How do I prevent my co-workers from sabotaging my sales?

This is a Sales Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.

They're not me, they don't share my attitude, motivation, abilities... but, we are a TEAM.

Q.  I work with a number of people who have little sense of professional treatment and courtesy for internal customers.  The behavior is now escalating to a higher level to the customers, and is giving our showroom a bad rap.  How do I maintain a professional standard and prevent my co-workers from sabotaging my sales?

A.  Welcome to the world of sales.  Believe me, there may be a sales person out there somewhere who has not shared your same frustrations, but I have yet to run into him.

In other words, you are not alone.  Frustration with co-workers seems to be one of the things that is part of the job of the field sales person, like sitting in waiting rooms for hours, getting slowed down in heavy traffic, and dealing with voice mail – it just comes with the territory. Every sales person has, or will have, a story about a customer lost because of uncaring and unprofessional behavior from a co-worker.

It being so common, however, does not make it acceptable.  Let’s look at some options.

First, examine yourself.  Are you creating standards that are just not attainable, and then judging your colleagues on the basis of those standards? In other words, is the problem you?

For years, I had a problem with this.  Finally, one day I had an inspiration.  They aren’t me!  That sounds so simple, but it signaled a significant change in my attitude.  Prior to that, I judged all my colleagues by my own standards.  I expected them to be as driven as I was, as focused on getting the business as I was, as perfectionistic as I was.  This attitude, of course, caused all kinds of friction and resentment on the part of the people with whom I worked.  When I finally realized that each of them had a set of life experiences, attitudes, motivations and abilities that were different than mine, I began to see each differently.  It made it so much easier to work with them, and them to work with me, when I changed my expectations.

This practice of casting your attitudes and expectations onto others is, I have learned, a particularly common tendency for field sales people.  Changing your attitude may be all that is necessary to change this situation.

But, it may not be.  So, what’s next?  Speak to the offending person, privately and specifically, about the behavior that is the problem.  Don’t talk about generalities  –  “You always do this….”.  That just encourages defensiveness and denial.  Rather, make sure that you have a specific incident to discuss.  Limit your comments to that incident.

Secondly, make sure that incident has something to do with you — one of your customers, one of your projects, etc.  That way, you have a legitimate stake in the outcome, and aren’t just being bossy.

Present the behavior that bothered you, the consequences of it, and then offer a suggestion about how it should have been handled, and the consequences of that revised behavior.

So, something like this:

“When you said to the customer that you’d get to it when you had time, the customer flinched, as if you had personally insulted him.  If you had said, ’I’m sorry, it will just be a moment’, that customer would not have felt like you insulted him.”

Your attitude will go along way.  Don’t be superior or arrogant.  You’ll get resistance if your colleagues see you this way.  Instead, try to be empathetic and humble.

Now, it may be that you have done this a few times, and you still don’t see any change.  It’s time to bring your supervisor into the picture.  Explain what you have done, the consequences of the other person’s behavior on your results, and ask the supervisor to intervene on your behalf.

At this point, you will have done about everything that you can do.  If the situation doesn’t improve over a period of time you have the final option.  You can always look for another position, with a company that has more of a sales culture.

About the Author:

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level. You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

Commence Shines among Affordable CRM Solutions

Commence Shines among Affordable CRM Solutions

CRM software is considered a commodity today and for good reason.  There are several hundred vendors, all claiming to be the easiest to use lowest cost solution for improving internal business processes.  While many are inexpensive and easy to use, these products are all pretty much the same.  They offer basic contact management and sales forecasts, but very little in the way of customization or support services.  This is of course by design as the vendors that offer these products cannot afford to provide advanced functionality, telephone support or consultation for software that is often free or just a few dollars a month.  However, if you are a small business of just a few employees, a free or low cost solution that offers the basics may be perfectly fine for you.

One company that has been able to differentiate itself among the myriad of options is Commence, makers of Commence CRM.  Commence CRM has found a way to straddle the fence between basic low cost CRM programs and higher priced solutions that offer too much functionality and a much higher cost.  While Commence CRM offers a robust set of applications and features that rival those of higher-end products, what customers find most appealing about Commence is the ability to customize it without programmer intervention.  This combination of comprehensive functionality coupled with the product’s flexibility has made Commence CRM an excellent choice and one that now stands out from the competition.

Commence has been providing Customer Management Software solutions to small and mid-size businesses for more than two decades.  “We started out as a basic contact management and sales automation tool” says Larry Caretsky, president of Commence Corporation, “but over the years our product really matured.  As the business and customer base continued to grow, we discovered that small to mid-size businesses have unique requirements too, so we worked with our customers to incorporate a level of flexibility that addressed their needs.  In addition to expanding our application suite to include marketing, project management and customer service capabilities, we added features that are traditionally only found in higher-end products.”

Some of the flexible, user-friendly custom features include:

  • advanced data security that limits what data people can access
  • custom views of data
  • saved searches and advanced search features
  • ad hoc and graphical reporting
  • and different custom field types

These are several of the areas where Commence CRM stands out in this highly competitive market.  To learn more about Commence CRM visit the company web site at commence.com.

Hard Work Isn’t Digging a Ditch

This is a Sandler Weekly Sales Tip from guest poster Shulman & Associates.

Digging the Ditch is not the Hard Work

The STORY:

When I was 28, I was running a landscaping business for someone, overseeing the crews and the like.  Now I’m in sales, but I mention the landscaping for a reason.

It was late in August on the hottest day of the year.  Must have been about two o’clock in the afternoon, not a cloud in the sky and the temperature pushing 101 degrees.  We were re-grading a section of the local golf course.  Not a tree in sight.  About an hour later and 300 feet away, I saw this shovel rising up out of the ground, tossing the dirt, going back down, coming back up.  You could have set your watch to the rhythm.

Two hours later we decided to pack it up.  It had grown even hotter.  I glanced over to where I had seen the shovel earlier and right on schedule, up it came, dirt tossed, back down and back up.

I went over to see just who could keep that up.  Down in this trench was a fellow about five feet tall and about fifty years old.  Sweat was pouring off of him.

“Hard work,” I called down to him.

He looked up, never breaking rhythm, and said with no trace of exertion, ‘Hell, this ain’t hard.  I just make a hole from stake to stake.  What was hard was knowing where to put the stakes in the first place.”

The RESULT:

From the point of view of the fellow in the ditch, the hard work had already been done.  Every shovelful after the first one was getting him one shovelful closer to success.  From my point of view, what he was doing was extremely hard work.  Now I ask you, whose point of view is the one that really matters?

DISCUSSION:

Many folks, not just salespeople, fervently believe that if you work hard every day, then success will show up at your door at some point in the future.  There is nothing wrong with the right type of “hard work.”

What’s the right type?  You know where to start.  You know where to end.  You know what you have to do to get from the starting point to the ending point.  You are confident that you can do it.  And you set out to do it in a steady and constant manner.

Should you do this type of “hard work,” you will find out something odd.  You will perceive the work as tiring at times, but not hard at all.  Others will look at what you are doing and shake their heads in astonishment.  How can he keep that up, they will think.  It’s so boring.  So mind-numbing.

Remember the fellow in the ditch.  He was sweating a river but absolutely confident because he knew where he was headed.  While the work was tiring, he did not think it was hard.  His perception of the work was the only one that mattered because he was the one doing the work.  It doesn’t matter at all what you or I think.  What you or I think doesn’t get the ditch dug faster or slower.

APPROACH:

Do this for yourself.  Not for the sales manager.  Not for upper management.  Not for your fellow salespeople.  Only for yourself.

Write down where you want to end up six months from now.  Write down where you are at this moment in relation to six months from now.  Write down all of the things you can do to get to that spot in the future.  Decide, of those things you can do, which ones you are going to do every day for the next six months.  Now start doing them.  Every day.

This is important.  Don’t show anyone what you have written.  Keep it to yourself.  Why?  Because the moment you do, whether you are told something good or bad, you’ll stop doing it.

Sounds easy.  It is.

THOUGHT:

If you don’t know where to start and where you are going to end, then all the work you do is pointless.  Pointless work is always hard work.

About the author:

Shulman & Associates is a professional development firm specializing in sales and management training and sales force evaluation. Visit their website and sign up to receive the free sales tip of the week. Learn how to increase sales, improve margins, and accelerate new business development.

I have great relationships with my customers

Beliefs that limit a sales person’s performance

By Dave Kahle

“I have great relationships with my customers.”  That is one of the most debilitating myths around — one that cripples the performance of the average corporate sales person.  Yet, it is endemic within the population of sales people.  I am not sure that there is a sales person anywhere who doesn’t, to some extent, believe it.

I have often heard senior sales executives, when discussing their sales force with me, allude to someone whom they hired from a competitor because “they had such great relationships with their customers that they were going to bring their business with them.”  And, almost universally, it didn’t quite happen that way.  The sales people, and their prospective employers, thought, erroneously, that the sales person had great relationships with their customers.  They subscribed to the myth.

In recent years, I have come to see the belief that a sales person has “great relationships” as something of a smoke-screen.  It’s used by the sales person to obscure a deeper issue – their lack of sales expertise.  As long as they believe that they have great relationships, then they don’t need to be competent sales people, because after all, their customers like them and will buy from them no matter how poorly executed are their sales competencies.

Here’s another problem.  Sales people who profess to have great relationships with their customers all too often limit the preponderance of their sales calls to those with whom they have these relationships.  In other words, the existence of the perceived relationship dictates their strategic decisions – they go where it is easiest, and spend time with those whom they perceive like them.

Read this article in an expanded version.  Click here.

That, by itself, is OK, as far as it goes.  The performance-hindering aspect comes in when they do that instead of going where it is smart, where there is greater potential.  Thus, they allow their perception of the relationship to influence their strategic decisions.  It ought to work the other way around.  The potential of the customer should dictate where the sales person builds relationships.

The myth that they have great relationships with their customers, then, produces two major obstacles to sales success:  it covers up the sales person’s lack of sales competencies, and it prevents them from working smart.

The best sales people make sound strategic decisions, prioritizing and targeting their accounts based on the potential, and then work at building positive business relationships with those important people.  The best sales people understand that just as important as the quality of the relationship is their ability to uncover the customer’s needs and wants at deeper levels, to position their products and services as perfect matches to the customer’s needs, to manage the project by gaining agreement at every step of the way, and to leverage those positive transactions to identify further opportunities.  In other words, the best sales people are good at selling, whereas the relationship-reliant sales people are only good at getting along with those people who get along with them.

There is a huge qualitative disparity here.  The best sales people also understand that a positive business relationship is, particularly in today’s world of unrelenting change, a necessary piece of the entire sales puzzle.  However, it is only a piece, necessary but not sufficient.   It provides access to the key people, and perhaps the preference of the customer.  It oils the gears of the transaction, and makes every step in the sales process work smoother.  But only rarely does a customer buy solely because of the relationship with the sales person.

A positive business relationship, then, is a necessary but not sufficient means to an end.  When complimented with effective sales competencies and implemented strategically, it can be a powerful asset to the sales person.

However, when sales people use the belief that they have great relationships with their customers to excuse their lack of sales competencies and to derail them from strategically focusing on the highest potential customers, it becomes one of the most debilitating beliefs.

About the Author

Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales authorities. He’s written ten books, presented in 47 states and ten countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine. Check out our Sales Resource Center for 455 sales training programs for every sales person at every level.

You may contact Dave at The DaCo Corporation, PO Box 523, Comstock Park, MI 49321, or dave@davekahle.com

CRM Company Leads the Way with Automated Customer Service

Share information with your customers at the speed of business | Commence CRM

Let’s face it, in today’s fast past world no one wants to wait on the telephone for service.  People want answers to their questions quickly and efficiently without having to speak to a service representative. This closely follows the booming trend in internet purchases where consumers prefer to simply order products over the internet rather than get engaged with a live sales representative.   This growth is led by companies like Amazon.com, eBay and others that have made the purchase of products quick and efficient for the consumer.

Commence Corporation, a provider of Customer Relationship Management software (CRM), is leading the way in automating how businesses can deliver high quality automated service to their customers. “People are tired of calling companies and waiting on hold forever to get answers to what are typically common questions” says Larry Caretsky, president of Commence Corporation. “The experience is awful and we have developed an efficient and affordable way to address it.”

Commence CRM is traditionally used to automate and streamline internal business processes for managing customer information, sales, marketing, and projects.  This solution has now been expanded to enable Commence customers to deliver automated service to their customers.  The application offers an integrated ticketing system that captures, tracks and manages the service history of every customer. This is complemented with a web-based customer portal that provides the following services to customers;

  • Access to a Frequently Asked Questions section where customer can get answers to common questions.
  • A Knowledgebase that provides access to a wealth of information such as product specifications, installation documents, troubleshooting guides, product videos, and more…
  • A Web-Based Customer Portal – which enables customers to check on the status of an inquiry or submit a service ticket if they were unable to obtain an answer to their question.

Because Commence CRM is web based, customer access to the above is available 24/7 from anywhere and from any device via a WiFi or internet connection.  The benefits of Commence CRM to customers is substantial, offering them a quick and efficient vehicle for attaining high quality customer service without waiting on hold, leaving a voice message or calling back later.  Commence customers have also benefited in that they have realized a reduction in service calls to their support staff.

“The Customer Service module with its fully integrated FAQ, Knowledgebase, and Web Portal is a clear differentiation between Commence and competitive products” says Caretsky.  “The next step will involve adding artificial intelligence to the product.”

To learn more about Commence CRM and its Customer Portal visit commence.com/customer-portal/