- Be a continuous learner – what got you into the CRO role won’t keep you there.
- Create a culture of innovation – willingness to try new things without the fear of failure.
- Demonstrate teamwork and camaraderie – people will watch and observe your behavior before they act.
- Focus on the people – this means getting to know your colleagues beyond their quotas.
- Be authentic – this equals consistency and predictability. Wild mood swings are often due to people transitioning from their “real” self to their created façade.
- Be vulnerable – show you’re human, it’s okay.
- Confront reality – denial wrecks your credibility. Quotas are huge, don’t act like they’re no big deal.
- Provide a path to success – it may be a difficult path but a path none the less. Remember, the leader’s job is to provide the vision…the possibilities.
- Be honest – shoot straight, share what you can, not only what you must.
- Always have an active ear – listen…actively. People want to know how much you care before caring about how much you know.
- Never surprise your boss – understand what’s important to the CEO and how/when to best communicate.
- Be deliberate in your actions – an environment of uncertainty is a byproduct of hedging bets. Your team will know if you’re not all in.
- Be kind – nothing in this job should justify taking someone’s dignity.
- Be gracious – say thank you. Give credit and recognize people consistently.
- Look for the good – every day find a good deed, or success from a colleague, and then share it.
- Know your numbers – where are you this month to quota, next month, and quarter standings.
- Know your business – what external factors may arise to get in the way of achieving your goals and those of your colleagues?
- Always be planning – “In preparing for battle I have always found plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Stay fit – CROs tend to be the heartbeat of a company. Work hard to have and maintain a healthy heartbeat.
- Always, always, remember (and thank) those who helped you arrive – family, friends, former bosses, mentors. No one gets to where they’re going totally alone
Tag: Sales Enablement
Leaders are not born, they’re developed
I recently had dinner with one of my top sales people in San Diego this week and the conversation got around to whether people are born as natural sales people, or leaders.
I’ve never been a believer that people are born into a specific life path. What I believe is that each of us is born with a set of talents, capabilities, and competencies. We are all born with a specific attitude as well. A mindset, a glass half full, versus half empty thinking. A skeptic, an optimist, or pragmatist.
Here’s where the conversation gets fun. Believe it or not there was an interesting life lesson that has stuck with me for years from a rather unexpected movie – RAMBO III. In the movie the character of Colonel Troutman gives a pep talk to John Rambo. He tells the story of a sculpture who finds a perfect stone. He drags it back to his workshop and creates an incredible statue. When his friends compliment him on his creation, he says, he didn’t create anything. The statue was always there…he just chipped away the small pieces.
We are all born with natural talents. Some are blessed with athletic abilities, others with analytical strengths, others with caregiver strengths. The difference between those that achieve their full potential versus those who don’t, is finding a mentor(s) who helps validate and provide direction for your unique set of skills.
What if there was no Earl to Tiger Woods? What if no Joe to Michael Jackson? What if no Kurt to Michael Douglas? There are thousands more of these examples of folks who are not in the limelight but succeeded because they benefited from someone who recognized their talents and provided direction and encouragement. I’ve been incredibly blessed to have had a number of bosses throughout my career who have guided, counseled, and encouraged me to embrace my skills, take chances, and stretch. Without them, I am certain I would not have accomplished what I have thus far. And while I’m now considered “middle age”, my need for their input, guidance, and counsel still remains strong. Being a continuous learner never stops…until the heart does.
So what if you don’t feel like you have a person like this in your life? What do you do to find someone to fill this gap? The answer is easy. Look around. That person is probably closer to you than you think. It could be a spouse, partner, boss, friend, someone at the gym, someone sitting next to you on a plane. In fact, my love for American history was born on a flight I was on in 2004 when I met a gentlemen who asked me what types of books were my favorite to read. Foolishly I said none. He said, how can you spend so much time on a plane and not read. He told me I was missing all kinds of opportunities to expand my thinking. When we landed he gave me a book that became the catalyst for creating my voracious appetite for reading. That book was called His Excellency on George Washington. I can’t count the number of books I’ve given away over the years to people who I just met in similar situations. You never know who, or how you can impact the life of a stranger for the better. It’s incredibly heartwarming and fulfilling.
Life lessons are everywhere. Sometimes you just need to put down your phone, take out your ear buds, and just be…be present. Take an inventory of all the things you’re good at. Jot down what you like to do. Assess the crowd you hang with and identify a few people to approach to help you clear away those stones. Remember, the statue is always there…it’s just how badly you want to chip away at the stones to show your uniqueness and value to the world.
12 Things Great Leaders Do Daily
By definition a leader is a person who leads or commands a group – at least that’s what Professor Google says. My definition is a bit different. Who wants to be commanded? Sure there are times, situations, and circumstances when being in command is required. Directing, ordering, and controlling are verbs that often come to mind when we think of leaders.
Just about anyone can be taught to do these things. Just about anyone can dish orders, direct others, and attempt to control. Many “leaders” regardless of training can do this for some period of time before being discovered as ineffective. Great leaders however, take a different approach. These leaders must do all the directing, ordering, and controlling as previously mentioned but it’s how they accomplish these things that set them apart.
Great leaders are great because they:
- Understand how to empathize
- Effectively communicate their vision
- Ask great questions, deep questions that provide insight
- Act in their own authentic way, not trying to be someone else
- Adopt a beginners attitude
- Surround themselves with people smarter than they are
- Spend time on self-reflection, how they operate and the result produced
- Network and connect with others to learn
- Ask for, and accept help when needed
- Lean on mentor(s) for coaching and perspective
- Roll up their sleeves, never asking others to do something they haven’t or wouldn’t do themselves
- Inspire others through their words, actions, and behaviors
So start today with some self-reflection. What are you doing? What do you spend most of your time on? How do you interact with those around you? What’s the reaction of others when you walk in a room, speak during a meeting, engage with others in a break-room? Consider this list and strive to embrace each one in a genuine way and you’ll find your results improve in a timely manner.
Why Your Role as Sales Leader Isn’t to Motivate
Many people think “cheerleader” when they envision an effective sales leader. Someone who gets the team fired up, screams and shouts, and sets everyone on a rah-rah march into the field to meet prospects.
The sales leader is expected to be a high-powered extrovert, charismatic, outspoken, aggressive, and perhaps even a bit shocking. We have all worked for sales leaders that possess these characteristics and shall I dare say, some other, more wild ones to say the least.
Early in my career I worked for such a sales leader. He’d stand on a chair or a table during sales meetings screaming at the top of his lungs, face beet red. The hair on the back of your neck would stand on end. You were pumped. There was nothing you couldn’t do. But when he finished his super-charged motivational speech, the result felt more like a tirade than an inspiration. There’s an enormous distance between rallying a group with fear versus inspiration.
So what is the sales leaders responsibility as it relates to motivating a sales team?
Are you ready for the answer? None. You have no responsibility to motivate your team. Each sales person on your team is responsible for motivating him, or herself. So what is your job as the sales leader? Provide vision and inspiration.
People want to follow a leader who demonstrates the confidence that he knows where he’s going, how he’s going to get there, and why getting there is so important and beneficial. I’ve built a number of sales teams over the years. I have worked hard to be an inspiration – doing this provides your team members with the “why” should they do what you’re asking them to do. Inspiration transcends motivation. You can motivate for an hour or a day but motivation is time constrained. It lasts only as long as the instigator – you – are on duty. But to inspire, creates a fire, that burns deep into desire. The greater the fire you build the more insatiable the desire is to achieve the goals you’ve set – whether you’re around or not.
Your job is to find out what drives your team. Is it money? Is it recognition? Is it invention or innovation? Is it client engagement scores? Once you know what drives each person on the team you will be able to create your inspiration roadmap. That roadmap will provide a clear picture to:
- Where are we going?
- Why are we going there?
- What’s in it for us?
- What will we feel once we’ve arrived there?
Most organizations fail due to a lack of clarity around the vision. You’ve got to assemble a team that WANTS to a be a part of your vision. Trying to convince someone they will be happy going to Buffalo in the winter probably won’t sell. You can expend all your energy convincing or you can set out to find those who are interested or intrigued with going to Buffalo. It’s the Good to Great philosophy of getting the right people on the bus and the right butts in the right seat.
Lead by example. Walk the talk. Model the behaviors. Do these things and you’ll increase your ability to inspire your followers to achieve remarkable results.
Get Specific -4 Ways to Make Your Business Conversations More Effective
Your eyes are glazed over. You’re trying to be discreet but you can’t help looking at your watch. Is it over yet? As meeting standards go this one is pretty brutal. It’s dull, boring, lacking insights, not informative, it’s basically a disastrous waste of your time. Have you ever encountered one of these meetings? Here’s a daring question – have you ever been the one driving one of these meetings? If your answer is “no way, I’d never run such a terrible meeting”, I’d say you should probably spend a bit of time on self-reflection. We all have coordinated and run meetings like this. We’ve all wasted someones time at one point or another.
Here are 4 Ways to Make Your Business Conversations More Effective:
- Prepare – Do some homework on the individual you’re meeting with and the company. It’s not enough to just throw out facts about the company or industry. With the advent of social selling you’ve got to know your buyer – the human behind the decision.
- Ask good questions – Dump the “what keeps you up at night” question. So boring. So predictable. Kind of shallow. A rookie question. Have a hypothesis of what you believe keeps them up and night and throw it on the table. Of course that requires having completed Step 1 above.
- Know what’s going on in the world – Don’t take a political stance, but know what’s happening in the world, the markets, etc. Election year impacts, the Brexit issue, the Middle East conflicts, the Puerto Rican debt default. People enjoy spending time with people who have a bit of depth. You don’t need to be Alan Greenspan, Warren Buffet, or Seth Godin, but you do need to have ideas and opinions beyond your company’s.
- Manage your time – Arrive early. If you’re on time you’re late. I get tired of hearing how bad traffic was. Sales people today, especially in bigger cities think they can use traffic in Seattle, LA, NY, Boston, Atlanta, etc., as an excuse and people will just understand. If you want to be like every other sales person walking in the office than great. You will be – just like every other. You want to be different? Give yourself extra time.
One final extra tip. Please show up with some energy. No, you don’t have to drink 17 Red Bulls before you walk in the door. Likewise you don’t want to be Eeyore either. Find the balance between excitement and control. Do all of these together and you’ll run an awesome meeting.
A word or two on sales coverage models
In a recent conversation with a CEO of a large service organization I was asked which sales model I believed was most effective in generating improved sales results. A popular question these days. Everyone who is responsible for generating revenue has asked this question at least once. The answer however, lies with your buyer.
In a vacuum there is no one single, silver bullet to drive sales results. The most popular sales coverage models include:
- Generalists – sell everything
- Specialists – sell usually one, perhaps two products
- Verticals – sell to specific industries; professional services, restaurants, manufacturing, etc
- Revenue – sell by revenue size of client; SMB, mid-market, enterprise
- Employee size – sell by number of employees; payroll companies often use this coverage model
- Account-based – assigned specific accounts/companies to sell or cross-sell
In addition to this mix of options, a head of sales must consider whether a field sales organization or inside sales team is most effective. Again, the decision here should be informed by the company’s buyer’s journey. Many products and services once believed could only be sold via an in-person interaction are now sold over the phone. Taking this a step further, we also know – thanks to Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Intuit, and others – that self-fulfillment is not just possible, but preferred by many consumers. The ability to do-it-yourself is highly appealing.
Gaining an understanding of how your buyer makes decisions is the first step to determining which model is best for your business. Listen to your buyers and then align a sales process that helps lead the buyer through his or her journey. That’s the answer to which model works best.
To Sell or Not to Sell?
Selling isn’t about winning or losing. It’s not about money, trips, plaques, or prizes. Selling is not an easy job, nor should it be a job to kill time until the “real thing” appears. It’s not a set of activities, calls, presentations, or ratios.
Selling is about helping others. Helping others solve problems and improving lives in the process. Simply put, to sell is to make something, or someone better. If what you’re offering for sale doesn’t provide some improvement over the status quo you have no sale. The key is to understand your buyer well enough to know exactly how your product or service will improve their life or business.
People know when they’re being sold. They also know when they feel they’ve been helped. Seek first to understand before being understood is a good way to approach helping others. Set out to help others and the sales will follow.
Reverse Prospecting: Your Buyer’s Looking For You
Understanding your buyer’s journey is the first step to delivering explosive growth results. The age of the buyer has arrived and the seller no longer is in control. Buyers today are prospecting more than sales people. How? By scouring the internet and leveraging social channels to learn and make decisions. In fact, if you’re the seller, you’ve become the passenger on this purchasing trip. So make yourself comfortable, stay observant, and most of all have fun on the trip.
Your buyers know more about what they need than ever before. There was a time (and it goes further and further back each day) when the buyer had to rely on a sales person to identify his problem and present a solution…the seller’s solution. Not any more. Have a runny nose and sore lower back? A quick trip to the website WebMD can provide you with information on what may be going on with you. You need to put in a new garbage disposal? There are hundreds of how-to videos on YouTube that provide step-by-step instructions that take a job that previously required a plumber and turned it into a DIY project.
We have all become addicted to information. In fact, more than 80% of 18 – 44 year olds say the first thing they do in the morning, immediately after opening their eyes, is to check their phones. Information. We want lots of it, all the time.
Buyers have this access to information and are using it more and more. They Google, Facebook, YouTube, Tweet, and ask their LinkedIn groups for information, recommendations, and ideas. If you’re a seller without a social selling strategy you’re already trailing the pack. And if you think your product or service is too complex to promote via social channels think again. General Electric has hundreds of videos on YouTube on MRI equipment, jet turbines, and lighting. Toll Brothers, a national builder of custom homes, provides a website that allows someone to design and build their dream home and see it! Buyers are not just using the internet to shop for shoes, sweaters, or books.
Having a social presence isn’t enough. You can’t set up a Facebook or LinkedIn page and check off the box and say its done. You have to be active…engaged. You have to create content, share content, weigh in on content others have shared. This is where your buyers are looking for you. Your paradigm must shift. Buyers are now conducting a form of reverse prospecting. They’re looking for you…you just don’t know it. So if you’re a seller, and you’re not visible in the areas your buyers are looking for you, you simply won’t be found.
So get started. Take it slow. Don’t try to boil the ocean in a day. A retweet here, a LinkedIn post there, a blog here, are all activities to get you on the road to being found by your buyer.
Be a Tour Guide Instead of a Sales Person
In 2015 I took my first trip to Yellowstone National Park. To be honest it wasn’t my first choice, but it was solidly in my dad’s bucket list and so we made it a “guys” trip. Three generations of DeRosa’s (father, son, grandson) traveling to where the buffalo roam, to see exploding geysers, breath-taking views, and to take in the simple beauty of the land.
Of course, the sales and marketing geek inside of me looks for every opportunity to observe, study, and ponder how each experience plays into how people make buying decisions. Yes, even at Yellowstone I was on the prowl for insights into how sales people can better connect with the buyers journey. Our Yellowstone tour guide unknowingly provided a powerful example in navigating the changing scenery of the buyers journey. But first a little context…
If you’re in Sales, or any position charged with hitting a revenue number, you’ve got to sell. You need to find buyers, and you need to sell them. Sell them as much as you can, as quickly as you can, to reach your number, celebrate briefly and move on to the next. Right?
Buyers have become increasingly sophisticated whether buying a pair of shoes, or selecting a payroll provider, or choosing Tom Ford over Hugo Boss. If you think selling hard, and selling fast is your best chance of success you may want to consider a different career. Today’s buyer wants to be courted. They want to feel special. They want to feel important. They want to believe the option they have chosen is the best option for their need. Notice I didn’t say the buyer wants to have confidence in the solution you sold them. No. They are not to be sold. They are doing the buyer. They want you to be their tour guide.
I watched as Kylie, our tour guide welcomed us to a small group tour setting out to see Yellowstone in all its majesty. Her welcome was warm and genuine. She was quick to point out the creature comforts we probably would need for this journey. Blankets, water, soft drinks, snacks, distance between rest stops. She had anticipated our questions and addressed them before they were asked.
As we started our journey from the Grand Teton’s into Yellowstone, Kylie provided a history of both parks in a way that only a master-storyteller could do. Her story was highly engaging, edge of your seat, filled with suspense. She educated us on the wildlife ecosystem and how everything was interconnected. I’m embarrassed to say I probably learned everything I know about biology and the circle of life from this tour. Up to this point in my life I hadn’t taken time to think about how life and nature were interconnected. She led us on this journey of enlightenment through her personal passion for the landscape and wildlife within these two parks. It was amazing. In fact, so much so, that we embarked on a second tour a couple of days later with a different focus, in a different part of the park.
I’ve often thought about my experience on this Yellowstone tour. I’ve thought about how I was educated in a way that allowed me to fully grasp the concept of a wildlife ecosystem. I think about how my interests in conservation have since grown as a direct result of this new knowledge. I ponder the impact personal passion has on the transfer of knowledge. I do believe that if Kylie simply read a script, or ran through the motions, I would have left Yellowstone feeling quite different…less connected. Her passion created questions of my own. Her stories have become remarkable memories for me, my father, and my son.
As a revenue leader it is important to have a true passion for what you do. It’s not enough to be a VP of Sales. Kylie could have been a tour operator for a double-decker bus in Manhattan, but it wouldn’t have served her passion. You’ve got to have passion for what it is you’re selling. What is the ultimate purpose for what you do, what your product does, what improvement it makes in the buyers life. Too many people are occupying positions for a paycheck, not really believing in what it is they are selling. We’ve all done it. The problem is, your buyers can spot a scripted seller miles away and today they vote with their shoes by either walking toward you or walking away.
View yourself as your buyer’s tour guide. Anticipate their questions and provide answers before they ask. Make the journey as comfortable as possible. Be warm, be kind, be generous with your time. Study and learn…I mean really learn about what it is you’re selling. If you can’t get excited or enthused about it find a new product to sell. Your goal is to help your buyer through this journey at their pace, not yours. Be the best sales tour guide you can be.
Strive For Mastery, Not Perfection
Recently I was having a conversation with a long-time mentor, coach, and friend. I was sharing my thoughts on a new endeavor and happened to mention that I was “trying to perfect” the thing I was working on, before attempting to market it. My mentor stopped me in my tracks and said, “Not perfect. Don’t focus on perfect, you’ll never get there. Focus on mastery. You want to be a master. No one is perfect, nor will anyone ever become perfect. But you can become a master.”
While certainly a profound statement, it wasn’t the first time I had heard this. In fact, I recently went back and re-read one of my favorite books by Seth Godin, Linchpin. For Seth fans, you’ll know that he strongly believes in creating remarkable experiences. In Linchpin he talks about being an artist. Making your work, art…and art by definition isn’t perfect. Some of the most valued art in the world is not “perfect”, instead it was created by a master, and even loved for its flaws.
Mastery is an ongoing journey while perfection suggests you’ve arrived, you’ve made it, you’re done. What lies after perfection? What’s left to learn? What’s left to develop? What’s left to explore? What’s left to invent? The world is a timeless collection of things and events that simply prove perfection isn’t possible. Instead, the world is changing, evolving, reinventing every day, minute, and second.
So with that, I will begin reframe my perspective to focus on mastery rather than perfection. By accepting mastery as my goal versus perfection, it empowers me to accept life’s fact that there’s always something new to learn and invent. Will you join me on the journey to mastery?