Taking your service to a new & better place

I recently reread the book Moneyball so I could gain better insight into the background
story, the thinking and the performance of the characters in the movie of the same name.

It occurred to me as an “ah-hah!” the concept what good teachers have always known: the
goal is to have the student gain sufficient confidence in their own abilities do their work
proficiently on their own.

This concept works when learning to read, learning states and capitals or memorizing the
Gettysburg Address. In business it might be learning a new software package, a process or a
sales skill.

The focus of this article is on improving sales. One of the most significant challenges in this
economy is to grow top line revenue. For some companies it might be simply to maintain
what they have in terms of revenue.

Telling salespeople “be grateful you have a job,” is easy but doesn’t win hearts or minds. No
one in sales wants to be unsuccessful and show up in the bottom half of the stack rankings.

Barked orders and negative reinforcement have lost almost all impact after five years
of a slow growth economy. Something else is needed. A breakthrough idea or process.
Something that doesn’t cost a lot of money or other resources but yields results.

Salespeople come to work each day to earn “their stuff.” Some salespeople have lost
confidence in their own abilities and in the products and services they are selling. It is role
of the person in charge to facilitate a turnaround. Ultimately, this falls on the shoulders of

the owner.

There are five steps to improving confidence. The first is self knowledge. The salesperson
has to know what his or her strengths and weaknesses are; what works for them in selling
and what doesn’t; what they know and what they need to learn; and what they need to
practice getting better at.

The second is to understand where resources are within the company, so a salesperson can
go to the right place for information and assistance when it is needed.

The third is to learn the entire product line, but to be educated one product/service at
a time. Many salespeople settle for selling the one thing they feel most comfortable
presenting, to the exclusion of the rest. The salesperson is essentially one-dimensional and
leaves opportunities to the competition.

The fourth is to use the “buddy system” to keep motivated, keep learning and to keep doing
making sales calls and following through. Procrastination and lack of accountability can be
avoided by having a buddy to keep the focus tight and movement going forward.

The fifth is to build a personal vision. All too often, salespeople work very hard to get the
immediate order to gain satisfaction and results. Better salespeople work toward the end
game of a vision, which provides determination and focus when things don’t go well.

To provide structure to this process, the manager should hold several meetings. The first is
a quick daily situation meeting where all salespeople present their top three objectives for
the week. Verbalizing objectives in public reinforces deadlines and commitments.

The second meeting is a short weekly one-on-one session when the sales manager meets
with each direct report to reinforce the salesperson’s personal vision, coach as needed,
discussing behaviors and habits to be executed for the goal to be reached.

The third meeting is a monthly training meeting. The first part of the training meeting is
on product knowledge; the second half of the meeting is devoted to “sharpening the sales

There are three months left in 2012, plenty of time to make things happen and to lay the
foundation for a very strong 2013. Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the person at the top
to lead the charge to grow revenue. What are you waiting for?

There is no time like the very precious present.