All posts by Mario Tota

Are you still recruiting like it’s 1945?

Flight Attendants

If so, you’re going to have to try harder. Times have changed, people have changed and attracting great people requires revised strategies. Have you looked at some of your job descriptions recently? Below is a sample of a random, sales rep JD. I ask you, “Who would want this job?” There are 42 individual requirements!

When constructing JD’s, enlist the help of your marketing department in addition to HR. Make the job attractive while keeping it realistic…as in “truth in advertising”. I always wonder why the simplest of jobs becomes so incredibly complex. When hiring a sales rep, consider that you are not the only potential employer. Speak to company culture, advancement opportunities and the chance to become part of something great. If you can’t sell, then you aren’t in a position to hire a great sales rep. Select an “evangelist” within your organization to become part of the recruiting process and have her weigh in on the process and potentially “sell” the candidate. In any event, it’s important to realize that we fly jets nowadays, not propeller aircraft.

Job Description – Outside Sales Representative

Title: Outside Sales Representative

Reports To: Sales Supervisor

Summary

The Outside Sales Representative is responsible for selling corporate products or services through the achievement of opportunity-based sales quotas. The Outside Sales Representative will reach his or her business targets through effective management of designated territories and physical visits to customer sites. This individual will also develop ongoing, profitable relationships with customers and continually maintain a professional image of the company. Integrity, passion, and in-person presentational skills are essential for this role.

Job Duties

  1. Conduct a minimum of 5 sales presentations per week by physical visits to customer locations.
  2. Perform professional presentations or demonstrations of company product(s)/service(s) while on-site.
  3. Penetrate all targeted accounts and radiate sales from within client base.
  4. Overcome objections of prospective customers.
  5. Emphasize product/service features and benefits, quote prices, discuss credit terms, and prepare sales order forms and/or reports.
  6. Build and foster a network of referrals to create new opportunities for revenue growth.
  7. Generate and develop new customer accounts to increase revenue, by cold-calling if necessary.
  8. Ensure follow-up by passing leads to Account Managers with calls-to-action, dates, complete profile information, sources, and so on.
  9. Always maintain professionalism, tact, diplomacy, and sensitivity to portray the company in a positive manner.
  10. Actively manage call schedule to adequately cover assigned territory in a time-efficient manner.
  11. Use marketing data using applicable sales management software tools to maximize sales efficiency and effectiveness.
  12. Maintain accurate records, including sales call reports, expense reimbursement forms, billing invoices, and other documentation.
  13. Assist in creating RFP responses to potential clients.
  14. Periodically conduct information-only presentations, such as seminars, trade show demonstrations, and other efforts.
  15. Make front-line assessment of market conditions and advise company Account Managers and marketing staff of findings.
  16. Build and maintain ongoing awareness of new products and services, competitor activities, and other research.
  17. Requirements
  18. University or college degree in Computer Science, Marketing, or an acceptable combination of education and experience.
  19. 3 years of direct work experience in an external sales capacity.
  20. Demonstrated ability to convert prospects and close deals while maintaining established sales quotas.
  21. Professional demeanor, selling style, and appearance.
  22. Solid experience in opportunity qualification, pre-visit planning, call control, account development, and time and territory management.
  23. Success in qualifying opportunities involving multiple key decision makers.
  24. Strong knowledge of retail and/or wholesale sales principles, methods, practices, and techniques.
  25. Strong problem identification and objection resolution skills.
  26. Able to build and maintain lasting relationships with customers.
  27. Exceptional verbal communication and presentation skills.
  28. Excellent listening skills.
  29. Strong written communication skills.
  30. Self-motivated, with high energy and an engaging level of enthusiasm.
  31. Able to perform basic calculations and mathematical figures.
  32. Ability to work individually and as part of a team.
  33. High level of integrity and work ethic.
  34. Must possess a valid driver’s license and/or passport.
  35. Experience with customer relationship management software.
  36. Working Conditions
  37. Frequent travel is required, often up to several hours of driving per day.
  38. Ability to travel to, attend, and conduct presentations.
  39. Manual dexterity required to use desktop computer and peripherals.
  40. Occasional lifting of items up to 50 lbs.
  41. Overtime as required.
  42. Exposure to variable weather conditions is likely

Culture…it’s not you, it’s me

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I live in Texas and everyone has an idea of what “culture” means in Texas. It’s all “big, cowboy, line dancin’ and oil rich”. That one is easy. But do you know what the culture of your company is? …probably not.

As a seasoned consultant, I’ve visited hundreds of companies and always ask, “What is the culture around here?” The answer is never simple. I search for companies which embody a culture of success. Think about Real Estate:  ReMax, Century21, etc. When is the last time you contracted one of their agents to show you a new home? Did she arrive to pick you up in a BMW, Lexus, Mercedes or similar? Or did he arrive in a beat up old junker with a hole in the floorboard? No need to answer.  When you met them, you were probably impressed with image, knowledge and history of success. That’s what builds a culture; people who understand that success is not an option.

Employees often tend to believe that “culture” is directed from the top. Many CEO’s struggle with developing a culture within the organization and I understand the challenge. Sometimes we just make things too hard. Think about traveling to London or Paris or Rome. You can probably easily identify the culture by meeting with the people. Seldom will you have the opportunity to meet with their Governments.  So who drives culture? The citizens.

When you think about the culture of your organization, keep in mind that it is driven by the people who work for you. When they are gratified, happy and passionate, they tend to develop a culture which exudes success. When they are struggling, micro-managed and living under the auspices of fear, the culture devolves into something entirely different.

Simple solutions are easy choices. Celebrate success; hire the passionate, build a positive vibe. The culture of your organization is determined by the passion of your people. It’s not you, it’s me!

Is your weapon loaded?

GunYour vocabulary is the greatest weapon you have. The power of the “word” is extraordinary. When used properly, a phrase or even a single word can make all the difference in your success. The key to harnessing this kind of power is simple, “think before you speak”! Arm your mouth only with words which are compelling and impactful when presenting, meeting or simply conversing.

How do you respond to the question, “What do you do for a living?” Do you say, “I’m in ad sales” or similar? Or do you say, “I’m responsible for the success of businesses in my community”.

We have all heard a salesperson trying to set an appointment in this manner: “Hi Bob, we’ve got a new product that you might find interesting. Do you have a few minutes for me to come by and show it to you?”

Now compare that to: “Hi Bob, we’ve just launched a new and dynamic tool which will dramatically and positively affect your bottom line. I’m sure you’ll agree as soon as you see it. As quantities are limited, I’m accepting appointments on a restricted basis.”

Or how about this one for subordination? “I know you’re very busy, so I’ll only take a few minutes of your time.”

Versus, “I have a brief and extraordinary presentation prepared specifically for you. As I highly value our time together, I will take 30 minutes, no more and no less. I’m sure we’ll be able to mutually agree that it was time very well spent.”

And of course, there is that endless slide presentation. The audience is not told the number of slides and is therefore in limbo. When you notice that half way through your presentation that they are looking at the clock, you begin to use phrases such as “well this slide isn’t very important so I’ll skip over it.”

Once you’ve begun to speak in that manner, you’ve relegated yourself to “unimportant and unprepared”. You’ve lost the sale.

So take the time to prepare for every meeting. Think carefully about the kinds of words you will use to assure your audience of your competence and importance. Eliminate weak words and unimportant slides. If you’re not sure of a word, don’t use it. Terms such as “irregardless”, “nucular” and “for all intensive purposes” will sink you.

Load your weapon and use it carefully.

So what about Bob?

What about bob

Bob is one of your Sales Managers. When I ask you to tell me what you think about Bob as an employee, what will you say?

I’ve been to more than 100 client sites over the years and have asked this question of as many VP’s of Sales. The typical answer is, “I like Bob”. Why? Because “Bob has been here a long time, knows the company and the culture and is a hard worker. He is also very responsive to my needs and never misses a reporting deadline.” So this is how you assess the competence of your managers…by gut feeling?

I say “nay, nay”. There’s a much better way and it’s Q&A! There are 5 critical areas which when rated on a scale of 1 to 5, will give you a realistic assessment of Bob.

1-Results:

Q: How is Bob performing? Does he consistently overachieve?

A: “Bob usually makes his numbers although with the economy lately and a Tsunami in Japan, he’s struggling. He’s also lost 3 of his best reps because we don’t pay enough.”

 2-Strategy: 

Q: Does Bob have a written plan to achieve goals?

A: “Things change so much around here that writing up a plan is useless.”

 3-Leadership:

Q:  Is Bob viewed as an inspirational and motivational leader? Does his staff respect him?

A: “The staff that is left really like Bob. They think he’s a great guy to work for. Those who didn’t think he was a fair manager have already left the company.”

4-Employee Development:

Q: Does Bob coach and mentor his staff? Has he developed some to the point that they can take over when Bob gets a promotion?

A: “Bob’s way too busy for this. He provides whatever training the company offers, but he’s got to make sure he gets to the number.”

 5-Recruitment:

Q:  Has Bob been able to anticipate attrition and recruit satisfactory replacements?

A: “That’s really not his job. We have an in-house recruiter who handles that. When they find a suitable candidate, Bob will set up interviews. And besides, we don’t pay enough to attract great talent.”

So, if Bob works for you and these answers ring true, it’s time to make some changes.  Knowing and understanding your managers from an objective point of view is critical.  Start by setting up criteria for each of these questions and rate your managers against them.  If you don’t think you can be 100% objective, get some help.  Create internal relationships with other managers or go to outside consultants who are objective by default.  The worst thing you can do for your organization as well as the managers themselves is to allow emotions to get in the way of an objective evaluation.  The primary function of your Sales Manager is to “lead, coach and mentor”!   Help them, your company and yourself by ensuring objectivity in your evaluation process.

 

Why “visionaries” are leaders and others are “managers”…

No matter how much effort you expend, if you don’t know where you’re going, you will likely never achieve your goal.

Imagine a 26.2 mile marathon. You’re at the starting line and jogging in place awaiting the gun. You know you’re in shape; you know you can make it…but make what?

You surely can’t see the finish line, yet you can see it as clear as day in your mind’s eye. Why? Because you have a vision.

Despite the hundreds of other aspirants ahead, aside and behind, you can picture what it will be like when you cross that line. You are not thinking about pain or injury, simply success. You are passionate about your pending Facebook post telling your world that you are “26.2”. You can’t wait to place that sticker on the rear window of your 4-wheel drive shouting “26.2”.

This is a vision driven by passion.

Corporate visions often sound like dispassionate “marching orders”. We are asked to believe in shallow wishes couched as visions. “We will be the best in the market because we have a world class product and world class sales people.”  Hardly inspirational; hardly motivational.

When you evaluate your management team, ask yourself if you’ve provided a genuine, passionate vision for them. Have you clearly demonstrated why the team is in the race, where the finish line is, how to navigate towards it and what the rewards will be for reaching it?

If you have, then you are an inspirational “leader”. If you have not, then you are a “manager”.