3 stories that reveal if your sales attitude is out of date

It’s not easy to cope with all dramatic changes now happening around how to sell. High performing sales reps do, but my following true stories tell many people within sales and SMB’s still have a long way to go before they would be able to compete in the future.

outofdate

Story #1

In my garden there was until recently a huge red leafed beech. It’s height was almost 60 feet and due to that we couldn’t leave it for another year. We had to take it down. In my former life I certainly was a monkey or such animal, so I went out climbing up to the top, taking down one branch at a time.

One day later I was satisfied with my work. However, the tree trunk was still left. I scanned the internet after firms that could help me taking the trunk down. I called a few local firms and selected one that already the coming Friday was able to finish the work. Being an experienced sales person, I appreciate if a buyer comes back to me, even if it’s just to tell me I lost the deal, so I went out texting those firms that lost my deal.

Here’s the text dialog with one of them:

Me: Sorry, but I have to tell I selected another firm for the job. Thanks for your time anyhow 🙂

The sales rep: Now you lost a lot of money! We’re always 30-40% below our competitors.

Me: (slightly sarcastic) Ooops, then it certainly was a lot of money, maybe several dollars? But you didn’t check all of my needs when you called – I wanted to get the job done already this week… By the way; care about what you’re texting – just a small tips.

The sales rep: I always stand up for what I write or say. I’ve been in business since the 90’s and last year we got 96% of all jobs in your town.

Me: (increasingly upset) Think about if I had another tree I needed to take down? Regarding your attitude, do you really think I would be contacting you again? Blaming a potential customer is not a good choice. I’ve been in sales for a long time and teach sales reps, it might be a good advice to join one of my sales training classes…?

The sales rep: You should consider a training class in Foresight to earn some money!

End of story.

Lesson learned. Always accept a lost deal with a smile and a “good luck”. Look at it as a new opportunity that starts. We all know prospecting takes time and even if you lost this deal, you got in touch and next time it’s a warm call.

Story #2

This story is recently shared from my brother. He had some problems with his chainsaw (I know; you may think we are all in forestry…) and went to a retail store to get it fixed. He asked for service and the sales rep took the chainsaw into his repair shop. The brand was one of those they were selling in the store and the sales rep promised to fix it. But this was what happened next:

The sales rep: OK, I know what’s wrong, we’ll fix it. By the way, where did you buy it?

My brother: (little embarrased) On the Internet…

The sales rep: ON THE INTERNET????? Just go away and take your worthless chainsaw with you! People buying things ON THE INTERNET are not welcome in my store!!!

Lesson learned. Not adjusting your attitude and business to modern buying processes where customers using the internet and social media to educate themselves, buy things and compare, are just out of date. It’s a major threat for SMB’s but not aligning to reality is only stupid. Such aligning might be: “Great, we have a special offer for those buying on the internet, it’s a service agreement for only 99 dollars per year and I can make this included as the first repair. Would you like to fill in this form, please?”

Story #3

This story is a short one, also shared from my brother. His mower was not starting, so he called a local shop to get it fixed. However, the shop was closing at 4 PM and he knew he was a little late calling 4.05 PM:

The sales rep: (first thing saying) Do you know what time it is???

My brother: Well yes, I actually do, but I took a chance and called anyhow; and lucky me, you answered.

The sales rep: We’re closing at 4.00 PM, you cannot call later. Come back tomorrow! Then he hung up.

Lesson learned. Nothing is closed anymore. Business is always open, 24/7. Opening hours are restricting in itself, but here’s the worst thing about the short conversation above: The sales rep was actually picking up the phone. It’s not just missing the call if he didn’t answer, he also damaged his brand and that may be unrepairable.

Recognize any of these stories by your own? Do you have any more examples of out of date sales attitudes? Please tell in the comment line below! Maybe we all as high performing sales reps would get a big laugh at least 🙂

 

When does the simple become the complicated?

I recently read an article about Swedish entrepreneurs, how they struggled with getting funding to start their business and how they ran into unwanted issues as they achieved success. This blog is dedicated to all the entrepreneurs out there…

So, you started out your company with a great business idea, some money from your own pocket and the belief that you would succeed. Some years later you are standing there in an organization with 30 employees doing the exact same thing as before, but you are more lost than ever and your results are spinning out of control. “How did I get here?”, you might ask yourself.

It is really quite simple. As your business grew, you added people in your organization to meet the increasing demand. In times of fast growth this process is usually quite chaotic it can leave you with the feeling that you might have recruited some poor achievers. As you added people you also added a need for communication you didn’t  need before, you always knew what you were planning and acted accordingly, nowadays it seems like people in your organization constantly are working on the wrong thing or that time and resources are being spent in areas that are not according to your own priories. You have also found that people never tell you anything, all information turns up too late and you feel like you’re chasing to make ends meet.

Organizations require work and you have been in it for the business, the smell of the deal, the thrill of helping the customer, and so on. So you haven’t been doing what you should have been doing, and yet you have. There was plenty you could have done, but there is no point in bringing this up for your sake, you are already there and I seriously doubt that anyone starting up is reading (they are busy making the mistakes you made), so I’ll spare you the lecture.

Most importantly, don’t beat yourself up about it. You are where you are and it isn’t all bad.

Key words that describe an entrepreneur.
Key words that describe an entrepreneur. http://www.wordle.net.

What can you do at this point? First of all you need to seriously ask yourself the uncomfortable question, “Am I the right person for the job?” Communication and structure is not natural to all people, so don’t force yourself to work with something that does not make you happy and the end of the day. Look within your organization and see if there is someone with this ability or hire someone. Start by taking yourself out of the equation. This solves the management issue.

Now, you need to take what you have in your head and put it on paper, write down the vision you have for the company. Why do we exist and if I close down tomorrow will my customers loose a value they cannot find any place else? Already got one? Great! Start communicating this to all employees.

You also need to set the route how to achieve the vision. Of course you will never reach it, because it’s a vision, but you need a way to aim in that direction, your strategy. A strategy doesn’t have to be grand or complicated. IKEA had a strategy called 10 jobs in 10 years and it was communicatively genius. By the way, I believe we did it in 7 years. State what you want to achieve in a given time frame. Keep the language simple and leave out room for interpretation. You should create sub strategies to support the overall strategy: HR strategy (what competence do we want, how to we get there), Sales strategy (hunting vs. farming, product mix, market potential, resources, etc.), production strategy (make or buy, type of capacity, capacity volume, sourcing countries, etc.), and so on. Start communicating this to all employees.

What order do you want to do this in? What is first up on the agenda? Are there dependencies (A before B. C has to follow A, but is independent of B). Build in some flexibility to be able to shift priority and/or direction due to circumstance (still the same strategy though). Set a budget to keep track of income and costs. Now you are ready for setting the first year tactical plan.

Write the plan for the coming year, what you want to achieve from a business perspective, what goals you have for different product areas (what will grow and what will reside), what market shares to reach, retention rate, and so on and so on. Start communicating this to all employees.

The point of communicating each step within your company is to make you check your own work. If it does not sound right when you write the communication, then maybe you need change something, or if it is too complicated to explain, it most likely is too complicated to execute.

So, when does the simple become the complicated? When you stop managing…

This is just a quick guide, remember, there are really good professionals out there who can help in all these areas. Have patience, this can take time…