Change your Sales Culture with Two Words

“Show me.”

One of the greatest steps forward that mankind ever took was the creation and adoption of the recorded document.  Documents create the foundation of societies and systems of government.  From Hammurabi’s code to the 10 Commandments to the U.S. Constitution, to every major world religion, they serve to align people and their agreements with other people.  They are the cornerstone of how we live within a social system.

The legal industry, which is a $300 Billion a year industry is funded by the need to document in order to clarify and align people to their agreements.  Billions of pages of documentation are required to specify the details of these agreements.  Even at that, there are still disagreements and misunderstandings between parties involved in a transaction.

Much has changed in the Buying Process (formerly known as the sales process) over the last 5 years.  One thing that has not changed is that the Buying Process is riddled with expectations, action steps, timelines that can be misunderstood, misconstrued, or blatantly disregarded by either party.  Yet, many salespeople and sales managers are resistant to summarize, gain agreement, and document their agreements at each stage of the Buying Process.  Why?  There are a number of reasons.

1) It takes time and good listening to effectively summarize a communication. Salespeople often don’t take the time.

2) Documentation holds people accountable and some Salespeople resist accountability.

3) Most importantly, (and most easy to fix) Sales Managers don’t make documentation a part of their inspection process.

Something I learned from Steve Bosworth and Mike Kenney… If you are a Sales Manager, two words can change your sales culture.  Instead of saying “tell me where you are with this opportunity”, say, “show me where you are with this opportunity.”  Here are the steps you must take to make this happen:

1) Find the 2 or 3 critical junctures in the buying process where strong alignment indicates a more predictable outcome.  For example, some B2B best practices say that documents for both Qualification and Discovery (before Proof) are important indicators of a predictable timeline to value for the prospect.

2) Create a “best practices” template for these documents.  Allow Reps to adjust to their own style but make sure the basic components of these templates remain intact.  All documents are 2-way documents that ask the prospect for their acceptance and invite them to correct, delete, or add components to the document.

3) Use these documents as not only alignment between you and the prospect but between you and your internal team–pre-sales, post-sales and management up the chain.  Ask for input on the documentation from others on your team.  This strengthens your team and shows the prospect that you are leveraging your companies resources.

4) Start every opportunity status update conversation with “show me where you are on this.” Better yet, ask to be copied on these documents. Relentlessly, lodge this into your sales culture.

Human nature is to see things from one’s own perspective.  The Buying Process is no different.  Our very nature is to get out of alignment.  Our best hope is to rely on what civilization has always relied on to stay in alignment…

a document.

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What is Authentic?


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What you tell your Customers vs. What you tell your Salespeople

The difference between what you tell your prospects/customers vs. what you tell your salespeople, is inversely proportional to customer loyalty.

In other words, your executives may talk a good game when it comes to delivering value for your customers.  But if they are like most organizations, the sales team hears an entirely different story.  Executives will publicly give great lip service to how they care about the customer and how they are super-committed to helping the customer achieve value and ROI.  They talk of how they will support the customer well beyond a transaction by ushering them through an implementation and into value.  But usually that is not the story that the sales team hears which is typically, “close the deal or else…”.  There is usually not even a discussion about what happens after the transaction. (when was the last time you heard a sales manager start a deal review by asking a sales person, “how are you going to help this customer?” — see what I mean?)

Recently, the Sales Executive Council did a study on what part of the engagement process between a vendor and a customer drives customer loyalty.  What they found was that the sales experience was by far the largest component of customer loyalty at 53%–more important than Brand (19%), Product & Service Delivery (19%) and Price (9%), combined!

This means that your Sales Team will determine the loyalty of a customer by what they are focused on.  Are they focused on JUST the transaction?  Or are they focused on helping the customer achieve value beyond the transaction?  The big secret is that you can drive more and bigger transactions by focusing on the customer’s achieved value than you can by focusing on the transaction! But unfortunately, not many sales execs know or believe this.

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culturetrumpsstrategy2“Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organization’s makeup and success—along with vision, strategy, marketing, financials, and the like…

I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, IT IS THE GAME. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.”

- Lou Gerstner

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Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Sales Enablement Event

When attending a live Sales Enablement event, I’m always asked to fill out an evaluation right after the event.  Oftentimes I’m ready to roll–ready to get out of there so I do it as quickly as possible.  The immediate survey evaluation method is flawed because WHAT has been learned has not been tested in the real world.  I’ve got a simpler, better idea.

When measuring your Sales Enablement event use the simple 3:2 over Average Sales Cycle method.  Here is how it works:

1) Schedule the assessment 1 Average Sales Cycle in the future — whatever that might be for your product/service.

2) Ask the participants what 3 things they remember from the event.

3) Ask the participants how 2 of these 3 things helped them achieve their sales quota more effectively.  That’s it.

If we built our enablement programs with this measurement in mind we would be MUCH better off in seeing real benefits in the field.

(Quick example:  I attended Solution Selling workshop back in the mid-90s.  I can still tell you the main 3 things I remember about it.  1) 9 Box Framework 2) Documentation between seller & buyer 3) Pain Chain.  I can also tell you in great detail how all 3 drove up my selling metrics)

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Collaboration and Creativity are Easy to Say; Hard to Do

Telling people what to do is easy.  Allowing them the space to be creative and collaborative is hard.  Doing what you are told is easy.   Creating your own activities toward your objectives and collaborating with others to achieve those objectives is hard.  Creativity and collaboration invoke uncertainty. Most people don’t like uncertainty. They would rather be certain about a mediocre idea than uncertain about what could be a great idea.

Dare to journey through uncertainty.

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Best Coaching Advice Ever!

From Randy Sullivan’s Blog at

About 12 years ago, my son’s little league team needed a coach so I volunteered.

I had just completed 2 books, which have since heavily influenced my coaching career: “Positive Coaching” by Jim Thompson and “Championship Team Building” by Jeff Janssen.

I was eager to try some of the fresh ideas.

Anyone who has been around Little League knows the tryout drill. 3 fly balls, 3 grounders, 5 swings, and run the bases.

They give you a spreadsheet to grade each player on a 1-5 scale. The columns are labeled “Glove, Arm, Bat, Speed”
and the widest column, “Comments”.

Then there’s a draft where coaches choose their team members.

As the draft progressed, I was running out of guys to pick.

For my last selection, I was left with a choice between a 12 year old no one had chosen named Lance, and 3 guys with “DIA” beside their names –my code for “Dad is A**”.

In the comments block beside Lance’s name, I had written:
“Tall, gawky”

I chose Lance.

We began our practices, and I was feeling really good about myself for implementing many of the ideas I had read.

I was building a team!

After a few practices, it became clear Lance had never played the game before. He hardly knew which hand to wear his glove on, and he couldn’t throw, run, or hit … at all.

Other than that, he was a pretty good player.

I became frustrated at how much extra time I had to spend with Lance on the simplest of skills. I was bitter and a colossal failure at trying to help him get any better.

I remember coming home and venting to my wife:

“In Florida, these kids have all been playing baseball
since they were 4 years old!”

“What kind of parent sends their kid out to play baseball
for the very first time at age 12?”

“Don’t they know they are setting this kid up for failure?”

“Why didn’t someone teach him at least to catch and throw
a little before they sent him out there?”

“After practice tomorrow, I’m going to speak to his parents.”

When practice ended the next night, every player was immediately picked up by a parent–except for Lance.

We waited on a picnic table for about 20 minutes.
I organized some papers. Lance said nothing and barely made eye contact. He was incredibly shy.

By the time Lance’s Mom arrived in an obvious hurry,
I was fuming.

As she approached our location I thought, “This is my chance. I need to let her know the deal!”

But she disarmed me with an oozing apology about how she had gotten tied up at work and caught in traffic, etc….”

I was about to ask her why the boy’s father hadn’t properly prepared him, when she abruptly stopped her apology, sent Lance to the car,
and said the following:

“Coach, can I tell you something?”

“This team has been the best thing to happen to Lance in a long time. I can’t thank you enough for the impact you are having on my son.”

“See, last year Lance’s dad committed suicide.”

“He took it real hard and has hardly spoken to anyone
or even come out of his room in almost 10 months.”

“I was driving by the ballpark a few weeks ago and saw the sign for registration. I thought it would be good for him to get out of the house and make some friends.”

“Since joining your team, he actually comes home from every practice happy. He talks to me all the way home about all the things you are teaching him.”

“This team is just what he needed.”

I felt like I had been punched square in the solar plexus.
The air left my lungs and I felt all the blood leave my head.
My brain was spinning.

These are the brilliant words I came up with in response:

“It’s my pleasure. He’s a good kid.”

That was it…..that’s all I had.

As Lance and his mom drove away, I came up with one more penetrating thought:

“I suck.”

I was utterly ashamed of myself.
Who was I to presume to know anything about this young man’s situation? Who was I to pass judgement on him or his family?

I went home and thought about it all night.

At the next practice I redoubled my efforts to help Lance
and spent an extra 15 minutes after every practice
throwing tennis balls to him in the outfield.

Our team went undefeated that year.
Won the championship.

Lance made an incredible game saving catch in right field
in the semifinal of the league tournament.

I couldn’t complete my closing comments in the meeting after the game. I just broke down in tears and gave him the game ball.

Ever since that day with Lance and his mom, I have made a pact with myself.

1) I will meet every player exactly where he is
physically, mentally, and emotionally, and will do everything in my power to help him improve himself as ballplayer and a person.

2) I will always respect that every child, teenager, or grown man I teach or coach is someone’s baby—their pride an joy.
Every guy matters.

3) I will always give every player entrusted to my tutelage my very best effort every second of every day, no matter how I might feel at that time. They all deserve it.

I always take special interest in the players everyone else has labeled as “not it”. I relish the opportunity to help the underdog, the one they said couldn’t get it done or would never amount to anything.

We’ve had dozens of them come through the ARMory, and many have developed into incredible pitchers.

We truly have some GREAT players training at The ARMory.
I won’t take up your time with our resume.
Let’s just say, WE HAVE SOME STUDS!

But let me tell you what I am the most proud of.

At The ARMory, we have fostered an environment
where the most skilled and the least skilled train side by side, and everyone takes delight in the accomplishments of all.

Our students celebrate a guy breaking a personal record at 70mph
with as much joy and excitement as a guy busting 97mph.

Our highest achievers enjoy sharing their ideas
with even the youngest and weakest performers in the program.

It’s a beautiful thing,
and it creates a training synergy I think is largely responsible
for much of our success.

My friend Randy Sullivan posted this. Please read. I’ve changed the Coaching “ethos” to reflect my work in sales coaching.

1) I will meet every seller exactly where he/she is
physically, mentally, and emotionally, and will do everything in my power to help him or her improve himself as a seller and a person.

2) I will always respect that every person I teach or coach
is someone’s Mother, Father, Wife, Husband, Significant other, Son or Daughter, someone truly special — someone’s pride an joy. Every seller matters.

3) I will always give every seller entrusted to my tutelage my very best effort every second of every session, no matter how I might feel at that time. They all deserve it.

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Using Social Media to Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

Your prospects are looking at your Social Profiles – especially Linkedin and in some cases Twitter.  As always, their first impression is key.  Presenting yourself as a thought leader in your space gives you a leg up by giving you the foundation to provide INSIGHT to the prospect as opposed to just asking questions.  I ran across this


Linkedin profile and wanted to share it with you.  This is an excellent representation of how you use your social profiles to break the sales stereotype and create Thought Leader status.

Do your social profiles for business reflect your thought leadership?

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Ways to Break the Sales Stereotype: Way 6 – Be a Thought Leader

You should be an expert on how your products’ capabilities help your prospects or customers.  Your pre-sales person may know more about the technical features of your product but you should be a thought leader in applying your product’s value to the circumstances of your prospect.  And you should express that expertise often and in many different ways.

For example, one of my favorite blogs is Chad Levitt’s  blog called New Sales Economy.  He always has interesting articles on Sales 2.0 strategies.  He also guest blogs on other sites and has interesting guests write in his blog.  He is a thought leader in this space.

But guess what…

He is a sales guy for Hubspot, a company that sells inbound marketing software which helps grow traffic to your site, get leads, and make sales in this new environment.  Chad’s story is in alignment with what he does and who he works for.  Chad is part of that big conversation out there.  He gets leads by virtue of who he is and what he is passionate about.  Chad is in alignment with his story and there is a tremendous amount of power in that.

Think about ways that you can amplify your thought leadership and become part of that big conversation out there.  Be more than sales – be an authentic Thought Leader.

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