The Coach's Corner

Sales Management 11.0

August 12th, 2020 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If you’re looking for practical, actionable ideas to help your sales team land new clients/customers, I would highly recommend Sales Management Simplified by Mike Weinberg. On a scale of 1 to 10, this book is an 11. To be clear, this is about “new” clients/customers, not cross-serving existing relationships. I found Weinberg’s stories to be very relevant, and he describes situations I frequently observe with my clients. He divides his book into two sections: Part One – Blunt Truth from the Front Lines, and Part Two – Practical Help and a Simple Framework to Get Exceptional Results. In this post, I’ll present Part One. The blog could be used as a checklist for you or your sales manager.

Part One – Blunt Truth

  1. Today, sales managers are often distracted by trying to appease their overly involved private equity group (PEG) owners. (Editorial comment: The CEOs and sales managers of my PEG-owned clients spend endless hours estimating and re-estimating the projected annual EBITDA.)
  2. Playing CRM “desk jockey” doesn’t equate to sales leadership. (Editorial comment: I had a CEO client whose parent company required my client to have the general ledger agree/match the salesforce.com records. I’m not kidding!)
  3. Top sales producers tend to exhibit a characteristic Weinberg would describe as being selfishly productive. (Editorial comment: This is a tricky one, but the point is the best “hunters” know how to spend their time.)
  4. The player-coach sales manager role can create mistrust and bad feelings. If a small company can’t afford a full-time sales manager, Weinberg recommends that the owner, president, or another key senior executive serve as a part-time sales manager.
  5. If there’s anything guaranteed to deflate the heart of a salesperson, it’s when the sales manager steals the glory and limelight. Often, the sales manager’s competitive nature and strong desire to solve all problems gets in the way of doing their primary job: leading the sales team.
  6. Hunting for new business involves risk, conflict, and rejection. Think carefully before putting account managers, sales support, or sales engineers in new business development sales roles. (Editorial comment: Based on my observations of hundreds of companies, most sales professionals are not hunters, but many of them are in hunter roles.)
  7. The leader who is constantly preaching about holding people accountable for results and doesn’t follow through does more damage than if he hadn’t said anything in the first place. Sales. Is. About. Results. Period. Salespeople aren’t paid to do work, or to be busy. Their job is to drive revenue — specifically, new revenue.
  8. Weinberg would argue strenuously that keeping your lowest sales producers around does cost you, even if you’re not shelling out commission dollars.
  9. In his work providing new business development advice to companies, Weinberg observes many counterproductive sales compensation plans. He would also say there’s nowhere near enough difference between what the very top and the very bottom performers earn.
  10. Weinberg says other team members tend to be more jealous or unappreciative of those in sales than in other roles. (Editorial comment: I’ve observed where hunters are expected to complete too much paperwork. Often, they don’t have the time or the aptitude, which creates tension with the operations, service, and accounting departments.)
  11. Sales managers are working less in the field and not developing their team. The best mentoring happens out in the field, where they join their salesperson on trips to see the prospective client/customer. They can coach and prepare them before the sales call and, following the meeting, they can discuss what went well and where they could improve. (Editorial comment: I can still remember sitting in my mentor, Ken Kunkel’s, car before and after sales calls. He would always ask me what I thought. Then he would ask me if I noticed the prospect’s reactions to certain comments. He would explain why he went in a particular direction after the client had provided some facts.)
  12. Poor salespeople talk too much and listen way too little. Discover the customer’s real issues before making a presentation — always. Poor salespeople give off the vibe that they’re there to “pitch at” the prospect.

 

I’ll end Part One there. On pages 100-101, Weinberg summarizes 21 common causes for sales teams’ underperformance. Hopefully I hit a hot button or two. In the next post, I’ll summarize Part Two, which offers some practical advice for the issues identified above.

Forgiveness

July 27th, 2020 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I’m stepping way out of my area of expertise, but one of the more common issues I observe is lack of forgiveness. I’ve found a really simple, practical summary of forgiveness and how to deal with it from a Mayo Clinic article entitled “Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness.” The following are excerpts from the article, without any editorial comments:

Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a parent constantly criticized you growing up, a colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. 

These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance.

But if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might:

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might:

  • Recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life
  • Identify what needs healing and who needs to be forgiven and for what
  • Consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor
  • Acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how they affect your behavior, and work to release them
  • Choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?

If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always the case, however.

Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn’t.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly.

If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses.

Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

Emotional Intelligence

July 13th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

As I advise clients with regard to their teams, we often end up talking about a particular team member’s emotional intelligence (EI), or lack thereof. You’ve probably experienced someone who is referred to by their colleagues as a “Bull in a China Shop”; and that’s who my clients frequently want to discuss. In looking through more than 200 blog posts, I discovered I’ve never written about EI. I still remember reading Daniel Goleman’s groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence, in 1995. Although the term emotional intelligence was introduced in the 1960s, it really gained popularity with Goleman’s book. My recollection is that it was truly a WOW idea, but Goleman didn’t provide any practical tools for utilizing the concept. Since then, several consulting firms have created practical, easy-to-use tools that business owners without a psychology degree can implement in their companies.

The book/tool I use with my clients is Emotional Intelligence 2.0, written by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves. When you purchase the book, you receive one online assessment code. I suggest to my clients that they first take the assessment and then refer to the book, which is structured a lot like the owner’s manual for your vehicle.

There are four skills that make up emotional intelligence: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management. The assessment report provides a numerical score from 1 to 100, with a subjective evaluation for each of the four skills, and suggests what you should focus on.

Let’s assume your area for development is Social Awareness. You go to the “owners manual” (the book), and look up Social Awareness. It provides an executive summary of what that means, a list of strategies for improving your social awareness, and a brief write-up on each strategy. I’m currently working with a client who completed the assessment and shared the results with me. The assessment suggested development in one area, so we selected three strategics from the book and the client is now incorporating these suggestions into their daily life.

Let me give you an example from my own life. Over the years, I’ve received developmental feedback telling me that, at times, I can be very intense and direct with my communication style. If you’re my partner, Barbara, or Uncle Dan, you just tell me to “lighten up,” but others may be taken back or offended. So when I’m in a situation where my directness may manifest itself and I’m working with others who may not know me well, I try to be aware, attempt to tone down my natural tendency, and watch people’s reactions — and sometimes I need to apologize or explain my intensity. This strategy seems to be working.

If you’ve never taken an EI assessment, I would strongly recommend that you do. Then, if you have a team member who could use some help, it’s very powerful to share your assessment with them first, and then ask them to complete an assessment and share it with you.

Do You Know Your Calling?

June 22nd, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Many of you know that my most common response to the greeting “How are you doing?” is “Living the dream!” There are several reasons I feel that way, but one would be that I’m living out my “calling.” Some people might think that’s a religious term, but to me it’s the best way to describe operating in the space you were designed for. Sadly, it has taken me decades to really understand this concept.

When I completed Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut assessment, it labeled me as a “Performance Coach” and offered the following words to describe what that means:

“People who come to you for advice will not only get forthright, practical guidance, they will also get a system to track their progress. You love to keep score. And while this logical, disciplined approach creates security and certainty with others, you temper it with a heartfelt belief in them and what they can achieve. Your goal is to create self-reliance in others. You don’t want them to have to keep coming to you. And then you stand proudly on the sidelines and watch them deliver.”

If you’re a regular reader, you know I prefer the word “advisor” over “coach.” I explained my reasons for that preference in my July 2016 post. That being said, I’ll accept being a “performance coach.”

So I guess my “what” or “why” is advising/coaching, and my “where” is business — and in recent years, I’ve realized how much I love this role. As a former athlete, I assume I enjoy the competitiveness of business and, as Buckingham would say, “I love to keep score.”

Back to “Living the dream.” Advising my clients isn’t work; it’s who I am. One of my favorite authors, Matthew Kelly, would say that when I’m advising, I’m the “best version of myself.”

In addition to working with my clients, I mentor both a young man who lives at a children’s home and a felon who’s spent most of his life in prison. A few weeks ago I was talking to a longtime friend who asked about the mentoring. During our conversation, he said, “Well, that makes total sense.” To which I said, “What?” He replied, “You’re coaching.”

Now you know a little more about me — but how about you? Do you know your unique calling?

Discover what it is, engage, and join me in “Living the dream!”

COVID-19 Contingency Ideas

April 6th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I promised I would share COVID-19 survival tips I received from subscribers. One of my observations from this crisis is that, unlike the Great Recession, some companies are thriving (i.e., those that provide essential services), while others are closed (i.e., no revenue). So although the following suggestions may or may not apply to your business, I hope you get at least one or two good thoughts.

The authors haven’t been identified, but their ideas are verbatim (i.e., in other words, I pretty much left what you sent to me intact.) As it turns out, the list includes cost-reduction ideas plus many other items to consider during these unusual times.

  1. Two items came up immediately from a professional services standpoint. One can have a long-term cost benefit and the other pertains to staff development. The first is the forced efficiencies of Zoom meetings! While clunky in the first stages, as those who work from home adjust, we’re seeing quick improvements. Another idea is the power of delegation. When things need to happen fast, allowing colleagues to step up and take ownership with the proper amount of authority is providing huge personal growth and allowing leaders to continue to lead.
  2. Remote work presents unique obstacles for teams and projects. For some helpful tools, go to Project Manager.com and check out Coronavirus: Work From Home Software & Tips.
  3. This may be the time to deal with underperformers.
  4. As your team works remotely, identify normal recurring expenses that could be reduced, like office space.
  5. Can you or should you draw down on your line of credit, like Ford and GM have?
  6. Consider reducing or canceling noncritical outside services and have your employees perform them.
  7. Renegotiate communications services (i.e. phone and internet).
  8. Consider a temporary layoff of salaried staff, including engineers (for two to three weeks).
  9. Reduce the workweek to 32 hours, with a 20 percent reduction in salaries
  10. Eliminate 401k matches.
  11. Renegotiate building leases before they expire.
  12. Terminate leases of unused or partially used facilities.
  13. Consolidate the use of facilities.
  14. Negotiate to stop monthly lease payments on hi-lo equipment or other rental equipment that’s not being used until it’s needed again (i.e., pay when you use it).
  15. Conduct virtual happy hours with your team to save travel time and costs.
  16. Reduce compensation now and repay when the crisis is over.
  17. Is this the time to do a reset? Make some long-overdue changes.
  18. Institute face-to-face meetings via the computer and Zoom.com.  This was an application we had used in the past, but it has quickly become a daily part of our world.
  19. We reviewed our current client base and the receivables for each. We went through and “rated” clients based on our knowledge as to which would continue/shut down due to the crisis, or which might cut back services or increase services.  We also discussed and set credit limits for each client.
  20. We instituted a significant increase in our rates for new work.
  21. This week we added the caveat that all new work must pay one week in advance, and we’ll continue that practice moving forward.  We have become very selective with new work, for fears of getting the necessary manpower.
  22. This crisis will someday end and we need to make sure we come out on the other side with positive feelings from our current clients.
  23. We looked at all our support positions and have put “check points” in place to stay proactive with layoffs.  At this point we haven’t laid anyone off, but we will continue to monitor.
  24. We moved/converted our hiring and employee orientation during this crisis, to be done online.  Interviews are conducted via an HR software package and orientations are completed via Zoom and other media.
  25. We implemented an attestation questionnaire for entrance to our offices, and are currently taking the temperatures of all employees and visitors prior to entering the secured area of the building.
  26. We’re sending weekly memos to our staff and frontline folks expressing our gratitude for their efforts, along with reiterating CDC standards for controlling the virus. We have also communicated regularly with our clients and kept them informed of our status.
  27. At this point, we have continued to pay our bills as normal; however, that appears to be against the grain. (Editorial comment: I have spoken to this issue before. Being appropriately good to your suppliers pays huge dividends in the long run.)
  28. Being a Michigan resident, the original feel to this was like hunkering down for a blizzard.  The thought was we would all be locked in for a few days, the storm would pass, and we would return to business as usual.  Well, that will not be the case.  This “blizzard” is more like an early return to winter.  We’ll have a whole season ahead of us with many adjustments before we get back to “normal.”
  29. Apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan/grant.
  30. Apply for other loans related to the virus.
  31. Maximize unemployment benefits.
  32. From an insurance standpoint this is a good time to review sales and payroll projections and ask your agent to lower to match projections. Put unused vehicles in storage (comprehensive coverage only) and if you need help with premiums contact your agent, as many carriers will work with you to avoid cancellation and defer payments.

I’m not sure whether I’ll republish the list, but if you have some ideas that aren’t on the list above, please hit “Reply” and send them to me.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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