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Archive for March, 2009

Friends in Low Places

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I heard this old Garth Brooks song the other day and after reminiscing about my college days, I began to think about some great customer relationships I’ve enjoyed over the years with those many would consider “in low places”. As salespeople we strive to get higher and higher in our customer organizations.

Wise senior leaders put experts in functional roles and delegate decision making to those experts. Of course, there are ways to qualify your contact no matter where they “rank” to determine if they are one of these trusted experts at your prospective client.

I enjoy my rewarding customer relationships where my “friends are in low places”. I do find that as I continue to provide superior service, fresh ideas and valuable solutions, I earn my spot with the bosses, too.

Enjoy your friends in low places – those can be very rewarding, fun relationships.

Post brought to you by Jill Myrick of Meeting to Win, LLC.
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Tiger

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Tiger Woods is back. He is someone that many people study and admire. During the golf tournament this weekend the announcers shared a typical week of work for Tiger. We have heard about his amazing work ethic and now he has shown he can do it with two children and an injury. Talk about distractions!

Here is what I noticed about Tiger that can be applied to anyone who wants to be the best.

  • Tiger has a disciplined process he follows every week.
  • Tiger is deliberate in his activity.
  • Tiger works long hours perfecting his skills.
  • Tiger is in better physical shape than most in his sport.
  • Tiger still practices… hard.
  • Tiger looks for new ideas and techniques to stay ahead.
  • Tiger is a good teammate.
  • Tiger celebrates even after all these wins.
  • Tiger analyzes losses.
  • Tiger wins… consistently.

Here is the quote JustSell ran as the Master’s began this week. I had to update this post with this quote from Tiger.

Go be a Tiger.

Post brought to you by Jill Myrick at Meeting to Win. Have great sales team meetings starting next week with Meeting to Win. Meeting to Win now also offers a FREE weekly 10-Minute Topic to give your team sales meeting experiences that help them win on the field.

Ten Suggestions For More Dynamic Sales Meetings by Jonathan Farrington

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Meetings were the hot topic today! First Sales Gravy and Seth and now Jonathan.

I saw this “Manager’s Minute” by Jonathan Farrington, Ten Suggestions For More Dynamic Sales Meetings, come across today and thought I would share! It is one of our favorite topics at Meeting to Win, of course.

Enjoy!

The Art of the Meeting

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Meetings are a hot topic today! Sales Gravy (People Love to Meet) and Seth Godin (Getting serious about your meeting problem) both covered the topic and both got me thinking. The most experience I have had with meetings was my short stay at my company’s corporate office. Although it wasn’t in the job description, I am pretty sure my job was to attend meetings. It was brutal. We met all the time. I had to take some action or I would never get any work done. For starters, I got back to the field and decided to never return to another corporate office!

I did learn from a few leaders who managed to use meetings for good instead of evil.

  • If you needed to meet with our COO his administrative assistant asked you to fill out a short form that simply asked for an agenda and objective. You turned that in and, from that, he decided to accept or decline a meeting.
  • The VP of Sales banned all meetings with sales people Tuesday-Friday every week. Do not bother the salespeople when they should be selling was the message loud and clear.
  • Then, one co-worker only attended meetings held on certain days each week. This eliminated the impulsive “let’s get together without a real plan” meetings.
  • Finally, one leader ADDED a meeting. Yes, I said added. This was a very valuable meeting each week. It was a status meeting on all the many things happening at once. It was short, rapid-fire and kept us all on track…and accountable.
  • Recently I met with a global head of L&D for a large corporation. He had a meeting template that he filled out during our meeting with next steps and objectives for those next steps. Typically, as the salesperson I am doing this – this was the first time I saw a prospective client take that action, also. By the way, you can’t believe how much he has gotten done in a short time at this company!
  • I had one leader who called impromptu meetings. He was such a strategic thinker and would call these meetings to share a current flash of brilliance. These were always worth the time and set us on a better path immediately. So, if you call people away from what they are doing, make it worth it.

Meeting is an art form. Not having meetings can be as detrimental as having too many bad meetings. I am almost done reading Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni. It’s a fun story so far and does get you thinking.

Too much of our time is spent in meetings to not make some effort to make them more productive and energizing.

Please share your experiences with good meeting practices.

Jill

Meeting to Win, LLC

Do You Have a Good Story?

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I had the opportunity to work with a few sales perfectionists recently. They really left nothing to chance. An area they revisit and rework regularly are their presentations and that effort pays off in interesting stories their prospective customers not only listen to, but invite others to hear.

This group of perfectionists have a way of telling a story through their presentation. This story inspires you to have a better company, it puts the power in your hands, it changes behavior..it doesn’t happen by accident.

How do they turn a “solution presentation” into a compelling story? Here are my observations:

  • First, they thought about good stories and modeled their presentation that way.
  • Then, they practiced, watched for reactions and made adjustments every time.
  • They are passionate about their solution and let that show.
  • They include great customer stories that make others envious.
  • The presenters have great rapport with one another and that makes the room want to be part of their group, “the in crowd”.

They do have a great solution, but so do many others. They do an amazing job of growing their business through these story-telling events.

So, what’s the story of your solution?

Job of the Week:

Myrick Recruiting, LLC is recruiting Sales Engineers with experience in Performance Contracting and Energy Retrofits for a Mechanical Engineering firm in Houston, TX. Please contact pmyrick@myrickrecruiting.com for more information.

Leave It All On The Field

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

It’s March Madness time. Every day… leave it all on the field.

I ran today and, as I do when I am running, thought.
I thought about a few conversations I had today. People who are losing their jobs and wondering about their next steps. They are evaluating their contributions. Everyone I talked to felt proud about how hard they worked for a worthwhile cause.

They left it all on the field.

Bonus:

My husband is a recruiter and has some great career opportunities. To help everyone, each week this blog will post a career opportunity in the sales field.

Here is this week’s opportunity:

Myrick Recruiting, LLC is recruiting Sales Engineers with experience in Performance Contracting and Energy Retrofits for a Mechanical Engineering firm in Houston, TX.

Please contact pmyrick@myrickrecruiting.com for more information.

He’s Just Not That Into You

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Watch this trailer for full effect.

Have you ever had that “prospective client” that you just couldn’t stop chasing? They seemed like they were the perfect fit for your product, service, style, etc. I had one of these! In the last year, I finally let mine go. They just weren’t that into me and I finally had to admit it was probably never going to happen. I thought I would feel blue and instead I felt light and free.

You may want to try this. Here are some ways to tell that he’s just not that into you:

  • They are “nice” and keep giving you hope, but nothing ever happens.
  • You don’t have access to all the right people and information.
  • They always take your calls, but never commit to a next step.
  • You are doing all the work.
  • They keep telling you to “check back in next month/quarter/year”.

In my case, I let mine know that I would no longer be pursuing them as a client and that I would be happy to stay in touch and be a resource should my contact need anything. I’m not even recommending this, but I got my dignity back and it felt good.

Sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.

How to Hold Sales-Generating Sales Team Meetings

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Great quote to start the day…

I often challenge sales managers to make attendance at their weekly sales team meeting or conference call voluntary. Scary thought for most – salespeople can come up with more excuses for missing a horrible sales team meeting that most can come up with to avoid jury duty. The great thing is that sales managers can hold meetings that team members want to attend. Like anything else it takes repetition and practice.

Here are a few tactics to use to hold meetings your team members will want to attend.

  1. Begin with relevant, interesting topics and an agenda sent in advance.
  2. Ask team members to own meeting success. Get their ideas for valuable meetings and give them responsibilities to make the meetings valuable.
  3. Ask team members to lead topics each meeting.
  4. Create a little healthy conflict. (Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick M. Lencioni)
  5. Resist the urge to have all the answers. When a sales question comes up ask other members of the team to give their opinions first.
  6. Ask one person each week to (1) find an article of interest, (2) send it to their team mates to read before the meeting and then (3) lead a discussion during the meeting.
  7. Discuss customers at every meeting.
  8. Have a team member be the keeper of the clock. Their responsibility is to keep the group on track.
  9. Have a rule that you can discuss any problem if the objective is to find a solution.
  10. Invite guest speakers once a month or quarter. Let the team be responsible for picking and inviting the guest speaker each time.

I hope these ideas are helpful. They are the results of years of trial and error over the course of 1,000s of sales team meetings. Enjoy the fruits of our pain and suffering. =-)

The Meeting to Win Team

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Push vs. Pull

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I given a lot of thought to this topic, Push vs. Pull. How do you go from pushing your product/service onto poor unsuspecting prospective clients to sitting back and getting pulled in by the same group (two extremes)?

I posted the question to the LinkedIn community this week and got some great answers, but (big surprise) no silver bullets. (See the discussion.)

After 15 years experience and this discussion, I think I’ve discovered my own silver bullet(s).

I’ve had three very different experiences on this topic.

The first, I needed to do some pushing (lots and lots sales activity) on the front end and then I had more pull than I could handle. This happened within 60 days on the job. We had over 200 competitors in the immediate area. We were, I believed, best in class and the customers now had a visible access point.

Then, I had a job that was 110% PULL! I sold a service that large companies needed. We were the only ones who did it on a global scale and the economy gave us great momentum. I was an order taker more than a sales rep.

Then, I had an experience that was almost all push. Great service, expensive, unknown, with little marketing support and about a million competitors. This scenario was exhausting. I loved this service and believe it in though so I continued to push or evangelize and I began to describe it.

So, how do you decide what to sell?

You either find a service that “sells itself” and enjoy the pull or you find a product or service that is more unknown, but you have passion for and master the push.

Both have their pros and cons. I’ll share my experience with those later.

(Thoughts and experiences brought to you by Jill Myrick of Meeting to Win. Get your thought-provoking, conversation-starting sales team meeting topics from Meeting to Win.)

First Impressions as a Competitive Edge

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

(Post brought to you by Jill Myrick at Meeting to Win, LLC. Get your FREE weekly M2W 10-Minute Topic and have more interesting sales team meetings right away.)

I recently attended an event where the speaker was an Image Consultant. The turn-out seemed through the roof and the information was so obvious. I was thinking “who doesn’t know this?”

Since then, I’ve spent some time thinking about this topic and was reminded of a program I had the opportunity to be involved in creating and rolling out at a previous employer called The Basics of Professional Selling. It was a program designed for new sales reps and taught them basic sales ettiquette and sales “fashion”. It was a fun program and the presenter always had the room laughing hysterically about the don’ts.

That program dates back to 2002 and I realize that now image includes so much more than your fashion choices. It is now your LinkedIn profile, your Facebook page, your Twitter updates and so on and so on.

In a more competitive world, the first impression rule still exists. People just have so many more opportunities to determine their first impression than they’ve had in the past. So, while the image consultant didn’t teach the room anything they didn’t already know about appropriate fashion choices, she did get me thinking about first impressions in this new world.

First impressions may not be fair, but they are real.
Please share your thoughts on how to make great first impressions for a competitive edge.