This and other words of advice for sales professionals.
Rowney Jensen is the VP of Business Development at Leadership Resources, and has decades of experience in the sales industry. We recently had an opportunity to sit down with him and ask him a few questions about sales success, goal setting, and advice for sales professionals.
Q: What’s been the best piece of advice you’ve been given that has impacted your success?
A: The best advice I received early on in my career was something that has obviously helped me as a sales professional, as well as in a number of other roles – never be afraid to ask a question. Make certain you clarify what’s expected of you. Expectations are best managed when you help to set them. That’s why, in the sales industry, it’s key to help clients understand what they should expect – Expect “this” from our service. Expect “this” from our product. If you don’t clarify, it makes it very difficult for both parties to deliver.
Q: When you set sales goals, do you approach this any differently than regular goals?
A: For sales professionals, our goals are set in a couple of different ways. I typically have an individual do a self-evaluation and really identify where they’re been on the track of success. Review the last 12 months, what went well, what didn’t go well, where they need to improve. And then we talk about where they want to go. What aspirations do they have, what skills do they need to add, and obviously, what numbers would they like to achieve. Through encouragement and discussion, we set two goals. The first one is an expectation of an outcome, such as sales numbers or closed accounts. The second goal is a higher-level stretch goal.
Q: How is a stretch goal different?
A: A stretch goal is typically 10 to 15% above what an individual believes they are capable of producing. We all have self-limiting beliefs, and while there are people out there that overestimate, the majority of us underestimate because we’re afraid of failure. To set a stretch goal, you need to consider questions like: What did you accomplish last year? What would you like to accomplish this year? What would it take to get there? This helps frame the stretch goal from a sales perspective. Goals need to be forward facing – they’re not necessarily dollar driven, they might be behavior driven. In order to perform at the current level, maybe you’re making X number of phone calls. A stretch goal will help you increase frequency or success of the behaviors that lead to higher level success.
Q: How does the success chain play into all of this?
A: When you have the repetitive nature of sales – making phone calls, practicing, sitting down and conducting sales interviews – you naturally start to develop the conditioning of doing it properly. Having the right attitude, habit of thought, and behavior, is really important to creating a successful sales career. You start to repeat behaviors that work – asking questions, using up front contracts and other things, and will naturally lead to success. The success chain is a fantastic model to use in building the path to results. We talk about this a lot during the Natural Selling Process.
Q: What if the only thing that needs work is the attitude? Does it really have that much of an effect on sales results?
A: If you or your sales team doesn’t believe in the product, you’ll have a hard time performing the behaviors and actions necessary to get results. This is true as well if your habit of thought is negative about yourself and your skills. Say for example, you aren’t confident with your speaking or presentation skills. Chances are, you repeat that negative mantra to yourself, either consciously or subconsciously. As a result, it impacts your behaviors and ultimately your success in a negative way.
Q: Sales people hold a lot of value since they have direct contact with customers. What is a way a company can harness that value?
A: As a sales professional, you are the direct link to the client and the market – you have an understanding of what the market is asking for, what the competition is doing, and some of the key benefits people/clients are looking for. Sales professionals hold the key to product development and iterations that may lead to profitable ideas within an organization.
Q: What is one way a person could improve their sales skills in the next 10 days?
A: Deliver a live demo online using a webinar service, and record the webinar. This is fairly easy to do. By simply hosting an online demo, or conference call, you’ll discover many nuances that you can, and should work on. Perhaps you’ll hear the filler words that enter the conversation ever few minutes, or an analogy that you’ve used far too many times. Or maybe you’re not pausing to let the prospect process your question before you insert another question into the dialogue. Recording, whether online or in person, and analyzing your behaviors, is an excellent way to improve the presentation part of the sale. Just remember to alert the prospect of the recording. If it is a demo, this is an added bonus as they can download the recording later (or you can use it as part of your follow-up). So in this case, the recording provides even more value. Slight edge improvements in your sales presentations can go a long way and may also improve your cold calling and follow-up communication.Read More
Leadership Resources client, Nathan Stewart, ties together the concepts of goal setting, alignment, delegation, accountability, metric tracking, and balanced lifestyle with his success story:
One of my personal goals through Effective Leadership Development was to eat dinner as a family more often. In the spirit of getting all family members engaged in this process, I placed my oldest son in charge of keeping us accountable. He quickly added “family dinner” to his existing chores chart and tracked it with stickers. He monitored and pointed out if we weren’t quite hitting our targets. This demonstrates how delegating goals and tracking can help engage those under our leadership in the process and help us all reach our goals collectively.Read More
After nearly 10 years of loyal dedication to Leadership Resources and its clients, John Radway believes it now time to step back and enjoy time with Karen and their family. Please join us in thanking John for his impactful time as part of the Leadership Resources team. As John says, “I see this as repurposing my life not retiring.”
John will continue to represent Leadership Resources at Lincoln Chamber of Commerce events and will be ever-present in the community and in our hearts.
Thank you, John!Read More
It’s no secret that people are one of the most valuable assets for a growing organization. That makes employee retention a key concern for executives. After all, individual talents, skills, and time are leveraged by a company to achieve results. Spend any time online and you’ll see business outlets and media sites sharing a number of facts and statistics about hiring and retaining skilled employees:
Company leaders put a lot of effort into the recruitment process. And we hope that our recruitment strategies are just as effective.
But, the truth is – employees have their own personal goals and ambitions, and despite our best efforts, they may choose to pursue outside opportunities. What do you do when this happens?
Oh no! One of my star employees just announced his resignation!
In this situation, the first step is to take a deep breath.
“It’s important to not over-react,” says Patty Marmie, coach and facilitator at Leadership Resources. “If the news came as a surprise, you may experience an ‘amygdala hijack,’ with your reptilian brain jumping in with the first thing that comes to mind. Take a step back and process a bit before you respond.”
As Patty suggests, it’s important to seek the “why” behind the decision. Ask questions to find out why the star is leaving. Whether they are pursuing a higher level of responsibility, tackling new challenges, or seeking a change of pace, you’ll want to know the reasons for their departure. The intent behind these questions is not to convince him or her to stay, but to learn how you can be proactive in keeping employees instead of reacting when they leave.
Keep in mind that not all exits are negative. Even though this person was a star employee, the opening within the company may provide an opportunity for others to step up and demonstrate leadership skills they’ve gained through development and individual coaching.
Should I still invest in my employees? What if those I invest in end up leaving the company as well?
This is where a great sports analogy comes in – the classic case of “playing not to lose” rather than playing to win. Coach Patty Marmie says that it is our responsibility as leaders to develop the people around us. Successful, growing organizations develop their emerging leaders and make a positive impact on the culture. Development of leaders is a win-win for individuals and organizations.
A negative or hesitant attitude toward employee development, based on the fear that they may exit the company one day, is damaging to company culture and individual performance. Perhaps you’ve seen this humorous, yet thought-provoking image that often pops up on social networks:
Instead of letting this fear paralyze the development plan, have a strategic conversation with each individual at your organization to discover his or her strengths, goals, ambitions, and dreams. You may discover that your organization is an excellent five to ten-year stint on the journey to an individual’s ultimate destination. If done correctly, the years they spend with you will generate far more ROI than you initially invested. Plus, the employee will emerge a better leader, with more confidence and willingness to serve as a referral source for future employees and clients.
How do I fill the opening for this star employee’s position?
Two words: Succession plan.
If the employee is truly a star within the organization, there needs to be a strategic process surrounding the promotion or department of this individual. Develop a cross-training program in your organization so success does not depend on a single individual but the team as a whole. Identify strengths and talents within the organization that could easily adapt, move up, or transfer to blossom into a new leader in this area.
A general housekeeping note – make sure there is documentation for all procedures. Check on this regularly. You don’t want a star employee to hold all the processes in her mind, only to take them with her when she goes!Read More
How many of you have experienced the frustration of dealing with one or two-day workshops that provide a lot of great content but you have no idea how to apply it?
Executives, how many of you have experienced the frustration of paying for that and not knowing what you got in return?
Our industry contains a lot of noise that requires emerging leaders and companies to navigate all of these different short-term opportunities and create some solutions that may or may not work.
Since 2003, we’ve been in the business of helping individuals and organizations reach their next level of success. Over the past two years, we extensively studied the industry and examined the practices that made our client partners and individuals highly successful.
What we consistently found through that research was the best organizations and individuals did not stop with their leadership development. They were constantly learning, constantly challenging themselves, constantly growing. Plus, they aligned their leadership development initiatives with the strategic goals of the company.
Here were two specific examples from our research:
- At Cornhusker Bank, President Barry Lockard, and Senior Vice President HR/Talent Development Sherla Post, invested in multiyear development for their front line leaders. These and other key initiatives help them achieve record growth year after year and they were named to Lincoln’s Best Places to Work in 2013 and 2014.
- John Oestreich, Managing Principal Waddell & Reed, Inc. took an aggressive and non-traditional approach to management. He rallied the independent advisors through a strategic plan, created an extreme dream, invested in a series of on-going development and continuous coaching for key leaders. John and his team continue to be among their firm’s leaders year after year in almost all measurable categories.
I’d like to say this is just a Leadership Resources thing, however, we know it is not. When firms invest in their people and make it a long-term cultural process great things happen.
Interested to see how your leadership development practices stack up to the best that we studied? Take one of these simple assessments and get instant feedback:
- Are you investing in leadership development wisely?
- How effective is your succession and development plan?
We look forward to helping you achieve your next level of success in 2015.Read More
At Leadership Resources, we talk a lot about behavior change. Whether clients are looking to create a more cohesive team, or polish the management skills of an emerging leader in their organization, when it comes down to it, they’re seeking behavior change. We are in the business of helping people create new behaviors. The tricky thing about this is that, most of the time, these clients already know what behaviors they need to be doing – opening lines of communication, training and delegating to their team, identifying and monitoring performance metrics, etc. – they just aren’t in the habit of actually doing them on an ongoing basis.
It’s easy to go to a seminar or conference and identify a behavior that we should be doing and it’s easy to go back to the office, motivated after the conference, and do it once or twice. The problem is, after a few days or a week, the initial excitement and motivation we felt at the seminar has worn off. Reality and business pressures have set in and we fall back on the old routine. On top of that, doing something once or twice doesn’t usually create significant and lasting improvements in results, so we haven’t yet seen the results that will motivate us to keep doing the new behavior. In terms of the Success Chain, we haven’t yet been conditioned to change our attitudes and behaviors. As life and business coach, Dr. Danielle Dowling puts it, “Change is a very, very long process. If you start running today it’ll be months before you have those long, lean legs you’re craving.”
The key to creating new behaviors is to maintain them, to repeat them intentionally until they become a habit. This can take some time, in fact, it generally takes somewhere between two and eight months to create a new behavior according to James Clear’s research. This is where ongoing training processes stand up and one time seminars and conferences fall flat. Bringing people into training sessions every week, every other week, every month, keeps them accountable, gives them motivation and a reason to keep repeating these behaviors. Once they begin seeing the results of performing the behavior regularly, their attitudes change, and the behavior becomes the new habit.Read More
From April 14-26 Leadership Resources is participating in collecting shoes for One Day Without Shoes. The event was created by TOMS Shoes and hosted locally by Cornhusker Bank and the Peoples City Mission. The event and shoe drive helps to raise awareness about the need for the shoes here in Lincoln, NE. All the donations that are collected by Leadership Resources will be donated in cooperation with Cornhusker Bank as they partner with the Peoples City Mission who serve those in need.
Leadership Resources President, Boyd Ober said, “We are so thankful to partner with Cornhusker Bank through business endeavors and through community action projects. We believe it is important to raise awareness for the need around the Lincoln area.”
We encourage you to bring new or used shoes and drop them off in the donation barrel located here at our office now until April 26th.Read More
Wednesday, April 16th was a day of celebration for Lincoln’s Best Places to Work. Fifteen organizations were recognized at an awards luncheon at the Cornhusker Marriott for their success as being Lincoln’s Best Places to Work 2014. The Best Places to Work in Lincoln survey was conducted in early 2014. The contest was sponsored by Woods & Aitken LLP, the Lincoln Journal Star, and the Lincoln Human Resource Management Association. Winners were determined based on the results of the employee survey.
Leadership Resources’ Executive Vice President, Dan Sedor attended the event and said, “The leadership of the companies recognized today have made a commitment to the success of their employees and it results in the success of their businesses.”
Leadership Resources congratulates our client winners and finalists: Lincoln Surgical Hospital, Winner – Large Business Category; Assurity Life Insurance Company, Finalist – Large Business Category; Cornhusker Bank, Finalist – Medium Business Category; Five Nines Technology Group, Finalist – Medium Business Category; Waddell & Reed, Finalist – Small Business Category; and Hurrdat Social Media, Finalist – Small Business Category.
For a full list of the winners and finalists, visit http://www.woodsaitken.com/bptw2014awards/.Read More
See the latest edition of Leading News from Leadership Resources. This e-newsletter contains insightful articles on organizational culture, employee engagement, and the first part of a new podcast series on communication.Read More
Lutheran Business Leaders will host a luncheon on September 18, 2013 in Lincoln at Lazlos in the Haymarket about Faith, Work, Life Balance—What does it take to achieve it?
Boyd Ober of Leadership Resources joins Angie Hoffschneider, LI-COR Biosciences and Terry Groth, Concordia University, on a panel of individuals who excel in the area of faith, work and life balance.
This FREE luncheon begins at noon when the panelists will share their tips, tricks and perspectives on how they balance their involvement with church, volunteer and family activities.
To register for this free luncheon, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Your friends and colleagues are welcome. RSVP Today!Read More