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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Christi Cool

Recent Posts by Christi Cool:

Employee Morale and Retention – Money Talks, but Caring is Key

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Have you ever watched a TV show and been able to connect a character’s behavior to something specific in your life or work experience? I had that happen to me recently. If you watch the Bravo reality series, Flipping Out, you are familiar with Jeff Lewis and his reputation for being opinionated, outspoken, slightly neurotic with a quick, dry wit and a direct communication style. I actually love his personality! However, he can easily rub others the wrong way and he often has major conflict with those closest to him. 

On a recent episode, Jeff admitted how valuable his design assistant Vanina is to him and how much he relies on her for the success of his business. He explained that he’d recently given her a substantial raise to let her know just how much he appreciates her. Regardless, in this episode, she broke down in tears and admitted she was ready to leave because she felt overworked and underappreciated. 

Topics: sales management Talent coaching

Are You a Good Talent Detective?

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Recently, I watched a documentary on Russian ballerinas. The film highlighted the rigorous training and selection process that these aspiring dancers endure to become professionals. The instructors and directors of the Russian dance companies have very specific attributes and talents that they look for when selecting dancers. They look for and identify these talents as they watch the dancers in action because they know these talents are essential and often difficult to find. Unfortunately for these aspiring dancers, most just don’t have the talent to become a prima ballerina.

Similarly, not everyone has the talent to be a successful salesperson.

It’s very smart to use a validated talent interview to uncover the innate abilities of your sales candidates and predict their future success in sales. It’s like the final auditions the Russian ballerinas must nail before they are invited to join the company. But make sure you are scouting for talent long before audition day! You have plenty of opportunities to discover potential all around you as you observe other people in action. With consistent practice, you can sharpen your eye to spot signs of potential in these areas every day.

Topics: Talent

Football vs Sales – Key Elements in Coaching a Winning Team!

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Football. It is one of America’s favorite past times. Growing up in the South, football has been a part of my life since I was a small child. College football is literally in my blood, as my grandfather, father and brother all played football where they attended college. 

As an alumnus of Auburn University and a passionate supporter of the Auburn Tigers football team, I clearly remember the amazing turnaround from 2014 to 2015. In 2014, Auburn finished the season with a dismal record of 3-9 overall and 0-8 in the SEC, but those of us who love Auburn stood by our team and believed things would eventually get better. 

Who knew what a difference a year would make?  In one short year, head coach Gus Malzahn led the Auburn Tigers to a 12-1 overall winning record, clinching the SEC Championship title, and earning a trip to Pasadena to play in the BCS National Championship title game against undefeated Florida State University.  

A successful head coach of a winning football team can be likened to a successful manager of a winning sales team. A sales manager after all is “coaching” his or her team to success, wins, and GROWTH. There are three important areas that both a head coach and a sales manager should keep in mind when coaching their teams to success:

Topics: Management Talent

Managing Highly Talented Salespeople – Is It Worth the Trouble?

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After years of coaching salespeople, I firmly believe that those with extreme talent are much more challenging to coach! As a manager, are you willing to put in the time and effort to coach a talented candidate to greatness?

Topics: Talent Sales coaching

Effective Coaching: Overcoming the Urge to Sell for Your Salespeople

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I recently had a conversation with a manager who asked me: “What do I need to keep in mind when I, as a highly-competitive person, am managing a seller who is also highly competitive?” He was concerned that because they both had highly-competitive natures, he may have a tendency to want to compete with his own direct report, which he instinctively knew would work against them both in the end. I gave an analogy to the manager that I would tell any manager, competitive or not.

Topics: sales management Sales

Recruitment Networking Not Finding Great Talent? How to Do It Right

networkingCongratulations to all those of you who have shifted your sales staff recruitment emphasis from advertising and job boards to personal networking. Networking sometimes produces more quantity (if that’s what you want) and invariably produces more quality, but only if it’s done right.

The age-old approach—I’m looking for a salesperson. Do you know of anyone who’s looking?—is the worst way.

It has two unforgivable, unsavable shortcomings:

  • It squanders the personal value of your network. Many of the people in your various personal networks care about you and their relationship with you. They’re a lot more willing than are strangers to do a little work on your behalf. But you’re not asking them to.
  • Your ask is vague and weak. It sounds almost un-serious. It suggests that recipients need not give your request any more attention than you did. You have an opportunity to make a very specific solicitation of candidates that will engage your network and prompt some of them to suggest candidates who meet your specs.
Topics: Talent

You Can’t Hire a Great Salesperson Right Now

iStock_000016534806_SmallYou can’t hire a great salesperson right now. I know that’s what you want. I hear you saying that’s what you need. But I’m telling you it’s not going to happen. How do I know?

Because if you’re telling me this is your big, urgent need, then you’re also telling me that you don’t know just where you’ll find that person. That makes it clear to me that you don’t have a talent bank. And without a talent bank, the likelihood that you will hire a great salesperson right now is near zero. You might hire a great one, but it will take you much longer than you’d like. Or you could make a hire real soon, but it won’t be a top talent who can grow into a top performer.

The Magic of a Talent Bank

Topics: Talent

The 8 Talents Every Salesperson Needs to Succeed

27689226_sDid you hear about sixth-grader Katie Francis, who set a new world record by selling 21,477 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies? On weekdays, Katie put in about seven hours every day selling cookies. So she rested on weekends, right? Nope. She put in 12 hours a day on the weekends! She’s certainly got stamina and focus.

"I actually decided last year I wanted to beat the world record, and at the beginning of my sale my goal was 18,100. When I got to that goal, I raised it to 20,000. And then when I got to that, I went on to 21,000," she explained to a national TV audience. So Katie’s a goal-setter—and reaching a goal just motivates her to set a higher goal.

To be successful in sales, Katie quickly learned you can't take "no" personally. So this young lady has a solid ego that rejects rejection along with an agile mind that readily learns and adapts.

If you think she was taught all that—all that stamina, focus, goal-setting, inner motivation, healthy ego, rapidly learning, not to mention that ability to persuade and close—it’s time to reset your coordinates. These are talents, and talents are innate. Katie was born that way, and fortunately, her talents were fostered not quashed. Katie is exceptional, as are all talented people.

No parent, no teacher, no coach can train someone to behave in those ways. Talent cannot be taught or learned, but it can be identified, measured, and fostered. That’s what the best managers do.

Topics: Sales