How to Turbo Boost Your Sales Team

It’s 0830am on a Tuesday morning and the sales team is out and about getting ready to meet with their clients or prospects. In thirty minutes’ time they will be with their contacts finding out about the client, discovering what makes them tick and analysing the problems the client’s business has in order to reel them in towards a sale.

At 0930am chunky laptops come out of bags and are put on the table in front of them so they can huddle around the screen, or are hooked up to hot, wheezing projectors that don’t want to recognise the computer. This rigmarole takes a good 5 minutes, or more if the projector is in a bad mood, and breaks rapport. The conversation has stalled and all the good work the sales person has done to this point is either negated at worst, or severely depleted at best.

Once the laptop is booted up and all eyes are glued to it, the search for the version of the presentation that’s been created for the meeting starts. Once found, the conversation can turn to the content and the sales person starts to claw back to where they were before the clunky interruption.

The sales person will no doubt do a fabulous job with the client, mixing their art, experience, skill and intuition in just the right way to reel them in. But is there a way of turbo boosting sales? A way to make their very hard jobs much easier?

There are two issue with the typical Tuesday morning above:

1.  The content they are using for their meeting is more than likely different to the content being used by all their colleagues

    • Does it matter that the content is different? If I were just talking about the use of different product sheets for different products it wouldn’t be an issue. But the fact is that most organisations do not have any structure or control over their collateral, its distribution or how it’s modified and used. If every sales person is using a different version of the corporate presentation, some with incorrect facts, others with information that breaches confidentiality, still others that breach the brand guidelines, then the answer is yes, it does matter if the team, all of whom are representing the same company, are doing so in an inconsistent manner.

2.  The interruption to their meeting causes a break in their rapport and sales process

    • Let’s face it everyone hates the technology in a meeting room, as it so often doesn’t do what you want it to. Everyone accepts that things don’t always connect up right first time. But it is awkward for everyone. An awkward silence as one person struggles to make it work while the other just waits saying ‘no it’s fine, take your time’, when both of you know they really mean, ‘come on, I haven’t got time to waste’. We all know that building rapport and maintaining it is crucial in human interaction. Sales people are naturally better at it than most other groups, and have no doubt been on training courses where they have been told about the classic NLP techniques of mirroring, pacing and leading. Some of them may even implement these well. But an interruption like technology turgidity can break state and set the meeting back. (NB. It is true that print-outs can be made before the meeting to avoid techno trauma but there is an even better way to put the right information in front of your customer as we shall see).

In my role running marketing I used to have sales people craving new content all the time. They’d want new ‘hooks’ and good stories. However, they would also then modify whatever we produced. We’d create one version and within days there were more than twenty floating around. No-one had any idea what the correct or most up to date version was. It was like the Wild West. Marketing, Brand and senior management had no control and no structure over what was out there or how sales people were representing the company. One thing was certain through, there was zero consistency.

One way to overcome these issues is to deploy Content Live, a new application designed to right the two wrongs in our illustration. Content Live is an application that sits in the cloud where HQ (marketing, sales, brand, etc) can upload content and it is automatically pushed out to every account holders’ iPads. Instantly this provides a structure to the sales person, and the whole organisation; they know what is official, what is the latest and where to find it easily. It also provides control because the files uploaded can be locked so driving consistency of message and delivery.

As the content is already sitting on the sales person’s iPad, always refreshed 24 hours a day, there is no need to go through techno trauma or break rapport with a client. How simple is it to take out the iPad, swipe the screen and show the right content as part of a natural conversation? Very. Imagine how powerful it could be for a sales person to be talking to a client about their issue and the be able to say ‘We just did a very similar thing for Big Bad Brummies PLC. Here’s a quick 2 minute video of their CIO talking through their challenges and how they overcame them’. Very powerful indeed, as they swipe the screen of their iPad and play the video in the meeting as part of the sales conversation. After all there is no better sales resource for a company than a happy customer.

Importantly, the sales person will also have their own space in ContentLive where they can upload any documents that they do create. Of course it is right that the further up towards account based marketing (ABM) you get, the more likely it is that content will be modified, but with Content Live it is all structured and controlled and visible.

There are other add-ons too, such as ‘News You Can Use’ which provides the latest news on clients direct to the iPad, and also Content Live Private which enables you to have a private shared space with clients or suppliers where content is automatically pushed to their iPads. Imagine how cool it would be to walk into a meeting having just picked up the latest news on them seconds before so you can be the most informed possible, or how you could submit proposals, presentations, service management reports or implementation plans directly onto their iPads. Very cool I say.

Content Live is an application that enables the slickest and simplest way to distribute, structure and control the content. Many organisations will need to work on how they would structure and modify their content to use Content Live to its full potential and this is something we can advise on at Accelerate Performance.

For more information on Content Live or who to engage with for development and structure of content please contact us.



5 Tips to Accelerate Team Performance

Doesn’t it make you sick when you hear your management say “our people are our most important asset” one minute, only to lay off hundreds of people the next? It is a cliche to say that the people make a difference in an organisation but the truth is without people nothing works. Nothing gets made. Nothing gets sold. Innovation can’t happen. So it is not too far a stretch to say that your people are the heartbeat of every company, from a large multinational corporation to a one person web start-up. Without the people turning the handles then corporate machines would stop. And along with people come teams and with that, team performance.

So it seems strange that not more attention is placed by companies on their employees, and specifically on their engagement, mental welfare and interpersonal skills and on team performance.

To accelerate business you, as a manager, would do well to turbo boost your people; find some way to switch them on and plug them in. Here are some ideas:

1. Build great rapport with each team member. Get to a point where you can start to truly lead them because you have been excellent at connecting. Building rapport isn’t about just mirroring them, listening and empathising, although all those are critical, it is about making them feel like they want to work with you and do the best for the company and the rest of the team. A successful rapport builder will be able to lead a team more effectively than one who hasn’t got them ‘on side’.

2. Become an expert on how you team works. Not just the output they produce or whether they prefer to start late or take multiple coffee breaks, but how they think and how their world is mapped. The Polish-American philosopher, Alfred Korzybski, famously coined the phrase “the map is not the territory” meaning that every one of us has our own map of the world that is different, and is not the same as the actual territory it covers. Do you know what map each one of your team has, by which they navigate every day at work? If not then perhaps you could do more to find out.

team performance

3. Focus on goals with well formed outcomes. Too many companies push impossible goals down onto middle managers who then dish them out to their teams without much thought about how they will be implemented. Be a better manager than that and instead of stopping at SMART objectives, opt instead for PACER objectives. That is to say ones where the outcomes are stated in the Positive, the Achievement is defined, the Context is agreed, the Ecology is taken into consideration and the Resources are identified. And above all make sure the goal is in the control of the person who has to achieve it. There is no point giving someone a goal that they do not have control over.

4. Enable your team to want to achieve the best. A goal or a task can either be something they feel they need to do (which implies they don’t want to do it but are being forced to) or they want to do. As a manager it is your job to get them to want to do it by helping them both see the bigger picture and also anchoring the outcome to one of their core drivers. This powerful technique can make a huge difference to the performance of both individuals and teams.

5. Be the best communicator and remember the statement that “the meaning of your communication is the response it gets” is very true. What that means is that whatever you think you communicated is irrelevant if the person you communicated it to understood something completely different. Remember that everyone applies filters to all inputs based on the map of the world they have in their head. So if they understood something different to what you intended, then it is your responsibility to communicate it in a way that they will understand, hence looping back to item number two on this list.