Posts by: Robb Ryerse

5 Things I Wish My Sales Manager Would Remember

I’ve have been the manager. And I have been the managed. Frankly, neither is easy. In sales, as in almost all professions, there can be a natural tension between management and employees. As leaders, sales managers need to take the initiative in building strong, successful teams. With all that is on their plates, I think sales managers often forget some basic things. Here are 5 things I wish they’d remember:MA_00000006_fwj0rh

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Remember to Sell Me, Not Tell Me

Most sales manager were once salespeople. Usually, they were good ones, which is why they got promoted. But I’ve seen so many sales managers forget the basics that got them to the job that they’re in. Would any good salesperson expect a client to do something simply because the salesperson said so? Of course not. And yet, many sales managers expect their teams to complete tasks or be enthusiastic about an initiative simply because the manager said so. Sell me on it. If you get me to buy in to your idea, then I can’t be stopped. Use your excellent salesmanship, not your position, to get me on board.

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Remember what Number Matters Most to Me

I get that the company has numbers to hit. I actually enjoy knowing where we stand as a team. However, just knowing those numbers might not be enough to motivate me. I get that they keep you up at night, but you’ve got to remember that the number that keeps me up at night is the one on my paycheck. If you want to motivate me by giving me team or company numbers, don’t forget to connect the dots back to how my contribution will mean success for both of us.

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Remember that I Can’t Have All the Answers

When I first started in sales, I had a manager who would ask me questions I could not answer. He would want to know the details of why certain clients or prospects were doing what they were doing. It was information I simply didn’t have and couldn’t legitimately get. He was frustrated. I was frustrated. There has got to be a better way for managers to engage their team members than to make them feel dumb and ill-informed. Sales managers need to think about how they ask questions and when they ask questions to maximize their information gathering while also minimizing the sales team’s angst.

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Remember that I Really Want Everyone to Play by the Same Rules

Seniority matters. Special circumstances happen. And some things can’t be public knowledge. So, the way a sales team operates will not always be fair and equitable. There will be times that someone needs extra space and grace. I’m fine with that. That’s not a problem. In fact, that makes me more loyal to my sales manager because I know if something happens with me, I’m likely to get treated well. The problem is when all the members of a sales team don’t play by the rules. When attendance and activity policies, for instance, aren’t equally enforced, it won’t take long for members of the team to notice and begin to wonder why someone else can get away with something that they can’t. It’s never good when members of a sales team are wondering those kinds of things.

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Remember that You Do Impact Morale

I once had a manager tell me that morale among the sales team was not his responsibility. I could not disagree more. What a sales manager does – changing the comp plans, adding additional busy work, showing favoritism, being overbearing – can have a negative impact on team morale. A sales manager who doesn’t appreciate his or her impact on the mood in the office runs the risk of losing their team altogether.

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No matter which side of the desk you sit on, the sales process can be improved when there are clear expectations, strong communication, and a ton of trust between a sales manager and his or her team. A strong team needs a strong leader, I wish sales managers would remember that.

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Enneagram and Sales: Personality Profiles

I am endlessly fascinated by the connection between psychology and sales.

What makes a salesperson tick? Are some personality types more likely to be successful salespeople? What insights can we gain from personality profiles that will help us to be better salespeople?

enneagram_colorOne of my favorite personality profiles is the Enneagram. Here’s the summary, according to Wikipedia:

The Enneagram of Personality, or simply the Enneagram (from the Greek words ἐννέα [ennea, meaning “nine”] and γράμμα [gramma, meaning something “written” or “drawn”), is a model of human personality which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. … As a typology the Enneagram defines nine personality types (sometimes referred to as “enneatypes”), which are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram, which, it is believed, also indicate some of the connections between the types. There are different schools of thought among Enneagram teachers, therefore their ideas on some theoretical aspects are not always in agreement.

The Enneagram of Personality has been widely promoted in both business management and spiritual contexts through seminars, conferences, books, magazines, and DVDs. In business contexts it is generally used as a typology to gain insights into workplace dynamics; in spirituality it is more commonly presented as a path to higher states of being, essence, and enlightenment. It has been described as a method for self-understanding and self-development.

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The 9 Enneagram personalities are:

1 – Reformer

2 – Helper

3 – Achiever

4 – Individualist

5 – Investigator

6 – Loyalist

7 – Enthusiast

8 – Challenger

9 – Peacemaker

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While I am far from an expert, knowing my Enneagram number has helped me to identify, for instance, why I take a “no” so hard. As a 3 on the Enneagram chart, I am wired to want people to like me and think that I am valuable because of how I serve them. As a salesperson, this means that I am going to take very seriously the need to meet my client’s needs. If I bring them solutions, I can’t understand why they won’t take them. And often, I’ll take it personally. Knowing all of this about myself helps me to take healthy steps of handling areas of personal weakness.

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Here’s a great chart from the fantastic Enneagram In Business showing how different people think about sales, according to their Enneagram number:

sales personality

 

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According to this site, the best Enneagram numbers for sales jobs are 2, 3, 8, and 9. Want to figure out your number? Take one of these Enneagram tests.

 

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Come back tomorrow for an article about a bunch of things I wish my sales manager knew.

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Be the Best Version of You: Personal Branding

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the average business owner.

You walk in the door of her office, and you think you’re unique. But the reality is that your competitors have already been there. Or will be there soon. Maybe even some of your teammates called on her. And so did the yellow pages guy. And the copier salesman. And she got three phone calls from people wanting her to update her website or change her internet service. Not to mention the little league team that wants to put her business name on their jerseys.

iStock_000003300049LargeIt’s been estimated that the average business owner interacts with well over 100 salespeople per month.

You are one face in a hundred.

What can you do to stand out? How can you be memorable? What will make your clients see you as something other than just another salesperson?

Having a personal brand will give you a memorable and meaningful identity with your prospects and clients. Here are some ideas about developing your own personal brand:

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Be Authentic
I know what it’s like to sit in a sales meeting or in a training and think, “Man, I wish I could come up creative ideas as fast as she does,” or “If I could just answer answer objections like he does, I’d be all set.” There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to sales, and it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to master every single one of them. It’s tempting to try to mimic someone else’s approach, to attempt to clone them. But you’ll inevitably fail.

Certainly, take every opportunity to learn from a successful salesperson, but realize that your success doesn’t depend on you copying someone else but rather being the best version of yourself. The very first sale we have to make to a prospect is selling ourselves. If you’re not selling YOU then you’re going to fail. I believe that authenticity is the single most valuable and compelling commodity that we have as salespeople.

If you’re outgoing and gregarious, own it. If you’re a quiet numbers person, own it. If you love sports, don’t be shy to talk about it. If being a mom is what most animates you, share that part of yourself. Let your clients get to know you, the real you, the best you. Don’t be overbearing or obnoxious, but be yourself.

You can only be you. Be the best version of you.

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Be An Expert Consultant
One key way you can stand out from the crowd of people wanting to simply sell your clients something is to be an expert consultant. Most of my clients have zero desire to be sold something. However, almost all of them want to be taught how they can improve their businesses. If I can give them resources, case studies, and ideas to do that, I am going to make myself memorable to them.

This requires research ahead of time. Too many salespeople try to learn everything there is to know about a client when they’re standing in front of them. It is much wiser to do a lot of research ahead of time. Get knowledgable about your client’s industry, company, and competitors. You’ll communicate that you respect them and their time when you can ask in-depth questions from the beginning. You’ll show that they mean enough to you that you did your homework ahead of time.

Trust me, after all the schlubs that have forced them into uneducated conversations, they’ll find you as an expert consultant to be a breath of fresh air.

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Be Appropriately Professional
A few years ago, I attended a sales meeting in Wisconsin with our local sales rep who had scheduled the meeting. We were meeting with the headmaster of a large, stuffy, religious high school. Tuition was expensive and standards were high. Students had to wear a dress code, and the headmaster reminded me of someone out of Dead Poets Society. Our local rep and I met in the parking lot. He showed up an oversized polo shirt, shorts that showed off a large tattoo on his leg, and a pair of scuffed up work boots. I was in a suit and tie … just like the headmaster we met with. We didn’t close the sale.

It’s tremendously important to communicate respect to your clients by appearing, talking, and conducting yourself in an appropriately professional manner. To be clear, I don’t think it’s necessary to always wear a suit and tie with a client. In fact, I think it can be a determent if it communicates “sleazy salesman.” Or, if you’re meeting with an auto body shop owner, for instance, I doubt a business suit is the way to go. The point is not to be too casual or too formal, but to be appropriately professional.

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Be Consistently Different
Speaking of how we dress, on Mondays through Thursdays, my company requires me to wear a suit and tie. For a while, this policy annoyed me, until I decided a few years ago to use it to my advantage. I started wearing bowties. In my market, I’m totally cool with being remembered as the “bowtie guy.” In fact, I’ve embraced it. The thank you cards that I send clients and prospects after meetings have my custom bowtie logo on them. They reinforce my personal brand.

There are hundreds of hooks you can use to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Be the person who drops off coffees once a month. Take your clients relevant articles. Always send thank you notes.

But to develop a brand, you can’t just do it once and give up. Personal branding takes consistency. When companies develop brands, they create style guides to make sure that all of their communication adheres consistently to their brand. Think about your own style guide – the way you dress, speak, write email, and entertain your clients. How can you do it with creativity and consistency?

That is your personal brand.
That is how you stand out as the go-to one in a crowd of a hundred.

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Come back tomorrow for an article about the psychology of successful salespeople.

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3 Things to Do When You Get a No … And 4 Things to Do When You Get a Yes

You’ve been working on closing a sale, and you finally got an answer. It might be good news, or it might be bad news. Either way, an answer is hardly the end of the road. 

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Here are 3 things to do when you get a No:

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Ask for Feedback

Don’t simply take a No at face value. Is the customer hiding some kind of objection that you can overcome? Ask questions about why they made the decision they made. Maybe you can rescue the sale. At the very least, you want to keep the lines of communication open for future opportunities.

Also, asking for feedback gives you a great chance to learn how you can do things differently. A customer might clue you in on some ways that you can grow and evolve as a seller. If you made some kind of mistake, you don’t want to keep making it. Listening to feedback can increase your closing ratio in the long run. Simply say, “Thanks for getting me this answer. Let me ask you a question. What kind of feedback can you give me about our product or solution and how I presented it to you?” I bet the answer will be very enlightening!

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Keep Up Your Activity

Your experience researching and presenting to this customer is very valuable. Don’t waste it. Are there other prospects in the same business category that could benefit from the same idea? Are there aspects of the proposal that can be quickly and easily repurposed? Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. Without sounding too cut-throat, if you think the client has made a colossal mistake, is there any way to make them regret their decision by signing up one of their competitors? You won’t know if you don’t try.

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Get a Drink and Get Back After It

Or take a walk. Or nap. You’ve invested a lot in your prospecting and proposal. It makes sense that you would be disappointed. You don’t have to pretend like it’s all OK. Find a safe friend or two to blow off steam to. Do whatever self-care is necessary so that one No doesn’t send you into a funk. You can’t control whether or not your customers say “Yes,” but you can control your activity.

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A Yes is so much better than a no. But your work is not done. Here are 4 things to do when you get a Yes:

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Confirm Expectations

During your proposal, you undoubtedly provided the client with some kind of timeline. Don’t expect that they’ll remember. When you get a Yes, immediately and clearly recap it for them. Send them an email with what the next steps are so that everyone is on the same page and your sale runs smoothly. Include how payment is going to be received, what deliverables are needed from both sides, and schedule a follow-up meeting to review how things are going. Successful salespeople don’t make one-and-done sales. They build long-term relationships with repeat customers.

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Own the Execution

Once a sale is made, many salespeople hand off the execution to a support team. By and large, these folks do a great job. But they don’t own the relationship with the client; you do. If you’re going to have a happy customer, you’ve got to make sure that the sale goes as it should. Once the sale is done, don’t take your hands off the wheel until you’re confident that all will be delivered as promised. If something goes wrong, you want to be able to nip it in the bud or be able to speak intelligently to the client about what happened, if necessary.

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Ask for a Referral

It’s never too soon to begin prospecting for your next sale. Say something like, “I am so glad we’re going to move forward with this. Let me ask you this – do you know of anyone else who might be interested in a similar solution? I’d love to use you as a referral.” Use their network to build momentum.

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Get a Drink and Get Back After It

Or go out for dinner. Or let out a big scream in your car. For a salesperson, few things are better than getting a Yes. Celebrate it. Savor it. And then get right back out there and keep going. Getting a Yes will build your confidence, and people love to buy from a confident salesperson. That Yes is your opportunity to go on a winning streak!

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bowtie profile.001Join the Bow Tie Sales Guy community on Facebook. Like our page here and submit questions which will be answered in an upcoming podcast.

Next week, we’ll be finishing up this writing project with articles about personal branding, psychology, and sales managers. .

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