A few years ago the business I was working in was looking to recruit a new Sales Manager but couldn’t appreciate the fundamental differences between the style of a “Coach” or a “Rainmaker”.
A Coach seeks to achieve results through their team, whereas a Rainmaker is “….a person who brings in new business and wins new accounts almost by magic”, having worked with both, my experience is that a Coach is Selfless and a Rainmaker is Selfish.
A “Coach” is motivated by the achievements of his or her team and working with them to improve their individual performance and results. Their pride and sense of satisfaction comes from when their employees achieve budget, convert a difficult client or close a new deal; their shared satisfaction of achieving what would not have been possible on one's own is where the magic lies.
A “Rainmaker” is far more concerned about getting their deal across the line. Guiding and pushing the opportunity through the pipeline (often at the expense of all others) to ensure their deal gets over the line. Their strength is their single minded ability to focus on what they want and close the sale.
The key for organisations is to understand the context into which they are bringing their new recruits as there are significant challenges for businesses (and individuals) who get this wrong.
Coaches can struggle to convert their own opportunities and Rainmakers can burn others out of the team by inadvertently making them feel inadequate.
At one point in my career, I worked with a Rainmaker who was desperate to become a Sales Manager because he thought he had earned it. After the company rewarded him with the promotion, he struggled to get the team behind him and they subsequently lost three solid performers. Luckily, he recognised where his skills were and was able to move back into a purely Business Development role but the organisation took some time to recover from the loss of the other team members.
I have also been in companies who were desperate for short term revenue; the company hired a Coach because he came with a good reputation and references but he couldn’t convert quickly enough – his career was disrupted and the company lost more time and money on their next search.
The reality is that whilst most businesses are looking for the perfect employee they can’t find them because like unicorns they don’t exist.
The cost of failure when it comes to recruitment is huge and can be avoided by individuals and organisations who are honest with themselves about what they are good at AND what their team needs at that particular point in time.
If you would like to continue the discussion further or share your thoughts, please let me know.
I have written before about "leading and lagging" indicators when measuring sales performance which you can reread by clicking here.
More recently I read "Cracking the Sales Management Code" by Jason Jordan and Michelle Vazzana which I highly recommend if you have the time.
The concept is fairly simple in theory but challenging in practice and based on an acronym "AOR" which stands for Activities, Objectives and Results, sounds easy right?
Their analysis of over 300 companies found that only 17% of metrics are highly manageable in terms of their activities and 24% deal with business results - it really makes you wonder what we are doing to ourselves.
Good companies, who are clear about their Objectives only measure Activities that ensure these goals are met. Nothing. Else. Matters.
Too many organisations are measuring themselves to a standstill, in one of my former lives our sales people had over 20 KPIs and never knew where to turn. It's like being lost in a maze that has no exit.
As John E Jones said "What gets measured gets done, what gets measured and fed back gets done well, what gets rewarded gets repeated".
Your team have a much better chance of achieving results when they are:
If you would like a summary of the book please click here.
Last year I was out on the road with a struggling sales person and met one of "his" customers, gathering many insights (though the sales person was doing more observing than anything else...).
In our debrief he said he didn't need the information we had learned in the meeting and I shared that his sales (or lack of) weren't about him but his customers.
Shocking to some but unfortunately not that surprising, even worse was that this individual had been highly regarded with in the business.
Too many "salespeople" become product pedlars by ramming as much information into a conversation as they possibly can.
It is natural and for many it's their comfort zone. The reality is that most of this can be shared via brochures and websites. Studies show that approximately 20% of decisions are made on logic, too much technobabble can see eyes glaze over and leave prospects wondering.
There has been extensive research into the effect Neuroscience has on decision making and it is worth out teams appreciating how the brain works at a base level to minimise the friction in the buying process.
It is the neocortex that distinguishes humans and has ensured our survival (and development) over millions of years, the rest of the animal kingdom missed out on this gift.
Great sales people never let a sale get in the way of a good conversation. They understand how to apply Neuroscience by tuning into prospects emotions, exploring problems and developing solutions. Their curiousness to (really) appreciate the challenges, led by a good questions and listening, build the foundations of strong emotional connections.
Prospects then feel heard and understood, this leads to opportunities because humans by nature gravitate to those that most help, with research indicating that 80% of decisions are based on emotions.
This is not smoke and mirrors, this is neuroscience in practice.
If your organisation is differentiating through relationships and solution selling, your team need to apply neuroscience or at the very least think like Zig Ziglar who best summarised it when he said "People buy off people they like, know and trust" - BOOM!!!
If you are interested in exploring this more with your team, please do reach out.
There's no doubt that 2020 was an interesting year all around. Sales teams particularly suffered with most that I know missing targets month after month. It's disheartening and many sales professionals lost motivation and energy.
So as a sales leader, what can we do to reset and restart fresh for this new year?
Here's 5 things you can do to fire up your sales team in 2021.
The choice is yours:
1. Build positive RELATIONSHIPS with your team.
"If we learn to trust more, we can have unprecedented human progress"
- Harvard Professor Frances Frei
Two reasons for this:
2. Give them clear DIRECTION.
"If you don't know where you are going, how are you going to get there?"
- Yogi Berra
3. Get out from behind your desk and UNDERSTAND what they are facing.
"A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected"
- Simon Sinek
4. INVEST in your people - there are significant gains to be made by showing that you are willing to develop your team.
CFO says "What happens if we train them & they leave?"
CEO says "What happens if we don't train them & they stay?"
5. Embarrassingly so, one of the best things I ever did to life the performance of my team was to relieve one of my NON-PERFORMERS.
"A bad apple can ruin a whole bunch"
We know who they are and we know what we must do. Whilst no one likes dismissing people, if you don't everyone loses - you lose credibility from your team, individuals lose their self-esteem and the company loses the respect of your customers.
As a sales leader the buck stops with you. How are you going to fire up your team this year?
Communication is ingrained in our everyday and seems like such an easy thing to do.
However communicating well is an art.
In my video below I share two top tips to help you communicate in the right way.
I wrote a couple of weeks ago about recruitment done right, in terms of treating all applicants with dignity and respect. It costs little but is priceless externally in terms of building brand and trust, and internally to build and display the right culture.
There are a couple of other critical lessons that are sometimes missed yet are essential when it comes to recruiting.
1. Employ the right person, not the best.
2. Hire slowly, fire quickly.
3. Hire for attitude not for skills.
The cost of failure in recruiting is huge, we’ve all felt it but it can be confronting to cost it out.
On the other side, when good people follow smart process, they can deliver the right people to your business; this becomes like a multiplier effect on your entire organisation including your bottom line.
Reach out if you are keen to chat about your sales recruitment.
Everybody who has ever employed people knows the cost of failure is huge.
“Success begins with a fellow’s will, it’s all in the state of mind.”
These are powerful words by Vince Lombardi in his poem “It’s Worth Repeating”. A poem which was gifted to me the first day of my career, many, many years ago.
These days, with my work across many different businesses I talk to company owners and senior management about the challenges faced by their frontline sales teams. I can quickly get a sense of their mindset from the language they use. This usually correlates directly with their results, or more often than not - lack of them.
I hear constant talk about their industry being different, their competition doing this and that, lower prices, lack of loyalty, the good old days, more discounts, cheaper labour rates overseas….etc. etc.. You can talk yourself into anything and out of everything but ultimately it's all about state of mind.
Good organisations know and respect their competitors but are not beaten up by them or the landscape in which they play. They own it and don’t outsource the responsibility of staying in it. They continually develop their products AND their people to be the best and think the best.
The word Mindset is often used but can still be illusive and is mostly misunderstood. This is the reason that the great companies hire on attitude rather than skills.
What do your team talk about – the competition or the opportunities?
How would you describe their language – defeatist or constructive?
What is your team’s mindset – positive or negative?
Burt Lancaster said many years ago “Sell yourself first if you want to sell anything” and more recently (2012) Peter Cook said, “The first sale is always to yourself”.
If you have a person on your team who wouldn’t buy your product (or service) – think about it, they probably shouldn’t sell it for you.
Success begins with the acknowledgement that results are the result of a hundred small decisions and can take many years.
Take a look at this video, I believe that there are no silver bullets; just a bucket load of bitter pills that one needs to take on their journey to making the ping pong balls easier to digest. And make sure you avoid any more pineapples than is absolutely necessary.
“The real life lessons come from the BIG challenges and failures we don't think we'll ever get over”
Over the years I've attended training or programs and met a variety of people. Some of those are there looking for a quick fix. My thoughts? There are no silver bullets. Only lessons we can choose to learn from ... or not.
Here's my take on dealing with life's lessons in the form of pills, ping pong balls and pineapples.
“85% of your financial success is due to your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate & lead.Shockingly, only 15% is due to your technical knowledge” The Carnegie Institute of Technology.
Early in my career, I attended an industry function when someone said that they had: 'been selling their particular product for 20 years and theirs was different'.
Fast forward 10 years I moved to another industry only to have the same conversation: 'I have been selling XYZ for 25 years and nothing else is like it.'
Another 10 years later different product, same conversation -mmm … interesting.
These days I spend a great deal of time speaking to a range of companies across a variety of industries, most think their product is special or different. As sales people, we all think that our product and industry is unique, when actually, it's not.
The reality is that all products in the same arena have a few nuances but most are the same, especially when it comes to getting people to buy your product.
In a country such as ours where the cost of living is high, it becomes extremely difficult for an organisation to compete on price. And quite frankly, no one wins that race to the bottom (though many still try).
The smarter businesses are differentiating through solution and relationship selling. And it needs to be a blend.
Technical sales people, although great at matching need to issue but cannot always manage the relationship. Relationship focused sales people may be great at the people side but don’t always match the need due to reduced technical knowledge.
So whats the solution?
We need to connect the dots between individual motivations, collective skill sets and commercial realities.
The best path for a person is the slow and steady method of professional and personal development: we need equal parts technical training, soft skills workshops, practice by doing, learning from mistakes, learning from the team and individual growth. This approach is far more effective than drinking from a fire hose at some half day gee up session
As Tony Robbins says:
“Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year but underestimate what they can achieve in a decade”.
It begins, like all innovation, with the insights and awareness of an opportunity to improve something.