Category Archives for Management Skills

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

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

‘Keeping the Sales Force Motivated in a Recession’

The recession has hit the property industry hard and having 20 telesales people on our sales floor has been fun to say the least. At the best of times you can motivate salespeople with the money but when the recession makes everything twice as hard and twice as long whilst giving you half the certainty it requires some new thinking.

I spent a great deal of time communicating with the sales team. The first and most important motivational factor in any market is keeping them in the big picture. If you start with a big picture of what’s going on they are more likely to stay motivated when the little things go wrong. In doing this you can also be honest with the negative things that happen as they feel part of the problem and will work hard for a solution.  This one point of sharing the problems has actually bonded the team together incredibly.

I have always been a big believer in scripting everything to do with the sales team, as the market changed I provided written scripts on how to handle the negative feedback from clients.  I would also produce educational material aimed at the clients that explained the issues in a much more positive light. This supported the sales team to deal with the problems. It worked really well and they felt a lot more confidence using the scripts and knowing that I had already pre-framed the solution for the clients.

We did focused sales sessions in two-hour blocks where the whole team would be on the phone calling clients with specific questions that I had pre-written.  The fact that everyone was calling about the same thing gave the guys the confidence and motivation to stay on the phone.  This created many sales opportunities just because they called.

We also do a lot of little things that combined just add the finishing touches and motivate all the team.  Things like; having a Sales bell so they ring it every time a sale is made and the response from the team is that everyone claps and cheer, it’s small but effective.  Giving small bonuses for first sales, most new clients, most improved and many others. In most cases the rewards are a single as a bottle of champagne or chocolates or perhaps just a congratulations email or team meeting recognition.

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood

3 hours call time is the minimum requirement successful sales

Hey guys,

3 hours on the phone which is vitally important to your success. In every sales director position I have ever known a minimum of 3 hours meant you will earn a good wage, 4 hours will be a great wage. The difference between 3 and 4 hours is application and discipline and most importantly the discipline to do it day after day. I don’t expect you all to be at the 4 hour mark yet but make no mistake this is were we are heading. I want you all to focus on the 3 hour mark each and every day at this stage.

If you run out of people to speak to then you have the cold call database there, this may not allow you to speak for 3 hours each day but in this case you will be aiming at 200 dials. This will put enough calls downrange that you will begin to get through to enough people who you can speak to which will in turn get your call times up. The 200 dials is a short term thing until you get the qualified clients to speak to.

The trick to being a great sales person is simple understanding the process of making sales – 200 dials leads to 3 hours which leads to 2 appointments per day which leads to a quantity of pitches per month which leads to a quantity of sales per month which leads to repeat sales which leads to referrals. Sales is very simple once you break it down into it’s basic components.

So look at the area that you are falling down in and focus on that area, enlist the support of your sales manager, discipline yourself, but most of all pick up the phone and make that next call…

Remember that success is always the next call

Live with passion,

Brett Alegre-Wood