6 competencies every sales team must master

6 Competencies Your Sales Team Must Master

When it comes to creating human connection, I always amazed how often I see a sales team missing these fundamental competencies.

Why This Matters

My friend looked at me in bewilderment as I explained why I couldn’t buy that “perfectly good” house in the neighborhood with the great schools, close to the University of Maryland where I teach, BWI airport, our church, and our gym.

“I love the house. It’s a great community. But I just can’t trust that builder. If they hire someone LIKE HER as their sales manager, I question who’s running the place. How can they allow her to act so cocky? How can we be sure their project managers or contractors will be any less self-centered? I’m sorry, I know you like it, but can we just keep looking a little more?”

We settled on a similar house a mile down the road. They probably thought it was the fireplace options. Nope. It was “Sarah.”

6 Competencies Your Sales Team Must Master

Great selling never feels like it. That’s why so many companies are moving away from traditional sales roles and teaching their teams to be “consultants,” “strategic partners,” and “solutions architects.” Of course a rose by any other name… Here are six key competencies fundamental to your sales team’s success.

1. Knowing When To Walk Away

Kenny Rodgers was right, at least on this note.  Your team will do more harm selling the wrong fit. Train your team to understand the value proposition behind: “I’m not sure this is the best solution for you right now, may I recommend…(insert competitors name here).” Trust me, I do this all the time in my own business. It’s painful. But this approach builds loyalty and referrals. Never sell anyone anything that isn’t just right.

Your customers must know that your team has best interests at heart. They have to be sure you care more about their mission and the greater good, than your numbers.

2. Asking Great Questions

Your team can’t make great recommendations if they don’t get the scene. Train them to ask strategic, open-ended questions and truly listen to the response.

3. Showing Up With Confident Humility

Your customers want to know you have a great solution to their problem. Start with a great product that your team can be proud of. Then work hard to get your team past their own agendas, listening well to offer real solutions that meet the need. If it’s ever more about the sales guy than the customer, you’re sunk. You can’t fake confident humility.

4. Building Genuine Connection

People don’t do business with businesses, they do business with human beings. Encourage your team to slow down and learn about the people they’re working with. Then stay connected by remaining interested. “How did your daughter do in that game?” “How was your trip?” “Is your wife feeling any better?”

5. Staying Patient

Yes, I know that most B2B sales take at least seven touch-points before the decision maker takes action. Of course your best sales people stay hungry. But no one wants to be rushed into a decision. Customers appreciate being given the space to make the right decision.

6. Giving Generously

Almost every day I get asked, “If you keep giving away all this free content why would any one ever hire you?” Sure there are companies that will take your free ______ (trial, consulting, white paper) and run. But those aren’t the clients you want to work with in the long run. Teach your sales team to give generously and add value above all else. It might take some time, but your company will be top of mind when they’re (and others they know) are ready.

In an era where almost anything can be bought with one click, if your customer wants to talk to a human, be sure they’re a good one.

A Deeper Dive into Developing Your People

When I ask managers where they regret not spending enough time, unequivocally, the number one answer is “Not spending enough time developing my people.” There never seems to be enough time, or resources, or support from above, or fill in your favorite blank here _______. And yet when I ask managers to identify one thing they KNOW would improve their results, you guessed it… the same answer, “If only I had more time to develop my people.”

Perhaps you’ve felt that way. Trust your instinct.

I will never forget the year that I shifted my approach to spending 30% of my time developing people–within three months results had taken a hockey stick turn for the better and engagement was way up.

Sure, it’s scary.

Yes, it takes serious effort.

But no matter how competent you are, you are one person.

No matter how hard you work, developing a team of A players will blow anything you can do on your own.

Spending 10% of your time developing your people is standard. For three months, try investing 30% and see what happens…

A Metaphor From the Deep

As I was doing a lot of underwater photography while scuba diving in Bonaire over the Christmas holidays, my mind kept moving to what a wonderful metaphor underwater photography is for employee development. So here’s a bit of deep-dive reflection for you as you begin your 2016 developmental planning process.

Be Still and Observe

48c5bb99-4289-44d8-b7c0-b5306141ab63

Sometimes the biggest developmental needs are the least obvious. Invest the time to observe behaviors across a variety of contexts and situations. Where do they feel most confident? What scares them? How are others responding to their style? Where do they need to be challenged? In which areas do they need some additional training?

Anticipate the Future

It’s impossible to get a decent picture of a swimming fish by pointing the camera where the fish is, you’ve got to anticipate where they’re heading. It’s the same with employee development. Great employee developers envision what their employees are capable of becoming and help people see themselves as more than they ever thought possible. Then they build the development plan with that lens in mind.sting ray

Be Patient

lion fishThe hardest part of underwater photography for me is patience. My inclination is to chase the fish, which of course scares them. Sometimes it’s important to move a little slower, to build confidence and incremental improvement.

There’s no greater gift you can give your team then challenging them to become more than they ever thought possible. Go deep.

 

What's Going to Happen to You in 2016

If only you had a crystal ball. The planning, the decisions, the choices would be so much easier. But you don’t. And those decisions and tradeoffs aren’t easy. Should you stay? Should you go? Is that project realistic? What if they reorganize… again? Are you getting the whole story?

What You Do Know About 2016

There’s much you can’t possible predict. But I’m confident…

  • A co-worker will really tick you off.
  • An unlikely subject will surprise you with their generosity.
  • Work you do will be vastly under-appreciated.
  • You’ll learn something new.
  • You’ll regret what you said.
  • He’ll take more credit than he should.
  • It will be one of those weeks.
  • The balance will get way off kilter.
  • You will know you did the best you could.
  • You will screw it up.
  • The news will suck.
  • You will fix it.

Knowing natural ups and downs are going to happen, and they are happening to everyone, will help you save vital energy for what matters most.

There’s much freedom that knowing the minor frustrations are not so much a matter of “if” but “when.” That way when they do show up, instead of reacting poorly you can say “Oh there you are… I’ve been expecting you” and keep perspective on your bigger mission.

I was inspired to write this post when my blogging hero, Seth Godin, shared his more universal Surefire Predictions.

How to Launch a Successful Project

Have you ever been handed an “impossible” project, only to realize that the next step is to convince your team it’s completely doable?

In this video, I share two manager’s responses to the identical task. The project was identical, their team’s response and level of engagement is worlds apart.

I imagine both scenarios will feel scarily familiar. What can you do to encourage more from scene number two in the New Year?

Thanks so much for your support of Let’s Grow Leaders in 2015. I love the feedback I’m receiving on the 2016 planning survey. If you have asked for something specific, and not included your contact information, please send me a note to let me know how I can reach out to you.

Also for anyone near the DC area, I’m excited to be supporting the Project Management Day of Service, where hundreds of project managers will volunteer their time to help non-profits organize and plan their projects. There are lots of ways to get involved, from volunteering to signing up your non-profit to benefit from the free services, or becoming a sponsor. It’s an amazing endeavor. Last year they had over 400 project managers donating their time and helped over 100 organizations. I encourage you to check it out.

I’m not going to be writing between Christmas and New Years, spending time with extended family and headed out on a scuba trip (Sebastian’s first, now that he has aged in at 10.)

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Namaste,

Karin

grow in peace

7 Reasons Managers Move to the Dark Side

Darth Vader wasn’t always a mysterious meanie, the Grinch’s heart didn’t start out two sizes too small, and as legend has it, Mr. Scrooge was once a charming and likable fellow.

Chances are that jerk in your office didn’t start out as a horse’s behind either. So why do so many managers move to the dark side–putting their Winning Well common sense aside and becoming a destructive force for their teams?

7 Reasons Managers Move to the Dark Side

It doesn’t happen all at once. The gradual unravelling happens for a variety of reasons. You can help prevent this tragic demise by recognizing these signs.

  1. Fear: The move to the dark side often begins with a fear of speaking up for what’s right. Managers figure it’s safer to lay low and let it go. Failure to stop the wrong behaviors, condones them and feeds the dark force.
  2. Insecurity: “If I act tough, no one will see how scared I am.” It’s impossible to manage well if you’re wrestling with your own self-doubt.
  3. Incompetence: “Fake it till you make it,” is a terrible approach to management. Far better to play to your strengths and get the support you need in other arenas.
  4. Greed: If it’s all about you, your team will see right through.
  5. Scarcity Mindset: “There’s not enough _______ (resources, bonus money, promotions) to go around.” The behaviors that mindset drives are self-fulfilling. When you don’t invest…in training, tools, relationships…you stifle the growth you could have achieved with a more generous spirit.
  6. Drunk on Power: Relying on position to get things done may be efficient, but drains the life-force out of otherwise effective employees.
  7. Misunderstood Role Models: A lot of times leaders get to their positions DESPITE a bad habit or two. Don’t emulate poor behavior because you think it will help you get ahead.

To gain a better understanding of these dark side behaviors, I’m was delighted to grab a few minutes with this Sith Lord, when he was in town promoting his latest flick.

Winning Well books at the bookstore

The Inside Story

As we prepare for our Winning Well speaking tour, I’m deeply grateful for the opportunity to talk with the media about our mission to help leaders Win Well–without losing their soul.

Today, I’m sharing My Interview with Dr. Gayle Carson.

We discuss:

  • Why I left Verizon to pursue this dream
  • The most difficult part of transitioning from executive to entrepreneur
  • How I’m looking to make a difference in the world
  • What makes my multi-media course unique and who can most benefit
  • Advice for others beginning their entrepreneurial journey
  • What inspired me to write Winning Well
  • The art of collaboration
  • My 5 year vision for Let’s Grow Leaders

Winning Well-3DWinning Well is now available for pre-order (lowest price guarantee, and eligible for Prime shipping), click here. If you’re an LGL fan, please know that pre-orders significantly enhance market positioning…and will help us spread the Winning Well mission more quickly.

AMAZON is offering 25% off any book through Dec. 14th. See offer here. 

We are booking dates now for our Winning Well speaking tour. If you’re interested learning more, please call me at 443-750-1249.

California LGL Community

The Winning Well Tour is taking me to CA for 2 weeks in May. And since CA is a long way from MD, I’d love to add more sites to the itinerary. I’ll be in Long Beach the week of 5/10 and Santa Monica the week of 5/26. This would be a great opportunity to add speaking/training/consulting  without having to fund the travel. Please reach out if you would like to talk more.

 

Great 360 Degree Feedback Tools

8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Low on Your 360 Feedback Assessment

Without a doubt, the peer rating is by far the most consistent shocker for folks taking a 360 degree feedback assessment. Managers usually have a good grip on what their boss thinks, and at least an inkling of the pain points for their direct reports, but for some reason peer feedback tends to feel like stepping on a Lego in the middle of the night– yikes, where did THAT come from?

As I work with managers to dig underneath such painful perceptions, here are 8 key issues that continue to surface.

8 Reasons Your Peers Rate You Poorly

  1. You fight for your team at all costs.
    Of course this is generally a good characteristic, but anything taken to extremes can become toxic. Sometimes the best person for the special assignment is not the guy on your team, it’s Bobby on Mark’s team. Sometimes your team screws up. Sometimes the bigger bonus needs to go to the guy on the other team who knocked it out of the park, even though your teams been working hard too. Yes, advocate for your team. But also take a step back to be able to stay objective.
  2. You hoard talent.
    You’ve nurtured gaggle of A players, but now you’re afraid to let them go. You’re sure to put the best talent on your projects and give the leftovers to support other objectives.
  3. You’re lazy.
    They’re tired of picking up the slack.
  4. They don’t know you.
    You show up, do you work, and go home. You don’t let anyone know who you are a person. It’s hard to trust a bot.
  5. You don’t know them.
    You work side-by-side but never take a personal interest in anything they’re doing. They’re far more likely to trust the guy in the next cube who remembers their mother is ill and that they like to eat pizza on Tuesdays.
  6. You withhold best practices.
    You’ve figured out a way to do the work faster, cheaper, or with higher quality–and you enjoy being at the top of the stack rank, so you’re slow to share the secret to your success.
  7. You don’t follow-through.
    They can’t count on you to do what you say you will.
  8. You under-communicate.
    You’re doing great work, but it’s in a silo. No one knows quite what is going on.

If you don’t know where you stand with your peers, it’s worth asking. Effective peer relationships are one of the consistent predictors of career advancement. 

Now Available

At last, my next book, Winning Well (being published by AMACOM) is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Winning Well-3DIt can feel like a rigged game. Executives set impossible goals, so managers drive their teams to burnout trying to deliver. Employees demand connection and support, so managers focus on relationships and fail to make the numbers. The fallout is stress, frustration, and disengagement, and not just among team members―two-thirds of managers report being disengaged.

To succeed, managers need balance: they must push people to achieve while creating an environment that makes them truly want to. Winning Well offers a quick, practical action plan―complete with examples, stories, online assessments, and more―for getting the results you need. Managers learn how to:

• Stamp out the corrosive win-at-all-costs mentality
• Focus on the game, not just the score
• Reinforce behaviors that produce results
• Set clear expectations―delegating outcomes rather than focusing on process
• Celebrate even small successes
• Correct poor performance using the INSPIRE accountability method
• Demonstrate confidence and humility
• Energize teams to sustain excellent performance
• And more!

Today’s hypercompetitive economy has created tense, overextended workplaces. Keep it productive, rewarding, and even fun with this one-stop success kit.

I know this book will add value for your teams. Pre-orders significantly help the positioning of the book in the marketplace. I truly appreciate the support of the LGL community in spreading the word, and buying some advance copies for your team.  

I’m also booking keynotes and workshops for the Winning Well book tour this Spring. Please call me at 443 750-1249 to discuss further.

6 Reasons to Give Your Team More Upward Exposure

“If I bring my SME along to the meeting, my boss will think I don’t know what I’m doing.”

“She’s a little rough around the edges. She’s not ready for that kind of exposure.”

“Not all exposure is good exposure. What if he says something stupid?”

These are just a few of the reasons managers give for keeping their employees in the background doing the heavy lifting, while they present the results and negotiate the political landscape. Of course, from one perspective that makes a lot of sense. It’s more efficient to have the workers doing the work, and let the managers explain it. But there’s also much lost in such division of labor.

When a manager serves as an Ambassador, they know that true advocacy also involves teaching their team how to position the work that they do.

6 Reasons to Give Your Team More Upward Exposure

    1. The Spotlight Will Show Up When You Least Expect It
      Perhaps the most pragmatic reason to get your team comfortable speaking at the next level is that someday, you won’t be around and they’ll need to. Some exec will start asking questions as they poke about, and if your employee’s not prepared, he’ll likely stick his foot in his mouth.
    2. It’s the Best Way to Understand the Bigger Picture
      No matter how many times you explain “why” you are asking your team to do something, somehow when your boss says it, the lightbulbs go off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my managers say, “You know I said that exact thing, but when you said it, they listened.” Sure it’s frustrating. But the point isn’t who gets credit for getting through–the point is getting through.
    3. They’ll Learn By Watching You
      Bringing your employees along gives them a great chance to watch you in a more senior environment. They’ll learn more from watching than anything you could tell them.
    4. They’ll Learn By Watching Your Boss
      I’ll never forget the first time I walked onto the C-level floor. The atmosphere was completely different than the scurry below. There was a calm intensity and standard protocol. Not easy to explain. The only way I learned to swim in those waters was to watch the bigger fish.
    5. The Preparation Is Great Development
      The conversation you have while preparing for, and debriefing, the session is full of opportunities for growth and connection.
    6. It Takes Time to Build a Brand
      Don’t wait until Jane is perfectly ready to be promoted until you start talking up her accomplishments and skills. A slow and steady trickle of positive exposure will lay a strong foundation when it’s time to throw her hat in the ring.

It’s natural to want to protect your team until their completely ready for higher level exposure. Don’t throw them into the spotlight under-prepared, but regular exposure to higher level people and strategy will go a long way in accelerating their development.

How to Build a High-Performing Team- despite a stack-ranked performance management system

Bell curves bring out the worst in your best. Rewarding individual performance drives individual behavior. Yet most performance management systems do just that.

Of course unless you’re running HR, you’re can’t change the system, but you can build great teams within it.

In this video I share 6 ways to encourage true teamwork and collaboration.

Lead past the curve to greatness.

 

If you’re looking to take your team to the next level, I’d love to give you a demo or my online course, Results that Last, just send me an email at karin.hurt@letsgrowleaders.com

8 Secrets to Creating a Collaborative Culture

I’ve never met someone who would admit to preferring drama over collaboration. And yet, most cultures have too much drama, too little collaboration. What’s up with that?

This weekend we stayed in a beach house in Nags Head with my sister, and 28 of her closest friends (most of whom we had never met) to run the Outer Banks Southern Fried racing weekend. The kids ran the 5K and the grown-ups ran the 1/2 marathon.

We’ve been here since Thursday night, as of this writing (Sunday at 7:57 pm), there’s been zero drama and no fistacuffs (did I mention there are 14 boys between the ages of 10-16?)

The leadership anthropologist in me is fascinated by this dynamic. So here’s what I’ve observed from this incubator of positive collaboration.

8 Secrets to Creating a Collaborative Culture

connector (1)Got collaboration issues? Try nurturing a few of these elements.

  1. Respect–For The “Other Team’s” Goals and Objectives
    Every family came with a gaggle of  objectives. Some wanted a breath to connect. Some ready to run their personal best. Some were marathoning virgins, just trying to finish. We all put it out there in one way or another, and we all cheered on.
  2.  Norms–Big Rules are Discussed, Respected and Upheld
    Some were easy, “No kid goes to the beach without a grown-up.” But who goes to the PG13 movie is a heck of a lot trickier when the village is involved.
  3. Patience– No Child (or Grown-Up) Left Behind
    Herding 29 took longer. We had to breathe.
  4. Humor–We’re Laughing With You, Not At You (okay, okay, maybe a few times at you, but it’s all in good fun)
    I promised not to say more, to protect the innocent.
  5. Branding–The Power of Being Part of Something Biggershirts
    We branded our team with a great orange tee-shirt. We were easy to spot. The best part was when we got pulled in with the locals to staff the 5K finish–apparently they needed some friendlies, and that was our brand. Apparently our kids weren’t at all surprised to see us at the end of the race handing out medals and bananas. #thatsawin
  6. Rituals-Creating and Respecting
    We had a 16th birthday, a Baptismal anniversary, some firsts, and some other commotion. Some good, some tricky, all shared.
  7. Skills–Knowing What You’re Good at and Bringing All Your Gifts to the Party
    The cooks cooked, the cleaners cleaned, the creatives made a party, the singers got the birthday celebration on key. My husband cooked. #miracle. No one asked about their role, they just stepped up.
  8. Boundaries–Letting Go of Your Have to-Haves, and Hanging On To Your Must Dos
    Every team had a room. If your door was shut, the communal game was off, except for my sister (during my after-run nap) when she was on the wrong floor, thinking it was her room.

Collaboration takes energy and effort. Let go to grow fast.

P.S. The Connector Role is part of my 7 Roles Every Manager Must Master Model. Want to learn more? Contact me at karin.hurt@letsgrowleaders.com to set up a demo of my new online course.

4 Reasons Your Feedback is Being Ignored

The number one frustration I hear from team leaders is that their feedback falls on deaf ears. The employee seems to get it–for a minute, and then they go right back to their old habits.

So they give the same feedback again, this time “louder” either literally, or through progressive discipline, or sadly sometimes threats or biting sarcasm.

Sure, there are some folks out there “you just can’t fix,” but frequently that’s not the real issue.

4 Reasobuilderns Your Feedback is Being Ignored

When I turn the tables and ask the employees why the behavior continues, here’s what they tell me.

  1. The Feedback Flood Factor
    “I’m trying to do better, I really am. But it’s all just too much. Every time we meet, he’s giving me something else to work on. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get it right, so I’ve learned to just block him out and do the best I can.” If you want real change, isolate one behavior at a time.
  2. The “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” Factor
    “My boss keeps telling me my customer courtesy credits are too high– that I’m costing the business too much money. So I really worked on that for a while. But then, I found my customers started to ask to speak to my supervisor. And guess, what? She always gave them the credit! She looks like the hero, and the credit she gives them goes against my numbers and I still end up on progressive action.” If you want your employees to hear your feedback, be sure you’re following your own standards. If there are reasons you make exceptions, be sure you clearly differentiate and explain the thought process, so they can follow consistent parameters.
  3. The “I Don’t Know How” Factor
    “My manager says I need to be more strategic. That sounds awesome. I’m all for that. But what does that mean? How do I do that?” Be sure your feedback is specific and actionable. Explain what success looks like in terms of specific behaviors.
  4. The “I Disagree” Factor
    “My supervisor keeps asking me to do this, but I just don’t think it’s right. It’s going to have a negative impact on MY customers. I’ve tried to explain my concerns, but she just keeps citing policy, and that this decision is ‘above my pay grade.’ ” Sure, we all have to implement policies we may not agree with, the important factor here is to really listen to the concerns and explain why. Just shutting down the conversation MAY lead to compliance, but not always. And it certainly won’t lead to commitment.

Most employees want to do a good job. If your feedback is being ignored, dig deeper to get to root cause.

How to Improve Your Balanced Scorecard: An LGL Video

As Builder week continues on Let’s Grow Leaders, I’m mixing it up a bit and sharing some insights on Improving Your Balanced Scorecard. This video is part of my online multi-media series. Click here to learn more and download some free resources as well.

Also, I’m going to be mixing in more video from time to time. I’d love for you to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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