The landscape of sales training has shifted wildly from the days of Zig Zigler. Companies that were once champions of the sales funnel have suffered from advances in the information age. Internet forums and online reviews almost entirely remove the need for salespeople to relay technology in sales training the benefits and features of a product or service to potential customers. In many ways, prospects already know what they’re looking for in a specific product or service, yet they may be completely unaware of how a company combines their offerings within a suite of solutions.
This long-form version of Sage Advice features experts technology in sales training from LinkedIn, Xerox, and Launching Your Success. Listen to engaging discussion on how technology is influencing our sales world – both for better and for worse. Finally, pick up useful strategies to incentivize salespeople to undergo training that may cut into their immediate profits, but that should yield dividends over time.
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Richard Fleming: I want to thank you guys all for joining me. As we’re growing into an information age, techniques for sales and marketing have changed a lot. Can you speak a little bit to the new landscape that we’re seeing in the sales and training development world?
Robyn Sayles: I am noticing a lot of people wanting to be connected. The human interaction, the human experience has become much more prevalent than it used to be. I’m seeing a lot of companies particularly in the banking industry and the finance industry make a shift from service-based as in order takers to service-based as in let me suggest things that you might not have thought of that you needed. People who had tellers behind the walls and customer service people on the phones now have people out in front because if I’m physically coming into your establishment, it’s because I want to talk to a person until we’re seeing much more of a need for conversation and authenticity and human connection, because we’re so connected digitally that I think it makes us disconnected as human beings. And so it’s been a really interesting watching that shift happen in the sales and particularly in sales training, because we’ve got to change the techniques. The old sales techniques don’t work anymore because we want a different level of connection than we’ve had before.
Richard Fleming: Right. This isn’t the Dale Carnegie or the Zig Ziglar kind of mentality. Given that there are 12,000 unique searches per month on sales techniques, what are some additional or modern devices for sales training and actually for helping to facilitate learning through sales? Are there newer tools or is there an evolution of learning that really helps this scenario-based training?
Doug Bushée: Yeah, sure. So one of the things that we found is that customers are changing with the technology as well. And one of our focuses has always been to understand that, understand what the customer wants, then align our sales folks to the client. So we got to stay up with how things are going with the customer. And what we do know is they’re far more well-informed than they were. They actually do a lot of their decisioning on the problem without any help outside. And by the time they even talk to us or they engage some of the vendors that they would be looking at, they’re talking about almost two-thirds way through making a decision. And now, they’re just wanting someone to come in and show them who does the best job of what they’ve already decided is the answer to their problem. So where we focused then is on making sure that we leveraged the technology to get engaged early and practice their behavior in a safe environment so that when they do meet with the customer early that they’re in a better position for them to win the business.
Richard Fleming: Definitely. And honestly, for Xerox, you’ve got most of your stuff online, so they know exactly what model they want, they know the capacity that they need. How does that change the sales process?
Doug Bushée: So that’s a great example. People think Xerox they go online, they look at the product, they look at the model versus where our real growth is. That industry is flat. The only way we’re going to grow that business is to take that business from someone else. And that is a tough road for a lot of our sales folks versus being in a growing industry where everyone’s growing. It’s who can capture the market, that growing market. And so when you talked about going to Xerox and seeing the product, that’s what a customer would think. So they wouldn’t even think to call us to manage competitive products, they wouldn’t even think to call us to secure email documents that are being going from one PC to another, they won’t even think to call Xerox. So when they get to that stage where they start calling folks, they’re not even going to talk to us.
Richard Fleming: Then how do you address what the unique value prop is, like how you often-
Doug Bushée: Oh, there you go. 5 to 10 years ago, they had to work really hard to select their client and find out who the decision maker was and to get a contact number and an email and do that. That’s easy now. We’ve got Hoovers, we’ve got LinkedIn-
Britt Andreatta: The sales navigator?
Doug Bushée: Sales navigator.
Britt Andreatta: Yeah.
Doug Bushée: I can find out who the chief learning officer is for most of the companies that I’m servicing, which is the top 1,500 probably within 30 minutes. And not just who it is, but what their email address is, who they know that I know. That’s not the problem. The problem is everyone can find them. So now those decision makers are overwhelmed with emails and webinar invites and white paper downloads and all of that and it just gets all deleted out. So now, we don’t have to train our folks so much on finding folks, it’s that first impression. And now, it’s the human component of that first impression. So that’s where I’d say our sales techniques is we’ve had to shift which area we’re trying to help them focus on.
Robyn Sayles: I used to get brought in to teach people how to get past the gatekeeper. And now, I get brought in to teach people how to work with the gatekeeper.
Doug Bushée: And then the companies aren’t going to have gatekeepers. Like oftentimes they don’t even have those folks anymore. It goes straight to a corporate voicemail system. It’s all automated. So you’re right. Those are different techniques.
Robyn Sayles: Absolutely, because it used to be a struggle to get to the person you were looking for. Now, everyone has access to that information. So it’s like how do you make those people your friends? How do you develop those relationships so that you’re working through the channels that have been put in place to keep you from getting there?
Richard Fleming: But I also think we’re talking about there’s a completely different etiquette. And so maybe you can speak a little bit more to the LinkedIn. I mean, when it first came out, people just thought it was where you hosted your resume. And I think even today people really don’t understand the power and really what the purpose is of it and how it’s evolved over the years.
Britt Andreatta: Yeah. Well, the LinkedIn it’s really designed to help connect people to opportunity. And LinkedIn now as a company is focused on what we call the economic graph, which is where we’re trying to map the digital economy of the entire world so that we can uplift the digital economy of the world. So what we want is every single working professional to have a profile, we want every company that has jobs to have a company page, we want every job that you could get to have a posting, we want the skills you need to get that job listed, we want you to be able to get to the training and the learning that you need to qualify so that you’re competitive for that job, we want you to be able to share information with other thought leaders in your space and stay connected with professionals.
It’s a really robust platform now and new features are being added all the time. We’re global. We have LinkedIn in different languages. We’re in different countries. We’re the only Western media that’s allowed to operate in China, really great opportunities. And then as a working professional myself, I use it. I was blogging and building followers a little bit at a time when I started posting on LinkedIn and I got to 3,000 right away. People could find me, I could find them. I don’t ever lose my contacts anymore because when they get a new job, I still have it. So it’s definitely created the ability for all of us to work professionally in ways that we didn’t have before. And I think that’s leveled the playing field. And what we’re trying to create is access, people have access to these opportunities, to this information. We also want to provide people with the skills to be successful.
Doug Bushée: There is another great example of a skill that we wouldn’t have even taught 5 to 10 years ago, social selling. And I just was in a meeting last month where we’d done some analytics and of all of the things that we find as a skill for sales, it is the one that has a direct impact with business and with growing the business. The leadership of the company at a time where we’re probably scaling back on other investments is actually increasing investment in social selling because of folks like Joe Rally out there and talking about how you can really connect with folks, but then do it in the right way. So that’s another example of how the landscape has changed.
Richard Fleming: Is there any kind of throwback to some of the older like the foundations of relationship? Like this doesn’t change so much and when we talk about technology being like as storytellers, the mobile phones have really replaced the embers in the fire. So I think that when we’re talking about the Dale Carnegie method or really caring about the people that you’re trying to sell solutions to, how do you use technology to really enhance that experience?
Britt Andreatta: Well, I think as much as technology has changed, human biology has not changed. So we are still very much wired to survive first, belong and connect.
Richard Fleming: [crosstalk 00:08:06].
Britt Andreatta: Yeah, belong and connect is our next real need. And then after that, we want to grow into our best selves or become our best selves, certainly that belonging piece, having human connection. And what’s interesting is you’re right. The more we have immersed ourselves in the digital world, the more we’re hungering for authentic connection. And so what’s nice is I think some of us were a little worried. Like when you see entire groups of people all on their phones and not talking to each other, you’re like, “Ah, I don’t know if this is a good thing.” What we’re seeing is people coming back to that, like they’re getting maxed out on their digital devices. There’s things called digital detox weekends, there’s digital detox summer camp for grownups that they run under the Bay Area. There’s all kinds of ways that we’re looking at, but we still need that connection.
So I think the device can be an avenue for connection, but it doesn’t replace the ability for us to truly connect on a human to human level and care about your values and hear what you have to say and help you solve your problems. So working with your sales team it still comes back to emotional intelligence skills and even more so like because people are overwhelmed and they’re first to say, “Oh, I don’t want this call,” you now have to be able to not be triggered by their triggering of a call and still find a human connection and authentic connection to build that rapport.
Richard Fleming: I’m actually getting more phone calls now, which is funny instead of emails. I think people like that connection. I think you were going to talk about emotional intelligence a little bit.
Robyn Sayles: I was actually going to pick up on the whole phone call thing. So really interesting thing has happened with one particular group that I had the fortune to work with. They do door to door, they walk in, or they call people on the phone and the overwhelm in the email inboxes, in the text messaging and the I ams and all of the ways that we’re getting words put at us, we have trained people to stop answering the phone. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about it. But if I don’t know the number, I don’t answer the phone. And so the people that we’re trying to get to, the thought leaders that we want to engage with, the people that we want to sell to have been trained by their email to not answer the phone. And so this particular sales team found that they were way more effective if they just showed up.
And as counterintuitive as that sounds, if I walk in the door, I’m much more likely to get somebody to talk to somebody than I am over the phone because nobody listens to messages even if you leave them and nobody answers the phone. So you either take a chance that they answer your email or you just show up. And this team saw significant improvement by just walking in the door instead of relying on the digital communication that we’re all flooded with.
Britt Andreatta: I have a pet peeve though because I’ll definitely get the email like, “Hey, can we meet?” And then, “Hey, I sent you an email, just following up on that. Can we meet?” The one that drives me crazy is the person who books an appointment on my calendar. And they just go ahead and get on my calendar. And I’m like, “Wow, okay.” That to me crosses a line like we don’t have that connection. But I don’t know, maybe it’s being trained somewhere, but it doesn’t work for me.
Richard Fleming: Are there other pet peeves that really stand out to you guys that you just love to see go away, sales techniques particularly?
Britt Andreatta: Well, we’re at a conference right now. And as much as I am totally excited to connect with my colleagues, I also know that my business card and my scanned badge has been added to a bunch of things and I’m about to get the flurry of webinars and white papers and all that.
Robyn Sayles: About two weeks.
Britt Andreatta: Yeah, it’s like bum. So having to deal with that is not the same as like me selecting what I want to receive information about.
Richard Fleming: Which is weird because we were talking about being in the information age, like you are informed, you know what you want, why are they challenging that?
Doug Bushée: Well, and I think this is where lead scoring is probably the next move to avoid making customers upset, but also just the cost. If I go after someone that’s not interested, that’s cost. So I want to go after folks who are interested as… I don’t know if you’ve heard of the term of sales funnel. Well, the new funnel, we want it to be more like a silo. In other words, we don’t want to put all these folks in and whittle it down. We want to find the folks that want us and go down. And so through technology like lead scoring, who watched the video? They get 50 points. Who downloaded the white paper? They get 75 points. Who actually attended a webinar? Okay, they hit the 150 point threshold. So now one of our SDRs, not the full blown sales person, but someone who just wants to see, “Hey, can I help you at all? Are there any questions, anything I can help you with?”
Britt Andreatta: We’ve noticed you’re engaging.
Doug Bushée: You noticed you’re engaging, right? But in a very nonthreatening fashion. And then usually it’s at that point because they did all of that. Yes, I would like to have a meeting and then you book it with the one that’s the high performing talent that can actually understand the customer works with a lot of similar customers and that’s a valuable hour for the customer. And of course, then your high performing folks are just doing back to back those hours. So there’s an example for technology is really enabling us to do right by the customer and of course reduce our cost to sales and win more business.
Richard Fleming: There’s one statistic that said that it takes like five points of contact for 80% of the sales. So I’m wondering in terms of… Are you scheduling like the closers to solidify these deals at that point when they’ve reached their 150?
Doug Bushée: I would say we engage those folks after the customer has demonstrated a significant interest, not just download an infographic because they want to use it for a PowerPoint presentations next week, but someone that downloaded [crosstalk 00:13:27] the infographic, right, and attended a webinar, which that’s a big one. That’s time, or listen to the recording, we can tell even if you’ve registered and listen to the recording. And then we’ve given them someone that’s maybe learning the ropes a little bit, but they’re not there to solve the problem, but they just want to help. Think about it as that customer service person to say, “Hey, were you able to download everything okay? Any questions out there?”
Then you go to someone who really understands the business, and they understand the problems that you probably don’t even know you’re having right now because… We talked a little bit earlier about how the customer goes through this process. If you’re engaged earlier, they may not know that video is even available, or they may not know certain technologies even exist. So that person then they’re not closing yet, but they have the ability to then provide that insight and then stick with the customer in a persistent fashion one that helps the customer to then help them solve the problem. So if you can call that a closer, but we actually think that’s even ahead of the before closing, where they’re getting that going.
Britt Andreatta: Well, I was going to say one of the things that I find when I’m working with training and as I’m listening to you talk I realize that there is an arc that’s happening for all of this. So when I work with designing a training, I think about my endpoint, what’s the behavior I want someone to take back into the workforce and be doing. And then I need to build the story arc of what are the aha moments. I figure out where they’re starting from. And then I have to have those moments of insight. And then the specific hands-on behavior change. I want them to practice it in the room, I want to build the neural pathway in a safe space, break some glass so that they can then go and do it.
And a lot of training people talk about the concepts, but they don’t actually do it. And you’ve got to build the doing in, but I talk a lot about story arc and learning. It has to have a beginning, middle and end. And the whole sales process has a beginning, middle, and end too, so you’re figuring out where’s the customer on their story arc with your product, right?
Richard Fleming: Yeah. And the beauty is that’s still cyclical because even when you go into the woods and you get the elixir, you come back and apply that knowledge, and then you’re back to new knowledge. Has the closing process evolved? Are there newer techniques that you use via technology or are there more steps added to the process or tools maybe that make the process simpler to track?
Doug Bushée: We rarely talk about closing techniques?
Richard Fleming: Why is that? That’s why [crosstalk 00:15:51].
Doug Bushée: Well, I think is because when we talk about closing, it’s more about being a good partner, like a project manager and helping the customer because sometimes the customer doesn’t even know how to process, do a PO. Maybe they’re new in the position, or they don’t even know what the decision process is. They know that they want it. Well, have they set budget aside for next year? And so sometimes it’s coaching them on how to get the deal done and doing some of the work for them. Those are maybe what I would call the closing techniques, but really it’s more reducing that cycle time from the time that I engaged them to the time that they actually signed the order.
Britt Andreatta: Yeah. And it’s not even a closed deal anymore because however long the contract is, your customer service and your ability to retain that customer starts immediately. So at least within training solutions when people buy learning solutions, it’s not like, “Boom, they bought it,” we have to show them how to maximize it, how to set it up for success, how to advertise it, how to make sure their employees know where to find it and how to use it. And we can show them best practices. And we have a whole concierge team that will go onsite and help with the whole rollout. And then we continue to engage with them regularly so they continue to get the most value they can out of the product.
If you don’t do that, you leave them to figure it out on their own. Some are power users, some aren’t. But what you don’t want to have is when it’s time for them to think about re-upping the contract, “Ah, nobody used it.” And when you knew it was amazing. So if no one’s using it, it’s because the communication’s not happening. So we oftentimes find ourselves involved with helping the folks who are implementing it on the ground really know how to continue to make the usage work.
Robyn Sayles: I don’t think it’s about closing anymore, I think it’s about starting. I’ve been doing a lot of work with mindset and starting the whole sales process, whether you’re selling yourself and your brand or selling a tangible product, it doesn’t matter what it is. And if you don’t think you sell, you’re wrong, everybody sells. It’s all about how you approach it. The people who get stuck are the people who are uncomfortable with the fact that they’re in a role where they have to sell.
And I’m going to feel that as a consumer or the people who are just looking to check off a box or hit a quota. I’m going to feel that as a consumer. But if you’re coming into it with the mindset of, “What can I do to make you better than you were before I walked in the door? What do I have to offer you that’s going to elevate you to the next level?” My success is dependent upon how successful I can make you. And the people who are really good out there start in that fashion. And then when you start that way, it’s not about closing, it’s just about ironing out the details. It becomes a no-brainer for the client at the end.
Richard Fleming: Well, I’m looking at Amazon’s kind of one-click approach. They want to limit the number of steps people need to take. It’s about ease and convenience, but actually this echoes Doug’s point about having too low of a price tag because then there’s no more value established. And I think everyone, to some extent, deals with price war. Is that just the product of ignorance, or do you spend more time trying to reinform them because they come to the table thinking they understand what your product does, but not really fully the capacity and how awesome it can be?
Britt Andreatta: The relationship is not I have something cool to sell you. The relationship is what problems are you trying to solve? Let me really deeply understand those. And that’s the rapport building part. I’m not selling, I’m truly trying to get into your world to understand you and what your needs are. And then I can make the right connections for how my products can help you do that. So then I’m not just running a sales pitch, now I’m actually bringing authentic communication connections that are tied to your problem. And I honestly think the best sales folks when they don’t really understand the problem, if their product’s not the best match, they say that.
Robyn Sayles: You step out.
Britt Andreatta: You step out.
Richard Fleming: Right. So there’s a blend of sales and marketing in every relationship at this point because you’re giving information. And yes, it’s not necessarily that you’re selling like, “My product is awesome, you should have it,” I think the concern is more when you do understand the challenges of the potential prospect, but they don’t understand how your solution ties into that. So you almost take on a consultancy role. And I think there’s a juggling of how much information do I have to go back and start. When we talk about video, most people they don’t understand half of what goes into it. And so trying to really elicit, “Here’s the solution,” you don’t even handle the rest of that stuff. That’s the sausage being made. Are there some skills we should be focusing more on as salespeople to market and as marketing teams to sell?
Doug Bushée: One of our approach is what is the customer want? So, first of all, there’s a variety of different customers. Some want to do everything internally, some have the resources internal, but there’s probably some point around the value chain that they don’t do it. They outsource, they bring something in. I think the model that we use, for example, is where do we provide the most value to you? For example, there’s some software that we use to monitor all the technology you’ve got across your entire operation. And I’m talking across the United States.
Now, we can sell you that software and you can do your own monitoring, or if you want, we’ll do the monitoring for you so you don’t have the head count. What we’re finding with new businesses oftentimes that first approach gets them in. Then once you’re in, you have to continue to prove value to customers. It used to be you could just recount on a customer renewal, or at least a high percentage of renewal. You have to earn those renewals now. They expect you to keep coming back with new value during the contract, not something new at the end of the contract. So I think that’s our focus when you’re talking about what do you tell your sales folks to do is that we could do this in this kind of stair-step fashion
Robyn Sayles: At an enterprise level, there’s probably less price negotiation, there’s probably less understanding of what I’m getting for my money. Whereas in the small to medium sized business and the SMB space, you’re still dealing with a lot of entrepreneurs, small business owners who the first thing out of their mouth is going to be, “Well, how much is it going to cost me?” And so I think you have to be prepared to pivot that conversation. If you know you’re going to get saddled with price-based questions, how do you pivot that conversation into one of value? “I get that budget is probably really important for you as a small business owner, let me talk about what I have to offer you and then we’ll come back and examine if that price seems right.” Because if I just tell you the price up front, you’re immediately going to think that, “That gets too expensive, I don’t see the value.”
But if I’ve made the connection, if I deeply understand what it is that you need and I introduced to you just a solution that you didn’t even know you were looking for, it’s the same price, but now I have a completely different perspective on it, or at least they should. And so I think it’s not about avoiding the price-based conversations, it’s about pivoting them. And I think it’s also about understanding your audience as well. Somebody was telling me about the whole concept of I can sell you things à la carte off the menu, and you’ll see this on… Especially with like a lot of creative entrepreneurs, you see the pricing scales on their websites. Then here’s a couple more things à la carte, or here’s the prefixed dinner. And we do everything and there are people out there who want that.
But if you don’t tell them that you have that scope, then they don’t know. They may just assume that you do à la carte, or they may just assume that you’re only prefix. And so I think you have to find a way to get comfortable talking about price so that people know whether or not they can afford you and what your scale really is. And I talked to so many people who were so afraid to talk of costs. I don’t know if it’s internal as well. When I was in the corporate space, there was that hesitancy of like, “God, I don’t want to tell the CEO how much this new product or this software is going to cost.” Do you guys feel that still in the corporate space?
Doug Bushée: I don’t know if you recognize what you are doing or not, but you’re right on. There’s a difference between cost and price. And so the cost, anytime a customer says price, you can use your word pivot. It immediately should go to cost because the lowest price solution is oftentimes not the lowest cost solution for a variety of factors. Buy people’s time, reduce the I got to write you a check versus you being able to take a PO and bill me. There’s a lot of different factors there. And so I think when your sales folks can do a good job of understanding all of the costs that are part of a decision, because oftentimes sales folks don’t even understand all of their own value. They focus so much on selling the overall service or the product. They didn’t realize that not everybody does this or not everybody does that. Well, that’s value to the client and it’s a cost if the client has to do it separately.
So I think you make an excellent point on focusing on the cost of it. We talk about value, we talk about benefit over cost. So I can create value by lowering costs. Walmart does it all the time. I’ve got no problem with the vendor that creates value by lowering costs. Now, price cost. I can also create value by improving the benefit. It’s standard math. So I think if your reps understand that equation, that if they can show the true benefit, the benefits that their competitors don’t do, and they can focus on the real costs, hopefully they end up with the larger value with the situation and then they’ve educated their customer along the way.
Britt Andreatta: I work with a lot of professionals in L&D and they’re constantly having to make cases for why a training or a learning will be effective. Let’s say we want to take 100 managers off the floor whatever their job is to come into management training. Well, the decision maker or the CEO might go, “Oh my God, that’s thousands of dollars.” But if you just do the math on disengaged employees, the national average of disengaged employees is 18%. If we took a company of 500 head count and those people made $75,000, 18% and then 34% of that salary it ends up being two and a half million dollars in cost for the damage that disengaged employees do.
Well, are you sure that this 50,000 I want to spend on manager training is like a bad deal because I promised you we can move this number? And that’s not even taking into account if we have less complaints to HR, less potential lawsuits, all kinds of stuff. So I think what we need to do at least in my profession and learning and development I spend a lot of my time helping my peers understand there’s lots of ways to identify the value and the benefit. And it’s not always just how much did this co… the price of this thing, there’s all these things that have costs. And if you can improve a number or move something, it’s the overall value of all of that.
Richard Fleming: We often get people asking me how expensive is a video? And our usual response is how expensive is your problem? And I think trying to solve that and consider if you saved one person’s life or one safety issue or one legal issue and it costs you half a million dollars, which you spend $50,000 to fix that, which you spend $25,000, so it’s flexible, but it also prevents us from having the low hanging fruit, in which case we can’t have a wow experience.
Britt Andreatta: Yeah. Well, and the thing with video too is people just have no idea. I’ll do a lot of screen capture things and build little three-minute somethings and it’s several hours to make a minute and people don’t understand the huge amount of time. So I encourage you all if you don’t understand that, to just go by like a screen capture and just make your own two-minute video and just see how hard it is. Because after a period of time, you realize that your cost per hour in trying to save money by doing it yourself versus the quality that it’s going to output and then it didn’t upload in the right thing so it looks all grainy and crappy, so like now you got crap and you spend a lot of time on it, you want to hire professionals to do certain things.
So I think the danger is any of us who work in that field where people see it all the time. I do this more… My poor husband, he’s an it guy. And I get so frustrated when my technology doesn’t work. And he’s like, “Honey, if you had any idea what goes into making wifi work and have all this stuff,” but I’m like, “But it’s just not working.”
Richard Fleming: It’s Louis C.K., just give it a minute.
Britt Andreatta: Come on, but the stuff that we have access to all the time I think we normally as humans just discount the value because we access it all the time, so it can’t be that hard. We’re so surrounded by video and media that I think we… How hard could it be to make a commercial? I see 1,000 of them a day.
Richard Fleming: We’re great consumers.
Britt Andreatta: Exactly.
Richard Fleming: And terrible producers.
Britt Andreatta: Exactly. And the time it takes to consume is a fraction of what it takes to produce.
Richard Fleming: Well, the point about the professional do it is great. Actually, you may not know this. Obviously, you don’t know this. But I’m a master automotive technician. I’ve had like 150 different jobs and that was one of them. I don’t fix my own car. It’s not worth my time. They’ve got the tools, they do this day in and day out. It’s been a little while since I’ve gone… So I think that’s important. Often it’s difficult to change behavior with seasoned salespeople. They’re making good money, they don’t see the need to increase upselling or learn a new product line. Do you have suggestions for how to change this ingrained behavior?
Doug Bushée: What we’ve migrated from a learning organization is really it’s not about the learning, it’s about performance. And so sales folks want to perform. So, for example, in a situation where you might have a salesperson that’s making great money doing the wrong things in your mind, that can be changed. And there’s actually a model that the biggest impact on people’s performance is external. It’s the tools we give them. If I can tell them that my pricing tool doesn’t work, they’re probably not going to be successful. It’s the objectives I give them, the quote or the plan. If I give them a quota that’s either too big or too small, they’re probably not going to perform. And my definition of performance it’s the money I pay them.
If they’re making plenty of money, which means someone that’s making great money and that’s what they want, or someone that’s making average money and they’re okay making average money, that’s going to impact their performance. What they can control, or we can control, they control their learning. Even though I provide it, are they doing it just to do it? Are they watching a video just because I can monitor that they watched it and how often I can provide an environment? But if they wake up in the morning and aren’t motivated to do it, that’s on them. And they control their talent. Are they really investing in themselves? So I think by having that focus, then we can tweak the levers that we control up top and then enable them to do the things that they can control.
Britt Andreatta: I would add to that when people are resistant to change, oftentimes there’s a psychological barrier that even they’re not aware of. And oftentimes change requires us to let go of a well-groomed, very comfortable habit that we know how to do and we know how to succeed at and now be awkward and new and maybe if screwed up and fail. We don’t like that feeling. And so particularly for sales, where if I have to take half a day that I could be in my mind guaranteed to make this much money and now go awkward and learn something else and I’m not guaranteed that I can make that money up quickly, there’s a psychological barrier.
And so oftentimes it’s about really helping people figure out what’s the downtime, what’s the ramp up time. Let’s help you be successful with that, let’s get you some neural pathways built trying it this new way, let’s practice in the room so that it doesn’t feel like I’m going to just be out there struggling. I want to get to my peak performance quickly, so how do we help them make that transition because they’re hanging on to this cause it’s known, and there’s a fear of loss over here? And so we got to help close that gap.
Richard Fleming: So are there maybe some kinds of strategy or plan in place, if there was a calendar of events so they know at this time I should be able to hit this marker and presumably I should be making this increase if I invest my time and energy?
Britt Andreatta: Yeah. You can help them identify how long is the learning event going to take? What’s the turnaround time to build it? If you start investing in it, how quickly can you ramp up on this? If they have a way of quantifying that, it helps them get over that psychological, “I’m going to lose.” And especially if you partner with them like, “We want you to win,” like, “We’re here to help you win,” it can make it not this resistance thing. Would you agree in your experience?
Doug Bushée: Absolutely.
Richard Fleming: Robyn, what do you think?
Robyn Sayles: So it all comes down to the why. Every sales person will tell you, “Why do you do this to make money?” Sales is your biggest opportunity to make money, bonus, quota, whatever. But that’s not really why. I do this to make money so that I can do something else. It’s the same thing we teach them as far as drilling down a benefit statement to get to really the why, but sales managers often forget that they have to drill down to the why of their salespeople. So you do this so that you can make a high income and you’re making a comfortable high income and this new thing that I’m going to give you is going to potentially boop that income.
And so, yeah, I don’t want to spend half a day in the classroom when I can be going out and making the high income. So it’s up to sales managers and leadership to understand the why behind that. Am I doing it because I grew up really poor and it’s a status symbol, it makes me feel really secure to make this level of income? Am I doing it because I’m supporting five kids and my two cousins? Am I doing it because I want to buy my mom a house? There’s all sorts of whys behind it. If we never bother to ask, then we have no idea which lever that we can move. And then we tend to promote people into sales management because they’re good salespeople, and we forget to teach them how to actually be managers.
Britt Andreatta: All of the skill set.
Robyn Sayles: Yeah. And so they push, push, push from what they think is the right angle. And if we don’t understand the why, we may be giving them the absolute wrong incentive. And so there’s a million models out there. You can use SL2, is the first one I can think of. There’s a bunch of them where you have to sort of chart where are they at? Is it low will?
Britt Andreatta: Situational leadership model.
Robyn Sayles: Yeah. Is it low will/high skill? I can do it really well, but I’m not interested in any more. I’m not challenged anymore. And if I give you the wrong motivation, it’s going to create the opposite effect. You can’t always motivate salespeople with more money. Behind it, it’s the why. And it’s what am I going to get as a result of taking this time off the street? If you can show for me where I’m going to make it up, I’m much more likely to sit there and actually absorb what’s being given to me in that classroom environment.
Richard Fleming: And most of these leaders already have access to disc assessments and motivators and behaviors. So it seems like a win-win. I want to thank all of you for attending this and for offering your advice. I know that our viewers are really, really appreciative.
Britt Andreatta: Thank you.