At the end of 2014, I was interviewed by SBI , Sales Benchmark Index, about being on the "other side of sales" as I had just moved in to Sales Operations from Sales Leadership. Now, over a year later, I have an even greater appreciation for how my own sales ops leaders spent their time. In many cases, the use of technology by salespeople seems to have risen above basic rules of human interaction. I decided to re-post this as we launch in to the New Year to remind everyone that we are all human. Let's remember our core values of respect, kindness and truth.
1.Be Impeccable with Your Word:
“On the other side of the table, I am bombarded with solicitations. E-mails, vmails, LinkedIn requests, calendar invitations, etc. You name it; I get it. Some Sales Leaders push their team members to prospect and leave no stone left unturned. In reality, less is more. Make connections appropriate to the circumstance.”
“I received multiple messages from one sales rep. She berated me for not responding to her unsolicited emails. They were about a product that has no applicability to what my company does. Do your homework. If your product or service is relevant to me, I will reply. Prospecting is a critical part of selling, certainly. But do so respectfully and from a position of knowledge. Nurture me. Send me something different. Inspire me.”
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally:
“It isn’t about you. It is about the buyer and what matters to them. Since being in Sales Ops, I have become the customer I used to hate. I have very little time to get my work done, let alone meet with strangers regarding products I may not need. Don’t take this personally. I may rush you. I know you spent time on your presentation. Don’t get defensive. It is not about you. Help me buy the way I want to buy. Keep meetings to the point. I want to get what I need in the shortest period of time.”
3. Don’t Make Assumptions:
Salespeople make all sorts of assumptions because they lack the courage to ask questions. This is critically important in Sales. In my new role, I am fascinated by the lack of questions from sellers. A trusted advisor doesn’t make assumptions that may or may not be true. Ask questions, and don’t worry about the outcome. Ask your buyer how they are measured in their job. Ask…really, just ask.
Buyers are people, too. We all have an agenda. If you ask, I will tell you mine. That takes the guesswork out of your job. Be sincere and authentic. It is that simple.
4. Always Do Your Best:
This last tenet summarizes the preceding three. If you do your best, you will win. Lead your teams to do their best and the numbers will follow. Recognize and value people when they do their best. If you lead people simply to chase a number, they will do uncharacteristic things. They’ll become pushy and even threatening.
Here’s an example: A few months ago, a prospective vendor said, ‘and if you could sign it by Tuesday…’ That was four days away. I had only been in my role for 30 days. My response was ‘Why? Is this the end of your quarter?’ Trusted advisor? Far from it. This seller was putting his own interests first. Do your best. Don’t play games. If I like what I see, I will move the earth to buy it. Trust your buyer.
(The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has become a great source of inspiration for my leadership and parenting. Check it out!)