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  • Under the Bus You Go

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

    As a sales manager, we’ve all been there, haven’t we? We have all had team members who weren’t performing as they should. Then we hire a new team member, and we fear that the new team member will think the others are role models to follow. So, without really thinking of the consequences, we throw our current team members under the bus by telling the new person to not watch the others because their activity or results aren’t acceptable.

    Wow. How did that help?

    Imagine how confused you would be if you were hired to perform at a higher level than others while other people are left to do as little as they pleased. How would that be fair?

    In working with many sales managers and business owners, we have seen this pattern repeated often. Why? Typically it is because our client is trying to turn around their sales by bringing in new talent, but they aren’t in a place where they can let the other lower-performing team members find success elsewhere.

    This practice is wrong on many levels:

    First, it sends an immediate signal to the new team member that you (their new leader) can’t be trusted to have their back.

    Second, it lets the new team member know that “gossip” is accepted here.

    Third, it sows the seeds of distrust among team members. Any one of these is a problem. All three of these can be fatal for your organization.

    So what is a manager to do?

    Step 1:     Let everyone know the vision of your company. Where do you see everyone going and what do you see them achieving together? Present this to your team early and often. Get everyone excited about the part they play in the success of the team as a whole.

    Step 2:     Before bringing in new sales team members, sit down with your current team individually to discuss their personal and professional goals. Also, apologize if you haven’t been clear in your activity expectations in the past or you haven’t been doing your job as a leader to hold them accountable to doing the things that will help them reach their goals. Let them know that you plan to be a better leader for them because their personal success is important. Set out a reasonable plan for sales activity (referrals, dials, reaches, appointments set, appointments held) and begin tracking them (preferably using our CSF system that will do the math for you with quick and easy reports). Set up weekly one-on-one Personal Conferences (PCs) where you will review their numbers and help them improve in the areas where they need help to achieve their goals.

    Step 3:     Hire your new team member and repeat Step 2 (sans apology). No comparison needs to be made with the current team members. Everyone should be held to their own activity levels, which should be consistent for everyone.

    Step 4:     Prepare for the best and the worst. Best case scenario is that you continue to meet with all team members and work with them to perfect the skills they need in order to hit their activity numbers. You stay consistent with your help and accountability, and they continue to get better at achieving more than they had before. Worst case scenario is that your team members don’t step up to the plate. If they aren’t willing to work toward what is expected of them, then you will need to think about putting them on a Performance Recovery Program (PRP) —or Performance Improvement Program (PIP)—which includes a training program. If they aren’t successful on the PRP, then you will need to be prepared to help them find success with another division of your company or with another company.

    Step 5:     Stay consistent. The best sales leaders are consistently keeping the company vision in front of their team members while also connecting sales and activity numbers to t achieving personal and professional goals. Consistency in casting vision, accountability, and helping them to develop the skills they need to be successful will keep you from ever feeling the need to throw any of your team members under the bus. Instead, you will be lifting them high in recognition for how much they are achieving.

     

    Kitty Barrow is a Senior Partner and Executive Sales and Leadership Coach of Southwestern Consulting. She specializes in creating successful systems that are easily duplicated. Her motto is “Keep Things Simple for Stress-less Selling.” Kitty has trained thousands of sales professionals in companies such as Wells Fargo, MassMutual, New York Life, Xerox Global and Allstate


  • You wouldn’t let your parents do it. Why do you do it?

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

     

    Karen is a successful sales manager with a problem. Her leaders never seem to step up in their leadership roles. She wants to trust that they are doing their job but then when their teams aren’t performing, she finds herself needing to step in and work with her leader’s sales team members.

    What? Hold on a minute? How do you think this story ends?

    Well, it wasn’t ending well and it was causing endless frustration for Karen as well as wasting hours and hours of her time.

    Unfortunately, Karen is only one of many clients who face this issue and does not understand why I suggest that she stop leading over her leaders. But think about it. Any parent will tell you that they don’t appreciate their own parents stepping in and trying to parent the grandkids. There isn’t a parent I know who won’t quickly stand up and matter-of-factly ask their parents to ‘butt out’. ‘These are my kids and I will parent them how I see fit!’

    parents grandparents

    Can you relate? Or maybe you are a leader of a team and your immediate leader continues to step over you and lead your team. How does that make you feel?

    There are 3 main issues with this.

    First, when you lead over your leaders, it demoralizes them on the inside. By leading over them, you are telling them that you don’t think that they can do their job. When people don’t think that you believe in them, then they aren’t going to try as hard. Why should they, after all, won’t you be stepping in and doing the heavy lifting for them.

    The second issue is that you are sending a signal to the people of your leader that your leader isn’t really skilled enough to be your leader and then all respect flies out the window. The leadership power is washed away leaving your leader with a title but no one who really respects them. After all, if they aren’t getting their way, all they need to do is call you, right? You like how important you feel when you are able to step in and save the day, but instead of really helping, you are now hurting all 3 of you.

    I had one client who was learning how to be a better leader and went to apologize to one of their leaders for what they have been doing. The leader accepted their apology and explained that every time the leader went over his head to work with his team, he felt embarrassed. You can imagine the shock of my coaching client who had previously described that leader as an ‘arrogant know-it-all’. The guy wasn’t that bad but was simply reacting to the situation that my client caused.

    The third issue is that leading over your leaders is that it causes a ‘gossip triangle’. I have seen it become a time-consuming he-said-she-said that can waste hours, if not days, of everyone trying to solve disagreements and hurt feelings. Team members aren’t dumb. They quickly learn how to play the game that kids often learn to play ‘parent-vs-parent’. If the leaders aren’t showing a united front and letting the leaders lead only their direct reports, then they can be pitted against each other on a regular basis which will stagnate growth and cause division within the ranks.

    So what is the solution?

    First, if you find yourself guilty on all counts, then you need to have a private conversation with your leader. Begin with apologizing. Let them know that you didn’t realize what you have been doing and how you were inadvertently neutralizing them as a leader. When you start this conversation with an apology, I’ve never seen it end badly. It usually ends up as it did with my client Bob with the manager who he was leading also being vulnerable and admitting how embarrassed or helpless they have been feeling.

    Second, you make an agreement that all issues with their team members will be immediately directed to the leader and you will partner together, if needed, to solve the issue, but all leadership of that team member will come from the right person in the chain-of-command. This also means that you need to be willing to let go of some control. The leader might make some ‘bad’ decisions as they learn how to really be a leader. It’s okay. It’s their team. You’re going to be there to partner with them so help them avoid making too many bad leadership decisions but it’s going to happen and you need to be okay with it and trust your leader.

    The third thing that you do is meet with the leader on a weekly basis at a scheduled time to discuss their team members and help them to think through how to best resolve any issues. We do this by asking instead of telling. I find that most leaders (including myself) want to just tell people how to do things. This is fine if they are new to the company (or new to leadership) and learning the ropes. For an experienced leader, it is better to ask questions to help your leader think through how to solve the problems on their own. People who are convinced against their will are of the same opinion still. If, however, you ask questions and get them to come to the appropriate conclusions, then they are convincing themselves and internalizing the lessons.

    Tired of always thinking that you are the only one who knows how to do anything? Then that is a sign that you are leading over your leaders and it’s time to take a new approach.

    Try it and please let me know how it goes!

     

    Kitty Barrow is a Senior Partner and Executive Sales and Leadership Coach of Southwestern Consulting. She specializes in creating successful systems that are easily duplicated. Her motto is “Keep Things Simple for Stress-less Selling.” Kitty has trained thousands of sales professionals in companies such as Wells Fargo, MassMutual, New York Life, Xerox Global and Allstate


  • Teamwork

    Guest Post By: Gary Michels

     

    blueangels
    When I think of the ultimate in teamwork, I think of the Blue Angels flight team.  These pilots must be not only perfect but also precise in their daily performances.   They do this not only entertain, but to stay alive.  They raise the bar in a multitude of ways.  Their passion for what they do along with the amount of preparation and dedication to being the best is remarkable.  Regarding teamwork, when it is at its best, amazing standards are being set daily.  What level do you think your team is currently operating?  I am referring to the team you work with, and perhaps your family unit as well? Where do you and your team and need to raise the bar?  What areas do you think need the most improvement?
    Below you will find a few common characteristics seen in teams that work well together and achieve significant successes, both together and as individuals.

    teamwork

    Teams that rock, or are wildly successful, tend to share certain common values.  I find these teams typically have very focused goals along with a passion for succeeding.  You can ask any member of that team what is the focus of their team.  Each member of the team will know the main goal and they will all answer in a similar fashion. These teammates are so committed to their shared goals and success that they will put the success of the team first and be willing to make personal sacrifices in order to help the team.  One person on the team may purposefully take a back seat for a short while and let another teammate succeed.  They realize that a short-term sacrifice of glory and ego, today will help the entire team in the long run.

    When you are a part of a top team, teamwork is not something you only do part time. You live your life by doing what is best for the team.   I like to teach the concept of either/and instead of either/or. Top leaders of top teams must have a team first attitude and mentality.  Also, they must make sure they are performing at their very best.  When you are at your very best, in most cases you are helping the team as well.

    Top teams tend to consist of several leaders, leaders that are confident and skilled enough to walk the talk, not just talk the talk. In all areas both personal and professional you will see top teams whose leaders lead by example and set the pace. They are proactive, rather than reactive and plan on winning no matter what.

    Yet another part of teamwork to be aware of is trust.  Teams that have a great chemistry also have amazing trust for one another.  This comes from amazing communication amongst the team.  Often teammates will carve out  time to communicate when challenges arise.  Typically the type of situations that may threaten the bond and success of their team.  Often, trust is broken when communication is poor.  People who want to grow their teamwork skills must make good communication a priority.

    Teams that succeed are the teams that prepare the most. They often work harder and more diligently than anyone would imagine. Whether its additional hours of work in order to prepare, or tenacious effort during the hours of preparation, strong teams do the work. Ask yourself this question: Does your team put, less, the same, or more work when preparing for success than the average team?  The answer probably lies in your results.  If your team isn’t where you want it to be, it is because you need to work on becoming more prepared.

    Lastly, great teams have great attitudes. Attitude stems from what and how teammates talk to themselves when no one else is around.  They have clear affirmations and the words they said whether to themselves or to their team.  Of course, things happen in life and having a good attitude and good self-talk can help everyone bounce back fast from the challenges one may experience.

    You don’t see winners walking around defeated and down.  It’s because they have mastered the self – talk and attitude skill set.

    What type of team do you want to build? When do you want to start? What are you and your teams biggest growth areas to Turn It Up A Notch in your teamwork abilities?

     

    Gary Michels is a co-founder of Southwestern Consulting. He is a keynote speaker, sales trainer and business consultant and has motivated nearly 1,000,000 people to achieve their highest potential nationwide. Gary spent 19 successful years as a sales representative for a national fund-raising company.


  • Achieve Your Dreams

    Achieve Your Dreams

    It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. ~ Joanne Kathleen Rowling

    As I talk to people around the world, I have heard many say more than once that “my perfect dream would be….” or something to that effect. So, I thought I would talk a bit about this today.

    The key to achieving your dreams is simply making a choice to do just that – go for it. The most common difference between those who have an AWESOME life and those who don’t is simply the choices they make every day. It is not their circumstances, the way they were raised, or even their education as most people think. Most people who don’t accomplish their dreams simply choose not to. They just are not willing to do what is necessary to have a life that good.

    Think about your life for a minute . . .

    What do you want and what will it take to get it? What do you really want in all the areas of your life? So why haven’t you been doing what it will take to get there? I imagine, of course, you are doing some of the things, but why not all of them or most of them?

    Before you start with the excuses, ask yourself if you really had to, could you? Let me make it a little clearer how this is a choice. I don’t like to think these thoughts, but it will help you understand that you can do it if you want it bad enough.

    If the person or persons you care most about in life depended on you living your dream, could you absolutely 100% do it?

    We both know the answer… of course you could and you would.

    Once again, life is a series of choices.  I like to call them the Y’s in the road.

    In most cases, if you take the easy path, the one most people take, you will experience short-term gain (it’s easier to live a life that is ¼ of ½ or what you actually want) and long-term pain (the regret of never going for what you want).

    Let’s look at it this way:

    Choosing the ½ life nets you short-term gain, long-term pain.

    Choosing to really go for what you want nets you short-term pain (e.g. major adjustments need to be made to move in this direction, which could result in changing jobs, moving house, ending relationships, any number of what may be considered big stressors) and the long-term gain (once you’re firmly set on the path, the personal and professional joy and satisfaction will far outweigh the initial upset).

    I WANT YOU TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THIS LAST THOUGHT. How can some of your choices change for long-term gain by taking the short-term pain?

    Start “Turning It Up A Notch” by making the choice every day to FEEL GOOD…Because when you FEEL GOOD, you are ATTRACTIVE… when you are ATTRACTIVE, you have AMAZING PRODUCTIVITY… when you have AMAZING PRODUCTIVITY, you have EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS… and when you have EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS, you feel even better!  This is what I call the CIRCLE OF SUCCESS! And when does success start? Success Starts Now!™. That’s right, baby!

    So make the choice to live a life of pure magic. Pay the price of short-term pain, receive the long-term gain and kick up your heels and dance – life is for LIVING!

    What one thing can you do today to move yourself toward your dream? Doesn’t matter how small, even just leafing through a magazine about people doing the things you want to do is not insignificant…it starts your mind believing what you want it attainable.

    Make it an incredibly successful week.

     

    Gary Michels

    Co-Founder Southwestern Consulting™
    408-888-4848
    www.southwesternconsulting.com

    www.turnitupanotch.com
     

                           

     

     

     

     

     


  • Why are Some People Successful?

    Why are Some People Successful and Others Not? Let me count the ways . . .  

    I was recently listening to a podcast from Sam Crowley of Every Day is Saturday and I was so excited to hear his enthusiasm and excitement about all of the possibilities for success that await those who seek it out. I am sharing his message with you today, because it is the same message that the Southwestern Consulting™ team shares in their workshops, seminars, writings and the actual work that they do everyday.

    If you are looking for a quick, get rich quick scheme this isn’t it. But, if you are a hard-working person willing to give your best everyday, then success is within your reach. Listen now to “Over Deliver on Your Promises and Stand Out From Everyone Else” and let me know what you think.

    To your success,

    Dawn Beauvais

    Social Media Manager, Southwestern Consulting™

    Thank you to Sam Crowley for his permission to link to his podcast.

  • GET OFF TO A FAST START IN 2011

     

    The most successful salespeople I know get off to a fast start in the New Year.  They realize that if they start the year over plan they can build on their success throughout the year.  Otherwise you spend most of your year just trying to catch up.  Here is a recap of the 5 ways to have a fast start:

    1. Renew and Up-Sell Existing Clients:  We need to treat last year’s production as a foundation for this year’s revenue!  Ask yourself this question; who could be using more of your services? Start there. Step 1, make an active account list and identify where additional business lies. If you can identify additional services they should be doing label those on your sheet.  Step 2, schedule Re-Focus Meetings with each of these accounts so you can stay aware of potential business opportunities and get referrals!
    2. Regain Former Clients:  Identify five to ten former customers that haven’t used your services in the last 3-5 years.  Send a ‘New Year’s message’ email just touching base, updating them, re-providing them with your contact information and offering them a ‘review meeting’ to go over their current financial situation.
    3. Ask for (and receive) Referrals on a Regular Basis from active clients:  It’s important to set the stage for referrals with all of your customers.  One good way to do that is to teach your customers how to give referrals by giving them a referral.  Identify five good customers that haven’t given you a referral in the past and if possible start the referral process by giving them a referral. The 2nd thing you should do is send them a ‘New Year’s message’ email following the former client email but instead of offering a ‘review meeting’ you will be asking for referrals! The goal is to get a 5% referral return rate.
    4. Target Specific Companies/Industries for New Business Development: Profile what your “best” customer looks like and create a prospect “Hit List”. You have already done this do you are ahead of the game here!
    5. Generate Additional Referral Resources:  In order to outsmart your competition you need to create yourself a niche market within a set group of 6-10 repeat referral partners.  One way to stick out among other financial advisors is to highlight what it is that you do that your competition doesn’t do, can’t do or won’t do in this market place. The goal would be to get 1 solid referral/month from each referral partner.  The target is on accounting firms and bonding firms.

     

    Here is the text I generally use for obtaining referrals via email. Feel free to use and edit this as you see fit.

     

    Hi ______,

    First of all, I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are having a great start to 2011! I am looking forward to getting this year underway which is actually why I am emailing you today. I just wanted to give you a quick update on some new things that I will be doing in my business this year that you may or may not be aware of.     (list 1-2 things that you are doing this year … i.e.; seminar classes, newsletters, etc…)

     

    Sample verbiage:

    In 2011 I will be proactively holding educational seminar classes for my clients on a variety of topics including; ___,___,___. I will be conducting private classes for organizations, as well as be participating in hosting public seminars available to all of my clients free of charge. I will also be incorporating a quarterly newsletter for my clients to keep you updated on market trends, industry facts, new products and services and all company updates. Lastly, I would like to invite you to join my professional network on LinkedIn so that we may continue to keep in touch on a regular basis.

     

    I look forward to speaking with you soon as I will be following up via telephone in the next several weeks to go over a review of your account. Please feel free to contact me in the meantime if you have any questions.

     

    Lastly, I was actually hoping to ask a favor of you. As you know, your business is very important to me and I look forward to continuing our business relationship for years to come. I was curious to know if you knew of anyone who is currently looking to ___,____ or ____. Or perhaps you know someone who is just looking to switch advisors and needs a good recommendation. Whatever the case may be I wanted to ask the favor of you to please let me know if you know of someone who may be looking to work with or simply talk to a financial advisor. If so, I would love the opportunity to meet them to see if I could be of assistance.  Thank you in advance for these efforts.

     

    Wishing you continued success in 2011!

     

    In the Spirit of Success,

    Amanda Johns

    Corporate Partner and Program Director

    Southwestern Consulting

    ajohns@southwesternconsulting.com

    Corporate website: http://www.southwesternconsulting.com

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