All Posts by Brettalegrewood

What to do with your star sales performers?

‘Mark is a great salesman. He’s increased business and customers love him – most of the time. But there have been some complaints, from clients and staff, about his overbearing, pushy and occasionally aggressive manner. How can you rein in his more extreme behaviour but not demotivate him, so that he continues to do a great job?’

This is perhaps one of the most common problems in a sales team and one that I have encountered in just about every successful sales team I have managed.

Get your own house in order
I think before answering the question of the sales person and how to manage them you have to first ask yourself what are the standards that you expect from your team. Get very clear and specific about this and it will go a long way to answering the dilemma.

Give them the Big Picture
Once you are clear on expectations, Sit down with the team and provide them the big picture of what you are trying to achieve. I find that if you get ‘buy in’ from the team at this level it gives you the ability to manage within this framework.

What motivates them
The next step is to understand what motivates them, in my current team I have two top performers, Mr White and Mr Black (not their real names) Mr White is all about the fast cars, nights out and allowing him special freedoms. Mr Black is all about feeling like he is contributing, being part of something. They are two different characters but both present the same challenges to me as a manager. Knowing what makes them tick allows me to use to successfully motivate them.

Create a vacuum around them
Despite all the management training saying support them, train them, discipline them, I still find that the best way to manage the overachievers is to build a vacuum bubble around them. Create a second set of standards that only apply to them. This works in two ways, it makes them feel special and allows them to perform “as they are”. The second benefit is that it shows the other team members that when they are overachievers they can expect to be given a different set of standards, so it’s a motivation to the other team members.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean I compromise on my minimum standard, this I simply won’t do but above the minimum standards I am happy to accommodate the overachiever.

Now this next point is absolutely essential if the second set of standards is going to work.

Build a system around them
I find that most overachievers aren’t that good with details. So if you are going to allow them to have a second set of standards then you must have a suitable system to ensure that the business doesn’t suffer because of it.

Talking in particular about their overbearing, pushy and aggressive behaviour the system may be as simple as the person that stands next to them tapping them on the shoulder and smiling if they are becoming overbearing or pushy.

Don’t tolerate aggression
I don’t believe that there is any place for aggression, this should be clearly stated as unacceptable right from the start and immediately stopped if it happens.

Finally the most important – Reward the behaviour you want
This doesn’t have to be cash bonuses or massive rewards, I have found the more irregular and unplanned it is, the more effective it is. Afterall we all love being told we are doing well, that we are special.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

Introduction to Hardcore Sales

Hello and Welcome,

I’m Brett Alegre-Wood and I’ve been running teams of salespeople, my experience ranges from big corporate consulting, telemarketing and door to door sales, I have sold mobile phones, discounted holidays, lawn mowing, tree lopping, printing, earth moving equipment, massage, long-haul trucks,  insurance and pension products, mortgages, hamburgers, and of course properties. I have in fact had the chance to develop and run sales team for many of these products and services.

Over my time in sales I have developed a foolproof process for developing a simple sales system that allows both yourself and your team to perform in a consistent and highly effective manner.

I am not going to lie and say its easy, simple yes, easy no, a true salespeople takes years of practice, making call after call, honing skills, test new scripts, telling stories, develop your ability to build rapport.

I have never believed that anyone is a natural sales person, sure people arrive on my sales floor never having sold before and are immediately successful and these people you could b e forgven for thinking they were natural. But in ever single case you go back into their history and find that they have sold they just never realised it. An example of this was the guy who had been a school captain, rugby captain, debater at school. He had ‘never sold before’ yet actually in all these things he’d sold people on his ideas thoughts and vision. He had sold, he’d just never realised he’d doing it. In fact he was a master storyteller.

There is also no stereotypical salesperson, I have hired everytype of personality and I still cannot tell you who make the best salespeople, I can tell you the traits that make a great salesperson – discipline, organsation, persistence, committed, passionate, and the list goes on. Don’t worry we’ll cover each as we work our way through the book.

Many people question my use of the word ‘Hardcore’ they feel it cheapens or in some way raises the dark side of sales. Well stuff them, hardcore sales is the ingredient that is missing right now in most sales people. Hardcore is the element that distinguishes a superstar performer from the ‘I’m a salesperson because I couldn’t get a real job’ we’ll call these people ‘Phone-Warmers’ because that’s about all they do. So many salespeople fit in this phone-warmer category its appauling and costs companies millions in lost opportunities.

I make no apologies for putting Hardcore in the title, I have found that over the past 20 years I have been in sales that salespeople have gotten softer. Sure I hear people say the market has changed, pushy sales are out and relationship sales is in but it seems the pendulum has swung too far.

Anyway, I use the term hardcore to symbolise all that is good about professional, ethical and systematic sales, I use the word hardcore more as a metphor for passion, passionate sales you might say. Hardcore is a good word because it boils the blood of many folk in the customer is always right crowd, and scares the crap out of the phone-warmer crowd. To a superstar it brings the hair up in their necks, their hearts begin to beat a little faster, they begin to salivate at the mouth. Ok so that may be a bit of creative licence but hopefully you know what I mean.

If the word hardcore does scare you or you think this is going to be some ego journey into how great I am and why you should do as I do the bear with me, I think you’ll find that I like every sales person was once crap, pathetic, I was even asked to leave because I was so bad. Asked to leave is the poilite way of saying ‘sacked’ so there is hope. You’ll also see that whilst I may have manner different views of how you should sell, I will back these up with thje phycological explanations and evidence that you’ll need to understand.

Hardcore sales makes perfect sense, its simple and it gets results. So stick with it, the contents have taken over 20 years for me to bring together but the effort was well worth it and once you apply the contents you to will see a dramtic improvement in your sales performance.

Set your goals high now because in time and with a lot of effort you too will be the superstar performer.

Your first test…

I ask all my sales position interviewee’s to write the answer to the following question.

List all of the closing techniques you know?

All too often I get a blank look, a distant stare. Occasionally I get one or two attempts to answer but most of the time its blank.

How anyone can call themselves a professional experienced salesperson and they cannot rattle off at least 20 or 30, even a measly 10 would have me jumping around the room but not once have I actually ever had more than 3-5 closes.

Alternates of choice close, summary close, criteria for ordering close, sales manager close, subject to close, direct close, holiday close, balance sheet close, trial close, slice of cake close, delivery van close, order form close, initial here close, the list goes on and on and on.

If you couldn’t list all of these and that includes being able to use them in a normal sales pitch with the kind of ease you speak to your best mate over coffee or a cold beer then this book is for you.

You see I was trained in a time when sales were hard, customers didn’t have the huge range of choices and the internet didn’t exist to check everything, uncover user reviews and compare prices.  For the most part, no mobile phones existed, no email, fax was unreliable at best. You had the phone (rotary phone, you know the one where you enter each number by rotating the dial), mail (and I mean the kind with a stamp on it not an @ sign) and an address to go and see them. You had very limited options and very limited chances to make an impression.  You also didn’t have the chance to keep trying to close them, I remember selling vaccum cleaners door to door where you had one shot to get in the door otherwise you blew it.

For me this was a golden time in sales, if you were good, you knew that it was a numbers game and you played the numbers and honed your skills at closing, objection handling and never giving up. If they had an objection you already had the rebuttal and you’d practised it a hundred times so it rolled off the tongue without so much as a twitch.

I have watched things get worse and worse over the past twenty years as salespeople struggled to redefine their position in society. Sure some made the change look easy but many newcomers, well they continued to struggle and unless they found an old schooler, what I call Hardcore Salesperson. Even many of the old hardcores failed to adapt to the new model for relationship sales.

If you do nothing in the book except open your mind to what is possible when you intimately understand sales, then the book is a success, but you don’t want to stop just there, see the book as going so much further than this.

I want to introduce you to a whole new world where incomes of well and truly over a hundred thousand is possible every year and it doesn’t matter what the product or service, your new found skills and attitude are totally transferable, so even if your present position doesn’t allow huge incomes you will move towards the positions that do.

Great salespeople, superstars are of value to every business, they live outside the usual rules of the average salesperson because no business wants to lose a superstar. Many times a superstar will earn two or three, even 10 times as much as his phone-warmer counterparts.

You will have mastered this book when you can firstly understand the laws applicable to sales (this book will cover this), secondly can freely apply the laws in any given situation with any given prospect (this will require practice and more practice, a book cannot acheive this you have to get off your arse and do something; luckily the workbook that accompanies this book will provide the format to acheive this.)  Finally you are able to pass these same laws onto a team to be able to leverage your own time, this is when you will reach true mastery (This is the subject of my next book – How to be a Hardcore Sales Director and manage a team of Hardcore Sales People.)

This book sets out to give you a clear and definite direction on how to identify unique selling points, understand the laws that influence every sale, how to structure your sales calls and create scripts for everything, how to qualify, and finally how to close everything!

I own over a dozen businesses, call me a serial entrepreneur but really I am a serial salesperson. Each of these businesses require salespeople, some are face to face, others telemarketing and some are solely internet based and aren’t even human, they are sales copy that serves exactly the same purpose and uses the same laws as real salespeople.

Sales is a way of life for me, it flows through my blood and even though now I have teams of sales people to doing most of the work, I still love nothing more than to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty in selling.

Whilst I believe you are made a sales person rather than born one, I also believe that once the sales adrenaline flows through your blood you never lose it.

Here’s to passionate (hardcore) selling.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

Make your day better when you hang up the phone.

Hey guys,

I have always believed that the key to running a successful sales team in any business is that above all else, above the closing tactics, the qualification questions, above the call time, the appointments, the pitches, it comes down to one thing.

Was the prospects day made better having chatted with you?

If you consistently keep this in mind you’ll very quickly build a horde of raving fans who enjoy buying your product or service and who see you as a trusted advisor.

At the end of the day we are humans and above all else we consistently move towards the things and people we like and away from the things and people we don’t.

Comments like ‘How are you today?’ and ‘Isn’t the weather terrible today?’ don’t cut it. You have to drive deeper in the relationship.

I have developed a surefire 3 step method of making sure they leave the call much much better than when they joined you. It covers all the areas that you should speak of in each and every call to ensure you not only progress the relationship but also leave them buzzing.

Now this is the point that most sales trainer and customer advocates will say ‘You have to smile, provide some light humour, you have be empathatic to their situation, and you have to present your product in a good light.’ Ha if only it was that simple anymore.

The truth is that customers have become more knowledgeable, they have more choice and they have the ability to respond and comment far easier than ever before.

So what’s the 3 surefire ways to make their day:

1) Build Rapport using FORMS, Maintain Rapport using MPLC.
2) Develop their Need through SPINS.
3) Demonstrate Competency both Company and Individual.

Let me give you a brief outline of each. For further information check out my website where a full description is available.

OK so firstly Building Rapport using FORMS. FORMS is a questioning technique that jogs your memory about what to ask your prospect. Family, Occupation, Recreation, Money and Motivation and Sports or Specific questions. Forms builds rapport so your ready to build depth.

Maintain Rapport using Match, Pace, Lead and Test. This technique is great to ensure you establish, build and maintain rapport right the way through the call. I won’t explain the process in detail but a google search will bring up loads of details about the process. Rapport is vital.

Developing their needs for your product or service is often the missing link in sales, far too often misguided sales people focus on talking about their products or service features and forget that the clients is taking everything you say and relating it to what they want. If you find this out, even when they aren’t sure what it is, and then systematically develop that need to such a level that they almost see it clearly then you have successfully developed the need.

For those of you that use SPIN selling I cannot recommend it too highly, if you aren’t familiar and are selling a value product the get on Amazon and buy it.

Demonstrating competency is not just on your part, the company must also show it is up to the task, giving clients the confidence and certainty to move forward is key in the part. Your marketing, websites, brochures, videos should all show a consistent message which you also must demonstrate throughout the sales process.

The only reason someone will ever say No to your sales pitch is when one of the three are missing. You didn’t build relationship, find a need or demonstrate competency.

Do these and the client will hang up the phone with a smile and the day will be all the better for it.

So if you’re making calls keep this in mind. If you build a base of raving fans that feel better when they hang up than when they did when they picked up you’ll watch your results skyrocket.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

Supercharge your sales speak with these simple standardised statements…

Hey guys,
Here’s a list of statements that will catapult the power of your sales ability. If I were you I would use these all the time to win people my my way I thinking.

I’m sure you’ll agree that when I say this the brain naturally agrees with whatever I am saying. The bottom line is I want you to help me help you. Because I can guarantee this will be 100% better for you, and I am sure you can see the benefits of using this kind of language. How does that sound so far?

Let’s be realistic, if you don’t use these statements you will be disadvantaged against the guy standing beside you that knows them.

Can I make a suggestion? Read through all the standardised statements at least 10 times, print them out and put them infront of you, try to use them, I strongly recommend this because repetition and having them in your face is the best way to learn them. Always remember that you can use these over and over again, you have over 35 different statements.

At one of the drilling mornings we’ll be running through all of these so make sure you have read them before, I am sure you will agree that it’s in your best interests. That’s not a problem if you don’t understand any just ask me for examples of how to use these.

Hopefully from the above paragraphs you will get an idea of how easy it is you use these. So would you like to go ahead with this?

Here they are:
Always remember….
Can I make a suggestion?
Can you do something for me?
Can you see the benefits?
Do you think this would be good for you?
Help me to help you….
How does that sound?
I am sure that you would agree with me….
I guarantee this will be 100% better for you….
I know you don’t know but if you did?
I strongly recommend this….
I’m sure that you’d agree with me.If I were you….
If it kills me?
Let me put it this way….
Lets do this….
Lets get realistic
On the basis ____________ will you _____________
On the basis that you’re 100% happy…
Please be well aware….
Please understand….
So would you like to go ahead with that?
Tell me in detail….
That’s fine….
That’s not a problem
The benefits of this are….
This is not only a suggestion, it is your solution….
This will definitely be 100% better for you.
Understand this….
What are your main concerns?
What do I need to do to get this sale today?
When we come to that bridge we will cross it…
Which do you prefer….
You know this is going to be beneficial for you….

Live with Passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

Why sales is sometimes banging your head against the wall…

Hey guys,
One of my new telesales guys asked me this question after you felt he was banging his head against the wall all day trying to get hold of people.
————
Hey Brett,

I am very concerned about how well I utilise my time at work. I feel like I have spent the past 2 days calling people with no answer. Today I have made more than 100 calls (caught up with the ones i was behind on due to my days off and those lined up for today) If counted correctly, i have only spoken to 6 people and have pitched one of them.

Any Advise?

———–
Hey mate,

At the end of the day if people aren’t picking up the phone then their is only one challenge and its in your head.

You need to focus on having a positive expectation that people will pick up the phone.

At the end of the day, its fine to say that noone is home, that noone will answer their phone, that you’ve tried your hardest but that doesn’t cut it in sales.

Disciplined persistence is certainly admirable but without the results that flow from this it is useless.

I have seen guys spend days without speaking to a person and then I will walk up with the expectation that they will pick up and call their last message and sure enough they will answer the phone for me. It’s in your head.

As a Hardcore salesperson you must control all your circumstances and this is not different.

1) The trick to this is having a suitable affirmation. Now many salespeople will say something like “Today, everyone will pick up the phone” or perhaps “Everyone wants to speak with me!” this doesn’t go far enough and I doubt it will inspire anyone to pick up the phone 100 times without speaking to anyone. In order for your affirmation to work you need to include something that is in it for the client you are going to speak to.

Try something like “Everyone I speak with today will be inspired, energised and interested from the time they pick up the phone until they book a time to see us.” This is sort of an all encompassing affirmation, from picking up the phone to what they are going to get out of it through to how you are going to present the call and finally to the real outcome you want – the appointment.

Feel free to come up with your own version but you need something that gets you into the correct state, that inspires you.

2) Secondly, you need to Maintain and change your state. Maintain your state at the highest possible level and then if you do drop off find something to change this.  I find jumping around while I am on the phone. Bouncing and walking around. It gets the energy through my body and allows more oxygen to circulate through my body.

I cannot say enough how important maintaining your state at the highest possible level is as well as changing your state back up to that level is.

3) Finally, and this is the one area that I know you don’t lack… Persistence, 10 calls is not enough, even 20 or 30. If it takes 2 days of speaking to 6 people then stick with it. But set your next goal at 8 people to speak to, then 10, then 12. Before you know it you’ll be having fulfilling an worthwhile conversations all over the place.

Mate, I think if you do all these things you will see some amazing results. Also remember that if you are constantly calling these people at the same time you are harassing them and therefore they probably have stored your number and wont answer.

Keep the variety, and give irregular spaces between calls, try a few from your mobile, then a few from someone elses phone. You might find that’s just the thing to change you results.

If this doesn’t work then come and see me and we’ll sit down.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

Bretts Rule 1 – You hold the cookie, and they want it

So rule number one and this is the most fundamental rule.

You hold the cookie and they want it.

In our business we don’t actually do any cold calling so every single client that we deal with has jumped on the website and typed in “property investment” or they’ve done something to say they want us to speak to them. When my team call them up and they go: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m not interested in property.” That’s bull.

Somehow they have got onto our database because they’ve entered something so there’s a reason why. What you need to do is keep hold of the cookie. When they say they’re not interested or something like that, what they’re actually trying to do is turn the table on you so they hold the cookie. But you have to understand that what you’ve got, the product or service that you offer is valuable and they need it. And make no mistake – there’s not a single person that we’ve seen in our entire history here that I haven’t gone: You need our help.

And more importantly, you need our help now. You’ve got to do something now and not wait. Look, one of our clients has £2.4 million, he did have £3 million.  £3 million in cash or liquid cash shares, things like that, plus properties, plus, plus, plus… You might look at that and go: Oh my God. That guy’s could just retire, he could easily retire on that. Guess what? What do you know about a £3 million investment? They’re aiming for £4 million. They’re aiming for £5 million. Life is this beautiful thing where you’re in a continual state of frustration.

Personally I’m still not happy with my financial situation. But I look at my mates and I think: Well, I’m further than them. And I look at some of the people that work here and I think I’m a long way down the track. But what you realise is that we’re always looking forwards to the next thing. So it doesn’t matter what happens, you’ve got to understand that just because you’re not at £2 million and that’s where you want to get to, doesn’t mean that he wants to stay there. He wants to get to £4 million. You hold the cookie all the time.

And what this means and how this manifests is in statements like a prospect will say: Send me some information. And you’ll go: I’ll send you an e-mail now.

No. No. No. NOOOO!!!

You hold the cookie.

You tell that guy that you hold the cookie.  Tell him he needs to jump on the website and to have a look. All the information’s on there. Once you’ve had a look, I’ll call you tomorrow at 3pm and let’s go through it any questions.

Two totally different statements and two totally different results.  If you do that and you hold the cookie. It’s important that you jump on and you do this. I’m not going to send you this sheet. That’s the difference between you holding the cookie.  That’s Rule Number 1.

The cookie is an attitude of value, your product or service is of so much value that there is no way you will cheapen it by sending a glossy brochure.

This attitude puts you in a position of abundance rather than the first response which puts you in a position of desperation. Denying their request tells them firmly that your product or service will not be cheapened by some quick fix. It says there is a process for this that must be followed, a process forged over many years and honed with each sales call. Who are they to question this process.

The person who said the customer is always right never sold anything, they were a beurocrat, the customer is most often totally wrong and deluded so you have to guide them in the right direction.

This means keeping the cookie firmly in your hands until they fully understand and appreciate the value of your product or service.

Live with passion,

Brett

Bretts Rule Number 2 – Always assume they’re interest in the next step

Hey guys,

I grew up in a military family setting, from the age of 7 my father was in the Army and then at 13 I joined the Air Force Cadets and at 18 the Army. I spent a lot of time in leadership and management training. One of the lessons that has stuck with me through is:  Ask for forgiveness, not permission.

On the phones or face to face you’ll never hear me say: Hi Bill, have I caught you at a bad time now? Or Hi Bill, Have you got time to chat?

When people try this on me I say ‘No, I am busy, go away!’

Asking for permission to speak is ridicuous, you don’t walk up to your mates and say ‘Hi Bill, have you got time to chat.’ No! This is the mark of a bad salesperson. I just called you and you picked up the phone so now you’re telling me already by picking up the phone that you want to chat with me. So chat.

Sure, if the guy is on the phone and you’re talking and he’s clearly not listening because he’s distracted, driving or whatever, that’s the witness that has to say: Hold on a second, this guy’s not listening to me. It’s no use me pitching him now. Are you driving or something? Are you busy? Let me give you a call back. When is a good time? Shall I call you this afternoon or tonight? This is where closing and alternative choices are fantastic. We will cover closing later in the book.

So Rule Two is fundamental: Always assume that there interest in the next step, which means that when you’ve done the pitch, you don’t ask them: Would you like to go to the next step! No!

You’d simply say: Your next step is to speak to ABCD. When are you free? Would you prefer this week or next? Shall we book something in for this afternoon? How is around 3 o’clock?

Always Sell certainty…

Hopefully you have started to notic that everything I say and do, I say with absolute certainty.  I live my life with absolute certainty. You are never going to hear me going: Hmmm, let me have a think about that. I’m not really sure. You’re not going to hear terms like that. For me because I’ve been doing sales for so long and because I understand the concept of selling certainty you’re only going to hear: Yes do that. You may hear: Actually, let me chat to such and such and I’ll get back to you. Or if you ask me stupid questions I might go: I’ve got no idea about that. But the point is that you’re selling certainty and you always want to assume they’re interested in the next step. It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s the initial call where, your next step is to come in and meet with us. It will never be: Would you like to come in? Because actually, going back to Rule 1, you’re not presenting the cookie. You’re saying they hold the cookie and you would love them to come on board. No! You’re not desperate. If someone doesn’t turn up for an appointment: Where the hell were you? I had time booked so I look like a idiot now because my team are looking at me going you had a cancellation or a no-show. Now, are you serious about this or are you just messing round. If you’re just messing around then go and come back in two or three years time when you realise that you’ve messed up and you should have done something immediately. I punish people like that. I don’t think you should be polite about it. Why? Because they messed me around and I hold the cookie. I hold the last cookie – they want it. My product or service is of so much value that I absoluely must assume there interest in the next step.

This is a simple rule to implement as long as you know what the next steps are.  This is fundamental if you don’t intimately know the entire sales process then you are kidding yourself. You must know every possible direction.

You just assume that they want to do it and if they object then deal with the objection and assume again. You go through your pitch on your sales. You pitch your product or service then you assume they’re going to buy it.

You won’t catch me asking: So what do you think?

I don’t care what you think – I’m telling you that this is good for you because I’m holding the cookie and I’m assuming that you’re interested in the next step.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

How we created massive brand loyalty through a recession that had most property investors running for cover…

Hey guys,

Being in the property industry during 2008 and 2009 has presented some of the hardest challenged in keeping existing customers buying when most in the marketplace were ducking for cover. In fact many of our competitors fell very early as demand dropped like a stone.

Our business actually thrived despite all the challenges and this was firstly and most importantly due to our commitment to an intimate relationship with our clients, most competitors were focussed on being sales driven. We knew the sales would come if the clients had a great relationship with us.

We involved the clients at every level of what was happening in our business, we posted photos, invited them to clients drinks nights, ran topical workshops. Every chance we had to involve them and had them meet with us, speak to us was taken. The response was that the clients felt part of the business’s success and in return they bought property.

We have built a massive amount of educational material which we provide free of charge to our clients, I tailored this education to suit the concerns with the market of our clients. We also introduced weekly market updates in video format on our website, I gave an honest appraisal including some of the negative things that were happening; this built huge brand loyalty and catapulted our sales.

Everything we did we would focus on expressing our uniqueness, I articulated this in regular training sessions and on our website. We offered a number of specific guarantees, which stood us out from the crowd, these included a 6 week to let your property guarantee, otherwise we paid the rent until we did.  We guaranteed that the properties rent would be within £50 of what we said otherwise we’d pay the difference for 2 years, we also gave them a 24 hour Sleep test which took away the tendency for hardcore closing and buyer remorse. Constantly expressing our uniqueness to clients separated us from the rest of the market.

We actually put prices up halfway through the recession, preferring to build huge value into our proposition.  We sold this as necessary and involved the clients, explaining to them the added benefit in the price rise, in fact the only ones who had initial fears about this were the sales team but as soon as the clients realised the extra benefits they supported it 100%.  For the business this meant a huge difference.

Finally we introduced a range of products that complemented our existing products so that the average spend per customer was increased. This meant the introduction of a financial services arm of the business and further relationship opportunities for the clients with their very own Financial Advisor.  This also introduced a residual income element to the business further securing our cash flows.

Overall it was perhaps the hardest time I have spent in business but with the disappearing act performed by most of our competitors we were left trading in a marketplace lacking any competition, which has allowed us increase our market share.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

What to do with your star sales performers?

Hey guys,

This is an article I wrote for a management and leadership magazine, discussing management dilemmas.

‘Mark is a great salesman. He’s increased business and customers love him – most of the time. But there have been some complaints, from clients and staff, about his overbearing, pushy and occasionally aggressive manner. How can you rein in his more extreme behaviour but not demotivate him, so that he continues to do a great job?’

This is perhaps one of the most common problems in a sales team and one that I have encountered in just about every successful sales team I have managed.

Get your own house in order
I think before answering the question of the sales person and how to manage them you have to first ask yourself what are the standards that you expect from your team. Get very clear and specific about this and it will go a long way to answering the dilemma.

Give them the Big Picture
Once you are clear on expectations, Sit down with the team and provide them the big picture of what you are trying to achieve. I find that if you get ‘buy in’ from the team at this level it gives you the ability to manage within this framework.

What motivates them
The next step is to understand what motivates them, in my current team I have two top performers, Mr White and Mr Black (not their real names) Mr White is all about the fast cars, nights out and allowing him special freedoms. Mr Black is all about feeling like he is contributing, being part of something. They are two different characters but both present the same challenges to me as a manager. Knowing what makes them tick allows me to use to successfully motivate them.

Create a vacuum around them
Despite all the management training saying support them, train them, discipline them, I still find that the best way to manage the overachievers is to build a vacuum bubble around them. Create a second set of standards that only apply to them. This works in two ways, it makes them feel special and allows them to perform “as they are”. The second benefit is that it shows the other team members that when they are overachievers they can expect to be given a different set of standards, so it’s a motivation to the other team members.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean I compromise on my minimum standard, this I simply won’t do but above the minimum standards I am happy to accommodate the overachiever.

Now this next point is absolutely essential if the second set of standards is going to work.

Build a system around them
I find that most overachievers aren’t that good with details. So if you are going to allow them to have a second set of standards then you must have a suitable system to ensure that the business doesn’t suffer because of it.

Talking in particular about their overbearing, pushy and aggressive behaviour the system may be as simple as the person that stands next to them tapping them on the shoulder and smiling if they are becoming overbearing or pushy.

Don’t tolerate aggression
I don’t believe that there is any place for aggression, this should be clearly stated as unacceptable right from the start and immediately stopped if it happens.

Finally the most important – Reward the behaviour you want
This doesn’t have to be cash bonuses or massive rewards, I have found the more irregular and unplanned it is, the more effective it is. Afterall we all love being told we are doing well, that we are special.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

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