Have you found as you’ve got older you’ve become obsessed with self-development? I continue to strive for a happier, healthier more developed me. I test new techniques and tactics, with an unbiased outcome mentality. I use the Kaizen approach of continuous improvement:
“Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends”
– Brian Tracy.
This continued self-development – and an agile ethos – has helped me to rise from a part-time car salesman to a top sales leader for brands at the forefront of their industries.
At the starting blocks
The core of my try-hard nature was rooted in my younger self, who struggled under the traditional UK education system. Not great with the books, I captained my football (soccer) team and had a cabinet of trophies for everything from running to swimming. I was good at sports because I practiced. Of other subjects, teachers always said: “He has potential but with this attitude he won’t make it” … This rings in my ears and still motivates me today.
Although going all the way through the system to obtain a BA degree in Business Management at a top university, I embarked on a higher education not for the degree but to put off jumping headfirst into “the real world”. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for work, or really what I wanted to study, but this was just the beginning of a journey that would lead to excellence.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out”
– Robert Collier.
How I became the sales leader I am today
I’m an old-school salesman who’s been in the game 15+ years. Instead of clearing plates in a restaurant or photocopying files at a law firm like many university chums, I sold cars between terms. I loved this job and still use many of the techniques learnt back then, including:
- How to use a sales presentation
- How to understand the customers’ needs
- How to gain a customer’s trust
- How to use customers’ answers to describe the sales benefits
Within two weeks on the job, I was top salesman and got the pleasure of taking a Corvette for a spin on my days off. The other salespeople were too cutthroat, taking Glengarry Glen Ross too much to heart. They weren’t matching the right car on the lot with the individual customer’s needs.
“Always Be Closing, Always Be Closing!”
– Glengarry Glen Ross.
Practice agile to make perfect
In each sales job, I’ve found the best salesperson to shadow and learn from. I’ve seen the Always Be Closing (ABC) sales approach used time and again but I’ve adopted the agile development model.
My technique is being used as a case study by an IT Management (Master of Arts) student at the International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef, Bonn, Germany, who’s developed from an intern to a core part of our team. Rather than an ultra-competitive environment, my approach has a “performance over results” focus in an environment that embodies the following for managing sales targets and pipelines:
Then, to bring out the best in everyone, I combine this with:
- Regular one-to-ones
- Weekly team updates
- Sales training and retreats
- Top CRM software
- Performance tracking
Agile sales development in action
On a recent weekly sprint, number two out of five for that month, I identified that one team member wasn’t on track to meet their monthly quota and was struggling to close the proposals they had out. I used a one-to-one to coach him on building urgency, staying away from pain points and instead focusing on desire. When you buy a watch or a car you choose a Cartier or a BMW because you want it and you do what you can to justify that choice.
While, on another occasion, a team member with a seemingly healthy pipeline was revealed on closer inspection to have many contract “outs” for longer than average. So, the one-to-one focussed on creating urgency in order to close those deals sooner. As soon as we finished our meeting, she sent follow-up emails to three prospects and received three positive replies – two of which within a few minutes!
Stay agile to ace life
Just as it’s important to have an agile environment as the place of work and team dynamics continue to evolve, it’s important to keep your sales leadership strategies agile too. An agile sales approach makes for happier, healthier sales teams and – as I continue to strive for self-development – a happy, healthier team leader! Try it, it’s simple but effective.
I work with start-ups and larger global clients to get the most out of their teams. If you’d like some advice on how to scale up, how to lead a global sales team or how to drive growth using a proven play-book, say hello. Even if you just want to connect to discuss the life of flies (I’m not overly knowledgeable), you can find me on LinkedIn, Skype or here, on my website.