Where’s the Passion?

Hands in pockets.  Shoulders slumped.  Expressionless face.  Closed body language.  Basically, everything about these salespeople was screaming, “If you want to buy my product, that’s fine.  If you don’t that’s fine, too.  Whatever, just follow me on my tour as I tell you stuff.”

Watching these people was a terribly underwhelming experience.  Each and every single sales rep from this company was missing a key ingredient from their sales schtick (I couldn’t quite tell if they were asking questions and matching needs with solutions).  That one ingredient is this…

Where’s the passion?  I’ve written about this idea before, but then I see it happen again and again wherever I go.  Lack of passion is a plague and it’s not showing much, if any, signs of improving.  I’ve heard it suggested a couple of times recently that wages and salary caps are to blame.  (Which, of course, begs the question, At what salary can we expect excellent customer service and effort?)  Lack of incentive might also be a cuplrit (in this economic climate, however, the primary incentive should be receiving a steady paycheck).  I have a different theory personally.

Management.  Pure and simple.

Managers, if you want passionate sales and customer service reps (or all team members in general), you need to do three things:

1.)  Train the passion.  Granted, I can’t give somebody passion as if it’s a Christmas present (though I wish I could).  But I can show my team how to express passion in two words: body language.  Open posture and gestures.  Smiles on faces.  “Yes” phrases instead of “no” phrases.  Genuine interest in a prospective or current client’s questions, and wanting to let them do most of the talking.  Train your team on expressing passion…and you could see an uptick in your closing ratios.

2.)  Foster the passion.  Maybe you can’t pay higher salaries or fat bonuses.  (Of course, if your sales team closed more sales, this might not be an issue.)  But you can do more to encourage people to get jacked up on their jobs.  Contests, incentives (doesn’t always have to be about more money…find your team’s hot buttons and get creative), and other morale boosters can get your team excited about their jobs and give them more reason to come into work each day.  Share your vision, your goals, and how your team members contribute to the success of the company.  Try some transparency and trust that they’ll catch on to what matters.

3.)  Model the passion.  It starts at the top.  There isn’t a manager on the face of the planet who could possibly expect his or her employees to have passion for their work if they, themselves, don’t personally model it.  I tell middle and frontline managers to suck it up and show their direct reports their own passion for their work and company, even if the higher ups don’t do likewise.  But upper level managers, if you’re reading this, believe this to be true…if you’re not doing it, don’t expect your team to do it, either.  They’re watching you and will resent you if you don’t practice your preach.  You want them to model passion?  You be the first to model it.

If your team is currently lacking in the passion department, there is no easy fix or turnaround.  But you can right the course of your vessel if it’s off by following these three principals.  It’ll take some time, but the results will be noticeable.  And profitable.

QUESTION:  How can you best model passion for your team (regardless of your position in the company)?


The Fantastic Four of Sales Book

I do a lot of reading.  A lot.  I’ve been told that the more you read, the more you earn.  I’m still waiting for that paycheck to show up in the mailbox.  Out of the plethora of subjects out there (yes, I went there…a plethora of subjects), I find business reading to be among my favorites.  To whittle that list down further, I particularly enjoy reading books on sales.  Most are written by “experts,” though I’m still unsure what consititutes having that title bestowed upon an author.

But I digress.

Let’s face it, many (if not most) of today’s sales reading consists of re-hashed ideas that are simply rearranged and packaged in brighter and flashier colors.  No offense to any authors is intended, of course. (Especially considering I may one day throw my own hat into the ring.)  Unless it incorporates the concepts and useage of social media (which is now starting to suffer the same ailment of recycled ideas), there really isn’t anything new under the sales sun.

Or is there?

In my reading, I have come across four books that, for one reason or other, seem to stand out among the pantheon of sales authors and their works.  These are the “Fantastic Four” and are truly “must have” selections in your own professional library.  They are:

1.)  “Sell or Be Sold” by Grant Cardone (formerly entitled Sell to Survive, now expanded with new content).  Grant is a sales trainer par excellence whose seminar I have personally attended.  Coming from an auto sales background, Grant has branched out into television, radio, and a series of books.  This book is not typical in the way of “this is how you cold call, this is how you qualify, etc.”  Rather, I would classify this as a “sales philosophy” book as Grant feeds the fuel for being passionate about sales and seeing that sales is an essential activity in everyone’s life, no matter what their vocation, age, or station in life.  It’s hard to not find yourself getting jacked up on selling while reading this book.  Sales is a way of life and everything depends on selling.  This book shows you why.

2.) “Secrets of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar.  Zig is THE man when it comes to the practice of sales in the last several decades.  Motivational as well as extremely useful, this book contains more jewels than Buckingham Palace.  This book is great because it offers probably any and all scenarios a sales professional might be faced with, and how to handle those scenarios.  Zig also peppers in his own wit and wisdom throughout the pages.  The word I use to best describe this book is “practical.”  There is nothing crazy or over the top in his thinking…just real practical thinking and execution.  I have several of Zig’s books in my library, but this is my favorite and will always be a classic.

3.) “Little Red Book of Selling”/”Little Red Book of Sales Answers” by Jeffrey Gitomer.  Okay, so I cheated by adding two separate books in this listing.  It’s my blog though, so sue me.  Kidding.  Besides, they’re both the “red books” in his series of sales and professional reading, so it fits.  If you’ve read any of Jeffrey’s books or his weekly “Sales Caffeine” ezine, you know that he’s probably one of the most unique personalities out there.  He’s edgy.  He’s witty.  He’s also one of the few guys (like Grant Cardone) who will actually encourage you to bust up the status quo and do it with no apologies…which is very cool because why, after all, would you want to do what 95% of the sales force out there is doing (and not getting the results they truly want)?  The first of these two books is along the vein of the traditional “how to be the best” sales books, while the second gives his 99.5 answers to the most common sales questions.  The thing that separates these (and his other books) from the rest of the pack is that he presents his information in short, manageable chunks that you can read on the fly without getting bogged down with a lot of other text (which also results in a smaller-sized book that makes it easier to bring around with you).  Straight, direct, and to the point.  Like Jeffrey.

4.) “Cold Calling Techniques (That Really Work)” by Stephan Schiffman.  Best. Cold calling.  Book. Ever.  Okay, I’m not really 15 years old, but if I was that’s how I would describe this book.  When I was full-time on the phones and trying to uncover prospective clients, I would struggle for how to present myself in the best way possible in the best amount of time to get the best results.  A stroll through the Barnes and Noble business section led me to this gem a few years ago, and my cold calling was never the same.  I found my cold call – appointment conversion ratio going from around 10% to closer to an average of 50-60%.  Translation: more appointments leading to more sales leading to more cha-ching.  Most sales professionals would prefer a double root canal without the anesthesia than being asked to make a handful of cold calls each day.  If you’ve got a fever for cold calls, the only prescription is this book.  If you commit yourself to learning the techniques Stephan presents (which aren’t rocket science but are also not practiced by a great many sales people, which means you can set yourself apart as a breath of fresh air on the other end of the line), you’re going to find yourself with more sales appointments than you’ll know what to do with.  Which leads to a good problem of trying to figure out how to invest the added income you’ll be generating each month.

I realize there are a plethora (must be the word of the day, kids) of authors in this category out there, and many of those worthy of more than a quick flip through their works at the bookstore.  These are the books, though, that I have personally recommended to other sales professionals in my circle.  I now recommend them to you.  If you call yourself a salesman and want to get a step up on the competition, invest in yourself by adding these books (and others by these authors) to your personal sales library.

QUESTION:  What book(s) would YOU add to this list and why?  Let me know in a reply below.