Leadership, Motivation, Sales Techniques

Looking back at over 500 sales..

Sorry there has been no post for two weeks I have have been busy wrapping up my role at Reward Gateway.  After 8 amazing  years, it is time to move on. I worked with some great people and we had fantastic results I am very proud of.

In my time I closed over 300 new clients and was involved in over 500 sales. On my last day, I had a chance to sit down with my friend and CEO, Glenn Elliott and talk about the last 8 years. We discuss my favorite memories, sales tips, how the industry has changed, and my plans for the future. We really enjoyed recording this so I wanted to share with you all.

Leadership, Motivation, Sales Management

6 secrets to building a winning sales team

Managing a team of sales professionals is one of the hardest jobs in any business. You have a group of guys and girls that will, no doubt, be a mix of talent, skill and ability. That is just your starting point. Then you have to lead, manage, motivate, engage and coach this lot. Throw into the mix what they have to deal with the day to day… huge highs and lows of being in sales. It is not like finance or product teams where they can just put their heads down and finish their task or project with fewer interruptions or curve balls. It is a whole different ball game. So when you put all this together with the pressure of sales and delivering a number it’s a big job, and a very hard one to get consistently right.

At Reward Gateway (which was Asperity), we went from doing less than 250k per year in 2007 to £2.9M a year in 2011, just in new business. Recently a VP Sales asked me what the secret was behind this. He was looking to make 5 new hires while scaling and growing his SaaS business. The truth is all the things you naturally think of as being really important like Lead generation, CRM management, Marketing automation, Your Sales playbook and Pipeline Management are not the defining factors in high performance. Most VP’s of Sales can come into a business, work with the team and vendors, and implement these processes. What truly makes a high performing Sales Team is the other magic you put on top of this. Here are the 6 things that I feel are most important when building a successful sales team.

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Leadership, Sales Techniques

How to stay connected to your customer to increase sales

How well are you connected to your customers? In today’s business environment it’s easy to lose touch with their needs, concerns, and business issues.  Falling into the day to day routine of your job description.  Getting caught up in internal meetings, 1- to-1’s,  and pipeline reviews can distract you from the most important task of all…staying current with what is important to your customers and prospective customers. Having this valuable information can allow you to continually adapt your sales message to keep it relevant.

You need to spot trends in what’s supporting the buying decision. Understand how your customers want to be sold to.  Which content on your company website, sales presentations, sales demo’s and throughout the sales process prospects find most engaging? How important were each of your company’s USP’s and what was the WOW factor in their buying decision? Understanding this, and more will help you find and sell to more customers. It will help you connect with customers and prospects on a better level giving you an advantage over your competition. Here are four things you can start doing now to stay connected with your customers and prospects.

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Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Productivity, Sales Training

Why your sales training needs to be like your exercise routine

A classic mistake with sales training is to do it every so often like once a month or quarter. You’re too busy trying to hit your  numbers and firefighting that training often gets pushed down the list of priorities until we have an urgent issue.  Most sales training, when conducted this way, is often in the format of a whole day or half day of internal training, consultants or an external trainer. Problem is, training will not have an impact in isolation. Done this way it’s such a small part of your team’s work week, month or year.

Think about training like you would exercise

If you don’t work out regularly you get unfit, fat and out of shape. The same goes for sales training.  You can’t just go do a 10k run or play a match without doing anything for weeks. Sales training needs to be like a successful exercise routine: have a good frequency, be varied and be the right length based on your goals.

To get fit you create a plan to do it.  To train your team  for peak performance, you need to do the same. Here are some simple tips you can use to introduce your new approach to sales training.

Create a training plan.  Start somewhere and commit to it

You cannot wing it each week or it will not happen. Your plan should include scheduled group training as well as individual self-paced training. Create a plan so everyone knows where they stand for the week and the month.  This way your team won’t book calls and other meetings in the slots you create for group training.  You need to nail them down to the time and everyone needs to know it’s Monday at 10 am or Friday at 3 pm, that’s when we do this…or both.  This may sound simple but just having it added to everyone’s calendars will make a huge difference.

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Leadership, Sales Techniques, Sales Training

#GETUNSTUCK launches today: Help and guidance from top thought leaders in sales & business

There are times in sales when we all get stuck every single day. The more we share and spread sales knowledge the more we can help each other develop and grow as sales professionals. #GETUNSTUCK  is launching  today and is a collection of 60 seconds of sales wisdom being shared daily by thought leaders in sales & business.

Check out this trailer to see a sneak preview..

I am delighted to be part of the #getunstuck movement and my #getunstuck story will be going live on April 18, Monday 11 am EST.

We hope this helps you to #getunstuck and we would love you to share your own story with us. To check out more sales stories and to share your own go to  www.getunstuck.club or @getunstuckdaily

Leadership, Sales Management

The 6 signs your commission structure is doing more harm than good

The topic of sales commission structures and whether they should or shouldn’t exist is a widely debated one. Whatever your view, the fact is the vast majority of sales teams are operating with one so I guess at least for now, there’s a strong argument for them as opposed to against. What I can say from experience is there are signs your commission structure may need a re-think. Look out for the following:

Is there’s a flurry of new deals won shortly after your quota period ends

If you find that there’s a wave of new sales that come in shortly after the month or quarter deadline, you’ve probably got a commission structure that heavily incentivizes hitting a target but doesn’t incentivize performance over the target, certainly not in an attractive enough way.  Your sales people are ‘sandbagging’ to give them the best chance of hitting their revenue goals for the next month or quarter rather than helping the business to reach the best possible number of new sales for the current quota period.

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Leadership, Sales Management

We need to stop saying ‘good sales people make bad sales managers’. Here’s why

If you’ve worked in sales for a while you must have heard this said before, ‘good sales people make bad managers’ I overheard someone say it last week which led me to write this post. It’s an unfair thing to say and as leaders, we should be careful. I know some incredible managers and leaders in the sales profession that started working in sales.

I might be biased but my wife for one, one of the greatest team managers I’ve ever seen in action, she inspires her team and can lead others in her direction effortlessly.  An old manager of mine Stuart Lascelles, his calm nature was always so reassuring in a high pressured sales environment, my old friend Dan Newton was always in the trenches with his team, he genuinely cared about them. And my Dad, who I used to watch doing his job as a kid, he was a friend to each of his team but they all knew where the line was and wanted to do their best for him, a bit like he was their Dad.

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Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Recruitment

Is it time to change the way we interview Sales Professionals?

The internet is not short of lists of questions to ask sales candidates. Questions to test skill, behaviour, results, teamwork, all that stuff. But here’s my sales interview puzzle, how can you be sure if the nervous person sitting in front of you is any good at building relationships, arguably one of the most important skills in sales, as you test their skill during one of the most unnatural environments we are ever likely to find ourselves in, the dreaded interview.

What about if we did it all differently.  What about if we set the candidate up to show us who they really are. What about if we listened to our own advice on what’s important in selling and applied it to the interview process to let those great candidates shine through. Why aren’t we as caring with our potential new team members as we are with our potential new clients?  It certainly seems to be as hard to find great sales people as it is to win new business.  Or maybe winning business is hard because we haven’t improved how we hire. Here’s an idea.

What about if it was a meeting, not an ‘interview’

I deliberately say ‘meeting’ as opposed to ‘interview’ as it’s a scary word, most people fear an interview. How about if we propositioned it differently. Instead of ‘we’d like to invite you to an interview next week, we said, “I’m really interested in meeting you for a coffee and learning more about what you’ve been up to, do you have any time next week?

We’d never say to a prospect “I’d like to do a needs analysis to see if I think I can sell to you”.  We’re so careful with our use of language when dealing with sales  prospects, I wonder what it would be like if we applied that same care to our potential new team members?

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Leadership, Sales Management

5 Things I got my sales reps to do that I wish I hadn’t

I’ve been managing sales teams for 15 years so this definitely isn’t an exhaustive list of ‘if only’s’. But maybe this post will make you smile and reassure you that you weren’t alone in making mistakes, maybe you’re an aspiring sales manager or new to sales leadership and would like some advice, either way, I hope this is useful to you.

Roles plays. I hate them, I don’t know why I made my team do them

I’m sure in a few years we will look back and think why did we use sales role plays “that was weird”. We are not actors, we are sales professionals,  so why would we expect to be good at this. To start with it’s  really hard to replicate a real life situation and I’ve definitely added to the weirdness by throwing the camcorder into the mix ( I cringe as I write this).  It just creates a high pressured and unnatural environment which doesn’t add up to a great training experience for your sales rep. There’s no better way to learn than by shadowing real-life sales calls and pitches. My advice for new starters is to shadow and then work with another member of the team to deliver parts of the pitch. Start small, maybe its 20% of the pitch or maybe it’s just one of your products. As their confidence grows add additional parts until they are delivering the whole pitch.

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Why you won’t increase your sales based on averages

You know the data. Your average sales cycle, your average deal value, your average conversion rate. You live and breathe that stuff.  This post is not to say those things aren’t important. They are important for today, important for predicting revenue goals for this week or this month. But when it comes to making a change, when it comes to thinking about innovation within your sales process and improving on those data points, those averages are useless.

The problem is they don’t tell you anything. They don’t tell you that one of your sales reps booked meetings at twice the rate of everyone else last quarter. They don’t tell you that one of your sales teams produced 3 x the call volume in the last 3 weeks. They don’t tell you that last week a consultant in your team shorten the sales cycle by half on all new deals. They just tell you averages.

To improve the ‘averages’ you have to be able to spot the things that are moving the needle up and then ask how?


How is he producing double the activity of everyone else? What are that team doing to produce 3 x more call volume? How has one consultant shorted her sales cycle? Poke and question and poke some more and find a way to scale the stuff that’s really making the difference. Then watch your ‘averages’ improve. But stop looking at the spreadsheet hoping the numbers will do it themselves.

My question to you is, what are you doing to spot the people that are producing stuff above the line of average?