An “Army” of Frogs: A Motivational Story

frog100Did you know that, just as a group of fish is called a school, a group of frogs is called an army?

One day an army of twenty-two frogs was hopping through the woods. Two were younger than the rest and new to the army. Possibly because they were not as familiar with the surrounding area, these two frogs suddenly fell into a deep hole.

As the army watched in horror, the two frogs tried desperately to jump out of the hole… but it was too deep. Even worse, each attempt they made to escape their fate came with injury and pain, as they repeatedly hit rocks and roots along the wall of the hole

The leader shouted at them to stop! “Stop jumping, the hole is too deep! You’re only making it worse,” he said. “You can’t get out by jumping that way… you should accept your fate; sit at the bottom of the hole and wait. Either you will die peacefully or, with luck, a heavy rain will fill the hole with water and you’ll be able to swim out.”

One of the two young frogs did as he was told, but the other continued his efforts to leap out of the hole, his head and face becoming more and more bruised and bloodied due to hitting the wall.

Soon all of the frogs joined the leader in shouting for the young frog to stop trying to leap out of the hole… but it seemed the more they yelled for him to stop, the more determined the young frog became.

Suddenly, with a mighty leap, the young frog jumped out of the hole!

The army was stunned. The leader said, “We are happy you were able to free yourself from such a terrible situation. But why did you continue to try when we were all telling you to stop?”

The young frog was initially confused. He then said, “Oh, is that what you were all screaming about? I’m a little hard of hearing and I thought you were cheering me on!”

Motivational Strategies 2

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After our previous post, a number of people have told us that motivating a sales team is all about  communication, consistency, empathy and understanding the people on your team.

A few good perspectives on the subject:


“People have a way of becoming what you encourage them to be, not what you nag them to be.”

—Unknown 

 

No one loves the man he fears.” 

—Aristotle

“Some people say motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily!”
—Zig Ziglar

More on motivation

Motivational Strategies?

Most sales managers agree that motivating the team is an important part of their job.  Naturally, there are a number of ways in which people might go about this task. Money, ego and fear are considered the primary motivational tools… and a certain percentage of sales managers believe it’s up to the sales people to motivate themselves.

What has worked best for you?
 

Proactive Growth…

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If you would like to grow your business or sales territory this year, try making a true commitment to the proactive components of your business development plan.

We all know that growing a business or sales territory is hard work, especially in more challenging economic times when referrals and leads are less plentiful, customers are spending less and the competition is tougher. A good start (see related newsletter article  ) is to create an annualized business development plan. But simply crafting the plan isn’t enough! We must commit to the plan as well as to the proactive components of the plan.

Honest Self Assessment
It’s important to realize that business development consists of both reactive and proactive elements.

Running advertisements, updating a web site, posting blog entries, distributing newsletters or attending networking events might all be parts of the plan, but once these action steps are taken we often find ourselves in a reactive position – that is, waiting for someone to call.

These reactive action steps are the “easy” components of business development. The more difficult aspects of business development include proactively working to make things happen. These activities include sending follow-up emails or letters suggesting next steps, leaving proactive voice-mail messages, making follow-up calls and scheduling meetings.

Research, pre-call planning and some imaginative thinking are also part of the mix, but the “hard” part of business development is staying the course. Statistics indicate that most things “happen” after someone (a seller) completes five or more contacts with a prospect. But most “sellers” make fewer than three approach calls – thus the challenge most of us face when trying to make things happen.

Setting goals and monitoring results are the best methods of ensuring success, and now is the time to get started for 2011.

The first step is to identify the number of new customers or clients you’d like to add each month or each quarter. Using a reverse funnel approach, the next step is to estimate the number of appointments, lunches or meetings you’ll need to conduct in order to achieve the new customer goal. Step three is to determine the number of prospects you’ll need to contact (and how many times) in order to schedule the desired number of meetings. Now the real work begins… make the calls and measure the results.

If appointments or meetings seem hard to come by, then review your metrics as well as your message.

Growing a business or sales territory is not easy work. If you are able to achieve sufficient growth in a primarily reactive way – advertising, referrals, and so on – then you’re among the fortunate. For the rest of us, committing to proactive business development is the best approach.

Lead v. Manage Part 2

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Our research has yielded the following list of characteristics associated with leadership:



  • Inspires

  • Follows the mission

  • Leads by example

  • Creates an environment where employees are motivated to succeed

  • Coaches, mentors, provides training

  • Communicates openly and honestly

  • Resolves conflict with collaboration

  • Builds trust

  • Looks to team members to take on the leadership role (specific projects)

  • Removes barriers

  • Supports the team


Similarly, the following list of characteristics are commonly associated with management:



  • Long term planning

  • Organize and allocate resources

  • Coordinate between people and groups

  • Budget

  • Control

  • Limit

  • Monitor

  • Direct

  • Meet deadlines

What have you experienced?




    Running a Sales Force: Lead V. Manage

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    “Leadership without management is chaos, but management without leadership is a slow death.”  ¾Unknown

    During sales management training and coaching sessions the concepts of leadership and management are frequently discussed. In addition to discussing the famous quote above, these sessions often include conversations about the concept of “leading people and managing processes” as well.

    Considering the differences between leadership and management and the impact each has on team productivity and morale, when have you found it most appropriate to use each approach, and how? 

    Time to Sell?

    Add a post! A mid-sized New England company that considered itself highly “sales-driven” recently discovered their sales people spent less than three-hours per day interacting with customers or prospects. They also discovered that nearly 25% of the average sales representative’s time was spent on company-required paper work.


     


    While this might seem surprising, research indicates that these results are typical across all industry lines. For example, in The New Rules of Sales Enablement  , Jeff Ernst, author and VP of Marketing at Kadient, states that, 65% of the average sales rep’s time is spent not selling. 


     


    In their handbook, Chasing the Waste out of Sales, process improvement experts at Conway Management Company indicate that, “In reality, the largest waste in most commercial and industrial organizations is lost gross margin that results from sales not made, sub-optimal pricing and excessive costs effecting the sales and marketing process.”


     


    Clearly, as business owners or sales managers, one thing we can all do to boost profits, productivity as well as longevity in our sales ranks is to get our sales people working on the right things – this will require some effort, as we must first study the work being done to determine where, in fact, their time is being spent. We cannot improve the process based on assumptions.


     


    Likely next steps might include:



    • Identify the categories of work on which the sales force is spending its time; share the data and seek input on how sales people can increase the amount of time spent on the key activities – i.e., meeting with or speaking with customers and / or prospects
    • Help sales people formulate the best territory management or routing plans
    • Provide appropriate administrative support
    • Set standards for call volume and frequency, and make sure the sales management team pays attention
    • Streamline order-input processes

    Selling is tough enough, even in a good economy. It can only become more difficult if we fail to keep the sales force “selling.”


     


    Possibly Jack Falvey, founder of makingthenumbers.com  ,  summed it up nicely when he wrote, “Want more sales? Make more calls!” 

    Bridging the Communication Gap

    Miscommunication can be a costly occurrence.


    Defined simply by Merriam Webster as failure to communicate clearly, the causes of miscommunication can vary significantly – lack of forethought or preparation, poor verbal skills or intentional deceit on the part of the sender; lack of comprehension, poor listening skills or distraction on the part of the receiver.


    In a 2005 article, author and conflict resolution expert Tristan Loo suggests that miscommunication is also the primary contributing factor to conflict.


    “Miscommunication opens up the triangle of other factors that inevitably leads to conflict,” he says.


    He goes on to explain that people tend to fear the worst outcome. In miscommunication the mind will fill in missing information with its own creative insight, which is often fear-based. Our minds naturally seek logical explanations to events as well. Absent those explanations, our minds frequently switch to a fear-based mode in which we satisfy our need for answers with that of assumption. Once we lock-into our assumptions the tendency is to believe them as truth, thus resulting in conflict.


    The Solution – Trial Closing
    In the selling world, a great deal is lost to misunderstanding and conflict. Buyers tend to buy from people they like and trust – but miscommunication, as noted above, breeds uncertainty, conflict and distrust.


    To bridge the gap, Loo suggests people adopt an open mind with respect to alternative possibilities. To facilitate this, increased use of clarifying questions by all parties during need assessments, business meetings, conversations and presentations is the key.


    Since it is an accepted principle that the primary sender of communication must take the responsibility for the quality of the communication, then the person who is selling, promoting or persuading should be the one to initiate these clarifying questions which, when properly used, will confirm both understanding and receptivity.

    Buyers Are “FILL-IN-THE-BLANK”

    If you were asked to complete the sentence fragment in this article’s title with only one word, which word would you choose?


    In other words, fill in the blank: Buyers Are _______________.


    Based on our poll, a number of popular choices include – “Buyers are scarce.” “Buyers are savvy.” “Buyers are cautious.” “Buyers are beautiful,” and “Buyers are gold.”  [Click here to see top 10 answers]


    However, in the midst of a casual conversation among acquaintances, a veteran sales person recently stated an option I had neither considered nor heard before. 


    “Buyers are liars,” he said!


    When asked to explain his view, he went on to say that “Buyers are liars because they don’t tell you what they’re looking for… what they really want; or, they tell you what they want and then go and buy something different from someone else.”


    Despite the rep’s experiences with those he perceives as less-than-forthcoming buyers, the simple fact is that “buyers” are not responsible for defining their needs. In fact, it is the “seller’s” responsibility to assess each potential buyer’s needs.


    People are often unaware of all available options and, in many cases, have not properly assessed their own needs. The reasons for this vary – it could be a simple matter of convenience – as opposed to reading the “small print” – or that the product or service being considered is complex, as in the case of medicine, medical treatment or legal advice. Without the help of those “selling” these solutions, it is highly unlikely that a consumer would be capable of properly assessing his or her options and making a prudent choice.


    Nearly every product or service has relevant features, benefits or nuances that need to be presented by an educated source (seller) in order for the buyer to make a truly informed decision. In fact, a good rule of thumb for any sales professional who aspires to truly differentiate themselves while best serving customers is to never assume the customer has a sufficient amount of information to make the best decision.


    But please note the use of the word “relevant” in the above paragraph! The first step for every seller is to assess and confirm needs before presenting features, benefits or solutions.


    “You can never trust that buyers have enough information,” one real estate professional said. “As a prudent seller you must assess and educate.”


    We couldn’t agree more!

    Performance Management: Avoiding the “Rear View Mirror”

    A strategically balanced performance management plan is a key component of effective sales management.
     
    The most successful approach not only enables sales managers to identify opportunities for team improvement based on analyzing past activities and results, but to also identify preemptive action steps and strategies that can impact future results.


    Balancing the Rear View Mirror
    Managers who place all or too much focus on analyzing past performance analytics and then initiating improvement plans after-the-fact miss the opportunity to salvage what otherwise might be a sub-standard month, quarter or trimester.


    Circumstances and competitive offerings within the marketplace are constantly changing. While the practice of reviewing past performance and using the data as part of a performance improvement plan is necessary, this “rear-view-mirror” approach can be costly in terms of lost opportunities if it encompasses ones entire sales management approach.


    While there are different ways to accomplish a more balanced approach or sales management system, here’s a well-tested example consisting of five key components:



    1. Team meetings – for teambuilding and team motivation; best if scheduled regularly on a “same time same channel” basis. Must be well-planned with a group-level agenda</li><li>Individual strategy sessions – also scheduled regularly; based on your sales process and model, the same topics should be discussed each time, such as territory management plan, key-account plan, pipeline, activity plan, etc.

    2. Field support and team selling – regularly scheduled with each Rep; an ideal opportunity to lead by example, build relationships with key customers (key in times of transition!), stay current on market conditions and gather data or input for your team and individual meeting agendas

    3. Proactive “impromptu” interaction – similar to Hewlett Packard’s well-known practice of MBWA (Management by Walking Around); can be done in a variety of ways, such as email, voice mail, telephone, face-to-face (at the water cooler…) depending upon your logisitc structure. These interactions must be made in a spirit of being “interested” or “supportive” rather than “I’m checking up on you…”

    4. Proactive to-do list – on which each Rep has a slot every week, and the manager has a proactive reason to interact with each Rep based on issues of the day, plans made during strategy sessions or team selling days, etc.

    5. Finally, an organizational system – either electronic or in three-ring-binder style for field-based managers – must be created and maintained in order to implement this system.

    "Helping people sell more & communicate better"