This is a verbatim word for word transcript of SLMA Radio from march 3, 2016. It is an interview with author and sales coach Mike Weinberg. You have permission to use any quotes with attribution and if need be editing.
Jim: Thank you Paul newly back from the exhibitors show in Las Vegas. They had a record attendance of about 5000 people, 175 exhibitors, it was a great show. The exhibitors said everyone; one the show floor, they said it was really great talking to people. I attended several of the sessions and really enjoyed it. Spoke to the president, Randy Aker and he said it was a great show this year.
Secondly we just today launched the SLMA Buyer’s Guide for people to select CRM marketing automation software companies et cetera et cetera so we expect that to expand in the coming weeks.
Now today we are talking about prioritizing sales management for success. And we couldn’t cover this in our last program with Mike Weinberg; we had so much to cover. We interviewed him last time about his book Sales Management Simplified and I heard Mike on the Sales Pipeline Radio program from Matt Heinz, one of the programs on our channel. And we brought him on and talk about the book and we started getting into this portion – Three Essentials for Success, we just didn’t have the time so I invited Mike to come back.
Now Mike is a consultant, sales coach, speaker, author on a mission to simplify sales. He specializes in new business development and sales management and his passion is helping companies and individuals acquire new clients. Prior to launching his own firm Mike was a top producing sales person in three organizations. Forbes, Overview and several other publications have named Mike the top producer. The book Sales Management Simplified is a must-have book for every sales manager and for every company president that has a sales manager working for him or for her. And I like his book New Sales Simplified which is the predecessor to this.
Mike, welcome today to the Sales Lead Management Association radio program!
Mike: Hey Jim great to be back with you thank you for having me.
Jim: Well you and I really agree about the whole sales management conundrum out there. Now this subject that we talked about here today which is the three essentials for success really kicks off the second half of your book. The first half is pretty brutal, brutally honest and I find it fascinating reading, which I would have written it myself because I went through all the pains that you mentioned there.
But the second half is this whole… you talk about sales management being such a big issue. Now you mentioned there are 42 to 45 separate issues pertaining to sales management. Before we even get into this, you say it’s not just one big broad issue. Can you expand a little bit on that before we get into the three ways to really… the three essentials for success for sales managers?
Mike: Yeah, sometimes when you go into a company I am talking with executives, a lot of times we look at me and they will say something like: “we are overwhelmed, sales is broken. Can you help us fix sales?” And part of the reason they are overwhelmed is they are looking at this just a giant list of everything from the culture to sales skills to talent management to right people in the right jobs to proposals, prospecting, negotiating, everything that has to do with selling. And part of what I have done through my years of consulting is I try to signify everything. I think everyone likes to overcomplicate selling and sales management. And I understand a lot of businesses are complicated but that doesn’t means that leading the sales team needs to be complicated.
So Jim what I basically did was created three little buckets and these little buckets are my filter or my own grid that I looked at when I am trying to increase sales so those three areas are; leadership and culture, talent management and sales process. And pretty much any sales issue can be put into one of those three categories and when I go in a company I am looking at those three areas but even more importantly I am trying to help the leaders there adopt this as their own framework. If we want to increase sales, if we want to create lasting long-term performance improvement, we’ve got to get the team lead the right way in the right healthy high-performance culture. We’ve got to get the right people in the right roles and manage the talent appropriately and then we need a sound sales process
Jim: So then you said there are three things to look at in your own practice in order to evaluate a company but isn’t this whole sales leadership and culture, isn’t that just kind of a soft thing: “gee we’ve got to improve our culture?” Expand a little bit so it doesn’t seem so soft and mushy to me.
Mike: No it’s not. In fact if you look at the store in the book where I described the healthiest sales culture I have ever seen which it’s about 15 years since I’ve seen a company with that strong a culture. It’s anything but soft, it’s brutal, it’s intense. There is passion and energy, high accountability, goals and results posted everywhere, strong hard conversations one on one between management and salespeople, role-play and tough practice and sales meetings. Culture is everywhere no, culture is not a soft topic.
And Jim I will admit this. I have been saying this lately in some of my keynote talks, when I got into consulting the first time, I was young and I was naïve and I thought you could fix sales teams and transform resource long-term if I just coached everybody to sell like me because I came into consulting and sales recruiting business as a top hunter. I thought if I got everyone to sell the right way we will transform organizations and I was wrong! You don’t transform organizations by coaching enough people. If you don’t deal with the culture and the leadership and the talent management, you don’t win for the long-term so that’s why culture is not soft. Culture is everything.
Jim: Do you think the average sales manager is really capable of really cranking things up the way that you outlined in here though? You’re talking about leading the team and we all think of ourselves as leaders but you’re talking about creating excitement intensity, passion, you are talking about cranking these people up on a daily basis to be proud of where they are working and to transmit that message into their customer relationships. Can the average sales guy, sales manager actually do this?
Mike: That’s a great question and I’m going to talk out of both sides of my mouth, the answer is yes with a “but.” The “yes” is the right sales leader who understands that his or her job is to make heroes, not to be the hero; who knows that he or she wins through their people and who understands that if they spend their time on the highest value activities which I would argue are one-on-one meetings with your sales reps, preparing for and leading great sales team meetings and then getting out in the field or in the inside sales office and working alongside your people, if they would take back control of their calendars and work on those things, they absolutely can change the sales culture.
Now the “but” and the caveat I will throw out there is if you are in a company, and I consulted some of these, where the ownership or senior management is anti-sales and they hate sales and they demean sales and they throw salespeople under the bus and they give credit to everybody in the company but the salespeople when sales are good. And they like to jerk with compensation and territories and disengage the hearts of the salespeople, in that environment it would be very hard for one sales manager to change the culture because that’s an uphill battle and I would coach that person and if you can’t get that turned around you need to go work somewhere else because that’s a battle you are not going to win.
Jim: That really resonates. I think I mentioned last time I walked through a sales department one time and I heard the company president say to his visitor: “Well this is my overhead department” and it just stunned me when I heard that.
Mike: Yeah, pretty sad.
Jim: Now what are the items… let’s see 3, 6, 9, 10. You’ve got about 14 items here that you talk about in this framework having to do with this culture issue and one of them really mentions: “do the sales team members feel supported, valued and appreciated?” And that certainly seems to be something that when I used to go to companies one of the first things that salespeople would say is that they just don’t feel valued to the manager or to the company, they just feel beaten. It’s kind of like I mentioned one time; do you have sales meetings and they said, “No, we have sales beatings.”
Mike: Yeah and while you are on that topic I will make this one comment. The sales team meeting is not the appropriate place to do part accountability. The meeting is to align and energize and equip the team. You do accountability in private and we need to have a great one on one meeting and sure you and I will circle back to that.
Let me go back to your thing where you talk about downtrodden salespeople that feel abused or neglected or unappreciated. Here is my very strong message for senior leaders; listen to me, miserable salespeople don’t perform. Sales is not accounting. You can have miserable accountants that work for you and do a great accounting work. You can hate your freaking job and work in a pathetic culture but put out accurate on-time financial statements and do great analysis. But show me the sales guy who hates his job whose heart is not engaged that’s producing big numbers and I will fall over.
I mean there are no… I mean in sales you’ve got to want to and if your heart is not in it you cannot woo a prospect, you’re not going to push past resistance, you’re not going to persuade people and do the hard stuff so you’ve got be very careful. When leaders don’t understand and they say stupid things like you just mentioned where the owner refers to the salespeople as his overhead, I mean first of all he must have a really stupid comp plan because a good comp plan would never be… would have salespeople as overhead, they would be earning their money. But who would want to work in an environment like that?
And I will just add this last point Jim, they are no unemployed A player salespeople. There is a huge shortage of sales talent and if you have A players on your team and you don’t keep their hearts engaged and you are anti-sales you are telling them to go work somewhere else. And believe me if you’ve got A players, somebody’s recruiting them away from you, there is such a shortage.
Jim: That certainly makes sense. They are usually the first people to leave because they won’t put up with the nonsense. Now you mentioned, before we get into the next one we’ve got a break in about two minutes and before we get into talent management which I am really interested in here, how much of the sales leaders’ time is really devoted… you look at this, to non-sales activities and you’re really disparage that. I mean you pound on that in your book how this is not good when they spend too much time on these other activities.
Mike: Yeah and sometimes it’s their own fault but oftentimes it’s the company’s fault. I mean there are two angles to that. The biggest problem I have with salespeople is they are underperforming and not picking up new business because they spend very little time selling. Well the same applies for the sales leader; when the company buries that person in all kinds of crap and drags them to every meeting and wants them on all of these corporate conference calls and treats them as the garbage dump of all problems of the company, how is that person ever going to spend time on things that matter?
But the other side of the coin is there are also sales managers who lose sight of their primary job which I would argue is leading the troops into battle and monitoring a sales attack and mentoring the coaches and holding the sales team accountable. And I have clients that I consult where the sales leader loves to help out operations, where the sales leader one of my clients is really technically gifted and he is almost better at solving QC problems than the engineers in the company.
So if like one of the big customers has a quality issue in that guy’s plant instead of him yelling at the QC guys and engineers he goes and jumps in the fray with them and he will spend a week trying to solve a quality issue. So in that case he is the one picking up the firehose and trying to solve a non-sales issue and what I would love him to do is spend time on his day job which is leading the sales team which is what they really need him to do.
Jim: Most of the time they shouldn’t even obviously the wrong person in the wrong job. We have been speaking with Mike Weinberg he is the author of Sales Management Simplified at www.newsalescoach.com and we interviewed him about a month and a half ago, it was one of our better programs. Today we are tackling this – Prioritizing Sales Management for Success. We come back I would like Mike to tackle the other two buckets he put into… he created in order to analyze this management culture which is talent management and sales processes – Paul over to you.
Paul: And now back to Jim and his guest.
Jim: We have been speaking with Mike Weinberg www.newsalescoach.com and we have been talking to him today about his book Sales Management Simplified and especially his section where we talk about the three essentials for success for sales managers. Now the first when we talked about the sales leadership and the culture the next two items we hope to reach is this talent management portion and certainly hiring the right people is the only way to be a success. And in this whole talent management part you broke it into four categories. Do you want to cover those for us Mike?
Mike: Yeah sure in order to help keep it simple, I did this with a client a couple of years ago and it works so well they just stuck with it. It is what I name the four R’s of sales talent management, I kind of like the alliteration here.
Number one, we need to get the right people in the right roles and that’s probably the most important piece of the puzzle and we will circle back to that in a second. We want to retain our top producers. Nothing hurts worse than losing an A player because there are so few of them.
The third R, I use the word Remediate and that’s a fancy way of saying we need to either coach up or coach out those that aren’t getting it done and we need to do that quickly. And the last number four is Recruiting. If you are doing good accountability and you are coaching up or coaching out that means you’re also going to be doing some recruiting, that’s an opportunity to raise the bar on your team. So right people, right jobs, retain top people, remediate underperformers and recruits.
Jim: Where you’ve got chapter, 23 that just covers these four areas so I guess it’s difficult for us to go into it but what about this remediate portion; replace underperformers. You get to these companies and as soon as you walk in the door the company president probably gives you a list of all the people that should be fired and too often I find it is necessarily the person should be fired but they need to be worked with. What’s your opinion there?
Mike: It’s all over the board. I will touch on that. I also want to touch on real quickly getting the right people in the right jobs. I find it both ways. I find that sometimes the leader wants to point his finger at the people and say well these guys are no good. They are bums, they are lazy, they are complacent, they parented well, the whole thing and they want you to go and turn upside down or even do something absolutely crazy to hold them accountable so that there is a great frustration there.
A lot of times though Jim, I see the opposite. I go into a company and they tell me about Johnny, the underperformer and the Johnny hasn’t made his number in three years and they want me to spend extra time trying to help Johnny. And I look at the boss, the president or the head of sales and go you are kidding right? You are paying me good money to come and help with your sales organization and you want me to go spend extra time with this guy that you know doesn’t belong in sales in the first place? So part of what happens is sales managers have lost sight of their primary jobs. They are not having good one on one meetings when they go over results and pipeline and activity with salespeople, that underperformance goes on way longer than it should. And the question I like to ask executives is how long would you tolerate failure from someone in finance or in operations or whatever, customer service where they continued to make mistakes and didn’t get the job done? Not very long. But why do we let salespeople stay in the job forever when they are not getting the job done without putting them on a plan or investing in them to help them, that’s crazy!
Jim: It’s the bad breath or no breath argument; too many company presidents feel like: “well I would rather have bad breath than no breath” and I said you already have no breath and it is causing a lot of money you just don’t understand it.
Mike: Yeah, you and I are more aligned than I even realize. Absolutely I love that expression, I am totally with you.
Jim: How about the right people in the right roles? You wanted to touch on that.
Mike: Real quick I will just say this. I go into a lot of organizations that have a one-size-fits-all view of sales talent and I think that’s crazy. God made us all differently, we are all wired different and there are a lot of people in sales roles that I like to call zookeepers.
Some people call them farmers; I think zookeepers are better more stark contrast. And these are great people who love to feed and nurture and clean up after and cuddle with the animals under their care, they are zookeepers, they are awesome but yet the same management then looks at the zookeeper who is wired like this caregiver and wants them to go out and put down the little baby bottle that they nurse the animals with and pick up a weapon and then go out and kill animals and I always think: “What are we crazy? Why do you think this highly relational low conflict person who loves to care for accounts is going to be any good at going out hunting and bringing in fresh game?” So that’s part of the issue. Why do we think zookeepers are going to hunt?
And then the other side of the equation is we have such few really good hunters and yet companies burden those hunters with all kinds of project management and account management responsibilities that keeps them from hunting more. My challenge always is guys, if you want more sales that the people in the area of giftedness, let’s better define the roles but let’s get hunters hunting and maximize their hunting time and then support them with zookeepers who are great at caring for the clients they already have and I wish more people would take that to heart.
Jim: You got me chuckling; overhead they actually shut off the microphone. What about the last issue, the sales process? We’ve got about three minutes. At the end I would like to have you tell us where people can reach you and talk to you and get your book and your book is one of the bestselling books on Amazon, it’s in number one in the category out of 30,227 books on sales management; your book is number one so people ought to go out and buy. Tell us more about the sales process.
Mike: Yeah, thanks for the generous words there.
You know sales process is really important and again where people make it really complicated I think that there are a couple really critical jobs for sales leadership when it comes to sales process.
Number one – you need to point to the team the right direction. You want to make sure that management is pointing the sales folks towards the appropriate target accounts to pursue and those might be growable customers that deserve more of our attention and time because we can cross sell or upsell or penetrate better and it certainly would involve prospective customers that don’t buy from us but should be and that’s too important to leave up just to the salespeople. I want management involved in that discussion because picking your targets, that’s one of the few chances we have to be strategic so that’s part one of the sales process.
Part two is as a leader you’ve got to arm your team. You’ve got to get them ready for battle which means they need weapons to fire at those targets and they need a great story where they articulate value, they need to be able to prospect to get in. They have to be able to run a great sales call where they can share their agenda and set up the meeting and they are armed with a good succinct story and great probing questions to help them learn what they need to learn in order to sell.
I think that not enough sales leaders are mentoring and coaching the people how to run sales calls. I am continually shocked at the lack of mentoring and coaching going on so part one is picking targets. Part two is arming the team and then coaching them how to use those weapons against the targets and the last part of sales process is really how do we plan and execute the sales attack and have as the sales leader monitor them right? How do you pay attention to the pipeline? How are you reviewing sales results? Are there key activity metrics that your people are committing to that you are monitoring?
And then you put all of those pieces together and you have a very simple process. You take targets, arm the team, you coach them how to use the weapon and then you monitor the battle in real time; backwards looking at results and forward looking at pipeline and if you get your arms around those three categories, you’ve got a pretty darn sound sales attack and it is really basic but I am telling you most companies are missing it when it comes to those basics.
Jim: You have been great today. I am glad we had you back on again you’ve got free access to come on here anytime you would like to. We have been speaking with Mike Weinberg, the best-selling author of Sales Management Simplified – number one book on sales management out of 30,277 books and he has his consulting practice – New Sales Coach. He has answered the questions today: The Three Essentials for Success in Sales Management. Mike how else can people reach you?
Mike: Thanks so much. What a great day being with you Jim. I am energized when speaking with you. I am on twitter @Mike_Weinberg and then the books you can buy them on Amazon, that’s your best bet, they are in stock and priced well to go and my website is www.newsalescoach.com.
Jim: And replays of this program will be available for the next couple of days for this Sales Lead Management Association and also most probably for Mike’s website. Thank you Mike Weinberg author sales coach. Great day today – Paul over to you please.
Paul: You have been listening to the latest episode of the SLMA Radio Hour brought you on behalf of our 9200+ members of the Sales Lead Management Association. If it has to do with sales lead marketing or sales lead management it probably starts here with the SLMA Radio Hour. SLMA Radio is part of the SLMA Live Radio Network which currently offers eight programs for at work listeners. Stick around; don’t miss the next episode MSP Radio coming up right after this.