Someone else to ooooh & ahhhh over your efforts makes you feel good

The latest issue of A Chip off the Block is The Garden Edition and talks about The Top 10 Things Sales Taught Me About Gardening here is my TeleSales Twist on Point #9.

Someone else to ooooh & ahhhh over your efforts makes you feel good

Maybe it is the extrovert in most salespeople that makes this true, but when we win (little OR big… doesn’t seem to matter) it is important for people to notice. Sure the commission check is great – what is better is the money PLUS a supportive team telling you how wonderful you are.

Make sure you have those people in your life that will ooooh & ahhhhh over how wonderful your garden looks (even if you have to take pictures and share them on facebook).

Too often I think that salespeople (or maybe people in general) discount the rush of other people telling them how good a job they are doing.

I’m not discounting the importance of celebrating your own successes – rather, telling you to accept… no REJOICE in other people’s admiration. Stop that self-depricating “oh it was nothing” and  do your happy dance.

If you done it, it ain’t bragging. ~ Walt Whitman

Telesales is a career full of difficult days; from voicemail jail through lost deals…. which is even MORE reason to Celebrate Success and Accept Complements!

It is important to remember you have all summer

The latest issue of A Chip off the Block is The Garden Edition and talks about The Top 10 Things Sales Taught Me About Gardening here is my TeleSales Twist on Point #8.

It is important to remember you have all summer

I was lucky enough to have a reminder of this when I was running out of steam after a few hours of solid effort.

My husband walked by and said “you don’t have to finish that today; you have all summer you know”.

I learned in sales that a day, week, month, or even quarter – doesn’t make or break your career. When the effort has been put in and you’re getting tired for that day (or in that account) it is important to remember we have all summer.

Stop for a moment and look at what is on your desk. Have you been stressing out over NOT having something finished?

If not, you can probably stop reading here.

If you found something, let’s examine it together (virtually of course… unless you’d like to call me for some coaching):

  1. WHY are you doing it at all?
  2. Will anyone notice if it is never completed? (if the answer is no, STOP even thinking about it)
  3. Pick one reason it isn’t done: stuck (ie: don’t know what to do), skill (ie: don’t know how to), priority (ie: other things get in the way), time (ie: too many activities daily).

stuck (ie: don’t know what to do)

  • Here is the thing about being stuck, it is time to find someone to help. If you don’t know what to do, find someone you can work with and figure it out together… or choose a mentor with experience getting that goal done and work to modify their success strategy to fit you.

skill (ie: don’t know how to)

  • Simple solution – identify what you don’t know how to do and pick one of two strategies: #1 hire someone else to do it or #2 learn how to do it yourself. I didn’t tell you it was going to be easy!

priority (ie: other things get in the way)

  • This part is tricky; you have something on your desk,  you know why it is important, you know who it is important to – now you have to figure out how it is important to YOU. that is the key to putting it at the top of your priority list, keeping the why at the top of your mind.

time (ie: too many activities daily)

  • I don’t mean to be rude (alright maybe I do) but time is NOT a renewable resource. You can’t make time, only spend it. On top of that we all have exactly the same amount available every day – it is about choosing how to spend it – and that is no different than choosing how to spend money. Now go back and re-read priority 😉

Hopefully you have an ah ha moment about what ever it is that is sitting on your desk. Now on to my husband’s point “you don’t have to finish that today; you have all summer you know.”

Instead of looking at DONE, lets pick a little tiny action you can take today to get you moving in the direction of DONE.

  1. What is the 1st little tiny action you can take? TAKE IT before doing anything else (including reading the rest of this post)
  2. Between where you are right now and DONE – what is the 1st milestone you need to reach?
  3. Make a list of all the little tiny actions that will get you there.

Here is my crazy idea… go do that, then figure out from the 1st milestone what the next one will be. Don’t worry about mapping the entire thing out – rather get yourself moving in the right direction. Before you know it, you’ll look up and the next milestone will be DONE.

The first day or two of the season will leave you sore

The latest issue of A Chip off the Block is The Garden Edition and talks about  The Top 10 Things Sales Taught Me About Gardening here is my TeleSales Twist on Point #7.

The first day or two of the season will leave you sore

Ugh getting up and feeling like I was run over by a truck is a familiar feeling when I try out some new technique, question, or idea in my sales career. I’m uncomfortable – it doesn’t feel natural. Ok so it HURTS…

The big difference between sales & gardening here is; in sales those aches and pains are mental and/or emotional – in gardening the discomfort is PHYSICAL.

The key is to remember that the result is worth the initial discomfort. In sales, questions that made me REALLY uncomfortable years ago are now habit and are asked in my normal course of conversation.

How do you go from sore to soar?

It takes effort (10,000 hours to become an expert in anything) AND it takes effort – daily. The easy part in TeleSales is that we can have all the cheat sheets we want. My suggestion is to make sure your computer monitor doesn’t become a sunflower stand in due to all the post it notes around the edge.

Instead – pick one question a week, with a goal of asking it on every call.  If it isn’t habit by the end of the week, keep it up on your screen until it becomes habit (or you start ignoring the note).

Now… pick the next question! By the end of 2011 you will have over 20 new questions that you’re comfortable asking (see there are 27 weeks left and I even gave you a few “hard to incorporate” multiple week questions to pick up).

Start today – pick the #1 piece of information your sales manager ALWAYS asks you for. Now turn that into customer facing language (ie: how does finding this out help the customer) – create a question, start asking it TODAY!


Gardening is takes hard work and lots of effort

The latest issue of A Chip off the Block is The Garden Edition and talks about  The Top 10 Things Sales Taught Me About Gardening here is my TeleSales Twist on Point #6.

Gardening is takes hard work and lots of effort

Daily effort is what makes salespeople successful – not that it is effort in the same areas or behaviors. Rather showing up and moving forward are daily ways to reach success. Gardening seems to be the same way. You may not have to weed every day (ok maybe you do), but there is something to do to keep it looking beautiful; adding new plants, evaluating placement, pondering what’s next, etc.

Mojo, the kitty gardener, prefers to roll in the dirt and sun herself on the garden rocks – occasionally digging and always pouncing on bugs.  Although she is a wonderful companion in the garden; her efforts don’t lean toward what is necessary to keep the garden beautiful.

Where does the time go?

Most people (including me) have no idea where what happens to time – in the past week I would guess:

  • you said ‘give me 5 min’ and then realized 15 had passed
  • a task that you allotted 30 min to complete, took 2 hrs
  • a quick internet search, turned into a tangent, that turned into 1 hr

I truly believe the only 2 things we can control are how we spend our time and choosing our attitude. Which is why my suggestion is one of the most painful activities I participate in a few times a year (thanks to Debbie Mrazek, author of The Field Guide to Sales):

How Will You Spend the Next 168 Hours?

Her book (starting on pg 34 if you’re interested) goes into “time management is about choices.” Then the painful part, keeping an hour-by-hour log for seven days of how you spend your time. Not the minutia – but in big buckets, here are mine:

  • sleeping
  • morning prep (shower, breakfast, commute, etc)
  • learning
  • teaching
  • coaching
  • on the phone with prospects/customers
  • researching suspects/prospects/customers
  • working on proposals/quotes (including crafting email follow through)
  • creating content
  • administrivia
  • updating my forecast
  • never ending meetings
  • friends & family time
  • vegging (tv, fiction, staring off into space, ect)
  • exercise

For the next week keep track – from personal experience this is PAINFUL. In TeleSales we don’t do any one thing for an hour; it is more like 3-7 minute increments. I found it is easiest if I have an hour “block” on a piece of paper (so I’ve attached my version for you) and then jot down everything in that block – remembering that some activies have multiple functions.

My taijiquan class = exercise, learning, along with friend time.

Once  you’re done (thanks again to Debbie);

  1. acknowledge that you actually enjoy wasting time
  2. evaluate how you’re spending it (one of my coaching clients even went as far as to figure out what his time was worth in dollars – to reinforce that ‘spending’ idea)
  3. decide what you can change
  4. decide what you want to change

and yes #3 and #4 are different questions!

Once you have your change list;

  • what activities would NO ONE NOTICE if I stopped doing them?
  • do I have the opportunity to delegate this?
  • would it cost me LESS to pay someone to do this activity for me?
  • how does this task increase my value to  my customers?
  • what does each work day activity do to make me successful?
  • when I _________ am I moving forward in the sales process?

….. ACTION – now you know what you can do to change what you’re doing; take it! Then watch out for falling back into your old habits.

Understanding your local climate

The latest issue of A Chip off the Block is The Garden Edition and talks about  The Top 10 Things Sales Taught Me About Gardening here is my TeleSales Twist on Point #5.

Understanding your local temperature, soil, and weather is critical to choosing the right plants.

I live in the USDA’s Hardiness Zone 4 (of 10). That means that this year our estimated last frost date is JUNE 22nd (no I’m not kidding).

When I think of a sales landscape I ask questions to determine if the prospect will thrive in an environment. Here are my top 3 questions:

  • Will this prospect be comfortable doing business with me over the phone & on the web?
  • What level of commitment does the organization have to improving their salespeople?
  • Are there enough salespeople (there or to come) to pay me what I’m worth?

Do you know what questions you need to answer to determine if a prospect is a GOOD one?

Oh “good” needs to be defined as: making you money in return for the time/effort it will take to win & keep them as a customer.

I talk (a lot) about an ideal customer profile. Now that I’m gardening I’ve realized that the same is true here as well. In my garden there are several things that make an ideal plant:

  • harsh winter resiliency (-34 Fahrenheit isn’t unusual)
  • deer don’t like the taste (a garden with 12FT fence is not in my future to keep them out)
  • need for minimal care (remember the reluctant part of my gardener persona, if daily attn is required it isn’t going to last long)
  • pretty leaves and/or flowers (because why have them in there if those aren’t true)

These ideal criteria  don’t necessarily ALL have to be met;  harsh winter resiliency may be negotiated – by adding annuals I get my other three. One for me is non-negotiable; if deer are going to eat the plant before I get to enjoy seeing them bloom – they are out of there (the lily bulbs will be dug up this fall and donated to someone with a non-deer infested garden).

What are the ideal customer profile criteria for your TeleSales garden? What are non-negotiable? How many does an account need to be truly ideal for you to do business with them?

Answering all those questions will keep you busy for a while! Plus make you more successful in the long run.

Looking at the roots might tell you more than examining what is above ground

The latest issue of A Chip off the Block is The Garden Edition and talks about  The Top 10 Things Sales Taught Me About Gardening here is my TeleSales Twist on Point #4.

Looking at the roots might tell you more than examining what is above ground

This was a great gardening tip from my Aunt! When you’re pulling up matted vines; flip the chunk over to look for something that is DIFFERENT than everything else. That is potentially a flower; examine it carefully before tossing it into the wheelbarrow.

The same is true in sales; what makes a prospect look DIFFERENT from the rest, my favorite difference is communication; they are available, it is a conversation vs. interrogation when we speak, and ideas are exchanged.

How about you? Look for differences in prospects to determine what makes one a weed and another a flower.

Yes I know that isn’t looking up – but none of my pictures show anything BUT weird looking dirt… so this is the best I could do to show ROOTS.

Because what we can see and what is underneath in TeleSales is what we are going to be talking more about today.

What We Can See

In the garden before things start to bloom, for the reluctant gardener like me – everything looks, well – green. We can count the number of leaves that identify a flower for me one one hand (and now that I’ve started gardening – perhaps I need to use a few fingers on the other hand as well).

prospecting is like this too!

In the beginning if it is green we treat it like a flower. It’s growing after all – so if I give it attention; some day they may possibly buy something from me.

Without having an understanding of what a prospect who will grow to be our Ideal Customer looks like early in the process, salespeople spend an extraordinary amount of time tending to:

  • people who have no authority
  • customers who have no intention of changing who they work with
  • accounts that will suck our brains dry but never buy

of course this takes away from the time we have to cultivate profitable relationships!

perception changes with experience

Now for all the botanists and avid gardeners, each leaf tells a story of what that plant will look like – weeks and even months down the road. It’s shape, texture, even smell identify what is to come.

As we get to know a prospect “type” better, we begin to identify traits that we love, tolerate, or hate. This gives us the ability to pull out the weeds early in the process and give the flowers more space – fertilizer – water all things they need to grow into our Ideal Customers.

What is Underneath

My Aunt’s advice about turning the ground over and examining the roots changed my perspective completely.  Especially with plants that have bulb like roots, I could identify the weeds vs. flowers.  Quickly seeing what to carefully extract and what to throw in my wheelbarrow.

Which got me to thinking, what are the traits underneath what I hear on the phone or see in my research that will identify weeds vs. flowers when I don’t know the prospect “type”?

Here are two of mine to get you thinking too:

  • reluctance to share information – I’m not talking about their deepest, darkest, corporate secrets; rather things that to me are general information about the organization that I can’t find via research.
    • what a person’s typical day looks like vs. their job title
    • an operator who will not transfer me without a specific name
    • when even with a referral name, someone is defensive about how I reached them

My favorite example of this is a company I called – when you reach their auto attendant and the only option is to dial an extension or leave a general voicemail message. Yup, not other options – I wonder how many potential customers go to their competition daily out of frustration.

  • asking me to take action without any commitment – one of my personal boundaries is if you want me to go put in effort, at minimum you have to commit to a conversation once I’ve done what you asked.
    • I’ll put together a quote/proposal – if you agree to a conversation when I win OR loose
    • research is fun for me, you need to commit to a discussion about the results
    • at minimum I need to know ‘what happens next’ before I go on my merry way

One prospect I spoke with asked,  in our first conversation, for me to layout a potential program for them.  To which I responded – I’d love to,  when can we talk a little more about your organization so the program is tailored to what your people need… The answer was “I just want you to send it to me via email, we don’t need to talk more – you should be able to do this without me.” Hmmm, I don’t want to work with a company that expects the right solution without adequate information.

All of these things will happen early on – assuming I can look at myself and know I did a good job in my prospecting (which depending on the situation or day isn’t necessarily true) – and are leading indicators of weeds in my world.

Now it is time for you to figure out what you hear early on that gives you a heads up to throw a prospect into the compost heap and move on.