Ho Ho Ho!

X-Mas Tree Sales Up. Mall Sales Not.

wsj.com: Will Christmas Trees Light Up Retail:

“The gap between Christmas-tree and store sales may be a sign that the shift in spending away from brick-and-mortar retailers and toward online shopping, and experiences over things, has intensified this year. Put simply, people would rather spend money at Amazon, or on meals and vacations, than on stuff at the store. That may explain why Christmas-tree sellers aren’t getting hurt by the changed environment.

For many people getting a tree, hauling it home and trimming it counts more as buying an experience more than it counts as buying a thing.”


Billion a Second…

black and white, girl, freckles, eye, close-up, portrait, face

This meeting was no different than any other.  No different from the hundreds of meetings in the days, the months before.  Where I’m on to the next meeting while attending the one in front of me.  Meetings with a replicated loop.  Mind whirring…processing.  Me pushing. Me prodding. Agitating.  Me wanting and needing more. Extraction. Creating discomfort.  Manufacturing urgency.  I’m not looking for you to love me.  That’s what your dog is for.  This morning, my level of consciousness had been ratcheted up by a few lines from Daniel Bor the night before.  And, I roll into the first meeting of the day.  I’m listening.  I’m watching.

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4:09 am and Inspired: Pandas + Puppies + More…

We’re opening Hump Day with a short one minute clip about Pandas.  (Now who doesn’t just love Panda cubs.)  And then on to my inspiring posts of the week…

From Baltimore, MD, George Amoss Jr. @ The Post Modern Quaker with his post:  The Zen of Quakerism. “If, when I’m feeling a little playful, someone were to ask me to summarize Quakerism in a sentence or two, I might say this: You have a heart. Use it.”

From Blacksburg, VA, Erica Ann Sipes @ Beyond the Notes is a pianist and cellist, who is asked by a graduate trumpet student (a Marine) to serve as his pianist for his recital.  In From Battlefield to Stage:  “The recital began and I was literally bursting with pride by the end.  Was it perfect?  No, of course not…The trumpet player knew where he was and what he was supposed to be doing and he met his mission in a way that I’m sure would make his fellow Marines very proud. Fifth lesson: Semper fidelis.  Semper fidelis.  To ourselves; to each other; to our passions; to our calling.”

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3:40 am and Inspired…

We’re opening Hump day with a clip about two good friends…an Elephant (Tara) and a Dog (Bella).  We usually lead with a music video…not today.  This was shared with me by a follower (Thanks SR) and it has stuck with me all week.  And then on to the top posts of the week from my favorite bloggers…

Susan Kelley @ Great Moments with her post: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” It doesn’t take any more chaos than a bad day to show our propensity to focus on the negative and miss the joy in each day. (And yes, I resemble this remark.) Think of what we tell people about a bad day. We recount in detail the incompetence, laziness, selfishness and general cluelessness that diminished our brilliance. But seldom do we recall the smile and hug from a loved one, the extra mile effort of a co-worker, encouragement from a friend, and the contributions of strangers that make our productivity possible. And, the fact that we’re here to describe our day in lurid detail. We forget about that, too…”

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10 Most Loved Jobs…(and the 10 most hated)

From the HBR Blog Network: Happiness Will Not Be Downloaded.  I draw the line on a solve being fixing things yourself Smile otherwise a great post.  A few excerpts from the post below along with the charts for the 10 Most Loved Jobs and the 10 Most Hated…

Ten Most Loved Jobs

“…The proliferation of cooking shows, blogs, celebrity chefs…taps into something more primal: it’s one of the last jobs that still does what most of us don’t — make things…In this sterile, white-collar world, where meat comes from ShopRite and homes are built by “guest workers,” cooking is the last physical job many of us can relate to.”

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EOW Wrap…Friday Five.

elephant in water






















Feeling like the big guy here after the end of a long week.  Here’s my Friday Five Recap for the week:

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Are you a natural born closer? Take the Test.

We are all “selling” in our daily activities – whether it is selling a product or service, an idea or our point of view. So, I found this post to be thought provoking.

Yet, I found myself bristling at the author’s use of the terms “dominance”, “gaining the willing obedience of the customer”, “gaining dominance over a submissive customer” and “exerting their will over the customer.”  The movie classic Glengarry Glen Ross immediately came to mind.  However, I think his point of view has merit as does his self-test which is very good.  I would encourage you to read the full post at the HBR Blog Network: Are You a Closer? Take the Test.  I’ve excerpted the self-test and a few quotes below.

(P.S.  Last minute addition.  The subject of my post Pure Sales. All Human. scored a 7 on the test below.  And he was doing high-fives around the office.  His Sensei didn’t have the heart to tell him his own score.  Youngsters.  Will they never learn. :))

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Pure Sales. All Human.

January, 2000.  It’s an unseasonably steamy day in Miami.  My sales manager comes into my office and asks for a few minutes.  “Keep an open mind,” he says.  “I think there’s something here…I think.”  And he pauses.  I note his discomfort.  Hmmm.  Highly unusual.  (This coming from someone that even today, more than 10 years later, I consider to be one of the brightest, most confident and most effective sales managers that has worked for me.)

He then stumbles into his request: “Would you spend 10 minutes with him and if you don’t agree, we’ll show him the door.”  With that introduction, the bar was set limbo style – ankle biting level.

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What Buyers Want From A Salesperson in 2012?

Source: The Forum Corporation

Leaders: Are you Participative? Laissez-faire? Narcissistic? Or Toxic?

“…The managerial grid model was developed by Blake and Mouton in 1964 and they concluded their studies in five different leadership styles (Autocratic or authoritarian style, Participative or democratic style, Laissez-faire or free rein style, Narcissistic leadership, Toxic leadership). The styles are based on the leaders’ concern for people and their concern for goal achievement.”

Thank you Beatrix @ Your Leadership Is Your Success! – Leadership History (2/3): Behavioral Models

Closing on Elevator Speech?

The punch line from Seth Godin’s recent posted titled “No One Ever Bought Anything In An Elevator” is that “The purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale…No, the purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.”  This post reminded me of an excellent book on the subject called “Small Message Big Impact” by Terri Sjodin.  Read my full review at Amazon – it’s called “I’m Sold“.

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Are your sales reps pushy enough?

This is the third HBR Blog article on the Challenger series.  The first two articles (Post 1 & Post 2)  defined the most successful salespeople as being Challengers – assertive, offering relevant insights and guiding the client through the purchasing process.  During their research, the authors found that sales managers were concerned that if they coached their team to be Challengers they would be too aggressive. (Similar to the photo representation above). Yet, their research found some interesting findings:

“Most reps are far more likely to be passive than aggressive…guided by years of training and a deeply seated but mistaken belief that they should always do what the customer wants, reps seek to resolve tension quickly, rather than prolong it. But maintaining a certain amount of constructive tension is exactly what Challengers do.”

“Why do most reps fear tension? First, they feel they have no choice — it’s either acquiesce or lose the deal. Yet, in a recent survey of sales reps and procurement officers…75 percent of reps believe that procurement has the upper hand in the rep-customer relationship, 75 percent of procurement officers believe that reps have more power. What does that tell us? At the very least, if reps give in simply because of a perceived power imbalance, they’re conceding way too easily.”

“Most reps adopt a passive posture because senior management has told them…to “put the customer first,” or “place the customer at the center of everything we do.” Without clear guidance, most reps simply slip into “order taker” mode, closing small, disaggregated, price-driven deals at a discount all in the name of “giving customers what they want.”

Sources: HBR Blog: Why Your Salespeople Are Pushovers.  Photo: RealLifeDeals.com

HBR: Biggest driver of customer loyalty: Brand? Product? Service? Price? No. The sales experience…

This is the 2nd of a 4 part HBR series where the authors share the findings in a global study of 6000 top performing sales reps.   (Post #1: HBR Challenger #1)

Do you remember being dragged to your SPIN sales selling training classes (Situation questions, Problem Questions, Implications Questions, Need-Payoff Questions)?  These training classes have indoctrinated us to gain a deep understanding of the client need using a series of open ended questions, have the client gain acceptance that solving the need is critically important and then we pile in with the solution.  “What’s keeping you up at night?” – – was one of the well worn ice breakers used to get there.  The authors argue that “this approach is based on a deeply flawed assumption: customers actually know what they need in the first place.”

They conclude that the largest driver of customer loyalty is the sales experience (53%) and not Product or Service (19%), Brand (19%) or Price (9%).

Several of the key drivers of the sales experience include: Rep offers unique and valuable perspectives, Rep helps me navigate alternatives, Rep helps me avoid landmines and Rep educates me on new issues and outcomes.

“Customer loyalty, it turns out, is more a function of how you sell than what you sell.”

Great article on the value of consultative selling.  You’ll find some key excerpts below.

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HBR: Top Salespeople are Challengers. Not hard workers, problem solvers or relationship builders.

Selling has become much harder in the past decade with global competition, economic headwinds and rapid innovation. Yet, every company has a few top performers. The authors launched a global study of 6000 sales reps across 100 companies in multiple industries. The authors categorize sales people into 5 categories: 1) Relationship Builders, 2) Hard workers (stay late, go extra mile, make more calls), 3) Lone Wolves (self-confident, do things their own way), 4) Reactive Problem Solvers and 5) Challengers (deep understanding of customers’ business; take control of sales conversation; share controversial views with clients and bosses; are assertive).

The study concludes that Challengers dramatically outperform other profiles, particular Relationship Builders. They teach their customers. They take control of the sale. They dominate the world of complex selling.

The article also includes two excellent tools: A Challenger Self-Assessment (and scoring guide) along with Pre-Call Planning Questions that can prepare a Sales person for interactions using the Challenger approach.

While I believe the author’s conclusions are sound, I doubt that a salesperson can succeed in today’s environment without Relationship Building and Problem Solving competencies. That being said, I think this article is required reading for all of us involved in sales and sales management.

HBR Article: Selling is not about relationships

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