Sales and Sales Management Blog

November 4, 2010

Guest Article: “Questions to Lead By,” by Keith Rosen

Questions to Lead By
by Keith Rosen

Let your employees tell you how to motivate them

Motivating employees is often exhausting and time consuming work. Managers provide incentives, set goals, acknowledge top producers, even use consequences or threats. They use these tactics in an attempt to stimulate some level of interest in their staff, trying to push them into action.

Yet, when that external stimulation is no longer present, people have tendency to slip back into their old ways; not moving unless someone is there to push.

Although worn out from this exercise, business owners tell me they believe their primary role is “problem solver” to their employee’s challenges- a role probably learned from their predecessors and mentors. Many attempt to control their environment, working within the limits of what they already have. Some spend their time extinguishing fires. Others derive their energy by keeping certain challenges alive, providing them with some sense of purpose.

Perhaps the real issue is not tapping into what might drive employees to motivate themselves.

Seth Hallen, owner of Home Security Inc., discovered this. His 25-person staff had a tendency to deviate from company procedures that continually resulted in production delays. Deciding it was because they were unclear about their responsibilities, Hallen had his staff write up their own job descriptions and career goals.

The results were surprising. Telemarketers wanted flextime and opportunities for career growth. Salespeople cared more about job stability and receiving positive acknowledgment for good performance rather than commission. In response, Hallen adjusted the job descriptions and procedures, creating individualized incentive programs geared to each employee’s goals and strengths. He empowered his staff by seeing and acknowledging their natural abilities, while supporting their personal vision of what was important to them.

Hallen found this simple exercise made a dramatic difference in how his staff approaches their career. “There’s less friction or communication breakdowns. People are taking ownership of their responsibilities, providing a greater sense of accountability and direction,” Hallen says. “I also find they are much more responsive to changes in our company that support the corporate vision we can all be pulled towards, rather than pushed to achieve.”

Continually providing employees with solutions can train employees not to be accountable. It will likely result in the lackluster performance you are working so diligently to avoid. It creates an environment of dependency, preventing employees from sharpening problem solving skills or discovering their own solutions.

Today’s enlightened leaders instead are coaching, more than managing their staff. The difference is that you give strength or inspiration by uncovering what internally motivates them based on their beliefs and values, as opposed to stimulating interest externally based on your beliefs. Tapping into a person’s previously unused talents advances personal growth, challenging people to discover their best.

Coaching utilizes a process of inquiry which allows your staff to articulate what they want, then access their own energy to achieve it. Otherwise, you’re using your energy to get someone else in motion. To uncover each person’s internal drive, ask questions. Invest the time uncovering what is truly important to your staff in order to improve performance and align their efforts with the company’s vision and direction.

Here are some suggested questions:

  What do you want in your career that you don’t currently have?

  What do you want to be doing that you aren’t currently doing?

  What are you doing now that you don’t want to be doing?

  What areas do you want to strengthen, improve or develop?

  What is most important to you in your life/career? (What does a successful career/life look like?)

  What is the legacy you want to leave behind when you are gone?

  What are the three most important things you would like to accomplish right now?

  What is your action plan to achieve those goals?

  What do you need that’s missing which is preventing you from reaching those goals?

  How can I best support you to achieve these goals? (Uncover how each employee wants to be managed/supported.)

Invest the time asking your staff questions, listening for their responses and asking more questions as you uncover what they most want. Sure, you need the right answers to stay in business. However, to get ahead, you need the right questions. Allow questions to become the cornerstone for effortless leadership that generates long-term results.

Keith Rosen is fanatical about increasing your sales and helping you achieve what matters most to you. That’s why almost half of the Fortune 1000 Companies and the top companies in six major industries chose his training and coaching solutions. He is the Executive Sales Coach that top salespeople and managers call first to attract more prospects, close more sales and develop a team of top performers. Visit his website.

September 4, 2010

Guest Article: “How Great Managers Recognize The Right Opportunities for Coaching,” by Keith Rosen

How Great Managers Recognize The Right Opportunities for Coaching
by Keith Rosen

Where do you look for and uncover that ‘perfect’ coaching moment? How do you recognize where your direct reports need coaching and could benefit from the coaching most?

Actually, uncovering what you can coach someone on, from a tactical perspective, is actually the easy part. Managers are pretty good at recognizing problems, needed strategies and desired outcomes. However, it’s uncovering the why (the real source of the issue) and the who or the often very elusive and limiting thinking, assumptions or outlook people have which is ultimately preceding and driving their actions and behavior that is the tricky part and why many of the strategies and answers managers share either do not work or work well enough to become the long term solution. (If you’ve ever found yourself delivering ‘repetitive coaching’ or having the same conversation with your direct reports, that’s a sign that you haven’t gotten to the actual source of the issue or you’re spending your time on the wrong issue, digging in the wrong hole with no treasure to be found.)

Demonstrating this ability to get to the core of the right issue that leads to measurable and positive change is a true testament of an exceptional coach. The good news is, you can learn how to more precisely uncover those exceptional opportunities to deliver timely, relevant and powerful coaching. Here are some ideas that will guide you on the path to do so.

Regardless of the topic, skill, problem or mindset you’ve identified as a possible focal point in your coaching, there is one factor that’s always applicable in every coaching scenario. It also happens to be the very thing each coaching opportunity has in common. That is – The Gap.

The Gap is the space that exists between where the person is today and where they want or need to be or what is possible for them to achieve. It’s the void that exists between the person and their goal or solution; and where the coaching opportunity will evolve from that they often cannot see on their own. As a coach, it’s your responsibility to identify and fill in this Gap. The question is, how, exactly, do you accurately uncover this Gap?

There are three primary ways you can identify the Gap.

1. Through Observation. It’s essential that every manager takes the time to observe their direct reports in the field or on the phone, presenting or interacting with their customers and prospects. This is one of the most essential activities any manager can engage in. Otherwise, you run the risk of relying solely on what you hear from your salespeople and while it may be a truth, it’s only a subjective or partial truth or piece of the puzzle based what they see solely through their eyes. Like a great sport coach on the sidelines, observation will help identify the ‘blind spots’ that every salesperson has in order to get a full panoramic view of the most objective truth and what is really going on. After all, it’s very difficult to self diagnose when you’re in the middle of the game.

2. Through Conversation. Whether on the telephone or face to face, regardless if this happens during normal conversation or a scheduled coaching session, the Gap can also be identified in every interaction you have. Creating the safe space that allows people the time to process their thoughts, challenges and feelings on their own encourages a deeper level of self awareness which fosters more accurate self diagnosis and strengthens their problem solving skills. While certain strategic opportunities, skill gaps, assumptions or misconceptions can be identified, keep in mind; any great coaching must be complemented with observation so that you have the first hand evidence of what is really going on without relying solely on one source – the person you are coaching.

3. Through Evaluation and Inspection. While many managers hide behind and rely too heavily on diagnosing problems through inspection and the analysis of reports, spreadsheets and data, it is ironically often the least effective of these three strategies managers count on to uncover the Gap. Even conducting peer to peer or customer interviews to gain further insight about your direct report, while immensely valuable, still only provide you with a portion of the story. However, when used in conjunction with the other two strategies, this becomes another useful complimentary component to identify where certain activities, results and skills may be lacking. Keep in mind, data only shows you what is going on and can also be subjective. It doesn’t tell you why it’s happening. As such, observation and coaching conversations must also be leveraged to get the full story, rather than a small portion of the story to uncover the specific areas you can coach someone on. Remember, you are, first and foremost a people manager, not a data manager.

Instead of sharing what you perceive to be the solution to a problem before understanding the person’s specific needs, challenge or root cause of an issue, rely on deeper questions to assist in recognizing the Gap in every coaching conversation or situation with your staff. Whether the Gap is identified by you or the person you’re coaching, this will elevate your awareness so that you can pinpoint what is really going on with laser-like accuracy.

Any great coach realizes there’s not just one ‘right answer’ when coaching or only one way to uncover a powerful coaching moment. Leveraging these three distinct approaches will ensure that you are precisely coaching to the relevant Gap. Moreover, it will demonstrate the importance of investing the proper time to uncover a meaningful coaching opportunity rather than one that is hollow, inaccurate and ineffective. Improving your accuracy in uncovering the proper Gap to coach on will facilitate the changes in behavior that will lead to improved performance – and masterful coaching.

Keith Rosen is fanatical about increasing your sales and helping you achieve what matters most to you. That’s why almost half of the Fortune 1000 Companies and the top companies in six major industries chose his training and coaching solutions. He is the Executive Sales Coach that top salespeople and managers call first to attract more prospects, close more sales and develop a team of top performers. Visit his website.

May 7, 2010

Guest Article: “Nine Barriers to Coaching a Sales Team,” by Keith Rosen

Nine Barriers to Coaching a Sales Team
by Keith Rosen

For any executive sales coaching initiative to be effective and long-lasting, there are important obstacles that a manager or internal sales coach needs to address.

Barrier One: No Coach the Coach Program

One of my clients recently called me with questions about building an internal coaching program. It seems the person who was spearheading the initiative was having a difficult time putting the processes and procedures together as well as getting the managers to embrace the new philosophy and approach. Since the company felt they could build the internal coaching program on their own, they didn’t hire an outside expert or consultant. The person in charge of the initiative wasn’t even a coach but someone in HR. Without a coach training program to develop coaching skills and competencies, you can change your managers’ titles, but not their essence, their thinking, or their skills.

Barrier Two: Coaching Is a Choice—Not an Obligation

The coaching relationship is a choice, not an obligation. The relationship between the coach and the people who are coached is a designed alliance, a collaborative partnership, and more. As such, remedial or sanctioned coaching is often met with resistance rather than with open arms. How is coaching being offered to your team or to your employees? As a perk, an incentive, an option, an obligation, or a remedial response to under performance? Are you offering it to your entire team, to a select few, or to just one person?

Barrier Three: Surrender Your Agenda When Coaching

What if your boss walked up to you today and said, “Your career, your bonus, your position in this company, and your salary will depend on how well your team performs. That said, I want you to start coaching all the people on your team, one on one. Hold them accountable and be unconditionally supportive, while surrendering your agenda and maintaining objectivity.” Could you do it?

My clients consist of a myriad of companies and professions, all shapes and sizes, selling products and services in practically every industry and profession. Yet, the one truth I share with them is this: “When you work with me as your coach, this will be the only relationship you have where it will always be 100 percent about you.”

If you’re an internal coach, this may be a stretch to fully surrender any agenda or attachment to your sales team’s performance, especially since their performance directly reflects on you. In such cases, there’s an inherent challenge for you, as the business owner or manager, to separate your agenda from theirs and have no personal expectation from the relationship other than your unconditional commitment to their continued growth and success. It’s going to take some adjustment on your part to develop an unconditional and authentic relationship with your salespeople.

Barrier Four: You’re Coaching People, not Changing People

There’s a big difference between coaching people and changing people. However, for executives or front line managers who are commissioned to hit some aggressive sales numbers, coaching is the last thing they want to talk about. The real distinction is that coaching is a process of discovery. A coach cannot push for results or attempt to change people overnight. The traditional scenario to facilitate change is typically a stressed-out manager who lays the same stress on his salespeople that his boss dumped on him. “Work harder; get focused; our jobs can be on the line; just bring in some more business.” This hollow approach seldom drives change.

Barrier Five: Connection—It Has to Be the Real Thing

In coaching it’s critical for unrestricted, honest communication in the coaching relationship. It’s extremely challenging to connect with your salespeople at a deeper level, the type of connection necessary between the coach and the person being coached. Many employees are afraid that if they disclose too much, it will be held against them in the future. So they limit their vulnerability level to what is absolutely needed to perform their job function. This restricts safe and open communication, limiting the chance to connect with your people in a way that allows coaches to get to the real issues and barriers;—barriers that are preventing improved performance.

Barrier Six: Confidentiality and No Judgment? Sure, Boss!

Lets get right to what you’re thinking. Your role as supervisor or boss presents some inherent problems with coaching that need to be addressed head on.

Given the parameters, guidelines, and principles necessary to be a masterful coach, trust is critical to make the connection. After all, if your employees can’t trust you as their manager, forget even trying to coach them. Coaching requires an elevated level of trust that transcends the superficial trust between employees and management.

And what if some of your salespeople already have a problem with you as their boss and now you’re going to try and coach them? How does that get handled? Do you think any of your employees are going to just come out and say that? Think again.

As a result, this relationship could quickly turn into more of a mentoring rather than a coaching relationship. This is a major reason why companies bring in an expert coach from the outside who doesn’t have any direct ties to the company as a manager would.

Barrier Seven: Anyone Can Manage, Not Everyone Can Coach

“I’m really not cut out to be a coach.” The hard fact is there are managers who want to be coaches, managers who need to be coaches, and managers who shouldn’t be coaches, and probably shouldn’t be managers, either.

Companies that force all managers into a coaching role make a costly assumption that all of their managers would actually make great coaches, just like every college athlete should automatically make the pros. The rules work the same. Desire, attitude, ability, and skill will always be the formula for becoming a successful coach, or athlete. Then there is the mistake of pushing managers to do something they don’t want to do. Managers can easily sabotage their own coaching efforts, and in the end, corporate may learn the wrong lesson: “I guess our internal coaching program didn’t work.”

Barrier Eight: Full Accountability

If you want to become powerful, hire a powerful coach. It’s a simple, yet highly effective strategy. If you want your salespeople to be powerful, you need to be a good role model for them. As you evolve, so does your team. Consider this truth: Your team is a reflection of you. If you’re not prepared to be 100 percent accountable for the success and failure of your team, if you skirt accountability in any way, if you lack professionalism or proficiencies in certain areas, your team will reflect these weaknesses. If you choose to evolve, so will your salespeople. If you want a world-class sales team, you have to become a world-class executive sales coach.

Barrier Nine: Competitive Managers

The most effective leaders develop other leaders. They encourage their people to perform as well as they do—even better. That is the sign of a true master and the real testament of a great manager. But what if the manager perceives his coworkers and subordinates as a threat? What if the manager is driven strictly by ego, the need to prove himself and his worth? What if this manager thinks he has survived only by keeping a competitive distance from his peers and salespeople? I’ve known managers who don’t share their tools and best practices with their salespeople for fear their salespeople will outdo them. These are likely to be inferior managers who will seek to selfishly leverage the coaching relationship in a way to better themselves and their position rather than for the betterment of their sales team.

Now that we’ve listed the barriers that can get in the way of implementing an effective internal coaching program, do not be disheartened. With greater awareness comes choice. The good news is, you possess the power to make a difference.

Keith Rosen is the executive sales coach that top managers, sales professionals and executives in many of the world’s leading companies call first. As a prominent, engaging speaker, Master Coach and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on assisting people in achieving positive, measurable change in their attitude, in their behavior and in their results.  Visit his website

July 29, 2008

Guest Articles, “Costly Assumptions,” by Keith Rosen

Costly Assumptions
by Keith Rosen

When clients ask for help in closing more sales, I’d ask them to list the objections they are hearing that prevented the sale. It’s when they start stumbling over their response that I ask, “Are these the objections you are hearing directly from your prospects or what you’re assuming as the reason why they don’t buy?”

Whether it’s around our sales efforts, during a conversation with our boss (and our kids), or when trying to uncover ways to best manage your team, certain assumptions can dramatically affect the results we seek to achieve, especially during a conversation.

Rather than uncovering the real barrier to the sale, assuming the objection becomes a detrimental process that spreads like a virus throughout every sales call. These assumptions are not based on the facts but rather the salesperson’s assumption of the truth.

Salespeople often fall into this trap when creating solutions for their prospects. During a conversation with a prospect, they uncover a similar situation or problem that they have handled with a previous client. So, they assume that the same solution will fit for this prospect as well.

The problem arises when the salesperson fails to invest the time to go beyond what may be obvious and explore the prospect’s specific objectives or concerns.

Thinking they “know” this prospect, the salesperson provides them with the benefits of his service that he perceives to be important, without considering the prospect’s particular needs.

The next time you’re speaking with your boss, your family your employees, or if you’re on a sales call, rather than assuming the objection, how the prospect makes a buying decision, what they know or what they want to hear, follow these suggestions to create more selling opportunities.

1. Identify The Knowledge Gap.
That’s the space between what people know and what they don’t know. Instead of assuming what they know, start determining what they need/want to learn in order to fill in this gap and ensure clear communication. What may seem old or common to you is new to them. Use questions up front to uncover what’s needed to fill in the gap. Example: “Just so I don’t sound repetitive, how familiar are you with-?”

2. Be Curious.
Question everything! Since you’re in the business of providing solutions, invest the time to uncover the person’s specific need or problem, as opposed to providing common solutions that you assume may fit for everyone. For example, the words “Frustrated, successful, affordable, reliable and quality,” can be interpreted in a variety of ways and often carry a different meaning for each of us.

When you hear a prospect make a comment like, “I want a quality product that will give me the results I want at an affordable price,” use this as an opportunity to explore deeper into what they want or need most. “What type of results are you looking for?” “What is affordable to you?” Questions allow you to clarify what you have heard or go into a topic in more depth so you can become clear with what they are really saying.

3. Clarify!
Make each prospect feel that they are truly being listened to and understood. Use a clarifier when responding to what you’ve heard during the conversation. Rephrase in your own words what they had said to ensure that you not only heard, but also understood them. Then, confirm the next course of action. Examples: “What I’m hearing you say is…” “Tell me more about that.” “What do you see as the next step?”

4. Just The Facts, Please
“I told a prospect that I’d follow up within a week. Two weeks later, I figured I missed my chance and they went with someone else.” Sound familiar? Effective salespeople don’t guess themselves into a sale. To ensure you’re operating with the facts, ask yourself this, “Do I have evidence to support my assumption or how I’m feeling?” Enjoy the peace of mind that comes from gaining clarity rather than drowning in the stories that you believe are true.

5. Recall Your Learning Curve.
Think back to your first day on the job and the time it took for you to learn a new skill set. Chances are, you’ve probably experienced some frustration during the learning process. After all, at one point, all your knowledge was new to you. The same holds true for the people you come in contact with. Support others by being empathetic throughout their learning curve.

Recognize that learning and wisdom are results of experience. You’re more knowledgeable than you think, so don’t assume that your sense is common. You’ll notice that many communication breakdowns will immediately be eradicated.

Eliminating these costly assumptions will enable you to make better decisions and prevent the breakdowns in communication that act as a barrier to creating desired results, such as more sales. Once this knowledge gap has been closed, you’ll experience fewer problems and recognize greater opportunities that clearly make sense.

Keith Rosen is a prominent, engaging speaker, Master Coach and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on assisting people in achieving positive, measurable change in their attitude, in their behavior and in their results. Keith’s articles can be found in Selling Power Magazine and has appeared in feature stories in The New York Times, The Washington Times, Inc. Magazine, Sales and Marketing Management’s Ultimate Motivation Guide with Stephen Covey and The Wall Street Journal. Visit Keith’s website at http://www.profitbuilders.com

May 27, 2008

Guest Article: “Dangerous Knowledge: What We Know Can Hurt Us,” by Keith Rosen

Filed under: Communication,Presentation Skills,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 6:19 am
Tags: , , ,

Dangerous Knowledge: What We Know Can Hurt Us
By Keith Rosen

I recently purchased some advertising space in a national magazine. I have been a subscriber for years and knew everything I needed to know to select them as an advertising vehicle. I called them with one intention, to place an order.

When I called their office, the salesperson began doing what she felt was appropriate; to start selling me. She began with the history of the magazine, then moved into a discussion about her subscriber base, how effective an advertising campaign can be and ended with information about her ad design team. She was unaware that I already knew all the information that she decided to share with me.

She never took the time to ask what my intention was in running the ad or what information I might be interested in hearing more about. While she was speaking at me, I could only think about how many selling opportunities this must have cost her when dealing with prospective clients who didn’t have the time or patience to listen to information that didn’t fit for them.

This is not an unusual problem. Many salespeople spend much of their time during a sales call attempting to educate the prospect about their product, service and industry. They think it will stimulate interest and increase the odds of earning a new client. In many cases, this is the same strategy that compromises their opportunity to create a relationship with that prospect.

Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to lose their attention. Once a person hears something they aren’t interested in or if they feel you are providing information that doesn’t apply to them, their interest is lost and they stop listening.

A sales call is not the time prove how much you know. It’s the time to find out what you don’t know about the prospect and what the prospect doesn’t know about you. It is not your knowledge that sells, but how effectively you customize your knowledge to meet each of your prospects’ specific needs.

Before you can uncover a prospect’s individual needs and educate them on how your product will meet those needs, you must first uncover what your prospect already knows.

Your company’s presentation materials are designed to assist you in educating your prospects. However, it’s your job to determine and provide the appropriate information that will fit their specific situation.

Start your conversation by asking certain questions. Questions will enable you to uncover the relevant information to provide and identify the prospect’s objective and expectation of the meeting. Begin your meeting with the following questions. “What are your expectations of our meeting today?” “What information can I provide that would assist you in making the right decision when choosing a contractor? “Just so I don’t sound repetitive, what do you already know about …?” Then, based on the information you receive, you can craft your presentation.

Caution: When listening to what your prospect already knows, some of the information you receive about your product or industry may be inaccurate. Address this carefully. Instead of correcting them, simply add another truth to their statement by asking another question or adding to what they had said. Otherwise, while making yourself look right, you run the risk of making the prospect wrong, thus putting them on the defensive.

Most importantly, learn to put your ego aside and let go of your need to “sell.” The most effective presentation is going to be judged by the outcome that you produce. This begins with finding the right balance of information that your prospects want to hear.

Take your life and career to the next level.

Keith is one of the foremost authorities on assisting people in achieving positive, measurable change in their attitude, in their behavior and in their results. Keith’s articles can be found in Selling Power Magazine and has appeared in feature stories in The New York Times, The Washington Times, Inc. Magazine, Sales and Marketing Management’s Ultimate Motivation Guide with Stephen Covey and The Wall Street Journal. For his work as a pioneer in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country. Visit his website at http://www.profitbuilders.com

April 15, 2008

Book Recommendation: Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions

Transitioning from Manager to Coach
A Tactical Coaching System for Managers and Executives

“There is no other single activity to boost sales that works better than sales coaching and Keith’s book, Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, is the best ever written on how to do it well.”
- Brian Tracy, Author, Getting Rich Your Own Way

“Winning in sales is no different than winning in life. If you embrace Keith’s philosophy, you can certainly expect to win in all areas of your life, while making a profound and measurable impact on your salespeople’s performance and attitude.”
- Dr. Denis Waitley, Best Selling Author of The Seeds of Greatness and The Psychology of Winning

Technology has not only changed the way companies sell but the way managers build and develop their team. Even with the right knowledge and resources, they’re usually too bogged down in daily challenges, deadlines, and personal responsibilities to get it all done. As a result, advancing their people takes a back seat to more immediate problems, keeping teams mired in mediocrity.

With a savvy, younger generation to manage and fewer resources to do so, managers have less face time with their staff. As more companies transition to a virtual team environment, it’s essential for managers to learn how to quickly and efficiently coach, develop, motivate and retain their top performers at a distance; over the telephone and via the internet.

The fact is, regardless of experience, most leadership efforts are doomed from the start. Managers lose talented people and maintain an atmosphere of mediocrity not because of a lack of effort but because they lack the coaching acumen and skill set as well as a defined coaching system to leverage each person’s strengths and abilities in order to generate consistent, worthwhile results.

If you’re responsible for coaching or managing anyone, best selling author Keith Rosen will help you make the transition from manager to coach by developing the missing discipline of leadership – executive sales coaching. Most managers have never been trained to manage, let alone coach effectively. In his new book, Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, Keith delivers a tactical coaching system for managers, business owners, coaches and executives – anyone who wants a proven and powerful method to coach and develop true champions.

Plenty of programs espouse new management and leadership theories for managers, but few show you how to actually coach your people on a daily basis in a way that creates measurable change. Now, you can implement a systematic approach to develop a world class team and achieve the meaningful, long lasting results you want-today.

Tap into the experience of a master coach and learn how to:
• Turn underperformers into super-achievers, fast. (Under 30 days.)
• Attract and retain top talent.
• Motivate their team through the Art of Enrollment™, the new language of leadership.
• Empower their people to solve their own problems and become fully accountable using the L.E.A.D.S. Coaching System™ – rather than being dependent on you.
• Handle difficult people without conflict and determine when to let them go without collateral damage.
• Leverage your personal strengths as well as the hidden talents of your team.
• Eliminate hours of your daily workload so you can focus on the activities that yield the greatest ROI.
• Transition from manager to coach.
• Make the shift from a corporate culture to a coaching culture.

** 72 HOUR BOOK EVENT ENDS THURSDAY**
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Remember, this time sensitive event ends April 17 at midnight. I encourage you to get Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions and the additional materials from an impressive group of people who are supporting this book. You’ll be glad you did. Click here to learn more.

Get Keith’s book 37% off and hundreds of dollars worth of additional materials here.

March 28, 2008

Changing Roles for Sales Management? Audio Interview of Keith Rosen

Below you’ll find my interview of Keith Rosen, President of Profit Builders and author of the newly published Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions. Keith discusses the changing role of sales management, why sales managers waste so much time on under performers, and how managers can add real value to the organization.

Keith is the executive sales coach most salespeople and managers go to first. A prominent, engaging speaker and Master Certified Coach, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on assisting people to achieve positive, measurable change. A best selling author, Keith has written a number of books including Time Management for Salespeople and, of course, his latest book, Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions.

Recognized by Inc Magazine and Fast Company as one of the most respected and influential executive coaches, Keith’s work is regularly featured in Selling Power Live, Sales and Marketing Management, CBSNews, Entrepreneur, and other publications. Visit his websites at Profit Builders and Coaching Salespeople or contact him at 515-771-1444 or via email at info@profitbuilders.com

The total interview is about 50 minutes.

rosen-interview-1.mp3

rosen-interview-2.mp3

rosen-interview-3.mp3

Rosen Interview Part 4


Paul McCord of the Sales and Sales Management Blog can be reached at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com

February 24, 2008

Guest Article: “Why Should I Talk to You?” by Keith Rosen

Why Should I Talk to You?
By Keith Rosen

Do you know exactly what to say to a prospect that captures their attention so succinctly and effectively that they are actually asking for more? If you are being honest with yourself, it is probably the same answer I hear from most people regardless of age, industry or experience and that is, “No.”

If that is the case, then how can you expect to uncover more prospects let alone convert these prospects into customers? How can you cold call or prospect effortlessly? How can you deliver a stimulating, thought provoking and valuable presentation?

If you are attempting to prospect without sharing the right reasons as to why a prospect needs to listen to you, then it’s no wonder why you are finding prospecting to be such a challenging and frustrating experience.

What are the “right reasons?” Probably the reasons that are several layers deeper than the reasons you are currently using. That’s what makes this process so challenging. Once salespeople feel they have a “good enough” reason, they stop. It’s like quitting the race 20 steps before the finish line. With today’s competitive climate, “good enough” is what will keep you one step behind or head to head with your competition, rather than using this as an opportunity to develop a clear competitive edge.

If you find that you are not even getting past the first 30 seconds of an initial prospecting conversation before the prospect cuts you off and says, “Not interested,” then it’s safe to say that the reasons you are currently using can withstand an upgrade. Use the following techniques outlined here to do so.

Develop the Hot Button That Stimulates Interest

One of the first questions you may ask before you embark on your cold calling initiative is, “How can I get a prospect interested enough to want to listen to me, let alone do business with me?”

The answer is simple; give them a compelling reason to listen to you. The word compelling is synonymous with “convincing, persuasive, undeniable, and gripping.” When cold calling or networking, are you providing your prospects with enough of a compelling reason during the first minute of your conversation to want to speak with you and learn more about your product or service?

The intention of a compelling reason is to stimulate interest and open up a conversation. Therefore, you certainly don’t want to sound like all the other salespeople who are calling on the same prospects and saying the exact same thing.

Compelling reasons are the secret ingredient that many salespeople know about but don’t take the time to refine and develop. If your reasons are not powerful enough to move someone from a state of inertia to interest or action, here’s your opportunity to give them an overhaul.

What Do You Think You’re Selling?

What is it that you are actually selling? Some professionals believe that their title alone conveys an accurate portrayal of the product or service they offer.

Other professionals feel that merely stating the type of product or service they provide is actually what they are selling. If you’re selling IT solutions, insurance, advertising, marketing services, financial or legal services, staffing, consumer goods (clothes, jewelry, make up, etc.), commercial real estate, or widgets, consider that your prospect isn’t interested in the actual product, but what it will ultimately do for them.

If you think that simply telling a prospect what it is you sell is enough to stimulate interest, think again. Your product or service isn’t what you are selling or what the prospect is buying. A prospect buys what your product or service will ultimately do for them.

Crafting Your Compelling Reasons

If you are trying to grab a prospect’s attention, your compelling reasons will not include:
1. Your product or service
2. Features of your product or service.
3. Strategies on how to achieve the desired end result. (The “how.”)
4. Unsubstantiated or lofty claims and guarantees.

You may be asking, “Keith, what does it include?”

Whether you’re looking to craft a laser introduction for a networking event, follow up call, voice mail, presentation or a cold calling approach when speaking to new prospects, here are some guidelines to follow as we discuss the anatomy of a compelling reason.

1. Include the End Result of the Benefit

Your compelling reasons should include the benefit of the benefit’s benefit.

Sound extreme, maybe even a bit silly? Lets check. You know you have a great compelling reason when you are able to break it down to its core or the specific result that the prospect will be able to take advantage of and most importantly, visualize and connect with.

Consider this statistic. Based on a sample group of clients that I have surveyed over the years, 14 percent of people made a purchasing decision based on prior knowledge and experience. And 86 percent of people made a purchasing decision based on a future expectation.

Imagine that your prospects secretly want you to be able to offer them something that will make them more successful while making their life easier. Since most people buy based on a future expectation, your prospects will be more inclined to listen to what you have to say if you have an end result they want.

When making an initial cold call, you have seconds to grab the attention of the person you are calling on. Therefore, you simply don’t have the time to explain how you are going to achieve the end result of the benefit, let alone the product or service that will enable you to do so. You’ll have the opportunity to discuss your product or the strategy to achieve the desired result later on in your sales process after you’ve set an appointment or confirmed interest.

2. Pass the “So What” Test

You know you have the end result of the benefit when the statement can pass the “so what?” test.

For example, Jill, a client of mine, sells insurance and financial services. When I asked her to list the benefits of her service she responded with the following statement. “We have an online reporting system that automates your administrative duties. My response, “So what?”

According to old school feature and benefit selling, this is a fit. After all, an online reporting system is a great feature that her clients would benefit from. However, in today’s economic climate it’s no longer enough to evoke interest, let alone action from a prospect. Since her statement did not pass the “so what” test we need to go a bit deeper.

The benefit Jill shared with me was, “Automates your administrative duties.” Well, we’re getting closer but this still doesn’t pass the “so what” test. Lets peel away a few more layers to uncover the end result of this benefit. While we’re doing so, notice the questions I ask Jill and the process she goes through to finally uncover a true compelling reason, since this is a process that you will have to walk yourself through as well.

I asked Jill to tell me what the advantage was to automating administrative duties. She told me that by doing so, her clients can streamline their operations. I challenged her again by asking her to share with me what the end result would be if her clients were able to streamline their operations and become efficient. “They would be able to save a tremendous amount of time,” she said.

Finally, here’s what Jill and I came up with. “We have a system that will eliminate three hours of your workload every day.” Now this passes the “so what” test, since it demonstrates the end result of the benefit that the prospect can realize and is compelling enough to grab their attention.

If we were to break down this example, this is what it would look like:

Feature: An Online Reporting System.
Benefit: Automates your administrative duties.

Jill’s Compelling Reason and the End Result Of The Benefit: Eliminate three hours of your workload every day.

Notice that Jill’s compelling reason, which is also the end result of the benefit didn’t talk about what she sells that would enable her prospects to achieve this end result. At this point, the prospect cares more about the end result than your product or how you are going to produce the end result.

You know you have come up with a great compelling reason when your prospects respond with a question that sounds like, “How are you going to do that?”

3. Speak to Their Ear (Make It Personal)

It’s one thing to tout the intoxicating benefits of your product that the company as a whole would want to realize. However, if you’re speaking to someone in HR, they may not do cartwheels when you tell them that your product or service will save the company money or increase company profitability. As important as this may be, it may be falling upon a deaf ear. Therefore, you want to have a buffet of benefits that you can use depending upon the scenario and the person you are talking with.

What does your product or service do for them, specifically? It’s one thing to share the benefits that the company may experience but what about the person you are speaking with face to face or who is on the other end of the phone? After all, it’s not the entire company and each individual within the company that you’re looking to get a response from. It’s the person who’s making the decision to explore your offering in more detail.

What would capture the ear of the person you are speaking with? How does your product benefit them? Speak to their unique and personal interests. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what their day is like, the responsibilities they have, and the problems or pressures they face.

Think back to the compelling reason that Jill created for her specific prospect. “We have a system that will eliminate three hours of your workload every day.”

Jill can then expand upon this compelling reason during the conversation with her prospect; an overwhelmed manager in HR who is in a situation where he is juggling a variety of tasks and responsibilities with few resources to get it all done. Here’s an example. “That’s 15 additional hours that you would have available each week. Mr. Prospect, what would you do with the additional 15 hours each week?”

Notice how this example speaks directly to that prospect’s specific role, responsibilities, current situation and desired outcome.

To help craft your compelling reasons as they relate to each prospect, research your audience. Speak with some of your past and current clients. Ask them questions to determine what captured their ear and caused them to do business with you in the first place.

To develop your compelling reasons that have the greatest impact, you are much better off asking your clients why they bought from you, rather than formulating your own conclusions. Remember, there’s a big difference between what your prospects think is important and what you think is important. After all, people buy based on their reasons, not yours.

4. Include Testimonials or Measurable Results

The more you can offer and demonstrate measurable results that other customers have realized, the more of an impact it will have. It adds to the clarity of the visual picture and experience that you are trying to paint regarding what they can expect from your service rather than the generally vague picture of “making them money or saving them money.”

So, quantify your results. Use statistics, percentages, numbers, or testimonials. If you can save a client money, how much might you be able to save them? When it comes to saving time, decreasing client attrition, increasing employee retention, experiencing greater levels of personal satisfaction, peace of mind, well being and happiness, or boosting sales, productivity, and efficiency, you will dramatically increase the impact of the statement by attaching a measurement to it.

If you don’t know exactly what you can do for the prospect until you learn more about their business, then use phrases such as, “Depending on your situation, we may be able to reduce your overhead by as much as 20 percent.” You can also weave in what have you done for other customers. Who else have you helped?

If you’ve done something great for a client and I’m sure you have a success story to share, now is not time to be humble. Here are some examples:

• Depending on what you are currently doing, we can show you how you can eliminate three hours of your workload every day.
• XYZ Company increased their sales 300 percent as a result of using our system.
• Depending on your situation, I can show you how to turn a one hour meeting with your clients into an additional $30,000 dollars in income for you.
• Jane Doe, a neighbor in your community lost 30 pounds in three weeks.

Be careful when using testimonials. Make sure you get permission from the client before using their name in your marketing and sales efforts. In addition, it’s important that you know the type of prospect you’re talking to when sharing a testimonial with them. Some prospects may feel it’s important to “keep up with the Jones’s” or know what their competition and the leaders in their industry are doing and may be motivated to buy based on that alone. However, for some prospects the opposite may be true. Instead, these prospects want to position themselves distinct from their competitors based on their size, reputation, product, or service. After all, not everyone wants to be a Microsoft.

5. Identify Their Greatest Pain

I know this may sound a bit harsh but the fact is, pain is often a greater motivator than pleasure. Many of us are driven to avoid potential consequences or eliminate problems rather than create or take advantage of a benefit. After all, aside from scheduling a complete physical, we typically don’t go to the doctor when we’re feeling healthy.

Think about the greatest pain, challenge, or headache that some of your clients have experienced as a result of using another vendor. What do they want to avoid most? What is the personal pain that you will solve if they utilize your product or service? What are their main problems, personal stresses, or triggers of anxiety that they experience in their job that you can eliminate?

If you can pinpoint and then articulate their greatest challenges or concerns during a conversation, it demonstrates your knowledge about their specific problems and that you really get what their situation looks like through their eyes. This will foster a deeper connection with each prospect you speak with.

Once you verbalize a prospect’s greatest pain or problem, they are more willing and ready to resolve it.

The Shotgun Approach

Now, some of my clients have asked, “Keith, why develop a minimum of five compelling reasons?” Well, think of it this way. If you are calling on someone for the first time, do you know exactly what this prospect’s hot button is or what will motivate the prospect to listen to you? Not exactly.

This way, you can tailor the compelling reasons you use around each prospect that you’re calling on based on their position and what you feel is most important to them.

If you’re using the same old benefit statement every time you cold call rather than several compelling reasons, there’s a chance that the benefit you are using may not be important to the prospect. If it’s not a benefit to the prospect, they won’t be interested in hearing about it. If this is the case, then you have succeeded in continually reinforcing the wrong message with every prospect you contact.

As we discussed, there’s a difference between what you think is important and what your prospect thinks is important. You just have to work on putting yourself in their position to uncover what they want and need to hear rather than either assuming what you think they need to hear or saying the same thing that every other salesperson is saying.

There are many benefits to crafting your compelling reasons. First, you are going to weave them into your prospecting template, cover letter, presentation, e-mails, networking strategy, elevator speech, follow up calls and voice mails.

Second, you will be using these compelling reasons during your pre call planning. Reviewing your compelling reasons before you begin to prospect will put you in the right mindset, refocus your efforts towards the value you can deliver, and remind you why your prospects need to speak with you!

If you find that you’re having difficulty creating your own compelling reasons, that’s perfectly normal. The fact is, this is a challenging exercise that requires some creative thinking and the ability to peel away at the traditional benefit statements in order to get to the core compelling reason. Enroll your boss or supervisor to assist you. Hire your own sales coach. If you are part of a sales force then make this a team effort. Having an entire sales team co-create these compelling reasons can be a great exercise for your next sales meeting.

WARNING: Perfection is paralysis. Do not attempt to make your compelling reasons “perfect” the first time around. Remember, they are not etched in stone. The more you use them the more they will evolve. You will always have the opportunity to refine them after you begin using them and have a chance to gauge their effectiveness as well as the reactions from your prospects and customers.

Take a Test Drive

At this point you may be thinking, “How will I know if my compelling reasons are, in fact, compelling enough?” Here are a few barometers you can use to gauge their effectiveness.

Share them with a co-worker, supervisor, or even one of your clients that you have a great relationship with and ask for their opinion. Most of all, try them out on you! After all, if these reasons motivate and excite you enough to want to share them with your prospects, then you are on the right path.

Finally, get out there and try them on some new prospects. Remember, the more you use them, the quicker they will evolve into something better. The point is, just get out there and start using them. You can always fine-tune them as you go.

Developing your top five compelling reasons why a prospect should speak with you provides a unique opportunity for you to reconnect with your product newly, to reinvent and reposition what it is you are selling and discover a greater value you can offer that your prospects can connect with on a deeper level.

Take your life and career to the next level.

  
Keith Rosen is president of Profit Builders, As a prominent, engaging speaker, Master Coach and well-known author of many books and articles, Keith is one of the foremost authorities on assisting people in achieving positive, measurable change in their attitude, in their behavior and in their results. For his work as a pioneer in the coaching profession, Inc. magazine and Fast Company named Keith one of the five most respected and influential executive coaches in the country. Visit his website at www.profitbuilders.com

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