Can the Grinch sell?

December 15, 2020

Don’t be the Grinch… don’t try and stop the holidays because you’re afraid of what it could do to your pipeline. Embrace a unique time to sell.

With 10 days left until Christmas, and many other holidays in full swing already, [Happy Hanukkah], I’ve heard sales people complain for years that their buyers aren’t responding during December. Guess what?

It’s not them, it’s you.

Maybe you’re not putting in the extra effort you know it takes, or you’re not showing them their pain clearly. Could it be you’re not helping them realize how bad it really is and you’re not bringing value when you speak because you’ve given up?

This is one time it’s not about your prospect, it’s about your ability to push through what you perceive as a slow time of year to get the deals [or pipeline] you need. I admit it can be daunting, but here are some things to consider as you *sleigh* the last few weeks in 2020.

Dig into Discovery:

If you were bringing concise solutions to their painful business problems, they would still be talking to you. Just because the holidays hit doesn’t mean their pain points also take PTO. Challenge yourself to illuminate their pain more clearly and provide your solutions in a simpler way. This is a great time of year to work on carrying their pain points all the way through the conversation while helping them understand how bad it really is. Do this by asking quality discovery questions, then using their answers to ask more questions. Yeah, it sounds easy, but it takes practice to be great at it.

Find out what the “why” of your buyer is and use that to illustrate how you can help them achieve it. Get the notion out of your head that they aren’t talking because it’s the holidays…unless you sell to shipping companies, card merchandisers, or Hallmark you’re probably in the clear. Bring value with each reach out and be prepared to walk them through their pain by asking good questions.

Be personal:

We think during holidays people are too busy to talk, they aren’t. In many cases their job doesn’t get busier, it’s their mind that fills up. It happens to you too. All of the stress that comes with your holiday is probably with your prospect as well. What would cause you take time to listen to right now personally to something new? Now, what would you cause you to take time to listen to a solution for work? You’re not trying to cut through business noise you’re trying to cut through personal noise during the holidays.

So here we go one more time….be personal. 2020 has been a shitshow, nothing cuts through the personal noise like showing someone you get it. A great way to do this is find a local coffee shop in your prospects town and buy them a coffee. Or tequila…either way really. But seriously, show up for them, serve your prospects needs and they will give you time. Get creative to cut through their personal noise.

Pro tip: People would rather stop a potential loss, than acquire the equivalent gain. Use their Loss Aversion to frame how your solution can stop a loss, rather than provide them with more of something. Focus on how you’re speaking when you share your solutions. If you stop the loss, the gain will happen automatically.
Put in the extra work:

You’re going to have to make extra cold calls, send more emails, and reach out to more people on social. Chances are your sales teammates are using this time of year to take a break. You will win because you’re not going to sit back and blame it on the time of year. Make 20 extra calls a day for the next 10 days and tell me what happens. 10 more in the AM and 10 more in the PM. I bet it pays dividends.

  • Do. the. Work.
  • Follow the process.
  • Show your work ethic.

The Grinch did a lot of things wrong but, maybe in this instance be the Grinch. He worked overtime to try and stop Christmas….can’t hate the guy for that world class effort. In the end his heart grew three sizes and you could end up with three more deals over the line. This is the time of year to do just a little more than everyone else. The discipline comes in when you’re ready to check your social media, or stop for the day, push yourself to do 10 more.

Your prospects and you, will be able to have a break, detox from tech, and rest. It will be well-deserved this year more than any other. Use the next 10 days to your advantage and don’t give up because your co-workers are, or the first 50 people didn’t pick up the phone. If what you’re selling stops the bleeding, and you’ve learned the best way to communicate that, you’ll still have a successful end of the year.

Don’t be a Grinch and wish away this time of year, you could surprise yourself.

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Sales Mindfulness

December 08, 2020

“Stop lying and leave me the f**k the alone. I can’t believe you would reach out again, I’m going to report you”
– a Prospect

Get into sales, they said. It would be fun, they said. You open up your email one morning to find a nasty email in your inbox. You feel angry, defensive, maybe even hurt by their words. Or you’re making cold calls, and someone tells you off the same way that asshole in high school used too. (if you were that asshole in high school… karma will welcome you to sales) You feel a slap in the face or, for my more empathetic readers, the heart. At this point, feeling deflated, making another cold call or sending another email could be an attempt at summiting Mt. Everest. You have a choice. Let it derail the rest of the day or move on.

Sales is an ocean. Full of high tides, low tides, malstromes, calm seas and everything in between. We can have all the support in the world while following a process, and still be tossed around by the waves. You’re going to be verbally abused on the phone or have nasty things written to you in emails. While it sucks, here’s the deal, it’s not up to the prospect to change their response, it’s up to you to change yours. I didn’t say change your reaction, I said change your response. The reaction is the emotions you feel during or immediately after the incident, the response is what you do next. If you’ve never separated the two, stop reading right now and go buy: Man’s Search for Meaning. This newsletter is now your challenge to learn to pull the two apart. You don’t get to choose the weather at sea, you do get to choose how you sail.

Moving on is far more difficult than we admit, especially if we haven’t practiced the art of acceptance. Stepping forward, unencumbered by the attitudes and actions of others is the art of acceptance. Learning to cultivate a pause between stimulus and response is how you build the foundation. Most of the time, we say we’re good, but that insulting email/call sticks with us throughout the day. It eats at you [if you let it] degrading our attitude as we struggle to put on a happy front and keep going. You don’t have to force happiness, you can learn acceptance and just simply move on.

Our constant challenge in sales is reducing the amount of imperfect information between us and our buyer. We strive to whittle away at unknowns of our buyer’s position, but we’ll never learn everything. Like… if they spilled coffee on their phone that morning, or if their kids decided to color a mural on their home office door. Regardless of their interaction with us, we have the ability to maintain a constant positive attitude. To do that means learning to temper our highs and lows, gently flattening the peaks and troughs. Keeping a positive mental attitude through acceptance, provides the ability to tackle our sales activities everyday, maintaining our flow no matter what happens externally.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
– Viktor Frankl

You will always have an emotional reaction, it’s the pause between it and our response that needs practice. Just like a talk track, if you don’t practice it you won’t be able to adjust it on the fly. There are many opportunities in daily life where you can practice the pause. You need to be determined enough to do it. The pause stops your emotional reaction from being tethered to the incident, which normally would derail your day, by allowing you to develop a response free from the emotion you’re feeling. As sales people we have a responsibility to continue with our daily activities, as expected, regardless of negative reactions and responses from others. Someone else’s bad day and poor attitude never has to become yours, because you’re accepting that you can only control you. That’s freedom.

Caveat to all of this: Don’t be surprised at your prospect’s mean response if you didn’t put in the work. If you’re embodying the sleazy salesperson persona, ain’t no one has sympathy when you get a nasty email or short tempers on the phone. You know who you are. I’d normally say get off my lawn, this time, why don’t you stay on my lawn and learn something. Growth is a choice.

You CAN be in sales long term without emotional burnout. Cultivating the right mindset, practicing acceptance, and learning to lengthen your pause between stimulus and response are the tools you need. These tools aren’t intuitive, I have to practice them every day and many days I fail. In the failure grows your mindfulness. You’ll be more aware next time catching yourself before it’s too late. So this week when someone tells you to “f**k off”, your ship will stay the course, bow ready for the next wave.

My appearance on The Sales Life Podcast
My appearance on Top Insights from the Best Podcast
My appearance on the EBSTA Sales Leadership Panel

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Your Actual Self

December 01, 2020

There are millions of ways to be successful.

Would you still have a job and a chance to be successful without keeping to a prescription for LinkedIn popularity? Yes.

Did you get your job and some of your success because you stuck to a prescription for LinkedIn Popularity? Yes.

We get caught up trying to do what someone else did to mimic their version of success, then we somehow feel guilty about it if we don’t do every step, every time.

  • I forgot to post at 8am.
  • I didn’t use an automation tool to schedule my content.
  • I didn’t write a month’s worth of content out in advance.
  • I grew the size of my network before creating content.
  • I got good at my job before growing my network/brand.
  • I didn’t post every single day.
  • I didn’t stick to my lane.
  • I didn’t spell check my posts.
  • I didn’t use enough emoji’s.
  • I didn’t leave my personal views off my posts.
  • I didn’t do enough video posts.
  • I didn’t get a professionally done profile pic.

And wow…LinkedIn Stories..what a game changer…I missed out.

^ all of this was sarcastic in case you missed it ^

There is no one way to succeed. We need to stop acting like it. It’s a waste of valuable time to try to adhere to that idea. Use the outline or process that others are promoting and make it your own. You’re not building their brand, you’re building yours. Give yourself a break from the obsession to just do it one way. It takes time to figure out and execute your plan for success.

Remember your social presence is helpful for employers, but it’s not necessary for them to see who you are. There’s a difference in showing up to virtual events and writing about them on social media. Example: Show up to Thursday Night Sales, ask questions, make your presence known, ask for a job, get an interview; versus – posting about it only ( I have no idea who you are if you never spoke up during the show). Your actual self is more important than your written thoughts posted for views.

If you don’t have time for something, don’t sweat it. I hate to break it to you, no one is sitting online thinking oh crap (your name) didn’t post today, how will I know what they were thinking so I can apply it to my life?! We don’t know that someone’s post will be influential ahead of time, the collective of people on social media determine the posts influence AFTER the fact. So if you don’t post, no one cares.

Do it for you, and you’re guaranteed to be successful.

Start building things yourself. Things that are interesting to you. Things that reward you for the time you spent on them. When you build things for yourself that please you and reward you, you’re more likely to stick with them. And the longer you stick with something the greater the chances it will be appreciated by others.

Need a podcast for your next run or drive?

The Rhodes to Wealth Podcast where I spoke about building expertise before creating.

The Surf and Sales Summit Presents: Bonfire Sessions w/ Kevin KD Dorsey

What is your legacy? A podcast by Galem Girmay

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Y.O.R.O.

November 24, 2020

Ramping… it’s not what landed you in the ER with a broken arm when you were twelve.

Ramping is a process which allows you to learn how to pitch your new company’s product/service over several [hopefully] months while slowly increasing your sales quota to its full expectation. If you’re a VP of Sales reading this, take notes. I’ve seen some pretty lousy “ramping” processes, which really just rushed onboarding and led to some tough times. If you’re a new AE or SDR, take it slow, YORO. You Only Ramp Once.

Onboarding is learning about your company and their processes. Ramping is learning how to sell it in a timely manner. If you want low churn within your sales org, you better have a process in place that allows your employees to get up to speed gradually; increasing their quota as they learn. If the ramp rate to a full sales quota is three weeks long, I hope you’re selling water on the Savannah during the dry season.

Ramping is about Learning

When taking in new processes we go through stages of learning to become good at what we’re working on. The more complicated the product or services, the longer it takes. You’ll need time to understand the objections and subsets of the product, time to make the pitch your own, and time to screw up the pitch over and over again until it becomes automatic. Yes, you need to practice it outside of work. Cold call your Mom, your best friend, your cousin, your co-worker and pitch them. Be intentional about the process, and don’t rush it. This is the time in your life cycle with the company that you get to soak it all in, without having to produce at full speed. Take every moment of ramping and savor it as you seek to understand as much as you can about the solution you’re selling and your ICP.

New employees screw this up all the time by rushing their ramping to go swim on their own. Only to realize they left the flotation devices (tools, tips and tricks) on shore. Heads go underwater quickly when you don’t know how to swim.

If you’re the one building the process, give the new employees a fighting chance at success. Do this by having a  ramp rate that allows for learning, understanding, practicing, and finally, automatic execution. Don’t incentivize speed during this time, incentivize competency of the process and product.

Bad ramping looks like:

You, taking your ego out for a walk to prove that you can do the job well before you can actually do the job well.  Bad ramping looks like not utilizing your co-workers as resources and thinking that you can do it on your own. It looks like yanking a bad customer over the finish line while trying to get a sale quickly to impress your supervisor. It looks like not putting in the extra time to review materials, practice the pitch, and reveling in your ramp. If the process is in place, follow it. You’ll have plenty of time to show off your skills after you’ve practiced them. Leave the ego, learn the process, and you’ll be rewarded with doing your job better than the next person.

Bad ramping can also look like smashing onboarding and ramping together in a short amount of time. This can be confusing and parts of your sales process will fall through the cracks as the new employee struggles to get a handle on everything. It can look like content overload, when they are getting tons of material dumped on them with no direction on where to start. It can look like miscalculating your ramp rate. Take into consideration how long onboarding, training, and experience will be to get someone at 100% of their sales quota. It can be too short [hell it often is], and your reps will show by not crushing their goals.

Good ramping looks like:

Knowing your supervisors expectations of your ramp up. If they weren’t provided, ask, and continue to ask questions as you work through the new material. Don’t try to change their process until you know it inside and out. If you’re uncomfortable with the ramp rate, have a conversation about it early with your supervisor. Better yet, ask about it during the interview process! Chances are it could illuminate an issue that someone else had too. It looks like talking to customers, learning your ICP and all the different ways the product solves their problem[s]. Good ramping is learning the talk track without your modifications, and memorizing how to handle specific objections. If you don’t feel empowered through these first few weeks, check-in with yourself to see if the company is the right fit for you. If it turns out it isn’t, use your network and start again. No shame in recognizing a bad fit and doing something about it.

In building a ramping plan, match the length of time to the complexity of the product and training needs. Then add one or two weeks to account for general onboarding. If you’re the VP have clear expectations, set “early and often” as Amy Volas says. Give your new folks the parameters and empower them with good material and practice to be running full speed when it’s time for them to hit their numbers. Don’t be afraid to overhaul the process one bit at a time. Pay attention to things new employees say and take them into account for the future. Also if you really need help creating this process, I know a guy you can hire here.

The Surf & Sales Podcast has brought you 179 episodes [and counting] so far this year. Name a more prolific sales podcast. I’ll wait. Huge thanks to our sponsors Vidyard, Gong, Lead411 for supporting us.

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