How Take Over a Sales Team and Hit Every Target [Talks With Mike Weinberg]

I’m excited to offer you the first of a couple talks I had with sales coach an author Mike Weinberg. Mike is an expert in sales leadership and has the track record to prove it!

He was kind enough to share some of his best and most actionable advice with me!

Check out his book: Sales Management. Simplified. It’s full of the best advice sales managers can hope for, without fluff but not without a great narrative tone!

Thanks for doing this, Mike! I snooped around your LinkedIn profile. There was a lot of interesting stuff. I see that you act as an interim or surrogate sales leader from time to time. I was wondering, when you get called in to do that, how do you ensure a successful takeover?

What an interesting question. No one has ever asked me that, so thank you! If I am jumping into a turnaround situation for a company that’s struggling in sales, and they’ve had to either replace their sales leader or add some supplemental help, the most important thing I can do is engage the hearts of the sales team and show them that I’m there to help them achieve more sales and make more money.

I’m for them. I’m not against them. At the same time, I need to establish accountability, and get real clear on goals and expectations, and let them know that there will be some coaching and training coming to help increase their effectiveness. But the most important is to get their hearts back engaged in understanding that we’re there to win, we’re there to sell. That’s, I think, how you got to get started.

When you get there, and you start coaching them, or coaching sales managers, what’s the number one mistake you see them make?

It surprises a lot of people when I say this. The number one issue, I think, in sales that prevents us from winning more new sales is both the sales leader and the salespeople have lost sight of their primary job. The primary job of a salesperson is to grow revenue. It’s not to babysit existing customers and play glorified customer service rep.

I see is salespeople spend very little time selling, and sales management lets it happen. The less time you spend selling, and the more time you spend babysitting, or doing corporate crap, the less goes in your pipeline, and the less you close.

Talking about closing and getting new business, salespeople are more prone to make mistakes when the of quarter arrives, because they’re afraid they’re not going to hit target. What is critical for them to avoid (and do) is that situation?

I think there’s a couple things.

One is you cannot come across desperate or panicked. Nobody wants to buy from somebody who’s desperate. We do much better when we sell from a mentality and a position from abundance versus one of scarcity. That abundance mentality, I’ve learned about that from a guy named Dan Sullivan who’s the strategic coach in Toronto and I have a mentor named Alan Weiss who talks a lot about abundance mentality.

When you’re more confident, you sell better. You own your sales process. You don’t cave in to everything the customer asks you to do. Also, you ask better questions. You don’t just run in and do a presentation or a proposal. One of the cautions would be just because you’ve got to make your numbers and close deals, it doesn’t mean that you need to sound like you’re desperate. Nobody wants to buy from someone in that situation.

The second thing I would caution sellers is: don’t damage your reputation or do something silly that could cost you business in the future, as well. You may have a situation with a prospect whose opportunity is pushing, as we like to say here in the States. It’s getting delayed, and it may not close for you this month, or this quarter.

Don’t be an idiot and manipulate, and try to create unnecessary pressure so that you damage the relationship and can never sell that person something. In the name of pushing to close strong, don’t compromise your process, don’t look desperate, and don’t do stupid things that will damage your reputation with that customer in the future.

And when you find yourself in a situation when the sales team is struggling to hit their goal, how do you keep their spirits up when they’re running behind?

First thing you do is remind them where they’ve had success in the past. You review success stories and case studies. You have to get in your own head the belief that you bring a ton of value to your clients, to your customers. Sometimes one of the most powerful things we can do is review our best customers who love us, and ask them, why did you buy from us? Why do you still buy from us? How have we improved your life? How have we improved your business?

We’ve got to capture those thoughts so one, we believe them; two, it motivates us to try to sell more; and three, maybe most powerfully, we can use some of that language. Those issues we’re addressing for our customers, and the outcomes that we’re achieving for them, we can use that in our story, in our messaging when we’re phoning, when we’re emailing, when we’re face-to-face, or presenting, or proposing. I think one of the ways to encourage them is to remind them about the value we’ve brought to others, so we keep that front and center.

The other thing I like to do is show people their goals. If you want to keep someone’s heart engaged in selling, you have to remind them why they’re doing it. What are they trying to make commission for? Yes, we want to benefit the client, but how are we trying to benefit ourselves? What is your financial goal? What are you saving for? Are you trying to become the top seller? When you connect your heart to your goals, to your mind, it keeps you engaged so you don’t get disconnected from the work you’re doing.

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