CEO Blog

Category Archives: Sales

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to sales.

Great Salespeople Ask Questions!

Brian Tracy quote about making assumptionsWe have all heard the saying, “You should never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass of ‘u’and ‘me’.” 

The problem is that we still do it.

Consider just a couple of very simple situations.

The CIO says, “We won’t be spending anything now until next year.”  The salesperson takes this onboard, makes a mental note to check back in October to have lots of planning time.

The CIO actually means “next fiscal year” … which starts in March!

The COO tells the salesperson that his spending will increase by 100% next year.  The salesperson plugs that number into his forecast and creates a sales plan around getting his share of that extra spend.

The COO did not share that 80% of that total spend is earmarked for a capital purchase, meaning that the actual services spend is going to decrease significantly.

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  George Bernard Shaw

A big part of a salesperson’s role is to understand and qualify opportunities.

The way to do that is to ask questions … probe, qualify and confirm that what you heard is what the person meant you to hear!

Then ask more questions!

The salesperson could confirm what the CIO said by saying,  “So if I were to schedule a followup meeting in October would that give us enough time to plan?”  This would surface the confusion and would lead to more questions about budget, planning and how the salesperson could best bring value.

Similarly the salesperson could confirm the COO’s statement by suggesting that this would mean a big increase in services spend, to which the COO could provide clarification.

A salesperson should always be prepared when heading into client meetings, and a list of desired information,  desired contacts and a meeting agenda will help to get the right outcome.

“Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity.”  Zig Ziglar

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Contracts Are Important

Branson quote about having time for the small thingsAs a young salesperson it always seemed like contracts took all of the fun out of a sale.  There is the “high” of getting a YES from a client but then you have to get a contract agreed, with all of that “legal stuff”.

My experience is that many companies really don’t pay attention to the detail of a contract, and rather than negotiate will basically sign anything … hoping that it doesn’t come back to bite them!

There is some logic to that approach because in the large majority of situations the other party will not take advantage … but sometimes they will.

There are several reasons why it is important to negotiate a reasonable and fair contract that pays attention to the detail.

  • It protects the interests of both parties, not just one.
  • If you are signing on behalf of your company then you have a responsibility to protect the interests of your employer.
  • If you agree to poor contract details it is a fair bet your management will be unimpressed.
  • A clear contract makes decision making easy.
  • A good understanding of the contract detail is a show of professionalism and given that a contract is often a first business  interactions with a client you should start off in a professional manner.

If you go about the negotiation in the correct manner you can get through the contract negotiations with a minimum of fuss and have a good professional start to to a business relationship.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you are being “difficult” when you are just doing your job.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Selling Internally

Leadership quote by Ken BlanchardAs a young salesperson I was often reminded that is was important to sell “internally” just as much as I sold “externally’.  There were lots of examples why, but generally they involved getting people onside with my sales situations.

  • I had to convince proposal writers to put in that extra effort so my proposals were the best they could be;
  • I had to work with contracts professionals to address potential contractual concerns;
  • I had to convince management that we had a good chance of winning, so that we would invest the effort in a bid;
  • I had to convince technical management to put effort into the solution; and
  • I would need to convince management that we could make money at the bid price.

I could have just expected everyone to “do their job”.

I could have just focused on the external client … and hoped we won.

By working closely with all of my “internal clients”, by influencing their decisions,  I improved our chances of success, and they helped me to better understand the sales situation.  They pushed me as much as I pushed them.

This doesn’t just apply to sales.

If you are in management and not working hard to sell your fellow managers on your business ideas, investment strategies, hiring plans, sales plans etc. then you are missing an opportunity to help your own, and your fellow manager’s success.  If they support you then your success is more assured … and of course vice versa, you need to support them.

If you are a partner in a business and are not selling your fellow partners on your activities then you are not building the relationship that you ultimately need with your partners.  You need their support and they need yours!

Worse still is the toxic environment where people work to undermine their fellow employee, manager, partner etc.  Is there anything worse?  Nobody needs a colleague actively trying to undermine them!  When it happens at the management levels and above, everyone knows it … and it breeds a toxic environment throughout the company.

“The strength of the team is each individual member.  The strength of each member is the team. “  Phil Jackson

The best companies have a TEAM culture, their people push each other but in a supportive way.  They celebrate each other’s success and “have each other’s back”.

Internal selling  (or influencing) is one way to demonstrate leadership and combat the “political” environment that a toxic culture generates.

What kind of environment are you creating?

What kind of environment would you prefer as a place of work?

“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Do Your Job!

Sharma quote Productivity versus busynessThere are many duties associated with most jobs … but inevitably there are “core” parts to your role.  It is critical that you (a) understand what they are; and (b) focus your attention on them!

“Every job is a self-portrait  of the person who does it.  Autograph your work with EXCELLENCE.”

If we use the staffing world as an example, there are two primary roles in most staffing companies (some companies combine them into one role) the salesperson and the recruiter.

If you are a salesperson then you will have a million “things to do” … planning, networking, customer service, prospecting, negotiating, presenting, entertaining and on and on.  However at the end of the day if you are not “closing business” then you are not meeting the most important  part of your job.

If you are a recruiter then you too, have a million things on your “To Do” list.  You will be understanding job roles, searching for candidates, interviewing, reviewing resumes, handling crises for your candidates, networking, and on and on.  However if you are not getting candidates accepted by your clients then you are not fulfilling the most important aspect of your role.

Some advice:

  1.  Understand what is MOST important in your role and focus your energies there!
  2. Do NOT make yourself busy with all of those OTHER tasks , and yes they need to be done, but you are not fooling anyone by hiding from the tough parts of the job!

“The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.”  Oscar Wilde

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Business Relationships

Trust Sales quote from Zig ZiglarBusiness relationships are just like any other relationships … they need to be nurtured, they need investment and they need a level of commitment.

Clients WILL buy from people they trust, and you do not achieve trust without establishing some kind of relationship.

In almost any business relationship there will come times of stress … where the parties need to fix something, or renegotiate something or have tough conversations.  These situations are always easier if there is a good relationship and a level of trust.

Salespeople and business owners work hard to develop these business relationships and clients invest their time and energy in them too.  There are many ways that they evolve and grow, but here are some ideas:

  1.  Make promises and always deliver (over deliver if at all possible).  This does not have to be hard it could be as simple as committing to send an interesting article by the weekend and doing it the minute you get back to your desk (but never forgetting to send it)!
  2. Meet face to face.  The phone is good, email is a good way to share some stuff but face to face is how you get to know people and they get to know you.
  3. Be truly interested in the other person.
  4. Find ways to bring additional value.  Share interesting articles, data, information, market knowledge for example.
  5. Have regular contact … without wasting anyone’s time.  (Touching base is a lazy approach … you should have a valid business reason, and ideally an agenda for a to meeting!)
  6. Never waste their time.
  7. Be positive … keep your own negatives to yourself!
  8. Listen more than you talk.
  9. All large client organisations have valid governance concerns about undue influence of their buyers, so be mindful of these.
  10. It always helps a relationship to have some meetings under more informal settings.  Breakfast, lunch, coffee, drinks after work or even a game of golf (even though I hate golf) can help people get to know each other better.  (Be mindful of #9 above).

Every business relationship will hit a bump in the road at some point, and if you don’t have a relationship built on trust and credibility, beyond the terms of a contract then that bump may feel like a mountain!

“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.”  Robin Sharma

Invest in those business relationships!

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Kevin Dee is Chairman and founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Finish the Year Strong!

There is no traffic jam along the extra mile For many salespeople December means slowing down, stopping pushing for sales and waiting for the New Year.  Some clients are winding down for the holidays.  Some are putting decisions off to the New Year.  The salespeople have a lot of personal things to get done, and might use this time to catch up on some paperwork.

If that is how you feel then you are in the majority of sales people … BUT the top performers, perhaps even your competition, are pressing right through to the final hour before the holidays.

“Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.”  Winston Churchill

Ten Thoughts …

  1.  Just because some of your clients are slowing down, it does not mean that they all are.
  2. Some clients use this “slower period” to get decisions made.
  3. This can be the best time of the year to get meetings with clients who are typically difficult to meet.
  4. If you are reliant upon just a few key contacts then now would be a great time to meet new prospects.
  5. Dropping off cards and small gifts (where allowed) is a great way to get in the door.
  6. If all of your client conversations are about asking for business this time of year can be an opportunity to have different conversations.
  7. If you slow down now it will affect your new year sales … plant seeds now for the new year.
  8. There is less competition “out there” as we head into the holidays, because others are slowing down … take advantage of that!
  9. If you slow down and your competition doesn’t, then you might be losing business.
  10. Sales is all about momentum … if you lose momentum now, then re-establishing momentum in the New Year will be so much tougher.

Don’t fall into the trap … keep pushing right till the very end.

In life, as in running, don’t stop with time on the clock!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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Warning: Email Can Harm Your Relationships

Quote by Geroge Bernard Shaw on CommunicationIn many ways the heading of this article is similar to those warnings you see on bags of peanuts … Warning: This product may contain nut products.

We all KNOW that email is a lousy form of communication, but it is so easy.

We KNOW that it is very easy to inadvertently (or purposely) send a negative message.

We KNOW that we shouldn’t send them when we are angry.

We KNOW that we cannot convey subtle messages or body language.

We KNOW that the same message read by three different people will be interpreted three different ways.

We KNOW that a situation that is tense OR complex (even slightly complex) OR emotional OR controversial should never be addressed by an email.

SO …. TALK to people!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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“Why?” Is a Powerful Tool

wHY?There are certain words and phrases that really stand out in business … “Why?’ is certainly one of them.

Why, You might ask?

Right there is a perfect example of the power of this word.  When coupled with the ability AND discipline to actually listen, it will open up a treasure trove of information.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”   Bernard Baruch

Too many people are too busy talking to be actually learn anything!  Sad … but true.

How many salespeople have you met who just “dump” every reason why anybody ever bought their product or service … without even an attempt to understand WHY you might be interested!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”  Voltaire

How many interviewers ask a question and then take the answer at face value?  Here is the thing,  with every ask of the question “why?” you get another layer deep and that much closer to what you really need to know.

How many times have you just accepted a decision without asking why?  It is truly amazing how many decisions are made without the decision maker really thinking through the reason for the decision.  If they asked themselves “WHY?” then just maybe they would have come up with the right answer.

“A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.”  Smiley Blanton

Steven Covey’s Habit #5 is Seek First to Understand … THEN to be understood.  He knew what he was talking about … how can you provide answers if you don’t really know the question?

If there is ONE thing that you can do to enhance your career it is to be more curious, to ask the question “Why?” … a lot!

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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10 Signs Your Sales Rep is Struggling

Coaching quote by Ara ParasheghianIn a perfect world a manager will know how well, or not, their salespeople are doing.  They can then help course correct, adjust strategy or provide training in time to ensure that they deliver as expected.

However we rarely operate in a perfect world and one thing salepeople seem to universally good at doing, is hiding their sins!

So … here are ten signs that just maybe your salesperson is not doing as well as they might have you believe.

  1. Lack of Results.  The obvious indicator, but sometimes we don’t get the numbers until too late.  In many cases the numbers are a result of effort done previously, so by the time we have the numbers, the problem has been around for a while!
  2. Lack of activity.  This is a classic.  Very often salespeople who are struggling will be spending more time in the office, more time “researching” prospects and less time selling.
  3. Lack of relationships.  Great salespeople have a wide network and are always adding to it.  Salespeople can be successful with a small network, but that also makes them vulnerable .. a key contact leaves and suddenly the results go South!  Don’t let your salespeople coast with a few key contacts!
  4. Lack of direction.  The successful salesperson will know exactly what they need to do to keep their success going, the struggling salesperson will seem a little lost, perhaps distracted and not sure where to spend their time.
  5. Lack of facts.  Struggling salespeople will talk in generalities.  “It was a GREAT meeting”, “the client is going to be spending”, or perhaps  “I’m sure things are picking up”.  A little digging, asking very specific questions about detail will uncover the  reality that the salesperson is operating on the “hope and a prayer” plan!
  6. Lack of effort.  Nothing saps energy out of salespeople like a slump.  Just when they they should be upping the ante, they are demotivated and not putting in the effort.
  7. Lack of focus.  A struggling salesperson will often go into panic mode, chasing everything rather than executing against a well thought out plan.
  8. Lack of energy.  Related to number 6, but a struggling salesperson might feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.  Their usual energy is not evident and they seem to be slower and less “vital” than usual.
  9. Lack of ideas.  Successful salespeople are creative, and always finding new ways to grow their business.  When a slump hits they might be out of ideas, struggling to find ways to change their situation.
  10. Lack of confidence.  All of the above are manifest in a general lack of confidence, and a need for help … although salespeople are not always good at recognising that they need help or at asking for it!

Early recognition that a salesperson is struggling makes the fix so much easier.  The longer the slump goes on, the harder it is to turn around.

Recognise the signs and work with your salesperson to come up with actions that will change their situation, because as we all know the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” (Thank you Einstein).

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
——————————————————————————————————————————

What Makes a Winner?

The will to prepare to win .. quote Bear BryantAt the very highest levels of competition the difference between winners and “the rest” can be miniscule!

Sprinters win their races by hundreds of a second!

Soccer matches are very often won by a moment of brilliance out of a ninety minute game.

The same holds true for most sports … the best of the best are distinguished from the rest by incredibly small margins.  Yet the “the rest” are typically able competitors!

AND YET … to the victor goes the spoils.

It is the winners who take the trophies, the glory and their place in history.

Winning is a state of mind that embraces everything you do.”  Bryce Courtenay

It is also true that the winners work hard to attain their position.  It can be argued that all of the competitors work hard … but it would be extremely doubtful that any winners did NOT work hard!

So we can take away one lesson … winners NEED to do the work!

In the more mundane world of business, and in particular in the sales profession, it may not be as dramatic, but there are often still small differences that will decide who wins and who loses.

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Jim Rohn

A second lesson we might learn from winners is that we need to find those “little things” that can differentiate us from our competition.

In order to find those differentiators you may need to answer questions like these …

  • Do you truly understand the prospect’s business concerns?
  • Do you know what their preferences are?
  • Do you understand their personal motivations?
  • Do you understand your competition?
  • Are you current with your industry’s evolution?   What is changing?  Is technology impacting you?  Are distruptors entering your field?  What is happening elsewhere?
  • Are you putting enough effort into your messages … or are they the same tired stories from 5 years ago?
  • Do you understand where pricing is in  your market, today … because today might be different than last week!

“Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.”  Zig Ziglar

Winning take hard work AND part of that hard work is establishing the reason why a prospect will pick you before the competition.

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Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?
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