ASK JACK Ask Jack INSIGHTS FROM THE EXPERT 1. Practice: the salespeople typically don’t want to do it, and the Sales Managers are tired of beating this dead horse. What to do? Well, one thing is that the salespeople who don’t want to practice just may need to go to work in a different company. Pick anything in life where people are viewed as at the top of their business and you will see people who achieved this through practice. Michael Jackson in the pop music business; Meryl Streep in the acting profession; Michael Jordan as a professional basketball player; Mick Jagger as lead singer of the Rolling Stones; Olympian athletes; and the examples are unending. So, if you want to be better as a salesperson, one requirement is you must practice. And if you are not practicing in your business, then by default, you are practicing on real prospects/ customers. Schedule regular practice, hold to the schedule, and practice as if the opportunities are real—they are! 2. Sales Playbook: more and more of our clients have built their Sales Playbooks, which is terrific. A frequently asked question has to do with following the scripts verbatim: is that necessary? One of the primary values of knowing the Sales Playbook is the personal confidence with which we embrace our markets. When the salesperson has anticipated the prospect marketplace and has wrestled down the best answers regardless of the situation, one’s personal confidence becomes steel strong. We are not suggesting the salesperson become robotic; however, the salesperson should know his or her business cold and deliver on that knowledge on a consistent basis. Your odds of success increase the more you know the Playbook. There is flexibility here, but be careful. The closer we stay to the script, the higher the likelihood of success. 3. Finding good salespeople is difficult. Any suggestions? Boy, do I hear this most everywhere I go. Yet, when I ask to see the list of prospective hires they are working on, the looks are the equivalent of “What list?” No matter how staffed you are, the Sales Manager needs to have a written list of prospective sales hires. There are always openings for good salespeople. Figure out the profile of what you are looking for. Not a job description but the personal attributes of what makes a top performer in sales. Sure, recruit in your industry, but don’t overlook going beyond your industry. Touch each on the list at least twice a month, letting them know how things are going and letting them know of your interest. Consider building them from scratch leveraging the Sales Playbook. Networking and referrals are a big part of building the list. Think of sports teams and the coach’s allocation of time to this effort. Get the right people in the seats and watch how much easier your job becomes! 4. All management seems to want is for us to “meet our numbers.” It’s demoralizing. Any suggestions here? I understand the leadership’s desire to hit numbers, yet I also share your 4 sentiment of it being demoralizing if that’s all you are hearing. Meeting numbers is Sales; at the end of the day, that’s what matters. But rather than get stressed out over it, the salesperson has to filter out the noise and stay focused on the activities that have proven to be effective at making the numbers happen. The simple formula for sales success looks like this: Identify the high payoff activities plus do the activities equals success. Do this and the numbers will follow. 5. Fighting fires seems the norm for the field of sales, yet I only get paid for producing sales. How do I get out of wasting time on the fires? Look, fires will occur, and occasionally I’ve gotten sucked into fighting them. On those occasions, I have made that late-in- the-day call to my wife and let her know I wouldn’t be making it home for dinner. Early in my sales career, I saw how easy it was to get sucked into that being the norm. Well, that wasn’t going to work for my marriage, and it wasn’t going to work for creating the success I was seeking in sales. My first piece of advice is identifying the HPAs—High-Payoff Activities—and making sure you get them done on a daily basis. One of the solutions is to leverage an assistant to work on non-HPAs and the fires. The second piece of advice is that when you are “forced” to personally get involved, it’s essential to not leave for home without getting to the HPAs. Being a top producer in Sales often requires doing what others are unwilling to do. It comes with the territory.