April 2019
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Business Essentials - Taking Care of Business
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Salespeople Need Courage

 

Salespeople Need Courage

Few people would deny that it takes courage to sell. Courage is a necessary trait when dealing with rejection on a daily basis; it's a fact of life when selling, something that comes with the territory (no pun intended).

Whether you handle sales yourself, or you manage salespeople, here are some thoughts about courage and how to make yourself or your team feel a whole lot braver.

The Courage that Comes from Knowing

The first kind of courage is related to knowledge. The more a salesperson knows about what they sell, the more courage they will have. This is a good principle to understand if you're training new sales personnel. The fear of saying something wrong or giving incorrect information can be paralyzing and impact a salesperson's ability to sell with confidence. A salesperson should be an expert in what they sell, so they can answer any question or problem a prospect puts to them. It's surprising how much always knowing the answers makes salespeople braver and more successful.

The Courage to Keep Selling

Finding the courage to pick up the phone and make that first appointment is often difficult and is probably the most common trait lacking in a sales force. It also becomes increasingly difficult to muster up the courage to continue selling after receiving multiple rejections. A yes boosts courage, a no increases fear. If the first few calls of a session are refusals, discouragement sets in; success on the other hand increases confidence and the chance of a sale on the next call.

The cure for this fear is the realization that rejections are not personal; they stem from three primary elements of human nature: resistance to change, resistance to things that may add to workload, and a general mistrust of salespeople. Think of those rejections as traffic lights. A red light is not a personal attack, it simply tells someone when to stop, as a green light tells them when to go. Red lights don't keep people from driving, so sales refusals shouldn't keep salespeople from selling. Salespeople probably receive around ten no's to every yes. Realizing the no's aren't personal, and recognizing each no takes them closer to a yes, can help salespeople summon the courage to keep on selling.

The Courage to Ask

A fear of asking for the sale is the perennial stumbling block to getting a sale. It takes courage to ask for a commitment. The courage to ask questions is a vital link to successful closing. Asking questions allows you to present all the facts and information a prospect needs to know in order to make a decision. However, the questions themselves can sometimes require courage.

Rather than offering a statement like "I'll exceed your expectations if you give me the opportunity to provide you with my product or service," how about asking, "Would you be willing to give me the opportunity to exceed your expectations with my product or service?" The first statement doesn't even require the prospect to answer, but the second requires them to make a decision. There is an old saying in sales, "If you are going to get a definite no, get it as early as possible." A firm no allows the salesperson to move on to a more qualified prospect. Expert questioning is a key component in successful selling and using questions wisely will inspire courage to continue to do so with great results.


Being a salesperson can be scary, but it doesn't take a lot to make you braver; ensure you know your stuff, realize rejections are simply red lights, and practice asking the right questions. Climb a rock face or rappel back down for the first time and it's super scary, do it for the 100th time and it's still a challenge, but the abject fear disappears. Courage has a habit of building – sales call by sales call.

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Salespeople Need Courage

 

Are You Managing or Leading?

Successful companies thirty, forty, or even fifty years ago prided themselves on good management; today successful companies are often noted as having good leadership. It turns out that people working under a good leader demonstrate greater productivity. They reach their potential more quickly, stay with their company longer, and move up the management ladder faster. They also, in turn, become better leaders.

But what if you're company, or personal style is not there quite yet, what if you need to make a transition from managing to leading? The paradigm shift you need to make can be significant. If you're an authoritative type who functions best when there are lots of rules and standards, and everyone is being managed so they adhere to those standards, you'll have more difficulty making the shift than someone who is by nature an open, team-player, who enjoys participation with others more than achieving standards. Whatever your natural style, the trend toward leadership is ever-growing. In part, this is due to the fact that companies being "managed" in this way experience better productivity, lower staff turnover, and an improved corporate culture.

Let's have a look at the difference between a manager and a leader.

Managers

Managers manage because they are working in a hierarchy. By definition, a manager has a higher position than those who are subordinate to them. In some cases these subordinates have power over another group of people, make decisions about how those people will work and evaluate their performance. It is a formal authority bestowed on them by a company working within a hierarchical structure. The subordinates do what they are told, and their salary is the primary motivator for their performance.

Managers are often also reporting to someone else and are paid to get a job done using their subordinate workforce. Since the performance of the workforce reflects on their management performance, this translates into productivity being of primary importance to the manager. According to recent research, managers tend to be people who have come from stable backgrounds and lead relatively comfortable lives. They tend not to be risk-takers. In a hierarchical workforce, it is important the team looks upon their manager as more knowledgeable and less prone to making mistakes than they are.

Leaders

Leaders by contrast, do not have subordinates. Even if they are working in hierarchical organizations, they choose to give up their formal authority and invite people to follow. Leaders tend to have a more charismatic style and understand that telling people what to do, does not necessarily inspire them to follow. They tend to be more people-focused than task-focused and are interested in seeing growth and development in those they are leading. This does not mean a leader cannot be task-focused – in fact, many are, but they know how to encourage loyalty and motivate others to work towards the common goals or visions the leader has created.

Leaders appear to be far more likely to take risks. They are comfortable with making changes when problems come along and are not afraid of conflict and confrontation for the betterment of the team. Leaders willingly admit their mistakes and use them as learning tools for the team.

The Transition from Management to Leadership

Why has this transition taken place in recent years and grown in popularity? Studies have shown people are less motivated by money than by job satisfaction – that is a feeling of making a difference, and by doing meaningful work that is valued by others. People in general prefer to be led rather than managed. Traditional management still works and functions in our culture, however a leadership style of management produces better results.

Leadership expert and author Jim Clemmer says, "Leadership is a verb, not a noun. It is action, not a position. It is what we do, not the role we are in." If you have the freedom in your business to make a transition from managing your employees to leading them, it may be well worth the effort. In fact, the effect could be dramatic. Even if you work within a company structure, you can adopt a leadership philosophy within your management style.

How can you make this transition with those you manage? Here are some suggestions:

  • Work alongside them rather than above them on projects and tasks.
  • Invite input from those with whom you work.
  • Remove hierarchical language from your workplace. Begin introducing co-workers as people you work with, rather than people who work for you.
  • Provide an atmosphere conducive to teamwork. Create opportunities for staff to contribute their ideas and thoughts to what's happening in the business.
  • Ensure you acknowledge the successes of individuals when they reach their goals or deliver exceptional performance.
  • Share the load – when one person is struggling beneath a heavy workload, offer help yourself, or bring in other team members to assist.
  • Be vulnerable with your team. Let them know where you struggle, and where your weaknesses are. They will respect you for your authenticity and will feel honoured that you are willing to be "one of them."
  • Inspire your team to work with you, rather than telling them what they should do. When people feel valued, satisfied and significant in their work, they are more creative, productive, and cooperative.

The transition from managing to leading can produce great results. Try making a few changes and see how your team responds. If you enjoy the results typical of this kind of transition, you will find your team working harder, faster, happier, and more productively than ever before.

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Salespeople Need Courage

 

Executive Leadership - What is your legacy?

"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do."
- Epictetus, Greek Philosopher

As a business owner or as a leader in an organization, it is important to take the time to think about the mark you wish to leave. How do you want to be remembered when you leave an organization, retire from your position, or even pass away? What is your legacy?

It's not about living up to others' expectations or wishes, it is about living up to your own expectations and dreams. It's about understanding how and what others think of you and whether this is consistent with the person you want to be, the legacy you want to leave, and how you want to be seen by the world.

Your actions speak louder than your words. As a human being, whether you are a leader, a parent, a teacher, or whatever your position in life, you are a role model to those who know and surround you. The question is; what role model do you want to portray?

Susan Scott in her book Fierce Conversations speaks about taking responsibility for your emotional wake. She describes it as "... what you remember after I'm gone. What you feel. The aftermath, aftertaste, or afterglow." As Scott states using the analogy of a boat's wake, we need to know how our words and actions affect others and therefore be conscious of "...the wake I was [you are] leaving during my [your] conversations with others."

In Dicken's Christmas Carol, Scrooge had the opportunity to see himself through other people's eyes. It was a reality check for him as to how others saw him. The legacy he was leaving behind at the outset of the ghostly visits changed dramatically to what he desired at the end of the tale. He changed dramatically, becoming the person he wanted to be, and leaving the legacy he wanted to leave.

When you figure out what you want your legacy to be, it's a good time to reflect upon how others view you and determine if the two are in sync. Sometimes how you think others view you and how they actually see you are two different things. It is important to be honest with yourself and find out what others genuinely see in you. Ask your subordinates, colleagues, and family members, what comes to mind when they think of you? What is the lasting impression you are leaving? Stop and listen to what they say. Ask curious questions to find out what has made them come to these conclusions. As hard as it may be, do not interrupt or be defensive, it is an exercise in seeing yourself through another's eyes, to truly view what your legacy might be. The ability to change is within us all.

Paul Abra, Motivated Coaching

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