Motivate and Support Your Sales Force

Jeff Cochran


Here are some troubling numbers for you:

– Fewer than 55% of all sales reps regularly make their quota
– 65% of all sales professionals give up on a sale after hearing their second “no” from a decision maker
– 7 out of 8 companies will never achieve profitable growth, despite having adequately detailed strategic plans.

If you are concerned that any of these statistics might eventually apply to you and your company, it is time for you to rethink how you approach your training, motivating and supporting your sales force.

First, take stock of your situation. Have you identified your star performers, core salespeople and bottom third reps? If you have not yet grouped your sales force accordingly, you are missing a valuable opportunity to appropriately motivate your sales team.

Super Sales Studs.

Some people are just that good at sales. These are your superstar salespeople. Typically, they make making their quota look effortless and they do it by selling ice to the Inuit. These people tend to be almost entirely motivated by financial incentives, but they are the first to leave when a ceiling if placed on their ability to earn.

Bottom Third.

If you have developed an onboarding program that instills your sales team with the appropriate habits and tools to effectively make sales quotas, your bottom third should be made almost entirely of new people. Your bottom third are the first to become discouraged and can often not be counted on to do anything more than show up in the morning.

Core Professionals.

Your core performers probably do not get that much of your attention on a day to day basis. Core salespeople can be counted on to make their quota most of the time. They show up to work and will accomplish whatever task you hand them, but because they are not struggling or rocketing to the very top, you often miss the fact that they too can benefit from coaching and motivation.

So now that you have figured out into which category each and every single member of your sales team falls, you can begin to coach them to be the best salespeople they can be. Here are some general rules and guidelines for being the most effective coach possible:

  1.  Find out what motivates your sales force.
  2. Apply individualized coaching strategies consistently.
  3. Allow your salespeople to invest themselves in their future with your company.
  4. Listen before you speak.
  5. Understand that small incentives yield big returns.

With the proper coaching, even your bottom third will see massive improvements to their sales performance. Make sure that you are taking time each day or week to individually coach and support your salespeople.



6 Leadership Best Practices

Jeff Cochran


There’s no mistaking the simple fact that leadership styles differ enormously from person to person. There are, however, a number of shared traits that successful, effective leaders possess. Research has proven that these traits of sense and success are deeply linked to the thriving of effective leaders.

Good leaders are immediately open to new understanding. Leaders do not necessarily understand complex concepts immediately, but they must be open to learning efficiently. Effective leaders are constantly asking themselves how to make sense of something new, and how to do it quickly.

Good leaders create safe spaces. In order to lead effectively, good leaders are warm and welcoming, rather than intimidating or aloof. By allowing room for other people to speak up and share their thoughts, perspectives, and opinions, good leaders can use their inherent executive power to create an empathetic environment that encourages colleagues to approach them with tact and professionalism, knowing that they will be heard.

Good leaders approximate, and this is because they have to. Not every project will provide every single snippet of detail that may normally be considered necessary to move forward, but leaders are able to continue to inspire their colleagues to progress without having all the information. Rather than charging blindly ahead, leaders are able to foresee what effect each step will have, whether or not they have all the information right away.

Good leaders are accountable. Everything about being a leader means being available and open to feedback, but that does not mean leaders are doormats. In fact, accountability is quite the opposite: by being accountable, effective leaders are able to implement feedback they receive to more effectively move forward individually, and to help the entire team move forward.

Good leaders are self-aware, and this means that they are also aware of others. In order to effectively build a team, they must understand the effects of their own actions – before they implement them. As such, they must complement the actions of other teammates, and they must be able to act well on the actions of others.

Good leaders act fast. In cases where there are a lot of unknowns, leaders have to move forward with limited information. This usually happens under a time crunch – after all, if there were more time to act, then leaders would be able to wait on implementing projects until they have all the information. Rather than waiting around, effective leaders move forward with whatever they have.

The workplace is a highly unpredictable space, especially when things are constantly happening on a tight deadline. Nonetheless, with good leaders in place, projects get done – even with limited resources. As a leader, the best way to start is to ask the right questions – both of yourself and of your colleagues.


How to Avoid These Worst-Case Scenarios in Sales

Jeff Cochran


Anyone who works in sales knows that there are a lot of potential pitfalls – and they happen all the time. Avoid huge potential hitches by following these tips.

Don’t trust a verbal agreement.

While, according to this Forbes article, it’s not always legally required to have a written contract, it definitely serves as insurance. This is because a verbal agreement is completely impossible to prove, which means that it is very, very easy to lose a deal. The worst possible case, here, is if you’ve already communicated that it’s a done deal to the leadership team. Not true – not until you get it clearly in writing.

Getting your contract in writing will also avoid dealing with a shady situation if the person who made the verbal agreement on the other end is not qualified to make that call. What if they’re not the decision maker? Get in touch with someone who is, schedule that person in, and make sure the deal is set.

Always be prepared when you’re on the phone.

Anyone who has worked in sales and had to make cold calls has probably experienced this. If an hour goes by and you have yet to connect with someone, you’re probably hitting the call button over and over without really paying attention to the dial tone. And then – suddenly – someone picks up!

Rather than stammering at the speaker and trying to deliver your pitch with no warning, make sure you’re prepared. Know whom you are calling. Know why you are calling them. This means getting your research done beforehand, so that you’re able to start your chat with the reason for the call, and with some knowledge about the company you’ve got on the line.

Still caught off guard? Don’t sweat it – just be transparent. If you crack a joke and admit that you were caught off guard, many people on the other end – even high-status executives – will be willing to forgive and forget, and you may even get a laugh out of them.

Speaking of research…

If you think you are prepared to make the call and you are already halfway through your pitch, avoid being blindsided. The person on the other end will know if you have no idea what their company does, and they will be highly inclined to call you out on it. When you do make the call, the very least you can do is to give the client’s website a quick once-over beforehand. Better yet, keep the webpage open while you are on the phone so you can quickly refer to it in a pinch.

Working in sales is a challenging job, but with the right tools on your tool belt, you will be highly prepared to do your best and make sure all your potential clients are impressed.

How Learning Effectiveness Works: Measuring Results

Jeff Cochran


There is no reason to have the members of your company’s team participate in an online training program if they are not going to implement what they’ve learned. This kind of training means that those who take part will be held accountable for their learning, and in most workplaces, the effectiveness of this accountability must be clearly delineated.

The Kirkpatrick Model of Learning

Measuring effectiveness of learning can be a somewhat amorphous process, but the most concrete way of actually determining learning effectiveness is by making sure that team members are achieving business objectives that have been set for them. This, however, cam be something of a confusing process.

Interestingly enough, the measure is not necessarily about ROI. Because ROI refers largely to a tangible return of input to output, the measure of something like learning is a little fuzzier. The best way to achieve an accurate measure of long-term results, in the end, is probably to distinguish between accountability and effectiveness – objective number crunching versus the individual and overall team usefulness of the training. You’re improving workers – not numbers.

The Kirkpatrick Model was created in the 1950s, and remains widely implemented today. The model relies on four well-researched levels of measuring learning. As you go up the ladder, the actual process of measuring becomes a little less concrete.

Reaction. This refers to the participants’ thoughts and feelings about the training, which can be difficult to gauge. The best way to “measure” the response to learning is to solicit individual reactions through surveying or feedback sessions.

Learning. What actual knowledge was gained? This is about the actual content of the training. Was it straightforward and transparent? Was the material clear and well delivered? In a school setting, results here would be best measured by administering a quantitative exam. In a work setting, this level of learning may be best understood by conducting an interview or observation.

Behavior. We’re getting closer to achieving real results. The response to training in changed behavior is all about how the learning has been applied in a practical way. Is behavior different now, and if so, how? Is the change positive? Is the change sustainable?

Results. Here we are – the greatest measure of learning effectiveness, and also in some cases the least tangible. How is the training affecting the overall environment and the actual outcomes within the workplace?

Learning Effectiveness and Accountability

When we talk about learning effectiveness, we’re talking about measuring outcomes, right? Person to person, measuring results is not so difficult. When it comes to implementing change, it is easy to observe what each team member is doing. With regard to the entire organization, the measure of how a process has changed as the result of blended training is a little harder to figure out. By letting these trainings be counted as an expense rather than an investment, business leaders are saved the project of objective measuring, an impossible task that does not necessarily provide concrete answers.

Gaining Trust for New Team Members

Jeff Cochran


Think about what trust means to you, or to your organization or company. Webster’s Dictionary provides some good keywords: confidence in something or someone else, dependence on something in the future, assurance of the character or ability of a person or group of people – ultimately, they will pull through for you.

So with this in mind, what does it actually mean to build trust? Companies that have high-performing team members and work to gain and keep their client partners rely deeply on relationships of trust, both within the employee team and with partners.

In the Office

According to Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis, one of the most powerful components of building trusting relationships is transparency. Transparency means two things in this situation:

  • Teamwork. When leaders are transparent about the team’s strengths and weaknesses, team members are able to work more efficiently. This means that problem solving can be based around what’s actually going on, rather than what people are inferring. New teammates will immediately know what’s going on and be able to bring their whole selves into the work.
  • Consistency. In order to build trust within the office, it’s important to remain consistent. Consistency in this case means treating everyone fairly; it should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. Frequent communication doesn’t just mean letting people know what’s going on, either – remember, it is important to listen to your teammates, too.

What does trust building lead to in the end? Higher performance, according to this Guardian UK article, which is what customers are after.

With Customers

Believe it or not, building trust between a company and its customers is a very similar process. It all comes down to letting your clients or customers know that you care about them. Don’t just tell them – show them.

  • Be good at what you do – A more straightforward way of saying, deliver what you promise and then some. Do what you say you are going to do, and beyond that, exceed expectations whenever you can.
  • Ask for feedback – If you’re convinced your product or service is of the highest caliber, that’s not going to do much for your customers. There are few things that consumers trust more than peer reviews, so give people who have used your service or product a chance to share their experience through testimonials and reviews.

Remember: building trust takes time and effort. It’s not going to happen overnight. But by making sure your in-office team is working together, you will find that you are, in the end, creating a relationship of mutual trust with your clients. This leads to an empowered partnership between clients and coworkers.