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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Attention and Adaptation in the Digital Era

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One, one thousand.

Two, one thousand.

Three, one thousand.

Where are you going with this?  

Four, one thousand.

Five, one thousand.

Ahem, I have more important things to do. 

Six, one thousand.

Seven, one thousand.

Get to the point!!! 

Eight, one thousand. Done!

The point is to illustrate—in words only—the interval of eight seconds.

Why? Because eight seconds is the average attention span of a North American, revealed last year in a study by Microsoft Corp.

Topics: Sales sales training

The Compound Effect - Start With the End in Mind

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In a former life, I was a professional triathlete and triathlon coach. I helped athletes with a wide range of athletic backgrounds accomplish one of the greatest physical tests of endurance known to man: completing the Ironman, a combined 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. When clients would first come to me and ask for advice about their training plan, they would inevitably ask, “What do I need to do to be able to finish the Ironman?” The answer was the same for each client: “You need to be able to swim 2.4 miles, ride 112 miles and run 26.2 miles in one day." That was a very definitive end goal, and the goal had a definitive date. The challenge then became how to take them from where they were physically on that first day, to that end point several months (or for some, years) away, ending at the Ironman finish line.  

Maybe I’m a little late to the party, but I have just been turned on to the book “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy. I wanted to share a few thoughts on its relevance to sales managers and leaders—and how it relates to my story of someone training to complete an Ironman. You might not realize it, but some of the challenges that sales managers face when building a sales organization are similar to what triathlon coaches are up against when training an athlete for the challenge of the Ironman. These challenges are: defining the goal, creating the strategy to accomplish the goal, and taking the required steps needed to accomplish the goal.

Topics: Sales sales training coaching

"I Just Hired a Green Salesperson. Now What?"

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Most strong managers, when searching for the right talents, skills, and experience, recognize that the talent piece is primary. If a salesperson doesn’t have the talent, he or she can’t be highly successful. Once you have someone who has talent, you can provide the right coaching that turns that potential into skill. So, that leaves only the area of experience where there may be some “give”—which is exactly why I know there is a good chance you have hired some pretty green salespeople.

Topics: Sales sales training coaching

How to Retain Your Millennials and Increase Their Performance

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For years we heard that the Millennials joining the workforce were chasing adventure. They wanted to work for cool start-ups, collaborate with other Millennials, and change the world!

Surprisingly, a new Inforsys and Future Foundation study of 16-25 year olds shows that this may not be the whole story. It appears that a large portion of this group of fresh faces is craving security and stability rather than spontaneous adventure in their jobs.

Knowing this, you might wonder, "If they want stability in their work, why do we have a retention problem with Millennials in our workforce? Why aren’t these younger workers settling in for the long-haul?" Good questions! A 2015 Gallup Poll found that Millennials are the least-engaged cohort in the workplace, with only 28.9% saying that they are engaged at work.

Topics: Talent sales training

Does it Pay to Invest Resources in Bottom Performing or Top Performing Salespeople?

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For most sales organizations, your sales team most likely represents a wide range of personalities, experience levels as well as performance levels. Organizations typically have top performers or “all stars” as well as those that struggle each month to meet their sales quota or budget for the month. If your organization has determined there are some areas where your sales team can perform better and resources of time and money are available, where do you invest these limited resources? Do you focus on coaching up your bottom performers, do you bring in new talent, or do you focus on maximizing the performance of your top performers?

Topics: hiring salespeople Talent sales training

Sales Performance Metrics: Teams That Keep Track of the Score Are More Successful

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As a parent of two small children, I've coached my share of soccer teams over the years. I like to think that my teams learned something from my coaching and leadership, but I am starting to think that I learned more from them.

Many of the lessons I have learned can be applied to sales and specifically sales management: the team that keeps score does best, practice like you intend to play, and you are only as strong as your weakest player.

Topics: Sales sales training

How Online Courses Help Ease the Transition for New Sales Hires

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School is now in full swing, and watching my kids adjust to new schools this year reminds me of what it felt like to start a new sales job. There’s always a transition that includes many different learning curves. In middle school, the transitions and learning curves include a change in class structure, multiple teachers and curriculum, new extracurricular commitments, and social pressure. With a new sales job, the transitions and learning curves include embracing a new culture, learning to meet the expectations of new leadership, taking on new functions within a sales job and social pressure.

One of the best ways to ease the pain of transition is to offer new sales hires training—training in areas that help introduce skills needed or training for existing salespeople to enhance skills they may have already developed but can always improve. 

Topics: Sales sales training

So You’ve Hired Some “Green” Salespeople. Now What?

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All sales managers know that it’s important to have a full staff of salespeople in order to hit your goals. But you know how risky and ineffective it is simply to hire anyone who can fog a mirror. It’s essential to hire only the right people. 

When searching for the right talents, skills, and experience, strong sales managers recognize that talent is primary. If a salesperson doesn’t have the talent, he or she can’t be highly successful. Once onboard, the right coaching will turn those talents into skills. That leaves experience. Research tells us, and it’s kind of counterintuitive, that experience is the least accurate indicator of future success—which is why many good sales managers hire some pretty green salespeople. 

But just because prior experience (even lots of it) doesn’t guarantee success doesn’t mean that lack of experience isn’t going to be a problem. Of course, it will be. Talented newbies are still newbies. They’ll be great one day and your decision will be very smart in retrospect, but you can’t wait 12 months to see if they’re going to make it. You need to play a proactive role in their development so they gain the needed experience as quickly as possible. 

Many companies we work with have a pretty good onboarding plan, yet nearly every manager wants to know if there is something more they can do to get these rookies productive sooner. The answer is yes. Here is what I recommend to help those new to sales ramp up quickly.

Topics: sales management Sales sales training