Meridith Elliott Powell: All right. Welcome to Sales Logic. The show where we dive into the strategies, we talk about the tactics you walk away with real working techniques you can use to build your sales funnel and well sell a little more logically. I’m Meridith Elliott Powell, and I’m here with my cohost.
Mark Hunter: Mark Hunter, the Sales Hunter, and Meridith it’s always great to talk sales with you. What’s on tap for today?
Meridith Elliott Powell: Boy, we had some really good stuff on tap today. You know, as we know, this is the way that the show works, because we always have a topic of discussion, which we’ll talk about in a moment, we always kick the show off with a question that’s right. A question that actually comes from one of our listeners and we end with a lightning round. So you want to hang out to the end cause you, we end up with basically a set of steps that you can put into place immediately. So Mark, if somebody wants to send us a question, what do they need to do?
Mark Hunter: They need to go to saleslogicpodcast.com. That’s our website. You can leave the question there, or you can just throw it out on social media and with #saleslogic, but this is really your opportunity to throw a question out and who knows, we may be answering it next week. The question for today is pertinent to what we were discussing in the pre-show.
For those of you who are lucky to catch us live on Facebook or LinkedIn. That’s another story, but hey, we do hope that you catch up with us live here. The question is, “I love to sell, but I need out of my sales job. My sales manager, that company is really struggling with their approach. It is all about the numbers and the widgets. How do I find a better sales job? One that aligns with my values and how I was taught to sell.” Ouch!
Meridith Elliott Powell: Well, that question remains anonymous. Right. I didn’t want to necessarily include the person, that, that asked that question because I thought maybe this was a little bit anonymous. I loved this question and I really wanted to include it because the way that it was actually asked to me is it was asking for what are some companies that I can recommend going to work for? Well, of course I put Vanilla Soft, our sponsor, right at the top of that list, because I think they’re a phenomenal company, not only with phenomenal leaders, but I answer the question by saying, I don’t think it’s a company that you’re looking for but rather a sales leader that you’re looking for.
Cause you know, I certainly, in my years in corporate, I worked for a company and I worked under people I loved, respected and yes, I flourished. I could be inside the same company and work for another type of leader, but I just didn’t. A few years ago, I wrote an article titled, “What to Do When your Sales Manager Sucks.” Maybe that’s a whole, other podcast for another day, but I think the first thing you’ve got to do is start to really define what you’re looking for in a sales leader. What will make you happy in going to work for somebody?
Mark Hunter: I’ve got a laugh with that comment about sales leaders who suck. I mean, because I want to hear it. I want to read that – send that article to me! You know, it is interesting to note that it is the person you should go to, because culture starts at the top. I see this in sporting organizations.
Yes. You take your cues from your sales manager, you take your cues from your sales boss, but it’s amazing how the culture of the company does shape dramatically. Sure, I can thrive with a sales leader that’s very positive, but if the company’s ethics and values don’t line up somewhere along the line, things will break down. I think people are looking more than ever for that. I think there are three words that really come out right now, or measurements actually: transparency, values, and integrity. If those three measures don’t scream out at you, and you can’t see them quickly, you don’t want to go you don’t want to go to work at that company. Stay away from them.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Look around at other sales professionals and notice the ones that you think are happy and speak highly of their company and their work. Reach out to them and find out what’s really working in their position and why. Also, ask about opportunities with their company. The best way to find a really good sales job is to work with salespeople who are really happy in their position. I always like to choose. I go to people first and the company second. I identify the people who are happy in their roles and reach out to them.
Mark Hunter: You can tell a lot by just talking with some of their customers and who are their types of customers. Again, let me remind everyone that integrity-filled companies deal with integrity-filled customers. If you see a company that is dancing with, you know, the dark side, they’re going to be on the dark side too.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, I think that’s really good advice to look at. Once in my life, I was looking for a new sales job when I was fairly young. I didn’t have a lot of experience; I got recruited because somebody felt I was very outgoing and recruited me into a sales position. I was new to sales. When I got in there, everybody was really gung ho about what they were doing and what they were selling; however, it was a very competitive environment.
The goal was to beat all the other salespeople on your team. They didn’t have any need for outside competition because they were too busy trying to defeat one another. They were selling a product that, in my opinion, I didn’t really feel like we were being completely truthful about.
Everything about that company lined up from checking the boxes, but when it came to values and what I needed in terms of support, it was not a good fit for me. I like competition on the outside of the company, and little competition with my teammates. If I’m killing my goal, I like to be held accountable to try to help my other sales reps get where they need to get. Finally, full transparency on products and services is really important to me.
It isn’t a right or wrong. I think Mark’s making such a great point. You’ve got to figure out your personal values and how you like to sell, and then go find a sales team and a company that aligns with those values. Because those people who were there before me were toning it in, and they were really doing great. It was just not an atmosphere where I could make it.
Mark Hunter: And remember, it’s not as much about what you sell. This may sound weird, but it’s why you sell – it’s all about the outcome you’re creating in the customer. That’s really what we’re selling. We’re selling outcomes. That’s what you need to focus in on.
Why don’t we jump into the topic because again, the topic lends itself to the question and the topic is what makes a great sales leader. What makes a great sales company? Jump in.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I think there’s a lot and I’m feeling we just bounce back and forth here.
Number one in a sales leader is that they are far more interested in their team succeeding then their own success. One of the challenges that we’ve all seen with sales leaders is that just because somebody is a really good salesperson, they get promoted to sales leader, and they’re really more of an individualist than a people developer. I think a really good sales leader focuses more on developing others than they do on their on their own personal sales and success.
Mark Hunter: Well, that really comes out, cause you can see how they handle and how they respond to other people that they lead. The salesperson to sales leader, who loves to step in and close the sale at the end loves to be the fire chief who comes on the scene. They’re a sales leader who wants to be involved in every single decision going on.
That is, without a doubt, the kind of person you want to avoid. It’s the sales leader, who you look at the sales team and you go, wow, there’s some impressive people in terms of how they handle themselves, their customers, and how they work themselves through situations. A sales leader’s results are not measured by what they do. They are measured by their salespeople’s results.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. I also think that a really great sales leader really understands that he or she needs to treat their sales team differently. There might be newer or underperforming sales reps that you need to micromanage a little bit. You really do need to get in and hold their hand and work with them one-on-one. Your high performing reps, on the other hand, don’t need those same rules or regulations. Going to work for somebody who really understands that everybody on the team has different needs at different times and is able to easily transition. Sales leaders get directives from the top and a really good sales leader is able well to communicate their directives. They figure out how to apply them in a unique and motivating way to everybody who reports to them.
Mark Hunter: That brings up an interesting point. Now, I go back to Lou Holtz. He was a coach football coach for a number of years, and he was asked one time, how do you lead? How do you motivate 150 football players on your team?
I was going to say salespeople. How do you motivate? How do you lead 150 football players on your team? He said 150 different ways. Why? Because a good leader knows that there has to be adjustments with each person, yet be able to navigate those in such a way that it doesn’t become detrimental of other people.
That’s where I really come unglued. When organizations say we’re going to have this uniform policy with no deviations or changes, that tells me it’s weak leadership because they don’t know how to lead their organization.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, consistency is definitely a good thing. And I think companies need more consistency, but I also think that, having that flexibility to really understand and intimately understand your routes.
This leads us to another piece in that a sales leader with the kahunas and the courage to hold people accountable to who understands the difference between a skill issue and a discipline issue. They’ve laid out the accountability strong enough there, and they check in to see if you’re doing and hitting your numbers. However, they are as focused on the behaviors that you’re doing as they’re focused on the numbers, because if you’re doing the behaviors and not hitting your numbers, you have a skill issue. If you’re not doing the behaviors and not hitting your numbers, you have a discipline issue.
If you have a discipline issue, the sales leader needs to have enough courage to get you off the payroll. If you recognize the skill issue, you’ve got to be a good coach and go in and help people.
Mark Hunter: Yeah, something that I see in weak sales leaders or sales managers is spending all their time with lower level people, because that’s the only type of people they’re comfortable with. You can actually tell how much a sales leader is respected in the organization by the high achievers.
Do those top 10% people let the sales leader help them or do they try to ignore them? It tells you why, because the strong sales leader is very comfortable helping that upper performer get to even a higher level. I look at a sales leader and I can tell immediately where they’re spending their time. That tells me where they feel confident or shall I say, where they really need to exit – stage right.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah, let’s talk about that. What about good, great sales companies? I think about companies that I’ve gone to work for that I’ve really flourished in as a salesperson. It’s where they have made sales a strategic priority. It’s not something that’s outsourced to the lead salesperson. It’s really embodied by the CEO. It is something that not only the CEO talks about but the CEO does.
I remember working for this company where our president would come out on occasion, and this was a massive company, but he would show up in our area. At that time I was nothing but a pee on. He would say, “Meridith how are things going?” And I’d say, well, I’m doing really well with these accounts. I’m struggling with this one account. He’d say let’s pick up the phone. Let’s call him – maybe a call from the president would put that one over the edge. Then, we would go right into his office, pick up the phone, and he would call my client.
The very fact that he demonstrated sales at that level, showed me how important sales was. I think really great sales companies are when executive leadership team comes right there in the trenches alongside you.
Mark Hunter: Without a doubt, I had both examples.
I was with a company for a number of years where the CEO and the president, all of the top leadership, were out there with customers. It was a very sales oriented company. I was with another company for a while where the CEO was really afraid of customers. Absolutely afraid of customers, so they would not go to any kind of industry or even industry event.
It was amazing, because the entire culture of the organization reflected that. I found that if sales is not invited to the senior leadership table, their opinions will never count. When their opinion doesn’t count, it’s amazing how quickly salespeople shut down. You can identify which companies are sales oriented pretty quickly by looking at their C-suite.
Also, look at their senior officers. Go out online and take a look. What experiences have they had out there? And your level officers that have come from sales come up out of sales. Maybe not with that company, maybe with some other company. Again, those are really strong leading indicators of the organization.
I want to go to work for a company that’s willing to invest in me. Are they willing to invest in you? How many times have you seen a company, especially in small companies, hire a salesperson and then think the box is checked.
It’s like they think once they hire the salesperson, everything will be good. Then, within a few months, the salesperson quits because they are lost.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. They’re not given the tools that they need in order to be successful. One last thing I’ll throw out there before we get into the lightning round is the difference between companies who understood the sales process and companies who don’t.
Meaning, when our directives don’t understand that they are constantly changing, they would give us products and services to sell. Then they would pull some products and services back and say no sell products and services as if all we were selling was widgets. And not really understanding that what we needed was a suite of products and services. Certainly, we understood that they’re trying to manage to a balance sheet and a profit statement, and so they try to elevate some things that they wanted. But they don’t understand that what we’re really selling is relationships. If we’re selling a product one month and then that product disappears the next month, it’s not easy to keep the sales process going.
If people really miss how much the C-suite needs to intimately understand sales and what it’s like to be on a sales call, to engage with your customers. And when you, so when you’re having that interview to be asking those types of questions, they get to feel out not only who you’re going to be working for as a sales leader, but who you’re going to be working for as a sales company.
Mark Hunter: Which takes us to the lightning round, and this is a great lightning rush. I can pull it up here. It’s all about what I look for when seeking the perfect sales job.
Meridith Elliott Powell: That the sales team is happy and productive and consistently working as a team to hit their goals, not one or two salespeople.
Mark Hunter: Is the company willing to invest in you? This starts with the compensation package. If it’s all commission, that means they don’t have any investment in you at all. Those of you who are new people coming out of college, you want to go to work for a company that has a high base pay, because they’re willing to invest in you.
Meridith Elliott Powell: I would say clear directives, not only what is expected of you, but have they told you what the bullseye is, who the ideal customer is, what products they’re showcasing and why they’re showcasing those products, and have they made it clear what the sales process is?
If they do not have a defined sales process, run from that company.
Mark Hunter: I’ll add to that the onboarding process and the follow-up training – is it all product training or is it skills development? If they’re not willing to provide you with skills development, not just in the onboarding process, but ongoing to keep your skills sharp – run far from that company.
Meridith Elliott Powell: You want to spend some time interviewing the sales leader. You think that the sales leader is interviewing you, but find out what they do day in and day out. If they see part of their job as developing and investing in their sales team.
Mark Hunter: I say, look at where salespeople go when they leave that company – do they move on to bigger and better positions? If they do, that means they were trained well. That means they were developed well. That means they’ve been having a level of success. If you see people stagnating there or wind up going just to a lower level company, then it’s not a sales focused sales development / sales leader company.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Yeah. Look at the retention rate of salespeople. I don’t want salespeople who have been there 25 or 30 years. And I don’t want salespeople there the average number of years, or people on the team less than two. You’re looking for some good tenure, but not so baked that people are stuck in their ways.
Mark Hunter: I’m going to add one more, then we will close it back, because you brought up a good one and that is poaching. Our companies trying to poach their salespeople because if they’re trying to be poached, that means they must be good. Other people must think they’re right.
With that, remember again that we talked about submitting your questions to saleslogicpodcast.com. Send them in, and we’d love to answer it.
Hey, thank you for listening to Sales Logic this week. If you like what you hear, subscribe, rate, and review the show on your favorite podcast app. If something we have said has earned you a single dollar, consider telling a friend about our show. It’s how we grow to help you grow. I’m Mark Hunter
Meridith Elliott Powell: and I’m Meridith Elliott Powell
Mark Hunter: remember when you sell with confidence and integrity.
Meridith Elliott Powell: Uncertainty suddenly becomes your competitive advantage
Mark Hunter: and the sale becomes a logical.
Meridith Elliott Powell: We’ll see you next week.
Copyright 2020, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.