We’ve launched another episode of Sell Like a Human. Who better to have as a guest than the one and only Queen of Sales, Jill Konrath?
Jill offered the Sell Like a Human audience an amazing number of insights and tips in just a 20-minute interview.
Read on for a compilation of the best ones from the show, and make sure you check out the full interview. You can also subscribe for updates when we release a new episode.
“We were not designed as human beings to live in a digital world.” –Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
“What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.” –Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
“If we want to minimize the work we’re doing we can save hours daily by controlling distractions.” –Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
“If everyone takes a look at what they’re doing they’ll find they’re being sucked in.” –Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
“We need our best thinking to do our job and distractions are causing us to be twitchy.” –Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
“It amazes me that people want their reps to pound the phones. To me, that’s an insanity” –Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHumanClick to Tweet
“Sales is not about volume, it’s about quality” – Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
“The reality is we’re wasting a whole lot of time making bad calls.” –Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
“We need to be of value from our prospect’s perspective, not from ours.” – Jill Konrath http://hubs.ly/H06mC3z0 #SellLikeaHuman Click to Tweet
Those were just a taster of what Jill had to teach us in her episode of Sell Like a Human. Make sure you watch it here for full impact, and subscribe so you can get notified when a new episode is released.
Changing your thoughts is the most essential aspect of boosting your confidence. Your thoughts create your reality. Your thoughts also produce the emotions you have about yourself and your abilities. If you think you’re incapable, not smart enough, or lacking in some way, you’re flooded with negative feelings that suck your energy and motivation.
The optimal way to approach creating confidence is by changing your thoughts and your behavior at the same time, even if you have feelings of fear or doubt. By mindfully ceasing old thought patterns and replacing them with new ones, you’re teaching your brain new habits and creating new neural pathways.
As you shift your thinking about yourself and your confidence, and support that shift with confident actions, you’ll notice your emotions will follow suit. You’ll feel less and less insecure and anxious, and increasingly self-assured about your capacity for success and happiness.
1) Notice negative thought patterns
Random thoughts float around in your head like uninvited guests. If you examined your thoughts, you’d see many of them — probably most of them — are negative and self-sabotaging. You dwell on the past, worry about the future, obsess about failures and mistakes, battle shame and guilt, and allow your thoughts to drift into mine shafts of negativity and anger.
Action Steps: Awareness is always the first step toward change. For a few days, pay attention to your thoughts. This will take some focus, so you may want to post reminders around your house, your car, and your office. Try to notice patterns of negative thinking and the triggers that set off these thoughts. Make notes about these patterns and the topics of your negative thoughts so you don’t forget.
2) Practice pattern interrupts
As you become aware of patterns of negative thinking, your goal is to break the patterns. The more you allow negative thoughts to have free reign in your mind, the stronger and more debilitating they become. Repetitive negative thinking can lead to depression, anxiety, and even physical illness. It can certainly prevent you from being happy, productive, and confident.
Replace the negative thought with a positive thought. If you leave a void, your brain will automatically return to the negative thinking pattern.
Action Steps: Put a rubber band on your wrist. Every time you notice negative thoughts arising, gently pop the rubber band as a physical pattern interrupt for your brain.
Create a positive statement that’s the opposite of the negative thought. For example, if your negative thought was, “I’ll never meet my quota this month,” change the thought to, “I have the resources and skills I need to meet my quota this month.” Even if you don’t believe the new thought initially, say it out loud if possible and to yourself several times. Don’t worry if it feels silly or useless. You are taking control of your thoughts and retraining your brain.
3) Replace thought loops with action
Interrupting negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones is a powerful tool for change. You can reinforce this practice with action. When you are focused on something that requires mental focus or physical exertion, your brain is occupied with the task at hand.
Have you noticed when you’re engaged in a project, intently focused on a sport, or doing anything that’s challenging, your worries disappear — at least for a while? Action prevents you from getting stuck in negative thought loops, and it has the further advantage of allowing you to do something productive or useful. Taking control of your thoughts, deciding to take action, and accomplishing something useful all add to your confidence.
Action Steps: Plan ahead for this strategy by choosing activities or projects you enjoy that require focus and attention. It could be something creative like cooking, drawing, or playing an instrument, or it could be a work project or household task that is mentally challenging. It needs to require enough focus that your mind doesn’t wander to your negative thoughts.
When you notice yourself in a negative loop, replace the thought as outlined in #2, and then take action on one of your pre-planned activities. As you practice, your negative thoughts will simply become a trigger for positive thought and action. You might even come to view negative thoughts as your motivator.
4) Challenge limiting beliefs
Negative thoughts that have had years to percolate in your mind will grow into limiting beliefs. These beliefs might have had some element of truth initially — or they may have no truth at all — but you accepted them as truth because they were implanted so powerfully. Limiting beliefs often go back to childhood experiences, and the pain that accompanies the beliefs makes it very difficult to disengage from them. However, when you challenge these beliefs and shine the light of truth on them, you can begin to loosen the stronghold they have on you and your confidence.
Action Steps: Think about the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. These beliefs often relate to your worthiness, intelligence, appearance, personality, and abilities. In some area of your life, you were told or it was implied you weren’t “enough.” Write down these limiting beliefs. Then think about the initial source or reason you adopted the belief in the first place. Now think about how the belief is no longer true for you or maybe never was true. Find specific evidence in your life that contradicts the belief. If you can’t find the evidence, what could you do to create it now or in the future?
Anyone can set a goal. You can commit to selling more than anyone on your team, bringing in a major client, or doubling your conversion rate.
But meeting your goal is far harder. What are the chances you’ll actually outperform all your peers without a solid action plan? Not very high.
As a sales educator, I’ve watched a great number of salespeople set goals and succeed — and an even greater number set goals and fail. Here are the four characteristics of reps in the first group.
1) They Double Down on Their Strengths
Most people choose goals based on their weaknesses or failures. For example, a rep who struggles to stay firm on their price during negotiation might say to himself, “I won’t drop my price by more than 5% for the next 10 deals.”
However, successful goal-setters do the opposite: They pick their objectives based on their strengths.
If a salesperson knocks it out of the park when it comes to sales meetings, for instance, she’ll set a goal that’ll have her doing more sales meetings than ever before.
Doubling down on what’s working, rather than what’s not, means you’ll enjoy working toward the goal — which makes you likelier to stick with it. When you’re trying to compensate for a weakness, on the other hand, you dislike the process and easily become discouraged.
2) They Set Activity-Based Goals
Setting results-based goals is dangerous. You can’t directly control the outcome of your work, so you might get discouraged even if you’re doing everything right. Imagine you set a goal of getting five executive meetings this month. If the professionals you call are busy, out of the office, or uninterested, you’ll miss your goal.
However, whether or not you meet an activity-based goal is completely up to you. Your target might be, “I’m going to call 50 senior executives this month.” All you need to do is sit down and make the calls. You probably will get five meetings, but even if you don’t, you won’t feel like a failure.
Look at your historical performance data from your CRM to pick a goal that’s ambitious but doable. If your call-to-meetings rate is roughly 8%, for instance, you’d likely need to call around 63 executives to book five appointments.
3) They Share Their Goals With Others
Reps who consistently meet their goals don’t keep those goals to themselves. If you merely tell yourself, “I’m going to do it X,” and leave it at that, there’s zero accountability. When you experience a setback, you’ll probably give up on your goal — after all, no one will know.
Suppose instead you tell your sales manager about your objective. Knowing he’ll ask about your progress each week during your one-on-one dramatically increases your motivation. You want to avoid the embarrassment of saying you’ve thrown in the towel.
To further increase your accountability, share your goals with your team members. Simply announcing your objectives is helpful, but having a partner is even better.
Perhaps another salesperson wants to attend more networking events, while you want to blog more frequently. Every Friday, you check in with each other to discuss each other’s progress.
Finally, consider writing your goal(s) on a Post-It note and sticking it somewhere on your desk. A visual reminder will keep it top-of-mind.
4) They Choose Small, Specific, Short-Term Goals
The more drastic or lofty the goal, the sooner reps tend to give up. Imagine if you never exercised, and then one day you woke up and said, “I’m going to run 25 miles.” You’re probably not going to make it past the three-mile mark.
I suggest picking goals that are small, specific, and short-term. Once you meet the first one, you’ll feel uplifted and energized — so you’ll set another, slightly harder one.
For instance, if your ultimate goal is going to President’s Club, but you’re only making 75% of quota right now, you might strive to hit 80% next month. The month after that, try to maintain 80%. The month after that, shoot for 85%. You may end up making 150% of your number in time.
Using the right goal-setting techniques usually means the difference between success and failure. How will you use these strategies to drive your vision?
Get more of Jeff’s insights and advice on his blog.
Effective communication helps you forge strong connections, collaborate with internal and external stakeholders, close deals, and convince people to share your views. It’s critical to your success, whether you’re a sales leader, manager, or front-line rep. So what makes you an effective communicator? You must be able to explain complex ideas simply and clearly, speak in your own voice, tailor your message to your audience — and that’s just to start.Improve your communication skills by watching these nine TED talks. They touch on every aspect of communication, from what we say, how we say it, whom we say it to, and equally importantly, what we don’t say.
9 TED Talks on Effective Communication
TED Talks for the Workplace
1) “Listen, Learn … Then Lead” by Stanley McChrystal
If you think the United States Army is a rigid organization where decisions and orders come from the top and must be followed without exception, you might be surprised by former U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal’s TED talk.
In this talk, McChrystal — who joined the Army at age 22 — shares the different leadership styles he encountered as he rose through the ranks, then shares the lessons he’s learned as a general. As the armed forces changed, McChrystal found himself leading groups of people who had vastly different experiences than himself.
“We’re operating a force that must have shared purpose and shared consciousness, and yet [direct reports] have different experiences, in many cases a different vocabulary,” McChrystal says.
To bridge gaps of understanding, it falls to leaders to build credibility through being transparent, willing to listen, and open to being reverse-mentored, McChrystal says.
2) “Remember to Say Thank You,” by Laura Trice
Productive communication doesn’t require agreement — in fact, some of the best meetings I’ve ever had involved disagreement. And that’s to be expected when you work with smart people who have strong opinions. But in order to have productive discussions and keep your team moving forward after conflict, people need to feel heard and appreciated.
In this TED talk, doctor and life coach Laura Trice poses a simple question — why don’t people ask to be thanked for the value they bring to the table, whether in their personal or professional lives? She thinks it’s because by asking for praise, we make ourselves vulnerable.
In this talk, you’ll explore the value of saying “thank you,” asking to be thanked, and the implications of freely giving gratitude.
3) “The Danger of Silence” by Clint Smith
In this powerful spoken word TED Talk, Clint Smith addresses what happens when we simply don’t communicate. Smith, a teacher and poet, gave up speaking for Lent one year — and realized how much he’d already silenced himself.
How many times do you see something happening in the workplace or your personal life that makes you uncomfortable? How many times do you speak up for yourself, a coworker, or a customer? In his TED talk, Smith argues that the price of staying silent is injustice — and that’s too high a price to pay.
4) “The Secret Structure of Great Talks” by Nancy Duarte
Whether you’re in sales or not, you pitch people every day. Want to hire more people on your team? A promotion? A new project? You have to influence the people around you to get your way — and that’s where Nancy Duarte comes in. Duarte, a presentation expert who helped Vice President Al Gore with “An Inconvenient Truth,” believes that all great presentations follow a specific arc.
As a presenter, it’s your job to tell a story that draws in your audience and convinces them of something. In this TED talk, Duarte shares actionable tips to rework how you tell stories — and hopefully help you get closer to what you want.
5) “How to Save the World (or at Least Yourself) From Bad Meetings,” by David Grady
Communication is a good thing. Transparency and openness are both good things. Pulling people from different teams to give input on important projects is a good thing. So you would think that the concept of the work meeting — something designed to deliver information, gather opinions, and make progress, would be good as well.
Unfortunately, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. David Grady, a cybersecurity manager, believes that we’re being deluged by pointless meetings that waste our time. In this TED talk, you’ll learn Grady’s “No MAS” technique for making meetings more productive and valuable — so that when you’re communicating with your coworkers, you’re only talking about what really matters.
TED Talks on Communication Skills
6) “Connected, But Alone?” by Sherry Turkle
We live in a world where it’s easier than ever to reach out to people across generations, cities, and even continents. Yet go to any restaurant, concert, or even funeral and you’ll find people disengaged from their companions because they’re on their phones, MIT social sciences and technology professor Sherry Turkle says.
Besides the fact that it’s bad manners, this increasingly common behavior is preventing us from relating to each other and self-reflecting. In Turkle’s TED talk, you’ll hear about how being overly connected is actually isolating us from our communities, and what we can do to unplug from our phones and plug back into our relationships.
7) “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation,” by Celeste Headlee
Words are our primary way of relating to other people — whether it’s building strong friendships, getting into arguments, or persuading coworkers to follow your plans. And yet we suck at it — a Pew Research study found that Americans are more polarized than we’ve ever been.
Radio host Celeste Headlee has some experience using words to move people. In her TED talk, Headlee explores the components of a truly great conversation and shares 10 strategies to improve conversational competence.
8) “The Power of Vulnerability,” by Brené Brown
Of course, true connections can’t be formed if we don’t bring our whole selves to our relationships — no matter how conversationally competent we are. In this TED talk, Brené Brown, who researches vulnerability, courage, and shame, suggests that only by confronting what we’re most afraid of can we truly connect with other people.
In her research, Brown found that her subjects who felt the most love and belonging had one thing in common — they were willing to make themselves vulnerable. It’s not easy to get to that point, but Brown argues that if we’re willing to put in the time and effort, we’ll be able to reach a kinder, gentler world.
9) “Comedy is Translation,” by Chris Bliss
When I was younger, I thought Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show were just funny. And they are, but they’re also shows that delivery commentary in a way that makes people laugh and think at the same time.
In this TED talk, standup comedian Chris Bliss explains that comedy isn’t just about entertainment, although humor is obviously central. The elements of comedy — misdirection, its inherent virality, economy of language, and deliberate juxtaposition of seemingly opposite or unrelated concepts — make it a delightful way to entertain people and convey important messages.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has been updated for freshness.
If you want to be great at sales, you need to get comfortable with failure. Selling requires you to constantly put yourself on the line: From requesting referrals and calling new prospects to pursuing a whale or entering a highly competitive situation.
The more chances you take, the likelier you are to occasionally — even frequently — fall flat on your face.
But as Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
Stop beating yourself up for failing. These eight perspectives will help you see your failure in a positive light.
There are only two possible responses to failure: Either you give up, or you get up and try again.
If you take the second route, you’ll inevitably become more resilient. Bouncing back gives you confidence. The next time you fail (yes, you’ll fail again), you’ll remember this situation and think, “I overcame X, so I can overcome Y.”
Rather than viewing yourself as a failure, see yourself as a person who refuses to let setbacks stop them and will continually experiment until they reach their goals.
2) The Beginning — Not the End
We tend to think of failure as the end of an opportunity. Your prospect decides to go with another vendor, so you mark the deal as “closed/lost” and move on. The end.
However, every failure is actually a beginning. Maybe you follow up with that prospect when their contract is close to renewal. They’re impressed by your persistence and decide to switch their business to you. Or perhaps this experience motivates you to work on your value differentiation skills. Once you’ve gotten better at making your product stand out, you start losing far fewer deals to the competition.
If you never try, you’ll never fail. Failure is proof that you were ambitious. You could avoid picking up the phone and calling prospects or asking for the order, but then you’d never connect with buyers or close deals.
At the end of the day, you should be proud of your failures. Each one represents a time you put yourself out there.
Just make sure you’re not repeating your failures. It’s not brave to repeat your mistakes — it’s simply dumb.
4) A Situation for Gaining Knowledge and Experience
Being successful 100% of the time makes you overconfident, which hurts your ability to realistically assess risk. You’ll make foolish decisions as a result.
Let’s say you’ve been the top-performing salesperson in your vertical for the past two quarters. Buoyed by these results, you decide to focus all your energy on an opportunity five times larger than normal. You believe you’re capable of closing this deal, even though your sales manager warns you they’ll probably want a more robust solution.
Ultimately, she’s right. You miss your quarterly quota by a long shot because you ignored the rest of your pipeline.
Failing this time means in the future, you’ll be careful to simultaneously work smaller deals with higher closing probabilities.
5) A Test of Your Assumptions
Salespeople rely heavily on assumptions. Think about the ones you’ve made this week alone, from “That type of buyer isn’t serious” and “She has enough budget” to “Those deals rarely close” and “They’ll probably get the most value from these two features.”
Assumptions help you make decisions more quickly and accurately, since tossing out your prior experience with every new prospect would be highly unproductive. However, if you’re operating under the wrong assumption, you need to know as soon as possible.
Failing tells you that one or more of your beliefs is wrong. For example, you assume small companies always care about price, so you aggressively discount with a prospect who would have been willing to pay full price.
As long as you learn from your false expectations and don’t repeat them, failure will help your bottom line.
6) A Series of Small Wins
The road to failure is paved with a series of small wins. Every time you’ve made a mistake, you probably made several good decisions along the way.
To illustrate, suppose you misidentify the prospect’s needs — meaning your demo covers the wrong features and benefits.
You’re understandably pissed at yourself. But if you think about it, you had to do five things right to arrive at the demo in the first place:
Make them interested in talking to you
Earn their initial trust by adding value
Getting them to schedule a connect call
Using an upfront contract to secure a discovery meeting
Asking enough relevant questions they agree to a demo
As you can see, there’s no way to fail without succeeding first. Zoom in on these wins if you’re feeling insecure.
7) An Opportunity to Be More Empathetic
Failing is a humbling experience. You realize that you’re not invincible — you have flaws and shortcomings, just like everyone else.
This revelation might sound like negative, but in moderation it’s good for you. If you think you’re the universe’s gift to sales, you’ll have a hard time relating to anyone else. Once your ego has taken a couple hits, your empathy for others will shoot up.
Not only does this benefit your collaboration skills, it also improves your leadership abilities. Great leaders can relate to their team members’ challenges. Do you want to be a sales manager or director someday? Empathy will be key.
8) A Sign You’re On the Wrong Path
Failing can show you that you’re on the wrong path before the stakes get too high. Suppose you try a new method for reaching the decision maker. After this strategy fails with a few smaller accounts, you decide to go back to your old way.
That decision saves you from making a mistake with the next — much bigger — account you chase. Rather than losing one $300,000 deal, you lose two $50,000 deals.
How do you typically react to failure? Let us know in the comments.
Before you go to the next article, I know what you’re thinking: “Ugh, something about baseball. So boring.”
But this article isn’t really about baseball — it’s about a single lesson I learned through playing baseball over 20 years that I now apply to sales every day.
I’ll go ahead and take the rabbit out of the hat now. That lesson is, “Act like you’ve been here before.”
How Hitting a Triple Taught Me That Single Lesson
I was 14 years old and playing in a tryout for an AAU baseball team, The Seadogs. AAU stands for the Amateur Athletic Union, and at least as far as baseball goes, it has a history of producing some pretty top-notch talent.
I was up to the plate in this game, and I hit a gapper to right center field. The ball carried all the way to the fence, and I was hustling around first base. Mind you, I wasn’t exactly what you would call “slender” (I stood 5’10” and weighed 180 lbs at this age). I kept hustling, trying to build up more and more momentum as I “sprinted” towards second base.
And then something happened that never happened before. I felt my feet still beneath me and they were carrying me past second base. It was as if my feet knew better than my mind, and they were carrying me straight for third. I couldn’t believe it! Normally at this point, I was sliding either feet-first or head-first into second base, gasping for air and wiping the dirt off my pants. This time was different.
So I chugged and I chugged, as fast as my feet would carry my man-boy frame. I could see the third baseman on the opposing team preparing to catch the throw coming in from right field to tag me out. I slid head-first, grabbed the bag, and heard the umpire exclaim, “SAFE!”
I couldn’t have been happier. I had done it — it was the first triple I had ever hit! I popped up with a big grin on my face, pumped my fist in celebration, and stood on the bag waiting for the game to continue.
What happened next made my stomach drop to my shoes with embarrassment. My third base coach grabbed me by the arm and whispered in my ear, “Sig, stop acting like an amateur. Act like you’ve been here before. It’ll intimidate them.”
My 14-year-old mind had been blown. How could I have been so stupid? Why was I acting like it was a complete miracle that I had hit a triple? I should have had more faith in myself, in my training, in all of my practice. The countless hours I spent trying to improve every aspect of my game.
And the coach was right — I should have acted like I had been there before. Because it wasn’t just about the intimidation and the professionalism. It was also about the power of positivity and what we are able to achieve when we keep ourselves in the right head space. Remaining in that positive frame of mind, I went on to hit four more triples throughout that season.
How I Apply that Single Lesson to Sales Today
When I embarked on my HubSpot journey, I had no idea what I was doing. I remember getting to my desk the first day on the job and looking at our contact database. I wondered, “How do I turn this into sales?”
So I diligently walked over to my manager’s desk and said, “Dannie, I’m ready to start selling. What do I do?” She smiled softly and said, “Well, I suggest you get on the phone. I’ll send you a list of 50 leads to start working now.” I figured that was fair enough.
I started calling, and miraculously, people were answering. And it wasn’t just the first person I called. It was the first four in a row. I couldn’t believe it. I figured, “Man, this is going to be so easy. Why didn’t I start working in sales sooner?”
It turns out that the little stroke of luck I had early on was just that: A stroke of luck. Of course, over the following months I realized how hard sales was and how hard I would have to work to be successful. I kept at it.
In my fifth month on the job (around October 2012), the wheels completely flew off. I had lost all of my confidence, I really didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing, and I wasn’t getting anyone to take my calls, or take follow-on calls in our exploratory process. I was defeated. And of course, the deals weren’t coming in.
In the third week of October, our VP of Sales, Pete Caputa, came over to my desk and said something to the effect of (and I’m paraphrasing), “Sig, what’s going on? Your numbers are way off this month and you sound awful on the phone. What’s worse is that you sound desperate, and you’re eroding the value of how we help our customers grow and scale their business. Why are you doing that?”
I scrambled for answers, but couldn’t find them. When Pete realized this, he looked me in the eye and said, “You have to always sell like you’re already at your number.”
And then the lightbulb went off again. I was taken straight back to that 14-year-old version of myself and was reminded that to be successful I had to believe I would be successful.
If I exhibited doubt, the people I were talking to would have zero reason to speak with me. If I didn’t believe in what I was doing, why should they? If they didn’t believe in my ability, why would they want to partner with me? And if I was acting desperately in the sales process — for example, doing “easy way out” selling, like offering discounts — wouldn’t they start to question whether or not the product I was selling was actually a smart investment? Of course!
Carrying That Single Lesson Forward into Leadership
From then on, in my next 20-plus months in the sales funnel, I only missed my number twice. Both times I missed I was still above 90%. I can’t say for sure whether or not it was this single moment that turned me around, but it’s a lesson I try to teach all of my team members to this day: “The second you start doubting yourself and throwing pity parties is the exact moment at which your ability to succeed is in great jeopardy.”
My advice for any individual contributor reading this: If you’re ever struggling, check the tone of your voice and your sales behavior. The fastest way to lose a deal is through desperation. And the fastest way to get back on track is to start “selling” like you’re already at or way above your number at all times.
My advice for any leader reading this: If you have team members struggling, figure out if your reps are in this negative headspace. Figure out if they actually believe crushing their numbers is possible. And if they don’t, maybe share my story with them. Or better yet, think back through your life and tell a story of your own.
Finally, for anyone reading this and thinking, “Man, this is really kumbaya. I don’t buy it,” I would encourage you to read this article. (Essentially, it has been scientifically proven that people with dispositional optimism are more successful and healthier than those who are not.)
Corporate America talks a lot about the power of teamwork. Companies hang posters on the wall featuring people rowing in unison and the word “SUCCESS.” Leaders use phrases like, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.’”
Building strong teams is a well-intentioned goal. But in many sales organizations, it is simply rhetoric posted on the walls that never hits the halls.
Too many sales organizations are comprised of salespeople competing fiercely with each other — and not in a healthy, productive way. Reps forget the competition is outside the building, not inside. Unnecessary internal competition creates culture of “I’m hitting quota” rather than “We’re hitting quota.”
There are three main causes of this misplaced competitiveness.
1) An ill-defined or non-existent sales structure
Sales organizations often lack defined sales assignments. The sales department looks like a scene out of the Wild West. Each salesperson mounts their horse to go out and claim as many prospects as they can. They have no intention of actually calling on prospects more than once; they just want them identified in the CRM tool as “theirs.”
The best sales organizations carve out sales territories for each salesperson. These territories are defined by geography, industry, or sales potential. With this clarity, salespeople quit competing with their team members. They are comfortable sharing how they are landing new business because they aren’t worried about someone taking their opportunities.
2) A bad hiring process
The second reason for a lack of teamwork: The sales manager hires salespeople who don’t play well with others. Many sales managers still buy into the myth that top salespeople are self-centered, high-maintenance, and lone rangers.
It’s time to eliminate that unproductive myth. I work with top producers every day. And you know what? They are nice people. Do they want to win? Absolutely! Do they share how they are winning? Absolutely! The best salespeople are emotionally intelligent, self-aware, and generous. They are confident in their skills, and recognize that they can share every best practice they know success is dependent on execution. Knowledge isn’t power until it is applied.
These top producers also see the big picture. It’s great if they are achieving quota. But without everyone on the team performing, the company won’t do well. One or two top producers can’t scale a business. It takes a sales village to win and retain business. Top sales producers understand that money can buy happiness. A profitable company invests in more resources, such as marketing, customer service, and new products. Such investments help salespeople attract and retain more clients.
3) Lack of trust
Sales organizations lose millions of dollars in revenue because their sales teams don’t cross-sell. The executive team holds a meeting and shares the importance of bringing the other divisions into the salesperson account base. Salespeople shake their head “yes,” but in the back of their mind, they are saying, “No way. I’m not bringing someone into my account. They will screw up my relationship.”
This lack of trust isn’t because they don’t like their fellow salespeople. It’s because they lack emotional intelligence.
First, they have poor interpersonal skills. Trust is built over time, but many salespeople don’t invest in building relationships with their team members. They talk about teamwork, but they don’t follow through. And since they don’t have strong relationships, they don’t trust others enough to bring them into important accounts. As a result, they lose commission — and the company loses potential revenue.
Second, reps lack the assertiveness to state what they need from their team members. They need to have frank conversations about cover how they would like their team members to handle the first meeting, second meeting, and ongoing relationship with the client.
Sales managers: Establish one more key performance metric for your sales team. Make it a requirement to meet with and develop a relationship with employees in other divisions.
Get your sales team working on the “We’re hitting quota” mentality by helping each other and building relationships. Remember, the competition is outside the building, not inside.