I could not hear him, it certainly looked like a passionate dissertation by an enthusiastic leader) Saban stated that the hard work and determination needed to "dominate the competition" in this leaguewas extreme and (this was the part that I loved) what the players perception of hard work meant prior to coming to camp this year was irrelevant and non-consequential! We need to raise it to an entire new level to compete and dominate in this division and to win a national title. Wow!
It's time for all of us to step up. Very few companies are escaping the grasp of this economic turmoil. One thing that we all have in common is that we need to be more focused and more disciplined today to do the right things over and over and over today. Self discipline has been defined as "doing the things that you need to do, when you need to do them, whether you want to or not!" At what point in the past 10 years has this statement been more relevant than today?
Tenacity is defined as holding firmly, persistent or stubborn. When I think of a tenacious salesperson, I often get a picture in my mind of a dog firmly latched onto the cuff of the pants of someone, never letting go. In this day and age, the attitude and ability of your people simply to not give up when the going gets difficult is so important.
Several years ago, I read a study by the Harvard Business Review that identified the two main characteristics that stood out in top sales professionals. Out of all of the possible variables in skill sets these two areas were the most common: Empathy and Persistence!
In other words, top sellers as a whole had a variety of skills and many different activities that helped them achieve success but it was the willingness and ability to understand and relate to the customer and their needs coupled with their dogged determination (their TENACITY) to see to it that they helped the customer make the purchase that separated them from the pack.
So, when you set your targets, your goals this year, did you do them in pencil or PEN? Did you decide that you would ebb and flow your sales and profits based upon what the marketplace would bare or did you make a DECISION as to what you would accomplish? Do the salespeople on your team see a sale all the way through or do they tend to lose faith when the going gets tough? Do they strategize and execute or wring their hands and wait? If you or your salespeople manage accounts and the ongoing sales in those accounts, do you approach the success of your clientele with tenacity, not letting them give up on themselves (and eventually you) or do you simply wait for the inevitable "apology call."Pay attention! Every one that you lose during these times is more potentially devastating---don't give up anddon't let go. Failure is not an option.
Your company, your employees, your customers, your family and you, all deserve one thing today. And that is your BEST! So, take a moment and ask yourself a question right now. For every move that you have made today, have you offered your best? Anything short of that simply will not do!