Archive for the ‘General Business’ Category

Keeping Your Best Sales People

May 11, 2011

What Are You Doing to Keep Your Best People?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that hiring by the nation’s small employers is starting to grow, and that large employer hiring is not far behind.  This will mean that as re-hiring accelerates, the competition for the best people will intensify.  Here’s the question:  “What are you and your company doing now to keep your people from leaving when they are offered attractive opportunities elsewhere?”

Various studies over the last few years have reported a number of interesting trends.  Among them:

1)  Youthful workers today like to earn good money, but the work environment is more important.  They want to “be part of things,” and have the freedom to collaborate with friendly team mates to achieve more.

2)  Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup Organization studied what “the world’s greatest managers do” and reported their results in the 1999 bestselling book, First Break all the Rules.  One of their conclusion that startled a lot of corporate executives was that “People do not leave companies; they leave their bosses.”

3)  One of the most effective ways to keep your best people is to create an environment in which they feel that they are personally growing in addition to professionally advancing.

4)  Effective coaching is one of the most cost effective ways to keep top people from leaving, and help managers focus on the factors that help the employee grow and the company prosper.

When I discuss “coaching” with clients and prospects, I learn that their view of coaching is more like a miniature performance review.  While there is a performance aspect to effective coaching, helping people grow personally and professionally requires a greater focus on behaviors that lead to the effective performance.  If I am not meeting my sales quota, my manager can talk to me about increasing my number of contacts.  But until she finds out what keeps me from picking up the phone, she cannot help me by simply telling me (or threatening me) to make more calls.

I believe there are two primary reasons managers do not coach their people.  One is that they do not think they have the time.  The real reason is that most do not know how to coach.  Reading a book, or attending a one-day class is not likely to change their coaching skill level.  At Integrity Solutions we have found that teaching a specific coaching process, coupled with weekly accountability and follow-up discussions with peers, led by a trained facilitator, removes obstacles and produces remarkable results.

One $2.8 billion credit union saw a 60% increase in closed loan referrals and a 5% increase in membership (customer base), when coaching was implemented.

A pharmaceutical manager reported that one rep reached 143% of quota “as a result of  coaching.”

For additional insights into the effectiveness of the right type of coaching in a selling environment, get the Integrity White Paper, “Balancing Accountability with Engagement.”


Thoughts of “Spring Training” for Integrity Selling® Clients

April 18, 2011

     A few years ago a client of one of my colleagues, Harriet Butler, spoke at the Integrity Solutions National Meeting. His first name was Tom.  Recently retired as a VP of Sales and in his early 50’s, Tom was a multi-millionaire from his sales management success. He told us two things that stuck with me, and that I want to share with you.

First, he “lived with” the Sales Congruence Model.  Each Monday at 6:30 AM he invested a half-hour reviewing the five dimensions of the Congruence Model.  He asked two questions:

1.  What took me out of congruence last week?

2.  What do I have to do this week to get back into congruence?

After listing his congruence issues, and what to do about them, he had his weekly 7:00 AM call with his Region Managers, and their discussion was the same.  Then at 7:30 AM, each Region Manager had the same congruence discussion with his or her sales team.  As a result every person in Tom’s sales organization remained congruent and highly effective at growing sales.

The second thing Tom told us was that he conducted Integrity Selling® for everyone in his organization every year in March.  He called it “Spring Training.”  If you were in your tenth year with Tom, you participated in your tenth Integrity Selling®.  If it was your first year, it was your first time, but there were people there with you, earning six figures, enthusiastically doing the same exercises.  His metaphor was simple.  Professional athletes have spring training every year.  They go back to the basics of their sport and practice, practice, practice.  Why, Tom reasoned, would it be any different for professional sales people?

So here is my challenge to you – conduct Spring Training every year.  Maybe it’s not in the spring – and maybe you call it something else.  Here are four tools to help you:

1.  If you are certified, like Tom, you can simply do the full Integrity Selling® program again.  You purchase Participant Manuals only for new people.

2.  Even if you are not certified, there is a “sales managers review course” which is a download from the web site.  The script is also behind the sixth tab in the Integrity Selling® Facilitator’s Manual.

3.  There are great tools for an individual to use, as well as for a manager to use in coaching, in the “Diagnostic and Prescription Section,” Tab four, of the Integrity Selling® Participant Manual.

4.  Of course, the Performance Accelerators are also part of the Facilitator’s Manual, and every Participant Manual contains the two blue CD’s with the six Performance Accelerator audio messages.

Integrity Selling® is probably the most robust behavior-development solution you will ever use.  The content is timeless, and every year each of us is at a different place in our lives, able to learn new substance that we were not ready to absorb before.  “Use it or lose it.”

Call me with your questions or comments about these ideas.  Mark Walker.  678-794-1195

The Importance of Listening to Your Customers and Prospects

September 4, 2009

Or “How to Save Money on a New Car”

This is really not about cars. It is about listening. Let me tell you about the time my friend, Dave, saved almost 25% on a new car. This happened in the early 1970’s, when you could buy a new full sized car for about $5,000. (Have I really been around that long?) Dave was the kind of guy who bought a new car and drove it until it died 10 or 15 years later. His wife needed a big, safe car to haul around their two small sons, so at the end of the model year, Dave made the rounds of the dealers to find a “deal” on last year’s model.

He was disappointed at the small discounts. The best deal he could find was about $4,300 dollars. Finally he stopped at a dealer whose salesperson said, “You are in luck. There was a new full-sized sedan on the truck that came in today, and it is last year’s model. We don’t know how it got there. The price is $3,500.”

Dave exclaimed incredulously, “$3,500?” He was surprised that the price was so much lower than other quotes he’d received. The sales person, however, took his exclamation as a sign of displeasure with a price that was too high. So the sales person said, “Okay, okay. I’ll throw in the undercoating for free.” That was worth another $350! So good ole’ Dave got a great deal on a brand new car.

Instead of commenting on what the sales person said, he simply repeated part of the price quote as a question. In Dave’s case this was an involuntary exclamation of surprise, but it was interpreted as a form of clarification. Unconsciously, Dave used a form of “active listening.”

When you actively listen in your selling interviews, you give customers a chance to further explain what they mean and help you understand whether you have a solution for them. We’re about to enter a long weekend. Practice “active listening” with family and friends. They will think you have become more charming and intelligent.

The Secrets to Effective Personal Organization

August 27, 2009

Or Gaining Control in an Out of Control Environment

A major cause of stress is a feeling of being out of control. Having helped people be better organized for more than 20 years, I see that many are out of control when it comes to their personal organization skills. Gaining control is relatively simple, but it requires being willing to make changes in habits, and learning to use an organization process. This process or “system” enables you to make effective, productive choices about your time use throughout the day.

We cannot control people, so let’s focus on PERSONAL ORGANIZATION. This is controlling our own activities and the information related them, which help us reach our goals and objectives. Mastery of appropriate tools is vital. Technology is not always the answer, and may cause some people to become even more out of control.

If you are frequently interrupted, an organizational system is even more important because you can easily be taken off important tasks by urgent but unimportant events. Let’s look at a simple process, then figure out the best tools to make the process work for you.


The Time Link – A Secret to Activity Control

Two types of activity which occupy our days:

1) appointments, which are events requiring our physical presence. We have to “be there.” An appointment is a scheduled meeting, a phone appointment, an airline flight time, a parent-teacher conference.

2) action items or “to do’s,” which do not require us to be necessarily at a particular place. Often these are listed on a “to-do list” or a calendar.

Gaining control over these activities (appointments and to-do’s) requires that we develop the habit of identifying The Time Link, telling yourself three things:

* What (to do or be there for) * When (to do it) * Where (is the information)

The tool you use to establish The Time Link is part of your system. Key point: it must be a place that your mind trusts that you will see the linked item at the appropriate time, knowing you will not forget to act on it. You can make The Time Link for an appointment on your calendar, either computer-based or paper. Entering an appointment on a date automatically tells you What and When. If you use one master calendar, it also gives you a “panoramic view” of all your “be there’s.”

To-do items should not be on your monthly calendar, but should be on a to-do list. This can be a “task list,” similar to that found in Microsoft Outlook®, or a written to do list organized by date or sequentially. (Click here for a great resource for paper organization skills.)

Alphabetic Filing: A Secret to Information Control

Note that the third “W” when making The Time Link is “where.” Many of us try to work in an extraordinarily cluttered environment because we are afraid if we put the information away, we won’t be able to find it. Part of your personal organization system is a simple filing system.

Whether you save information in a computer or in a paper file, or both, alphabetic filing helps to retrieve information quickly. When you save a file on your computer, you are asked to give it a file name, and are allowed to put it in a “file folder.” Without getting into details about computer filing, give your file a simple name, related to the person or the subject or the organization, and file it in the appropriate folder. When you enter The Time Link, you simply name the file and the folder.

When your organization uses a particular filing protocol, then always follow it. The Time Link just names the specific file in which the information can be found for action.

Using A – Z paper files: You can organize thousands of notes in three files; an active file, an inactive file, and a dead file.

The Active File is in your organizer or notebook which you carry daily. It contains notes about people, the projects and the programs that you need to have with you, for the next one to four weeks, wherever you go. This turns your organizer tool into a “portable desk.” (On your calendar for the 15th is “9:00 AM Meet w/Mac Johnson (J)” This tells you “what” (meet with Mac Johnson), “when” (the 15h at 9:00 AM), and “where” the notes are (behind the “J” tab in your portable A-Z file). If you work mostly at your desk, this A-Z file can be in your desk as a set of hanging file folders.

The Inactive File contains the items that are not active for the next one to four weeks, but which are likely to be needed when that project, person or program becomes active again. It can be a set of A-Z hanging files in a desk, or even a two inch thick three-ring binder with a set of A-Z tabs. Nothing should be put in this Inactive File unless The Time Link has been entered. This is a good time to use your computer calendaring tool. In early May you note: “Follow up with Principal Jones about driver’s ed for Billy Joe (I-D) The “I” is for “inactive file” and the “D” is for your top of mind reference, Driver’s Ed.

The Dead File is simply information which you are not ready to toss out, does not fit into any of your organization’s master files and which you might need some day. This paper is filed alphabetically the way you would think of retrieving it later. Use a two inch wide three-ringed binder labeled by the time frame (January 1, 2008 – March 31 2009). When full, the binder is closed out. After sufficient time passes, the “dead” paper is “buried” in your trash can or shredder and the binder recycled.

IMPORTANT. These alphabetic files supplement your organization’s master filing system, not replace it. If the paper has a place, put it there to provide appropriate organizational documentation and history.

Think of Outlook® or your e-mail system much like you would the filing system above. You could even set up the three files identified above. And store e-mails and other files accordingly. Attend a class on Outlook® usage if you don’t know all its potential. (Click here for a great resource on using Outlook® to be better organized.)


Harness the power of habit by making The Time Link process routine. When something requires future action, establish The Time Link, put the paper away (or the file in it’s place). Clutter will disappear!

You probably understand the power of a process like this. However, you may not understand what happens to you when you try to change your old habits into the more productive new habits. It is like the power of the exponential curve: “consistency over time, leads to explosive growth.”

When you are trying to develop a new habit, it feels uncomfortable and you must stop and think about it. Often after about three or four days you give up. However, psychologists tell us that 7 to 21 days of regular practice will make a new habit displace an old one. To gain the benefit of a new habit you must persist! Learn to take advantage of the exponential curve in forming a new habit.

Submitted by J. Mark Walker