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Management_5_-_336_shadowWith over 25 years of executive sales leadership experience with Pearson Education, Apple, KnowledgeNet, and Digital Equipment Corporation, Karl Gustafson knows a bit about the industry.

When asked recently to break down his extensive insights, Karl stressed the importance of three areas of management.

“For the past 25 years, I have been leading sales teams. I have always sought ways to make my teams stronger through metrics, training, and coaching of best practices.”

When I inquired which of these approaches produced the most benefit when it comes to building a strong sales team, Karl answered, “Every good sales leader uses metrics to improve his or her sales organization. And training has value; however, its effects are frequently short-lived. Coaching, on the other hand, can be the most effective means of bringing about repeatable and sustainable changes in sales behaviors.”

Karl’s conclusions regarding coaching aren’t merely his own – according to Harvard Business Review, no other productivity investment even comes close to the effectiveness of sales coaching, in regards to improving sales rep performance.

In fact, a classic article on the subject stated that even a moderate improvement in coaching quality can equate to a 6-8% percent increase in performance across 50% of your sales force – and that the best quality coaching can offer impact to performance as high as 19%.

So, what are Karl’s top three tips for team leaders or sales managers wishing to improve their coaching savvy? Here they are:

  1. The strategy you use is not nearly as important as its execution. Making sure everyone on your team understands the goal and the approach is key to ensuring you’re on the same page – and that your strategy is executed appropriately. Avoid a sales strategy fail by outlining the details of your sales strategy and its desired effects, and enlisting the support of your entire sales team.
  2. The best managers are excellent motivators. A successful team needs a leader who understands their motivations, lives up to their agreements, and supports and encourages the growth of their team members. The best managers know that improving morale and inspiring their sales team will lead to better sales – and that both require honing their managerial skills.
  3. If you’re experiencing high turnover, you’re doing it wrong. Recruiting, hiring, and training is expensive – in fact, experts say that replacing one sales rep can cost your business approximately 150-200% of their yearly salary. Strategic hiring and an effective on-boarding process will go a long way towards helping you retain sales professionals – but if you are still experiencing higher turnover than expected, it’s time to explore the reasons – and adjust your management strategy to reduce your exposure to high turnover.

When asked if he had any parting words of wisdom for managers seeking to urge their sales teams on to improved performance, Karl said, “Remember: sales, at its very core, is a process. If you can identify and coach to processes already inherent in your “A” players, other members of the sales team will benefit.”

To read articles written by Karl Gustafson, click here. Or, connect with him via LinkedIn.

To learn more about how the SalesFitRx web and mobile app can help you improve your sales team’s performance, contact Karl

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Whistle_-_Coach_353_shadowFRIDAY SALES GROWTH LINKS

This week’s resources are focused on Sales Coaching.

Whether you identify as a sales coach or manager, or if you’re a sales rep, there’s some excellent advice here from some true professionals in our industry.

If you’re already coaching others, you can begin putting much of this into action today. If you one day plan to coach others, this useful material will ensure you’re heading down the right path starting today

Return to this blog daily, and especially every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career.

Be sure to bookmark and explore our Friday Sales Growth Links archives as well.

Coaching The Presidential Candidates
Sales trainer, podcaster and author Bill Caskey (@billcaskey) could certainly help many of the presidential candidates with this coaching, but it’s also (read: especially) meant for us to use in our own buyer interactions. The advice works well for us too.

KEY QUOTE: Try this: “I was sitting alone the other night with a piece of blank paper drawing out the real problems facing our country. And here’s what I drew.” Give people a look into your mindset and how you solve problems.”

This is expertly written. Don’t miss clicking on this one. #BeMorePresidential

[Reading Time of This Post: 5:00 minutes]


Bill_Eckstrom_125x125Sales Coaching Blog

Sales Managers: You Own It
EcSell Institute President Bill Eckstrom (@EcSellInstitute) puts a lot of hard truth into this post and it’s exactly what needs to be said to today’s sales managers. If you’re willing to change [a little or a lot] to produce a stronger set of sales team results, this post is for you

KEY QUOTE …all sales teams are perfectly coached for the results they produce.”

Don’t miss the “sales performance equation.” There’s definitely something to it.  #GrowingPains

[Reading Time: 2:30 minutes]


Steven_A_Rosen_125x125The Sales Management Blog

Top 10 Sales Coaching Quotes
Author, speaker and executive sales coach Steven A. Rosen (@stevenarosen) gathered this excellent list of top quotes about coaching. Be inspired!

KEY QUOTE: “An exceptional sales coach is able to extract the best from his or her sales reps. Often, this involves discovering new skills and talents in your sales reps that they were previously unaware of and developing them to be exceptional.”

Which are your favorites? #QuotesToBoostQuotas

[Reading Time: 4:00 minutes]


Rachel_Clapp_Miller_120x120Force Management Blog

Ten Questions That Will Make You a Better Sales Coach
Content generator Rachel Clapp Miller (@contentrachel) wrote another helpful post for @ForceMGMT. She offers 5 Opportunity Questions and 5 Sales Call Questions for sales coaches to be asking on a regular basis.

KEY QUOTE: Opportunity reviews and sales calls are two areas where you can make a great impact as a sales coach.”

What other questions would you add? Tell me in the comments for this post. #AlwaysBeCoaching

[Reading Time: 1:30 minutes]

>>  Read past Friday Sales Growth Links posts <<

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Emotional_Intelligence_362_shadowFRIDAY SALES GROWTH LINKS

It’s been said that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is “the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and those of the people around you.” Another expert calls it, “the other kind of smart.” There are plenty of other definitions out there if you care to take two seconds to Google them.

EQ matters. It always has, but as of late we’ve been talking about it more openly now that we’ve put a name to it. We also better understand it. That’s a good thing. In fact, that’s a great thing, for us, our colleagues and our buyers.

I gathered a number of resources I really like on this topic to show you why, as a sales professional, EQ matters.

Let me know about other helpful articles, blog posts, quizzes or videos you really like related to this subject. It’s an important area in which to grow, both as a person and as a sales professional.

Return to this blog daily, especially every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career.

Be sure to bookmark and explore our Friday Sales Growth Links archives as well.


Dov_Baron_128x128Entrepreneur Magazine
The 11 Questions Emotionally Intelligent Leaders Ask Themselves
Keynote speaker, author and expert on authentic leadership Dov Baron (@DovBaron) wrote an article for @Entrepreneur last week that’s not for leaders who are faint of heart. Baron recommends 11 very important questions you, leader, need to ask yourself.

No one else needs to know your answers, but you must be honest with yourself if you want to discover new areas for growth. This is an opportunity. Take advantage of it.

KEY QUOTE (from the full report): “…real EQ is a result of self-knowledge first. The challenge is that too few leaders take the time to be introspective and too few bother to ask themselves the sometimes uncomfortable and revealing questions that will allow them to actually know their own ‘truth.’

And, if you believe simply being self aware as a leader is enough, Baron has some thoughts on that for you as well. #ChallengeYourself

[Reading Time of This Post: 4:00 minutes]


Ian_Altman128x128Forbes Magazine
What You Can Learn About People On A Golf Course
Author and keynote speaker on integrity-based sales, innovation, and growth Ian Altman(@GrowMyRevenue) wrote a great article for @Forbes a few months ago, and I want to make sure you don’t miss it.

You don’t need to like the game of golf to understand how this can be applied to other scenarios for your company’s benefit.

KEY QUOTE: “In your business, you’ll encounter adversity. Do you want a team member who will be a detriment to the rest of your team when something goes wrong? Or do you want people who are team players and bounce back?”

What happens when things go wrong for you? Who do you continue to be, or who do you become? #KeepYourselfTogether

[Reading Time: 4:00 minutes]


Daniel_Goleman_128x128American Management Association
How Can You Build Your Emotional Intelligence?
Author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman (@DanielGolemanEI) penned this article for the American Management Association (@AMAPlaybook). It’s a How-To on how to get started or how to successfully continue growing your EQ.

KEY QUOTE: The good news about emotional intelligence is that it is not a fixed ability like IQ. Your IQ pretty much stays the same throughout life. Emotional intelligence is fluid. It takes form in the early years when the emotional and social circuits of the brain are forming into the mid-20s.”

There’s a definite ROI for anyone who makes the effort to develop more as a person, in this way, which will directly transfer to greater professional success as a stronger leader. #EQmatters

[Reading Time: 2:00 minutes]


Christina_Congleton_EdM_128x128Susan_David_PhD_128x128Harvard Business Review
Emotional Agility
This is a deep [read: very, very deep] dive into how emotions play into our professional lives, written by psychologist, management consultant, author and researcher Susan David, PhD (@SusanDavid_PhD), along with Christina Congleton, Ed.M. (researcher and leadership and change consultant at Axon Leadership).

If this is a topic you’re willing to dig into for the purpose of improving yourself overall, and the people you lead, then this is absolutely a resource you need to read.

KEY QUOTE: Effective leaders don’t buy into or try to suppress their inner experiences. Instead they approach them in a mindful, values-driven, and productive way—developing what we call emotional agility. In our complex, fast-changing knowledge economy, this ability to manage one’s thoughts and feelings is essential to business success.”

If you’ve become a pro at suppressing your emotions for what you believe is for the good of your professional life, think again. Stepping out of this trap, myself, may have been the single most important reason why I’m where I am today. #IDareYou

[Viewing Time: 9:00 minutes]

>>  Read past Friday Sales Growth Links posts <<

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Cheerleaders_355_shadowAs a sales manager, we both know you need to effectively motivate your sales team, but you shouldn’t be shaking a pair of pompons to get the job done.

There are so many stories in our industry of well-intentioned sales managers, who had no idea how to strategically motivate the individuals in their sales team, and more or less used painfully bad cheerleading efforts in an attempt to rally the troops.

You’ve probably experienced that, as I have, and cringed the entire time as the show wouldn’t seem to end.

I was reading an article this week on the topic of sales team motivation, and I appreciated the approach the author used to help sales managers grow in this area of sales management.

Sales trainer,  neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) expert and keynote speaker Leigh Ashton (@nlpsalessuccess) wrote a post this week for Sales Initiative’s Toolbox (@SI_SalesUK ) titled: “Your Sales Team: A Motivation Check List.”

I believe you’ll find it helpful as well.

Ashton begins with a set of diagnostic questions:

  • Does every member of your team know where they fit in to the bigger company objectives?
  • Do you know the higher purpose of each of your team?
  • Are your sales peoples’ targets realistic bearing in mind your industry’s current market conditions?
  • Do your team members only very occasionally contact you for guidance?
  • Do you know the “meta-programmes” of each of your team?

A higher amount of answers of “yes” points toward your team likely being more motivated.

The rest of the post goes on to unpack each of those questions, including additional questions to give you a more comprehensive understanding of your sales team. Read through each of them, they’re brief, and see what you can use for your own team.

As much as money can help motivate an individual, it’s not solely as effective as you may believe:

“Most meaningful research suggests money is only ever an effective motivator in the short term. And that’s usually always confirmed whenever I dig below the surface at the companies I train and when I talk to sales directors and sales teams generally.”

Read Ashton’s post now.

[Reading Time of the Sales Initiative Post: 3:00 minutes]

 What forms of motivation have you used, with success, as a sales manager?

Let’s talk about it…

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Checklist_2_-_350_shadowSales Managers: Are you minding [all of] your P’s and Q’s?

Regardless of the structure of your sales team or organization, as a manager, the responsibility for inspiring and motivating your team falls to you.

Your role is critical in the creation and maintenance of a healthy sales environment – and sometimes, just a small shift in your management style or strategy can make a huge difference.

At SalesFitRx, we’ve given a lot of thought to effective sales team management – and we’ve come up with some suggestions, a checklist, for self-improvement which will help you hone your managerial skills, and become a better team leader.

Although these sales management aspects aren’t new to you, it’s important to take a step back from time-to-time to review what you’re doing, as well as what you may not be doing:

  1. Practice good follow-up. It’s something you encourage your staff to do – but do you practice it yourself? Ask your sales team for feedback on coaching, training, or team meetings – ask them if the information presented was useful and applicable to their experiences, or if they have any suggestions for improvement. You may be surprised at just how important these discussions can be to the overall health of your team.
  2. Keep learning. Effective sales team management stresses continual development of skills – but do you place any emphasis on your own training? Continue your professional development by attending coaching courses, management seminars, and communication classes, and you’ll find your improved skills are a positive contribution to your team.
  3. Set clear goals. Goals aren’t just for your sales team! Setting managerial goals is important, and creating measurable milestones will not only help you hold yourself accountable for your team’s development, it’ll keep you on track for creating a team of balanced, well-adjusted sales professionals.
  4. Be a great resource. Great sales team management means sharing your best practices, successes, and expertise with your reps. Let them know that you are knowledgeable and accessible, and that they can come to you with questions, challenges, or to receive qualified advice. And don’t be afraid to refer them to outside resources, in those cases where you don’t have all the answers!
  5. Hone your communication skills.  Do some research regarding learning types, and communication styles. Are you presenting information in a way everyone on your team can connect to? By honing your own communication skills, you’ll improve your overall approach to sales team management, and create an environment of inclusion.
  6. Focus on the positive. Emphasize the successes and achievements of your staff, and go out of your way to offer encouragement to those who are struggling. Adjusting your focus to reinforce the positive can be challenging, but a little appreciation and support can go a long way towards the development of a strong, resilient team.
  7. Become an excellent mediator. Effective sales team management includes the ability to rise above any conflict. When your team is squabbling or experiencing negative morale, address it immediately and diplomatically. Get to the root of your team’s concerns, and use your mediation skills to diffuse any negative interaction.
  8. Be a dedicated observer. Pay attention to the dynamics of your sales team, and keep an eye out for areas of potential improvement. Careful observation will help you hone your sales team management strategy, prioritize action, and offer valuable insight into team dynamics.
  9. Be trustworthy. Without an established relationship of trust, your leadership and guidance mean nothing. To build solid relationships, your team needs to know they can rely on you to act with honesty and integrity – so be trustworthy, and you’ll gain their respect.
  10. Practice accountability. Ensuring that you are following guidelines, policies, and instructions you’ve outlined for your staff isn’t just good sales team management, it will also help you understand the obstacles and challenges your team faces, and provide valuable insight on overcoming those obstacles. By accepting responsibility for your actions, and owning the results, you’ll also encourage your sales team to do the same.

Effective sales team management isn’t just about what you say, it’s about what you do – and the best way to lead is through example.

By focusing your sights on the self-improvement tactics which make you a better leader, you’ll hone your managerial skills, inspire your sales team, and improve overall morale – ensuring a more healthy and successful approach to accomplishing your organization’s sales goals.

For more information on how SalesFitRx can help your organization find more selling time, streamline the sales process, and improve your sales team management strategy – contact me today:  |  602-427-2399

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Idea_361_shadowMost of the possible major efficiencies a sales team can implement have already been discovered, right?

What if every one of your sales reps could save 2-3 hours of prospecting time every day?

Would you be interested in that if the solution not only didn’t hurt your sales numbers, but actually increased them?

Of course you would be interested.

I read about a strategy last week that some of you may already be using. I’ve used a modified/more simplistic form of this in the past, but it wasn’t as well thought out as this idea is.

Most of you have not yet implemented this strategy. It involves using the strengths and interests of each member of your team, and encouraging the use of their passions and interests in sales, instead of sticking each of them in predefined boxes.

Director of Account Development at @HireVuePeter G. Chun (@petergchun) wrote an article he posted on LinkedIn titled, How to Give 3 Hours Back to Your Sales Reps.”

Are you skeptical? Understandable. But are you at least curious?

It all started when Chun began working at HireVue, a team acceleration platform. Instead of coming in and rearranging the team so it matched how he wanted the company’s sales environment to be structured, he took the time to sit next to each team member to better understand their individual workflows.

Chun then understood where the opportunity for greater efficiency and effectiveness was to be found. This one change brought about a 60% gain in sales the next quarter.

Did that get your attention?

You should read the article to fully understand what Chun did with that team. But, I will give you this sneak peek:

“You may say that we might as well have purchased lead lists but the ADS does more than just mindlessly add new leads to the CRM. The ADS uses previous Closed Won company and prospect profiles to find new optimal leads. They also constantly monitor lead levels to ensure that each rep has sufficient leads according to their workflows. When combined with proper sales training and sales coaching, this ensures that the leads are being penetrated efficiently and consistently.”

I especially like the two links at the end of the article leading to a sales manager’s point-of-view on using this system, as well as a sales rep’s point-of-view. Don’t miss those.

Read the article now.

[Reading Time: 2:00 minutes]

Note: Another way to find more selling time in your day is to look into using the SalesFitRx web and mobile app. There’s a 30 day free trial available.

QUESTION: Could this change in strategy within your sales process work for your team? Why or why not?

Let’s talk about it…

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Prospecting_2_-_342_shadowThis week’s list of links focuses on sales prospecting, sales managers, sales strategy and sales tools. It’s a one-stop shop for sales professionals like you.

Come back daily and be sure to visit this blog every Friday for my Friday Sales Growth Links feature where I filter online resources to help you grow in your sales career.

Be sure to bookmark and explore our Friday Sales Growth Links archives as well.

The Prospecting Rule of Thirds
International speaker, author, sales leader [and noted instigator/agitator] Anthony Iannarino (@iannarino) is back in my list of links with a valuable description and perspective of what you have there in your list of prospects and some direction on what it takes to get the most out those phone numbers.

KEY QUOTE: “But it feels like this middle third is more like ninety percent of companies, even though that isn’t true. You can develop the case for change within this third, even if it isn’t easy.”

Figure out how you need to answer those final three questions of his and you’ll be well on your way toward a sales career others will envy. #makethecalls
[Reading Time: 2:00]


EcSell Blog
Sales Manager Check-Up
Director of marketing or the EcSell Institute Anna Schott (@anna_schott) wrote this post focused on 5 excellent questions every sales manager should be asking themselves here just past the midway point of the year. It’s based on an article written at the end of 2014 by the president of EcSell Institute, Bill Eckstrom.

KEY QUOTE: “As our research proves, nothing impacts performance more than coaching; therefore, it starts with the sales management team, not the sales people.”

Answering these questions honestly, and then acting accordingly, could lead to greater success for your entire sales organization. #coacheffectively
[Reading/Listening Time: 1:30]

Wanna Make More Sales? Think WHY? Not How To!
Sales trainer and author Jeffrey Gitomer (@gitomer) makes a brief, but strong case for how understanding the core motive(s) of a buyer, much deeper than we may realize, can lead to sustained sales success. This should motivate you to uncover the motivations of others.

KEY QUOTE: “Old world sales tactics, closing techniques, and other sales drivel is over. The Internet has replaced the pitch man. All facts are retrievable in a nanosecond. The Internet has made business buyers and consumers smarter than ever. Even smarter than salespeople.”

The true motive may not be what you first believe it to be. Look deeper and train yourself to identify the true motive within every buyer, then enjoy the rewards for both you and them. #getmotivated
[Reading/Listening Time: 2:00]


Fill The Funnel Blog
Email Addresses – How To Find Them When You Need Them
Entrepreneur, author, teacher, coach [and Harley owner]  Miles Austin (@milesaustin) penned this  post about a very practical tool to use within your browser to help you locate more email addresses when you need them.

KEY QUOTE: “What I have found very useful is the exposure to other names within the company that I had not been aware of, including the senior level executives that are normally not readily available and not on LinkedIn, etc.”

As a Bonus: I also like to use this site to discover the email address syntax of websites/organizations. Neither tool will work every time, but they can save you time when other tools fail. #fillyourtoolbox
[Reading Time: 1:30]


>>  View past posts for Friday Sales Growth Links  <<


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Salesforce_300I don’t want you to fall into this all-too-common trap.

[Wait, did I appear to overreach in the titling of this post? A bit much?]

I may have used, well, a touch of hyperbole there in the title (borrowed from the resource I’m about to mention), but that came out of my concern for the welfare of you as a sales professional and for the well-being of your sales organization.

Please allow me to explain…

Sales management expert, author, and speaker Jason Jordan(@jasonrjordan for @salesforce) recently wrote the third post, “Deadly Sales Management Trend #3: Data Overload,” in a series titled, “5 Deadly Trends in Sales Management.”

I’ll give you those links in a moment, but I want to keep your focus on this particular post.

The past 20 years have been amazing as far as what information we now have at our fingertips. Jordan starts off by saying as much when he states:

Anyone on the planet within reach of a cellular tower can view the latest data on year-to-date revenue, opportunities in the pipeline, sales forecasts, quota attainment, sales activity, and any other data point that the heart or mind desires.
So what’s wrong with that? Data is good, and good data is better, right?

Yes, but…

 only to a point. In the absence of any data, sales management is starved of critical insights, so those first management reports feel like a cup of cold water on a hot summer day.  But as the reports begin to pile up, they become a torrential downpour that can leave sales managers adrift in a sea of data.
The challenge then becomes to identify the cupful of data that will quench your thirst, without drowning you in a flood of reports.

My early career certainly didn’t include these data luxuries we now possess, and there were certainly pitfalls, or false-positives, in the data we were able to use. The current abundance of data can quickly become a snare because of the flood of data.

It can be more difficult to root out the most important insights and, even more often, we see mirages in the data. We read the data according to our own biases. We want to tell the story that aligns with our goals…but the data may only seem to agree.

The rest of Jordan’s post walks us through the story of a real world business example, from understanding the potential problems to understanding how to use three specific, actionable steps to safeguard yourself from succumbing to this trend of increasing data overload.

The discoveries came from researching for Jordan’s book, Cracking the Sales Management Code.

You know I won’t tell you what those steps are here because, as always, I really want you to click over to the full post to read it for yourself.

If you’re in a sales management position, or if you aspire to be in that position one day, it’s worth your time to read it. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have taken my time to tell you about it.

AS PROMISED: Here are the links to the first two posts in this series:

  1. 5 Deadly Trends in Sales Management
  2. Deadly Sales Management Trend #2: Lack of a Common Language

Look for the fourth installment in this series on the Salesforce Blog very soon.

QUESTION ::: Were you already aware of the easy trap of misusing data, and have you ever felt overwhelmed by the amount of data you have at your disposal? If so, what have you found to be helpful to keep the data working in your favor instead of secretly against you?

Let’s talk about it…

Click here to download our free guide:
2015 Guide to Sales Optimization: Restoring Sanity to Sales

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