I believe that a certain amount of skepticism is valuable when dealing with potential buyers. This is because sellers are predisposed to have "happy ears" when trying to understand if their customers want to do business with their company. Another challenge for sellers is that potential buyers do not like to give bad news to sellers and thus may wait until the last possible moment to deliver that news. My belief in the value of healthy skepticism in sales is supported by the work of some of my favorite authors on the topic of sales, such as Tom Freese, Brent Adamson, Marcus Sheridan and Ian Altman.
Has your sales team said to you that they need more referrals and better references? If you have heard this from your team, this is the article for you. The reference selling model was something I developed at NetApp and was a key part of my onboarding process and well as our team's regular selling motion. In 2008 our team represented 1/58 of the sales force and about 20% of the case studies. In fact, one customer enjoyed this process so much they gave us an award. The benefits of this model include:
The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business. - Zig Ziglar
In my career, I have found that this statement is absolutely true. I have spent most of my career selling technology to large enterprises or government organizations. To drive big outcomes with those customers, it is important to have executive level relationships. If your does not have those relationships, how can your team develop them?
This week I heard a Podcast where Clay Scroggins was interviewed about his new book entitled How to Lead When You Are Not In Charge. The book is the personal story of the leadership lessons learned by Clay starting from an intern to a Church Pastor. Don't discount the leadership advice from a pastor! If you have ever had the opportunity to lead in a nonprofit, you know that this is the hardest leadership job available.
How do you know if you are developing leaders? If you are working your tail off, and others are standing around, you are not doing a great job developing leaders. If your leaders are developing leaders, you know you are succeeding at leadership development. As a leader of a growing organization your main job is to develop leaders that will take over what you are doing now so you can focus on what is next.
Change will happen whether you embrace or resist it. A taxi driver may talk about Uber as an evil force, and the sales person can resist online ordering for fear of her job. Resisting market forces will not stop them. Rather than resisting market forces, one may need to update her skills from an order taker to someone who creates a connection with a customer. The neighborhood baker had to change his offering when supermarkets started selling baked goods. Change in the marketplace creates the opportunity to differentiate by offering an experience through a human connection.
A high performance culture has a focus on and regularly achieves intended results. Building a high performance culture starts with building great leadership team. Assuming that that employees understand what is important, and know what it takes to do their job successfully, is the second mistake of average leaders. If bad behaviors exists, it is because the leader allows those behaviors to exist.
In my experience, reference checking is one of the best ways to determine a good fit for a potential employee or vendor. Unfortunately, when I have been asked to provide references as a potential employee or vendor, few have followed up to talk with the reference. Of the references who were interviewed, the conversations tended to be short. In some cases, the reference checker might have already made their decision and is just going through the motions. In other cases, the reference checker might be inexperienced at asking great questions.