Greatest predictor of sales success

One of the greatest predictors of sales success is the number of contacts made with prospective customers or clients.

I discovered this principle years ago – when I noticed that the guys who asked out more girls were most likely to get a date.  Success needs only one “Yes”…irrespective of the number of “Noes” that have gone before.  Who’s counting! I rediscovered this principle during my time at Procter & Gamble, where the greatest sales success came to those of us who had the most frequent contact with our customers.

When testing a theory, my preference is to take it to extremes: if we don’t contact our prospects at all, then there will certainly be no sales.  If we contact them all the time – as long as we have good reason to – then they wouldn’t have a minute to speak to our competitors and buy anywhere else!  Yes, it makes sense.

In Australia, the U.S. and the UK, we spend millions of dollars on sales training every year.  Yet, how much do we encourage, measure and reward the crucial customer facing work done by our sales team; e.g. number of contacts, face to face calls, emails, telephone conversations, meetings with decision makers etc.?  It’s common today for sales teams to get caught up in internal work – projecting, tracking, justifying, persuading budget holders and management – all at the expense of the important customer facing work – building relationships, understanding customer needs, creating joint plans and most importantly, asking for the business. 

Without positive intervention, the internal work can become the excuse for avoiding difficult customer conversations or making that tricky sales call. Before long, we are paying our field sales team to stay home and fill out reports and write internal proposals.

Individual and team coaching can be a very powerful method for identifying the individual barriers and company processes and measures that get in the way of frequent, productive customer contact.  Working with sales people to identify and thwart unhelpful habits and beliefs so they can get on with the job of selling should lead to “Yes” more often from customers and to increased sales.

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Unlocking Potential Energy

Albert Einstein was undoubtedly one of the most influential physicists of our time and a number of his invaluable insights readily translate to the business world.

According to Einstein, “most teachers waste their time by asking questions which are intended to discover what the pupil does not know.”  This is equivalent to the workplace manager who only focuses on the gaps in the knowledge of their staff. Often, these are the same managers who limit their questions to those to which they already know the answer. 

In my experience, employees and co-workers add the most value when we leverage their knowledge and expertise.  It is by building on a person’s strengths that we help them to achieve exceptional performance.  

To quote Einstein, “The true art of questioning has for its purpose to discover what the pupil knows or is capable of knowing.”  By seeking to discover and identify the knowledge and talents within a team, we can unlock potential.  With targeted training, coaching and mentoring to build on and share this capability, we can deliver superior performance.

Einstein’s E=mc2 theory of relativity arose from his realisation that energy and matter are equivalent; i.e. energy can be transformed into matter and vice versa. He proved that the speed of light is the conversion factor showing how the link between energy and matter operates.

I know much more about organisations than I do about physics and I wonder what Einstein would have thought of the following equation:

Effectiveness = motivation x capability2   

My theory of organisational relativity (E=mc2) proposes that effectiveness (at a team or personal level) and motivation are equivalent, at the rate of capability. 

What do I mean by that?  I believe that for an individual or organisation to be fully effective, they have to be motivated (e.g. with a clear and inspirational vision, smart objectives and an appropriate measures and rewards system).  However, motivation alone is not sufficient grounding for effective performance.  Motivation can only be transformed into effective output at the rate of capability, which can be enhanced through a combination of training, coaching and mentoring.  

Food for thought…time to focus on what motivates my team, build capability and convert that into effective energy.

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“thank you” is a competitive advantage

When did life get too complicated for a simple thank you?

A guy who looked to be in his mid-thirties dropped his wallet today outside our local Post Office. I picked it up and handed it back to him.  Unless he was doing a psychological study for 59 seconds (Prof. Richard Wiseman), I can only assume that I did him a favour.  But, I was greeted with a mere grunt that roughly translated as “urrmph”.

Who would have thought that these simple words have become a point of difference and even a competitive advantage for those who use them? 

Only last week, I was training a course at Gloucestershire College, focussing on team motivation.  All the well-researched findings of Herzberg aside, we realised that a sincere and appropriate thank you is a basic requirement for team motivation. No amount of focus on the motivation accelerators (recognition, achievement, satisfying work etc.) will overcome the brakes applied when this common courtesy is lacking.  

In the workplace, a simple “thank you” has been shown to increase staff loyalty, productivity and satisfaction.  Moreover, incivility in the workplace can lead to people leaving, skipping work and even deliberately reducing their work quality and output. Yet over half of employees today say they are either never thanked or thanked just seldomly or occasionally! 

Mahatma Gandhi once said “be the change you want to see in the world.”  It’s contagious.  So, to anyone who’s taken the time to read this post, all that remains is for me to say a genuine and heartfelt thank you!

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