Saturday, June 25, 2016

Just Driving Around....

When I was in business school in the 60's, there was a management concept promoted by Tom Peters called "Management by Walking Around" (MBWA).  The idea was that a good business manager does not sit in an office and manage by looking at spreadsheets.  A good manager walks around his shop and talks to his people and listens.
But how does this apply to the sales process?  When I started selling, my father was my mentor and he used to tell me--"if you really want to know your territory, don't take the highways--take the side roads; drive through the towns; see what's going on on the ground".
Sales people tend to drive to the customer's location and then drive to the next appointment and the next and then drive home, all on the highways.  "Avoid local roads if at all possible; I'm just too busy to take the time."
And how many times have I been in a retail store and watched the sales people congregate and gossip while I founder about looking for something?
Just as a good manager finds out what's going on in his shop by walking around, we all need to find out what's going on by looking around, walking around, driving around, talking to people. Spreadsheets are one dimensional. Don't stand still waiting for someone to come to you--go out and talk to people and look around and Just Drive Around.....
There's so much out there to see and learn if we just get out of our cars and offices and shells.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Doing What Comes Naturally

Everyone has something they do really well.  You may not have found this "thing" yet, but there IS something you do well.
This theory works the same in sales.  Our company sells tanks and air compressors.  We once hired a salesperson who had spent his sales career selling tires. After several months trying to sell tanks, he went back to what he was comfortable with: tires.  If you ever notice the sales people in a musical instrument store--for the most part, they're musicians. They're comfortable with musical instruments and music, and they often make good musical instrument sales people.
I consider product knowledge the most important ingredient for a sales person. Therefore, you're going to be good at selling something you want to learn about, something you love.
I am a manufacturers' representative, so I sell multiple products.  I love learning about anything and everything, so this profession worked for me--it was natural.
If you love your product and you love the people who buy your product, you'll succeed in sales.
This rule applies to every type of sales person--from the minister on the altar, to the Sears salesperson selling a washing machine, to a mother in a day care center. I know someone who struggled finding herself until she became a mother--and then she became the best mother because she loved being a mother.  Is she a sales person?  Yes indeed.  She works in day care and mothers entrust their children to her because she exudes "motherness".
Sales is something that's in your soul:  love what you do and do what you love and you can be the best sales person on the planet.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Listening Deeply Part Two

I attended three meetings this past month, one was a teleconference and two were two day meetings in a conference room with ten people at each meeting.
One thing jumped out at me--there was a very high percentage of attendees who were NOT listening.  You might wonder how I could tell on the teleconference when I couldn't see anyone.   Two ways:  1.  participation.  (If you're listening and mentally participating, you have to have questions. It's just the nature of things. Questions asked means that you're listening deeply.) 2. involvement.  (When the organizer asks for comments and only one or two comment, one can assume that the rest aren't listening.)
During the sales meetings at which everyone was present, out of ten people at each meeting, only five were listening deeply.  The other five were doing emails on their computers.  The thing about opening computers at a meeting, the organizer may think that you're participating and using your computer to make notes, so you think you can get away with it.  Or the organizer may not want to make a scene.  But how disrespectful is this!
Back in the "day", before computers, when I started in sales, there were no cell phones or computers.  Customers waited for their quotes or their call backs. Now, every salesperson feels that every customer needs an immediate response.  And what is the result of this "immediacy"?  Everyone loses.  The group loses the possibly important comments of the distracted participants and the distracted participants lose by not learning the content of the meeting.
This distracted "attendance" has to stop.  Computers and cell phones have to be shut off.  We need to LISTEN DEEPLY and participate.  Do the quote later.  The world will not come to an end if the quote is done later or if the call is not returned immediately.
Think about the financial investment that the organizer has in the meeting. When you're not involved, when you're not listening, you are wasting the organizer's money.
Show respect: to the meeting organizer and to the other participants.  Listen Deeply and participate!!!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Listening Deeply

Mark Benioff, CEO of, when asked what the most critical attribute of a manager is, said: "Listening Deeply".  He cited two examples of this: Charlie Rose, the legendary interviewer and co-host of CBS Morning, and Steve Jobs.
What does "listen deeply" mean exactly?  First, it means listening with NO distractions: no cell phones, no computers in your face checking emails.  When I'm talking to someone on the phone, I know when that person is looking at emails on his computer because the response to a question is slow or non-existent.
We have become a rude nation.  We have stopped really listening to people.  We are constantly distracted.
Listening deeply means getting rid of thoughts about what you're going to say, and thinking only about what the person you're listening to is saying.  Listening deeply means shutting the cell phone down, turning off the computer, emptying your mind of distracting thoughts, and just listening to what the person you're talking with is saying.

Stop talking; stop commenting; stop finishing sentences.  Just LISTEN and ask questions with the purpose of deepening your understanding of what someone is telling you.  Great salespeople LISTEN DEEPLY.