Three Steps to A More Successful Sales ProcessThere is a saying that gets circulated often…“Who calls anymore?”

The days of the cold sales call and door-to-door salesmen are long gone.

In fact, our prospects don’t even want to talk to someone until they are very close, if not completely, ready to make a purchase.

The sales process must evolve accordingly, of course. Now we create content to get found online and to inform that buyer. We insert ourselves into their purchase path with the answers to their questions. Your content moves that prospect through the sales funnel to a warm lead and then to qualified lead, and eventually to a buying customer.

Knowing this, the sales team is now dealing with a customer at the bottom of the sales funnel. Your content has qualified them to the point of the traditional "sales call." Now, they must be prepared for a very informed customer on the cusp of purchase, and be able to make the most of that final contact to be able to close the deal.

Three Steps to A More Successful Sales Process

Lynette Ryals provides some tips to do that in her recent article for Making the Most of Your Sales Call, in the Harvard Business Review. While she calls it out for B2B specifically, these tips apply to any business sector:

Our prospects are now more informed than ever before. They are armed with your information, as well as your competitors. The most important thing is to respect that knowledge and respect their time.

Provide content that gets them to the point where they want to buy from you. By the time they’ve reached your sales team, they are a qualified lead, and just need that final hand hold over the finish line to happiness ever after.

What do you think? Have you seen the shift in your industry?

How to Work With People You Don’t LikePeople like to do business with people they know, trust, and respect. This isn’t news. We spend most of our working hours with our clients, work colleagues, and vendors. Odds are, we’re not going to like everyone we work with. We don’t always have the luxury of choosing who we surround ourselves with.

You don’t have to be friends, but you do have to do business together. So what do you do? People will tell you to get over it, but that’s easier said than done. Because working with people who make you crazy or infuriate you causes stress and affects your productivity. And it’s also no fun.

Peter Bregman wrote about changing his attitude towards someone he really disliked in Harvard Business Review.

Taking the high road and finding ways to get along with this person is the most productive way to go. You could quit your job, or refuse to work with this person, but it won’t serve you.

Also, burning bridges doesn’t accomplish anything. You just come out looking like the angry, negative person in the situation. Most of us want to be liked and the more people like you, the more successful you will be in life. People will want to help you and do business with you.

This doesn’t imply the only reason to be a caring and kind person is so you’ll be successful in life; but it will help you get along with that person you don’t like.

How to Work With People You Don’t Like

Bregman offered some tips on how he has turned around similar situations in his professional life.

First, identify why it is exactly you don’t like this person. He suggests the traits you don’t like might remind you of qualities you have; a part of yourself you’re not proud of. Dig into it and try to understand it more. Get to know the person better and understand their motivations. You might be surprised at how it helps you to accept and even improve yourself.

Don’t take it personally. We tend to take the behavior of others personally. If someone is rude or short to you, it might be because they are panicked about a deadline they have that day. Think twice before you automatically assume it’s because of you, something you did, or the feelings they have towards you. Maybe their child is home ill, and they are worried.

Think about how forgiving you are with a friend or a loved one. They might do something that bothers you, but when someone you don’t like does the exact same thing, you’re far more angered or irritated. Try to identify and understand why they are the way are, or why it bothers you so much. As Bregman discovered, you can begin to work better with this person, and even start to like him or her.

It comes down to having compassion. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and change your perspective. While it might sound odd to talk about compassion in a blog about leadership, it shouldn’t be. It helps change your approach and improve professional relationships. And better relationships translate to greater success.

Have you had a tough work relationship you’ve been able to turn around?

About the Strategy LeaderAs a leader, it’s easy to lose sight on the framework of thinking strategically if you have a culture where you are pulled in too many directions, and mired in the actual operations of the business.

In The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs, Cynthia Montgomery asks leaders to consider four questions in the context of leading strategy in your organization:

  1. What does my organization bring to the world?
  2. Does that difference matter?
  3. Is something about it scarce and difficult to imitate?
  4. Are we doing today what we need to do in order to matter tomorrow?

According to Montgomery, being a strategist means living these questions.

They are powerful questions because they force us to think from a larger perspective. Notice, none of the questions pertain to a specific product or service; they define the very purpose of your organization.

And a clear purpose is the foundation of any strong and strategic organization.

In this Harvard Business Review book review, IKEA’s strategy is cited as an excellent example. Founder and CEO  Ingvar Kamprad set out to build something that provides “a better everyday life for the many.”

A Strategy Leader Leads with Purpose

Being clear in purpose is, of course, only the beginning.

Now you, as the strategy leader, have to take words on paper and transform them into a living, breathing organization; one that deconstructs silos and empowers employees of all levels because they have clear direction and are able to participate in the strategic direction.

Leading strategy is an ongoing endeavor. Many organizations have exploded in growth only to fade away due to lack of purpose and foresight. A change in technology might force you to change your product line, but in no way should affect your core strategy.

And that is the key.

The continued existence of a company depends on it’s ability to have a clear purpose. The leader, therefore, is the steward of this purpose; the one who brings it to life in organizational execution.

Does your organization have a clear purpose? Please share it in the comments.

Five Rules the New CEO Should FollowA new CEO or business owner’s first days on the job often prove to be the most critical part of his or her tenure with the company. A wrong move here, a miscommunication there can cause damage long before the new leader has a chance to make a positive impact on the business.

To help newly promoted executives or others assuming control of a business, Roger Martin, author of Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, offers some great advice in this article for HBR Blog Network.

Five Rules the New CEO Should Follow

Keep the Existing Resources

“The most fractious and difficult thing to do in an organization is to take resources away from someone who is used to receiving them,” Martin notes. When a new leader seeks to reallocate existing resources, “endless fights and a firestorm of protests will ensue.”

Instead, by focusing on increasing revenues, “investment capacity will increase and new resources can be funneled to growth priorities” - without having to eliminate resources to non-priority areas. As time passes and revenues grow, “the non-priority areas will become an ever-smaller piece of the puzzle.” At that point, the CEO can shut down non-priority areas “without much hassle or fuss.”

Follow Due Process

As Martin points out, “CEOs really don’t have to follow due process.” They can, for example, fire anyone they want.

The reason why this is not a good move is that it alarms your team, since “everybody watches with a keen eye and wonders whether they will be objects of arbitrary decisions as well.” If there’s an under-performing manager you’d like to get rid of, try giving him feedback “and a fair chance to improve” instead. This is preferable to sending the message that you act capriciously and “make up your own rules.”

Consult With Others

You may have some excellent ideas for creating new revenue streams, upgrading technology and/or redesigning the company website. But before rushing ahead on your own, Martin says, “consult wherever and whenever possible with your team.” This will undoubtedly extend the decision-making process, but “your team needs to feel and function genuinely like a team.”

If and when the time comes that you have to make a decision the team doesn’t support, you can do so “without destroying the team dynamics, but only if you save it for very rare occasions.”

Set High Standards For Strategy

From the outset, Martin says, the new CEO should make it clear that “direct reports have the responsibility for making logically consistent and unique strategy choices in their areas of responsibility.” This alerts the team that, while you won’t make strategy for them, you’re available to help - “because nothing is more important than having a high bar for strategy.”

Cultivate a Thriving Culture

What’s one of the biggest fears triggered by the arrival of a new leader? It’s that he or she will soon usher in a legion of “yes-men.” A CEO intent on cultivating (or sustaining) a thriving culture should instead “signal from inception that the organization will be a big tent that welcomes diversity, not a monoculture with only people who resemble the CEO.”

When a new CEO starts “acting unilaterally, accepting mediocre strategy and closing ranks to only the comfortable colleagues, the die gets cast pretty quickly.” Far better, Martin says, to get off on the right foot and inspire others to follow your lead.

What’s your advice for a new leader or top executive?

Smiling Group of ProfessionalsGlobal and diversity leadership have been big buzzwords in the business world, and rightfully so. Ambitious young professionals are becoming multilingual and gain international experiences to become more appealing to future employers; while more seasoned executives look to partner with overseas organizations in order to expand their international business reach.

This article in Harvard Business Review got me to thinking about our UGN team spread across eight plants in different states throughout and outside the country. I thought about the diversity (ethnic, age, gender, religious, etc.) we have and how it enriches the culture of our organization.

Clearly, it is no secret the world IS getting smaller – but being a true global leader goes deeper than just ability to speak a foreign language or spending time overseas.

Global Leadership: Where to Start

First we need to acknowledge diversity and globalization is here to stay. You may need IT support and call from your office in Chicago and the line is picked up by a support engineer located in India.

You may read and comment on a post from a business blogger in London and within hours you have a dozen new British followers on Twitter.

Even large companies are incorporating formal programs into their corporate strategies in order to understand and deepen relationships with their business partners and clients.

Macy’s CEO, Terry J. Lundren describes their diversity approach as:

A business imperative for the company. Reflecting the diverse marketplace we serve is good for our customers, associates, vendors, and shareholders.

But it takes a lot more than just acknowledgement and acceptance. While one person alone cannot fully change the culture of an organization, leaders must set the standard of example.

Skills Every Global Leader Needs

To be a true global leader, there are skills and behaviors we must put into practice and adopt. Kwintessential,  multicultural-training professional service company provided a great list, a few of which I’ll share here with you:

While it’s not human nature to immediately understand and be sensitive to those who are different to us, taking on an attitude of acceptance, willingness to learn, and understanding, our organizations certainly will be a better place.

And what good and effective leader doesn't want that?

What global and diversity approaches have you applied at your organizations?

Five Ways to Measure Business Metrics That MatterCompanies typically use financial measures such as sales and earnings to track and communicate performance. But what happens when those aren't the most important business metrics?

Investors and leaders can miss out on problems and opportunities if they're too focused on the wrong business metrics.

According to Michael J. Mauboussin, a contributor to Harvard Business Review, the right business metrics help you understand, track, and manage the cause-and-effect relationships that determine the value of your company.

The difficulty lies in figuring out how to make a coherent narrative out of the wealth of data accumulated by today's businesses, says Dimitri Maex, co-author of “Sexy Little Numbers.” Maex wrote about measuring what matters and making sense of your data, and says measurement planning is the way to make sense of the surplus of information available to today's businesses.


No Emotional Intelligence Costs You SalesEmotional intelligence—“the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions and use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”—could be a great resource for your sales team. If they lack emotional intelligence, your salespeople might make errors that cost you sales.

So says Bruna Martinuzzi, the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd, and a contributor to OPENForum.

She lists six key mistakes she’s seen, with advice on how to avoid them.

No Emotional Intelligence Means No Emotional Connection

We buy from people we like—not a news flash, right?

But too many salespeople focus on closing a sale, rather than on forging a relationship with prospective clients. The ability to connect and create long-lasting relationships is at the core of emotional intelligence. A salesperson who enters the relationship “with the mindset of doing service” will more often make that all-important emotional connection.

According to Martinuzzi, doing service means “going out of our way to match a customer’s needs, making ourselves available … and taking personal responsibility for anything that happens, especially after the sale has been made.”

Listen More, Talk Less

Salespeople are often trained to speak over a potential customer’s objections, to get the sales pitch in before anything else happens. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes—do you think you’d like to be subjected to this approach?

Instead, Martinuzzi says, be aware of the affect your pitch has: “Watch for body language cues that signal when they've had enough.”

Emotional intelligence means you can ask prospects these key questions, and listen to the answers:

One more tip: Take notes while you listen. Don’t rely on memory or you’ll be sure to forget something.

Lack of Self-awareness

Each salesperson has a unique style, but if they’re unaware of it, they can’t gauge the affect they have.

Researchers writing in the Harvard Business Review identify several types of behavior that work against closing a sale:

Your salespeople need to know their sales style so they understand what’s effective, and what works against them.

Inability to Adapt

A salesperson with a high emotional intelligence IQ can adapt to unforeseen situations, and is open to new ways of doing things.

Lack of Authenticity

“When we use scripted sales pitches, we lose some of our authenticity,” Martinuzzi says.

Potential clients are generally alert to any false notes or insincere language in their dealings with salespeople. The most effective approach is to learn everything you can about the client before you meet with them, then “forget the script and speak from the heart about what you do and what you can offer.”

Emotional intelligence means genuine wins over faking it every time.

Where’s the Humility?

A salesperson who acts as if he has all the answers and nothing to learn from the potential client’s own experience is failing to make an emotional connection.

As Martinuzzi puts it, “Wanting to be the smartest person in the room rarely works.”

Successful sales happen when you connect with what matters to people. And what matters to people are emotions.

What sales mistakes have you seen or experienced, as they relate to lack of emotional intelligence?


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