Category Archives: performance

Win by Controlling What You Can

Every great leader I have ever worked with in business, politics or ministry have all had an incredible ability to focus.

It is this ability that rise above the noise or separate the wheat from the chaff that keeps them moving forward when others get distracted or get knocked back by circumstances completely beyond their ability to affect.

So the key question is what can you actually control? How do you stay focused on what matters?

Whether it is my son’s 10 year-old flag football team, a global sales force, or an executive counterpart, every team and person I have had the privilege to lead has heard me mention and repeat the following (over and over.)

The Key to Success is controlling what you can and the only things you can control is your:

·    Attitude – Your attitude will determine your experience.

·     Effort – Your Effort reflects your willingness to fight.

·     Preparation– Your preparation allows you to make the most of the opportunity when it comes.

Notice what is not on this list:

You cannot control:

·     The Result – Sometimes you lose the game, don’t get the deal. Lean what you can and prepare better next time.

·     Other People (As Much as We would like to) – Some people will not like you, their choice. You control your attitude toward them.

·     Timing – Sometimes people get sick or in accidents. Will this distract you or will you put the effort in and get back to work.

As a leader, people are looking to you. They key is you can help them more effectively fail-forward if you can look at a set-back and say, “Next Time, do we need to improve our attitude, Effort or Preparedness?”

A great cake is made of great ingredients. You don’t fix the cake, you fix the what goes into the cake. Same applies here.

Stuff Happen and most of it you can’t control… Get over it and don’t get so paralyzed by the outcome that you don’t learn from the process.

You will see a multiplication of results by putting your and your team’s focus and attention on what you can actually affect.  Let’s go get better.

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So You Want to Build a Sales Team

Every Start-up hits the point where they move from having a couple of sales people to building a sales team.  This might be because sales are taking off or most-likely because you took some funding and were told you had to scale your Demand Generation and Sales.

If only, it was as simple as hiring more sales people. 

Here is some quick and simple advice to help you avoid some common mistakes in building a sales team based on the questions I get most often.

Understand your target customers.  Who is buying your product today and is who is your target customer for the next 18 months?  So much money is wasted because people either hire too senior or too junior of sales people to tackle the challenges of selling to the clients they can close.

Is your sale, transactional and focused on the SMB market or is your solution focused on Enterprise customers?  These are completely different sales and need completely different people. The clearer you are, the less mistakes you will make.

Do you have a sales leader?  You can have 3,4,5 sales people without a true sales leader but if you want to scale a team, you have to hire a professional sales manager.  Alignment, again, is key but they also need to have a sales process they can use to develop the sales people into a team.

They will also help you sniff through a good story and get the right people who can actually do the job.

If you don’t have a sales leader, pay one you know at another company and have them come and help you hire sales people until you find one. 

You will want a simple comp plan….   My Advice…. For One time purchases go with straight percentage and for SAAS, go with 1 to 2X monthly revenue.   Your sales leader will build on accelerators.  Remember, the plan should drive the outcome you want.

You are going to need an CRM.  You can choose to start with Salesforce www.salesforce.com, Insightly, www.insightly.com or Zoho, www.zoho.com.

Most likely, you will end up on Salesforce eventually but by no means do you have to start there as it can be expensive and not necessary until you start integrating other areas of the business.  You do need a sales funnel and visibility.  Start running your sales team from dashboards as quickly as you can to build that culture from the beginning.

Don’t hire dramatically faster than you can scale Demand Gen.

You want to build in the culture of prospecting from the beginning but you do not want a team where at least 30% of the leads are not uncovered through Marketing. If you have more sales people than leads, you are hiring too fast and need to really focus on scaling Demand Gen to avoid wasting money.

If you have too much Demand Gen, your sales team will get fat and will never prospect.  Sounds funny to have too much Demand Gen, but if your sales people can make their number based on incoming leads, you need to hire more sales people.  Otherwise, this will have cultural ramifications for a long time.  Trust me, if there is a limited number of leads, the sales team will work each one of them like gold

Here is a rule I use…

I want the Sales team to uncover at least 50% of their own opportunities.  With all of the tools out there from LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to ClearBit Connect you do not have to rely on cold-calling but you do need to prospect.

Hope this helps.  We will cover Direct or Channel Sales at a different Time.

Let me know the tools you find most valuable and how I can help.  Let’s build great teams together.

 

 

 

 

 

2016 – Give the Gift of Feedback

Throughout the workplace, people are emerging back from vacations, turning their calendars and perhaps wishing they could push the snooze button for one more day…. Just perhaps

The dawn of 2016 also opens the season of annual performance reviews.  This tends to make people want to crawl back under the covers as managers deliver 10-20 of these reports.

Can I challenge you to embrace this season and encourage you to see feedback as a gift that is worth giving; not just once or twice a year?  Let’s make 2016 the year you give people continual and concrete feedback.  Creating a feedback rich environment will cement your culture as a place where “everyone gets better everyday.”

As a leader, it is one of the most significant changes you can make to increase the level of performance, alignment and satisfaction of your employees and co-workers.

Why is this:

  1. Most people are never told, specifically, that they are doing well and where they can improve. You might be the first person to give them effective feedback.
  2. Most people are never shown the outcome of their behavior.
  3. Most people never get supportive feedback that is specific and applicable.
  4. Most people are never told of their blind-spots, until it is too late.
  5. Most people crave it… Certainly the kids of people you want on your team do.

If any of the above is true, why don’t we do it more.

Carole Rubin states it this way..  “But providing feedback to a colleague or a friend can be difficult and scary, especially when it concerns something that is hurting your company or your relationship with that person. That fear, Robin says, is based on a belief that many hold that constructive criticism will harm the relationship…. The reality is that feedback can actually strengthen a relationship, because knowing that another person is going to tell it to you straight creates and builds trust….Taking the risk of providing feedback shows the other person that you are invested in the relationship and willing to take the time to help fix the issue.”

No matter where you have been…Here are some places to start….

  1. Feedback Needs to be Constructive:

Feedback is applying how actions contributed or detracted from the team and its overall performance. Random criticism and nit-picking is not the feedback that will get you anywhere.  Might make you feel better but it not worth the cost.

There is an urban legend of IBM founder Thomas Watson….  The legend goes that a top salesman lost $5 million on a project he’d been working on.

Called to see the boss, the salesman prepared to be fired. However, once he was ushered into Watson’s office, he was surprised to find that Watson cheerfully started discussing the next big project they were planning.

Dazed and confused the salesman asked Watson if he was going to fire him for the loss.  “Fire you?” responded Watson. “Why would we want to fire you when we’ve just spent $5 million training you up?”

The Point:  There are times, you will have to fire someone but if you want an open environment where people get better, you have to do it together, and you have to lead this from the top.  Feedback is not shaming, it is an opportunity to get better.

2.  Feedback Needs to be Consistent

If Feedback is saved for a couple times and year and worse yet, tied to the same time of pay increases, people are so geared up for it that they can not really take it in.  There is just too much emotion.  People also need feedback more quickly on behavior so that these changes can be applied and recognized.

People can only absorb 1-2 things at at time.  If changing behavior was easy…  well, then it would be easy.  It is just not.  Until the robots are ready…  Anyway, think about how you like to get feedback and start there.

Too often we put off giving feedback when someone does something that bugs us. We say, “it’s not a big deal.”  Over time, the person does the same thing again, and again. Now we are hacked off at the person.  This is a leadership issue, not a behavioral one.

The Point.  What gets measured, gets done.  When we focus on constant, consistent feedback, we take the emotion out of it and put the focus on constant and consistent improvement.

3.  Feedback Needs to Focused on Person and Progress

In order for someone to receive and apply feedback, there are a couple of vitals.

They Trust You

OK, there is really ONE vital element for feedback to be effective.

How do you build this trust?

  • Tie Feedback to Their Goals.  Example.”  I know you want to lead this team one day….
  • Make the Feedback Behavior Specific.  This behavior caused this reaction. Specific feedback influences specific behavior.  General feedback changes general behavior.
  • Balance Positive and Negative Feedback
  • Be Transparent – Be open to talking about your journey
  • Be Open and Seek Out Feedback about yourself.

Giving effective come more naturally for some then others but there is no excuse. you may have to practice.  So get out there and practice.  Ask for forgiveness if you come on too strong or unintentionally offend someone.  Let’s get better… Everyday.